For the majority of my adult life I was a full time teacher, now as a full time artist I'm learning how to organise, my time, life and business, in away I've never had to do before.
As a teacher, there were a myriad of things to organise and remember, the school calendar was a bible, my teaching planner a tome of great import and before conditionally formatted spreadsheets were fashionable, my mark book too, was a work of art. To be honest, I rather liked it. For me one of the perks of teaching was the endless stationery. I love stationery. The childhood ritual of buying a new pencil case for the start of the academic year, never really left me as an adult!
Now free from all this, with only myself to organise, I had grand romantic schemes of linking my digital calendar, across devices, and thus a new age of efficiency would be be born. My scheduled blog posts, commissioned paintings deadlines, art fairs, meetings, appointments, exhibitions would sync seamlessly and this 21st century artist would embrace it.
After not very long at all, I realised I was resisting the digital calendar. Don't get me wrong, I'm fully Appled up and have devices of varying sizes and power, but I just prefer a nice paper diary.
But then, my nice dairy wasn't coming up with the goods either. Too many post-its bulging out all over. Not happy.
So I went retro. In my university days I had a filofax, the bastion of the London yuppy. I wasn't a yuppy, I was a London Art student, but I still used my filofax all the time, everything was in there, and it worked. I still have my original 1980s filofax, but it's a small one and I fancied investing in new one.
So here's my ultimate list for the best organiser I've ever created.
A purple Malden filofax A5 size. It's gorgeous.
This filofax isn't serving just as a diary. The normal diary pages simply weren't enough for me. I wanted a full on planner (just like I used to have in my teaching days) but my planner needed to be colourful, beautiful even. It had to be flexible, inspire and motivate me and be aimed at fresh entrepreneurs trying to juggle a shed load of things.
I'm delighted that I have discovered the brilliant Life is crafted planners by Arienne Gorlesh. They are beautiful, can help you focus on the big picture whilst also crafting your daily life and help you create actionable and inspiring goals.
I write everything there. All those arty appointments, the workshops I run, my social media strategy, a list of photos to upload each day, ongoing painting projects, commissions...you name it, it's in the filofax, just like it was in the 80s!
In addition I've printed out pages from Jennifer Lee's brilliant Right brain business plan. I have a huge RBBP on my wall, but I have some key pages included in my planner so that I can keep developing and growing my business organically.
Just to make things super pretty I also bought myself some pretty dividers from Atelier Days on Etsy. They are gorgeous, properly laminated and will stay beautiful for a long time.
So what have I learned from all this.
I love technology, but only in its place. I can't shake my stationary habit, I love having paper to write on, flick through and muse over.
Is it really surprising for an artist to be this way?
And if it's working? Then surely it's right.
Last week I wrote about the arts scene in Salisbury.
This week I'm focusing on why it's such an inspirational place.
Salisbury is an extraordinary and unique city. It's medieval city centre is build on a grid system during the 1300s. There are some fascinating little buildings all around the city that will delight anyone one who studies them.
The Cathedral is set in a beautiful close, it is such a luxury to be able to stand back from the building and admire it in all its glory. I still get a thrill out of hearing tourists gasp "wow" once they’ve walked through North gate and get their first real view of the Cathedral.
Inside the Cathedral there's enough inspiration to keep any artist going for an age. The architecture alone takes your breath away.
If you have a head for heights the tower tour is simply brilliant, the views inside the tower almost as amazing as the views looking outside.
Head further away from the close and you have the views across the water meadows, made famous by Constable and Turner and still hugely inspirational for local artists like me.
Out towards the city limits is the site of the original settlement Old Sarum, my studio overlooks the valley over to Old Sarum. Walking around its ancient ramparts offer yet more great views for landscape artists. The light across the Plain is incredible.
Head just a few miles from Salisbury and the world famous Stonehenge sits waiting for you. All weathers and lights provide a backdrop for this most beautiful of ancient monuments.
Most recently, in addition to landscape painting, I've been focusing on what is in the landscape! This rural part of England is home to sheep, pigs, and cattle, an I’ve been delighting in the faces of these beautiful animals. Inspiration from the landscape and the animals that live there, will form my next, newest collection. All will be revealed soon, on my website, but here's a sneak preview of what I've been up to.
How can I fail to be inspired when I'm surrounded by beauty?
Wherever you live, artists will compare the lack of arts in their area to a much more an arty place, and secretly wish they lived in the much more arty place. And if you're an artist in an arty place you'll wish you were somewhere where there was no competition whatsoever and you were the only artist in the village!
Actually us artists are often quite a positive bunch, but sometimes it's just nice to blame where you are for a lack of sales or a lack of action.
The thing is, I rather like living in Salisbury and the arts scene is rather good, and will get better and better the more people join in with it as artists, crafters, makers and visitors.
Here is my run down of where to see some art and where to create it.
Once every two years Plain Arts Salisbury hosts Salisbury art trail. That event alone has over 100 artists taking part all across the city and it's rather marvellous. The trail was in October last year, so it's not an art trail year this year, but there are still plenty of reasons to join Plain arts if you're an artist or want to find out more about the Salisbury arts scene. And there's a bargain to be had right now...
Many of the Plain artists exhibit in places that aren't galleries, and that's brilliant! The Medical centre on Wilton road host seasonal exhibitions, usually with about six artists each time. How marvellous it is, when you visit the doctor or the dentist, and you're greeted with works of art in the waiting room and down the corridors. Boston tea party, and Waterstones both host monthly exhibitions for local artists to showcase their work. The work in all of these places is for sale, but actually it's about getting art into public places and getting people to see it and love it.
There are some lovely galleries too, small ones like The Yard and Graham Oliver gallery which are well worth a visit. There is also New Red Studios; another gem of a gallery where boundaries are being pushed, questions and ideas being challenged in the context of art practice. Along with the much larger Fisherton Mill gallery, which is so welcoming and you'll find incredible diversity in the types of visual arts produced there. It's one of those places you return to again and again as there's always something wonderful to see.
Salisbury arts centre has regular professional exhibitions and some wonderful workshops to get involved in. Currently in the main exhibition space is Walking...Landscape...Memory. And there's the ever popular Dr sktechys, life drawing with a twist, on the last Wednesday of every month.
Studio 53 is a cracking studio gallery, it's tucked away in George street, but a treat awaits you when you find it. Their next exhibition is Suspended form and it opens on Friday 5th Feb. They have life drawing classes on Thursdays.
Salisbury Museum is a hidden gem. Set in the picturesque Cathedral close, it's easily missed, but my goodness there are some incredible exhibitions there. Last Autumn they had a wonderful Turner exhibition and some fascinating talks and workshops alongside it. The museum has just had a Hinchcliffe exhibition and on Jan 30th the John Craxton exhibition begins. It's worth checking out their website too, as in addition to their exhibitions there are usually accompanying workshops and talks from local artists and curators. I've done many painting workshops at the museum and I love doing them, in addition printmaker Sally Firino and sculptor Charlotte Morton, also feature on the museum's list of artists. The museum also does a young curators club one Saturday in every month, it's free and great fun.
Salisbury craft and heritage fair is in September and hosts beautiful work from local and national artists on the Cathedral lawns. The quality of work is extraordinary and good value as you are buying directly form the artist or crafts person; start saving and treat yourself to something beautiful.
So, I'm rather happy about being an artist living and working in Salisbury. At the risk of paraphrasing Richard Curtis, "Art is all around us"
Several of my artist friends, paint every day, no matter what. I've always found the idea great if a little daunting. If you missed my first blog on the subject I refer back to Carol Marine's book you don't necessarily have to paint every singe day, but the point definitely is little and often, rather than trying to splash some paint on seven canvases every Sunday and pretend you're doing every day!
So I've been painting everyday (mostly)
I've been posting my work on my Facebook page, but here's a catch up if you haven't seen what's been going on.
On Saturday and Sunday, both canvases have been a little bigger than I planned for most of the project. These are both on 25cm x 30 cm, which are pretty manageable as a professional artist, but if you're just starting out you'd be wise to go a bit smaller. Remember the whole point is to be able to experiment, find your artist's voice and paint fearlessly.
For me, both of these paintings are a departure from my landscapes and seascapes.
What am I getting from this so far?
Observation is key.
Discipline is important.
Colour mixing essential.
I'm obsessed with how light changes in nature, but having control over how you light your subjects in still life is a revelation.
I'm delighted that the perfume bootle with the blue bottle is sold already. Nice start!
For two of my my days this week I didn't do an oil painting, one was a watercolour and one a relief print, whilst working in Salisbury museum. I haven't included them as they're not for sale. Also I really want to focus on oil painting, as that's my bread and butter, and it makes sense to really use the project to experiment with such a vast and diverse medium.
So for the next three paintings I've gone smaller, and I've now ordered some more of these cute little canvases from Jacksons art supplies.
They are 15cm x 15cm with a deep edge, they look so cute and chunky. They are professional standard and you can really feel the quality. I really like the impact these chunky little canvases can have. They look particularly lovely when hung in rows of three or groups of four.
During Studio 53’s Winter Open PV I was chatting to a fellow artist who was also extolling the virtues of painting everyday.
“Sure, I paint everyday” I thought.
“Well I sort of do” I reviewed in my mind.
“Well I definitely draw everyday”.
That at least is true.
I had excuses.
Tonnes of them.
I’m a solo entrepreneur, I do everything for my business, my website, my twitter feed, my facebook page. I run workshops, I blog, I research, I’m an oil painter which is hard to do on the run, quickly or in a hotel room….la la la.
All these excuses have faded away, because in-between Christmas and New year I read, a much recommended book - “Daily painting” by Carole Marine.
The basic premis is simple. Paint every day, or at least most days.
Minimum 4 times a week.
Paint small so that it’s manageable.
The benefits are huge and varied, amongst them:
You’ll be painting in an experimental way, without fear.
You’ll improve your skills rapidly. If you're already a pro you'll find your artistic voice.
And you’ll have loads of paintings from which to learn, or if they’re good, to sell.
The book has a wealth of information for the amateur and professional alike, as it covers media, composition and colour. I recommend it.
So trying to get one up on a new year’s resolution I started my Daily painting habit just before new year's eve.
When the weather (and light) is good I want to be outside painting, as a landscape artist it's essential. My years of teaching have led me avoid relying heavily on photographs in the studio, and will only work from them if accompanied by my sketches.
So, inspried by the book, I felt some small still life paintings, in oil would be the way ahead.
I painted the inside of a box with black acrylic paint.
Used a little box inside it and covered it with an old shirt of my husband’s rather than cutting up a big white table cloth.
I cut a hole in one side of the box and stuck an angle-poise lamp through the hole.
Then I picked up a lovely handmade golden pear off of the Christmas tree.
I placed it in my black cardboard box on my old-shirt-tablecloth.
There it was. A simple, lit still life.
I painted two in fact.
So here are my first two paintings using the Daily painting habit.
Both are oil on canvas.
Can’t recommend it enough.
I’ll be posting more.
Many many more.
The best examples of my daily paintings are available to buy from my shop.
This section will not be visible in live published website. Below are your current settings:
Current Number Of Columns are = 3
Expand Posts Area = 1
Gap/Space Between Posts = 10px
Blog Post Style = card
Use of custom card colors instead of default colors =
Blog Post Card Background Color = current color
Blog Post Card Shadow Color = current color
Blog Post Card Border Color = current color
Publish the website and visit your blog page to see the results