Tuesday, 14 January 2014

2014 Plans and Inspirations

My last post was a summary of work from 2013. So I'm starting 2014 with a few plans for the new year - inspired by my friend Shevaun Doherty in her recent blog post.

This is my 50th year (eek!) so it really is time to at least try to be a bit more organised. Have been a bit shy of over planning the last couple of years because life has been slightly chaotic! but I always did like to set a goal or two.

There are two...or maybe three strands of work for me- commissioned illustration, teaching and the work that I call my own.  The first take precedence and supports the latter. So sometimes with the best will in the world plans have to change because illustration work comes along unexpectedly, I estimate that the 80:20 rule applies, with the lesser being the amount of time dedicated to my own work at the moment. Most of the illustration work is natural history based and painting things that aren't necessarily my own choice and prove to be challenging are good for me!

He is my Top Ten Plan for 2014 and the inspiration behind it.....

 1. Paint or draw every day. A few years ago I heard a comment in a documentary about one of my favourite artists, Lucian Freud, which stated that he painted every day of his life! I'm not altogether sure how accurate it was but it struck a chord and stayed with me. When I went to see his 'Portraits' exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 2012 the incredible development of his work over the years was so clear to see and his sheer dedication was apparent- sometimes no douby at the expense of other things in his life. This exhibition, which was was shortly after his death made me think about how important it is to paint frequently, and, how much time I've wasted thinking about what to do rather than time actually doing it! So to the point! I intend to carry on as I have over the last year and will endeavour paint or draw something everyday, no matter how small. I know being an illustrator isn't quite the same as being a real 'artist'  but the dedication to do better is the same for everything. Some of my work will be illustration and some will be my own work but it's all good practice. I've started the year with another 15 marine species paintings for Macduff Marine Aquarium, it's a warm up ......here's a glimpse.

Marine species illustrations completed Jan 2014

2. Don't leave it until the last minute ....... Well that speaks for itself! I MUST improve my time management regarding the balance between the different strands of work! Oh and don't take on too many things. When I tell people I'm an artist/ illustrator they seem to think it's some relaxing easy job or part time'hobby'. Sometimes it is  relaxing but it can be pretty pressurised when clients want work yesterday! I wouldn't change it for any other job in the world even though it pays badly and means long hours.  

3. Submit work for the SBA annual exhibit at Westminster, in May. I've been exhibiting on and off with the SBA since 2000. I was elected a full member in 2012 but last year I was gutted not to exhibiti following acceptance. I figured I had an excuse given that life had turned a bit upside-down, but it's no excuse for neglecting things because of a few unsettling life events! So a good  kick in the backside is in order for missing that one, and, for feeling sorry for myself! 
It had always been a goal of mine to become an SBA member but for practical reasons I'd been inconsistent with submitting the required number of works over the years. I worked really hard at having the 5 paintings accepted in 2010, 2011 which gave me associate membership and then again in 2012. I was delighted to receive the phone call from former President Vicki Marsh, informing me that I'd been elected as a full member.... and on my birthday too! I felt I'd let myself down by not exhibiting. This year I won't be submitting 5 and I'm pretty relieved that I don't have to submit so many anymore! I'm hoping to complete a large piece on vellum for the show based on autumnal garden finds. The theme this year is the Botanical Garden, I think the autumn garden is as interesting as in summer, so this will be the focus of my work. 
Preparatory work for SBA show

 4. Prepare work for RHS London Orchid Show.  This one is a bit daunting! I've always wanted to do this show and despite the fact that I've been exhibiting with the RHS since around 2004 ( accepted by the Picture Committee in 2002 ) I've  never been offered it before. Funny really because I even wasn't going to apply this year but received an email reminding me to apply for space the day before the deadline and thought....Ok one more! so there you go.....  refer to no. 2. I'll tell you later what I'm submitting for the show

5. Paint the Jade Vine for the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden Florelegium. Really delighted to have been be  invited to become a member of the Society in a letter that arrived out of the blue from Beverly Allen last year. I was issued with the plant list and chose the Jade Vine because it's big, bold and beautiful ....that's a bit of a challenge for me!  I was too late to paint it last year but sourced the plant and it's my BIG challenge this year. Not sure yet but think I may paint it on vellum.

Jade vine flower

6. Take Part in the Nature Sketchbook Exchange  How nice to be invited to take part in this initiative, whereby a group of 15 artists all have a Stillman & Birn sketchbook. Each artist will draw or paint something every month then pass it on to the next artist.  Great idea! 

Banner for the Nature Sketchbook Exchange project

7. If time permits another 30 Day Challenge would be good. Really enjoyed this last year because so many other artists joined in.  Not sure if I have time for it this year and perhaps somebody else will take the lead.

8. Develop my Teaching. Website resources and classes. I created a new website in 2013 for my students and to enable better access to botanical art tuition. For years I wanted to have some art tuition in botanical art and never could, for all sorts of reasons it was outside my grasp, whether it was having young children, living miles from anywhere or simply not having the funds for some of the very expensive botanical art courses, which felt a bit elitist to me. Also some courses don't cover the fundamental skills or 'building blocks' required in watercolour so I wanted to take a slightly different approach. I have some brilliant students and really look forward to developing this area of work over the coming year.  
 I'll also be running a class from the 20th to the 26th July back in Aberdeenshire, Scotland at a fantastic venue on the Moray Firth Coast, the  Creative Retreat

More additions to the teaching website, click to view

9. Blog a bit more often. I did a lot more last year than in previous years, largely due to the 30 day challenge and it's great to see so many other botanical artists blogging nowadays. Writing things down and asking myself questions is the best thing for the thought process! :)    

10.  Finally.....Enjoy it, try to be a better painter, don't get stressed and don't make excuses!  I know that's 4 things really...... but it's my list ! stress serves no purpose whatsoever, so it has no place!

That's it........Simple!

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