Monthly Retrospective: January 2023

For my 2022 Retrospective, I put all my paintings for the year on one post, which ended up being a Lot. So, I thought I might make a monthly habit (if I remember) of retrospecting one month at a time, including the paintings and goal updates.

Goal Updates

My New Year’s Resolutions for painting were to try a few things, and… I tried them all! In January. So I guess they weren’t really expansive enough. Now, I didn’t get good at them, but I feel like I tried enough to have a better idea of what I want to do for future goals. So I thought maybe it would be better to do monthly goals/themes than New Year’s Resolutions.

  • Trying gouache: I did a couple of gouache paintings! Generally, I find gouache less exciting than watercolor, but it’s something I still want to do on-and-off.
  • Trying painting from the tube: I did this a few times, including when I used gouache (since that’s how you do gouache). Generally, I’m finding this to be a negative of gouache. Painting from the tube is messier and more wasteful. I like the neatness of painting from a pan because you can just use the amount you use and next time, it’s still ready for you. You end up dumping a lot less down the sink.
  • Trying new brush shapes: I gave another run at the dagger brush but I’m finding it very hard to get my mind around asymmetrical brush shapes. I’m not sure if I “need more practice” or if I’m running into a limitation in my visual/spatial memory similar to my inability to tell left from right. Either way, it’s not really fun for me, so I’m giving it a rest.

My January-only goal was to complete the Nature Spots Challenge, which I did!

February Goal: February is about not spending money. My resolution is to not buy any art supplies this month. You could say this is the easiest month for this challenge because it’s the shortest, but it’s actually the hardest because I have multiple memberships coming due – annually paid class access type of things. In part this decision is financial (I’m saving up to move in the spring), and in part it just feels like it’s time. I haven’t been getting as much out of my memberships lately, in part because of time, in part because I have more confidence to explore on my own! I’ve gotten a lot out of working from classes and tutorials, but I’m longing for a period of freewheeling open-ended creativity without structure.

That said… Kolbie Blume is also launching a new 10-Day Challenge on February 13, which is free, so I’ll be able to participate in at least one structured challenge anyway!


Here are all 18 paintings I did in January 2023 (not including swatches or Nature Spots).

This month, I finished module 2 and did module 3 of Kolbie Blume’s Intermediate Landscapes. I think I’m going to declare myself done with this course; I don’t think I will exactly follow along with module 4, which is about mixing and matching different aspects of different landscape paintings to do your own thing. Instead, I’ll consider those paintings examples as I go off and do my own thing! The final photo in this set is an example of that practice – I used at least 3 different source photos, including skies and grasses that I found online as well as from my own camera roll.

Other highlights: the Winter Palette; a crow/sunset/power lines triad; forays into gouache; and lots of sunsets, skies, and clouds.

Most of these were done on Etchr Cold Press blocks, either 6″ square or A5 size.

Move back in time to My 2022 Sketchbook: All The Paintings of the Year, or on ahead to February 2023 Monthly Retrospective!