A new year brings new plans, resolutions, but also melancholy, sadness even for some. A new chapter can be exciting or scary or both. But I do believe in this saying that ’today is the first day of the rest of your life’ and so I will face the new year with hope and excitement.
With the beginning of the new year many of us start thinking ahead and many look back. I am not a look-back kinda person so ahead lies not only a new kitchen (that’s beside the point here, I know), but a long hard look at my art business. Not so much my art, but my art business.
What I do
I paint, I write, I teach. That’s pretty much it. I’ve had success and I’ve had disappointments. I’ve had total failures. I’ve been learning about painting for the past 30-odd years. And I’ve always been interested in the business side of art. How to get clients, how to build a website, how to get a gallery and all that stuff. And many art business advisors come up with similar material, which is all useful and handy (see my recent review of Cory Huff’s art business book but there are many other good ones).
But amongst all the noise I have also found one of the most important things I want to never lose sight of: authenticity. Or staying true to who you are. Or being yourself. Or keeping it real. I don’t care what you want to call it; it all comes down to the same thing. And although I know my clients are not me and I am not my clients, I cannot create paintings that I don’t feel passionate about. I cannot create courses or workshops that I don’t stand behind fully. Art is so much about your inner values and dreams that integrity is vital. It stops being art if that part is lost.
I am not saying I lost integrity in the past year. By no means, I paint and learn all the time. So no, I will never teach that course ‘how to paint a tree in 3 simples steps’ as I just don’t believe it works like that. I explore and feel my way to the next painting and I try and teach my own painting process. I was sad having to stop offering workshops in my kitchen but I am super excited about the new ecourse I am building.
I’ve had a little dabble at ecourses. You might have seen my online painting demonstration. And recently I released a short mini course about colour mixing in pastel. I’ve learned a lot in creating both, and still thinking about how to improve them (I have an idea of adding something to the pastel one). In 2018 I took my first ever ecourse myself. It’s been an interesting and very useful experience.
I hope to apply what I have learned in my new ecourse, which I am building right now. It’s about pastel painting as well. And it’s not about me making money. It’s not about providing you with yet another source of information that you can get everywhere already through YouTube and books.
This will be me sharing what I have learned aver the past 30 years; trying to give you the vital experiences I have had (carefully chosen and condensed) that gave me the best learning moments. For example I learned a huge amount working with a limited palette. Even though I don’t paint with a limited palette now, some of these exercises shaped my learning process immensely.
I want to try to pass on the joy of painting in pastel, the fun of exploring and getting better. The course will be me sharing my excitement for pastel painting. It is so obvious to me that it is a great medium, and I can’t wait to show you. You cannot leave but excited to try, or so I hope.
And I will do the same in my paintings. I want to create more small works - not only because they might be a little more affordable for you, which means I can share my passion with more of you. And that is ultimately what I want to do: shout the message from the rooftops ‘Look at this piece of history, look at this fabric, look at this face; it’s worth looking at!’. In smaller works I can explore more ideas and work into high detail without it taking a year to complete. I have so many ideas to paint (to share!) that creating mini-worlds seems like the path to take right now. Little jewel-like, detailed, evocative mini-worlds (got 2 on the go right now, due for an exhibition in a few weeks - very exciting).
And so authenticity; sharing what I truly believe in, and making it the best it can be, is what I want to focus on. My paintings as well as my course will be about that. Showing you what excites me; what gets me up in the morning. I will try and share in paint, in videos, in blog posts and whatever else I can find, what propels my world, my art journey. I hope that by being honest and open about this (and sometimes it is hard to express it exactly) my passion will rub off on you and you will go off on your own adventure (waving across now and then I hope). I can’t wait.