What is the best thing about your job?

For years, the best thing was the look on people’s faces when I handed over a painting. I get giddy on their shining eyes and compliments, thrilled that something I pour so much time and love into can bring them so much happiness.

But now I am not sure!

Last Spring, I had a stall at my local Village Fayre. I was there painting a Little Owl and selling my collection of cards, paintings and prints, when a lady asked me an interesting question.

“Would you ever try teaching?”

She said, referring to her nine year old daughter.

I was caught off guard. I had never even thought of teaching.

Being self-taught, I had no idea where I would begin. I don’t seem to create my paintings in a logical order – I flit from section to section, depending on what I fancy, or what paint I have on my brush.

We swapped details and I mulled it over for a few days. Why not?! I thought. It would be fun!

We agreed to start a series of six lessons in August. My boyfriend was being deployed, so it would be the perfect project to keep me busy and creative. Sophie (the nine year old) also seemed giddy with excitement.

Lesson 1

I went along, armed with a small box canvas, a bulging bag of paints and brushes, a ruler, a pencil and a gridded up photograph of a bunny. Not wanting to start off the lessons on a boring note, I explained to her that this step was by far the most important part of a realistic painting.

Under my lead, she gridded up the canvas into five centremetre squares, and into each one, copied exactly what she saw in each square on the photograph. I taught her to really look at the photograph, and appreciate all the sections of shadow, light and contrasting colours, and mark them all onto the canvas. I promised that next week we could get our hands painty.

Sophie 1

Lesson 2

We decided to do a green background full of vegetation. She was a bit timid at first, but with my encouragement, she started to mix colours and hesitantly dab them onto the canvas. I explained that the beauty of acrylic paint is that 1. If you made a mistake, you could paint over it and 2. That it was waterproof, so you could wipe off fresh layers of paint if they weren’t quite right.

“Woahhh I love acrylic paint!”

She said.

Lesson 3

I outlined the importance of getting down base layers of paint on the bunny.

“If you can see through it, you need more paint.”

Is my general rule of thumb. Together, we really looked at the photograph, and with my help, she was able to see subtle colours that you wouldn’t ever notice before.

“I think I can see some purple in there.”

I said, pointing at the bunny’s pouchy cheeks. She mixed and dabbed colours, using different techniques and different brush sizes as required. I couldn’t stop myself from getting stuck in, subconsciously mixing colours, and applying paint to brushes, before catching myself and handing them onto her.

Her confidence slowly grew as she spotted all the reds, purples and browns scattered throughout the bunny’s fur. I urged her to mix in subtle amounts of white paint, to which she asked :

“What does that do?”

“Think of it like putting cream into a tomato sauce.”

I said

“It makes it thicker, richer and paler.”

Sophie 3

Lesson 4

This week, we were ready to get started on the bunny’s face.

“III’m SOOOO EXCIIITEDDD!”

She said.

Together, we practiced painting eyes on a separate piece of paper. I showed her how to make them look 3D and alive, with a glint of light in them. We also practiced creating thin hairs with a little fine brush. After a few tries, she felt confident enough to have a go on the canvas. The result really started to bring the bunny to life.

Sophie 4

Lesson 5

This week, we painted in the nose, mouth, and continued making the bunny fluffier, using different shades of colour applied in short sharp movements with a little fine brush.

“I can’t waiiiiitttt for it to be finished!”

She said, anxious to take it into school and show off her work to her friends and teachers.

Sophie 5

Lesson 6

We had such a productive lesson, and really got into the swing of getting our hands dirty for the sake of art. I noticed with joy how much more confident my student, and how much more control she had over a brush after only six hours of tutoring.

She asked me how I made colours blend perfectly into each other in my paintings, and I admitted that the majority of the time, I use my hands! So that lesson, we did the same.

Sophie 6

Lesson 7

In the final lesson, we practiced creating very thin lines using acrylic ink, so that we could create realistic whiskers.

“Ooooh I’m scaaareeed!”

She said, unwilling to potentially ruin her precious artwork.

I reminded her that acrylic paint is waterproof, and if she got it wrong, she could wipe it straight off!

By the end of the lesson, she had marked on (and wiped off) dozens of whiskers, and painted on some grass around the bunny’s feet.

I was overcome with pride at the finished result, at Sophie’s reaction, at her mum’s reaction!

“I cant tell you how much she has enjoyed these lessons. This has got to be the most rewarding thing she has ever done!”

Her mum said to me.

I can’t wait to do some more teaching! It feels so good to share my skills with others!

Sophie 7

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What if all the good things came true.

An antidote to the negative what ifs that attack us all from time to time.

What if all of the good things came true?

What if you got everything you ever dreamt of?

What if you got that big white studio with the skylights that make it always looks sunny? What if your dog sat beside you in the basket? What if that studio was part of a shop and people were always coming in?
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What if big galleries wanted to display your work? What if you got a loyal following? What if people felt happy just by looking at your art? What if your art could bring back good memories? What if your art brought back loved ones?

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What if you got the chance to see more and more beautiful wildlife? What if you got to go on a safari? What if you got to see a kingfisher in real life?

kingfisher ARTbyIMI

What if you went on amazing long walks with your man and your dog? What if you got to crunch through leaves and watch the birds fly? What if people recognised you and were happy to see you? What if you smiled at people and the smile went into your eyes and into your soul? What if they smiled back?

What if bad times led you to places you could never imagine? What if they are just a test? What if they are actually good in disguise?

What if you got to teach incredible people how to paint? What if you inspired people? What if you brought hope back to people? What if you could help other people overcome their problems?

Little brother ARTbyIMI

What if all the good things came true.

That’s my antidote, what’s yours?

The 30 second sales patter

Sales pitch: My pilot newsletter is written and waiting for more subscribers before it gets sent out into the big bad world. Hopefully it will make the big bad world a prettier more creative world. You wont know unless you subscribe.

In the not too distant future, I will be selecting one of my subscribers at random to win a painting. At the moment, there is a very large chance it will be won by my mother.  You have been duly warned!
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Anyway, onto today’s subject. The 30 second sales patter.

It has come to my attention from my recent dog-walks-without-dog-but-with-boyfriend-instead that I needed a sales patter when presenting my flyers to a mixture of interested and uninterested dog walkers.

With the first few flyers, the patter was as follows:

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“Hello, I’m a local animal artist…
so I like paint pictures of pets
and dogs and stuff.
Is that something you’d be interested in?”

 

I got a few outright “no”s.
I wasn’t pulling that face. I like to think I was smiling sweetly.
And I wasn’t even on skype… I was right there.

That sales pitch was not the strongest. I  repeated myself three times to these poor dog walkers. Four if you count the “stuff” “I paint animals… pets… dogs…stuff!”

I then confronted them into making an immediate decision “is that something you’d be interested in?”  

“Ahhh no thankyouuuu” they were probably thinking, “I just wanna scoop some poop and get outta here.”

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Between dog walkers, I practised my talk with my apparently business savvy pitching partner. He picked out  my mistakes and didn’t get too bored with hearing the same thing over and over. Maybe because I promised to contribute a whole £1 towards a slice of cake in the tea shop. Generosity.

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“Hello I am a local animal artist.
I specialise in painting dogs and birds.
Is that something you’d be interested in?”

 

Dammit it had come out again! An involuntary confrontational language tick!
Boyfriend / Mr Sales “You shouldn’t limit what you specialise in. You can paint all animals!”
Animal artist extraordinaire: “I didn’t mean to… heyy – thanks!” 

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With the last one I had sort of perfected it.

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“Hello! I am a local artist.
I specialise in painting pets and wildlife.
You can see my entire portfolio at this link here!”

*shows link*

 

That there is my “look, I painted this bird” face.
But I don’t just specialise in painting birds. I also paint dogs.

Dammit!

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Any ideas on how to improve my sales patter?
Looks like I need further business savvy.