December 20, 2022

I didn't know how good it is to take some time and review the year. Also, to define dreams and wishes for the coming year. Judith Peters from Sympatexter has been calling for a year in review for 5 years now. This year I am taking part.

It made me realize what I have achieved in the last 12 months, what hurdles I have overcome and what insights I have gained. Learning effects - that was my big theme for 2022.

Apart from that: It was fun! I didn't expect that at all. As my partner said to me: "It's exciting to be on something that succeeds. It's like falling in love".

How right he was. It was tingling - like butterflies in my belly 😊

What a year ...
Emotionally and physically, I have reached my limits. But - I have also grown beyond myself. I learned a lot, met interesting people and was able to fulfil many of my goals.

The start was good. I had a lot of energy and was making progress. But then first exhaustion and later illness slowed me down. That cost me a lot of energy. Now I am glad that the year is coming to an end.

With the publication of this blog post, I have fulfilled my year's goal. Now it's time for the family. At Christmas, we traditionally give each other one thing above all: time. We buy ourselves at least one new game. Our favourite ones are the cooperative ones. That way, we play with - not against - each other. This year we have chosen Chronicles of Crime. I'm looking forward to it!

We cook, play, eat well and have interesting conversations. Have time for each other. It's a year-end I really like - and really need!

But before that, here's my look back at 2022:

What was the Plan? - Review of my Goals for 2022

  • Development: My word of the year. Professionally, artistically and personally, I wanted to grow. Soak up knowledge wherever I could find it. I would say: mission accomplished.
  • Creating art: Artistically, I wanted to work more in series. Create artworks that have a common denominator. Diving deeper into a subject, penetrating it and doing it justice that way. In 2022, I created two major art series, "Shore" and "Cracked". I like this way of working. It is very intense. I will definitely keep that up.
  • Social Media: Over the last few years, I had got bogged down in social media. I somehow played a little bit on everything, but nothing really. That couldn't go well. Apart from stress, it didn't do anything. This year, I wanted to decide on a platform and then learn it properly. I really did decide: for Instagram. It's simply the most important platform for artists. However, I have to admit, as a user I don't really understand Instagram. So I tried to learn my way around there and post regularly. New followers? Yes. Instagram understood? No. So that definitely remains on my to-do list for 2023.
  • Further study: For 2022, I had resolved to learn as much as possible. The coaching "The Working Artist" by Sonja Smalheer was very important to me. Beyond that, I really wanted to take every opportunity for further education that came my way. Learning, learning, learning, that was the goal. And I achieved it. I was able to successfully complete Sonja's course (fortunately, because it was the last time she taught this course so far). I took part in various webinars, read up on different topics, took a course on abstract painting with the artist Joy Kinna and now, at the end of the year, I even got the chance to do Jane von Klee's Textorado course.

My Year in Review: 2022

Reboot - My website gets a new Look

I can rightfully claim to be a bad housewife. I like to cook, but that's about it. Everything else I sometimes put off. But when I start something new, I prefer to start with a big clean, with a blank canvas. That clears my mind and gives me space.
For 2022, I had resolved to set up my art business from scratch. So I started the new year with the relaunch of my website. It should show my art, me as a person and an artist. And it was to provide access to me. Anyone who wanted to find out more about me, see or buy my art, should be able to do so easily.

I had given myself 3 months to do this. First, I thought about what function my website should actually have. Until then, I had seen it more as a kind of business card on the Internet. That was no longer enough for me. I thought about the design and gradually implemented everything. In the process, the technology threw a spanner in the works a few times. Sometimes I could have screamed ... But my biggest challenge was the decision: purely an artist's site or sales-oriented?

You have to know, artists live in higher spheres. We need neither money nor bread. We are completely absorbed in our art. Yes, if someone approaches us, someone worthy, and asks us to please, please be allowed to buy our art, then we can accept the money with pointed fingers. But to signal from ourselves that our art is for sale? That's a little bit evil. A bit disreputable. There should be self-help groups for that.

"Hello, I'm Lea, and I'm selling my art." - "Hello Lea"

On artists' sites, one finds neither a shop nor a hint that, let alone how, one can buy the art shown. Often there is not even information about the artists. A list of previous exhibitions and the art. That has to speak for itself. I suppose if you already have a name, or a gallery that does everything else, you can do it that way.

My way was different, from the beginning. I am a self-made artist, so to speak. I open up new art techniques by experimenting, I learn by doing, and I market myself.
Nevertheless, I see myself as - and am! - a serious artist. So my decision on the question was a very clear one: in between. I try to stick to the tips on what successful websites should look like; nevertheless, the focus is on the art.

I did everything on the website myself. I wrote the texts, built the design myself with Thrive Themes, designed my branding, photographed my art, set up the newsletter, built the shop, etc. I even managed to keep to the schedule. By mid-March, the new website was up.

The first big challenge of the year: done!

The Working Artist - Artist Group of a Special Kind

In spring, a long-held wish came true. Thanks to the encouragement and support of my partner Stefan, I was able to take part in the coaching "The Working Artist". Sonja Smalheer helps artists on their way to self-employment and to build up their art business. This involves very practical things, such as photographing the art correctly or setting an appropriate price. But together they also explore what actually makes an artist, what the core of their own work is - or how to talk publicly about their art. There was really a lot to learn!

Year in review: Finding my artistic Why

In search of my artistic why

Lots of learning material

However, my biggest gain from the course was a small learning group. Already during the coaching
Emily Pals, Lonni Wong and I met virtually once a week to talk about the content. It's so nice that we've kept it up to this day. We continue to meet, talk about art and support each other. When difficult decisions come up, we are there for each other. It makes it so much easier not to lose focus. I look forward to our appointment every week, and the course would have been worth it for that alone.

A First Dent

Towards the end of the course, I noticed a drop in energy. I already know that I feel a bit empty at first after finishing a project. Also, it had become summer by then, and the heat came in short but fierce waves. Do you remember? No sooner was one glad that it was getting a little cooler than the next wave came. That gave me a hard time.

I also realized that I had not allowed myself enough breaks. A business that is still being built up, apart from creating art also working as a web designer, copywriter, accountant, marketing manager, idea finder, social media expert, secretary, material purchaser, customer service etc. and so on, then the worries because the business hasn't brought in enough money so far, being a mother and partner, and on top of that the household (even if we share the tasks), the self-imposed learning and last but not least a fight (which should actually be unnecessary) for a handicapped-accessible apprenticeship for my autistic son - it was just too much. I had no more strength.

Stefan was also overworked.
Something had to be done. But a getaway could not be arranged. So we decided to start our days with a walk in the forest. That was definitely one of our better ideas! The different shades of green, the chirping of the birds, the peace. And each walk was accompanied by conversation. I was inspired and refreshed. In addition, we started yoga. New for me. Finally I found a way to relax when I otherwise don't manage to do so. This year has shown me that there is also a lot to learn in unexpected areas.

Woodland strolls

Shore - Longing for the Sea in Paintings

Sea! Absolutely and in any case. Or lake, or pond, and if needed, puddle. I love the water. Longing for the sea is more or less my natural state - unless I'm there.

I love the feeling of sand between my toes, the taste of salt on my lips, the wind in my hair, sun on my skin.... The whole cliché 😉

But I love the sea, not only in summer. For me, it means vastness, elemental force. For me, the sea is the place where I can just let go.
Unfortunately, our last time at the sea was a while ago. This year, the longing was almost unbearable. Added to that was the confinement of more than 2 years of pandemic ...

I make 24 paintings to get rid of the longing for the sea. Well, at least temporarily. But I really fell in love with the mood of the paintings. When I look at the works in the "Shore" art series, my breath widens a little and I imagine being by the ocean.
And hopefully next year we'll find the time for a trip again. In any case, it's very big in our annual planning.

An Enforced Break

At the beginning of August, the youngest came home from a training course with a cold, we thought at first. After a test it turned out: After two and a half years, complete vaccination and despite all precautions, we had caught it after all. Corona! And quickly all four of us had it.

The boys were not impressed. One had no symptoms at all, the other just a kind of cold. But it really knocked Stefan and me out. At this point, a quick thank you to Picnic. Luckily, we were already registered there. Because none of us would have been able to go shopping. Not even after the quarantine period. First the symptoms persisted, and then we were completely exhausted. Little energy turned into no energy. Nothing worked any more!

For weeks, I could do nothing. No work on the website, no blog articles, not even social media posts and no art. Nothing. It was only towards the middle/end of October that I was able to slowly, very, very slowly, resume my work. And even then, everything went very sluggishly, and I needed many breaks. I still haven't quite reached my normal energy level. So I'm glad that I can now recharge the batteries at the end of the year.

Cracked - Search for Traces

Maybe it was because I was weakened by Corona and therefore particularly vulnerable. In any case, memories came up that I had repressed for a long time. We do not leave our experiences in the past. Their traces reach into our present.

These are the marks that I ... traced them. I faced thoughts and feelings that I had not allowed for a long time. It wasn't about wallowing in negativity, blaming myself or feeling sorry for myself. It was about letting wounds heal. Intense, exhausting, painful, but also healing. Slowly, it filtered through to me: My vulnerability is not a weakness, but a strength. My permeability is the reason for many of my better qualities.

I process emotions and thoughts, wishes and views in art. This time too. A new art series was created. It got its name from the scars, the fine (and sometimes not so fine) cracks of the soul. Not fractures, but seams! It is not the damage by others, but the putting together by ourselves that counts.

"Cracked" is not only my most personal art series so far, it is also my biggest and most important insight from 2022.

Abstrakte Malerei

New Beginning

Textured Art

Gloomy Days

Mixed Media Art

Buried Scars

Abstrakte Kunst

Falling Apart

Abstrakte Kunst mit Rahmen

Pieces of my Soul

Minimalistische Kunst

The Core

What about the world?

At the beginning of 2022, 2 years of the pandemic were already behind us and hopes were high that normality would return. But an average of about 1500 people worldwide still die of Corona - every day! About 120 of them in Germany alone. The health systems have long since reached their limits.

War is raging in Europe. With extreme brutality and an unconditional will to destroy. We will all never forget the images of Butscha. What we also can't forget, because it keeps coming back to mind: if we don't stop it, the advancing climate change will probably make whole regions uninhabitable in the future. Droughts, floods and extreme weather are already being felt today. In Europe, the heatwave of 2022 probably cost more than 100,000 lives.

The energy crisis and global inflation will ensure that many people will probably not survive the cold winter. In Iran, women and men take to the streets to protest against a totalitarian regime - and pay for it with their lives...

I don't know if everything is getting worse. My view is probably influenced by the West. Because normality, in large parts of the world, is not peace, integrity, freedom from fear. The construct of civilization is fragile. Close by lurk brutality, greed and the will to power.
But 2022 also showed me that there is an incredible amount of courage and bravery. That people stand up for what is important.

And what about me? I have come to realize, with all the ups and downs of the last few years, with all the difficulties I have faced and all the struggles I have had to overcome, my little part of the world is predictable, warm and safe. I am grateful for that.

"By chance I am spared. (If my luck runs out, I am lost.)"

- Bert Brecht | To those born after

2022 - Not a Year of Books (and what I read anyway)

Books are a shared passion of Stefan and me. We like to read together - one to the other. This year we didn't have much time for it. We worked so much that in the evenings we often only had the energy to lie exhausted on the couch. Nevertheless, we read the book The Goldfinch by Donna Tart to each other. It is one of my favourite books. A wonderfully narrated novel in which a painting plays a not-so-small supporting role. Apart from that, there was unfortunately only room for a few specialist books on my reading table. Next year, I definitely want to read more again.

Reference Book Reading List 2022

  • Insta it! by Anne Grabs: Part of my project, finally to understand Instagram. A comprehensive self-learning book with all the information about Instagram. I'm not through it yet. So it remains on my reading list for 2023.
  • Art & Fear by Davis Bayles and Ted Orland: The authors describe it as a "survival manual for the artist" and in a way it is. It's about how art is made. But also about why it often doesn't come into being. It's about the fears and difficulties that many artists face and how to keep going anyway and find your own way.
  • Ways of Seeing by John Berger: The book explores the way we look at, manipulate and are manipulated by images. It is based on the 1972 BBC series of the same name. I enjoyed reading it very much.
  • Lives of Artemisia Gentileschi by Sheila Barker: Artemisia Gentileschi was the first woman to make a name for herself as a painter. Later she almost fell into oblivion. Since her rediscovery, she, like many important female painters, has been overshadowed by her male colleagues. This small illustrated book shows her most important works and, in addition to much information about her life and art, also contains letters written by her (e.g. to Galileo Galilei). 

My Favourite Numbers of the Year 2022

  • Exhibitions in 4 different countries showed my paintings in 2022. (WildArt 2022 in St. Petersburg, Russia | Spring for the Dells in Arizona, USA | Cape Parrots in Southernwood, South Africa | SAA Finalists and Winners Exhibition in Nottingham, England).
  • 46 new artworks were created this year. With "Shore" I created 26 new paintings. In the art series "Cracked" there were 20.
  • So many household appliances have given up the ghost this year and had to be replaced. Our refrigerator was one of them just recently. For once, I don't expect this to increase next year.
  • Addendum: Two days before the completion of this blog post, our oven also went belly up. Now that's enough!

    What Else was Going On in 2022: A Year in Images

    Impressions from the vernissage in Nottingham, England | September 2022

    Wildart 2022: Art exhibition in St. Petersburg, February 2022

    Spring for the Dells: art show und auction in Arizona, USA | April 2022

    Set-up of the Cape Parrot Exhibition in South Africa | May 2022

    Diorama at the East London Museum in Southernwood | May 2022

    Art projects on species conservation by the artists' group ABUN in 2022

    Art for conservation: ABUN Highlights 2021 and 2022


    A work of art ready for the road to its new owner

    Total relaxation

    Painting table in action

    My Goals for 2023

    In retrospect, I realize my goals for 2022 were more inward-looking. That's OK. This way I have a good basis. Now I can open up to the outside.

    • Art fairs: Next year I would like to participate in art fairs. At least one (I already have my eye on one in particular;)). Of course, I would like to sell there. But I also expect a great learning effect from it. How does such a thing work? What do art buyers want? etc.
    • Exhibitions and galleries: Keeping an eye out for exhibition opportunities, but also visiting vernissages and exhibitions of other artists more often again, establishing contacts with gallery owners, and perhaps also taking part in one or two competitions, these are my goals for 2023.
    • Networking: This year, I have learned (once again) how important and helpful it is to exchange with others. That's why I want to network even more with local artist groups and international artists next year.
    • Spread Your Wings: My motto for 2023. I want to open up in the new year, go new ways, test new possibilities, be bold!

    How about you? Do you look back on the year? Do you draw conclusions from it? Have you set yourself goals for the new year, given yourself a motto? Or are you of the opinion that life will upset all your plans? Tell me about it in the comments.

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    About the Author Lea Finke

    Lea Finke is an artist with all her soul. In her blog, she talks about inspiration, passion, and encounters with art.

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