I’ve gotten an early start on spring cleaning this year.

The last couple weeks I’ve taken time each day to drag out all sorts of things from every corner of my studio. Whether it’s deciding what to toss or figuring out how to better arrange things, going through the last decade’s worth of collecting has put me a reflective mood.

I’ve been organizing and tidying all my 2019 work as well. Every year there’s at least one piece that emerges as my personal favorite work from that year. (I’m speaking about work exclusively for myself so I’m not including client projects and other commissions.)

As I’ve thought through everything from last year, somehow, this piece keeps coming back to me.

I think the reason is this one is emblematic of a kind of work for me. There are other, probably technically stronger drawings from last year but this one just has a certain something. What’s that something?

Carving out time for personal work is a challenge these days, there’s no other way to put it, but I insist on it. And this piece, this is one of a precious few that I was able to do entirely for myself. While I ended up folding it into another one of my personal work projects (since it fit the theme pretty well) it’s a kind of work I hope to pursue more of in 2020: drawing with no expectations.

It’s hard to make time for that because the feeling that this needs to be for something looms pretty large in my mind and I’m willing to bet yours, too. Whether it’s something to post, a new print, new piece for a sketchbook, there’s a lot of justifiable pressure to do work that is immediately useful.

I’ve found it worthwhile here at the start of a new year, to look back at what worked and what I could do better. More drawing time with no expectations, that’s at least one thing I could do better this year.

Another thing that’s interesting with this one, I was even able to take the time to rework the original piece (yes, this version of the piece isn’t the actual original one) into an evening scene. If you’re curious, I put together this video to demonstrate the steps necessary to remove the original background and replace it with a watercolor one. You can see the original piece in the video, as well.

Here’s to your new year! And hoping that it’ll be one full of drawings with no expectations.