I can't believe it's almost the end of 2018! I thought this would be a good time to reflect on how the year has gone and to look back at the things I have achieved this year. I am a big fan of Andy J Pizza and his podcast 'The Creative Pep Talk' and in one episode (I forget which one!) he suggested creating a Pinterest board full of the art you've made that feels really authentic. Work that makes you excited to help steer you in the right direction and influence future pieces. I've decided instead to create a blog post in a similar fashion to talk through this years work and what I would like to develop in 2019.
2018 has had it's ups and downs, but all in all I think it's been a pretty successful year for me. The most important change I've made has been in terms of how I take on commissions. Back in April I switched to taking on commissions in monthly bookings rather than having my shop open 24/7. It was a nerve-wracking change as I didn't know whether people would respond to this new way of ordering a Pawtrait but I'm so happy I did. When you're freelance, the pressures of having no regular income can be pretty stressful, so this has also given me a bit more financial stability and has helped me manage my time so much better. However, I've been so busy with commission work that my personal projects have had to take a back seat. This is something I would really like to try and prioritize in 2019.
My blog is one of the main personal projects that has suffered. I particularly love producing illustrations for my blog as it gives me a reason to draw for fun again and it's a great opportunity to draw a wide range of subject matter. I originally studied Fine Art drawing at university but the course wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I made work largely to try please my tutors and as a result, I fell out of love with drawing a bit - I would maybe go as far to say as I resented it. So instead, for the last four years, I've focused nearly entirely on developing my painting style. I also think because I have a more of a natural ability for drawing, there was less urgency to try and develop and improve. This is something I want to change so in 2019 I'm going to start focusing more time an energy on both my blog and my drawing.
Here are a few illustrations that I particularly like that I created for blog posts I wrote over the past year - one recommending my favourite horror movies and the other documentaries. I'm always a little disappointed that my pen and ink drawings never get the same amount of interaction online as my paintings do. I think perhaps monochrome isn't as eye catching as colour when you're scrolling through Instagram, but I shall persevere regardless as I like them.
Painting wise, I feel like I've come on leaps and bounds this year. Being able to paint nearly every day has helped me improve and develop my style massively. When I used to work in retail in an art shop, I found it so frustrating, helping other people make art but not having the time to make my own. I felt like my skill was sitting on a shelf gathering dust so being able to paint full time is an absolute dream.
When I first started painting pet portraits, I decided that I wanted to make backgrounds my thing. My 'USP' if you like, that would help my work stand apart from the sea of pet portraits out there. It's important to me that my paintings are seen as a unique piece of artwork - not just your regular pet portrait. I like to strike a balance between realistic and illustrative, contrasting my highly detailed animal subjects with bold graphic backgrounds. This year my elaborate repeat patterned backgrounds have developed into something I'm particularly excited by, and I have lots more ideas for repeat patterns which I can't wait to get stuck into in January!
Another of my aims for next year is to produce more large scale artwork. Bigger pieces really give me the opportunity to include a high level of detail and intricacy which just isn't possible in smaller work - at the moment most of my paintings are between A5-A3 size. This plan is rather reliant on me having a bigger work space, as my pokey bedroom studio doesn't really allow for work on this scale!
I especially enjoyed creating this A2 ink drawing for Inktober, which took me around a month, doing a little each day. The subject matter was inspired by the story of Barry der Menschenretter, a heroic Saint Bernard from the Swiss Alps (you can read more about that here) I felt like having a back story to the artwork really added another layer to it, and is something I would like to explore more. I've been researching mythical animals, which I thought could be an interesting subject matter for a series of paintings or drawings.
A project that I started at the very end of 2018 is one that I'm very excited to continue through into 2019 - photographing my painting palettes. At the end of each day I'd look down at my painting palette and think it was a little artwork in itself. An abstract portrait or colour map of the artwork I'd just made and I'd think what a shame it was to wash it away. So I decided to start documenting them and titling them after the painting they created. I think this project will start life as a monthly blog post, as record of the paintings I completed, but perhaps in time it will develop into something else. Who knows!
Anyway...so lots of hopes and dreams for 2019 work wise, and lots of exciting things to look forward to on a more personal note - I'm getting married in May which is creeping scarily close! I hope you've enjoyed the art I've made this year, I've certainly enjoyed making it! I wanted to say another huge thank you for all of your support during 2018. Every like, purchase and kind comment really means so much. If you would like to sign up to be notified about my next round of Pawtrait commission bookings please fill out the form here : Commission a Pawtrait and I will be in contact in the new year.