While the man’s away, the girl can paint!

I am now about three quarters of the way through my boyfriend’s deployment (touch wood)! Rather than spending my days clock-watching, I have been filled with motivation to paint, plan and socialise!

So what have I been up to these last few months… apart from working full time five days a week?

ART

Exhibitions: First and most importantly, I exhibited in the prestigious Marwell International Wildlife Art Society Exhibition! This is the largest wildlife art society in Europe, founded and organised by Pip McGarry. I was at the exhibition all weekend – with a stall on Saturday 30th August and as a steward on Sunday 31st.

Beauty WM

It was a really enjoyable experience, although it made me realise that I am a relatively little fish in a big old pond.

The plus?

I am a young little fish with plenty of time and enthusiasm to grow into a whale (or at least a tuna)!

Tutoring: Each week, I have been art tutoring a talented and enthusiastic nine year old girl. I talk and demonstrate her through the steps to create a beautiful and proportional painting of a bunny. Doing this makes me feel incredibly warm and fuzzy and has made me realise that I love teaching (people who are patient and enthusiastic about art).

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Workshop: Tutoring has motivated me to organise my first ever painting workshop!

On the 28th and 29th October (half term), I am delivering a two-day ‘Learn to Paint your Pet’ workshop at Framin’ Art in Downham Market for 12 – 18 year olds!

The workshop will be kept to a small group, and we will cover everything the students need to create a masterpiece:
• gridding up and drawing out the canvas
• painting soft-focus backgrounds
• mixing colours
• painting eyes and noses
• painting long and short hair
• painting shadow and light
• finishing touches

Places are still available – please email me if you would be interested in attending!

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Paintings: I have completed three paintings and am about to start on a Christmas commission.

Hob-nobbing: I went to fellow Wildlife Artist, Lauren Dobson’s, private opening of her exhibition at the David Shepherd Wildlife Art Gallery in Guildford. I met Lauren, got inspired to try out different techniques, and had an interesting chat with the gallery owner.

SOCIAL

I tell you, there is nothing like living on your own to give you a kick to socialise.

Hostess: I have already had five of my friends / family come to stay with me in Norfolk for weekends. This has meant I have got good at whipping up food for a dinner party, and has spurred me to explore my local area – finding the lovely Wells Next the Sea, taking advantage of the rail line to Cambridge, and seeing wildlife at a nearby Bird Sanctuary!

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Home time: I have spent a lot of time at my family home in Surrey, seeing my ‘home’ friends, having dinner dates, going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, spending a weekend in Portsmouth with my sister, and going to a wedding! I am incredibly fortunate in that I can work from Norfolk or Head Office in Surrey, which means I can stay for longer than just a weekend.

aaharry potter

New friends: I have finally been making friends in Norfolk. God bless the WAGs! Having friends in the same boat makes this weird experience much funnier.

aawags

WHAT’S NEXT?

My diary is still chock a block, and so is my to-do list (with tidying the house and gardening taking a real back burner).

Paintings: I have a lot of painting to do! This includes:
• Christmas commissions – two booked, more expected.
• A couple of paintings for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Award – deadline February.

Marketing: I need to continue marketing my art workshop, buy all materials, prepare my canvases for demonstration… oh and deliver it!

Old friends: I have plans to see a friend from university in London, have a girly weekend with my three best friends before two of them go to South Korea and Spain for the foreseeable, and go for a nice dinner out with work friends.

Tutoring: I also have some more art tutoring to do! The bunny isn’t finished yet!

All I can say is BRING ON THE NEXT FEW WEEKS!
And then I can collapse in an exhausted heap and hibernate with my Jack.

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A survey – as soon as October hits, suddenly it is Christmas!

I have just found out that I have been allocated a stall at a Christmas Market at Farnham Maltings on the 13th December!
It is great news, but I am wondering what I will be able to sell that close to Christmas.

So PLEASE, put yourself in the punters’ shoes and imagine you are floating round a Christmas market. You have had your mulled wine, you have bought your Christmas tree decorations, and you come across my stall. What next?

Any additional comments and tips you have, please share them in the comments, as I don’t want to invest in stock that won’t sell, and I really want a successful market!

 

How to paint a beady eye

Pencil in the shape of the eye
Think slightly squashed circle, with a smooth line right the way around. 

pencil eye

Paint in the feathers surrounding the eye using acrylic paint
The feathers close to the eye are often in an outwards direction, so use a little rounded brush to detail this. 

outline eye

Just close to the eye, the feathers will be darker, gradually getting lighter as distance from the eye increases. The feathers above the eye often catches the light, whereas below the eye is slightly more in shade – so alter your colours accordingly.

 Dig out your acrylic inks to create a glossy eye

 *Clue is in the name, these are inks made out of acrylic. They are much more fluid, and give an ink shine when dry, but are waterproof like acrylic paint. You can buy them online or at all art stockists*

 

Mix up black, white and a hint of blue ink
Create a really deep bluey grey, and paint over the entire eye. Once this is dry, paint in a fairly large oval-shaped pupil in deep black acrylic ink. 

iris eye

Rim two-thirds of the eye in a thin pale grey line
You should be able to control this by using the acrylic inks. Slightly extend the line in the corner nearest to the beak where you would find a tear duct.

Rim eye

Use black ink to rim the remaining third of the eye
This is where you would find the eye lid. Meet this black line at the ‘tear duct’.

Rim blackeye

Use a pale grey to create glints of light in the eye
These will be 2/3 up the eye, around the fullest part. Slightly overlapping these with the black pupil. Dab this with your finger to blend slightly.
glint eye

Use a bright white to create a long glint of light at the fullest part of the eye.
This again will slightly overlap your pupil and pale grey blended glints.
 

white glint eye

Ta da!

The result should be a beady eye that looks alive! Acrylic inks can also be used on feathers to give them the slightly oily and magnetic appearance that can be seen on birds like magpies and penguins.

Oh and… guess which Football team the owner of the painting supports?!

Magpies

 

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?

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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!

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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?