Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, I have been a very busy bee this year but I hope not to leave it so long next time before updating you all.
Here’s a bit about what I’ve been up to this strange old year!
First term at uni
I knew that the essays would be hard (and I haven’t even finished my first one yet) but to be honest I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed learning about the politics, philosophy and economy behind the art world today, and how we perceive the world through the structures of power that shape the world we live in. Very eye-opening!
I suppose I was more confident about the actual painting as I’ve had lots and lots of practice during lockdown, but in reality this has been my biggest challenge. Essentially I’ve been painting portraits, when I’ve branched out and been really daring I’ve done a figure or a portrait in a background, so I haven’t really pushed myself as hard as I’ve thought. We have been encouraged to paint for a reason, to say something through our work that matters to us and is relevant today. I’ve decided to paint about motherhood, having spent the past nearly thirty years being a mother, even though now my sons have more or less left home. It’s forced me to face and remember a lot of difficult things and memories and it’s been hard to push myself to create new ideas.
The hardest thing has been the crits, I am just not used to them due to a long break from art education and because of teaching myself I’m more used to being on the giving end than the receiving. I can’t say I’m proud to tell you that I have shed more than a few tears, but I think it was always going to happen and I think it’s forced me out of my comfort zone for sure.
Physically its been hard with a long commute and long painting days, as well as learning to make canvas supports in the workshop.
But though it’s been tough I have loved getting back to learning and pushing myself. It’s a total privilege and I’m looking forward to learning more (whilst being simultaneously terrified!)
If you’d like to see more of what I’ve been up to I’ve been documenting my course at www.mothertales.co.uk
Sky Portrait Artist of the week
One of the highlights of the year for me was taking part in Sky Portrait artist of the week on Facebook. It was brilliant to get a chance to actually join in with the popular programme (which also moved to free-to-air TV this year) and was even better to feel part of such a huge, enthusiastic group of artists joining in at the same time. I wrote about my experiences here:
I was a bit disappointed to miss the last couple of sitters but time was against me with my studies and I really had to prioritise my course.
Portraits of NHS Heroes
All the people I painted were very happy to receive their painting and I was delighted that they were, they so deserved the thanks for putting themselves in danger to fight this awful virus.
The only thing I’m kicking myself about is that I messed up the form to submit my paintings for the beautiful book that was produced containing many of the portraits on behalf of Tom Croft who started it all. Not that I would have necessarily have got in but hey ho, the main thing is that the nurses and doctors got their paintings.
I blogged about my experience here: Portraits for NHS heroes
Teaching, learning and exhibitions
During the early stages of lockdown I moved my teaching online to Zoom, and I also held painting parties and made YouTube videos with painting tips. I’m hoping to return to teaching again once I’ve finished my course, and I have rescheduled an oil portrait painting demo for September of which I definitely will be doing more so watch this space.
I’m lucky to have had some great teachers this year, Daniel Shadbolt (oil painting from life) and Carl Randall (composition) from Heatherleys School of Art in London, as well as the tutors at University of Reading. I hope to learn from more artists this year coming and I thoroughly recommend signing up to learn from people you admire, particularly now that Zoom makes online learning so easy.
Finally I’m really proud to have had two paintings exhibited in what would have been exhibitions at the Mall Galleries in London but ended up online this year. It’s something I’ve been aspiring to and I will keep persevering to get the chance to exhibit more.
Next year will bring many more challenges but I’m excited to see where it takes me. I hope you embrace your creativity too, and I wish you lots of luck, health and happiness for 2021.