Developments of a moonlighting artist

Day jobs and running a (however small) mothership are time consuming, aren’t they? How anyone has time for updating the world on their slowly developing painty plans is beyond me.

Excuses out of the way, let’s get down to the real news, a round up of all that has been and will soon be happening in the world Art by Imi.

David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year

Back in December, I entered my kookaburra, Herman, into this prestigious competition – which sees the shortlisted paintings hanging at the Mall Galleries in London… right now. This week! GO SEE IT!

I just missed out on being hung, but a copy of my painting is being displayed in a folder at the exhibition (Selected not hung), and is also up for sale on their website.

The famous bird

The famous bird

Due to the curse of the surname, Woods, you will need to scroll right down to the bottom of this folder to see my painting! (Alternatively, it could be a benefit – the last one you see will stay fresh in the mind?)

It gives me lots of confidence that maybe next time, I might just get hung!

Rowledge Village Fayre

A rainy affair to say the least. Wrapped up in my ski jacket in late May, I spent the day painting Tomtom, an owl with a hella lot of attitude for someone only 20cm tall.

We met Tomtom (original name forgotten) at a Country Fair in Norwich, and I fell for him. Snuggling into the shoulder of his adoptive mother, he glared at us as we angled a camera in his direction, and we took some moody yet adorable photographs.

I got to hold a hawk, and we stumbled across concepts that I didn’t even know existed… like the Norfolk Goat Club.

DSC_2602

The girl loves birds

But anyway, back to Rowledge Village Fayre. Despite the weather, Rowledge residents were out in force, and I got snapped painting by photographers from the Farnham Herald and the Ash & Farnham News and Mail.

imiatrowledge

spot the difference

I met many dogs, and may have lined up some commissions for the coming months.

My new selection of cards also proved popular – please contact me if you want a pack.

cards

Zebs in every colour

Art tutoring

At the fayre, I met a mother of a nine year old girl, who asked me if I would consider art tutoring to me. When I was nine, I started having flute lessons. Breaking away from the norm, she will have ‘how to paint a bunny’ lessons.

After pinging a few emails back and forth, it is planned that I will teach my young apprentice in a series of six private lessons beginning in August.

Starting with marking up a canvas, I will cover subjects such as:

  • mixing acrylic colours
  • painting colour washes
  • building up detail through multiple layers
  • creating texture by getting creative with tools
  • painting eyes, hair, fur and feathers
  • using acrylic inks.

Having never been taught in animal portraiture myself, I think it will get me to ask myself why I do things how I do them, and consider ways of improving my own methods.

It will also (hopefully) get my apprentice enthusiastic about art, and enable me to influence her from a young age to ALWAYS PAINT THE SIDES OF THE CANVAS!

It is an exciting new project for me, and I hope it will open up doors to further teaching opportunities.

Doing that painting thing

Ah yes. Painting. I have been doing some of that too. Not as much as I would like, but some. Problem is, as soon as I get it out, the whole house looks like a bomb has hit it.

Cue whining to Jack: “pleaassee can we buy a house where I can have my own art studio?!”

oh I wish

I am currently painting a kingfisher (yes, another one). I am really enjoying it, it’s a fun project! Mixes of turquoise, phthalo green, and purple to create those distinctive teal feathers, and flashes of orange and gold for the glinting chest.
Marwell International Wildlife Art Society (MIWAS) Annual Exhibition
My new kingfisher is being painted for display in the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society (MIWAS) Annual Exhibition this year.

It’s at Rookesbury Manor in Wickham (which is half way between Portsmouth and Southampton) from the 29th – 31st August.

officially a member

I am giddy with excitement about it, and about the opportunity to be up there hanging with the big dogs of the wildlife art world (the pun was too good not to throw it in).

On Saturday 30th August, I will have a stall at the adjoining art market, where I will be demonstrating my art and selling my work, while on Sunday 31st, I will be acting as a guide at the event, greeting visitors and showing them round the exhibition.

For the amazing calibre of art you will see, I urge you to put the date in your diary and visit this exhibition. I was awestruck last year at the detail and beauty of the work, and how down to earth the artists were.

Advertisements

How to create an Artist’s Portfolio

Today I had a display at Gilbert White’s House and Gardens in Hampshire. My portfolio was a great feature, people spent ages flicking through and seeing the extent of my skills. It also sparked several interesting conversations and leads.

In short, a portfolio is the perfect way to show off your skills in an effective and physical way, without relying on computers or the internet to access your gallery.

They can be created simply without too much expense or materials, and yet still look professional!

You will need

  • Large (9×7) photographs of your completed works
  • Small (6×4) photographs of your muse images
  • Printed out titles
  • Printed out testimonials from happy customers
  • A large, plain black self-adhesive photo album
  • Guillotine / ruler & scissors

Step 1: Get your photographs printed. I got mine done at Boots pharmacy, and the good thing is that you can edit the photos on the screen to make them fit to the size of the photograph so that no vital parts are cropped out.

IMAG1102

Step 2: Cut off any white edges using a guillotine for sharp lines. I borrowed one at work in my lunch hour.

Step 3: Set out your photos on the page, without peeling back the self-adhesive layer yet. Give the photographs a slight overlap if necessary.

IMAG1107

Step 4: Work out what remaining space you have on your page to fill with the project title and testimonials. Then chose an appropriate font, text size and layout to fit the surrounding space. Keep the font and size regular for all titles, and all other text, but vary the layout as the space allows.

IMAG1109

Step 5: Cut up the testimonials and titles, again using a guillotine if you can.

Step 6: Choose which order you would like to present the portfolio in. I chose chronological (it seemed logical.)

Step 7: Peel pack the plastic layer to expose the adhesive, leaving it still stuck at the far edge so it can be reapplied easily. Carefully press down your photographs and text in your practiced layout, and then swipe the plastic layer back into place using your forearm to get even pressure.

IMAG1112

Step 8: Wash, rinse, repeat (just without the washing and rinsing.)

A word of caution – although the pages are thick, take extra care that you do not accidently skip a page, because every time you peel back the plastic layer to rearrange pages, the adhesive loses a bit of its stick, and it is a little soul wrenching to have to do it AGAIN.

Ta da, a beautiful coffee table portfolio to show people.
Just take care that no-one walks away with it!

IMAG1115

So you want them to actually READ your CV?

I, Imi Woods, Animal Artist, have given myself a metaphorical kick up the backside and decided to start contacting galleries, shops and (gulp) agents.

I looked up “How to write an Artist’s CV” on Google.
It depressed the hell out of me.

“Avoid any formatting at all if possible. No columns, tabs, multiple spaces, words all in caps, quotation marks, or bold formatting. The only formatting needed is italics for exhibition names, article titles and prize names. Stick to one typeface for the entire document. Preferably something simple like Arial or Times Roman. Leave creativity for the art. The CV needs clarity.”

As a self-trained, as yet barely exhibited young Artist… I don’t yet have the facts to speak for me. I have passion, raw talent, beautiful paintings and lots of happy customers… but not the lists of Relevant Education, Exhibitions at the Tate or MoMA, Associations, Publications and Awards that they are really looking for. Sorry, I forgot, I do have the Year 9 Art Prize and I write a blog. I’ll be sure to put that on my CV…

I know that I am going places… I just need a leg up to get on the ladder.

So here are my tips for creating a memorable and interesting CV. The sort of CV that will help the Emerging Artist who doesn’t yet have all the facts to talk for them. It might just get you to the top of the pile… or at least keep you away from the bottom.
Feel free to use ideas from my CV below if you would like.
Please note, this is applicable to other industries too!

print screen of CV

1. Design an interesting layout. Note: a few columns and bullets does not mean interesting. Challenge yourself! Using a table format in Microsoft Word is easy and keeps all of your information in the right place. Keep it clean and functional… but with a bit of pizazz. I put a column going down the left hand side with my name and job title, separated by a block line.

2. Use a bit of colour. I know, not everyone is like me and excited by colours. But one colour as a strong theme running through the CV will draw the eye directly to your CV for the right reasons.

3. Be creative with photographs. This is what is the biggest selling point of my CV. I cut the background out of a photograph of me next to my Artist’s Statement and put it into greyscale. I virtually framed a couple of my paintings too. They are my biggest selling point at the moment, so I see no reason for them not to be put onto my CV. I also cut out the background of a photograph of me painting. I kept the painting in full colour, and greyscaled myself. I guess it says “my art speaks for me”.

4. Do your research about where you are applying to. Angle your CV to bring out qualities that are important to that institution. But don’t fabricate information, tell the facts as they are.

5. Keep your CV focussed. Don’t be a Jack of all trades but a Master of none. I cut out the paragraph detailing my current work on this CV. I feel I have learned a lot in my role as a Submissions Assistant, but can see how galleries would fail to see the relevance.

6. Oh my gosh, proof read your CV! Or get someone else to. Learn how to use that apostrophe correctly. Learn the difference between you’re and your. It’s not that difficult!

7. Show your enthusiasm. I know. Risky.
But right now, my enthusiasm is what is getting me places. People like enthusiastic, friendly people and want to work with them and give them opportunities. On applying for a display space recently in Reading, I was incredibly enthusiastic. Embarassingly so. I was excitable and probably showed my naivety, but received the following as a reply:

“You sound a really enthusiastic and friendly person, just what we need!! Look forward to meeting you soon, oh, and don’t change a thing, you’re fine as you are!”

Wouldn’t you rather buy artwork from someone who loves what they do than someone who is just doing it to pay the bills? I know I would.

*Disclaimer: I don’t know if this will work. Please don’t blame me if you follow my tips and your CV does get put to the bottom of the pile. Maybe galleries and agents are not kindred spirits. Maybe they really do want lists and no formatting. It’s surely worth a shot though, right?

How to paint a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel

You may have spotted him at the Fayre, or you may just be coming across him now. This is Bertie the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy. Judging by his expression, he knows he is royalty. He has a grumpy ‘superior than thou’ expression and gangly legs. Admit it, he is absolutely adorable!

You will need:

  • A lot of time and patience
  • 30cm x 40cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Acrylic Paint:
    • White
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Rich Gold
    • Mars Black
    • Cadmium Red

1. Choose your composition: I didn’t have to crop my photograph as it was already a closely cropped image. The customer asked me to keep the background exactly as it was. 
bertie

2. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same. You will probably have to crop parts of your photo and expand it to fill the space.

3. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

IMAG1033_1_1_

4. Paint the background: The customer wanted the background painted exactly as in the photograph. This was a pink rug and a window. To paint the rug I used various shades of pink and red, and a small round paintbrush to rub the paint in spirals into the canvas. To paint the window, I used a lot of masking tape, a steady hand, and about 50 shades of grey ;-).

5. Begin painting in the beautiful curly ears. This is using a range of rich siennas, raw and burnt umber, gold, flesh tint, etc. Use little round brushes and short curly strokes with a slightly watery paint.

Extend the shades onto the face around the eyes, leaving the nose and a stripe up the forehead in white. Concentrate on the direction of the hairs in the photograph – the top of the ears stick upwards and are paler.

IMAG1057

6. Rim the eyes with a near-black (black mixed with brown or blue or yellow.) Start to paint them in in shades of deep grey to bring out the spherical shape. Put glints in the eyes to bring them to life.

IMAG1064

7.Paint the body in grey. Once you have the grey base you can use paler greys and flesh tint to pick out lighter sections and shadows using a small round brush.

IMAG1068

8. Paint in the nose – make the nostrils a deep black, with a black line up the middle. The rest is a deep grey in a rounded heart shape. Pick out white glints to make it look damp.

Bring out the characteristic downturned mouth. King charles spaniels look grumpy. Really cute, but grumpy. Play on that!
IMAG1073

9. Paint in the collar. If you use metalic paint and a bit of nifty shading, metal rings and disks look very real!

 IMAG1083

10. Decide that following the photograph is a bad idea after all and that limbs appear to be going everywhere! Re-paint the legs by researching other photos where dogs are sitting more nicely! *please note, forward planning and a better photo can eliminate this stage!!

Bertie ARTbyIMI

11. Sniff test of approval?

Bertie and painting

Like squats… only for your face.

On Monday, I had my first stall EVER at Rowledge Village Fayre.

But what did I learn from this experience?

IMG_1604

1. Don’t underestimate the weather: I obsessively checked the weather for about ten days before the fayre. As I grew closer to the big day, I was checking four or five times a day. Great! No rain due! Glance over the fact that there are gale force winds. 

I arrived at the fayre two and a half hours before kick off to set up my wall-less gazebo. As soon as my stock was put onto the table, it was blown over, even my large glass-fronted framed print kept toppling over. My large orange display board? Forget it, that was threatening to fall over on my head, catapulting my original paintings everywhere.

Thank goodness for mum’s friend offering me a space in the big gazebo. Everyone shoved along and, although it was cosy, it saved the fayre for me.

2. Do some warm up facial exercises beforehand: I am generally a smiley person anyway, but no person’s face is used to smiling constantly for over four hours! Think of it like doing squats in the weeks leading up to a skiing trip… only for your face. Face squats.  My Stall!

3. Paint on the day, but don’t expect a masterpiece: I didn’t take all of my paints and paintbrushes with me. I couldn’t get close to my photograph, and I couldn’t zoom in on a screen like at home to see the detail.

BUT it looks great, and it invites people to watch you without feeling pressured to talk to you. Its a conversation starter! My friends from work said “Now we have seen proof that you actually DO paint!” It makes your artwork authentic and more personal. 

Photo: Talented artist at work

4. I am king of the kids: The tiniest little boy stared in complete rapture as I painted a meercat. I had no idea that little boys’ attention spans could be that trained on something that wasn’t going VRRROOOOM VROOOOM! After a while, he told me “that is a really good painting.” in a sincere and strangely adult way.

Another little girl kept coming back to watch me, saying “I wish I could paint like that”. I told her that at her age, I couldn’t either, and if she started practicing now – she would probably be better than me one day! Inspirational words!

5. I need to man up: Imogen! Be brave! People have spent a while watching you paint and complimenting your talents. Give them a business card, invite them to sign up to your newsletter for the chance to win a painting! Do something or you are the nameless girl at the fayre who can paint, but other than that you are forgotten.

For any blog readers, I am doing my prize draw in June. Anyone who subscribes to my newsletter is in with the chance to win a bespoke painting worth £95! If you have always wanted a painting, what have you got to lose? In my own words, man up!

logonewsletter2

6. Don’t forget about your main market: At the fayre, I branded myself mainly as a painter of birds. I forgot my pet portrait leaflets, and I neglected the market of dog owners who were all conveniently at the fayre entering Fido into the “Waggiest Tail” contest. What a wally.

flyer

7.  People are wonderful: Seriously. I felt overwhelmed with all the lovely comments I received. I am so thankful to everyone who came to support me, including the strangers who have no previous investment in me – who just genuinely like what I have to offer!

One lady flicking through my portfolio said “Your paintings are more lifelike than the photographs!” Wow. Day made! 

What have you learned in retrospect after a big event?