2022: Year in Review

First, some numbers…

Number of posts this year: 21

Number of completed artworks: 19

Number of digital pieces: 17

Number of traditional pieces: 2

Number of incomplete artworks and/or tests: 5 (and no, I’m not sharing them)

Number of exhibits (virtual): 2

Number of exhibits (IRL): 0

Number of publications: 4

And now for some highlights…

Biggest, happiest Art Win this year: Being featured in the inaugural issue of “Women United Art Magazine”! To be honest, I am still pinching myself.

Most popular piece on Instagram: This fanart for “The English”. It doesn’t matter how old I am – I cannot get the urge to make fanart wholly out of my system, it seems.

Most popular piece on Instagram that ISN’T Fanart: This wip reel for “Stripes”. And for the record, I HATE reels, but it’s the only way to get eyeballs on Instagram these days.

My favourite piece: This digital portrait of my daughter…

©2022, Emma Pittson “Screentime”. Rebelle 5.

The most difficult piece to complete: This other portrait of my daughter…

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Backlit”. Rebelle 5.

My most successful piece (well, successful to me, anyways): My “Self-Portrait With Kerchief”. In my opinion, it’s one of the only pieces that looks like actual “art”, and not just a well-developed study.

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Self-Portrait with Kerchief”. Photoshop.

Piece that made more of a splash than I anticipated: My “Vintage Cleveland” piece – my second attempt at painting a colour portrait from a black & white vintage photograph. In fact, it was picked up and shared by “Photo Trouvee” magazine, which was kinda nice.

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Vintage Cleveland”. Photoshop.

Piece that went nowhere and, frankly, that fact disappoints me: To be honest, I wish that everything that I’d published this year had met with greater enthusiasm, but clearly, I don’t know how to play Instagram’s game.

Putting it all in perspective…

Ok, so… some highs, but also some lows.

My goal for 2022 was to produce a large volume of work so that I could finally break out of my eternal “studies syndrome” and make actual ART. And for a while, it was working. I think I cranked out about 5 pieces in January alone – 4 that I completed, and one that I abandoned (which was fine as it was more of a stylistic exercise anyways).

I also took the plunge and applied to have my work included in art publications and online exhibitions. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Still, no one was more shocked than I was that the very first publication I applied to actually accepted my digital painting.

After that, there was no stopping me! Sure, I had my fair share of rejections, but overall, it was a pretty successful year in terms of having my art selected for magazines and exhibits. In particular, the team at “Women United” art magazine really believed in me – more than I believed in myself, to be honest – and to see not just one, but several, of my artworks in print is the most incredible feeling.

But here’s the thing: for someone who was supposed to spend the year in creative experimentation and risk-taking, it feels like I missed that mark by a pretty wide margin. There’s no denying it: my portfolio is very safe and very tame. Even more disappointing is the fact that I had really hoped to be able to detect some connecting threads between the pieces and to be able to say “A-ha! I can see that I should drop so-and-so and concentrate on such-and-such instead…!”. But… I haven’t hit that eureka! moment yet.

Still, considering where I was at the end of 2021, I can acknowledge that I have made enormous progress, not least because I committed to increasing my output. I also took risks by putting my work out there even though I didn’t feel like it – or I – was ready. If anything, that is what I want to take with me into 2023: “Jump, and the net will appear”.

On that self-congratulatory note, I wish everyone a fabulous Holiday Season, and I’ll see you again in 2023! 🙂

My Painting in Forget-Me-Not Press’s Second Issue!

To be honest, I don’t even remember how I came across Forget-Me-Not’s Press’s call for submissions, but as soon as I read that the theme for the issue was “A Cold Winter’s Night”, I just knew that I had some artwork that would fit the bill nicely. This is actually the very first time that I’ve ever submitted any art for inclusion in a magazine, and I am beyond thrilled that they selected “Mile End View” for publication!

Click this link to read the whole beautiful issue. Congrats to the entire Forget-Me-Not Press team!

Lac Escalier and Being Afraid of the Water

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Lac Escalier”. Photoshop.

I’ve never attempted a landscape dominated by a great expanse of rippling water before, and now I know why: painting it was a dreadfully tedious pursuit! AND YET, after a particularly wrenching week of work, forcing myself to solve the problem of how to paint all those ripples turned out be a great stress reliever (well, actually, more like a STRESSFUL stress-reliever, if you catch my drift)! Who knew? There were plenty of times when I thought I was in over my head, but seeing the final result, I’m glad I took the plunge. Sometimes, all you can do is just dive right in (and also “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”).

(Sorry for the terrible water-related puns, but I just couldn’t help myself) 😉

Re-Visiting My First Painting

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Lake Wanaka in Blue II”. Photoshop.

After my self-portrait, I had a little spate of bad luck art-wise. While January was a really productive month, February has been one failed art experiment after another. I’m also trying to pep-talk myself back into picking up an actual paint brush and committing to a decent-sized canvas, but it’s slow-going for now. I’ve had this digital re-paint of my very first acrylic paint from 2016 on the back-burner for a few months now, and because it’s good for morale to actually FINISH things, this seemed like the perfect time to wrap it up.

When I look back on the original painting, I’m struck by how every single brush stroke looks nervous and hesitant. I had internalized so much negativity from my time at art school that it’s a miracle I’d managed to paint anything at all. I may not be as productive, nor as consistent, as I’d like to be, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come since this first painting.

Lake Wanaka sunset in blue new Zealand
©2016, Emma Pittson, “Lake Wanaka in Blue”. Acrylic on panel, 10″ x 8″.

Self-Portrait with Kerchief

Self-portrait of Emma Pittson wearing a blue kerchief against Owhiro Bay, New Zealand.
©2022, Emma Pittson, “Self-Portrait with Kerchief”. Photoshop.

January was a fantastic month for me, art-wise! I made good on my promise to do at least 15 minutes of art-making every day, and that very often grew to 30 minutes or even a full hour on the week-ends. As you know, I’m still struggling to find my genuine artistic voice, and everything I’ve ever read about it states that your voice won’t just materialize out of thin air. You’ll have to make art – and probably quite a lot of it over a long period of time – before things start to fall into place. “Quantity leads to Quality” is the order of the day.

Anyways, here is a self-portrait based on a photograph of myself taken about 15 years ago when we lived in Wellington, New Zealand. The background is the view from the mountains south of Wellington overlooking Owhiro Bay. If it looks like I’m squinting, it’s because the mid-day sun in that part of the world could be unbearable bright, making every shadow look inky-black.

I’ve never painted jewelry before, but I have to say: that earring is my favourite part of the painting!