Diary of an Artist November 2018
It’s been a busy few months since my first diary entry, but I thought it was about time that I put pen to paper - metaphorically speaking since most of this sort of stuff gets done on a computer!
After the lovely weekend that I spent down in Stratford-Upon-Avon at the Fine Art Trade Guild Awards event, where I met some of the other Guild Society of Artists members, it was all hands to the deck getting ready for the Exhibition of Wildlife Art, or EWA for short. This three day event, held in July, takes place in Gordale, Chester, and is extremely popular with lovers of wildlife art, and so it is an important date in the calendar for many wildlife artists. I was able to secure a four feet square panel to exhibit my work on, and I decided to keep to one theme and show three watercolours of egrets fishing in Lake Myakka in Florida. The preview for the exhibition was extremely well attended, and as I wandered around I met a couple of my Association of Animal Artists colleagues, and some of The Wildlife Art Society International, (TWASI), members were also there.
Some artists had exhibition stands and were there every day for the three days, and it appeared to be those artists who made the most sales. I had heard many years ago that it was invaluable to be in attendance at exhibitions since many members of the public and potential buyers like to chat with the artist and find out about the painting process and the story behind the work on display.
After EWA the next item on the agenda was the autumn exhibition of TWASI which was held in The Long Gallery of Hanbury Hall. Hanbury Hall is a beautiful National Trust house in Droitwich, Worcestershire. The title of the exhibition was ‘Flora And Fauna In The British Landscape’, so no egrets from me, but instead I exhibited four paintings, ‘Golden Slumbers’ two ducks sunbathing at Chester Zoo, ‘Hear Me Roar’, my watercolour of a hedgehog, ‘Swans On The River Wye In Bakewell’ and ‘Messing About On The River’ which was a composition I made up of three Canada Geese doing what the title says! I volunteered to do some painting in the gallery on the last day, and had a really lovely time meeting some of the other TWASI artists and talking to the visitors to the exhibition. I must say, it felt very special to be sitting and working in this lovely space, which has such a long history, and it was great to feel that we had all become a part of that history.
After Hanbury Hall came the Association of Animal Artists autumn exhibition which this year was held at the beautiful Granary Art Gallery which is situated in the grounds of Weston Park - again another beautiful country house - I can see a trend emerging! As the trustee of the AAA responsible for PR and Publicity, I had been working all year towards increasing the AAA’s audience on social media, and I was thrilled to have my painting of a hedgehog, ‘Nestled Safely’ chosen as the poster for the exhibition. It was chosen because our charity partner for 2018 is The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, and at the end of this year we will be making a donation to this worthy cause to help promote public awareness of the plight of this native British mammal.
The exhibition looked great when it was all up, and as usual, I was able to make a video of the preview for our Youtube channel, (which I set up after taking on the trustee role). We made a few good sales during the exhibition, and I was extremely delighted because I sold ‘Messing About On The River’, in addition to all but one of my cards. I had decided to make all my cards hedgehog themed, my rationale being that if I sold enough, then I would send something down to Hedgehog Friendly Town. I was delighted to be able to send them a package of food to help feed the hedgehogs in their care. I think they’ve been extremely busy this year with lots of babies coming in after being found outside during the daytime - something which is a red flag meaning the hedgehog is not well. The babies are very labour intensive, and need a lot of TLC and treatment, so it was great to be able to help, if only in a small way.
In addition to all of that, the four trustees and their work promoting the AAA were featured in ‘My Shrewsbury’ magazine, and my painting ‘Nestled Safely’ was given a page in the SAA’s ‘Paint’ magazine, alongside a piece about the exhibition. A massive ‘thank you’ to both those publications for all of their help in publicising the exhibition.
After the exhibition finished, I made the decision to step down from my trustee role with the AAA. I had been working constantly for fifteen months, and felt it was time for someone else to take up where I was leaving off. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I felt that I needed to spend some time on my artistic practice, and I couldn’t do both. I am still a member of the association, and intend to be there at the exhibitions in the future.
Now…in addition to all of this, I was awarded the qualification ‘Associate of the Guild Society of Artists’, yes, I can now use the letters AGSA. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive the news. It is something that is really important to me, and I hope in the future to work towards the next level of qualification of GSA.
I never thought when I set out on this artistic journey many years ago that I would be at the stage I am now. I have met some really great people on the way. Some of them fellow artists, and some members of the public who have a keen interest in what we do. The most humbling experience comes when someone purchases the work that I have produced. The fact that someone has liked one of my paintings so much that they have actually handed over their hard earned money for it, is something that just bowls me over, and I am forever grateful.
What next? Well, I’ve just committed to something which for me is a really big deal. I’m not saying anything just yet, but I’ve signed on the dotted line and all I can say is that it’s work work work from now until the Spring to get everything ready!