Goodbye 2015, Some Thoughts on the Year's Accomplishments

Happy New Year!

I love beginnings. Fresh new starts. On New Year's Day the year spreads out before us, filled with possibility. It's exciting. Energizing. Hopeful. Don't you think?

I love to make goals. To dream. To plan. To create a vision for the new year.

For the past few years I've also chosen a Word of the Year to help guide and shape what I wish to accomplish during the coming year.

                              2015: FLOURISH
                              2014: REALIZE
                              2013: BLOOM

Do you choose a word for the year, too?

Before I share my word for 2016 and before I begin to focus on my goals and dreams and possibilities for the coming year I want to spend some time looking back at 2015.

There's so much we can learn from our experiences. I want to bring those realizations, that wisdom, with me into 2016 so I can create a stronger plan for myself in the coming year. So much of life is out of our control, but learning from our experiences, both successes and failures, is something that isn't.

Studio, inspiration, Word of the Year, Flourish, Hand Lettering, watercolor lettering, chalkboard lettering, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry


intransitive verb

1. : to grow luxuriantly : THRIVE

2. a : to achieve success : PROSPER
b : to be in an a state of activity or production
c : to reach a height of development or influence

3. : to make bold and sweeping gestures

transitive verb

: to wield with dramatic gestures : BRANDISH

For reasons that have nothing to do with my art, 2015 was a difficult year. At times it was difficult for my art, too. In some ways, looking back at the year it feels as if I have not flourished at all. From a viewpoint of criticism I question everything I've done. I wonder if I've frittered away precious moments, filling them with needless "work". I worry that I kept doing things because I thought they had value, but that they were the wrong things for me. I worry that because I was focused on the wrong things, more important things got eclipsed, forgotten, left behind.

I had some failures this year. Rejections. Mistakes. My impatience makes me wonder why I haven't accomplished more and (despite how far I've come) why I'm not further along in my journey.

BUT, in other ways, if I look carefully and take off that filter of criticism, I can see that I did flourish

Studio, inspiration, Word of the Year, Flourish, Hand Lettering, watercolor lettering, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

2x2 Sketchbook, Dana Barbieri, collaborations, sketchbooks, Anne Butera, Dana Barbieri

In and of itself I'm proud of what Dana and I did with our 2x2 Sketchbook collaboration so far. It's been good for me in other ways, too. It helped me gain confidence and motivation to work more in my own sketchbooks and to begin working in a daily sketchbook.

sketchbooks, daily sketchbook, drawing, sketching, hummingbirds, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It also gave me the kick in the pants I needed to begin experimenting with lino cutting and printing (something that had been on my creative to-do list for years!).

nasturtiums, lino cuts, lino printing, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My daily sketchbook practice (plus a nudge from my friend Jaime Haney) helped motivate me to try a daily painting challenge in September. It opened up my art to experimentation and play in a way that wouldn't have happened had I not spent a month completing those 37 paintings.

daily painting, 30 Paintings 30 Days, watercolor, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My art flourished in other ways in 2015, too.

watercolor, watercolor paintings, botanical watercolors, herbs, watercolor herbs, commissioned paintings, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And then my second. (I hope to share more about that one in 2016).

I licensed my art for the first time, working with an accomplished graphic designer for a special, small project (which I may be able to share with you at a later date). That opportunity came about expressly because of my Etsy shop, proving that despite Etsy's failings (and 2015's less than stellar sales there), it's still good to have an Etsy presence.

This year I had a couple paintings in national shows. One of my paintings was displayed at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show:

watercolor paintings, botanical watercolor, botanical paintings, watercolor flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Another was displayed at the 2015 National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa California:

heirloom tomatoes, watercolor paintings, watercolor tomatoes, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

In 2015 I created two of my very favorite paintings (yet):

watercolor paintings, houseplant portraits, cyclamen plants, watercolor cyclamen, watercolor houseplant, Pink cyclamen painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

watercolor nasturtiums, botanical watercolor paintings, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I created my third watercolor art print calendar (and I think it is my best calendar yet):

(There are still a few available in my shops -- here and here -- if you missed out on buying one).

I also began painting a series of watercolor goldfish,

watercolor, watercolor paintings, watercolor goldfish, goldfish paintings, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

a joyful, fun and freeing detour for my art.

I started working on creating repeat patterns for fabric design.

fabric design, repeat patterns, nasturtiums, watercolor, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My studio itself flourished this year as I repainted, decluttered and streamlined my work space.

studio, studios and workspaces, art studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My virtual studio flourished this year, too. I opened my own, independent web shop (where I sell my larger, $100 and over, originals as well as my calendar when it's in stock). I have also been refining and redesigning my website, keeping it up to date with a regularly changing home page and a constantly updated "what's new" page.

2015 was a prolific year for my blog, too (178 posts for the year!). I experimented a lot. One such experiment was a series of monthly Artist Interviews, a feature that I'm excited to continue into 2016. (Look for the first interview of the new year next Friday).

Not all of my blogging experiments were quite as successful as I would have liked, but blogs are tricky things right now. Some people believe that they are "dead", replaced by other social media. For me, the practice and discipline of blogging three times a week is not something I'm ready to give up. Additionally, I cherish the interaction, inspiration and connections with my readers -- Thank you, dear readers, for that!

watercolor painting, watercolor palette, painting, thank you, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My writing outside of my blog flourished a bit this year, too. I was a guest contributor to Shannon Kinney Duh's most recent Inside Out e-course. Inside Out is such a nurturing, inspiring e-course and Shannon is such an encouraging, inspiring teacher and mentor. I was honored to be able to make a small contribution to the creativity and joy she shares with the world.

The closer I look at 2015 the more glimmers of flourishing that I see. (You might be surprised that if you look closely at your own year, you've accomplished more than you might, at first, realize, too).

For me, the most valuable aspect of this past year wasn't quite as tangible as a finished painting or a published blog post. No, I think the way in which I most flourished this past year was the fact that my vision, my focus and my goals for the future have clarified to a sharpness I've never had before. That sort of accomplishment, regardless of all other failures, is something I'd wish for every year's close.

So, goodbye, 2015. Thank you for your gifts. The joy. The creativity. The clarity. And even, the challenges and difficulites. May I learn from your successes, your failures and everything in between.

And, on this first day of 2016, I'm sending wishes to you, my dear readers, for a joyful, creative, successful year, a year filled with beauty, with accomplishments and with wisdom. Thank you for your encouragement, your support and for accompanying me on this journey. I look forward to discovering where 2016 will take us!

anne butera, signature, my giant strawberry

**definition from Merriam Webster online

**the photo in the "artists" button in this post and on my sidebar is © Sarah Venema


  1. A fresh, shiny and Happy New Year to you Anne! I think you have flourished in so many ways this year. Thank you for all your blog posts and innovative ideas and encouragement. Thank you also for arranging the savor summer project that got me through some challenging times. I look forward to following your blog throughout 2016 and remaining your 'cheerleader'!!! :-)

    1. Thank you, Simone! Happy New Year to you, too!

      I'm so glad you have been with me on my journey and I'm so glad to know that I've inspired and encouraged you, too!

      Can't wait to see what we both get up to this year!

  2. Hi,
    The fabric idea will be so fun.I know I would love to have some shirts with your art work and even skirts, I have thought this several times. This will be a fun adventure.

    1. Hi, Carla! I love the idea of skirts and shirts with my artwork. (I think I'm going to need to make myself some pajamas out of my goldfish fabric once I've finished it!).

      I hope you have some great ideas for your own adventures in 2016! Can't wait to see what we both get up to. :)

      Here's to a wonderful year!!


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