2 years since I decided to be an artist: A reflection

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Hi and how are you?  So, it’s been about 2 years now to the month when I decided to pick up my paint brushes and decided I was going to be an artist.  I feel inspired to write a little blog about what I’ve learned along the way and what went right.

What was the push to be an artist at the time? I remember just feeling so dissatisfied working my fulltime career in the NHS and having to working a lot of extra hours to pay off some debts. I loved painting and drawing all through my childhood and it’s the place I find joy .

I was dating an artist at the time, and I guess I had a glimpse into what that ‘work-from-home-doing-what-you-love’ life looked like.   I just had a moment one day when I decided “I’m going to make this happen ! ”

2 years now and the biggest lessons I have learned are not about how to be a skilful artist or how to produce the best pieces of art.  I’ve learned that whatever you want to do – just do it!  You will learn along the way.   To get ahead in any venture, you just have to be fearless, out yourself out there and knock on a lot of doors! Don’t take rejection personally, but be open to criticism and advice.  Success doesn’t come from a lucky streak, it comes from hard work and a lot it!  Keep moving towards your goal.  Even when times are tough.

Practice in public.  My go-to online community is Instagram and a bit of Facebook.  I am so thankful for the community of people who follow me online and other inspiring creatives who I follow. I really value their feedback.  I can say I’ve made some creative friends online – some from other countries – and I’d love to meet them in person. Practicing in public is great. Don’t wait until you’re perfect. Don’t be scared to just put your artwork out there and gauge the reaction.  Not everyone will like your work, but the internet can be very forgiving and people generally only focus on what your currently working on.  I cringe when I look back at some shoddy pieces I used to upload to Instagram.  Ive kept them up there however.  I like to think of the  ‘Gram as my daily diary and I look back from time to time and can remember where I was at a certain time and what was happening.

Don’t get too caught up online. By this, I mean “don’t look at other people’s artwork too much”.  Really.  It will make you depressed and miserable and want to set your own art on fire.  Or else, it will turn you into a copycat creative. Nobody wants other artists ideas in their head. That art wont flow with your personality and style.

Although, I do like to see how other artists work.  A great way to success is to choose someone who is already successful in your field and observe their path they took. Hang out with them even!  You can only be really great if you surround yourself with others who can inspire you and help you to be great.

Have a regular outlet.  I am also very thankful for my regular monthly stall in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, as well as other craft fairs I’ve attended over the past 2 years.  I must say that I haven’t signed up to too many this year as I spent a small  fortune on stall fees in 2016.  Nonetheless, from my little stall, my art has sold to customers from all over the World.  I always ask where they are taking my art to.

I love market day and meeting the people. I’ve discovered that my favourite feeling is when children walk past my stall and see the colourful funny paintings and their little faces light up.  I do think children should be in charge of the money at all times.  Trading at the markets is also a great way to test the market and experiment with new styles to discover  what people want to buy.

I love my Etsy shop too.  Etsy is a great easy to use platform to sell art across the World.

You can be one of 2 types of artist; An artist who just paints what they want and puts it out there. Or,  you can paint what people want to buy.  Hmm, I would say I’m a bit of both.  With my greetings cards, I just paint what I want and it’s objective.  Someone somewhere will appreciate it.  I also provide an art service by taking custom orders for portraits.  This really generates a lot of work.  And its still fun.

`Decide your style. This is my biggest bugbear!  I have a few different styles on the go. No set colour scheme. No set medium.  I wish some days that I was a more organised artist with a set colour pallete and style.  This way I would have a ‘brand’.  Right now however, I’m still playing around with different styles and techniques. Acrylic on canvas, watercolours, painting animals, painting retro images.  I have found though that acrylic paintings are a nightmare to manage when you live in a tiny house.   You make a mess and clutter all over the studio area. You have to varnish them. They are heavy to ship off.  They get ripped sometimes when you’re transporting them.

I don’t have a studio -yet -There is only so much space out there in my shed to store all these oversized paintings I love to create.

Working with watercolours at a desk is so much more practical and can be stored away in drawers.

This leads me to my next section – What’s next?  Well, I really love creating illustrations.  I love creating little characters and quirky designs.  I have decided to make this my focus for the foreseeable future and concentrate on creating greetings cards, children’s book illustrations and other paper goods that can be sold online.

I keep telling people that if you go to any of these run down towns and high streets across the UK now, there are always 2 shops that stand strong : The COOP, and the Card Shop!    Because in the UK, people LOVE cards.  FACT. We love sending cards. We don’t write letter anymore, but a birthday text is too impersonal.  What a great business to be in – the business of helping people send love in the form an art card.

There’s a whole paper world out there to be explored.

Be prepared for hard graft. I work very hard.Some days I am up at 5 am painting and researching.  My brain goes like a fair most of the time. Like most people who are trying to run a small creative business, I also have another job to earn my living. Fortunatly I also love my other job,and I am gratfeful that I get to work in a team and do life in the hospital.

It does suck up a lot of my energy however and my goal this year is to work part time and make art the rest of the time.

It’s important to have some down time for relaxation. For me, this is my regular walks up the woods or the beach with Obi the dog or catching up with friends.  Sometimes the best inspiration comes from the peace and silence.

Hard work isn’t all that bad when your doing what you love though.  In fact, its rather enjoyable.

Lastly, I’ve learned that you don’t just get ‘discovered’ one day – that only happens in the movies.  You make things happen by knocking, asking, seeking.  Making changes when you find what works and what doesn’t. Asking for help when you need help.

Just be you. In your most organic creative form.  And love the people you make art for.

 

My goals for 2018 are:

  • To be accepted for ‘Not On The High Street’ online store
  • To get really confident at Marketing to local businesses and knock on a few doors
  • Illustrate some picture books
  • Trade weekly at my stall and other craft events throughout Scotland…and maybe beyond
  • Learn how to blog

 

I hope this has inspired you.  Please leave me a comment.

Love Cheryl x

I’m an author !

This wee day was awesome🎈

My book was published on Amazon initially in e-book form.

Still waiting for the book format to be released -but how exciting !

I hope children enjoy this colourful book of motivation and scenes in Edinburgh they will recognise .

I guess that makes me an author !

Check that one off my bucket list 😊  high five!

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The wee coo who flew

Hey guys! I’m having so much fun making illustrations for my children’s book this week- ‘The wee coo who flew’

Its a motovational book to encourage young minds to pursue their dreams , no matter what the others are doing or saying . You can achieve anything you put your mind to!

Its nearly finished .

The best part was driving around Edinburgh taking pics of the places 🎈

http://www.sunflowerartscotland.com

Holyrood Hill

 

Hamish lived on Holyrood hill Hamish lived on Holyrood hill
He was a wee Highland coo
He had colourful hair and a cheeky smile
He was very much like you
Hamish was a special coo
His mammy told him so
He dreamed one day that he would FLY!
Oh the places he could go!

Im happy to present the first pages of my children’s book ‘The Wee Coo Who Flew’

This story is based in Edinburgh and is a motivational book aimed at 3-8 year olds. It’s about a wee Highland coo who had big dreams. He got past the haters and they watched him as his dream came true.

im currently locked in my art room making the artwork and today, Holyrood Hill Friends was born !

Im feeling a bit like Miss Potter .

I will be posting updates on this book journey and the friends I meet along the way. X

My first book

imageToday was an awesome wee day!

I wrote my first children’s book. Now I am being absorbed in the complicated world of book publishing .

Its a minefield!

Traditonally, one would write a book-great!  But then have the anxiety creating task of sending said book to lots of publishers in the hope they might be noticed , or else end up on the slosh pile.

However,in this new digital age we live in, it appears that e-books are the way forward, with Amazon making 75% of their sales in e-book format today.

It didn’t even cross my mind that kids have iPads and now even schools are moving towards digital formats.

Authorhouse, the leading self -publishing company offered me a nice publishing and marketing package. However, after a bit of digging into it, I realised they take a nice 90% cut of the royalties too.

So I guess if your creatively minded and not too bad with the interweb thingy, it’s wiser to test the market first before parting with your pennies.

Amazon have a platform for publishing your own e-book and their sister site Create Space help you with marketing and promotion and issue your ISBN number (mandatory publishers ID number).

Then there’s the issue of printing hard copies of your book to issue locally. Luckily CreateSpace offer a print on demand service too!

This is ideal as the cost of printing is deducted from the total sale of the book. You don’t get a truck showing up on your driveway with pallets of books either.

So this is exciting! I will be hiding away in my wee art room for the foreseeable future until I’ve made this happen.

I had a dream of writing a book lately. Although I imagined it was going to be called ‘have you seen my Tom?’-a book about my rougue cat here,who lives at many different houses and terrorises the neighbours.

I was at work on nightshift doing my drug round. All of a sudden this THING comes out of nowhere! Like a host of ideas, rhymes and pictures for my pending book.

I was like-” Can you not SEE I’M WORKING!!!”

I took out a scrap bit of paper from my uniform and had to quickly write it all down before this ‘thing’ went out the window again.

And there it was. A 25 page children’s story written in 10 mins.

But it’s awesome. And hopefully you will love it.

I just gotta make the art for it now which is the longest part.

Watch this space.x