Saturday, January 25, 2014

2013 in review

At the beginning of January I did some of the customary “looking back, looking forward” kinds of exercises.  Reflecting on 2013, I felt it was kind of a lack-luster year.  Don't get me wrong, I know I am fortunate.  It was a year without significant strife or pain and we were healthy, comfortable, and generally content.  Yet I didn’t feel I could account for the year.  What did I accomplish?  What did I have to show for it?  Had my burning drive to create been reduced to an ember?

Yesterday, I read Tammy’s impressive “list of creative stuff from 2013” and it reminded me of a few things I did last year, and got me wondering about all the other things I may have forgotten.  I sat down in the pre-dawn hours today and began to compile my own list.  

In 2013 I.....
  • Wrote 84 blog posts for I Am Rushmore
  • Hosted 45 different swaps on “Mail Me Some Art” 
    (did you catch that?  I logged, photographed, posted, sorted, and mailed 2,547 pieces from 125 different artists all over the world!)
  • Had a postcard included in an article about mail art in Featuring Magazine

  • Sold my first painting

  • Visited the postal museum in Washington DC

  • Took a 10 week collage class with local artist, friend and inspiration, Catherine Weber


  • Won Tammy’s Gaudiest Journal Page contest

  • Spoke to a group of women about my artistic journey
  • Hosted three different art dates at my house
  • Sold two hand-bound journals (for a cause)

  • Read 32 books
  • Created several commissioned pieces of art for my sister’s house

  • Won a spot in Jane Davies’ on-line Extreme Composition class, learned a ton, created an impressive body of work in doing all the exercises, and actually participated in the class blog/discussion

  • Completed my third Index-Card-a-Day challenge

  • And this one

  • Created 322 collages, which was not quite the 365 I set out to create, but they accomplished my goal of giving me focus and practice throughout the year.

  • Completed 52 swaps on Swap-bot.  (This might have been the most surprising number of all to me.  I feel like I’ve pulled way back from swap-bot, but there are a few groups there that I belong to, filled with talented friends like Steph, Mandy, Carroll and Gina, and I keep getting sucked in by their good ideas!)

  • Lit a painting on fire
  • Had three different weekend getaways with women friends
  • Sent sock narwhals “naked” through the mail.

  • Saw 41 movies
  • Filmed my first goofy video for MMSA
  • Carved a bunch of new stamps for myself and others

  • Bought a cheap stencil carving tool and learned to use it

  • Submitted this mail art/book for “Ex PostalFacto”

  • Bought a plane ticket for San Francisco so that I could attend “Ex Postal Facto” and meet some of my favorite artist friends in person in February 2014.
  • Started learning encaustic techniques

And you know why I know all this?
  • I maintained a weekly journaling/documentation practice for the whole year.

Whew!  This is way more than I thought.  It appears the only thing that has changed about my productivity is my perception.  Perhaps because I am so much more comfortable with myself as an artist I almost take it for granted.
This list shows me I'm not really cutting back on art, I am just not experiencing that same  heightened level of emotion as when I was first starting out.  This isn't all bad. The learning curve is not as steep or frustrating.  Fear and dread have (mostly) taken a back seat.   I am more willing to take risks now.
Ok - I see it now - this is progress.

 I also see, from my list of books and movies and outings with friends, that 2013 may have restored some balance for me.  When I "found" art in early 2011, I totally immersed myself.  Obsession is not too strong a word.  I barely read, or cooked, or slept, or went out.  Every spare moment was spent with paint on my hands. It was glorious, and it’s that glittery memory that made me falsely think this was a lack-luster year.  I’m delighted to have books, films, music, food, exercise and other human beings surfacing in my life again, and as this list  has made clear, my creative output hasn’t exactly suffered by allowing them in.
Last year is looking better and better.

 How about you?
Have you made a list of your 2013 accomplishments?
I highly recommend it.
(If you're not convinced, read Hanna's 10 compelling reasons you should.)

I wonder what will be on my list for 2014?
Writing this list will be accomplishment #1.

Plus I might turn this into a t-shirt:


  1. It looks like you got a lot accomplished! Good for you. I don't keep a journal but I should look back at my blog. That is my journal such as it is.

  2. What a big uear 2013 was for ypur journal swaps and the work you did in jane Davies class so much. you will have a blast in SF with Pamela, Gina, Dori and on and on...xox

  3. I'm exhausted just reading through that list! Art is part of you, Karen, and a part of your everyday life. 'Not A Turd' - brilliant!

  4. wow! that is an impressive list of accomplishments. reminds me that i need to journal more about what i do because with age creeping up i tend to forget. great work, i love seeing it all, and hopefully this year i will feel confident enough to do some swaps.

  5. Karen---you are amazing! you have done a lot more than the "average' person and you should be proud of it! And I am so very glad you booked your ticket to SF for XPF -- see you soon!

  6. I'm so glad you took the time to do this. It's so important that we do. You did a great job in 2013, and I look forward to all the amazingly creative things you will do this year.

  7. Whoa…. I was exhausted after reading the first few accomplishments :D. You are a hummingbird, and don't let anyone else tell you differently!
    Thanks for the inspiration, as always.

  8. did you have anytime to sleep, that list is awe inspiring, you did so much give yourself a pat on the back, it is hard to find that balance, between art and life, I struggle with it daily. I think you have found it

  9. You have done an amazing amount of art. It's simply amazing how much we can get done when we know we only have a certain amount of time in between full time day jobs and family like. Early mornings, evenings and late nights and weekends..... Did I miss anything? Thanks for sharing all that you do.

  10. I am breathless just reading through the massive accomplishments of your 2013 year, and everything you have done is brilliant. I just don't know how you manage to squeeze in so much in 24 hours. It has been wonderful following your development over the last couple of years and so good to see that you now recognise yourself for the clever, inventive, creative artist you are.
    All those massive numbers …. but you forgot one number, the number 1. That's you Karen, No1 Artist, Blogger and great person. So happy to have 'met' you through Lisa's fun course in 2012. XX

  11. What a remarkable year! Anyone would be proud of what you accomplished while still managing to have a life! I'm glad you recognize it now.

  12. Wow, now I know for sure you never sleep! I'm inspired, I need to get off my butt! Nice year 2013 was for you. thanks for sharing!

  13. Oh, Karen, you make me laugh. You are awesome. (And definitely not a turd. LOL!) You accomplished so incredibly much this past year. The swap participation and hosting alone are amazing. I did a little retrospective on the year, too, and it made me feel a lot better about how I spent my time. I love your idea to keep a documentation process. Did you blog about that? I'd love to hear more!

  14. Oh, Karen, you make me laugh. You are awesome. (And definitely not a turd. LOL!) You accomplished so incredibly much this past year. The swap participation and hosting alone are amazing. I did a little retrospective on the year, too, and it made me feel a lot better about how I spent my time. I love your idea to keep a documentation process. Did you blog about that? I'd love to hear more!

  15. I'll ditto the comment above from Daisy that you Rock! What a great list for 2013! And thank you for that link to the reasons one should write a list of accomplishments. I will start this year to mark on my calendar what I do besides just appointments, work, etc. And I like that idea that list making is the easiest way to journal, I might be able to do that! Happy Creative 2014!

  16. An amazing year for sure. You did way more stuff than I was aware of. Excellent job! I guess I need to take a look back...
    I'm most impressed by the MMSA stats. I LOVE that you host those swaps and I try to do every one of them.

  17. All I can say us WOW.

    Well, not quite all. I absolutely love the white/blue/orange encaustic piece (I don't even know what that word means, I'll have to google it later).

  18. What a great list of achievements! Impressive and full, I'm late reading this but better late than never, right? Thanks also for linking to my blog, I appreciate that! Hope 2014 is treating you well!