Wow it's been a little while since I sat down to write one of these, I feel very out of practice! I am currently one day past my due date waiting around for my baby to make an appearance so rather than continuing to analyse every little twinge and movement, I thought it would be a good distraction to take a look back at some of the work I've made this year! One of the best pieces of advice I heard for developing your artistic practice (thanks to Andy J Pizza and the Creative Pep Talk Podcast!) is to gather together around 10 of your favourite pieces of work you've made - the art that you think is the most authentic or unique and try and look for similarities or common themes running throughout them. This could be colours, subject matter, materials etc. I always find this amazingly helpful in knowing what direction to push my work forward.
My Pet Portraits seem to get more and more elaborate and detailed with every painting I do! I'm really pleased with the range of things I've managed to include in my backgrounds over the past year and feel I've pushed them in new, exciting ways. When I first started including backgrounds for Pet Portraits they were largely foliage and florals. This year I have further branched out into a weirder and wider variety of objects, subjects and food stuffs! I absolutely love doing patterned backgrounds as it really gives me the opportunity to paint something new and show my range. I also love how unique and individual it makes each one, especially so when painting commissions as they tell a story about the owner and the pet and their relationship.
Flora and Fauna
Finding out I was having a baby in all the way back in March forced me to finally reevaluate my artistic practice this year and consider how I want to move my work forward. I've been thinking about expanding my practice for some time as over the past few years I've found Pet Portraiture more and more limiting. My main source of income up until now has primarily come through private commissions which is incredibly time consuming, leaving me very little spare time to work on anything else which isn't really feasible to continue doing with a baby - when I will have even less time and have to be flexible around her needs. Moving forward I am going to continue with Pet Portraiture (of course...how could I not?!) but take on much less than I usually do. I am also upping my prices and limiting the amount of sizes I offer in the hopes this will decrease my workload. This will hopefully give me enough time each month to be able to create new one off originals, print designs and products for my online shop for more regular monthly updates. I find creating original work by far the most satisfying so I want this to be my main focus but I would also love to concentrate on creating more content for you all to enjoy! Blog posts, podcasts and hopefully some videos in the future.
Last month I released my first batch of small original pieces alongside 5 new prints designs. I was blown away by the response to them! Doing something new is always a little nerve wracking so it was such a confidence boost and so validating when the originals all sold so quickly and the prints went down so well! Here are a few of my favourite pieces from my foliage and floral series. These paintings were inspired by my walks in or around Hastings, the plants I have in my home or growing in my garden. Everything that's happened in the past year, being forced to slow down and spend so much more time at home has really made me appreciate the nature around me so much more. Caring for my plants and walking Tovah have been such a comfort to me, even a trip to the garden centre has turned into such a treat. It felt important to make a series of work inspired by that.
For my next original batch of paintings I thought it would be fun to concentrate on food! I already have a few ideas in mind but let me know what your favourite foods are and maybe I'll include them. :-)
My 'Nature Print' and 'Kitchen Print' are the two pieces I am probably most proud of this year. I wanted to see how my pattern background pieces would stand up as an artwork in their own right. I spent most of the year experimenting with painting different objects, food and foliage for them as I wanted to have a wide range of elements to play with. After putting in such a lot of effort I was a little relieved when they turned out even better than I hoped! Again these are available to purchase over in my shop.
I created this self portrait back in April as an experiment as I hadn't painted a full colour portrait in gouache for such a long time and I was curious to see how it would turn out. The background is made up of things that represent me as a person - birds nests (one of my many collections) Sharks Teeth (my favourite animal growing up) and Eucalyptus and Protea flowers, both of which I had in my Wedding Bouquet. Thanks to illustrator Jessica Roux's book Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers I discovered the Protea flower represents transformation which is very appropriate for a wedding!
I find self portraits very satisfying to paint. They are so interesting to look back on as you can reflect not only on how your style develops over the years but how you change as a person - both physically and how you felt at the time. The reference photo I chose seemed very apt as it was taken this time last year. I remember feeling really good about myself that day as I had glammed up for a Christmas party with some of my best friends and I was ecstatically happy as I had just found out I was pregnant for the first time. It's really quite amazing how quickly things can change! In stark contrast I have barely worn make up or done anything sociable this year and who knows what Christmas 2020 is going to look like! I remember feeling so full of excitement and optimism then, I had no idea about how hard it was about to get! Oh how naive I was! I had a miscarriage at the very beginning of 2020 which was - as you can probably imagine - very upsetting and difficult at the time and then of course the pandemic happened. This year has been in equal parts wonderful and incredibly hard. Getting pregnant again in March was the best and happiest thing that could of happened and I will forever be thankful that I have had her to look forward to throughout this strange year. But being pregnant during a pandemic has certainly been interesting! I feel I have missed out on a lot of 'normal pregnancy' things that I would of otherwise taken for granted - having my husband with me during my scans, being able to see our friends and family who would be sharing in our excitement, last child free trips away together and of course the underlying theme of the year has been the anxiety of catching Covid. It will 100% all be worth all the worry in the end though - a brand new chapter in our lives. I can't wait to finally meet her!
I very much hope that 2021 is a much more positive one for us all. See you all on the other side!