I have moved from working in mainly scratchboard for over a year to doing pastels and acrylic or oil miniature paintings. I've been thinking about why that is, and what my goals for each would be.
1. Scratchboard: I love the extreme detail that is possible with scratchboard. A lot of mine are in black and white so the focus is on light, values, and lost edges - not color. On the downside, since it is a very slow process with many layers of diluted ink it takes a long time. Working from life is not much of a reality for most scratchboard artists. Working from photos can be a problem for me. The tendency can be to just copy it instead of interpreting it. Sometimes I feel the need for an alternative to force me out of it.
2. Pastel: That need for an alternative has led me take up pastel again. My #1 goal for pastels is to practice a much more impressionistic way of working. I love the textures and looseness of pastel painting. I also often prefer things other than brushes for my work: scratchboard tools, pencils, pastel sticks, etc. I also enjoy the color possibilities of pastels. With my limited amount of colors in pastel I have to think more about what colors and values I can get to make the image work within those limits. That is a very good thing! Again, it forces me away from copying the photo too literally. My goal for pastel is to gain enough studio skill that I can move into plein air painting. I tried it a bit this summer, but hadn't yet gained enough of the basic skills to succeed. I'm still working towards a more impressionistic look in them - I suspect I'll be fighting that battle for quite a while!
3. Miniature Acrylic/Oil Paintings: Sometimes I just like to paint and I am enchanted by miniature paintings. This is another area that I became aware of within the last year. I have looked at lots of miniature shows online and studied the guidelines for art enough to have an understanding and appreciation for it. (Minatures have the goal of 1/6 scale or lower, a very flat surface - no impasto, are normally quite realistic, and need to hold up well to magnification since they are meant to be held in the hand and looked at through a magnifying glass.) Plus, I don't currently have enough sales or wall space for larger art. Miniatures, for now, will be a bit more in the hobby stage, just working on them occasionally. As I get a few finished and framed I may submit work to some miniature shows. I'll set next year as my goal. It seems a lot of the very good shows run in the fall and winter.
I'm hoping all these things will mesh together to help me grow in expressing myself as an artist.