2023 in review

Published on December 27, 2023 by Noah Bradley

2023 was a strange year for my art because I didn’t really finish any paintings. I didn’t produce epic illustrations or landscapes or anything that I’m usually known for. I didn’t make a bunch of art for The Sin of Man. I worked a lot this year, but in different ways.

Early in the year I kept up with studies in the same vein as the work I did for Paint Figures Better, my first book, which I published this year. I only did a few before I wanted to switch directions and do something else. I was spinning my wheels and ready to move on.

I worked in oils a lot, returning to my favorite medium after another too-long hiatus. Rachel and I started to redo our studio and then spent a lot of time together, painting and listening to audiobooks.

I intended to run a course on Art Camp covering oil painting and everything that I know about the medium and getting started in it. But the course didn’t pan out. Perhaps it was too expensive or perhaps it was the wrong time, but I wasn’t met with enough interest so I shelved it. For now. I will eventually teach oil painting. Maybe as a book?


I love Thomas Scholes’ #MaySketchaDay challenge. I’ve completed it several times and benefited from the exercise each time. I usually generate some sketches worth finishing.

This year I wanted to try an AI-focused approach. I wanted to see what it might be like to incorporate AI into my work and how I might enjoy it.

It was pretty fun and I like the results but, like photo-bashing, I find the process underwhelming. It is phenomenal for producing an image but it is far less good at producing the image, at least for now. We’ll see where things go from here, I suppose.


I’ve wanted to do #inktober for about a decade and never have. I’ve done a few drawings but never more than that. I’m just not great at black and white work or using lines or committing to that must consistent work. But this year I completed the whole month of drawings, largely just to prove that I could. The results are mixed; some of the drawings are terrible, others are alright. By the end I started to get a look that I liked.

Paint Landscapes Better

I’m working on a book about landscape painting a bit like Paint Figures Better except much more instructive. I’ve been painting good landscapes for a long time and I’ve done a whole course on them, so I have a lot to say on how to paint landscapes and how to learn to do so.

I also wanted to see if I could get even better. I saw the monumental progress I made with my figure painting and I wanted to make similar leaps with my landscape skills. So I started studying and managed quite a few over back end of the year.

I’ve learned a lot already and have a lot more to learn. Each one shows my things that I do well but more importantly things that I don’t do well.

It’s helping with the book, too. Giving me ideas on things to cover and providing images that I can use to illustrate various principles.


I wrote a lot this year. I outlined and then began drafting the novel for The Sin of Man. I outlined and began drafting Paint Landscapes Better. I toyed with outlines for a few other books that may or may not happen.

I wrote more articles this year and I can thank my mailing list for a lot of that. At the end of March I started a new weekly email format and have stayed consistent with that. In addition to other fun things, I write a short thought and a Q&A in each edition. All of those weekly snippets have added up to quite a lot of writing.

Everything else

We traveled to Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey in the beginning of the year. It was the most exhausting trip of our lives, but we have some funny stories and good memories.

That trip wiped out our energy to travel, so we stayed closer to home this year. We went on road trips, which we loved. No dealing with airports and more visits with friends who live sorta-close.

I returned to lifting consistently, packing muscle back on and slowly restoring some of the lost strength from my neck injury last year. My weight has fluctuated from the bulk and cut cycles throughout the year and I’m landing about 8kg lower than I started the year. Lean and mean.

I tried fasting. Mostly day-long fasts, but a few two and three day fasts. It added up to about 30 days of not eating, which feels impressive in retrospect.

I read about a hundred books this year, which is what I was aiming for. Some were long, others short. Some were serious, others trashy entertainment. But I’m at my best when I read often so I make reading a continual goal.

Looking ahead to 2024

The new year begins in a few days and I’m excited for what it has in store. I like where I’m at and I love how we’ve grown over the last year. My art is improving and it’s tremendous fun. I’ve shifted my focus to more writing, which feels like the right place to be. I was never very good at being just one thing; I’d rather be good at a few things.

I’ve made goals for the year ahead, but goals change when faced with the battlefield of life. I also don’t tend to share too many of my goals publicly. Too likely that I won’t live up to them. That said: making books is the focus.

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. I don’t have any nuggets of wisdom to share, I just wanted to take a look back at my year to prepare for the year ahead.