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  • Writer's pictureDawn Blatherwick

What I have learnt 18 months of being a full time artist

Firstly, ITS HARD!


Not the unenviable ability to paint every day, when ever I want, that part is the dream, that I thought I would never have.


So, rewind 5 years


I began painting again after a long, long break of 20+ years and starting using oils for the first time. Yes, I went for it, head first into a medium that was totally alien, plus a lot had changed since I last painted. But the painting bug hit me, like it probably hit you and I absorbed everything I could to do with the painting process. Also, my drawing skills had severely declined, having not practiced for a lot of years.


My first painting in oils, my Dad


Looking back at my first paintings I cringe, but without going through that whole process I wouldn’t be where I am now. Then in 2020 I went part time at my ‘day job’ and in 2022 went head first into being a full-time artist.


So, the first 6 months of 2022, I painted solidly, practicing every day, I know if you want to be able to sell your Art then your work needs to be of a high quality, but that determination to be a better artist didn’t end there, I still push myself and probably will for the rest of my life. Just by doing something every day you become better.


I could see the improvements in my work and I was getting some following on social media. It is the selling of your art that is hard, I mean really hard. You are on the bottom rung of a huge ladder and even when you get going, you constantly get knocked off, with disappointment.


Selling


My first in the flesh in selling my art was at a show in Skipton, in 2019. I felt I was baring my sole having my work on display, but also proud at what I had achieved. I didn’t expect to sell anything, but to my surprise a lovely lady bought a piece, she still buys from me now. Its people like her that gives you the boost you need to carry on an affirmation that you’re doing ok

My first sale


Now there is a lot to be said for standing in front of your work and selling, yourself and your work. Its instantly makes you grow, makes you realize that people are interested, (or not) and you have to engage with them and make yourself seem interesting, that is tough! BUT we all have a story of how we got where we are and in some cases that is all you need to say. You also have to grow a thick skin when people say to your face, that they “don’t like any of it” and you just have to smile, when inside your calling them all the names under the sun.

I have had a website for quite a few years now, and I am beginning, (very slowly) to sell from it, up until now I have relied on Art shows and having my work in a gallery. Again, I think it’s a trust thing, people want to know you are legitimate and that your work will hold its value, they want to buy into you. Its not enough that you are good, you are a brand. I remember when I first had my website, I didn’t put my phone number on it, because, get this… I didn’t want interruptions and nonsense calls; you may laugh but that was my naivety.



So how do you sell yourself and your work?


Through a daily slog of showing up and working really hard, yes defiantly add every brushstroke to social media, but don’t be obsessed by the number of followers you have. I began to realize that the bulk of people who follow you are fellow artist anyway, who just want tips.


And when you have a show, make it the best you can each time you will improve, in confidence and your work will follow.

I find myself working at such random times, and not only painting, but all the ‘other’ things that needs to be done, but if you want to become a success then that’s what is required.


Confidence


My confidence has grown tremendously too, I now can hold workshops in front of a class of 50 and not be put off, because I have put the work in, I know what I am talking about and that knowledge is valuable. Now you are probably thinking so what? If you would have known me 5 years ago, this would not have happened, it is through showing up at my easel, every day and putting the work in, that makes me confident in my art.

And its that confidence that shines through in your work or how you present yourself on social media.


So unfortunately, there isn’t any golden ticket (but if you find one, let me know where it is) it is hard graft and sheer determination and a knowledge that I will not give up.


This is a long journey that I am on, and so far it’s been a very enjoyable one.






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