To sell or not to sell…..

I had a really interesting conversation recently with a couple of people,  both artists, about the impact on an artist of taking a commercial stance to their work.  The question of whether to sell or not, and what happens to artistic integrity if we begin to take a commercial approach to our work.

Artistic Integrity

I have a background in marketing and as well as being a part time artist I am a psychotherapist and this dilemma reminds me of similar one when I first began to market myself as a therapist in private practice.  How to maintain my integrity as a therapist and be effective in selling and marketing what I do.  The basic principles of marketing are about finding out what your customers or clients want and then providing it.  But I think this becomes a difficult proposition  when it comes to something as deeply personal as art, which for me is about a creative expression of my experience of an aspect of the world.

Social Media

As a therapist I resolved this dilemma by deciding what was most important was, that I was true to myself and what I thought about therapy, regardless of any need to “sell” myself.  So, for me, the role of marketing in therapy was to find a way to be as transparent as possible.  I use a website, Twitter, Facebook and I blog, these are the marketing tools  I use to let people know about my approach and who I am, so that they can decide if they wanted to meet me and possibly work with me.


So, how does this relate to being an artist? I think it is possible to retain our integrity and be commercial in our approach as well. I think the commercialism is about what we do with the work once we have created it.  What then becomes very important is knowing about our potential  markets – the people who may be interested in what we have to say creatively and making effective use of the various means that are available to communicate what we do to those people who may be interested.

What do you think? I’d be interested in hearing experiences of the impact of how selling your work has impacted on you.

Winter Skies


Winter skies fascinate me.  There seems to be so much more going on in terms of light, energy, cloud formation, colour.  So much to explore.  The intensity of a blue summer sky with a bright, bright sun is lovely and I also find something very compelling about a winter sky.  At the moment I am spending considerable amounts of time gazing up and noticing the impact it’s having on me, and I’m reminded of EM Forster’s descriptions of the sky in a Passage to India “the overarching sky” and the question of what is beyond the sky and what beyond that?

Ideas Bank

So, winter skies are in the ideas bank and I will include some paintings in my Seasons Ending collection, focusing on moody colours, dramatic clouds and the land in silhouette.  I think the fascination for me is because I am very interested in open spaces and the sky,  in some ways, is one of the biggest open spaces there is.

Low Tide II

Walk at Withernsea

Walk at Withernsea

I’ve just uploaded a new painting to my website. I’ve been working on this for a few months off and on. It’s inspired by a walk I took earlier this year at Withernsea on the Yorkshire coast. It was a thoroughly breezy day, yet with a clear sky, the sun still felt warm enough to be on the beach. Not long after I came back I did a small 20×20 painting in acrylic that I was never that pleased with.

What next?

More recently I went back to the photograph and thought I would try a different approach using a palette knife to get more movement and drama into the painting. It felt like a dramatic day with a stiff breeze, a very low tide leaving the beach exposed with huge swathes of water lying on the sand reflecting the light of a beautiful cerulean sky.  Although closer to capturing the feeling of the day,  I wasn’t that happy with this version either, it was too broken up, not enough integration between areas and colour. So it sat on the wall for another few weeks while I occasionally gazed at it and wondered what might come next.

Oil Paint

What came next was oil paint – I was looking at it one day and thought “I wonder what would happen if…….”

I love those moments with a painting – clearly something had been going on in my unconscious.  I’m finding it increasingly important to have the patience to wait and see. To live with a bit of uncertainty not knowing where to go next, yet be willing to see what will emerge.  What does emerge is often surprising and in this case a different result to what I would have got if I hadn’t been willing to wait.

Low Tide II

Blue of the Scillies

PorthlooI’ve been working on a series of paintings called Blue of the Scillies, based on a couple of trips to the Isles of Scillies one in spring 2010 and again this year at the end of the summer. What a truly lovely place. Peaceful, quiet, unspoilt all the tourist information is right.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, walking the islands, St Mary’s, Tresco, St Martins and St Agnes.

Isles of Scillies

I took my sketch book with me,  completed a few sketches and took lots of photographs to work from in my studio when I got home.  Sketching in situe I begin to get more of a feel for a place, a sense of how the landscape works which makes it easier when working from photographs later. And I like it, finding a quiet spot, sitting down and making a sketch, sometimes just in pencil,  sometimes pen and watercolour.

I like to paint scenes where I have made a connection, where there is something about the the light or the energy which touches me in some way.  I’m someone who is deeply interested in our relationship and connection to nature.  I know I feel most peaceful when I am looking at a beautiful view, whether its calm quiet scene or something wilder and more dramatic and I paint those places where I have made such a connection.

Church at Old Town
A late evening sketch at Old Town, it was a chilly evening and I was thinking of dinner and a glass of wine! Its a lovely spot with the tide out, the bay is often full of boats and on a warm day people shrimping.  Not this evening though.

I was trying out some new water soluable pencils with pen and ink – quite liked the effect and easy to use.

Another sketch in pen and water soluable pencils.  This time at Innisgden, which feels slightly mysterious to me.  The Iron Age burial mounds looking out over the sea. I sat and felt a sense of history.

Innisigden to Bar Point – oil on box canvass.

And here is the painting – oil on box canvass.

Some of the other pencil sketches from my walks around the islands. The hottest day at Bar Point I had the beach to myself and when I reached Porthloo, I sat on a bench, with a quiet mind,  tired feet and enjoyed the view.

Bar Point

Art thoughts

Sources of inspiration, something of a travel diary, ideas for sharing, my experiences of painting, sketches, being creative.

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