Category 'Art'

When I was a child the neighbourhood kids and I would spend our free time riding bikes among the surrounding bushland. Although our street was a branded a dead end if you ventured beyond the road signs you’d find yourself in wild terrain full of life where brumbies roamed and snakes slithered across your path. Inspired by the features of the landscape I used to make up stories for the other kids about how the land came to be. I wouldn’t say I was a natural storyteller but something about that place worked its way under my skin. Ever since I’ve wanted to travel around Australia with a dream of creating stories in our iconic landscapes to give the landscape a voice and inspire others to share and build their own stories in these natural settings. Australians have a long history of storytelling whether it be Dreamtime or “spinning a yarn”. It’s a framework we create to feel a sense of connection, both to the land and to other people, to the past and the present. Our Indigenous ancestors felt a deep spiritual connection with country fostered through the sharing of stories yet people of the present day experience a disconnect between themselves and the land; it’s merely something to plunder and urbanise. ‘The Land and I’ project is a photographic series that brings stories inspired by local history and Indigenous culture to life using iconic Australian landscapes as a backdrop with the intention of highlighting places of natural beauty to instil a sense of community pride that ensures these spaces will be protected and treasured. We need to be educated about and reminded of the histories, memories and stories our landscapes contain and keep a record of not just people but also place. I intend the works to become talking points for the community, inspiring others to visit these locations and make or share their own stories, photos and artworks, ultimately encouraging a sense of belonging and promoting reverence for our natural environment. These will be collected in an online cultural repository that attempts to capture the sights, sounds, smell and feel of these natural environments throughout time from a variety of viewpoints for the benefit of future generations. Initially I will flesh out the concept using locations within the Moreton Bay Region, experimenting with lighting, framing and set design, working with amateur models and costumes created myself to establish the look and feel for the series. In the long term I plan to expand this project all over Australia, working with locally sourced talent in partnership with sponsors, government funds, and tourism boards to raise awareness.

[caption id="attachment_3358" align="alignright" width="300"] 'There Was' by Charles Blackman[/caption] If I haven’t mentioned it before my favourite artist is Charles Blackman and, in particular, his Schoolgirls and Angels series. He manages to imbue his simple paintings with this lonely darkness that I just adore. And it’s a theme that all my favourite art pieces seem to have in common. Lonely darkness. Anyway, recently I learned how to make a photo of day look like night. It’s really simple. Basically you drop your exposure and blacks and add an overall blue tone, but for some reason I’d never been able to figure out how to do it, and not for lack of trying. Sometimes the simplest Photoshop tricks completely elude me. But now I finally have the tool I need to create my own lonely darkness.   [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="3361,3360"]   ‘The Stars are Falling’ was initially inspired by an episode of 'Angel' I watched long ago that featured a storyline where the sky rained with fire. It got me thinking about the moment of peace the world would experience when everyone looked to the sky wondering what was going on, before everything erupted into chaos. With all that has gone on in 2016, political upheaval, the deaths of so many icons, as well as personal struggles such as losing my job, alienating friends, and reaching a plateau with my art, it’s impossible to ignore that everything is changing. All of which has manifested in this image, ‘The Stars are Falling’. I started the year with an image that symbolises rebirth, ‘Metamorphosis’ and I feel as if this new image metaphorically completes that “circle of life”. [caption id="attachment_2869" align="aligncenter" width="300"]bird, conceptual, art, phoenix, baptism, reinvention, photograph, fire, flames Metamorphosis[/caption]   The rooftop in the image is from the bakery of my favourite restaurant, ‘Harvest’, in Newrybar and was photographed during a road trip I took exactly a year ago. The ‘meteor’ is a stock photo sourced from Unsplash and is attributed to NASA. The girl is, of course, a self-portrait, photographed, as usual, in my backyard. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="3354,3357,3356,3355"]   Happy New Year and here's to 2017 and whatever it shall bring. :)

For me every new year is a chance for reinvention so with 2017 on the horizon I have been going through a period of deep self -reflection. 2015 was the year I became an artist and I built a portfolio of 40 pieces that I’m very proud of. 2016 was the year I spent most of my time on marketing that body of work and as a result I only created 12 pieces. It has been a year of highs and lows; a year where I started to make money and gain recognition for my work but also, somehow, had no time to create art. [gallery size="medium" link="none" ids="2841,2869,2933"]   I’ve learnt so much about the art world—mainly that art is consumed differently from its hey-day in the 80s and yet it’s still trying to operate on an antiquated gallery-focused model. I’ve learnt that the art world, particularly in Australia, is divided between traditional and subversive and my work doesn’t fit into either box. My exhibition at the Hub Gallery, Caboolture The Internet has given artists the opportunity for wider reach but it’s also flooded with competition so I’ve spent the majority of my year learning about arts marketing and implementing different strategies with limited success. I’ve seen so many fellow artists become marketers and educators – setting up online courses, mastering email marketing funnels, trying to make their work go viral – all in the hope that they’ll begin to make serious money from their art but in the process they lose the essence of what it is to make art. I don’t want this to happen to me. I signed up to be an artist, not a teacher, not a marketer. So I’ve decided to stop buying into all this arts marketing crap and getting caught in the nets of people trying to capitalise on artists and instead focus on the things that make my heart sing. The one useful thing I’ve learned is to picture exactly what I want my life and my business to look like and then work towards that goal every day. This may surprise you but my ultimate goal is to travel and either get paid to do it or live off a passive income. In fact this line has been in my bio since day 1: “My dream is to travel around Australia creating photographic art in rural and iconic locations.” While I have been taking baby steps towards this goal, mainly through my travel Instagram account (@hayleyrtravels), it’s unlikely anyone looking at my art would even know this about me. That’s why in 2017 I want to launch something new. My four passions are photography, travel, art and writing, in that order, and so I’m trying to create something that combines all four. I don’t know exactly what it will look like and the experimentation process has been really hard because it’s a whole new way of thinking and working, and I’m the kind of person who gets frustrated if I’m not good at something right away. It feels weird to be back at the drawing board but I know if I keep at it something will come together eventually. The things I am working towards are:

  • Travelling more
  • Writing a blog about each place I travel to
  • Creating a photo essay documenting my travels so I can pursue more landscape work
  • Making art pieces created out of photographs I’ve taken in those locations
The road to Mt Cook As I learnt from my 2015 Exposing Illusions project I am a better artist when I have a project. So this new project will involve art pieces inspired by travel. I intend to create much more simply, art that takes hours instead of weeks, because I long for the wilderness and need to stop spending so much time at a computer. I plan to sell prints and products made from my work using an online distributor at a price everyone can afford in the hope that these sales will fund future travel. I will also sell limited edition feature prints created by a professional printer at a higher, more collectible, price point. I will market this work to commercial, travel and stock agencies in the hope they see value in what I do. Naturally this all terrifies me. Deep down I’m convinced that I will only ever be mediocre no matter how hard I try. But I need to try regardless. For now I ask for your patience while I create this project and your assistance to help me fine-tune it. I’d like you to be my test audience and will ask for your honest feedback on various components. I’d love for you to be my champions, helping me get the word out about this project. I know that it will be a long journey to my end goal but I’m excited about all the things I will learn on the way. Come for a ride?

Lately I've spent a lot of time staring at mountains and experiencing that feeling--you know the one--that is a mix of awe and wonder, interconnectedness and insignificance. There is no word for this feeling in the English language, or maybe any language, but it feels a lot like joy, or at least a kind of enchantment. When the clouds clear or the fog rises revealing a rainbow or a snow capped mountain and there you are to experience this rare and beautiful moment as woven by the elements, well, perhaps it would be an injustice to try and contain it in a single word. [caption id="attachment_3210" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Staring at mountains, Hooker Valley, New Zealand Staring at mountains, Hooker Valley, New Zealand[/caption]   I travel to find these moments and I photograph to try and immortalise them, but much like words, there is no medium on earth that can accurately convey the experience. This is what my image 'Enchanted' came to be about but as usual it did not start out that way, and as usual it ended as an image of a character interacting with nature, as the majority of my photos do. A lot of photographers who create the kind of art that I do have a very simple formula which is: a) a basic setting that isn't important to the story b) a moody sky c) a character d) something interesting happening to the character e) an overall colour tone, desaturation and overlaying of a texture My work has been getting too complicated and time consuming of late and arguably has suffered for it (or at least, I have) so I wanted to simplify things by creating an image using this formula. Without any plan I threw on a wig and a dress and posed for the camera, dancing, swishing, jumping and it was fun and freeing but probably not recommended because it's difficult to come up with a concept after the fact. I chose the final pose because it was the most pleasing to the eye, but it was a challenge to work with because she's observing, not interacting and that made it hard to put her in a story. Pose for Enchantment   The mountains were photographed from a train in Scotland and have been on my mind as a potential scene for forever and a day. Because she's observing I had to give her something interesting to observe and I liked how the mountains complemented the colour scheme of her hair and skin. The clouds are from the original mountain scene but combined from a number of different shots. It was at this point seeing the scene become the story that I ditched the formula and yet again indulged my subconscious desire to run off into nature. Mountain in Scotland She is standing on a stormwater drain mainly as a way of making her the correct perspective, but also, don't you find you like to climb things to get a better view of pretty scenes? Drain for Enchantment I added the rainbow because I wanted to create one of those rare and beautiful moments I talked about earlier. An epic mountain is one thing but an epic mountain with a rainbow is exactly the kind of scene that makes you experience that exquisite feeling there is no word for, but feels a lot like joy. Rainbow for Enchantment   FOOTNOTE: Two days after writing this post we had a stormy afternoon and with it came the closest, brightest double rainbow I've ever seen. As the neighbours came outside to view it it was a lovely to see so many people enchanted by the moment. [caption id="attachment_3208" align="aligncenter" width="595"]Detail of image - using the oil paint filter to resemble a painting Detail of image - final touches with the oil paint filter to make the image resemble a painting[/caption]

Last spring I created the image, 'Dance of the Jacarandas' to celebrate the month when my city turns purple, so after a trip to Japan earlier this year it seemed appropriate to make a companion cherry blossom themed piece for release this spring. I'm thinking of turning this into a regular series and am toying with poincianas, wattle or bougainvillea next, so if you know of any good spots ...   [caption id="attachment_3165" align="aligncenter" width="960"]A cherry blossom sighting in Japan (my mother can't be trusted with my camera). A cherry blossom sighting in Japan (my mother can't be trusted with my camera).[/caption]   It's embarrassing to admit, but back in my university / goth years, on the 1st of Spring I would dress up as the spring fairy, buying fresh flowers and weaving them into a wreath, and if I felt brave enough (because clearly playing dress ups was not already brazen enough) I would give out floral gifts to strangers (there is photographic evidence of this but it's such a terrible shame that I can't currently find it). If this series is any indication I guess I still like to play dress ups and celebrate spring. To my surprise cherry blossom trees are actually quite tough to photograph. For one, they are totally inundated with people. They bloom for approximately 11 days once a year so if you blink you'll miss 'em, which of course means everyone wants to experience them in person. We were on a regular commuter bus in Kyoto and as we drove past a cherry blossom tree, EVERYONE took out their phone cameras and started snapping away. Some companies even pay an employee to sit in a park all day during hanami (cherry blossom viewing) reserving the best picnic spot for when they all finish work. The Japanese also have this astounding ability that, while it may seem as if there's no one nearby, as soon as you point your camera at something at least one person will appear and stand in your way for as long as it takes for you to give up and move on. It's uncanny.   [caption id="attachment_3163" align="aligncenter" width="960"]cherry blossom Keage Incline, Kyoto: I got totally lost at Nanzen-ji temple looking for a waterfall and found this instead.[/caption]   Secondly, Japan has become quite polluted. On my previous two visits this wasn't the case so I'm sad to say it is now. I love photographing overcast scenes because colours become deep and saturated, even sunny days bring blue skies and lots of contrast, but pollution? It does no favours for anyone.   [caption id="attachment_3164" align="aligncenter" width="960"]cherry blossom Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto, and the most boring type of sky.[/caption]   Lastly, cherry blossoms come in a stunning array of colours and varieties but the majority of them are this wishy washy pale pink colour that just blends right in with the polluted sky and looks kind of mucky.   [caption id="attachment_3166" align="aligncenter" width="960"]cherry blossom Pale flowers, Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto[/caption]   The two trees used in my final image were both photographed at Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo on the first day of our trip, right before cherry blossom season had actually begun. They have thicker flowers and are a rarer rich, pink colour which is quite lovely. If anyone knows what type of sakura these are, I beg you to tell me so I can buy one. The other elements that make up the final photo are included below. [gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="3168,3167"]   [gallery size="large" ids="3171,3172,3170,3169,3173"]   I had the photo all ready to go but my Mum pointed out that the hedges didn't have any fallen flowers on them. It's these kinds of details that really make a composite believable and is why getting a second opinion is so important. (And also why I then had to spend an extra day on the image.) As with 'Dance of the Jacarandas' I created a brush out of a cherry blossom to paint some falling blooms into the scene and then added some more petal shaped brush strokes. Falling cherry blossoms are quite lovely and to experience them is like being caught in a soft, warm snowstorm. I have a video of what it's like featuring my mother being delightful but I can't figure out how to post it with Wordpress so check out my Facebook  instead. [caption id="attachment_3187" align="aligncenter" width="150"]cherry blossom brush Sakura Photoshop brush[/caption]   And then of course, there's me, photographed as usual in my backyard using an op shop parasol and an eBay dress. I really liked this pose but there were some problems with it so I photographed it again a few days later, only to decide that I preferred the original pose afterall.   Cherry blossom self-portrait   You can see more of my travel photography (I'm not up to Japan yet but I'll get there eventually) at my travel Instagram account @hayleyrtravels where I post a photo daily. Sayonara! jacaranda, sakura, cherry blossom, fine art, prints, photography, conceptual, series

I got into creating art because I love it. I live for it. Because nothing else has ever made me happier. And so I rode the wave and followed the dream, conveniently forgetting all the things I’d heard about surviving as an artist. I took courses, consumed videos, and read everything I could about the art I yearned to create – all from people who conveyed how easy it is to make a living from their craft, when in reality they make their living from teaching their craft. Nobody ever said how hard it is or how expensive, disheartening and lonely it can be. Nobody said that despite all this, once it’s in your bones it’s impossible to stop creating. So I’ve put together a list of twelve things you should know before turning your art hobby into a career.

Twelve things no one tells you about being an artist:

  1. We live in frugal times and for most people an art purchase is an excess, not a necessity. These days people prefer to adorn their walls with cheap, wholesale art produced by Ikea or Kmart rather than art that means something to them. For you this means that until you find a market for your work you can add ‘starving artist’ to your resume. It’s certainly not impossible to make a living out of art but, for most artists, finding an audience to invest in their work is astonishingly tough.
  1. To find a market for your art you need as many eyes on your work as possible but to get exposure you need to spend money. It costs money to enter competitions. It costs money to have a website. It costs money to run an online store. It costs money to have an exhibition. You might be lucky enough to get into a free community gallery but otherwise you’re paying venue rental fees, printing and framing costs, promotion costs, catering costs, packing and courier costs, possible airfares so you can be there in person to market your work, and you may not make a single sale. But you need these experiences on your resume because without being a published and exhibited artist no one will take you seriously.
  1. You will need to spend AT LEAST 50% of your time on marketing. Learning and mastering your craft is not enough if you then want people to see it. You’ll be spending your time setting up your shop, writing blog posts, crafting newsletters, building your social media following, networking, creating YouTube videos, writing grant applications, pitching to magazines, entering competitions and organising exhibitions. And then, in one of life’s great ironies, you’ll notice that some of your favourite artists barely do any marketing at all and still have great success.
  1. When printing your work it will NEVER look how it did on your screen or on your painting. Firstly, colour is such an impossible beast to tame for reasons that are far too technical to explain and secondly if you work on a computer screen it has a luminance that paper doesn’t. The first time I printed my work it came out VERY dark and I now have to work differently to compensate. This is why you want to work with a trained fine art printer who can help you fix it and not a cheap photo lab. It’s also why you need to ask or pay for a test print before ordering a full run of prints.
  1. Being an artist means being vulnerable and exposed. It is really hard to put your creative expression and months of work on display in the vain hope that it might get a few likes as people scroll past it on social media. Yet to make sales you need to continually spruik your work which is a struggle if you’re self-conscious about it and worried that posting too often will lose fans.
  1. People will buy your art only once they’ve formed a connection with it. Sometimes it’s enough just to like a piece, but often they will want to know more about the artwork and the artist. They want to know who you are, why you create, why you use the techniques you do, what story the piece is telling. This is difficult if you create on instinct. You will also be expected to be confident, positive, passionate, likeable and grateful. It’s tough when you’re putting on your bravest face and producing your best work and it’s still not enough to convert fans into buyers.
  1. Pricing. Ugh. People will tell you your work is too expensive. People will tell you your work is too cheap. Your pricing structure will never please everyone. You just have to accept that not everyone is your target market and brave their complaints. The prices the majority of people are prepared to pay wouldn’t even cover my bills, let alone my time.
  1. You need to choose a fine art career or a wholesale career because you cannot, apparently, have both. If you want to be respected as an artist it is very much frowned upon to be printing your products on mugs and cushions because it devalues the collectability of your art. But if you want to make money by selling smaller, cheaper, products at a higher volume, wholesale is the way to go. So do you prefer markets or galleries?
  1. Be aware that galleries charge a commission to sell your work which can be anywhere up to 70%. It is so disheartening to know that they will probably make more from your work than you do, but it’s a catch 22 because without their space, contacts and marketing you may not have sold the work at all. Just make sure the gallery you are working with is actually earning their commission. On the other hand, if you prefer to sell prints yourself online you will find that oftentimes people pay more to frame your work than they paid to purchase it, and that’s when you realise that everyone else makes more money out of your art than you do.
  1. You are a small fish in a gigantic pond and you’ll constantly compare your work to others. There will always be someone better than you. There will always be someone whose art is less accomplished but who wins all the competitions or makes all the sales. This is dangerous territory and you have to remember that you are all following your own path and creating in the only way you know how. You don’t know what demons anyone else is battling and what may look successful to you may be a failure to them. Comparison is only healthy if it makes you work harder to be better. It’s only healthy when you’re comparing your work now to how it was a year ago.
  1. Most artists don’t make money from selling art alone. They will have second jobs. They will teach their craft to others. They will write books. They will own galleries. They will benefit from other artists by producing magazines, or competitions, or running artist support websites. They will run courses on marketing for artists or sell artist supplies. They will live off artist grants or crowdfunding campaigns. They will have sponsors who pay them to use and promote their products. Diversifying your offering is key.
  1. With all of this in mind it is SO EASY to start doubting yourself based on how many competitions you don’t win, how many sales you don’t make, how successful every other artists seems. But you have to remember always, always, that you got into this because creating is your lifeblood and not because you wanted to be a successful artist. The most successful artists are the ones that persevere even when no one’s buying their work, who know their value is not defined by how many likes they receive or how many trolls leave hurtful comments. Because they love creating art and cannot live without it and know that everything else is just a bonus.
  * To learn how the image was created, see here.

26
Jun

‘The Land and I’ project

When I was a child the neighbourhood kids and I would spend our free time riding bikes among the surrounding bushland. Although our street was a branded a dead end if you ventured beyond the road signs you’d find yourself in wild terrain full of life where brumbies roamed and snakes slithered across your path. […]

31
Dec

The making of ‘The Stars are Falling’

If I haven’t mentioned it before my favourite artist is Charles Blackman and, in particular, his Schoolgirls and Angels series. He manages to imbue his simple paintings with this lonely darkness that I just adore. And it’s a theme that all my favourite art pieces seem to have in common. Lonely darkness. Anyway, recently I […]

4
Dec

Flying dreams

For me every new year is a chance for reinvention so with 2017 on the horizon I have been going through a period of deep self -reflection. 2015 was the year I became an artist and I built a portfolio of 40 pieces that I’m very proud of. 2016 was the year I spent most […]

23
Oct

The making of ‘Enchanted’

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time staring at mountains and experiencing that feeling–you know the one–that is a mix of awe and wonder, interconnectedness and insignificance. There is no word for this feeling in the English language, or maybe any language, but it feels a lot like joy, or at least a kind of enchantment. When […]

11
Sep

Cherry Blossom (sakura) season

Last spring I created the image, ‘Dance of the Jacarandas’ to celebrate the month when my city turns purple, so after a trip to Japan earlier this year it seemed appropriate to make a companion cherry blossom themed piece for release this spring. I’m thinking of turning this into a regular series and am toying with poincianas, wattle or bougainvillea […]

14
Aug

Twelve things no one tells you about being an artist

I got into creating art because I love it. I live for it. Because nothing else has ever made me happier. And so I rode the wave and followed the dream, conveniently forgetting all the things I’d heard about surviving as an artist. I took courses, consumed videos, and read everything I could about the […]