My overall goals for 2007, in order of priority, are:Learning
Making A Mark in 2007 - the plan
- learning – continuing my own personal development as an artist
- doing – much more emphasis on ‘doing’ in 2007 and producing more artwork using what I’ve learned and the material I’ve accumulated to date. My travels support both ‘learning’ and ‘doing’.
- sharing – a continuing focus on developing how I can share what I learn and learning from others who share what they do
- selling – This had a very low priority in 2006. I now aim to introduce changes which might encourage and generate sales in an efficient way.
- showing – besides showing work on this blog and my website, I plan to participate in a limited number of exhibitions and further develop local and on-line gallery arrangements.
This was my main focus - again - in 2007 and had a number of different strands.
Learning about other artists
The major change in 2007 were the structured projects to learn more about specific artists and their work. As a result, in 2007, I learned about specific artists through reading very many books and finding lots on online resources - both images and background information - to help with my research.
- John Singer Sargent - a revelation and very educational in relation to composition, colour saturation and value, his approach to plein air sketching, portraiture and drawing (January),
- Vincent Van Gogh - focusing on his drawing, which I absolutely adored (February),
- Waterhouse and the Pre-Raphelites - who I didn't take too at all (March);
- James McNeill Whistler - very interesting in relation to (May);
- Georgia O'Keeffe - an introduction to notan (June)
- Claude Monet - and his gardens (September)
- William Morris and the arts and crafts movement (Flowers in Art project in June)
Learning through projects
As well as the projects related to specific artists I had three other major projects during 2007
I've done more book reviews this year than ever before - and that's also helping me learn more about what makes a book work well for the reader - which will come in useful.......
I learned that trying to pack into too much to one month causes problems when the rest of you life doesn'r tun too smoothly and that is going to influence how I organise activities during 2008.
Learning through visiting exhibitions
I made a major commitment to SEE art in 2007 and attended a number of exhibitions as a result. I was delighted that one of the key features of this for me was being able to visit exhibitions with fellow bloggers from both the UK and overseas!
A quick trip through my list of blog posts indicates the following as a record for me and a resource for anybody stuck for something to do on New Year's Day! The links are to the related blog posts. Visits dropped off significantly during my imitation of a limp lettuce phase in the summer.
- 'Holbein in England' at Tate Britain
- David Hockney 'Portraits' at National Portrait Gallery (2nd visit)
- Velaquez at the National Gallery
- London Art Fair at the Business Design Centre (with Vivien Blackburn)
- The Wapping Group of Artists at the Mall Galleries
- RHS Botanical Art - including Gold Medal work at the Horticultual Halls
- RWS: 21st century watercolours at the Bankside Gallery (with Shirley Levine)
- Pastels Today at the Mall Galleries - comments about specific artists and my analysis of the exhibition
- Renoir Landscapes at the National Gallery - with Vivien Blackburn
- Royal Watercolour Society - Annual Spring Exhibition, Bankside Gallery with Shirley Levine
- Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours at the Mall Galleries (with Vivien Blackburn)
- The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings at the Royal Academy (with Vivien Blackburn)
- Society of Botanical Artists - Flowers and Gardens - Westminster Central Hall
- Royal Society of Portrait Painters - Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries (and the re-award of the Ondaatje Portraiture Prize)
- Art for Youth - North (Yorkshire) - the invite and the hang
- Royal Society of British Artists - Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries
- Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy
- BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery (with Julie Oakley)
- Hockney on Turner Watercolours / Colour and Line: Turner's Experiments at Tate Britain (with Shirley Levine)
- Impressionists by the Sea at the Royal Academy (with himself)
- Society of Graphic Fine Art - Annual Open Exhibition at the Menier Gallery
- Society of Feline Artists - Annual Open Exhibition at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery
- Tina Mammoser at the Prelude Art Event in Spitalfields
- United Kingdom Society of Coloured Pencil Artists - Annual Open Exhibition in Nottinghamshire
- The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers - Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries
- Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries
- Royal Society of Marine Artists - Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries
- Henry Moore at Kew (with himself - post to be written up on sketchbook blog)
- Royal Watercolour Society - Autumn Show and Art Events at the Bankside Gallery
- An American's passion for British Art at the Royal Academy (with himself)
- Making History - Antiquaries in Britain at the Royal Academy (with himself)
- Art Treasures in Manchester - 150 years on at the Manchester Art Gallery
- Lynn Painter Stainers Prize - at Painter-Stainers Hall, City of London
- ING Discerning Eye at the Mall Galleries
Over and above the exhibitions listed above, I've also visited the online virtual exhibitions of very many artists on the various gallery sites which are on the internet while pursuing projects and areas of interest.
All in all I've been immersed in looking at art produced by other people for a good part of 2007 and am feeling I've benefited hugely as a result!
Drawing Classes and Lectures
I attended all the lectures about artists and drawing that I could get to in 2007. All of these were free - the only requirement being that they ran once only at a specific location. The major series were the lectures organised by the Ruskin School of Art as a major partner of the BIG Draw 2007. I don't think I wrote up all the lectures but you can read my comments on one of them here - The Draw of Drawing. Also, if you ever get the opportunity to go to a lecture by sarah Simblet grab it - she's an excellent lecturer.
I continued with my Drawing the Head all year and also sat riveted in the Princes Drawing School one evening in the summer watching two films about Lucian Freud in which he talked about his work - very much a one-off event.
Learning about other media
I still haven't tried acrylics or oils - although the urge is growing! However I found I became increasingly interested in etching during the course of 2007 and now want to find a course where I can learn more about it. Plus I need to find aomebody with a decent press! I've also done a number of reviews of various art materials and shared these on this blog.
Continuing development in techniques
I tried drawing using different media in my drawing class and was doing virtually all drawings in pen and ink towards the end of the summer term. I've also been investigating different pens and now want to learn how to etch as well!
I've still produced less art than I would like. What I've done has often been linked to developing my knowledge about different aspects of art history and I've accepted that as the trade-off.
I decided I wanted to develop bodies of work around specific themes and worked some out in advance. Botanical macros and gardens took off, but Canary Wharf skies and landscapes seem to have stalled somewhat. The conclusion I came to was that the demands of work for specific exhibitions and the monthly projects made making time for art which was un-related to either somewhat difficult.
I'm certain that macros of flowers and (unexpectedly) cacti/succulents and gardens benefited from the two months I spent studying 'flowers in art' and 'gardens in art' plus the month spent on Georgia O'Keeffe. I very much enjoyed producing pen and ink drawings of flowers in 2007 - trying different ways of creating images in the process. I loved the abstract shapes found in the cacti and succulents and intend to continue to develop the series which exploded during June on an ad hoc basis.
I also learned I absolutely adore using coloured pencil to achieve the very subtle colour modulations through optical mixing of colours - and I'm very pleased with what I'm achieving as a result. Flower macros will continue into 2008 - and I expect will become increasingly abstracted and colour oriented.
I haven't developed the catnapping pen and ink drawings - but have created a print gallery for some of those produced to date. Producing more drawings is still on the agenda as a 'to do' item. I was rather more successful at developing feline art for the SOFA exhibition in September.
I've done a lot more sketches of people in restaurants and cafes - which are now referred to as Interior Landscapes - with food! I now need to start developing these as more resolved work or to start producing drawings which are not in sketchbooks.
Sharing and educating is very much becoming a theme of my endeavours. I initially trained and qualified as a teacher and I guess it's maybe inevitable that this should be so.
I've created 392 posts on this blog this year. This blog is very much about sharing information and providing access to sites on the internet which people might otherwise not be aware of. What you do with it of course is up to you. What I do is give myself a log of what my activities are and the things I find or do which are interesting to me.
Finding ways of sharing and indexing material I produce has been a preoccupation on 2007. This includes finding ways of indexing information contained in posts on this blog. I'm forever discovering more posts I'd forgotten I'd written to add into the increasingly popular resource sites! These sites in turn bring more people to view my work and to read my blogs. I guess I'd characterise the process as leaning towards a 'virtuous circle'.
- I've developed a number of squidoo lenses which can all be found on Making A Mark - Resources for Artists (15 new lenses in 2007 plus a number of others in development) and Artists in History - Resources for Art Lovers (5 new lenses in 2007 plus a number of others in development)
- I've continued to develop pages on my gallery website which focus on art materials and other resources and advice on sketching. Both of these have become extremely popular this year and both are now responsible for generating a fair amount of traffic for galleries of work, lenses and blogs.
While very much interested in the business end of art, I've yet again given a very low priority to achieving sales of my work. I'm fortunate to be in a position where I can allocate my time according to my interests which in my case is much more about developing my artwork rather than selling it. However I did manage to create a resource for selling prints and I need to get on with adding in a few more images to that resource. I also sold work at both exhibitions in central London, sold prints via the new Imagekind facility and completed a commission for the Derwent 2008 catalogue for the Cumberland Pencil Company.
The current economic climate (credit crunch etc) inclines me more towards pursuing sales of prints rather than originals.
I exhibited with the Society of Graphic Fine Art and the Society of Feline Artists (both in major galleries in central London); the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society; Art for Youth North 2007; and with Fine Line Artists in Ontario, Canada.
The combination of major travels in 2006 and feeling like a very limp lettuce through most of spring and summer in 2007 acted as a deterrent to any major trips in 2007. However a supportive partner and medication to build up my very depleted iron reserves enabled me to be escorted on some trips out to gardens in the summer. I think I'd have really missed getting out and about if the summer hadn't been quite so dire!
Making A Mark - a performance indicator!
I thought I'd finish with a couple of charts of the way the unique number of visitors to this blog have grown in the last two years. This might be seen as a sort of performance indicator for one of my main activities - sharing and this blog!
The top chart relates to 2007 and the bottom one to 2006. I've not shared this information before in this level of detail and my only reason for doing so now is because people sometimes ask about how I get subscribers and traffic.
Overall it's been a steady upward trend with a few bumpy bits along the way (eg I was away for about seven weeks and not posting at all in the summer of 2006!). Basically in my first month of blogging I got 200 visitors and this month I will have nearly 14,000. At the end of today - and 2007, I'll be a few page views shy of 0.25 million page views - for all those visitors who have clicked on the links and visited other pages within the blog.
20072006I put it all down to posting on a regular basis, providing content that people want to read and remembering to find time to visit other people's blogs and to interact as part of a blogging community. Few people are interested in everything but quite a lot of people are interested in quite a lot of my blog posts and a few are interested in most of it and consequently subscribe. The scope of the blog and the breadth of interests plus the 'clout' the blog has earned also means that my blog now ranks well on a number of key words terms and attracts rather a lot of visitors through seaches as a result. It's doing well.
Now all I need to do is to work out what to do next!
- Making A Mark - the End of Year Review