I can talk to most people, and as a marketing professional, I often have to. Yet as soon as it is my art in the context of ‘marketing’,  I clam up. This makes promoting myself as an artist tricky. My levels of overthinking and procrastination over my artist statement are off the scale. I’ve tried to understand why – to help overcome the hurdle. Is it a lack of confidence in my work? Is it that it’s just too personal to me? Is it because I have some romantic notion that I should be able to just paint ( or print) and the universe should do the rest?

Probably it’s all of the above, so now you know that I lack confidence, logic and sense. I would love to just create, and someone whisks it away and do the rest – imagine not having to worry about the marketing, artist statements, Instagram feed, mounting and framing, and packaging. Sounds lovely, but also highly unlikely. Though I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

It’s easy to promote other people – and to advise them on regular updating and posting. In fact, the other half of my income comes from exactly that – social media, SEO, and copywriting blog posts. Clients often believe they can build a website and people will find them, when in reality it’s merely the beginning. These things are not static, and they definitely need good signposting to be found. This site is like a builder’s house, unfathomably neglected.  I don’t want to write personal things with one eye on the keywords – so I’m not going to.

Anyway long and short of it, I’ve decided to do a regular post – beginning today. I’ve realised it doesn’t need to be about some overarching theme. Today, I’m just going to share what I’ve been up to. I know that it really should be a certain length for SEO purposes. But since there are probably thousands…no millions of artists’ websites out there, I do not have the time, inclination, or drive to try and be the top dog of the internet. Because really I just want to make the work, I want people to buy it (or at least look at it), so that I can buy more materials, free up space and start the next creative cycle.

So part of getting it seen is submitting work for exhibitions. I put a piece in God’s House Tower exhibition in the spring – Inspirational Women, to celebrate International women’s day. The exhibition also supported the important work of Yellow Door. 

The brief was that submissions had to be A4 – which was quite challenging and had to be inspired by a female artist. What’s good about this kind of thing is that it gets you thinking. Which women artist’s inspire me? Many female artists inspire me, but I chose Marlene Dumas on this occasion.  I could have chosen Linder Sterling, Paula Rego, or Wangechi Mutu, but frankly, Marlene fitted the work I produced. I’ve also submitted to a few other open submission exhibitions and so I had to deal with the dreaded artist’s statement.

I really struggle writing an artist’s statement – if  I was that eloquent, maybe I wouldn’t have to try to express myself through this medium. Realistically though, it is important – I know that an artist’s statement can really open up other artists’ work for me.

Some paintings are easier to write about. Take for example – “What’s it all about, Coco Pops?” Which is the featured painting on this post. It may help to know that Coco Pops is the name of my dog – she’s much more the colour of milk left after a bowl of chocolate ricicles. This piece is about how we treat animals, and how as a culture we ‘humanise’ and dehumanise them. We make them part of our family, eat them, breed them, we anthropomorphise them, and give them overriding qualities – snakes are evil, hedgehogs are cute. Hyenas are sneaky, dogs loyal.  We override nature with our pop culture (hence the colours) or perceived realities. I blame Disney. It’s all a construction.  Maybe without the explanation, it wouldn’t be apparent. But do you need to know that?

Modern Painting UK

But not all my work is so easy to explain – possibly because I’m still working it out.  ‘Coco Pops’, like much of my work, evolves. Maybe this is why printmaking is such a challenge to me because you have to plan. I can barely plan what’s for tea tonight.

I’m also in danger of coming across as flippant. Maybe I can call it playful? This is a problem for me in the actual world – I come across as flippant. But I genuinely believe things don’t have to be dour to be serious. Many a true word said in jest. Also some pieces, big pieces like ‘That’s just the way it is.” I hope to manage to be both serious and playful. But other pieces like ‘Better out’ are darker. But darkness can be playful, even beautiful, in my opinion. And words can also be used as a barrier, to exclude people and show everyone how clever you are. That’s the kind of artist’s statement I dislike. Here goes…

Starting with paint and gesture, as shapes and ideas form, intention meets chance. I follow this process until I see the image emerge and my thoughts are resolved. The narrative is something I, or the viewer, impose. How we present to the world, is not always what is going on inside, and not always how we are viewed.

This is my first bash at the artist’s statement. Part of me is reading this back and thinking, is that a bit ‘wanky”? Another part is beginning to clarify what I’m doing, what I’m trying to achieve – and more importantly where I’m going. I remember writing essays and struggling to get them all to hang together and make sense. Then, in the end, it wasn’t just relief that I felt, it was a deeper comprehension. By going through the process, you gain real insight and understanding. That’s what the artist’s statement should give you – it’s not to show how clever/smug/cultured you are. You see this is why I hate the artist’s statement, it’s so easy to sound like a pretentious tosser. I might update this post, when I’ve finished, so you can see if I’ve managed to walk that fine line between articulate and gobbledegook. If all else fails I can get an instant artist statement over on artybollocks.com

I do feel however that I am getting to a point where I am ready to push my creative presence forward. To start getting out there more.  You can see my work and my studio at Unit 11 Studio near Northam, during Hampshire Open Studios 2022. I did this last year, at home, but this year you can check out where the magic happens and all the other amazing artists in our studio.

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