I think it’s time for an chat with myself. I have to be honest, this year hasn’t been easy.
As I sit in my studio typing this, I am surrounded on all sides by paintings that I have started, reworked, abandoned, finished but not sold, plus a few blank canvases.
Piles of sketchbooks half started, (or half-finished depending on your point of view), Mounts, Paper (watercolour, pastel, oil!) Notebooks, copies of ‘Artists and Illustrator’ as yet unread, Design files, books, paint (oil and acrylic) pastels, pencils, pots, easels. If I drop dead tomorrow I pity the poor soul that has to clear my studio! It’s a mess. And I think a physical metaphor for my creative and restless brain.
Not concentrating on one thing long enough to perfect it, wanting to try everything, and try it NOW! I am throwing ideas and mediums at various substrates and hoping that it sticks in the quest to find MY voice that I hear calling from far far away.
Is it just me?
I have recently spent four worrying weeks in a state of creative paralysis too scared to pick up anything that could ‘make a mark’ and it was so frustrating and ever so slightly worrying.
I felt I had lost my mojo. But I know I’m not alone. Almost all artists I know have a period of creative block.
But it was making me panic!
I worried that I was not as good as I wanted to be, so instead of applying myself to practice and get better and the thing I want and need to improve, I watched Youtube videos and spend an unfathomable amount of time I don’t have, on Pinterest!
This then made me worry that I am no good which sent me into a spiral of self-doubt which then needed feeding with new materials, new stuff so I could try this and that out!
To top it off I seem to be incapable of building on the foundations of success!
Every time I do something that get’s a good response, I never do it again!
What is wrong with me?
Please tell me I’m not the only one!
So the conversation I am having with myself in the mirror right now, is ‘how do I, a ‘Creative Professional’ who finds themselves in a dark place devoid of inspiration and the will to just do something, get back to work? – in a productive, enjoyable and profitable way?’
The problem feels a bit like a hike up Everest, so I need to break it down into boulders and then pebbles. I am a big believer in baby steps being an easy way to making a difference, and whilst it may not feel like one is moving forward, if you look back after just a few days of achieving small tasks you will see things starting to change.
Just change one small thing.
So, a plan, a goal, a step by step list of daily tasks is what I need to get me going!
First I ask myself three questions:
What am I hoping to achieve?
Financial independence would be nice! And the ability to switch a light on in a room, and walk out to get something without hearing “Turn that bloody light off! It’s costing a fortune!”
What do I want to say?
What is the point of my art - who am I talking to and what is the dialogue?
What is stopping me?
Self belief and the pressure to make it happen – there will be sacrifices!
How can I make it happen? – Turn it into a task list! AND STICK TO IT!!!
My problem is that I am not applying the same rules and methods to my artist life that I did in my professional managerial (and salaried) life! I know this is a situation that has to change if I am to stay clothed, fed and housed and married!
So my goal is to actually make my art pay in 2019.
If it isn’t then I may as well give up!
After 10 years of making art I need to be showing some sort of point to it all and after seeing my savings dwindle to a big fat zero, and so this year is make or break. I know I am not alone. Many of my artist peers have had to ditch the canvas for the sake of a regular income. I have had to feed my passion with freelance design work or I would have ended up sleeping in the woods with *Oscar!
The public feeling of uncertainty and fear over what will happen to their personal ability to ride the wave of upheaval with all that is Brexit is, I am convinced part of the reason why so many artists have seen their sales fall this year. People view art as a luxury – a nice to have. So MY Art needs a purpose.
To have any chance of making this happen I need to address the following:
I have not raised my prices for ten years!
My cost to make ‘v’ selling price factoring in any costs to me – e.g. fuel, overheads, materials
Previously I based my prices on the marketplace and what similar art was selling for. Whilst this is a sensible and arguably the right approach, when attending art fairs and exhibitions the price of actually being there was not considered sometimes leaving me out of pocket.
So I need to be more realistic and focussed!
Choose what I spend my money on according to the likelihood of getting it back - plus some! Choose Art Fairs and Exhibitions according to who they attract.
1/ Consider my subject matter.
Whilst I adore painting horses, dogs and other animals, is Pet Portraiture the way forward? There are a lot of artists competing for the same market and some of them are cheap! Too cheap! So take a look at what is actually selling. Do my version without selling out!
2/. Plan more workshops
Workshops are such a rewarding thing to do!
Yes, there is lots of preparation, but there is nothing I like better than encouraging others and helping them to see that they ‘can’ when all their lives they were convinced (usually by an evil art teacher) that they couldn’t!
3/ Schedule in more Exhibitions/Outings for 2019 and 2020
Venues work two years and sometimes more up front so whilst I have one Exhibition already booked for 2019 with Print Pastel and Paint, I need to book a solo show.
For this I would be showcasing what I product in ‘1’
4/ Schedule and Open Studio
A great way to sell previously painted art that I feel I am moving away from as I find my authentic artistic voice.
I might be able to see some of the floor in my studio too – best schedule time to have a good clear out too!
5/ Launch a regular newsletter
Aimed at current clients but also at the people that I aiming my new work at.
To do this I need to grow my subscriber list.
To do this I need to attract their attention through blogging and relevant work – be seen!
Schedule time to paint!
Schedule time to blog!
Prepare some giveaways that promote new work
Give people an incentive to sign up for my newsletters so I can tell them what I am doing and give them something that is relevant and helpful to them
6/ Enter juried exhibitions and competitions
Make a list of all the above that are relevant to you along with deadlines.
Print off T+C’s
Diarise the deadlines and time to complete the work
For the above use Katherine Tyrells, artbusinessinfo.com guide to working out costs of entering to make sure this is budgeted in and doesn’t exceed marketing allowance
7/ Set a budget for the year for costs and stick to it!
Do a business plan – even if it does kill you! And use up all canvases, paper, paint etc that you already have before buying any more!!
8/ DON”T BE A BUSY FOOL!!!
Write that large somewhere in the studio and make sure you look at it to keep you on track.
Align all social media posts – facebook, Instagram, twitter etc so you only post once and also schedule posts once a week for a 7 day feed of fabulousness!
9/. Schedule in time to experiment, play and be inspired!’
Give yourself a break! Reward ourself after finishing and getting paid for a commission with a day at a nearby Gallery, or just playing in your sketchbook!
10/ Do not be distracted
....or tempted by the constant stream of sweetie shop marketing from evil art material peddlers – yes you know who you are.
My computer knows who you are as well. I only have to start a word with J and Jacksons Art is up on the screen!
Aside from stocking up on materials for workshops this is a purchase free zone!
Do not sneak 15% offers into my inbox, and do NOT offer me Free Gifts or Free P+P. It won’t sway me.
So the sacrifices that need to be made to ensure all this happens....
Well, it will involve the odd Excel spreadsheet (Head In Hands Moment) but if it is less serendipitous and more structured and allows me wiggle room for scribble time then it can only be a good thing. For too long I have bumbled along painting commissions and doodling in between taking each day as it comes. If I am to truly say I am an artist I need to make this my business and take it and myself seriously!
I CAN DO THIS!
2019 is a year where I am already busy with workshops and demonstrations, and with three exhibitions planned I will need to have my head down creating new work. I have promised myself time to experiment with new stuff each week. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and I have always prided myself on my ability to have no inhibitions in my sketchbook. We all need somewhere to blow off steam and just be daft. Another reason why I won’t be entering any Sketchbook Prize Competitions!
I hope you will follow my journey and tips along the way. And if you share my despair don’t be alone – come and join me! I would love your company along the way.
Or why not join me in discovering a new hobby, new techniques, new skills if you are a beginner.
Art really can be addictive but is a great way to discover new things about yourself. I am testament to that! Who knew that I could Chair an Art Association and organise Exhibitions and Competitions?
Or produce a painting in 4 hours?
Or make people cry when I handed over a momento of a lost friend? Actually maybe they weren’t crying in a good way??? Oh! the doubting voices are coming back!
So Santa, a bulk roll of industrial strength bin bags for me, and some banging tunes to keep me sane!
If you would like to join me on one of my workshops CLICK HERE to see the programme for Spring 2019
If you would like me to demonstrate to your art club CLICK HERE to contact me
If you would like me to paint a commission I would be happy to discuss your requirements! Please CLICK HERE to contact me
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If would like to send positive criticism regarding my work, I am always open to learning and listening. I do not appreciate negative remarks if they cannot be learnt from so please keep any nasty negatives to yourself. Only light and love here!
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