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…
The most difficult piece to complete: This other portrait of my daughter…
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.
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.
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! 🙂
The first few months of 2022 were spent pushing myself to produce as much art as possible, and then the summer came… and I needed to take a break. And well-deserved, I thought!
But I admit that I’ve also been feeling the pressure from my empty easel a lot more lately, and I knew it was time to get back in the saddle. Summer was long-gone, after all! And if I don’t keep up the art-making on a daily basis, I’m prone to letting self-doubt creep in and knock me right off my stride.
Don’t get me wrong: I was over-the-moon happy to have my work featured in a magazine (#artgoals!!), but as a result, I was also hit with a MASSIVE case of Imposter Syndrome, too. Even now, I still can’t believe that my paintings are sitting alongside the work of REAL ARTISTS – women who have a body of work, gallery representation, a full bio of exhibitions, etc, etc. All I can think of is: “I’ll betcha that being an artist is their full-time job! How can I possibly think of myself as being worthy to stand amongst them??”
Well, if “working takes away anxiety”, then I knew what I had to do: get back to work!
AND it was around that time that an old high-school friend generously offered me some recent pictures of her so that I could paint someone other than myself. Talk about excellent timing! Of course, this is still digital, so in a sense, it’s a bit of a “cheat”, but I didn’t think I could handle the pressure of paints and mediums after such a lengthy absence. All in good time, all in good time…
For this piece, I decided to keep things simple and low-concept: just a roughly painted self-portrait, using a reference photo taken with my computer camera (note the tell-tale glowing blue neck). I kept the brushwork loose, and even cheated a little by sometimes relying on the eye dropper tool to help me get the right colour. There have to be some advantages to working digitally, right?
This piece was also an opportunity to better understand the newest addition to my digital painting arsenal: Escape Motion’s Rebelle 5. It’s early days still, but this might turn out to be one of my favourite softwares. Photoshop will always reign supreme for the sheer number of tools at one’s disposal, but Rebelle 5 has a much better “surface texture” feeling. Many digital painting programs claim that they can mimic the sensation of pushing paint around, but this one comes closest of all, in my opinion. And if nothing else, how can you not like the ripped edges of the canvas? Talk about a perfect little detail that I never knew I wanted!
Here is another contender for the title of “Painting That Has Sat For The Longest Amount Of Time On My Easel While I Contemplate How Best To Approach It”. I believe it clocked in at about one full year. While I’m not completely sure why I lost my courage for so long, I suspect that I hesitated partly because I worried that the whole “portrait of the back of a woman’s head” thing had already been done to death. To me, it seemed like a cheap and easy way to add some mystery to an otherwise very pedestrian image. But artists steal ideas from each other all the time, and when you get right down to it, how many of us can say that our work is 100% original? We are all influenced by each other, and if you’re waiting for a truly original idea before putting paint to canvas, you’ll be waiting a long, long time. Life’s too short!
I also wavered quite a bit on what medium to use. Acrylics are odor-free but difficult to blend, while oils (even water-miscible oils!) give me a headache. In the end, most of the painting is acrylic, with only the hair and certain details on the clothing are oils.
This piece also went through a few digital iterations prior to – and even during – the painting process. You might remember this earlier post where I played around with various background colours on a first pass of digital painting.
Once I’d decided on the background colour, I put down a first layer of acrylics then painted a second digital pass on top – just to reassure myself that I was going in the right direction after all.
And finally, here are some more process shots as I moved from acrylics to oils.
And now this painting sits on my piano – which I also haven’t touched in forever, btw – where I can see it every day, and it fills me with a sense of enormous well-being, and also a healthy dose of “Took you long enough!”