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! 🙂

With a little help from my friends

©2022, Emma Pittson “Summer Study” Photoshop

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…

Experimenting With Colour

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Glasses”. Photoshop.

With all the enthusiasm of a New year’s diet, at the start of January, I vowed to throw myself into judgement-free artmaking. The plan was (and still is!) to produce like nobody’s business, and at the end of the year – HOPEFULLY – end up with a massive output of art from which I will be able to detect certain patterns, like “what subject matter do I gravitate towards?”, “what colours do I use most often?”, and most importantly “what am I trying to say with my art?”. I know, I know… the pressure to have the Big Questions answered kinda short-circuits the whole “judgment-free” thing, but “Quantity Leads to Quality” and all that jazz…

Part of my plan also involves experimenting with different artistic approaches. My Pinterest account has an Inspiration page filled to the brim with figurative art, and quite a lot of it is done with large areas of flat colour, something I find completely fascinating but have never really attempted to do myself. And that’s how this portrait came to be! Going against my detail-oriented ways was both scary and exhilarating, but ultimately, I’m undecided about the success of this piece. On the one hand, it got me out of my comfort zone (which was the point), but on the other hand, doing it made me feel like I was wearing someone else’s identity. So maybe… I should do this more often? 😉

Vintage Cleveland

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

When I saw this young woman’s portrait (so-called “Cleveland” because I think it came from the Cleveland Municipal Archives), I just knew that I had to breathe some colour into her. Surely this is a woman who would have had no problem asking for, nay, demanding equal pay! Or maybe I’m projecting a little bit…

Here is the original for comparison:

“Hautes Gorges” Re-paint

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Hautes Gorges de la Riviere Malbaie II”. Photoshop.

Another day, another re-paint! While I try to summon the courage to break away from digital art and actually pick up a paintbrush, I’m indulging in re-painting some of my older digital landscapes. It’s not entirely fair for me to disparage my old work and say “Wow! Look how much I’ve learned” because those first landscapes were just supposed to be quick studies done over my lunch hour (like I don’t spend enough time staring at a screen, right?). But with time, those early studies have started to look pretty clunky, and, quite frankly, a little embarrassing. I’m not saying that I’m going to give my entire portfolio a do-over, but… maybe a few pieces here and there.

Here is the original artwork for comparison…

©2019, Emma Pittson, “Hautes Gorges de la Riviere Malbaie”. Photoshop.