Thursday, December 31, 2015

Unwrapping 2015

After the other gifts have been unwrapped and admired and the last of the chocolates found their way to my hips, I've left the best present for last.  My review of the year that has passed.  Its a long post, so grab a drink and a comfy chair while the new year rolls in and celebrate another year passed and an opportunity to fulfil your dreams in 2016.

Looking back over successes and failures, learning and growing, networking and evolving, a review helps me cement ideas, celebrate what worked and try to learn from what didn't.  It forges a bridge to the next year that is based on knowledge and experience, with a little "what the hell, let's try it anyway" thinking.

I break my review down into categories that are consistent with my business objectives as I am then measuring apples against apples to see what progress has been made.

My 2015 business plan, at least the one for public consumption, was vague and my review of 2014 pretty non existent, aside from my favourites pick for the year. My mother had died just before last Christmas and my mind wasn't wrapped around much more than dealing with all that entails as well as finishing pieces and preparation for the Wooden Boats solo exhibition in June.

Ok, let's have a look at what the year looked like.


Without production, there are no sales.  Without sales, there is no art business.  And yes, art IS a business.

Career change
At the end of February 2015 I transitioned from a full time day job to a full time professional artist. this move took time and planning before making the decision to switch.  As the lifestyle and paycheque for an artist can be variable, there has to be a lot of planning done before jumping into the ring.   Decisions around finances, lifestyle, accommodation to working from home, building the art business, etc. all must be considered carefully.  Its not a career for everyone and my background in nonprofit management served me well from a business perspective, but it was difficult managing work and an art career.  I think sleep became an option for quite awhile!

Written Resources

I created a book that accompanied the Wooden Boats project.  I made hard copies available to individual who purchased a painting from the series and also made the book available online as a download or to purchase as a hard copy.

Online Drawing Workshop

I have written the final drafts of  a series of five modules for an online drawing workshop with sketches completed.  Filming and narration will be completed in 2016.  This was on hold for most of the year with issues around filming and finances, but looks like full steam ahead for the future.

Introduction to Palette Knife Painting
I removed the Introduction to Palette Knife Painting from circulation on Amazon and have completed a draft outline for a comprehensive how-to book on palette knife painting.  This project will be worked on as time allows over 2016 with a hope for publication in 2017.

The Gyotaku Project book

The Gyotaku Project hard copy book has also been removed from circulation and is available only as an e-book through Blurb.

Colour Theory Supplement

I developed a 21 page colour theory supplement that accompanies my colour workshops.  This is tweaked and amended as I delve further into colour and ultimately I will make it available online.


"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality.

If a painting is created and no one sees it but the creator of the painting, does it exist?

Mailing list

Studio News was sent out monthly during 2015 with occasional additional mailings for special events or offers.

My mailing list subscribers increased by 32% through direct invitations, social media teasers and a popup on my blog.

Social Media

I continued my social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and (less frequently) Instagram.  I have a personal page on Facebook as well as a business page, where most of my art and art related information is located.


The Telegram

Tara Bradbury of The Telegram interviewed me about my solo exhibit on Wooden Boats in June. You can read the interview here.

CBC National news 

In July I was asked to participate in a national CBC series: Voters of Canada.  The project consisted of interviews with Canadians with no political affiliation from a variety of professions who would speak about issues they felt were important in the upcoming election.  I was the representative artist and the resulting interview can be seen here.  The image below shows the producer in the studio filming the painting I was working on at the time - Red Boat.

 Artist Talk – Wooden Boats, June 2015 - Peter Lewis Gallery, St. John's, NL

On June 13th, I gave an artist's talk about the process and background of creating the Wooden Boat series.  Many thanks to VANL for coordinating the talk at the gallery. The talk was well attended, fueled perhaps by me bringing homemade lemon bars for snacks!



  • Solo exhibition –Wooden Boats, June 12 - 26, 2015 - Peter Lewis Gallery, St. John's, NL
  • Group exhibition - Eclectic Eight – December 5 - 19, 2015 - Peter Lewis Gallery, St. John's, NL
  • Arts & Letters Awards - Meritorious entry - Coming of Age - The Rooms  April  - May 2015
  • Five Island Gallery, Tors Cove  - Group Exhibition  May - October 2015
  • The Glass Studio, Rocky Harbour - June - September 2015
Coming of Age  12" x 12"  oil on panel  NFS

Pouch Cove Open Studios

In August, I took part in the Pouch Cove Open Studio event.  This is a two day event where Pouch Cove area artists and artisans open their homes and studios to the public to showcase their work. This year I was one of the two artists from Flatrock who participated. Over the two days I had 85 visitors to my studio with a variety of backgrounds and interests from collectors to artists and people visiting the province.

Colouring Sheets

In December I created eight colouring sheets of fish and boats and made them available for free download on my website. 

Ottlite easel lamp review  

 In March 2015 I completed a review on my blog of the Ottlite Easel Lamp.  You can read the review on my blog post  Into The Light.

New Website

In March I bit the bullet and created a new website and also changed site hosts to a less expensive one.  With the current exchange rate between Canadian and US dollars, it wasn't economic to work with the previous host.  I still have the same (and better, in my opinion) functions but with a cleaner look and more easily navigable site layout with purchasing options for paintings and all at a better annual hosting price.

Red, White and Blue
24" x 30" oil on masonite
Available from Five Island Art Gallery


 Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.

Andy Warhol

In a nutshell, its been a good year.  With a solid business plan, lots of hard work, marketing and taking some risks, I'm happy with the outcome.

I hired an accountant to work on art business financials.  That took a load off my plate and was money well spent to leave taxes and financial dealings to the professionals.  

There was a 34% increase in revenue overall

-          51% increase in sales revenue

-          Teaching revenue was down 9% from 2014. This reduction was due to my cancellation of summer sessions to allow me to do workshops in other regions and research potential painting sites as well as travel outside the province.

The NLAC art grant which was received to complete the Wooden Boats series was finalized and reported.  As usual, the costs over ran the actual grant amount which was not the full amount requested due to funding changes.

Art pricing was raised 5% - 10% in gallery, studio and online sales.  An annual increase is the norm for most professional artists and reflects productivity, artist value and increases collectors' investment purchases.
Evie Rose

Art production
79 paintings created
-          27 large paintings
-          52 small paintings
-          Daily sketching, pencil, pen and wash or oils

Painting sales  
84 paintings sold

  • Gallery sales – (23% of sales)
  • Artist Studio Sales - (33% sales) 
  • Etsy Store - (44% total sales) 


I spread my wings further afield to deliver workshops in 2015.

-Flatrock Studio - workshops & private classes – drawing & painting

-St. John’s (Anna Templeton Centre) – Introduction to Palette Knife Painting

-Carbonear – Colour Theory

-Rocky Harbour - Gyotaku


What I need to work on

As with all of the best laid plans, they don't always come to fruition.  I've learned over the past year to pace myself and not spread myself so thinly so that I get stressed.  I left that behind when I left the day job!  In 2016 I am reducing the number of workshops I'll be offering to allow me more studio and marketing time.

I can procrastinate with the best.  I have to concentrate on one task at a time, and I know it spurs me to have a deadline biting at my heels. Instead of nibbling a bit here and there, I need to take on a single project and complete it without interruption, then go on to the next.  Of course, as an artist, we know that's not always possible as there are many tasks  pulling at us from all directions.

The Bagger - SOLD
6" x 8"  oil on panel

What's coming in 2016

I'll be offering a demo in an aspect of drawing or painting once a month on my YouTube Channel.  I've neglected the channel over the past year and really need to develop the interaction that video provides.  Make sure you subscribe on my channel so you don't miss any.

I have a pet project that I will be working on this year.  All I can tell you is that it involves a boat and a Victorian painting. I know, frustrating isn't it?

I will be creating a new series of boat paintings in Newfoundland towns.  I'd like to explore some night/twilight settings to see the changes in value and colour as light fades.

I'll push the Online Drawing Workshop to completion in 2016.  Accessing appropriate filming and editing services is challenging in terms of time and money.  I'll be pursuing ways of completing and delivering the best product for you to use. 

As of February 1, 2016  HST will be added to purchases of classes and paintings.