Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year

10x8 Coloured Pencil

First things first, before I start my ramblings on todays post I’d like to wish you all a happy New Year and hope it’s a productive one for everyone.

I spent the first day of the New Year ‘spring cleaning’ – my studio included. Actually, I had intended on only doing my studio and decided that with it looking so clean and tidy I’d do the sitting room….. then it was the stairs….. then it had to be the kitchen….. the bedrooms….. the…….. you get the idea. Anyway most importantly, I now have a tidy studio with everything in its right place, which is what I set out to do.

With 2007 now at an end I find myself, like many others, thinking about successes of the past year and my plans for the year ahead and what I want to achieve. 2007 saw me working 95% of the time on commissioned work and the other 5% on my own work. This is a success in itself in that I had my busiest year yet with commissions – I am obviously being found one way or another which is excellent as I am hopeless at optimising my website with the search engines and people like my work enough to commission me. I also became tutor for the Coloured Pencil Course with the London Art College, which I’m really enjoying and have great visions for – what a perfect way to promote coloured pencils and work with students with a similar passion for them – maybe the ‘passion’ comes later. However, I didn’t achieve a lot of what I set out to do.

To be fair, this time last year I didn’t have a set plan – I had a new puppy to look after (an incredibly hyperactive one at that with bladder and bowel problems) which took up a surprising amount of time and I had commissions to tide me over for a few months, so there was no rush – right? Well, as it turned out - wrong.

I do remember being extremely tired thanks to our new arrival and didn’t - couldn’t - really think about goals. And when I did start to think about them seriously, it was just that – I thought! I a) didn’t write them down and b) obviously wasn’t committed enough to see them through. So this year I am going to write them down and not only that – thanks to Maggie Stiefvater and her ‘butt-kicking’ post on goals, I am showing all on my blog. There is good reasoning and truth behind her words – the more people that see my goals, the more real they are and it makes me accountable to them. With this in mind my goals for 2008, in no particular order, are……

1. Better time management – I’m the first to admit that I could have completed and achieved more in 2007 had I managed my time better, i.e. mainly more time in the studio and less time in front of the TV and computer – which leads me onto no.2.

2. More studio time and less computer time – I spend way too long on the computer although, in my defence, it is all art related. I have a long list of blogs (which keeps getting longer) I enjoy visiting, not to mention the forums and what I call ‘research’. A lot of it can be educational so I don’t feel too guilty - I just need to allocate a set time, no matter how hard this may be, to computer time.

3. Enter work into at least two exhibitions – I had planned to do this last year, and the year before if I remember correctly, but concentrated more on my portrait business and marketing it. Hopefully nos. 1 and 2 will see me with a lot more time on my hands to see this goal through. My favourite medium is coloured pencil so I have earmarked the ‘UKCPS Open International Exhibition’ as a definite and am currently contemplating others.

4. Complete a painting a month – I don’t do enough painting but enjoy it when I do. I’d like to develop my techniques in both oils and acrylics and try to stop treating the brush like a pencil, which I tend to do.

5. Print, market and sell my prints – Again another goal I had planned (in my head admittedly) for 2007. I’d like to move more towards this market, as I believe, rightly or wrongly, that there is a current trend towards purchasing prints rather than originals.

6. Draw and paint 35 horses by the end of the year – I half-heartedly started this last year although didn’t put a figure on it. The figure came after being inspired by an artist on WC who took it upon herself to draw and paint 100 cheetah - it was great to watch her progression and to see her confidence in portraying this animal grow. I originally considered setting the target at 50, almost 1 a week, but decided this was unrealistic and I’d more than likely be stretching myself to get this done – anyhow, I hope by the time I get to no.35 I will know a horses temporal fossa from its mandible.

7. Visit more exhibitions and galleries – At least one a month. I live in Edinburgh and am surrounded by galleries so have no excuse not to. I often leave exhibitions totally inspired to try something new, which is reason enough, and yes, wishing it was my work on display – a goal for 2009 perhaps?

8. Backgrounds – I’ve mentioned this before in my blog and want to look more at including backgrounds in my work, maybe include the animal within its environment and surroundings? I do prefer the plain background approach and very often don’t include one at all when doing commissions. Paul Emsley summed it up for me when he said “I leave the background as a fairly nebulous space instead of depicting a particular environment. A non-explicit background, while directing the focus to the person or animal, infers a sense of stillness and timelessness, and it enhances the feeling of mystery”. Although I’m sure I wont be doing intricate and highly detailed backgrounds, it’s definitely something I want to look into this year.

9. Keep my blog up to date – I’m always promising this but I mean it this time – promise. I’m hoping the fact that it is one of my goals and is written in black and white will spur me on.

10. Build up a portfolio of work and prints – I couldn’t decide what to end with for no.10. I’d like to become more computer savvy and technical minded as I find myself relying on the computer more and more for my business and don’t know enough about them – Photoshop especially. And there’s photography – I have a top of the range camera I don’t know how to use to it’s full potential so know I am missing out on some fantastic reference material. Taking time to master the computer and the camera is something I want/need to do but am not going to make them priority this year. Instead I have gone for ‘building up a portfolio of work and prints’ in preparation for my goals in 2009 – how is that for forward thinking.

So there you have it, my goals for 2008 and a rather lengthy blog post as well. Now all I have to do is print them off and stick them where I can see them daily – I know just the place.


Maggie Stiefvater said...

You do wonderful work!! I've not tried an acrylic underpainting before -- does it affect how the cp goes down on top?

Anyway, I was just popping in to wish you luck with your goals. 35 horses! Whoo! That's a herd . . .

Laura said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog Maggie and for the encouragement;) I'm starting to think 35 is maybe pushing it a bit BUT I'm focused, determined and goal driven which is more than I was this time last year.

I've only tried cp on acrylic the once and it was on the Ampersand Pastelbord which is very 'toothy' anyway (found this harder to get used to) but I liked the way it sped things along for me in that I didn't need to apply layer after layer of cp. I suppose it's a bit like working on coloured paper.