As 2017 winds to a close I’m finding myself reflecting on the past year. I learned a lot, grew a lot, failed a lot, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I was able to take advantage of.
To recap a few of the more memorable projects I undertook:
I had my first ever "solo" show at Cabell Gallery in Lexington, Va.
This show was a huge learning curve. I think the biggest take-away is to use solid wood when framing- none of this composite IKEA junk. (and I LOVE IKEA frames!!) Oh, and to test hang all of the frames before delivering them to the gallery.
Other than the framing snafus, some of my best paintings from 2017 were made for this show, and I figured out several (mostly) architectural techniques like painting brick, siding, and the gravel in front of buildings. I'm proud of the illustrations made for this project, and happy to say that a few were able to be sold as well. Many thanks to Cabell and Susan over at Cabell Gallery for graciously hosting my work and displaying it a month longer than expected!
I attempted (and failed) the 100 day instagram project.
The idea of the 100 Day Project is to pick a prompt, and create something small relating to it everyday, for a 100 days. And then share your work with others via social media. My project was to use ink pens and watercolors to create a small, urban sketch everyday. I wanted the sketches to be done outside while I took the little man on stroller rides, so I could work directly from observation. I think I made it about halfway. There were several main problems that I encountered while working.
First, I was too afraid to share my bad sketches on social media.
Second, I limited myself too much. Only outdoor, from life sketches done with a fussing toddler who wants the stroller to continue moving proved very difficult. And the project just about ended when he finally figured out how to wiggle free of his straps and slide out of the stroller, a little past his 18 month marker. But, it was still a fun project and I have the sketchbooks and fond memories of being able to go on sketch crawls with the little one. Turns out a stroller makes for a great easel! I'm looking forward to a couple years in the future when we can draw together.
I attempted (and completed!) 2017's Inktober challenge.
I think I learned from my first social media challenge that I need less expectations, and more grace in order for this to work. I've already written another blog post on Inktober 2017, but needless to say, giving myself the freedom to work from my head, "doodle" and post no matter how awful I thought the previous night's exercise had been proved to be quite successful. It still amazes me how most people seem to prefer these little ink sketches to my more polished and time-consuming watercolors.
I started an Etsy shop... and painted a lot of commissions!
After my aunt and uncle ordered a house portrait off Etsy from another artist this past spring I decided enough was enough- that was a sale I should have been guaranteed! I joined the Etsy community to offer up watercolor commissions in May. So far, it has gone well for me, moderately speaking. While I am certainly not a super savvy businesswoman, the little bit I've made has turned into valuable income during lean times this fall and winter. I am so grateful for all the people who took a chance and invested their money into my artwork! I've got a long way to go, and a large learning curve to overcome before my shop becomes anything really special, but to say that I am thankful for the business Etsy has brought me is an understatement!
Other projects and plans for 2017
I had other projects and goals planned for 2017 as well, but to be honest, the fact that this stay-at-home-mom got anything else accomplished beyond keeping her child alive and housework and food halfway done is incredible! I am beyond grateful for the kiddo's nap time, my hubby's unwavering support and a space to work in and call my own. I've grown tremendously in learning watercolor and I've gotten a lot of positive feedback for all my ink doodles- which I never expected receiving. Even though there were a lot more projects that didn't get realized, I am proud to look back and declare it a year well spent.