I’ve been putting together my new programme of workshops for 2016 and as a result thinking about some of the comments people have made to me at times. When I talk about painting I so often hear a response that goes something like – “Oh, I’d love to, but I can’t draw”, or “Someone told me I can’t draw/paint” etc. Often said with a strong sense of regret.
Unfortunately it seems that there are quite few people have had some kind of negative experience when growing up around artistic or creative expression. Either that, or that art is not the kind of thing that’s worthwhile or that you can earn a living at. Even without this kind of interaction people do seem create their own inner critic who sits on their shoulder (metaphorically) getting in the way of them being creative.
As a personal development professional and an artist I am interested in helping people step around this and connect with their inner creativity to express themselves in the ways they want and to be satisfied with their work. So all my workshops pay attention not only to the techniques of working with the medium in question, whether it’s acrylic or oils, but also to the conversation we might be having with ourselves while we are working. I’m looking to help the person begin to identify if some of their thinking might be getting in their way of their creativity.
And along the way we’ll be having some fun and Play with Paint! Interested? Call me to find out more 07985 936393 about workshops or coaching.
I put up a post a few days ago about working with triads of colour. I said I was looking forward to trying out the principles with acrylic paint to see what that might be like and it’s been great fun.
I have found painting the landscape in the Peak District to be an interesting challenge. Moorland can be pretty bleak and uncompromising and although this is contrasted with some lovely rolling green hills interspersed with rocks, trees, and dry stone walls, the composition and use of colour becomes more important, otherwise I find I can end up with a just a very green painting. I think this is one of those times when, because I’m not painting something that is particularly beautiful of itself, unlike the Isles of Scilly for example, it can become beautiful through the expression of the artist. There is a wildness and bleakness that I do find appealing and compelling, but that doesn’t make it something that in my view works as a painting, so the challenge is how convey something of the bleakness and the wild openness in a way that is visually attractive.
Scotch Pines at Longshaw
The chance to play around with some colour seemed to fit well with this, and here are my first couple of attempts. The first painting is of scotch pines in the grounds up at Longshaw. This was from a walk on a lovely bright winter’s day. I was particularly struck by the deep shadows in the foreground and the light in the distance. The walk we did on this day took us through Grindleford and Padley Gorge where I took lots more snaps to work on back in the studio. Longshaw is a National Trust property between Sheffield and Hathersage.
Snow on Stanage
The next couple of paintings are both around Stanage, one of the many grit stone edges that can be found in this area. From the tops the moors stretch out before you into the far distance and all there is to see is mile after mile of rolling heather, bracken and grass moving in the breeze. Here’s something from a day with the heather in bloom and another when there was snow on the ground.
I’m not a great fan of watercolour, always found them a bit wishy washy and I’ve never felt that confident using them either, too delicate I suppose. I’ve used them for rough sketching and playing about but nothing much else. However, I recently discovered a great book, Art Escapes by Dory Kanter an American watercolorist and I’m inspired! Here’s Dory’s website to have a look at her work. http://www.artworldtours.com/
The book is about keeping an artistic journal, and in it there are some lovely ideas and really great exercises to do as part of a process of doing something creative every day. Which is my latest thing by the way, being creative every day – but more on that in my next post.
Derbyshire Open Arts
What I’ve found most useful is her ideas on working with triads of colour. Now, I tend to work with a limited palette anyway, but her approach was new and I’ve been having great fun. I’ve started with some little water colour paintings that I’ve made into cards, (they will be on sale at Derbyshire Open Arts this weekend) and I’m feeling like they will lead on to bigger things; maybe some larger watercolours. I’m also really excited about how I might take this idea of working with triads and use the principle with oils and acrylic, now that could be really interesting.
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.
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.
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.