Do you have an art plan or will you be going with the flow

I’m starting the year with a commitment to rekindling my blog and giving time to go with the flow in my art world. Flow is my word this year and I have some ideas to help me stick to a slower pace with more freedom…

How is your winter panning out? Are you good at wintering? Personally it’s a time of year I feel quite conflicted about. On the one hand it’s nice to come to a bit of a standstill and calm down, a time to do less and become more contemplative and on the other hand it is a time to think about the year ahead and start to make plans.

All artists are constantly practicing. It’s a funny concept really – we call ourselves creative practitioners and this has a double meaning – we practice and we practice. Meaning we do it and we are constantly trying to get better at it.

January has been deliberately a quiet time. For the past two or three years I’ve hardly stopped being ‘productive’ and although creativity is a big part of my life I was feeling conscious that sometimes it’s important to slow down.

So I have been making one huge painting this month – a commission that I am thoroughly enjoying without anything else to distract. It feels like a luxury and I’m definitely in the flow state with this. Here is the painting which is a commissioned work. I have called the painting ‘From the heart’ as the people commissioning the work wanted me to integrate these words into the painting. Just so you know – if you would like to commission me to paint for you here are the details

As an artist you really don’t have to be painting every single day and this is something I had been trying to live up to and goodness only knows why because no one is making me accountable. This year I plan to make things a little easier.

There are so many other things tugging at my desires – a desire for new adventures, a need to give some love to my home, reconnecting with friends I have not seen for a while. Practice, I have decided, should be about loving what you do and creating the right ambiance to grow and leave room for all the other things that enrich and nourish our existence.

It’s so easy now to be driven by those around you and by social media. The relentless posting, scrolling and comparing. I took a break from posting on Instagram over Christmas. After sharing work and connecting with others on the platform for several years almost daily recently I’ve been questioning if this is the best way of spending time, energy and business focus.

I have been asking questions about what social media adds to my practice. I’m fed up of jumping through the content creation hoops. Right now social media feels like noise with suggested posts I don’t want to look at, ads and really terrible films. A few do it well but most are simply dire in my view.

Also recently I’ve been feeling the dreaded comparisonitis – of course there is no such word but it is just the worst thing in any practice. I am feeling an urge to return to blogging about art and my life as an artist hence this latest post. It’s a more satisfying way of communicating. I want to move away from the noise and to re engage with my art without thinking – hmmm what shall I post on Instagram. It simply isn’t healthy.

Always open to trying new things I joined a paid artist community for a six month period in 2022 with the intention of forging new connections and learning new things. The reality of being part of the community was that it didn’t really feel right. I didn’t feel particularly connected and the promised business insights were low on delivery for me so I decided to leave. It wasn’t that the community had anything wrong with it, many sing it’s praises, but sometimes you join something only to realise that actually in practice it is better to just plough your own furrow and seek help for specific areas where you need assistance. It stays authentically true to you that way.

I think for me the final guiding reason on deciding to ditch this subscription was the ease of being distracted by the needs and observations of so many artists at different stages in their journey (very noisy)and the emphasis on growing the business side of being an artist. Don’t get me wrong, the business side is part of the reality if you decide you want you sell, but it’s mostly quite easy to slowly figure it all out so long as you do it at a pace one stage at a time. 

All artists need and seek community but for me it’s finding people with whom the connections are real and have a grounding in real life. I’m a social animal and far prefer to meet face to face than online. That said some on line connections have led to some great meetings. It’s a bit of tangled web really and one that I think most artists grapple with. On the one hand we use it to show what we are up to and to help generate sales and on the other we can so easily get caught into a spiral of mindlessness. If you are an artist reading this. How does it make you feel?

This year I met up with three artists who I originally followed on Instagram to paint in beautiful places.

Clare Wassermann and I first met at a painting workshop years ago and we discovered that we were going to be in Portugal at the same time in November 2022 so we met up and I had the great pleasure of showing her a place I love – the island of Armona in the Ria Formosa. We sat and sketched leaning against a row of dustbins facing a beautiful house with a garden filled with luscious palms. What could possibly be nicer?

In September I met with Sharon Bruster, a Cornish artist who makes incredible abstract work where she uses the sea and squid ink as her medium. We talked about our art plans as we painted on the beach at Harlyn. We had first connected through doing an art swop years ago and the meeting this summer was coincidental. Sharon was driving down a lane in Cornwall and I happened to be walking down the lane at the same moment. Serendipity of the nicest kind – we really enjoyed sharing what we do. I can see that there may be some collaborations in the future as I plan to move towards abstraction more consciously this year.

Sharon writes a brilliant newsletter each month (my favourite of all I subscribe to) and I urge you to take a look.

I also caught up with Alison Gilbert – she made a visit to my studio. We had first connected through our love of intuitive painting and I had already visited her studio in Somerset, serious studio envy as she has the most incredible space. She is already making an e course as part of the Life Book e course offered by Tamara Laporte.

Meeting up with other artists is so important as we all learn so much from each other and it can be reassuring to chew over challenges we all face with being practicing artists trying to make a go of it.

Connections like these are really important to me. Making art is a solitary thing and taking time and making an effort to build in space to meet up with other artists is something I will integrate into the ‘flow’ of things this year.

My focus is going to be on my art practice, making connections and education. I want to trial some new ways of doing things and have with that in mind signed up to do some in person real life workshops where I will learn some more technical approaches from practitioners I admire. There will be more on this as I share my experience of these learnings.

There will be a commitment to work on at least a couple of new series of work. My print offering will continue and the best paintings I make will be professionally photographed for print. I believe in making prints as it means I can offer work at an affordable price, something that I feel passionate about as I believe we should all be able to have art on our walls and make our surroundings as joyful as we can.

I will be working on delivering a short on line e course. Having just dissed the concept of on-line communication I feel very differently about on-line learning. It enables people to learn from each other in their own time and pace and to access insights into practice at an affordable price. This year’s challenge will be to understand the technology and deliver on this. And I will be seeking help from people I trust to share their insights and experience. One artist who has been very helpful is Susan McCreevy who launched her first course showcasing the art of botanical gelli printing back in September.

So in essence I’m setting myself three tasks, two of these are water off a ducks back because painting in series is what I love to do most. Learning is something I enjoy and I’m looking forward to a range of creative workshops

The only difficult bit is the e course and I’m up for one meaty challenge that will take me out of comfort, into scary and stretch me so that I am growing in my practice.

Having just three things on my to do list feels comfortable and leaves space for all the other things that are important to me.

If you are an artist reading this I’d be very interested in learning more about your approaches to planning and what you are committing to do this year. Do you try to do too much? Are you goal centred or would you prefer to go with the flow?

Please feel free to connect or to contact me here