Monday, January 01, 2007

Making a Mark in 2006

I’ve taken Alyson Stanfield’s framework as my starting point to review what I personally achieved in 2006. All links in this post are to how the item got covered in this blog.

First off, I placed a very heavy emphasis on learning and nourishment of my art over sales in 2006. My approach to art in a business sense takes a very long run approach and essentially is about creating a venture I am comfortable with (i.e. I run it rather than it running me). 2006 was about finding things out, building the necessary support framework and making connections.

What totally surprised me was the extent to which writing about art became a passion. So much so that I’ve been rethinking my whole approach to my art activities and I don’t anticipate that the writing and sharing will reduce in any way.


I continued with my cyberchums buddy group set up to support our artistic endeavours in 2005 - we are 8 artists living in four different countries and on 3 different continents. I managed to visit and draw with 4 of them during 2006 (see Fine Line Artists below) which was huge fun. This involved trips to Yorkshire, Crufts, the southwestern states of the USA and New England.

I took two pastel workshops in 2006 – both in the USA. One with Diana Ponting in San Clemente, California and the other with Sally Strand in Cape Cod. Both were excellent tutors and workshops which provided food for further thought and development of my art.

Living in London means that I can pursue the learning opportunities provided by the major galleries and museums. In 2006 this involved
I also continued with my regular drawing class – ‘Drawing the Head’ at the Princes Drawing School. You can see the results if you search for posts on ‘Drawing heads” in this blog

I visited several exhibitions:
I also submitted a portfolio of work by way of an application to join the Society of Graphic Fine Art as an Associate Member – and I was elected.

In addition to this I’ve lost count of the number of art books I’ve read and dipped into. I also subscribe to and/or read all the major American and UK art journals.

I enjoyed David Hockney’s sketchbook DVD and acquired the video about Lucien Freud’s work for viewing in a quiet moment – which is why I still haven’t viewed it!

Print and web profile

My web presence improved a lot in 2006. A number of initiatives contributed to this:
  • Making A Mark made a terrific difference to my web profile. Visitors to my gallery website nearly doubled. Individual blog posts now rank high on the first page of lots of seaches and 25% of visits arrive via browser searches. It’s probably had well over 50,000 visits in 2006 (given I forgot track stats from Day 1!) and currently has 80 subscribers.
  • Travels with a Sketchbook in....... was set up in July 2006 and also had quite a few devotees. In six months, despite being a blog where posts are intermittent, it has had over 10,000 visits.
  • I’ve had lots of people reference the blog and it now has masses of links – although given the Technorati die-off after 6 months I haven’t been able to work out how many – probably somewhere between 400 and 500. Notable links in terms of generating traffic came from being referenced by About: Painting, BlogHer and SquidBlog and being a featured artist on Moleskinerie, for which many thanks. MAM has continued to hover just outside the top 30,000 of all blogs ever created for a very long time now. It’s also generated lots of traffic for my other sites.
  • In May I delivered “Sketching for Real” an on-line sketching class for the Drawing and Sketching Forum of Wet Canvas. It was a terrific success and has had many more viewers since then. To date, it has generated 777 replies, 17,548 views and has been responsible for getting a number of people sketching from life and in public on a regular basis.
  • My views, first expressed in this blog, were quoted in an article in Art Calendar which is a magazine read by a lot of artists.
  • I had an article on ‘Sketching with coloured pencils’ published in the July edition of ‘From My Perspective’ – a very popular magazine available to subscription members only on Ann Kullberg’s site for coloured pencil artists. I also made the front cover of the April edition of FMP with one of my parrot tulip drawings.
  • I created 6 squidoo lens and 2 squidoo groups around the theme of Resources for Artists. You can see all my art lenses in my Making a Mark Squidoo Group.
  • I created the website for Fine Line Artists
  • I commented on lots of blogs and participated in the Crackskull Bob self-portrait marathon
  • .......and also participated in a number of different art forums,

My investment in my art business was largely a background activity as this wasn’t a high profile activity for me in 2006. However what I did do included:
  • Creation and development of a partially complete website for a new venture
  • Visiting the Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham in March
  • Read “The Tipping Point” and lots and lots of informative websites about operating in a web 2.0 world
  • Researching different aspects of the art business and made a number of useful contacts. I published some of the more useful weblinks I found on the internet in my squidoo lens - art business: resources for artists
  • Researching different ways to make production and distribution of my art simpler and more cost-effective. The bottom line was how to avoid making additional work for myself which cut into the ‘doing’ time unnecessarily.
  • Exhibited in two central London galleries – with SOFA and SGFA – and the first group exhibition by Fine Line Artists in new Hampshire.

New habits included:
  • Completing a sketchbook for each trip overseas
  • Working much smaller than I have ever done before
  • Practising the optical mixing of colours in a much more deliberate way
  • Trying to write my blog post first thing each day – writing daily about some aspect if art helps to get my head around art for the rest of the day!
  • Creating sketches and taking photos deliberately for publication on the blog or in articles
  • Making sure I always had fully charged battery chargers for my camera before going out!
Old habits indulged included:
  • Buying far more art books than I am ever going to be able to read in full!
  • Buying far more guide books than necessary and persisting (as always) in trying to pack them too!
  • Trying every new gizmo and pastel and coloured pencil and pen and paper and board that somebody tells me I will really really like!
  • Neglecting housework for art - yay!
Sketching, drawing and producing finished artwork

I experimented with using a Moleskine sketchbook, drafting film, ampersand pastelbord, Stonehenge paper, Stratehmore Vellum, silverpoint and egg tempera.

I completed:
And Alyson is right - you don't realise how much you've achieved until you write it all down! All in all I got a lot done – but I'm of the opinion that I I didn't get enough art done and I still have 3 commissions in progress! Plus I now have blogger’s bottom and am currently in no danger of wresting Julie’s shiny new brass plate off her created after she won the “Get off your blogging bottom and sketch” award next year.

Read on the next post for what I have planned for 2007.

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