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How to Set SMART Art Goals

Setting and writing down goals for ourselves is an important practice if we are serious about success. I have found that writing down goals helps me be more accountable, thus increasing my chances of success. As your trusted painting teacher, I would like to suggest that you make 1-3 goals that relate to you as an ARTIST. Being a teacher for over 20 years, I can confidently say that making SPECIFIC goals is important and yields to better results. Below are a few methods to write specific goals for yourself.

Method 1: Quick Goal Setting

Write down your general goal, and 1-3 actions you will take to get there.

Example: 

Goal: Master my paint streaking technique.

How I will Achieve My Goal:

1–Follow artists on Youtube, Instagram or Facebook that also do paint streaking.

2–Experiment with paint streaking weekly.

Method 2: Set a SMART Goal

In my opinion, setting SMART goals leads to a higher chance of success in achieving them. SMART goals were created by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham in their article, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives (1981).” Let’s dive deeper!

What are SMART Goals?

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant). Answers Who? What? Why? Where? Which Resources?

  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating). How much? How many? How will I know it’s achieved?

  • Achievable (agreed, attainable). Is it realistic and attainable?

  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based). Is this the right time? Is my goal worthwhile?

  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive). When will I achieve my goal? How frequently do I take action to achieve it?

    (mindtools.com)


Image by Dungdm93

Here’s an example of an art goal written in the SMART goal format:

SPECIFIC GOAL: Master my Streak Painting Technique

HOW WILL I MEASURE IT?  When I can see obvious and substantial improvement from my current streak paintings to the ones created afterwards. My streak paintings will have stronger compositions and will have more color/value contrast.

HOW WILL I ACHIEVE IT? I will experiment with different ways to master this technique. I plan to be more conscious about composition before streaking. Also, want to experiment with various color values to keep contrast in the piece. Will also look for inspiration from streaking I see in nature (sunsets, stones, etc), and record these observations through photography.

IS IT RELEVANT? Yes! I’m feeling inspired by this technique, but also feel frustration when I do it because I don’t have a lot of control over the process, and often the painting looks too muddy and busy.

WHEN DO I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH THIS? WHAT IS MY TIME COMMITMENT? By June. I would like to dedicate 30 minutes weekly (Sundays) to practice and experiment with this process.

You can see in these examples that I went into more detail about the how, why and when after I used the SMART goal method. This method also has a check in place to be sure this goal is realistic and relevant.

So go ahead and give it a try! What are 1-3 art goals you have? Write them down with the SMART method, share with a friend (and me!), and start taking steps towards achieving them! Feel free to reach out and let me know if I can help you reach any of your art goals!

Do you know I teach painting classes and 3-day artist retreats at my professional studio in Santa Fe, NM? I teach people how to paint using a step-by-step method that I developed from 28 years of painting experience. I make learning how to paint approachable, relaxed and fun, while at the same time teaching students the fundamental principles of good design so they develop the confidence to continue art-making at home. Book a class today!

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