I wonder if people have the idea that artists drift into their studios with a nice cup of tea in the morning and sit at their easels, immediately entering their magical creative world of making art. Oh how I wish!!
I have always imagined Monet just wandering into his beautiful garden, setting up his easel and painting a masterpiece but even he must have had to prep canvases, buy materials and clean his brushes! My studio descends into creative chaos fairly quickly so there is regular sorting out and tidying up to do – including shifting the odd spider or two! And I’m usually stepping over a dog -or three – while all this is going on. Hamish, the eldest and smallest art critic of the pack, spends his time in the one and only armchair and has to be turfed off for visitors!
Getting it ‘out there.’
Then there’s the whole marketing thing, which does not come naturally to me nor any artists I know! But there’s no point in making lovely art if nobody knows you’re doing it. I have my beautifully designed website which I could never have managed on my own, created by the lovely Lynn (Colony of Ants Web Design) and I am learning how to use social media to connect with people who – hopefully – will enjoy my art. Getting to grips with Instagram stories and reels is a bit of a challenge but I have discovered the beautiful and extremely helpful Natalia @yesartmarketing and am finally beginning to make a bit of headway. Sometimes its good to admit you don’t know everything and to get a bit of help.
The artist’s year is actually busier than you might think. There are usually exhibitions to prepare for in spring, summer and autumn, so not only do you need a body of work ready to exhibit but there’s a ton of admin in terms of paperwork including photos, application forms, and fees to attend to. And – for the technically challenged like myself – another whole minefield of taking photos, converting to jpegs or whatever, and resizing them so they are the right file size for wherever they are going. And if I sound like I know what I’m talking about that’s a fluke! Plus, I’m hopeless with any sort of power tool so himself has to be asked to fit mirror plates to the picture frames as most exhibition spaces demand them for health and safety.
Then we have the annual Art Trail when local artists open their studios for visitors. Prep here usually involves making cakes which is no hardship! And again having work to sell, including greeting cards and unframed pictures so that there is a wide range of things for folk to choose from should they wish to buy.
Painting! Painting itself is pure pleasure. Another world where I get to play with colour and texture, and to fill a canvas with feelings, memories and impressions of things I love. Its a way of becoming completely mindful and lost in the moment. Sometimes it flows and sometimes its a push and pull until I can finally get onto the canvas what I have in my head. Occasionally the paint all gets scraped off and I start again. Whether its the buttery feel of oil paint, the softness of pastel or the transulscent effects of watercolour, I get lost in the magic. I lose all sense of time and am always pleasantly surprised when the studio door opens and in comes himself with a cup of coffee and a snack. In the winter when its cold and damp outside and the studio log burner is lit, we sometimes have lunch in there too – to be shared with the dogs needless to say!
Passing on the Love
Pure joy is when somebody, somewhere, sees a piece of my art and connects with it. This is usually an immediate emotional response to a painting, it just resonates with them. On occasion they may generously take the time to let me know they like it and why – which fills me full of happy butterflies!
And when somebody loves my art enough to want to own it, then that’s the high point for me – the knowledge that they will enjoy and take pleasure in that painting for years to come. My hope is that it will bring colour, enjoyment and happiness to their home and enrich their lives. It feels like passing on the love I felt as I was creating it in my studio.
So far this summer I have sold four paintings to absolutely lovely people who obviously ‘get’ my art – it’s such a thrill and I couldn’t be happier, or indeed more grateful.