Updated: Apr 1
Thought I'd put all my #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 posts in one place. They give a good insight into what I do and where I'm coming from.
It's #MarchMeetTheMaker time! Not sure I can keep it going for a whole month but here's a quick intro into who I am and what I do, if nothing else!
I set up Tamsin Stuart Art in January 2018, when I had my first commission. Since then, I've created over 100 original paintings and have launched a range of merchandise featuring my artwork.
I'm a kickboxer and blackbelt martial artist, mother-of-two and an army wife with a soft spot for rescue dogs.
Based in Cheltenham, I work from home and dream of one day having a studio in the garden.
Working chiefly in acrylic, my favourite themes are usually full of energy, life and movement, but I'll paint anything that inspires me. I like a challenge and have accommodated all that have come my way to date.
Today's #MarchMeetTheMaker theme is style.
The way I see it, as my art adventure has progressed, I have developed two quite different styles of my own. One is more factual interpretation based on observation and the other is more impressionistic, abstract and from the imagination.
But both styles come from the same place. I am no realist, I need to make any image I create my own using my own language, focusing on the elements that appeal to me, accentuating the bits that mean something to me, filling it with life and colour and movement.
All of these originals have water in them in some shape or form, but in very different ways.
I'm self-taught so I paint instinctively, feel my way, let things evolve, make mistakes so that I can learn from them. And I have learned to trust my gut feeling.
I have certain ways of working but I never really know what I'm doing with a new painting until I get stuck into it. I approach each one like a new experiment that moves me forward in some way on my creative journey.
I think you can spot a Tamsin Stuart Art piece of art. I think they all have some similarities running through them, but it is more of a subconscious rather than a self-conscious 'style'.
The theme for today's #MarchMeetTheMaker is beliefs and values.
This is an easy one for me because I have martial arts in my life. Martial arts is a mindset and a way of life. It centres on core values that can be applied to all aspects of life, and I find them totally applicable to art and my art adventure.
Self belief, courage, confidence, respect, focus, committment, hard work, self control, self discipline, stepping out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself, pushing yourself to the limit and then going that bit further, helping others, standing up to bullies, loyalty, honesty, always learning and growing, to be strong. But over and above it's about doing the right thing, regardless of whether it's the toughest option and regardless of whether anyone is watching or not.
When I was a white belt I took these core values on as my own as they gave me purpose and motivation, and they are how I approach all things. I became a black belt the same year I launched Tamsin Stuart Art.
I have martial arts, and all it means to me, to thank for giving me the courage and self belief to launch my art career.
Today's theme for #MarchMeetTheMaker is 'on your desk'. Mine's the kitchen table! So here it is in work mode.
Today's theme for #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 is 'newest make'.
I've already revealed my latest painting The Munce and I've had some ace feedback on it already. Thank you.
Now here's a little insight into how it evolved.
I started off with laying out the shapes and tones with a combination of raw umber, titanium white and process black. I tend to draw with the paint rather than sketching out first to keep it fluid.
Then I added some colour, phthalo turquoise and cadmium red. I knew I wanted to go a bit crazy with it as it's a combo I love, but wasn't totally sure it would work so some experimenting was required.
Then I did a turquoise wash over it all to unite the colours more and give it a bit of a glow. Then I went over it picking out more detail and intensifying the contrast between the lights and darks until I got to a point I was satisfied with the end result.
#MarchMeetTheMaker's theme today is learning curve.
Growing, learning and challenging myself are some of the things I get most pleasure out of as an artist.
I'm on a steep learning curve, but to be frank, I think I always will be. That's life!
Instinct, expression, experience and knowledge all have their part to play. But if I had to choose one above all others it would always be instinct, because that has elements of all the others deeply embedded in it. And it's what makes us who we are and different from everyone else.
When asked how to paint a certain feature, my answer is always the same. There's no set way as far as I'm concerned. Yes, you can read about it in a book or watch a YouTube vid to see how someone else does it, but having a go, playing about, experimenting, seeing what you like the look of, making mistakes is what I find most fun. More fun, and essential for staying true to yourself, than fretting about that magic how-to formula.
I know enough to express myself in the way I want at that particular moment in time, I always have. But it's for ever evolving and changing in an instinctive way, and my learning curve is neverending.
I think my self portraits in chronological order show how far I have come in a short space of time from just getting stuck in and learning as I go. It's not the quickest way but for me it's definitely the most fun.
It's all about the small detail for #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 today.
So here's a closer look at the detail of my 2020 showpiece Quench.
I do like to get the eye in as soon as possible once everything is in the right place to bring the piece alive. It's the crucial bit that I know has to be right so it's always a relief when it's done. And then I can go back and tweak it before the end.
I concentrate on the details that appeal to me, accentuate them, paint them tighter, and go looser on the details that are secondary to the overall spirit of the piece (or have movement in them)
But I try not to get lost in the level of detail. There's always more and more detail that can be added but I go with my gut feeling when I think I've achieved what I set out to, and walk away.
Today's #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 theme is portrait. Seeing as I've already posted my self portraits, here's a quick snap of me in action this morning.
Headphones in, paintbrushes in mouth, creating at my kitchen table. Happy as a pig in the proverbial.
Always wear an old wrap-around dress back to front over my clothes in a half-hearted attempt to stop paint covering every single item of clothing I own.
Dunked my paintbrush in my tea? Regularly. Put the wrong end of the paintbrush in my mouth? Often. Accidentally painted my teeth black? Twice now.
#MarchMeetTheMaker2021 today is "in use'.
First posted this a couple of years ago but this little hero is still by my side, going strong, doing its thing. Hope it always will be too.
Just goes to show you don't need fancy kit to make your ideas come alive.
This is the same paintbrush I was using aged 18. And it's still up for it. Still one of my favourites from my box of painting tricks.
Just like an old friend should be. Loyal, dependable, up for fun times, with you through thick and thin, treasured, respected and stands the test of time.
#MarchMeetTheMaker2021 continues and today's prompt is focus and priorities.
My focus is probably best encapsulated by my tagline Paint, Punch and Positivity. It's the title of the monthly newsletter I write and the annual solo exhibition I hold at Cheltenham Martial Arts.
Painting wise, I focus on the elements of a subject that appeal to me and mean something to me. And, by focusing on what I love, I hope my paintings come from a true place in me than can connect with and mean something to other people too.
Punching wise, I like my artwork to have a punch, a whoosh moment, a sense of being alive, which comes from my love of punching things! I'm a kickboxer and martial artist, which I find very life-affirming and gives me motivation and purpose in the same way art does.
And positivity wise, I choose to focus on, capture and celebrate the beauty, colour, simplicity, shape, spirit and wonder of the things around me in my own way. Growing and learning, grasping opportunities and letting the good in the world shape my perspective of it. As well, as trying to be a positive role model to my children.
My focus and priority today is getting my chores done as quickly as possible so I can start a new painting!
For #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 I've picked Jump for today's theme 'from the archive'.
Quite apt for the first day of this year's Cheltenham Festival, Jump is an oldie from January 2018, which is still one of my favourites and signature pieces.
Put it up for sale briefly a while back then realised it was too precious to me and I couldn't part with it.
Have created a 2019 version instead, called Jump Again, which is for sale.
It's abstract, muddy and has a colour scheme and energy that makes me happy.
Today's #MarchMeetTheMaker is process.
The process of painting is the best bit. The experimenting, the emergence of ideas, the forward steps, the backward steps. The end result is rewarding but the journey getting there is the most exciting.
I approach each one individually. Some are easy and flow naturally, some need an intenser level of concentration, some are a struggle and others make me smile from start to finish.
This one, called KA Illuminations, was among the most painful in terms of process.
I nearly gave up on it. My first attempt didn't work and I didn't know why, so I couldn't learn from it and that made me very annoyed.
The self doubt, the frustration, the desire to quit, the disappointment, the anger. There were nearly tears! This one really got to me.
But, once my frustration had run its course, I fetched it out the bin and had another go. Was quite the experience this one. But it taught me so much. It reminded me I'm not a quitter, that here is always a way, that being emotionally involved is a good thing, and that sometimes I need to be more patient with myself.
I usually take photos of my paintings all the way along. With KA Illuminations I only have images after the canvas was salvaged from the bin, washed down and redone, which shows how appalled I was with the first attempt!
So although this process wasn't particularly enjoyable for the most part, it will always occupy a special place in my mind because it was very necessary on this journey of mine.
Colour is today's #MarchMeetTheMaker theme. It's also something very fundamental to what I do. The colour of things is usually what draws me in and inspires me to create.
So I'll keep this post short and sweet as I know I do tend to go on a bit! Suffice to say, these are probably the three paintings that get the most comments about their colours; Burst, Autumn Puddle and Merlot.
My sliver lining for today's #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 would have to be my painting Enough.
When the big bad cloud of coronavirus descended, my sad angel was born.
Wasn't the upbeat artwork I thought I was going to create to cheer me up that first night of lockdown, but it was something inside me that needed to come out. And it has given me great comfort ever since.
Crucially, it reassured me that whatever was about to happen in this crazy messed-up world, my art would be my constant companion that would help me process it all in my own way.
Have had lots of conversations about what Enough means to different people and those varying personal responses are what makes it so special for me.
#MarchMeetTheMaker today is 'hands on'.
So here's my hand, and my foot for good measure!
Two-minute sketches of my own extremities from last year. I'm not very good at sitting still to watch the telly so I often do a spot of life drawing at the same time, if my subjects don't fidget about too much!
Find a quick sketch quite relaxing as well as good practice for honing observation skills. Often do it with my daughter. We take it in turns to pick an object in the room to draw. Great fun if you like that kind of thing.
Today's topic for #MarchMeetTheMaker is jobs.
There are many more jobs to being an independent artist than just creating pictures.
Painting is the best bit, but if I'm not doing that you can guarantee I'm doing something art related.
Here are some of the other jobs that make up being an artist for me:
Designing and updating my website. Keeping my business accounts in good order and submitting tax self-assessment. Liasing with clients. Prepping, posting and delivering orders. Keeping an inventory of my artwork. Marketing, publicity and promotion on social and local media. Building positive external contacts and business networking. Ordering art supplies and merchandise. Being an active member of two local art groups. Drawing up licensing agreements. Community projects with charities and schools. Learning, developing and progressing my creative skills.
It's a full-time job and it can be a hard slog at times, but it's worth every minute and there's nothing I'd rather be doing.
That's a coincidence. Wrapped and packed is the theme for #MarchMeetTheMaker today. And it just so happens to be delivery day. So that'll be five Tamsin Stuart Art originals and one framed print off to their new owners today, complete with certificates of authenticity.
I try to reuse as much packaging as I can, hence why I have a bit of an untidy mountain forming in a corner of my art room!
Starting point is today's #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 prompt.
Getting started is probably the hardest bit. But you have to start somewhere. Creating Wave was my starting point with Tamsin Stuart Art.
Unleashing my art passion started while looking for a statement piece of art to go in our bedroom. Had the thought I might at some point create something myself. Then one day in July 2017 I woke up with a burning desire to paint again.
Wave reignited something in me that I'd not really given the time to breathe since sixth form.
Picking up a paintbrush, losing myself in my creative thoughts, escaping to my own little world where I make up the rules. I realised how much I'd missed it, how important it was to my sense of self and how it was a fundamental part of me that had been supressed for far too long.
Wave is my starting point and that's why it will never be for sale. Prints and cards, yes, but the original stays with me.
Today's #MarchMeetTheMaker is favourite.
Paintings are a bit like children in as much you're not supposed to have favourites.
Pleased to say my boy and my girl share the same place in my heart very happily. But I'm afraid I do have favourite paintings, although it changes as time goes on.
First fav was Make A Splash, my kingfisher. When that sold it became Burst my hummingbird. When that sold it became my current fav Quench, my European Roller.
And then I have other forever favs that I'll never part with as they represent something special in my art journey, namely Wave and Jump.
Today's #MarchMeetTheMaker is reel (a new vid feature on Instagram) So here's my very first.
The theme for the penultimate #MarchMeetTheMaker is range.
I love seeing my designs turned into merchandise and I'm constantly adding to my range.
Expecting the first of two big merchandise deliveries anytime now and it feels like Christmas unwrapping it all.
I know a lot of artists don't go down the merchandise route. It is quite costly to get these items custom created when you're a small-time artist and you don't have the financial clout of buying in bulk.
The profit margins are slim undoubtedly. But it is a vital part of my art business. Not everyone can afford an original or a print. But most can stretch to a coaster or a greeting card.
It makes my art more accessible and affordable. And one fab client fell in love with a painting after buying the placemat, so much so she bought the original!
It's the last #MarchMeetTheMaker2021 today.
The theme is looking forward. Haven't got a painting on the go at the mo so looking forward to the immediate future I need to decide what I'm going to create next.
After that there's planning for this year's exhibitions and extending my merchandise range.
Have other plans bubbling away but as yet they are still a bit raw and need to be cooked for longer. My art adventure is always changing, taking different directions and presenting new challenges, which is what keeps the job so fresh and me so engaged. I like not knowing what's round the corner.
Despite having a creative brain, I am quite organised. Think it comes from running a newsdesk in my journalist days. I quite like deadlines, having a goal to aim for and juggling lots of things at once. But now I get to do it on my own terms without the stresses and strains.
So, yes, I do have a rough one-year plan, and an emerging five-year plan for that matter, but will I be sticking to it? Who knows? What I loved about the world of news was every day brought something unexpected. So, actually, I hope not.
And here's me looking back too. Found this. It was a piece I wrote to support my application to become a trainee reporter with a local newspaper group. I got the job and was assigned to the Wilts & Glos Standard, starting a 15-year-long career in local newspapers.
Words used to be my thing, now I'm more obsessed with images. Hoping this self-made art career of mine will see me good for the next 15 years, and way beyond.