Another Bank Holiday just past with another rainy day. Its been the theme for the last year. Since I passed my 1st year milestone, I have been reflecting on the successes and failures of my studio and the wash out year has made me realise what a good move it was to change to the larger studio in January. It may seen counter intuitive to say that expanding in a bad year was good, but really it was the best move I could have made. I can't compare like for like sales yet but generally they appear similar to last year , but the use of a larger studio to teach has increased my actual income enormously. I have paid all my capital expenditure off as well as making a profit. I am starting to realise the full potential of what could be achieved. It wont set the world on fire but has exceeded my expectations and targets.
Of course the winter is coming and sales will drop but I am preparing for that and I am running 2 x 6 week beginners courses. The first of the 2 courses has filled up nicely and starts on Saturday and if I can do the same on the November one I will sail through the winter months.
My drop in sessions have been a huge success, my Wednesday group is full and Saturday Mornings not far behind. I will be encouraging people onto the Thursday sessions and try and fill that up now. But this success does come with its problems. By the time I do paperwork, promotion, tidy/clean and maintain the studio, I have less time to paint myself. But the flip side to that is that as the teaching is doing so well, I don't feel the pressure to produce Artwork that I feel may sell. I was warned by a previous artist at the centre that as sales become a focus, then you start to just produce work that you think will be popular rather than develop your own art practice in your own time. I have been fortunate recently as I have spend my 'free' time experimenting with various techniques and I have not pushed myself to produce finished work. I spent the last few weeks playing with various paints and last week just drawing. I loved it, I very rarely put any pencil lines down when I paint and so I felt my drawing had started to get a bit neglected. I have really enjoyed playing again. I have no plans about where it will go, I am just enjoying the process. I think it became obvious I needed to do this when I lost my Mojo a few months ago. This has fired me up again and I excited about my future work.
On a practical side, I finally got round to marking all my paint brushes with a blob of pink nail varnish. Students usually use there own but borrow mine if they have a specific need. They would say at the end of the session, "is this your brush or mine?" and I honestly wouldn't know, so it just makes life easier.
I also am always striving to get more people into my studio. I know I have increased the number of people who actually come in rather than just loiter outside but there is still about 10% of visitors who don't come through the door, so more signs and flowers round the door. I am slightly worried I may have over done it , but only time will tell and I like it anyway.
I did a special exhibition of work based on my year at the craft centre. Its been great. I did cheat slightly and included my 'lens' painting, even though it didn't strictly fit in, but, shhhh!! if you don't tell anyone, then no one will ever know
This week is exciting as on Friday we have the private viewing of my student exhibition. I am so proud of the work that has been produced in the last year and it will be amazing to see it all up. The Students did a free workshop last week to talk about framing and to try cutting a mount themselves. It was fun. Most students of course then went and bought ready made mounts, as I think it showed them how hard it is to cut a really good mount and its nearly as cheap to buy one ready cut. Work has been arriving all week and I have set Thursday aside to hang it all. The exhibition will run for the whole of September and I hope it will be an inspiration to my new and prospective students. I am so excited for them all, to see their work up and displayed for the very first time.
I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me in the last year. Everyone from the Folksy and Etsy forums and all my blog followers you are great, your comments and advice have been invaluable and my cries for help always answered. My students have also been loyal and very supportive. Thanks x