Date: 30/11/17

Time: 14.42pm

Location: Temple St. Studios, Wolverhampton

Mood: Optimistic about the future, but quite low at being completely skint with Christmas on the way..

Listening to: Nothing but the heater …!

First Post!

Hi I’m Bec, I’m an artist based in the West Midlands who graduated from Fine Art, at the University of Wolverhampton in 2013. This is just a blog of thoughts to keep me on track with my work and development of some current new pieces. Feel free to say hello, and comments and suggestions are welcome!

Since leaving university I have meandered a lot – however the one thing that has remained a passion is to work for myself and to run my own business.

At university I had a lot of fun with abstract painting, sculpture and installation work. However since leaving, I left that behind and started my own business creating pencil portraits and illustrations inspired by portraiture and fashion, which was something I had always done since a teenager and still loved. My business is based around exhibiting my prints and cards in local hand made shops and doing craft fairs and local exhibitions.

However this currently does not earn me a great deal of money; possibly for many reasons – lack of confidence, doing things cheaply, lack of skills in certain areas and generally just not hitting the nail on the head for current trends and things that people are interested in buying. But also not really knowing where I fit in or where my audience is.

Late last year I acquired the help of a coach and painter Dean Melbourne who (after an attempt of me trying to create a body of work in my current realistic/lack of knowledge/pure willpower style..and failing!) suggested I try a different approach. He was looking at my sketchbook and saw a page of sketchy thumbnails I had done with the intention of painting realistically later on.  He suggested I paint them exactly as I’d drawn them, with the sketchiness and imperfect aspects remaining. So the past few months this is what I have been doing; projecting the sketches, (above) sketching them out in pencil onto square canvases and therefore starting a new – completely different – body of work. I have since completed around 5 of these paintings with more planned.

Dean came to visit me at my studio a few weeks ago and we discussed where this work could go. One of the first steps I think would definitely be to exhibit at modern contemporary art galleries in the UK, and also art fairs. We also discussed how the work could potentially take part in relevant events; the idea of funny faces and comedians for example. At the time there was a comedy festival happening in Wolverhampton, unfortunately fully booked! But also events to do with topics like mental health; I feel my work touches upon mental health issues – such as things as women, selfies, how women are looked upon/portrayed in social media, but also everyday mental health and the way people feel they look. In these new paintings the faces are not at all perfect, however there is still a lot of character about them.

There was also a discussion about funding and how to fund this new body of work, materials, gallery, art fair and studio visits etc. Also people to get in touch with like Creative Black Country.  It was suggested I apply for an Arts Council Grant, and this is something I am currently looking into.

In the next post I will be posting the pieces I have currently completed.

Thankyou for taking the time to read my first post!


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Date: 18.02.18

Time: 20.28pm

Mood: Optimistic

Listening To: Expanded Perspectives Podcast, YouTube

Welcome to an new episode of my A-N blog for February 2018. The above sketch was a doodle from my sketchbook from just before Christmas last year.

This is just a quick short post about my thoughts and progress from over the past week; I’m hoping to do these posts every week where possible, or every two weeks.

So I’m working on a new body of work in a very different style to what I’ve been doing for the past 2-3 years. In the past few years I’d been making drawings, and illustrations that had no real audience,  or groundwork, research or knowledge of business. Although I worked very hard, it hasn’t really been going anywhere or earning a lot, despite my dream since I was a young child, of wanting to be an artist. I guess I’ve always had the spirit and enthusiasm – and some skills but not really the the know how of where to go with it or how to earn a living from my work.

Having always been a realistic and realism based artist, with the help of a mentor/coach I am now working on something more sketchy and illustrative in a series of new paintings. This is with the aim of creating a more successful business for myself in terms of being a self employed artist. This is also because I feel it will help me step into my potential as an artist and give me the scope I need to develop the art business I’ve always wanted. In my last post I talked about being a ‘commercial artist’ and while that is in many ways what I’d like to become, it’s going to be by no means a cheap or tacky way of earning a living; I aim to make colourful, meaningful work that the right audience will love, and then make a regular living from my work.

So far I have made around 5 small paintings from a series of sketchy thumbnails in my sketchbook. They are very colourful and bold sketchy portraits of women. The references were taken from real people – just random photos that appealed to me or people I follow on social media. I feel I am just starting to get to grips with what my work is about. There are lots of things that I am interested in that I’ve never been able to string together coherently into pieces – so I’m hoping this new work – and the way it is painted – will enable that. At the moment the focus will be portraiture – and the sketchy style and marks made are something I’m still experimenting with and perhaps not quite there yet. I am also planning an upcoming post on the things I am interested in and exploring, so stay tuned for this.

So this week after much fear and stalling – I finally made a start on another portrait. Again this was from a quick sketch in my sketchbook; I then scanned this and went over my lines in Photoshop and the portrait is now ready to be traced onto the canvas. This is my current procedure. However I think it will change and improve over time to maybe just producing portraits freehand straight onto the surface of the canvas. But for now I am quite shaky, and still have a certain amount of fear about the new work, although excitement too.

I’m very pleased with the new portrait and am really looking forward to getting it on a canvas. I plan to to trace and draw the outline the beginning of the week and make a start painting in the studio later on on this week. I have tried this time to think about things my mentor/coach as asked me to consider – such as my colour palette, not ‘overdrawing’ something, the balance of the portrait i.e not chopping parts off – thinking about composition and how much space around the face, head/shoulders etc. I will post about how I am progressing with this piece over the next week or so.

In my last post I also mentioned getting out and ‘seeing art’ – and ‘feeding myself’ art as we were fed whilst at university! And I’m pleased to say I have my train booked for the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London on the 10th March (it runs from the 8-11th March 2018). I am going with my friend from our studios, also an artist. I will also be going to visit the New Art West Midlands Exhibition this week whilst in Birmingham. I am hoping to have an art based morning/afternoon visiting various art venues in Birmingham. If anyone has any suggestions of anywhere else I could visit – do comment below, I’d be very interested!

So this has been the progress for this week, and hopefully things are slowly going in the right direction! Stay tuned over the next week or so where I will be posting new thoughts and progress and hopefully about places I have visited! As always, any thoughts and comments are welcome and hopefully this will help anyone else on a similar journey!


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Date: 11/02/18

Time: 19.52pm

Mood: Spirited and Ambitious ..but slow..

So welcome to another A-N blog post! I actually started this post several days ago and have had a very busy week, with no real time to sit down and think for a while. And there has been some great highlights over the past few weeks. In following on from my last post – I did create a list of ideas for what my life would look like if my art practice and business were running the way I’d like them to – this really helped. I wrote things like ‘I am working in a 100% more directed way’ and ‘I am creating collections and series of works rather than random pieces’ ‘I am comfortable pricing my work’ etc. When you write things like this – it helps you realise all the aspects you’re still NOT sure of that you have to work through.

The other great thing that happened a short while back is I went to visit the studio of my mentor/coach and we had some great discussions. This post is going to be about what I learned during these conversations, how it affected my thinking and current plans created for my work from this. I came away feeling extremely positive about my new work.

The first thing we spoke about was getting out and seeing some art; because my aim is to become more of a commercial artist (not tacky, but pieces and paintings I can make a living from that also have meaning and serves people in some way). But also to try and make some connections and meet with potential galleries that could offer feedback on my work so far and for possible representation in the future. So it was suggested I visit places like the Affordable Art Fair in London (there is one coming up held in Battersea 8-12 March 2018). Also to look at who is exhibiting, galleries/artists and pick out ones that I most identify with. You need to have an agenda when walking around art fairs;  to have art that you want to see, but also an idea in mind of galleries and people that you potentially want to make a connection with.

This said, it is also important for myself and other emerging artists to get out and see general exhibitions, as well as ‘feed yourself’ art in other ways – for instance I’m planning to regularly visit our University Library to research for my new work. I graduated from university around 5 years ago now, and I left with a whole framework of ideas, thoughts and themes surrounding my then practice. I would love to build that again around my new work.

The other important aspect about people seeing my new work is having a website for that new work – the pieces I have made so far. My current website really only displays the work I still sell as prints and cards on Etsy; however in moving forward it has been suggested to change my site so that it is more simply a landing page. Rather a ‘business card’ style single page displaying a selection of new works and contact information. This I am very happy to do, and will post the link on this blog when the site has been remade.

Also we discussed aspects of what to focus on in terms of making art. One of the things that I have noticed about contemporary artists is that they very often work in series. This is something I’ve noted above and in my own planning, however not something I am necessarily used to doing! I think in my older work and realistic drawings I tended to create things randomly; there were always attempts at series and collections, however I always set myself too much work – too many things to work on at once – and could never keep up. This is one of my downfalls! So for this new work it was suggested I start by creating some women themed portrait series’ i.e. ‘Women In My Life Who..’ etc. My work has always been mainly feminine inspired however I would also like to include men in the new work. I generally draw women because they’re easier – but it will be extremely beneficial to learn new skills and adopt new approaches in this new work.

Finally, an important and shaky subject we discussed was getting part time work. I currently exhibit in a local handmade shop – mainly stocking items from designer-makers local to the West Midlands, such as jewellery and ceramics etc. There is art; however not much and art prints etc really aren’t very popular, the only things I really sell are cards. My rent there is £20 a month however I only make just over my rent every month – sometimes less – and commission is also taken off.  It isn’t really helping – and I also work there two days a month. We discussed that it would be much easier to get a part time job and leave, which I am happy to do – although I have been part of the shop for 3 years now, never really selling a lot but always trying very hard. And having tried to work full time with not much coming in has been very challenging. However I feel it is the right thing to do if I ever want to get on my own path and find the right market for myself and my work.

This was a very long post! As always thank you for reading, and feedback, advice and comments are always welcome. This blog is very therapeutic in jotting down and ordering my thoughts about making new art and this new journey – and if it can help others in any way, that would be amazing.  Join me over the next few weeks where I will be posting new updates, thoughts and progress!


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Date: 10/01/2018

Time: 20.39pm

Location: Home

Mood: Un-inspired (Truth is best)

So a Happy 2018 to all – and I hope the early days of the new year are treating you well!

I feel refreshed in terms of a new start and lots of potential ideas – but also dread of the thought of it being like last year and all the running around I did and ‘busy work’ for little or no results career wise or financially. On the one hand I’m determined to do things differently and focus on my new work and paintings but on the other I’m not sure I’ve currently got the energy or spirit to put into another huge endeavour, only to let myself and other people down or not gain anything from it. However, at the beginning of every year I make plans for the year ahead, and although it has been very sluggish and slow – with still parts to finish – I have done the same this year.

I would like this blog to help other artists out there who find the journey of Self Employed Artist a struggle at times. As I always say to my best friend when we talk or meet up to talk about our journey – if I do this – and master the art of being a self employed artist with a successful business – I would love to teach others how to do it.

So I am going to share what I do at the beginning of each year. I believe you can do these things anytime you would like a change though, it doesn’t always have to be the New Year. I always start off with creating several documents, this has expanded over the past few years – depending on the things I’ve read or things that my mentor has asked me to think about. One of the main things my mentor Dean told me to create was a To-Don’t List; all the things you are aware that you are doing that are completely not serving you at all and that you must stop doing!

This is actually a very useful exercise and you may be surprised with what you come up with.  Some of mine this year are for instance quite simple: ‘Don’t set yourself too many pieces to work on at once’ this is one of the things that I do often and it depletes my energy, trying to focus on too many paintings or even developing too many ideas. One maybe two at a time only. And ‘Don’t finish work at 11/11.30pm at night’. I do this all the time, going to bed at 2am-3am. I’ve realised at the end of every day, no matter what you’re working on (unless it’s an emergency artwork deadline for a customer/client) you mind and body needs some downtime to relax. But also because if your mind is focused on your work all the time – especially creative work – you’ll find it harder to make progress if you’re not switching off from it. This is something I feel I really need to learn, as I hardly ever switch off from thinking about where my work is going.

Other documents I create at the beginning of each year include ‘Things I have Established From [Year]’. So on my ‘Things I Established From 2017’ document one of the things I established was that I am not very good currently at talking in public or to other people about my artwork, and get very tongue tied, nervous and just rattle on about things just to make conversation and that aren’t necessarily the truth or what my work is really about. And if I want to have a successful business in any sense – this has to change and confidence has to be developed.

This year I have also created a Research & Learning List. For instance mine includes aspects of the above and confidence growing in public talking, but also business and finance aspects I don’t yet fully understand. And finally my Goals For 2018. This year I have tried to just list things simply and not over complicate. My main goal this year is to develop my own voice as an artist, and be on the way to developing a business that I’m proud of, that’s more solid and that has a great future. I also think if it is a goal like this – to actually think about and write out what this would actually look like. For instance what would you be doing day to day? Where would your income come from? Where would your main customers be? Where would you exhibit? Where would you sell? etc – rather than everything being vague and aimless. I feel you really need to be specific about what you want. This this the one thing I still have yet to do – but will do this over the next week.

Of course the main thing about writing out such lists and plans for the year is that they’re in a place where you look at them a lot. Last year I left mine in a ring binder that I was aiming to put my research in and hardly looked at them! My goals for the year were also printed out and stuck to my wall right in front of me at my desk at home – yet I hardly looked at it. So I think there needs to be some kind of conscious effort or ritual of familiarising yourself with your aims and goals every day so they bury themselves into your subconscious, whether reading through them at a particular time each day or writing them out (and not making it a chore to do so). As we are in such a fast paced world today, that things like this are easily forgotten as life takes over – and before you know it, another year is over – a bit like what happened to me in 2017!

As always – constructive thoughts and comments are welcome, and thank you for reading.

Stay tuned for my next post as I will be talking about recent studio happenings and my new work in production!

 


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Date: 13/12/17

Time: 20.17 PM

Mood:Feeling guilty..

Listening To: Nothing (although have had Christmas songs going around my head all day..!)

Welcome to my 3rd blog post here on A-N! This is a blog about the development of myself as an artist and creating a new body of work, with the aim of having a more successful and professional business. I am hoping issues that I raise will also have an impact on artists out there who have also struggled along the way.

And I have to say I’m feeling guilty for a number of reasons..one being not having blogged on here for the last two weeks! And secondly because I have not made any more progress on the new work or looked at applying for the Arts Council Grant.

As this blog is very much a part of keeping me accountable for my progress in achieving my aim of working fully and completely for myself – I am going to be completely honest about how I am doing or what my thoughts are! And the reality is – although I have thought about the new work a lot over the past few weeks – and have primed some new canvases – nothing has been done.

Part of the reason that there has been no progress is that I am still very much involved in my other work – that is selling prints and cards of portrait & fashion based illustrations. This work is under the name ‘Bec Broomhall Arts’ and has never earned much money over the past few years I have been doing it despite me trying and working very hard. Nonetheless I had a few Christmas fairs booked over the past few months, and the last one was last Friday. So most of last week I was in preparation for this. Despite my efforts however, once again I only made just under £35.00 . The preparation and stress getting ready for this event has really lowered my energy this week! And also I have had many family commitments as well as making Christmas preparations.

But I think what has really stopped me from making progress on the new work over the past few weeks has been procrastination.  I think the procrastination has been more about fear than anything else; fear of letting people down – such as my mentor – and I feel I’m already letting people down by not doing anything or not keeping in touch regularly! Also fear of ‘botching’ things as I feel I usually do or doing things on the cheap and looking tacky, fear of success – what will I do if this new work actually takes off?! And finally fear of change; I really want to move out from the family home, get my own life, pay my own bills – I want this more than anything – and yet there is massive Resistance to making a decent start on things.

There is also a stress about the transition from my old ‘illustration work’ to a more professional/Fine Art career. The ‘Bec Broomhall Arts’ branding is in many places in Wolverhampton and online. My thoughts have been ranging from ‘Do I just end this work? Facebook page/website etc? and start a fresh? despite people knowing my illustrations and still buying them?’ or ‘Do I carry on this work but just on the side and change the business name slightly so it won’t affect any new websites created for the new work?’ I have been flicking back and forth all week about what to do. However as people still buy my current prints and cards I think I will carry on with the illustration work but just on the side, limited hours each week, whilst mostly developing this more lucrative body of paintings, aiming to lead to a better business.

A post with many meandering thoughts! As always, comments and feedback are always welcome. Stay tuned for my next post very soon where I will be discussing new painting beginnings and plans.

 


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Date: 3/11/17

Time: 19.21pm

Location: Home

Mood: Behind With Other Work….drat!

Welcome to my second post on A-N!

This is just a short post to share some of my recent paintings based on thumbnail sketches. Please read my last post where I talk about my journey as an artist so far and the pieces I’m now working on! I plan to continue to write my thoughts on here – to help keep on track with my new body of work. No solid names for these piece yet.

Thoughts, comments, constructive feedback and suggestions always welcome.


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