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

Artist block?

“Creative talent is a gift.

Its an amazing journey of the soul.

But it comes at a price…” -unknown

ha-that was a bit deep for a Thursday night huh! I’m feeling a bit deep this week as I plunge into the depths of what one might call ‘artists block’.

The winds of creative ideas that swarmed around me only moments ago, appear to have blown onto new horizons. And I’m left here Feeling a bit like Dorothy in Oz.

“how do you know what to paint?”. A question I was asked by a little girl at one of my stalls this month?

“I often don’t know what to paint “,I replied. “Then all-of-a-sudden I will have a cool idea and it just happens!”

She looked at me questionably. “Cool” she said “I just like to paint weird stuff”.

-out of the mouths of babes.

So here I am in the woods tonight. Taking a sabbatical from everyday life and trying to be alone with my thoughts. (Actually we’re not too far from the motorway and I can hear traffic booming) and I guess it’s not ‘real’ isolation if I’m here on my I-phone. There’s something wonderful about being re-energised by nature.

So, I’m learning that looking at other peoples art on Instagram isn’t a helpful past time. Great for inspiration , but You can easily lose sight of who you are as an artist and what your style is and how you express yourself.

I also think there’s an element of self sabotage when you achieve any kind of goal. You get near the top of the mountain and this invisible internal force makes you want to slide down again to where it last felt comfortable.

I’m having a think right now about my art style and what I’m aiming to achieve. I had this idea that sitting in the woods with Obi and a bottle of ginger beer was the answer.

Its certainly fun!

Theres plenty of creative ideas in the depths of the forest of my head. I just have to draw them out.

As I said- it’s a journey. There’s plenty to be explored. You just gotta keep walking.

happy trails x

The chained elephant

 

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“The Chained Elephant” story by Jorge Bucay, a Argentinean psychologist

When I was small, I used to love circuses, and what I liked best about them were the animals. The elephant in particular caught my attention, and as I later found out, other children liked the elephant too. During the performance, this enormous beast would nobly display its tremendous weight, size, and strength… But after its performance, and until just before it went out on stage, the elephant was always tied down with a chain to a little stake in the ground that held one of its feet.

The stake however was just a minuscule piece of wood, hardly a couple of centimeters long. And although it was a strong thick chain, it seemed obvious to me that an animal capable of tearing a tree from its roots, could easily free itself from that stake and flee.

This mystery continued to puzzle me. What held it there? Why didn’t it escape? When I was 5 or 6, I still trusted the explanations given by grownups. So, I asked my teacher, my father, and my uncle about the mystery of the elephant. One of them explained that the elephant didn’t escape because it had been mastered.

So I asked the obvious question: ” If it’s been mastered, why do they keep it in chains?”

I don’t remember having received a coherent answer. With time I forgot about the mystery of the elephant, I only remembered when I found others who had asked themselves the same question at some time.

Years later, I discovered that , to my luck, someone had been sufficiently wise to come up with the answer:

The circus elephant does not escape because it has been attached to a stake just like this one since it was very, very small.
I closed my eyes and imagined a defenseless baby elephant fastened to the stake. I am sure that in that moment, the little guy pushed and pulled and tired himself out trying to get himself free. And, regardless of his efforts, he couldn’t do it, because the stake was too strong for him.

I imagined him tuckering himself out and falling asleep and the next day trying again, and the next day, and the next. Until one day, a terrible day in his history, the animal accepted its futility and resigned itself to its fate.

That enormous powerful elephant that you see in the circus does not escape because, unfortunate thing, he thinks he can’t.

He has that memory etched into his mind: the futility that he felt shortly after he was born.

And the worst part is that he has never returned to seriously question that memory.

Never again did he return to test his own strength…

So we are a bit like the circus elephant: We live with the idea that “we can not” do things for the simple reason that once, long ago, when we were little, we tried and have failed. “-Jeorge Bucay

There are times when we can be like the little elephant. We have an idea about who we are and what we are capable of formed by who were in the past. If this self image we hold isn’t ever changed then it limits everything we set out to achieve in life.

Decide who you are right now and who you want to be- forget who you were in the past or anything you may have failed at.

Take  that vision , stick it on your fridge and run with it. You have so much strength. Watch your world change .

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

Happy New Year

_20160101_123505Happy New Year guys!

I hope you’ve all recovered from the December shenanigans and not broken too many resolutions already!

I’ve decided that 2016 is going to rock!

I had a great chat with my friend whilst we were out walking the other day about resolutions – ” so what’s your resolutions blah blah ?”. He surprised me by listing all the resolutions he’s made in the past years and always successfully kept. The way he did this was by not making blasé plans with no actual substance, but by making realistic goals and having micro-goals underneath to support them.

For example- Lose Weight =no alcohol,chocolate,lifts (elevators). After a few months, goal achieved.

My goal for this year? (Obviously to become fulltime artist and work from home 😁). Really though it is to just be the best version of myself, have fun and be content. This is a work in progress but there’s a definite shift happening.

There has been little in my life that has made as much an impact as learning to be content and thankful— with my life, where I am, what I’m doing, what I have, who I’m with, who I am

If you are in a bad place in your life, and are unhappy with everything about it (job, relationship, yourself, house, habits, etc.), it can be a miserable thing. But here’s something interesting: it can also be the thing that strengthens you

In the past couple years, Ive had a few ,”This is not my beautiful life! This is not my beautiful house!” moments.

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The problem however wasn’t in the external circumstances, but in my mindset — Im now learning the joy in appreciating what I have, instead of focusing on the things I dont currently have or dont like. You don’t need a lot. You just need the basics and some good company along the way.

If you can learn to develop the right mindset, you can be happy now, without changing anything else. You don’t need to wait until you’ve changed everything and made your life perfect before you’re happy — you have everything you need to be happy right now.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Be thankful . What in your life is amazing? There will be something! Find something, and give thanks for that.
  2. Catch yourself out thinking negatively – I can’t emphasise this enough! You become your thoughts! Think good ones!
  3. Have fun every day.-find your happy place. What do you need to be happy? I love simple things, like taking a walk in the woods, painting , drinking coffee- do something that makes you happy every day
  4. Be nice to yourself. -We tend to criticize ourselves easily, but what if we turned it around and asked, “What do I do right? What am I good at? What is loveable about me?” Make a list. Start to focus on these things rather than what you’re unhappy with.
  5. Find the gold in people  everyone has gold in them. Instead of criticizing people you meet, ask yourself, “What is good about this person?   Be careful of people around you who do this to other people too!
  6. Don’t change yourself for anyone! If you are actively being the best version of you then you’ll attract the right people in your life. Sometimes the wrong ones slip through the net. But if someone comes into your life and needs you to be something your not-take your boot and swiftly eject them back to where they came!

Decluttering and eating well also helps- i guess that’s personal choice though. Have a great January!

Here’s a video from Talking Heads in the meantime. X