There is something about setting a goal, giving yourself a challenge – and then telling everyone around about it. It obligates – sometimes in a good way.
My declared & announced goal for the past two weeks, has been to produce a series of ten small still life paintings.
For artists and writers who are working on their own, without the company of colleagues or under the leadership of a supervisor, I believe this obligation can be of great importance. I find setting myself goals with limited time frames are extremely useful in my otherwise very free work situation. Setting a goal helps me focus – a goal also leaves less room in my head for ruminations and self-doubt. (I have no time for thoughts like: “why am I doing this” or “is it any good “or “shouldn’t I rather try to save the world” or ___ (fill in the blank)). I have to work; I have to achieve my goal. Art is a praxis of doing.
This is what David Bayles & Ted Orland has to say about it:
You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn't very good, and gradually weeding out the parts that aren't good, the parts that aren't yours. It's called feedback, and it's the most direct route to learning about your own vision. It's also called doing your work. After all, someone has to do your work, and you're the closest person around.
It is also important to remember that all the goals one set oneself, as an artist, are preliminary goals. Because the final GOAL, for the artist herself, can never be anything but the process of making. For an artist art is a verb, not a noun.
The seed of your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides - valuable, objective, non-judgmental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.