What Is It Like To Be An Artist?

There’s always two sides to every story. Being an artist can be fun and exciting, but it can also be scary and intimidating. Let me take you through my experience of being an artist through the past year.

2021 has been a strange year, full of external factors that we weren’t looking for and personal factors that would change my next steps. In the past year I left my first full-time job out of university and started on the path of a career. This, for me, is a path separated from my artwork. I made this decision as I did not want the constant pressure to create artwork to sell, or to not know when the next payment will be so that I could do the things I enjoy. I like more structure to my day, so I opted for a different career path entirely.

Choosing a separate career path in the past year has left me more creative juice for when I do sit down and create. This has allowed me time to continue on Project 365, and catch up after almost quitting, and start on some canvases that I have been planning for a while. This planning has also given me the time and energy to look in the local area at the possibility of a gallery show, either as an individual or within a group.

But being able to create has only been part of what I have done as an artist this year as I made the decision to dive head first into craft fairs and markets. This has been an expensive experiment to say the least. I have spent a lot of time and money into the products that I take with me, and into the events that I have attended, and unfortunately I have not seen the return that I wanted out of these. It has given me some things to think about and I have made some decisions based on this for the new year. The most important one is that I am giving myself some time to breathe.

Craft fairs and markets take a lot of energy too, but despite this throughout each one I have had a wonderful time. I feel more engaged with the community, and have small events that I want to attend next year. I have been able to talk to people about what I am passionate in. I have been able to show people who have never heard of me what artwork I have created, as well as my plans for the future. It has been wonderful to speak to people with a variety of backgrounds and art experience, to help inspire them, or just bring something a little different to their day. Talking to everyone has also given me a different outlook on my artwork and creative process, thinking about how I might make things, or document things differently, so that it is more public-friendly as I continue to step out of the mindset of an art student. And all of this has grown my online statistics.

I can’t claim that being an artist is completely wonderful with no problems, but other artists might have this story to tell. I continue to look forward to having art in my life, but my goals have changed slightly as my journey has developed. I now understand that this evolving and developing nature comes with the territory, and that I should embrace it more, as sometimes this gives way to artwork that I would have not created before.

Every day that I wake up, I am grateful that I am able to create art, and that I have such instant access to the materials and machines around me. I enjoy each of these and look forward to creating more in the future.

How To Adapt Your Own Style

Guides online often start the how to learn your own style with the advice of looking at your inspirations. I’m starting this is the other direction.

Style is learned, adopted, manipulated, and developed. Sometimes this is by accident, sometimes on purpose, and often a mixture of both. The style that you develop is one of a combination. it is your voice, your techniques, your colour choices, your compositions, your subject matter, and your media.

This is sometimes not an easy journey. For some artists, this takes years to develop, and some artists simply fall into their style and grow it for the rest of their careers. The thing is with finding your style, is even when you’ve found it, it starts to change.

Adapting your own style comes from looking and learning from your own art, as well as the objectives that you are trying to achieve.

Three things that I have learnt from adapting my own style (which, yes, is still constantly evolving), is that doodling doesn’t hurt, rinse and repeat, and keep at it.

Doodling doesn’t hurt
Some believe that doodling is for children, for those who do not take art seriously. I find that doodling is sometimes the escape that I need, a time to release and work in a free-form way. Doodles can evolve into stylized elements, which you can repeat time and time again.

Rinse and repeat
Draw the same thing again and again. Whether that be through doodling or a larger piece, your style will start appearing through repetition. You don’t have to draw the exact same thing, but perhaps a group of things such as wildflowers.

Keep at it
You need to keep at it, through the artist block, through the times that seem awful. You do need to take breaks, by putting the pen down and stepping back, but also completing a longer term project has its benefits. How about try Inktober or Project 365? Even if it is a doodle or something you have drawn before, get that pen in hand and go.

Everyone develops at different rates so don’t force yourself down a path that you feel like you have to go down just because someone has found their style quicker than you. Take breaks, but make sure you keep going at a regular pace.

Even someone who has done art for most of their life is still finding their style.

Celebrating One Year

Charlotte Abraham Art started after I left University, and wanting to begin my steps in the art world. After loosing my interest over several months as my degree ended, I was encouraged to start again by producing the alphabet.

In my first year of university, we were asked to draw our own version of the alphabet. This was a piece that I took pride in, and a piece that I still cherish today. I mixed several fonts, styles, and even languages to create a mish-mash of overlapping letters that resemble the alphabet. This grew to become a full alphabet in 26 different styles, beginning at the very start. These were printed onto cards, and Charlotte Abraham Art was born.

Throughout the past year, I have created over 300 different original artworks and designs. These are originals that stand on their own, or designs I have digitally created and printed onto different products such as mugs, coasters, notebooks, and cards.

This has been a great journey for me, and has shown me how a lot of different things work in the wider world. Many of these things I had to learn through trial and error, for example which kind of craft shows and markets are better suited for my artwork and products, or the way I list things online. Some of these have been expensive, I’m not going to lie, like the use of Etsy listings. I have found that Etsy is good for those who are established, and who are guaranteed sales, but not for a starter like me. My own website and online shop gets more views per day, but that is another story for another time.

One year in the future seems like a long way away, but looking back, this past year has flown by. Take a look through my blog now to see exactly what I have been up to and sign up to my mailing list to keep up to date in the future.

Choosing A Colour Palette

Choosing a colour palette as an artist is sometimes the most difficult part of creating. You may have a concept in your head, but until you start deciding the specific colours in the material of your choice, it cannot come to life.

I enjoy working with different materials, including acrylic paints, water colour paints, and marker pens. These are materials that I wanted to explore the use of, and the diversity of their properties. When drawing vehicles, I drew from a design and image that I had previously chosen. They often went to plan, the yellows highlighting areas, with layered greys to create shadows. The Jeep is one vehicle that did not go as expected, despite choosing the colour palette carefully. Layering the browns, neutrals, and greys, created a murkiness that portrayed mud, a use of the vehicle. Perhaps it was not the intended palette, but it was effective.

This is one lesson in choosing a colour palette – even if it is not the intended effect, or the intended finished piece, you will still create a piece of artwork that you should be proud of.

Over the past year, I have mostly experimented with abstract pieces of artwork. Abstract pieces can sometimes be the most challenging to choose a colour palette for, as different colours convey something new for everyone. On top of this, if you wish to create a series, you need to determine what you wish for the series to convey.

During August, I started designing my Christmas collection. I wanted to keep my leafy designs from the collection I grew during Project 365, as well as abstract shapes and regular triangles. Colour combinations here were important to consider. When choosing the colour palette here, I wanted to stay along the traditional Christmas colours of red, green, and white, but also adding a little something extra with dark blue, light blue, and pink. These six colours have been popular in the past few years in retail outlets. The sale of these is something that I had to consider, to ensure that these were something that people wanted to purchase.

Using Posca Pens, the designs came to life on these tester pages. Using these pages, I was able to identify the designs that I wanted to proceed with. Tester pages are not always necessary, but they can provide assistance with a bigger project.

Using the same colours in varying shapes can change the palette style. The double page sketchbook spread uses the same colour palette spread over four different designs. The layering and the spacing between each of these gives a different display of texture and relationship. The third lesson I have had when choosing colour palettes is that they can always be adapted. The nature of what you create can affect the colour palette of your choice, as much as the colour palette can affect the piece that you create.

There is no right or wrong when choosing a colour palette for your piece of art. If you are unsure, you can try different things and experiment widely. During this experimentation, you may find something else that you want to explore further. Or something that you want to keep.

It’s all about finding the balance.

Christmas Craft Shows

I will be at various craft shows throughout November and December, with original artwork, gifts, as well as handmade Christmas items. For a browse before coming to see me, head to my online shop – shop.charlotteabraham.art

20th November
10am – 4pm
Biz Space Christmas Market, BSS House, Swindon, SN2 2PJ
Find more info on Facebook

27th November
Crafty Mumma Market, Pinetrees Community Centre, The Circle, Swindon, SN2 1QR

4th and 5th December
10:30am – 1:30pm
Courtyard Arts Christmas Market, Mams Gallery and Eastcott Studios, Swindon, SN1 3JG
Find more info on Facebook

18th December
10am – 4pm
Biz Space Christmas Market, BSS House, Swindon, SN2 2PJ
Find more info on Facebook

The Story Behind Megadoku

As part of Project 365 in May, I completed a 50 x 50 cm canvas of a 10 x 10 large sudoku on an 8 x 8 grid. Using pastel colours in acrylic paint, the calm and soft hues change throughout the day depending on the light that streams through my studio window. It was the first canvas that I have completed in a long time, and although it took several days, I feel proud of this achievement.

A sudoku can be defined as “a puzzle in which players insert the numbers one to nine into a grid consisting of nine squares subdivided into a further nine smaller squares in such a way that every number appears one in each horizonal line, vertical line, and square.”

A megadoku is generally considered a sudoku larger than this nine by nine grid. As a child, and even now as an adult, I deeply enjoy sitting down with a puzzle book and completing sudoku after sudoku after sudoku. The patterns that are within these have also intrigued me, seeing them as perhaps colours, or indeed larger artworks.

It was this inspiration of the patterns and the soothing nature of painting that inspired me to crack out a canvas. I worked through each colour, ensuring I kept to the pattern of the 10 x 10 megadoku. I was originally going to curve the pattern around the sides of the canvas as the canvas is around an inch thick. As I continued to paint the canvas, I decided to keep these sides white and clean, with the final design being the central 8 x 8 grid of the 10 x 10 megadoku.

I enjoyed the painting process of this, following the straight lines and cutting into the corners of each square. A part of me wishes to create a larger version of this, using both a bigger pattern and larger square canvas. In the meantime, I enjoy the view of this painting every day as it hangs above my desk.

New Shop

After being on Etsy these past few months, and seeing the harsh reality of being a seller on there, and wanting to expand what I sell to some of the items that I have made in my studios over the year, I have created a new online shop.

shop.charlotteabraham.art

Here, you can find all original artworks and gifts that I currently have for sale, as well as discounted items from displays and last stock, as well as handmade jewellery. I will be adding to this shop throughout the year with small sketches, paintings and other works, as well as works and experimentations from university. There will be a wide range of items available, so head over there and check it out!

Project 365: September

Project 365 is a 2021 project in which I aim to produce an artwork a day and sharing it. These will range from sketches to paintings to sculptures. Some are available to purchase on my store, and some are experiments with materials. This experimentation will expand my knowledge of how I can use materials within larger artworks and expand my practice as an artist.

September for me, was a month of planning, preparation and exploration. To be prepared for the fairs and events that I have booked onto in October, November, and December, I designed and started to make all of my Christmas stock. I know people start buying earlier and earlier each year, so I wanted my range to be available for all the early birds out there.

I also prepared for the Swindon and Cricklade Railway Military Weekend by designing more vehicles to print onto cards, and original artwork that I could display and sell. Exploring maths and patterns felt homely again, although by the end of the month, I was itching to do something different – yet again. I made some bigger decisions regarding my practice for next year once Project 365 has been completed. I used my creative time to think about what I really want to do, and even looked to open a new online shop in October, where it would have all my current artwork for sale.

Scroll for hints on what my Christmas range looks like, or head to my online shop to start browsing now – shop.charlotteabraham.art/

244/365 – Prepping – This is a little sneak peak into the Christmas prototypes I’ve been making! Trying to make as many as I can over the next couple of days so then I can concentrate on painting some canvases over the weekend. ⠀
What are your plans for the weekend?
245/365 – Promise – I spent all night last night making prototype card fronts for all my Christmas cards and gift tags! After getting A LOT of card, I’ll be ready to start making them very soon. First, I’ll be celebrating an anniversary with my love ✨
246/365 – Designing – I’m still on a little Christmas binge to make sure I’ve prepped all my designs before I start making them more in bulk. You may have seen me asking about these colours in my stories. Which you do prefer?
247/365 – Celebrate – Got to celebrate our anniversary over the weekend. I love making individual cards for family and friends. I might share a couple others that I was super proud of. But it was really lovely to do simple things together and have a laugh too! ⠀
My new online store is well on its way and it will have all the products I have available to purchase. It will include originals, prints and gifts, and all my handmade products too! I’ll hopefully be launching it the same time as my Christmas range. 
248/365 – Planning – The last of my planning pages for the Christmas baubles! I put a poll up on my stories the other day to help decide on which colours to do as I was only going to do four… but I’ve now got prototypes of all six colours! Can’t wait to show them all to you and officially announce my Christmas collection ✨⠀
249/365 – Shh – Okay so this is the last of the Christmas posts for a little while, I promise! I just can’t believe how excited I’m getting over painting and designing baubles. 
250/365 – WIP – I’ve been working on this canvas for a couple of weeks but it was pretty much blank until today. I’ve been quickly applying small, thick layers to build up these different pinks. I’m thinking a pink morning sky with wonderful yellows, but as usual I’m not planning too much for it may all go wrong that way!
251/365 – Finally – It’s felt like weeks since I started these designs in my sketchbook but I’ve finally gotten round to starting the series of 6 on paper. The first is from the original yellow one I did. I found the pattern I was following was a bit empty so I added more yellow squares in. The pattern is no four in a row!
252/365 – II – there is so much going on behind the scenes here to prep for the next few weeks of craft shows and the big event that many celebrate at the end of the year! I’m glad I’ve been able to sit down and paint this tonight though. I can’t wait to do the others and complete the series ✨
253/365 – III – I really enjoyed painting this blue version today. It felt really peaceful and reminded me of being on the ocean, with nature.
Feeling productive this evening with some card making. How’s your day been?
254/365 – Catch Up – In preparation for the Military fair this weekend, I wanted to design some new vehicle cards that will be for sale. This is an electric plane, the first in the world (or so the article said!). It was a fascinating process to be able to get this to fly. Have a Google, you might find it interesting too ✨⠀
⠀So over the past week or so I wanted to take a little social media break, to only go on when I wanted to post, or so I planned. I ended up not posting and spending even more time scrolling! Reigning it all back in now with some controlled time to post and comment, and some more time for me and creating.
255/256 – Drawing these has been really fun and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of layering different colours to create different effects. For this one, I ended up using orange on top of the yellow, which has created that shading effect around the helicopter without using a harsh grey. ⠀
⠀Did you know, not all air ambulances are yellow?⠀
256/365 – Trains have been a major part of travel all around the world for many years. I love how each train I see has its own character. I make sure that I have a drawing a colour version of each of my vehicles so if I don’t capture that character, I can have another go ✨
257/365 – Where would a military weekend be without tanks? This one was a special request from the other half to see what it would turn out like, and the little hint of green, for me, makes it complete!⠀
⠀Don’t forget to join me this weekend at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway. ⠀
258/365 – My entire Christmas launch is not being counted towards Project 365, so I’ll be continuing with that throughout the festive period. This is adding further to the vehicles I’ve drawn as I couldn’t miss out a steam train after watching them all day at the last Swindon and Cricklade Railway event. There’s just something so calming about them 🚂 ⠀
259/365 – One thing I have missed is flying, or going to events where you can see beasts like these and support the people who travel in them. I thoroughly enjoyed drawing this piece and there’s only one more to share in this mini collection of colourful vehicles. 
260/365 – I’ve not done a design this large in a while, where I’ve had to be creative in the block colouring and the layering of the colours to create the right effect of highlights and shade. Challenging, but in a soft and playful way. ⠀
I’ve been at the Military Weekend at Swindon and Cricklade railway all day. If you missed me, we will be there again tomorrow 🚂⠀
261/365 – IV – Got back to the squares series I started after drawing the vehicles. I wanted something a little more than just the primary colours, so the secondary colours have come out. I’m still following the no connect four pattern. The purple just feels so soothing. 
262/365 – V – Its always interesting to me how different green hues react with white. For example, this green goes a slightly luminous colour without it being luminous. I feel like I’m back at secondary school in the first week of year 7, learning my colour wheel in art class. ⠀
263/365 – VI – I felt like I was bringing some sunshine in with this set of orange hues, brightening up the day. I found it slightly more difficult to achieve the range of colours that I wanted to with the orange, as whatever I put down felt like it was something that I had already done. I arrived on though to complete the series ✨⠀
264/365 – Spare – I made up a spare grid for the squares pieces in case one of them went dramatically wrong and I wanted to start again. Luckily that didn’t happen so I thought I would try the flowers on paint that I tried in my sketchbook a while back. I feel like it’s not necessarily my most successful piece in terms of what I wanted it to be like, but I enjoyed the process of the making ⠀
265/365 – Only 100 days to go, can you believe it? This year has flown by.. I’ve got so much going on at the moment, I thought about doing mini pieces but I also wanted to expand my flower drawing knowledge. I had another grid spare so I decided to go for it. On the days that I’m overwhelmingly busy, I going to add to this grid. Each square is going to be a different flower, a different plant. I’m excited to watch this one grow ✨
266/365 – Roses were yesterday and daisy flowers today. These are the two flowers I’m most comfortable with but there’s a whole grid here to fill. What flowers would you like me to draw?
267/365 – This is the first day of trying something new with these flowers. It’s been nice to sit down for a little while and just concentrate on a little square. There’s been no massive pressure to create a large finished piece every day and it’s made me enjoy the process so much more. I can also concentrate on making all my Christmas stock too!⠀
268/365 – The Swindon and Cricklade Railway Military Weekend was fantastic and I even got to sit down and do a little sketch in practice for all the commission interest I got! An ear, and a nose and tongue, taken from photos of my own bears 
269/365 – There was a gorgeous car opposite our stall on the second day of the Swindon and Cricklade Railway Military Weekend. How could I miss the opportunity to have a sketch? ⠀
270/365 – The aftermath of a fair or event is super big, getting all the stock counted and sorted, putting all the boxes away, and making sure everything is clean before the next event. So instead of doing anything big, I cracked down into another square in my flower challenge. Four squares down, sixty to go!⠀
271/365 – I’ve added a little bit to this to make it a little fuller. I’m looking at finishing this later in the year as I’ve got some exciting things to share with you first!
272/365 – New Sketchbook – I fancied trying something new so cracked out an old sketchbook that hadn’t been touched. I was instantly taken back to the doodling I did years back for a birthday present, and wanted to try it again. It felt so freeing. And it made me want to complete Inktober!⠀
Still catching up with posts so you’ll be seeing the results of Inktober soon..⠀
273/365 – Broke out the A5 sketchbook again for this one. I was inspired by some of my own patterns that I drew a couple of years ago now. You may recognise them from my bag designs too! I was a bit more free this time. This art feels more me, yet I’m still reaching for those graphite pencils to do some portraits! ⠀

How do you stay motivated creating art?

It can be a difficult challenge to stay motivated when creating, and everyone has different ways they like to keep themselves in the spirit. The creation of artwork is only a part of what I do as an artist. There is the admin work, the photography, the organising, the social media work, and the list could go on.

For the past few months, creating a piece of artwork every day has been my challenge with Project 365. I’ve had lulls where I didn’t want to continue and complete it all, as it is difficult to come up and do something. Every. Single. Day. But in my little studio here in Wiltshire, I have countless pieces of artwork that I have started and not completed over the years. I’m opening up sketchbooks to half finished pages, things that I’ve wanted to complete. I feel like everyone has things like that, whether it be a piece of artwork, a bit of housework, something that you start, but never get completed.

But how do I stay motivated?

Although Project 365 has been difficult, it has been one of my main motivators this year. After leaving university a year ago, I did not know what to do with myself. There was a challenge of how to get myself out into the world with things that people want to buy, as well as ensuring that I wanted to create what I was making. Through Project 365 I have continued my exploration of materials and processes, making it fun and interesting. This has led me down several different paths of creating, and ultimately into the world of craft fairs. I’ve been making some big decisions about these, but that’s for another blog post towards the end of the year.

Having a play has been really important too, as this has led me down paths of creating that feel childish, but also very free. Remember those times where you would tear, or cut up pieces of paper and stick the down in a random order? Or draw a random squiggly line and then colour in the shapes that it made with different patterns or colours? That’s what has helped to keep me going. Reverting back to childhood art, and refreshing myself from the day to day of adult life.

My other, and arguably by biggest motivator to create art, is my other half. I could spend half an hour describing every way he helps me to keep going from making sure I have a glass of water (and that I drink it!), to helping out at craft fairs, to making sure I have a space that I want to create in.

Everyone will have different motivators to create artwork. Right now, Project 365, having a play, and my other half are my biggest motivators. If you don’t feel particularly motivated, try something different, something small, something you might not know what it will be like in the end. That’s all you may need to get your creativity flowing again.

What motivates you?

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Guest Post: Exhibition Review – Jennifer Packer

JENNIFER PACKER – THE EYE IS NOT SATISFIED WITH SEEING


Exhibition review by Jennifer Starnes

New-York based artist Jennifer Packer exhibits her first solo show in a European institution with ‘THE EYE IS NOT SATISFIED WITH SEEING’ at Serpentine Galleries in London (19 May – 22August 2021). 34 works in total are presented, a mixture of miniature and large-scale drawings and paintings, rooted in representation and fuelled by the political and sociological introspection that underpins life. The title of the show references a biblical passage from Ecclesiastes which alludes to the human need for desire, which can never truly be sated. This is reminiscent of the confrontation that Jennifer Packer encourages through forces of attraction vs. resistance within her work.

Upon entering the exhibition, I was drawn to TRANSFIGURATION (HE’S NO SAINT), a painting I had previously seen online and the initial inspiration behind my visit. Seeing the painting in person was a completely different experience, the fiery red tones, blood orange and stark yellow burned bright. The figurative stance and gaze, both vulnerable and at peace, there is a palpable energy when standing face to face with this painting.  A clear ambiguity plagues the painting, much like the sharp line that dissects the canvas in two. The figure could be seen as sinking into the murky blackened space or emerging from it.

Jennifer Packer
Transfiguration (He’s No Saint), 2017
Oil on Canvas
182.8 x 91.4 cm, 72 x 36 inches
Collection of Igor DaCosta and James Rondeau. Photo: Jason Wyche
https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/jennifer-packer-2/

Several drawings also adorn the gallery walls, carrying a different sensibility but equal weight as the paintings presented alongside them. There is a delicacy to the charcoal lines which make them quite distinct in comparison. THE MIND IS ITS OWN PLACE sees two figures sharing the space, one in motion and the other still, eyes closed. Bluish pastel hues merge with a lone purple hand. Smoky grey lines melt into one another, both layering and erasing to reveal subtleties and create a sense of intimacy.

Jennifer Packer comments “I feel resistance to the use of the word “bodies” to describe the figures in my work. There’s an important difference between having a body and being a body. Bodies can be almost anything and are often subject to mindless objectification or a loss of humanity”.

Exhibition view: Jennifer Packer, The Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing, Serpentine Galleries, London (19 May – 22 August 2021). Courtesy Galleries. Photo: George Darrell.
https://galleriesnow.net/shows/jennifer-packer-2/

Jennifer presents a dichotomy between portraiture and flower compositions, drawing on a fascinating parallel for how humanness can be represented. SAY HER NAME is perhaps Packer’s most widely recognised painting, made in response to the death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black American woman who was found hanging in a police cell following her arrest 3 days prior for a minor traffic violation. The suspicious circumstances surrounding Sandra’s death sparked the #sandrabland social justice movement and lead to public outcry regarding racially motivated police violence. Packer comments “when I googled Sandra, I couldn’t find any images of her memorial…so, in a way, this painting became an expression of an inability to deal with that loss”. When I look at this painting, I see contained chaos, it has a harrowing depth to it, owed to the rich colour palette and hazy painterly expressions which characterise Jennifer Packer’s style. The energetic nature of these works is something that can’t be escaped and the visceral response they conjure can’t be ignored.

Jennifer Packer
Say Her Name, 2017
Oil on canvas
101.6 x 121.9 cm, 40 x 48 inches
Private Collection. Courtesy: The Artist, Corvi-Mora, London and Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York. Photo: Matt Grubb.
https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/jennifer-packer-2/

Jennifer’s background in art and psychology informs her mixed media practise with specialism in realism and portraiture. Her works are often inspired by her interest in biology and the body alongside additional influences stemming from her passion for science fiction and horror.
Instagram: @jennstarrart
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennstarrart
Email: jennstarrart@gmail.com
Website: Coming soon

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