My Word of the Year for 2020: Sustain

Dec 31, 2019

A few years ago, I started a tradition of choosing a word for the coming year. I use my word as a guidepost, a reminder to focus, a compass heading.

My word for 2019 was consistent. I chose this word because I was so frustrated by how inconsistent my work seemed to be. From one piece to another, I struggled to have a cohesive style.

I recently read Lisa Congdon’s new book, Find Your Artistic Voice, and I had a huge lightbulb moment! For the longest time, I believed that I’d find my voice and my work would become consistent. But I had it backwards!!

Instead, I realized that I need to “do” consistent—in other words, I need to use the same material, textures, color saturations, etc. on similar subjects over and over, consistently, and my voice would emerge out of that.

To practice consistency, I took on a 100 Day Project which I finished on New Year’s Eve (which was total kismet). Over the 100 days, I made art using my iPad every day. I saw quite a lot of evolution in how I use color, texture, value, and line.

One of the results of this practice that surprised me was that a new freedom emerged in my work. I’m starting to add more elements that bring my illustrations to life like the starry crown on the Eurasian Robin of day 75.

Now, looking forward to 2020, I have chosen my new word: Sustain. Sustain speaks to everything I’m about right now: maintaining my momentum and engaging in rhythms of rest so that I can sustain my efforts. Sustain also speaks to my commitment to the environment and the natural world as well as my desire to support my growing community both online and in person.

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