Entering all these exhibitions, however, does involve a lot of travelling around the country, dropping paintings off, going to Private Views and then picking up paintings again. I was lucky enough to sell a couple of paintings, one at the Society of Equestrian Artists and one at the Society of Feline Artists which is a great start but I definitely want (and need!) to increase my sales! It's such an incredible feeling knowing that on a wall somewhere is an original Sally Lancaster painting!
I was also lucky to be approached by Tidal Wave Gallery in Hereford asking if they could showcase my paintings. This is a great start for me as getting represented by galleries can take a lot of time and searching. It also means I don't have paintings stacking up in my cupboard at home!!
I now have to plan my year ahead. You'd be amazed at how much of an artist's time is taken up with marketing, planning and paperwork, it's not all just sitting and painting you know! My main plan is to increase my commissions at the beginning part of the year. This is notoriously a tricky time for artist's with people mainly commissioning for Christmas. Sadly we all need money to live and I intend to one day make my living entirely from my art.
I have also applied to have a trade stand at the Three Counties Show in June which is very exciting, my first time showing my work on my own and hopefully gaining lots of commissions and selling lots of paintings!
On recommendation of a wonderful fellow artist Laura Hardie, I have written down my goals for this year and it'll be great to see how many I have managed by the end of the year!
1) Produce prints I am already in talks with a wonderful man called Terry at http://www.lens-scape.co.uk/ about producing prints of my original works to sell on my website and also at shows.
2) Originals I love producing my original equestrian art so I am hoping to increase the amount I produce this year, not just limiting them to entries for exhibitions.
3) Make a living from my art! I would love to have a year of not constantly worrying about money and lack of.
4) Manage my time better I need to learn time management! I read some great advice from one artist that you should spend your morning on marketing, paperwork etc and the afternoon painting but if only it was that easy! Before Christmas I was painting every minute and therefore paperwork fell behind. I still have commissions lined up now but the pressure is off so I tend to faff more so I need to learn to not spend so much time on the computer "researching" and more time being productive. I have a year planner up on the studio wall, I just need to use it!
5) Exhibitions I will be concentrating mainly on equestrian based exhibitions this year but if I have the time, I will also be trying for a couple of other big exhibitions, one being the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Entry to this Society is via judging only so I have to decide whether I have the time to produce at least three paintings by the end of February, risking the chance of my paintings being rejected and once again driving all the way to London to pick them up! Watch this space.
6) Use my camera more I have a wonderful camera but limited knowledge! Portraits are pretty straightforward so one thing I am offering from this year is for me to go out to take the photos for customers, also meaning I will have better reference photos to work from. However, I'm terrible at remembering to take my camera out with me at weekends etc and take photos of things around me that could be good for future paintings.
7) Shows I want to try and enter a few shows this year to get my name more widely known. As mentioned before, I am hoping to have a stand at the Three Counties Show in Malvern but I also want to attend some bigger horse shows.
8) Sell more originals I love doing my original paintings but they do tend to stack up in your house if you don't sell them! The gallery is slowly selling my paintings but I'm going to find more opportunities to sell my originals as it's best to have several outlets around the country, meaning more people will see my work.
9) Learn new mediums For Christmas I got my first set of oils! Having taught myself how to use Acrylics I thought it was finally time to try out other mediums, starting with oils. I love working in acrylics, because of it's fast drying time I'm able to do the finest details but this drying time also means it's incredibly hard to blend colours. The oils I have have a faster drying time than normal oils so I shouldn't have too many paintings hanging around our tiny cottage (we have a serious lack of space issue!) plus blending should be much easier but there are lots of 'rules' to learn so fingers crossed. I also want to try coloured pencils and pastel pencils in the future so keep an eye open for later posts concerning these.
10) Gain confidence! I love painting and have over the years learnt to be confident in my artistic abilities but it's a very isolating existence so when it comes to dealing with customers, being face to face with people and also promoting my painting, I feel I lack confidence. It's going to be a year of challenges but hopefully they will all make me better at self promotion and confidence. Let's see if I repeat this goal next new year!!!
Well, it's time to get off the computer and to start managing my time better!
Good luck for 2008 and enjoy!