Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Making A Mark in 2008 - the results

all images copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is the final post in my end of year annual review of artistic endeavours in 2008. So far we've had:
This post relates to my own personal review. Once again I'm going to review what I've done in relation to my original plan for 2008.

As in 2007, it was based around a set of broad goals which had proved a useful framework for thinking about and organising different activities. It was also informed by my guiding principle which is that more or less everything should fit with just one maxim – “Life is too short”. What this means is that I try always to do what I enjoy doing and avoid or forget about the rest (eg I no longer iron if I can help it!).

Learning – continuing my own personal development as an artist AND as a person who appreciates art. I enjoy learning period. This means, for example, I can enjoy learning about a certain type of art because I enjoy looking at it – not because I want to do it. I will be continuing to learn more about the history of art and specific artists and will continue to go to as many exhibitions as possible because I find these activities to be extremely helpful to developing my own perspective and ideas about my own art. I look so I can see.
Learning about other artists: I found out about a lot of new artists in history during 2008, although a lot were not the ones I originally had in mind. I keep track of what I find out by creating an information site and new ones this year included ones for Goya; Maria Sibylla Merian; JMW Turner; Hiroshige; Hokusai; Vilhelm Hammershøi; Dame Laura Knight; Mary Cassatt; Winslow Homer; Andrew Wyeth; Chuck Close and David Hockney

In terms of my original plan some artists were badly neglected. I've only just started to scrape the surface of the wonders of Turner (J.M.W. Turner - Resources for Art Lovers published Feb. 08) and didn't manage to do as much I'd hoped in relation to different artists working in colour or series (eg Degas). They continue to remain artists which I want to learn more about.

A spin-off of learning about artists was the development of a site dedicated to Art History & the History of Art - Resources for Art Lovers which provides links to all the websites where information can be found about various artists.

Learning through visiting exhibitions

I seem to have visited and reviewed very many more exhibitions this year. Exhibitions have certainly become a much bigger part of my blogging life and in turn have provided me with the benefit of seeing an awful lot of art! I also commented on Juried art competitions - does size matter? and Art competitions and copyright - the AWS Gold Medal debate

For those of you who may have missed references to them earlier in the year here's a list of all the exhibitions and galleries I visited and/or reviewed on this blog:

all images copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Learning through projects

I've learned that I need to be a lot less ambitious! My 2008 schedule for projects reduced the number and lengthened the time span of the major projects - and yet still proved impossible to complete. I've been much more flexible about timings and have parallel tracked a number of my endeavours. However I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that projects at the back end of the year are always going to be in competition with a very busy exhibition 'season' in the Autumn and I need to be more realistic about this when constructing my plan for 2009.

While I wanted to place a lot of emphasis on learning in 2008, it has had an impact on 'doing'. The reason for this is that looking at art and studying art takes a while to absorb. It would be a great pity if the lessons learned were not then transferred in some way into my work - however it's felt at times as if there was just too much to translate. I'll comment more on this in the 'Doing' section.

all images copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Planned projects: The projects highlighted below are hyperlinked to the Resources for Artists sites that I created during the course of the project. Each of these include all the Making A Mark blog posts from each project.
I did a significant number of book reviews during the year (I've not counted!) - many of them in tandem with the projects. I think a few of you might have bought a few new books as a result judging by the comments!

Unplanned projects:
my plan is flexible and can accommodate topics which emerged during the course of the year.
The Making A Mark Polls were also totally unplanned - and were triggered by the survey widget becoming available as a module in the sidebar of Blogger! They included What's the MAIN way you sell your art? - The Results The polls will continue in 2009 - with the first being announced on Friday!

Doing – in 2008, ‘doing’ is going to be partially linked to projects which are about learning. I’ll aim to produce art using what I’ve learned and the material I’ve accumulated to date. ‘Doing’ might well be focused around specific themes to create bodies of work. 'Doing' will also involve producing work for exhibitions.

all images copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've started working up or revising drawings and sketches from past trips abroad - however I still have masses of material remaining to be worked up! I like to leave a gap between 'being there' and then drawing 'being there'. Somehow it gives me a different and better perspective on a view and helps with determining the overall aesthetic for a piece. It's also good to redo old pieces which have stood the test of time in terms of looking at them but where I now feel like I have the skills to make them even better.

My 'doing' was enhanced and undermined all year by the same thing. Too much information to know what to do with! 'Doing' slowed right down in the latter part of the year although I continued to draw in class and to sketch. This was because I felt like I didn't quite know where to go with my work. I'm now getting clearer in my head what I'd like to develop in terms of 'my look' but the 'how' still eludes me . I keep nibbling away at the edges.......

One of my other underlying goals has been to try and settle more on major themes for my work. I still feel like I cover too many different genres. However I know I will NEVER be able to settle on just one theme - I know I need variety. I've done much pondering during the year as to what my themes should be and I THINK I now know what direction to go in. I'll write more about this tomorrow

One of the highligts of the year in terms of 'doing' was Life drawing in the Royal Academy Schools Life Room

Sharing – this a major theme of my life, who I am and what I like to do. There will be a continuing focus on developing how I can share what I learn and learning from others who share what they do. I'm happy to contemplate some major projects in this field but am not about to rush into anything.
Website: In June 2008, I created my new 'hub' website at This has three clear areas of focus - drawing, writing and sharing It has links to all my other sites.

Blogging - number of posts: In total I've posted well in excess of 400 blog posts in 2008. In the first three years of Making A Mark I've posted as follows
  • 2006 - 349 posts
  • 2007 - 393 posts
  • 2008 - 358 posts
I've consciously tried to take more 'time out' this year - but still managed to produce enough blog posts to have done one nearly every day just for this blog! I even blogged right the way through that really nasty bug we all seemed to get ( and I got three times!). In addition to that I've also
Blogging - Popular posts: Generating ideas for topics I'm interested in has never been a a problem, choosing which one to post about is! I get pointers from what people are interested in and reviewed which were my most popular posts this year earlier today - see Making A Mark - popular posts in 2008 and my new information site Making A Mark - Popular Posts). It always provides a surprise!

Blogging - Number of visitors: The exponential rise of the number of unique visitors has continued. In effect, I virtually doubled the number of visitors to this blog during the course of its third year. The number of unique visitors hit 200,000 in February, 300,000 at the end of July and reached 380,000 by the end of the year. I think at least some of the pre-summer traffic was a spin-off from the fact that the website for UK SATs examiners happened to have the name 'Making A Mark'! However EDS have now lost the exams contract and I'm guessing that maybe they won't be using the same website address in future!

Writing - Making A Mark Guides: I've also written a number of guides for a number of topic areas which are now available as pdf files. Download the Guides for free from the Making A Mark Publications page

Writing - The Book: This made absolutely no progress at all although I do think I'm clearer now about where it might go in terms of outline - so I guess that's progress.

Sharing - Resources for Artists: I've lost count of the number of information sites I developed during the course of 2008 - but it was an awful lot (I need to keep a list in 2009!) - including a whole bunch about gardens for those of us who like to draw gardens- see Great Gardens Headquarters! You can see all of them in Making A Mark on Squidoo

Sharing - Workshops were completely sidelined as I simply could not guarantee being able to deliver due to a temporary health issue which needed sorting. More about plans for 2009 tomorrow.

Sharing the Highs -
One of the things that has given me the most pleasure during the course of the year is to highlight artists whose work - and working practices - I think are good. Hence
  • the Making A Mark Awards - which we've had this week
  • the people featured in my weekly 'whose made a mark this week' blog posts
  • the mention that is made of all the artists whose work I like and highlight in posts about exhibitions I've seen.
I seem to have developed a curious benefit from all my 'talent spotting' on blogs and in exhibitions. During 2008 I started to get an uncanny feeling - I kept spotting winners before they were winners! I know this because the evidence is in the blog posts! I've begun to wonder whether my 'nous' and my developing 'eye' are getting rather good at spotting talent.......... ;) We'll have to see whether the trend continues in 2009. :)

Showing – besides showing work on this blog and my website, I will participate in a limited number of exhibitions. I may try and develop local gallery representation but this is not a priority.

– This has had a very low priority for some time and is unlikely to rise much up the pecking order. I will continue to try and find ways of selling work that do not distract too much from learning, doing and sharing. Efficiency is the major priority.
I exhibited during the year in the annual exhibitions of the Society of United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society - see I've been juried into the UKCPS Annual International Exhibition and showed four works with the Society of Feline Artists (central London). You can see my feline work here. I also contributed to an exhibition in the USA.

I think I succeeded this year in making sure that submitting work for shows did not railroad all other endeavours as has happened in the past. I even learned how to cut a mat with my new quite sophisticated Logan mat cutter so trips to the framers could become more limited!

Selling is still not a high priority. I want to be to become more settled in the style which has developed in my head even if it's made less progress on paper. Plus issues to do with the economy seem to be conspiring to keep selling activity low key so maybe that's no bad thing!

Travelling – Travel undoubtedly broadens the mind and my travels support both ‘learning’ and ‘doing’. This is probably the vaguest area as yet with no firm plans but a number of ideas
Travelling was very limited in 2008 for various reasons however I'm hoping I can start travelling again in 2009 - although it's a pity about the exchange rate. I did however manage to get out and sketch when able to do so and you can see the results in Travels with my Sketchbook in...... London, South of England, and Interior Landscapes - with food

and finally....

I had a lot of compliments about the blog during the year - which I truly appreciate. Many thanks to all those who take the trouble to write saying how much they enjoy the blog and its content.

Here's a couple of the compliments

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