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First Big Exhibitions - reflections and gratitude

How did I get here?


Around 18 months ago, I whispered to myself, I want to be an artist.


I have shared my story about burning out as a lawyer in the covid-19 era before and how I recovered finding both peace and purpose in nature based art.


There was a turning point, a realisation that I was so excited by art and the opportunities it offered to learn more deeply about nature and to share about that with others.


One problem was that my artistic practice was limited in scope and skill.......



What did I do?


I set to learning how to paint on canvas with acrylics, cultivating confidence to start painting outside, developing ways to play and explore through journaling and sketchbooks.


What an exciting 18 months it has been. I have tried different colours, styles, techniques.


My first gratitude is to the internet and to all the artists online who so generously share their work whether through sharing snippets of their process, answering questions or or uploading full tutorials. Without your generosity, I would have learned so much less.


At times I have confused myself as much as anyone else with a tendency to follow a creative whim, to flip flap between drawing, writing, illustrating and painting.


In a sense I have created my own art foundation course tailored to my preferences.


My second gratitude is to being a beginner and the complete freedom that brings whilst you figure things out.


What have I learned?


Now that exhibitions in West Berkshire and Oxfordshire for open studios/artweeks are nearing their end, I have been reflecting.


My exhibitions have been, to quote one visitor:

"a lot of different ideas, styles and some of them are really interesting"

I'm not sure it was intended as a compliment. But of course, these exhibitions have been eclectic, they are a summary of my last 18 months and I have learned so much from finding the confidence to stage them!


I have begun to master critique and curation. It is changing the way that I want to work. I want to explore ideas in more depth and over a longer period of time and I am less afraid to disregard the paintings that don't make the grade because every artist has bloopers!


My final gratitude is to the fellow artists, non-artists and organisations who have given me a chance over these 18 months and have allowed me to grow because of it.


  • Earth Trust and West Berkshire Museum for investing in exhibition space and encouraging me to use it.

  • The organisations who have supported me to start sharing/teaching what I have learned. But mostly my students who have show extreme patience in my often underwhelming explanations whilst I learn to find the right words to support my demonstrations.

  • Family, friends and strangers who have said something nice or bought an artwork to support me or read my words and looked at my illustrations.

  • Subscribers and social media followers who have stuck with me never knowing what might be coming next!

  • Others who have ignored me, moved away or allowed your children to write "poo" in our exhibition comments book for the healthy perspective and general amusement this can bring and the lessons in dealing with negative emotions such as disappointment or upset. Hopefully both my character and resilience improve as a result of such interactions!


And next?


I AM AN ARTIST!


In the next 18 months I plan and hope to be slightly more settled and curated in my art and therefore my communication and my exhibitions.


I hope to see you there!


Best wishes,

Helen



ps To that end, I am moving illustrations exclusively to Etsy so I can focus on fine art here on my website. I will continue to keep in touch but will no longer publish the Nature Sketchbook here.



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