How to get started writing blog posts

My followers will know that I have committed to writing a weekly blog post. Break that down and it is 52 subjects I need to find to write about each year.  Sounds simple enough, until you try it!
Oh, I could write just for the sake of it, but you don’t want that, you need to be engaged and I don’t want to deliver something that doesn’t have some value.  So do please tell me, if there is something in particular you would like to hear my thoughts on.


For now though, I thought I would tell you the little I know about writing blog posts, which are worth reading, after all, that is why you are here.


So – You need a good heading and from what I have learned, it always helps to have a question as part of that heading.  Just think about what you type into Google when you are looking for something you want to find out about.  Why? How? Where? Which? When? What?  Etc. are the kinds of queries you need to use.

Then what to write.  Well it should entertain or inform.  People are not interested in your walk in the park or your visit to the chiropodist unless they have a personal interest in you or the park you walk in or they need help with their feet, but that is a very narrow market and if you want a following these are subjects people are not likely to want to read about through your blog!

Before I started I spoke to other bloggers and I was advised to talk about what I know, tending toward the informing of people.  I readily admit that I am not an expert, but I do know some stuff.  I read all kinds of books, I love to investigate technical data about paint and art products and I talk to lots of people who share their knowledge with me, which I then pass on to you.
If you are excited by a subject, that will come across in your blog and people will want to read it.
I was also advised to keep it chatty.  I am sure you already know that the attention span of the average human is eight seconds, less than a fish which has an attention span of nine seconds!  So, I need to make you want to stay, read all the way through and enjoy what you have read.  You need to do that too.

I know that money can be made from blogging.  How?  Well, by collecting the emails of people, like you, who read my blogs and then using that to contact you, grow an email list and then have you see advertising which is bought by advertising companies.
I don’t do this.  I am not saying that I never will, but not right now,  I don’t do it.
I don’t have enough followers to be interesting to advertisers and really, don’t you have enough advertising bombarding you every day?
I don’t want to add to that.

And honestly, I don’t know how to set it all up.  Thankfully I have children who are absolute wizards at the social media lark, but I am woefully lacking in these skills.  For now, that is to your benefit.



That last thing I was advised to do was make it visually interesting and colourful.  I do this by sharing the artwork I produce and things which interest me.  When making your blog you need to make something which excites you.  Making art really excites me but I also realise that I need to be aware of social media, that unless I have a presence, people who might want to buy my work will not even know that I exist, so I am learning.

Hopefully, if you are still reading this, I am one chapter ahead of you in the book of knowledge, like many school teachers who are also only one chapter ahead of their students.  But I have started the journey and as I continue and learn more, I will happily share with you all.

There are loads of experts you can Google and learn from on the net.  Most of them will give you lots of good, far more in depth and technical details than this.  Info about setting up, publishing and making money from your blog, with lots of tips and very often a course you can sign up for where they will give you all the tools you need to be a seven-figure success, but really, you are just getting going, you are dipping your toe in the water and until you are really ready to commit and it is a big commitment, my basic, no frills, how to get started blog is all that you need for now.

So just start writing, get a catalogue of subjects ready and then worry about setting up website blogs, hashtags, SEO’s etc., etc. later.  Until you know that you can really commit to writing on a monthly, weekly or god forbid, daily basis, then take it in baby steps.  That way you will not waste your money until you are really ready to get going.

You have to learn to enjoy the process of blogging, you need to know that you can commit to it and you will have to find subject which amuse, entertain or educate others whilst keeping you happy and engaged.

As for me, I started in a very ad hoc way posting once a month(ish) and received no engagement until I realised that I could commit to a regular spot.
Publishing regularly is key.  People do look out for you each week and at a specific time. They tend to ignore you if you pop up on a different day to the one they were expecting.

One last very important point. Hashtags. If you don’t have any hashtags attached to your blog, you will vastly reduce the chances of someone finding you. I keep it fairly simple using the subject I am talking about and I only use about 8-10 hashtags. Make sure they are different every post otherwise your post will look like a bot and probably wont get shown at all.

So I hope that I have not put you off, that you will ease yourself into this fun activity and I hope that each week you will find one little gem from me, which will inspire you to come back next week, to find out more about me, my work and how I look at the world.



Which artists paints and substrates to use and why?

Just about every artist’s guide book you will ever read, about learning to paint will tell you that you should always use the best paints, brushes and substrates you can afford to use.
Starting with paint you will be advised to avoid student paints, at all costs, where possible. The reason behind this is straightforward, particularly when you are just starting out.  You never know how a piece of work will turn out, so you want to aim for every piece being the best you can do.  Sod’s law, you will create your favourite piece using cheap paint.  Student paint will have reduced pigment density, use cheaper fillers and run the possibility of fading and discolouring.  They handle very differently to professional quality paints, so you would need to learn all over again how to handle the better-quality paint.


…I still use student-grade paint.  There is a place for it, clearly, otherwise it wouldn’t be made, and I have learnt how to handle both high quality and student-grade paint.  Why?
I use it if I am taking a class to learn someone else’s methods of producing work.  I know I am not going to produce a masterpiece, that is not the aim of the class, and I would never want to put up for sale a piece I had made in someone else’s class, so using student-grade paint suits me in this situation.
I am there to learn how they work, how they achieve what they do and figure-out if anything I have learned from them is something I want to incorporate into my working practice.
I generally only take classes with tutors I respect and whose work I admire, so being there to learn how they work means I don’t need to use my good quality paints at this stage.  A good but cheaper student paint allows me to work in their way and when I get back to my studio I can decide where I want to take what I have learnt, to explore further.
Also using cheaper paints both at home and in classes I take, allows a freedom that you often don’t have when using the most expensive tools.  I can produce reference works without being precious, but then at home I can use my good quality paint once I have decided where I am heading with my new investigations and how best to incorporate that knowledge into my work.





Using student grade paint and paper.

And no, it is not stealing.  It’s research.
If I copied one person’s work or methods, that would be stealing but by looking at lots of different artists and the way they work, I am continually researching possibilities to improve the work that I make by exploring these different ways of working. Some fit, others don’t.

I have spent hours watching other artists work, through classes, on ‘You Tube’ and when I am teaching my students.  There is always something new to learn and even if I don’t use something in my work, knowing about it means that I can share it with my students.

IMG_20180312_011003 Using top quality acrylic paints, inks and paper.
Compare this with the piece above to see the difference in the depth of colour.

Where I don’t scrimp though is on the substrates I use in my work.  As a painter and a printmaker, I have all manner of different papers to use, depending on the type of art I am making, so feel quite passionate about this.

The permanence of paint and ink is affected by the paper you use and the binder in the paint.  You could use the most expensive permanent pigment possible but if you use Newsprint, for instance, your painting won’t last very long.

Newsprint is made from wood fibres and contains cellulose, this can cause a chemical reaction between the paint and the paper, it causes the paper to yellow, becoming brittle – because it is decaying – and this paper will ultimately disintegrate.

Canvases primed with gesso works well with acrylic.  Canvases come in linen, being the most expensive, cotton, in different weights and there are also some new synthetic cotton blends which will hopefully be good, but they haven’t been around long enough to know if they have good archival properties.

Board – I use board in my work and I am therefore aware of the problems with it.  Even the most expensive art shop produced boards are not perfect.  Sealed birch is reportedly the most archival as it less acidic than other woods and sealing it prevents oxidation.  Pressed boards, which I use, are made with non-archival glues which can degrade over time.  To mitigate this, I seal all the boards myself and all my works on board are coated in resin for extra protection.  As board is not considered to be stable, stretching canvas over sealed board and then coating it with a number of layers of Gesso, will give you the most archival results.

Watercolour Paper, here you really do get what you pay for.  Cheap papers will leave you very disappointed in the outcome, my advice is to leave well alone.  Medium-priced watercolour papers again are probably best avoided, but good quality heavy weight watercolour paper that doesn’t contain cellulose can be used for watercolour, oil and acrylic and looked after will last a very long time.

That said, the most permanent, most archival materials used in a painting do not stand a chance if the work is kept in an inappropriate environment.  Extremes of moisture, temperature and air pollution will cause chemical reactions in the paint, moulding to the substrate and the death of the artwork.

Hand coloured Lino Print using top quality paper and watercolour paints.

As long as your artwork is kept inside a building, out of direct sunlight with temperatures and humidity which do not fluctuate hugely, it will last and give you years of enjoyment.

How do you come up with ideas for your artwork?

This is a question I am asked a lot but in many different guises. For instance: –
“What influences your art?”
“How do you pick a theme?”
“Do you paint other things?”
Or the question can be phrased: – “I can never decide what to paint what do you suggest?” Or my favourite: – “Oh I don’t think I could do make the same piece over and over again, I would get bored, don’t you get bored?”

Let me give you some background so that you can understand where the questions are coming from.
I teach a variety of different types of art to adults of differing levels of ability and involvement in making art. The vast majority of these people are either at the beginning of their art journey or are returning to art after years of not making, some of who went to  art school, but their confidence in making art, is very low.
I no doubt have asked these very questions of other artists when I was at the beginning of my journey to become an artist.

So if you haven’t picked up a paintbrush since school and want to find out if the talent you had then, still lives inside you now, then it really doesn’t matter what you paint or draw. It is just about getting out the pens, pencils paints etc. and doing it.

Does that sound like a cope out answer?
Well it might do, but it isn’t.
We are surrounded by millions of items, views or people we can use to make our art from.
Try them all.
Just start.
As you do more and more you will discover what you most enjoy.

You could simply take a pencil line ‘for a walk’ across a piece of paper outlining the items on your kitchen counter. You could then focus in on something you like on that counter, a lemon, a sugar bowl or a vase of flowers.
But initially it really doesn’t matter what you draw, you just need to draw.

Think of it like this.

When you want to learn a new language, you sign up for night-school and they will start with asking you what your name is, where you live and maybe what your job is, are you married etc. etc. You will be given a few basic verbs and pronouns to help identify gender etc. and you will be sent home to practice that until the next lesson when you will go over all of the first lesson again. Right?

The point here is it is about doing it, practicing it and doing it all over again.
Each time you do it, you feel a little more comfortable and as time goes on you find the confidence to share this new skill with others.

Making art is exactly the same.
I had one student who would turn up for class every week wanting to produce a masterpiece in four hours.
Not going to happen!
He didn’t want to put the hours in, he thought that paying me to teach him would make it happen and so when it didn’t he became disheartened and wanted to give up.
He was a bit of a difficult case I have to admit, but I was at least able to help him see that if he wanted that kind of instant results, he was probably better off taking up photography, which he did, and he is now producing some beautiful images and is much happier in his art journey.

But for most people, with a bit more sticking power, it really is a case of practice, practice and practice.
Once you understand this, you realise it really doesn’t matter what you draw, you are just getting in the practice.
There is the notion out there that it takes 10,000 hours to become and expert at something, and whilst there are a lot of people who poo-poo the idea, I personally think it is valid.
10,000 hours might seem like a lot, but it isn’t really not when part of that time includes watching other people producing work, taking part in a local art group or taking classes and visiting art galleries. Visit artists’ open studio to talk to them about what they do and how they do it. There are very few people who spend all day every day in their studios just making art. You need outside influences to improve what you do and that is all part of that 10,000 hours.
Through that though you will discover what you enjoy producing the most – and I am not saying that it will be one particular theme – you are allowed to change, but you will find something you like best.
Once there you will understand that producing a number of works in the same theme is not the boring onerous task you once thought it was. Quite the opposite actually. Each work in a particular body of works, will be different. Each piece will have different strengths and weaknesses and each time you will learn something new to take on to the next piece.
Once you have arrived at the point where you feel that you have exhausted that topic, move to a new one. For some artists they make the same kind of art for most of their lives. Take the Dutch masters, who driven by their need to feed themselves and their families, produced piece after piece of flowers, fruits, dead game and silver, showing the wealth of the person the painting was being produced for. Then look at Matisse who produced work in lots of different themes whilst enjoying the use of colour. Picasso might have produced lots of different types of works, but he worked predominantly on one theme at a time until he was inspired to move to the next one.

So to answer the question “how do I come up with ideas for my artwork” is fairly straightforward.
I do take on commission works, where the ideas for the work could come from me or often comes from the client. Here we work together to produce work which we are both happy with.
My other work though comes from fish, flowers and organic shapes.
We keep two tanks of fish, one cold water and one warm semi tropical tank.
The cold-water fish, a Sarahr Comet called ‘Flip’, because he flips his tail and bashes the water when we are late feeding him, is who I use most.
He is so beautiful with feathery fins and tail.

I started using him in my printmaking pieces, notably screen prints, but some lino prints too. Watching him and the tropical fish swimming in amongst the plant life in their tanks and cleaning themselves on the bubbles was a real treat and consequently inspired the following different results. The bubble piece below also reminds me of Beta Fish and Seahorses playing in the surf.


No 37

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I also love architectural plants, wild flowers and organic shapes. I am currently working in my sketch books, which can be seen on my daily posts on Instagram, and later this month I shall be taking those hours of work and translating them into bigger and hopefully better outcomes of the smaller works. Watch this space!

I hope this helps you on your art journey and please do contact me if you would like to know more or get any advice on how to get started.









Introducing this months artist – Beáta Bősze

This is the first in my series of interviews with artists and artisans who I have met, found to be interesting people and have agreed to be interviewed by me.
Please allow me to introduce you to Beáta Bősze. Beáta Bősze

Beáta and I met on-line through group working towards improving our on-line presence in the art world. With five other ladies we meet twice a week to discuss our successes and failures and receive support from each other in moving forward through the often treacle like art-world business.
Beáta where were you born and where do you live now?
I am Hungarian, from the wonderful town of Budapest where I also live.
What is your background?
Originally, I am an economist who was working in the Money and Capital Markets since graduating and subsequently I worked in various different positions in that field.
Why did you change careers and how did you learn your craft to start painting?
I started painting when I was living in Malaysia. I received an email about “How to become a creative, happy woman?” This free e-course was about expressing our emotion through painting with our fingers whilst listening to our favourite music and imagining our happy place.
The course inspired me so much that I joined The Studio at KL where I learnt, in person, painting from several great artists such as Jennifer Tan, Elnaz Rostami, Haze Yusup in Self-portraits, Colour Harmony and American Portrait Drawing. I also took other on-line classes to support my learning. Basically, I haven’t stop painting since.

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Which media do you prefer to work with and why?
I paint with acrylic because it dries fast and gives me the possibility to express my feelings through several layers in one painting session. I like working fast and changing directions. I love how the story unfolds between the lines. But I also love using oil as it is a very different medium which lets me slow down and practice patience because the layers dry slowly over time. I especially like using oils for figurative paintings.
What does your work aim to say?
I produce intuitive abstract and figurative paintings. In my art I express my deep feelings of joy, happiness, loneliness, homesickness, anger and love. The figures are symbolic and the colours are connected to the story behind the paintings.
My art is a healing practice for me to resolve my life challenges. Between the lines I see my own stories translated into imaginative tales expressing Hope for the main character.
Does your work comment in anyway on current social or political issues?
I painted a canvas to honour Dr. Tun Mahathir Mohammed, the Malaysian Prime minister on his 93rd birthday. Dr Mahathir returned to politics as the head of the opposition with an astonishing victory at the age of 92 to fight against corruption.
Interestingly, when I feel upset by political issues I regularly find a super power (an Excalibur) appearing on my canvas in an abstract way.
Who are your biggest influencers?
Besides my art teachers, my biggest influencers are Henri Matisse, Egon Schiele, Alex Kanevsky, Peter Doig.
The rich vegetation of the Rainforest, the Asian way of life, the Asian art including batiks, masks and statues make a significant and visible impact on my art.
How do you navigate the art world?
I have visited local art fares in Malaysia and Budapest, had discussion with Gallery owners in Warsaw but mainly get information online. The majority of my art connection is in Malaysia therefore I rely on the online art market.
Have you developed your career?
I’m at the beginning of my art career and I’ve been developing my online art business for a little over a year now, but I started with learning to understanding the art market as it is very different to the financial markets.

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Where can people see your art?
They can see my art on my website:
Do you have anything else you would like to convey to an audience?
I’m starting two painting series next year:
A figurative art series about Sensibility of Women and an abstract art series about our inner, spiritual landscape.
How can readers find out more about you?

I really hoped that you enjoyed reading about this wonderful lady and her approach to her adventured in the world of art.
I will be catching up with Beáta later in the year to see how things have changed for her and what new plans she has.

We would love to know your thoughts about this interview, so it would be fantastic if you could please leave comments.

Thank you

Alison G Saunders

NB. Full permission for use of the artwork as well as the interview answers has been provided by the artist.



How to use your sketch book (or how I use mine)

Now I know that there are hundreds of thousands of artists out there, many far more talented and better known than me, but even more unknown, just getting started, taking up art for the first time etc. etc. artists who might find my thoughts useful.
I don’t present myself as the font of all knowledge here, I am just talking about how I use my sketch book.

First of all, why? Why am I sharing this with you?
Well it came about because I was talking to someone about the work I produce v the posts I make daily on Instagram and Facebook.
She had never realised that the work I produce in my sketchbook, fed into the work you can see on my website. Stupidly I assumed that people would just know but, taking a step back I see that it is not that clear.

The reason for this, I suspect, is that as like most artists, I fill in pages and pages and pages of sketchbooks experimenting with different marks, colours, shapes, blends etc and fill numerous books before I make a start on something bigger.
My sketch book is where I experiment, where I play, where I make mistakes and where ideas blossom. I regularly flick through these books looking for inspiration, looking to see what worked and what didn’t, picking apart bits to try scaling up to larger works.
Once happy, and this can take months, I will then start on medium sized paper or canvas and once happy with that I will use something bigger.

So for instance these are a couple of images from a sketch book I started 18/24 months ago. Here I am using two colours only and moving them around the page with brushes, fingers and by blowing at the puddles.

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This turned into the image below. To me the organic initial layer made me think water, plants and the fish I keep. I experimented with adding lines in a plant like fashion to enhance the first layer. This I did over and over again, filling up three large concertina sketch books before I was happy.

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I then experimented on a larger sheet of paper. I wasn’t happy with the outcome so, initially put it to one side but came back to it later, when I cut the pieces into random but organic shapes to use at a later date. More experimenting in my sketchbook and the discovery of a long canvas which had paint splatters on it, I decided to really go to town and made the piece below.

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This piece became the spring board for the series on coral/underwater seascape pieces I produced throughout the later part of 2018.
Whilst I am very happy with the outcome I decided not to make more like this but to pare back the work to produce a very simple version. I produced a dozen or so small works using the cut-out pieces on 4 inch square canvases and covered in resin, which was probably also the start of the shapes I am currently playing with in my sketch book.
However, the piece below did have the addition of a luminous layer, which is rather fun as it glows in the dark and quickly found a new home with a lovely young lady.

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Then because I am such a lover of colour I started playing and produced this piece.

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Then thought I would try to be a little more adventurous and produced this piece with plants and rocks which I felt should be included.

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All of these large pieces have three or four layers of clear resin added and most of them glow in the dark.
But whilst I still enjoy making these, the planning for these pieces is not in my current sketch book, as if you follow me on Instagram you will have seen. I took part in a challenge last year to produce a piece a day over 31 days. Using the ideas from my sketch books and the large pieces above that I made, I produced images which reminded me of sea creatures hiding in seaweed with thousands of bubbles surrounding them.

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I am currently working through ideas about blocks of colour layered over each other with some peeping out and some areas being covered over and over again as you can see from this recent post.

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I am not sure how these pages will translate into bigger works yet, it could take me a few more months of working in my sketchbooks before I settle on a way to go. In the meantime, I shall continue to make the large pieces whilst experimenting in my sketchbook and when I think I am heading in the right direction, I shall start making large pieces which I will share on social media but by then I expect my sketch books will have started to look different again.



Why take a BA in art?  And how hard can it be?

17th Feb 2019

I am asked a lot why I am taking a BA in art. I am up to my neck in producing work for exhibitions etc., I am on the board of a local art group and I teach art to others, so why am I adding extra pressure to my life in this way?

The short answer is because I want to, and I can.

The long answer is because despite having been surrounded by art all my life, my parents were/are both brilliant artists, I didn’t take the art route, believing that I would never be good enough to get to their standard and I simply didn’t want to compete.

So what changed and why now?

Well I lived I the USA for a few years, with enough distance between me and my family to make me feel safe from their criticism. There, I was able to produce work judged by other artists and teachers who encouraged me to develop my artistic abilities further.
When I returned to the UK, continuing my studies felt like the only thing to do so I took a foundation course which allowed me to progress onto the BA course at a bricks-and-mortar university.  But it wasn’t for me.  £9,000 a year to share with three other people a space, smaller than the studio I have in my back garden, along with some pretty unpleasant behaviour from both students and tutors alike, I decided to opt for a distance-learning BA instead.
This is perfect for me.  I get to work on my own art business whilst studying for the BA and I get twelve years, that’s right, twelve years to complete it.


But still why, when I am successfully selling my art, would I want to continue with a BA? For me, learning about different artists, different processes the whole discovery side of art education is brilliant.  And people have said you could find that out for yourself, but would I?
Possibly, but probably not.
It is very easy to settle into a routine of producing the same thing day-in day-out and even more so when you are selling your work, as so many people want you to stick to the same thing.  It makes them feel safe.

But if you follow my blogs you will know that being safe is something I never want to, or hopefully ever will, embrace.
I want my work to be exciting to me.  I love that I can try different ways of producing work to make it fun.  And yes, the making of the work is all about me.  My life, my work my journey and my enjoyment. Without that, and I truly believe an artist’s commitment to and enjoyment of making their work shows through in the finished piece, it has to be, all about the artist, at the making stage.

So how easy is it to get a BA in the arts?
Far harder than you would imagine.  If you are reading this and thinking about leaving school and doing any kind of arts degree, be warned, it is tough.
The amount of work you have had to prepare for you GCSE’s and A levels gives you some understanding of what’s required but it is the tip of the iceberg where a BA is concerned.  Any doubts, go and do something else.  Seriously.  It is not an easy option. You can’t afford to be weak – you will have to toughen up to survive.  There is nowhere to hide.
You don’t get multiple choice questions which gives you a fair chance of winging your way through.  You will be questioned to your core about why you want to continue down this path, you will scream, cry, laugh and probably get drunk in an effort to get through it all.  Some lecturers seem to gain enormous pleasure in reducing you to tears at least once a week.  Very few students graduate.  The year I started at the bricks-and-mortar uni, 76 people started on the course but only eight full-time students and five part-time students graduated three years later.  How many of them are working as artists full-time?  I don’t have the figures, but I suspect not many.

Why?  Because at the end of the day, when you have managed to drag yourself through a course which will make you question your very own existence, you have then to find your way, a future path, along with millions of other hopeful artists.

You will be told to approach galleries (who will take anything up to 60% of a sale) but getting though that door is not as easy as it sounds.  You will be told, be persistent and you will get there, someone will discover you, NO THEY WON’T.

They only way you are going to compete is by understanding the art market, understanding marketing, understanding advertising, learning all about running a business, profit-and-loss accounts, balance sheets, cash flow and having some cash in the bank to finance taking part in as many shows as that bank account allows. And you have to grow a really thick skin. You might get lucky, you might be discovered, but in reality, it is all hard graft and most people give up.

All that said, once you are on that path, and I am only really at the beginning myself, but once you are on it, all the years of pain start to feel worth it.
Now I get to make art I love, I get to stretch my knowledge and understanding by taking the BA and I get to have fun.
I am sure there will be more tears down the line, I will have to dig even deeper, but I love what I do, creating something new and intriguing to me, every day of my life.IMG_20190110_164821



How to prepare for taking part in an art exhibition


Following on from last weeks ‘do something which frightens you’ blog post, I am going to be taking part in a really big grownup art exhibition with the Contemporary Art Fair at Sandown Park in March.
I have taken part in lots of small shows both here and in the USA, but this is my first really big one.

Am I scared, hell yes, I am?

But why you may ask?

As I said in last weeks blog, it is that not knowing which causes the fear. And there is lots I don’t know about this exhibition.
I don’t know how many people will attend.
I don’t know if anyone will like and therefore buy my work.
I don’t know who will be in the next booth to me and if we will get on – I find it helps if you can get on with your neighbour!
I don’t know how much bubble wrap/paper bags/ tape/string etc. etc. I will need to have with me.

But then I have to remind myself that there is lots I do know.
I know why I make my artwork, I know the thinking behind it and what my inspiration for the work is.
I know exactly how I made my artwork, what the process is, how to look after it and what to do if it gets damaged.
I know that there are plenty of people out there who do like and have bought my work, so I need to cling on to those thoughts and I know that not everyone will like my work and that is totally fine.  We can’t all like everything.


So, what I need to focus on is being prepared.  I have been making lists right, left and centre I have been having conversations with my poor long-suffering husband about how he will need to play a part in bringing this all together both beforehand and on the exhibition days.

Ahead of time, information sheets need to be written, photos of artworks need to be taken and then conversations with various different printing companies have to happen.  One type of printing company to print the information leaflets I like to have on display, a different one to produce the high quality, limited edition, giclee prints of my work which I have on offer and a third one I use for business cards because they produce cards which are great.
I need to figure out how many screws I will need to buy, screwdrivers, step ladders, cleaning up stuff all ready and packed away.  I will have to remember to charge up my phone, laptop, iPad etc. and I will need to remember to pack sellotape, blue tac, pens, order books, receipt pads, visitors’ books and forms to enter the free draw I run whenever I can at shows.
We will need to take lunch with us, hot water for tea and coffee and paper towels and wet wipes to clean ourselves up.
Any finally I need to remember to have a couple of spare sets of nice clothes to wear when manning the stand.  Why a couple of spare sets? -well I have spilt coffee down myself just as a show was starting a couple of years ago and frankly, I looked a mess.  A spare blouse would have spared me that embarrassment.





Why you should do something which terrifies you.

Why you should do something which terrifies you.

If you write the above sentence into google, you will find a number of articles on this theme and most of them are worth a quick read if you are considering doing something which frightens you too.
There are some that advocate doing this daily, but in my case, as an artist, this isn’t practical, what is, is accepting challenges when they are given to you. In this sense I rarely say ‘no’ but saying ‘yes’ to an 8½ft by 4ft canvas was frightening.

Once over that hurdle the next frightening, no terrifying, step was the subject. The client wanted a semi-abstract piece of London and had sent a picture of something they liked as an example. Not something that I found particularly inspiring and I had already said that I would not copy anyone else’s work.
So, I came up with some ideas using a map of the River Thames and one of the versions was selected.
But Oh S**t! How am I going to get a map of the Thames onto a canvas that size and have the river be accurate. My overhead projector wasn’t going to work.

At this point I have said yes, and I am feeling sick. What am I going to do?                      Add to that, the client wanted it in two colours. Not a problem on a small piece but the exact same two colours across the piece, I was worried that it would look a bit boring. But back to getting the image up there first.

I am fortunate that my husband is an engineer and is also very good at helping me problem solve, when I get myself into these tricky situations.
So, with the use of a lap top and a computer projector he helped me set up the canvas in our conservatory, he wasn’t happy as he thinks I have taken over the whole house with my art stuff. I haven’t. None of my stuff is in his office, but I do love to spread out around the rest of the house.

The first thing I did was cover the entire canvas in orange.



Yes, orange was one of the colours. But I didn’t just use one colour. Using a small roller and three different oranges I covered the canvas in a haphazard way to give some interest.
Next, I stood the canvas up and projected the image onto it. It was a beautiful sunny day in January. One of those days you really shouldn’t complain about, but I couldn’t see the image. There was too much light. This really was not going my way. So once the day was over and there was no outside light I tried again. Talk about working in the dark but thankfully this was successful.


Having started at one end of the canvas and it being such a large canvas, it had to been done over a number of days. Overcast days worked best but unbeknownst to me, the laptop image started moving. That wouldn’t have mattered except I decided to start at one end and put the river and the bridges in. Some adjustments had to be done for the piece to make sense to me, but I also had to keep reminding myself that I was not producing an accurate reference of the map but my semi-abstracted version of it.
The second colour used is blue. Now many of you will know that blue and orange are opposite colours on the colour wheel and sit very well together. That said one colour blue and one colour orange wasn’t going to work for me, so I used a number of different blues to give more interest to the finished piece.


As I write the piece is sitting in my conservatory waiting for the next layers of protection to be put on and next week it is being collected.

I am excited to see what it will look like in the basement room of the client’s home, they have already seen it, and love it, phew, but I am most pleased that I stepped up to the challenge, frightened the life out of myself and proved to myself, that I could do it.

Ok, so job done, what’s the next challenge?

Just a footnote on the whole ‘do something which frightens you’ approach. It is only the fear which holds you back and the only way to lose the fear is to face it. This could be anything from fear of spiders to fear of flying, learning to swim to fighting injustice. The fear of failure is what stops us from even trying and trust me I am still working on the spider bit.

But that canvas when it was delivered literally made me feel sick. I was terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to come through with something the client would be happy with, I was frightened of ‘not being good enough’ I was frightened of failing. Most of my friends think I am mad. But I did it. It is not in the league of some of the world’s greatest painters, past and present, probably, but I am proud I what I have achieved, I am very happy with the finished piece and I know that I can conquer those fears and come out triumphant.

Oh and did I say, the client LOVES it!



About Making Money

About Making Money! You don’t always have to do something just to make money.

Please let me explain.

Last weekend I joined a wonderful group of men and ladies, showing my art alongside their beautiful wood creations. The East Surrey Woodturners.


Well a few years ago, I visited this group as I have always hankered after ‘having a go’ at wood turning. It looks so satisfying to peel layers of wood away to create a shape to be sanded and polished. This group of men made me so welcome five years ago, that when I bumped into one of their members who asked me to be an exhibitor at their Christmas fair, I could hardly refuse.

And I am so glad I didn’t.

Did I sell anything? No! Well three of my greeting’s cards, but No.

Was it worth going? Absolutely yes it was.

I asked a very talented lady Carol Marshall, do follow her on Instagram ‘Carolmarshallarticaz’ she sells beautiful work, to join me.

She and I were treated to amazing hospitality. We didn’t even have to unload and carry our work from the car to the set up space, they just gathered it all up for us on the way in and on the way out. We were supplied with drinks, food and great conversation. We shared knowledge and ideas and thoroughly enjoyed a fabulous day with this amazing group of people.

I hope they will invite me back next year, I will definitely go if asked, as spending time with such lovely people was a real pleasure.

Thank you ‘East Surrey Woodturners’ it was an honour to be with you all.