Goals to Success – Thinking ‘SMART’ as an approach to art

In the world around us today, for many, social media and the world of technology has changed how art is shared and experienced. This can be a blessing and a curse, as we can be consumed by endless ideations of the things we see and our perception can become skewed when comparing our own work to those of other artists.

Art in its creation is as individual as you are.

The way we hold a pastel, mark a surface, see an object, perceive colour. Learning to embrace your individualism and finding your own niche can be an exciting journey of discovery.  Within this blog I hope you are empowered to set your own goals and have the self confidence to make your own mark on art!

‘SMART’ is a common acronym for goal setting in the therapy world meaning, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. When working on a project look at your development to date and ask, what do I specifically want to achieve next?

Goals, outlined on notepad.

Having left art college with the belief I would not succeed as an artist, I chose not to take my place on a fine art degree programme and lost sight of becoming an artist. Later, I decided to return to full time education and completed a degree in occupational therapy.

Encouraging clients to reflect on their achievements no matter how big or small, setting realistic and timely goals to succeed was an everyday part of my role.

So…. with all this experience of supporting others with their goals and aspirations, why was it now so difficult working as an artist to practice what I had for years taught others to do.

  • It is easy to doubt yourself and compare your skills with those of others
  • Your hardest critic is yourself

Setting ‘SMART’ goals will enable you to focus on the positives aspects of your development and modify and improve your skills and experiences over time.

They can be applied to anything, a piece of art you really want to complete, a commission or gift, entering a competition, setting up and running a website or social media page, how you will work towards buying more art materials… the list is endless!!


Have a really clear goal with an endpoint

  • What do you want to accomplish from your art?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • When will be your end point?


The art of tracking your progress to maintain your motivation and objective

  • How will you monitor your progress in stages?
  • Can you set weekly aims?


Focus on maintaining motivation by setting goals you can achieve

  • Do you have the appropriate equipment, art supplies, skills time, finances, resources?


Is the goal within reach and can you commit to the time frame needed?

  • Consider the time it takes for you to do the specific task; will a deadline be realistic?
  • Is the goal meaningful and will you be motivated to complete it?


Without a time frame it can be difficult to focus and gives opportunity for negative thinking to creep in

  • Can you achieve the goal in the timeframe you have or have been given to achieve?
  • When do you want to achieve your goal if you do not have a set deadline?

Procrastinating can be one of the hardest things for an artist, ruminating on finer points that lead to more time thinking and less time drawing!

Art should be exciting and a journey of exploration and growth. Be kind to yourself and remember that every artist has their own journey and will likely be their own harshest critic too.

I would love to hear what your first ‘SMART’ goal of 2021 will be…. Over to you!

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10 Responses

  1. Your work is truly stunning, Meral!
    I am embarking on a new art course today and will use your SMART technique to assist me with my new tutor. Thank you

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Thank you so much for your lovely feedback and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on using ‘SMART’. All the best!

  2. Мерал попала в цель! Такие задачи для начинающего художника, которые спрятаны в глубине души. С какой целью рисовать? Почему рисовать? Думать о творчестве или не думать? Быть или не быть? Я скорей всего наверстываю упущенное. Работая много лет по технической специальности я не переставал думать о живописи как таковой, представляла каким цветом масляной краски я бы нарисовала небо и облака в этот момент, как подсвечены солнцем листья деревьев, как светятся огни улиц по вечерам. Это можно сравнить с кипящей кастрюлей , накрытой крышкой… Теперь занимаясь рисованием и обучением, глядя на работы других художников, как будто по крупицам приходит знание и опыт сын ошибок трудных. Спасибо Мерал и Юнисон за возможность осмыслить происходящие процессы! Люблю учиться и рисовать!

    1. Здравствуйте, Белянская Наталья,

      Спасибо за прекрасный отзыв. Приятно слышать, что это перекликается с собственным опытом других художников. Надеюсь, некоторые художники сочтут эту стратегию полезной для чего угодно – от планирования произведения искусства до планирования карьеры.


      English Translation:

      Thank you for your lovely feedback. It is good to hear that this resonates with other artist’s own experiences. Hopefully some artists will find this a useful strategy for anything from planning a piece of art to planning a career journey.


  3. Outstanding article! As a self taught artist, just beginning a couple of years ago, as I work, I think a lot about taking reasonable steps – committed to growth, but being realistic along with it. I’m completely enjoying the journey. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lori,

      Thank you so much! It sounds like you already have a good use of breaking down tasks which is fabulous. Becoming overwhelmed by ideas is something I always struggle with and balancing wanting to start a project when working on another. Even as a therapist, taking your own advise can be tricky! However when I do tell myself ‘ I told you so’ it is usually because I have been SMART!

      Thank you for reading and I hope to see you work within the Unison community group.


  4. Meral – This is so O.T.!!! I also was employed as an Occupational Therapist prior to returning to art. Wonderful application of our practice to yet another realm of life. Well done!

  5. Hi Tracey,

    Isn’t the art of therapy versatile! Lovely to hear their is another OT embracing their wider occupations. I hope to see your work within the Unison Colour community pastelling group.


  6. Thank you Unison Colour for introducing Meral and his incredible art to others like me! His SMART is useful but mostly I love the depth of feeling in the animals he draws. I’m amazed at his level of detail and as accurate as his drawings are, they impart a sensibility and life of each animal that is utterly different than a photograph. I’m especially impressed at what he accomplishes in soft pastels. It’s quite encouraging to someone like me who’s only recently getting back to drawing after many years.

  7. Your drawings are really amazing and I would love to accomplish that standard with my animal drawings. The depth and detail is incredible the very fine lines work so well.

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