Well, here we are at the end of another year. When December comes around I find myself at my keyboard, asking myself the same questions, what did I do? What didn’t I do? Why not more? This year I received a piece of advice from artist Scott Christiansen. In response to my return to painting, he reminded me to enjoy the journey. Wise advice, especially for someone new again to the canvas. Without a doubt I’ll need to return to these words again and again—and not just for painting.
There have been many surprises—many twists and turns in 2023, none of which are represented here. Though it’s not exhaustive, I have found it useful to report on a few categories. I don’t believe anyone is reading this except for me, but there’s still value. It’s helpful to stop and think about the year and to record those things that are so easily forgotten in the next.
- I reworked the art section of this website to utilize Eleventy Image instead of Cloudinary. Last year I thought Cloudinary would make managing images easier and I wanted to have the ability to publish remotely. Publishing remotely, required stringing other services together like Zapier to make it work. When I stepped back and took a look at what I needed the complication just didn’t seem worth it.
- I also replaced all other images to do the same. I had a patched together approach to images in general.
- Images are no longer WebP, they are saved as AVIF and fall back to JPEG.
- Images use attributes
decoding="async"to instruct the browser to defer the loading of images that are off-screen and decode the image asynchronously to allow other content to be rendered before it completes.
- Improved from 87th to 42nd on the Eleventy Leaderboards (out of 918). Presumably processing images with Eleventy Image was the biggest help.
- For the last year and a half I have been working feverishly to upgrade front-end architecture and component library. I’m beginning to see some of the fruits of that labor. It’s exciting to see clients begin to experience that work and development teams gain efficiency.
- A few years ago I began work on a system of CSS custom properties to define common rules: color, size, etc. There was a difficult pushback from leadership, but I persisted. I’m proud to say that foresight and planning, though not popular at the time, has paid dividends in the effort to bring uniformity to once disparate applications and web components.
- There is much more to do but without these underlying atomic systems the work would not have happened at the pace it did.
- I completed an oil painting this year, the first in 19 or 20 years. It felt like a new start so I wrote about it.
- I updated my oil painting setup. I found a French easel, used as a display model on clearance for $38. I’ve had two paintings on it this year.
- I’ve experimented with watercolors and gouache a bit this year. The idea was this medium would allow me to practice more regularly. It has not been the case.
- Running has taken a backseat this year. I’ve had less time during the day to make this happen. I need to make it a priority again, I find myself eating my lunch at my desk every day. It would do me well to get out—even for a walk.
- I ran fewer and fewer miles as the year went on. From 50.4 miles in January to 3 miles in November. I ran 709 miles in 2022 but only 247 miles in 2023.
- I launched a website based on a very silly comic I created 18 years ago, called the Galactic Guppy.
- I read a handful of books this year in the public domain, including books by William Blake, Fergus Hume, Maurice Sterne, and Rudyard Kipling. The two that stand out, however, were The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed and American Indian Stories by Zitkála-Šá. Each is quite different from the other, but I’ve found myself thinking about them throughout the year.
- I’ve had a book in my possession for 20 years, given to me by my design professor. This year I finally read it. Cook Book: Gertrude Stein, William Cook and Le Corbusier by Roy R. Behrens was an interesting and fun read.
- My last haircut was February 24th.