Why I LOVE this book by Keri Smith.... 'Wreck This Book!'

This week I have had an epiphany.   For many moons I've collected things that I love, books that inspire me  - other artists work that sing out to me but I've not written about them and sang their praises to you my lovely blog readers - why?  I hear you ask... well, I've not been entirely sure that I could copyright-wise.  

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Summer into Autumn 17. A Summary from Sam!

It's been ages since I've sat down to write a proper update.  The Summer was, quite frankly, brilliantWe had Forest Skills, Interior Design Workshops, Printmaking from Pop, An Exhibition of paintings by a seriously talented Nature-scaper (you know who you are Nick Nicholson) and even cocktails called 'Woodbridge Wanderers' being shaken & stirred by a professional mixologist in our Caravan, in short this summer The Art Retreat came alive.

I will bring you a collection of photo's from every event and shortly I'll load them all up to our gallery page  for you to enjoy.  We had some amazing testimonials.  Some of my favourites were from the children on Forest School Workshop which included:

I loved it when we toasted the marshmallows. I think it is really cool and fun. It helps people survive in the wild!
— Ben
It is very fun and everybody is included.
— Abi

From the mouths of babes.  

My feet did not touch the ground for the whole two months, on top of that I managed to squeeze in my own art exhibition with the wonderful Abi Fawcus at  The Garage Gallery in Aldeburgh.   I really enjoyed sitting with my own paintings again for a while, it's been sometime since I had shown my paintings - it was great tonic to meet so many lovely people and to sell so many works too! 

aldeburgh small.jpg

The whole summer was a blast, sometimes staycations rock.  We finished our summer break with a belting of sunshine over bank holiday weekend where we threw ourselves into the sea at Dunwich Beach, closely followed by Fish & Chips from The Floral Tearooms.   Complete with impulse purchases of a massive beachball and a bodyboard for the children, we closed the summer with a fantastic weekend, sand everywhere and even the dog was shattered!

So now onto Autumn and thankfully, we've been working on our brochure of offerings for the past month or two so it's almost there in the bag.  Being printed next week, we have some new things to bring you and some repeats too of workshops that booked out so quickly, we had a waiting list for the reserve list - this is good news.

More soon, but only to say that I hope your summer was enjoyable too.  Come & see us soon in The Art Retreat, remember, everyone is welcome.

Best, Sam.

Worksheet for our 'Workshops On The Ward' at Ipswich Hospital.

Here is our first worksheet for our 'Workshops On The Ward' at Ipswich Hospital.  Please feel free to have a read through and if you should like to download this workshop, please follow the link here    I have added a suggested donation of £2.50 which will help to fund art materials for further workshops.  Should you wish to have the challenge and don't want to make the donation, please email me at info@samanthabarnes.co.uk and I will send you one for free.  Thanks

Triggers' Broom & New Originals. How One Piece of Artwork Can Become 20.

When does one piece of artwork become many?  Have you you ever sold your prize painting then made more of them using the same title, same colours and using the same paint on the same sized canvas?  Well good.  Like many artists before us, there is absolutely no harm or shame in harnessing the strength of a popular piece of work.  Build on that piece of work and make more if you wish - this is your choice.

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Christmas in July? ArtMummy's thoughts on Creative Gifting, now.

Artists, Crafters, Makers & Freelancers - Does your stock run low come mid November?  That big seller - you know - the one thing that everyone wants, did you make enough? No? I feel your pain.  Today's post is about looking at last year's art sales and taking in the information they offer us. Christmas in July? You bet. 

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Marketing Your Art' For Artists & Solo Creatives That Struggle With Self-Promotion. Part 1.

Do you cringe at the thought of promoting your own artwork? Perhaps you feel that Marketing your work means marketing yourself? Below is my no-jazz-hands-needed guide to self promotion for all solo creatives and hobbyist artists & it's MUCH, MUCH easier than you think...

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CPD For Artists & The Importance of Self Learning for the Solo Creative.

CPD for Artists - is there such a thing? There is. And there are some organisations that can help, but not many are accessible or free. This video is about the importance of artists continuing to learn independently: to encourage creatives take in new skills & develop themselves as well as their practice.

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How To Approach A Gallery for Representation. Face-to-Face, Email or Letter

What is a good way to approach a gallery?  Do you just rock up or phone ahead?  In my below video I'll chat to you about the best ways I used to be approached when I had a gallery in South London.  I'm an artist, I had a gallery and there are good approaches & awful.

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Just One Thing A Day Towards Your True Vocation. ArtMummy Blog

Solo Creative is my share of 20+ in my industry of being a self-employed practising artist. Together and in no particular order, I'm going to be re-reading my diaries for you, tacking some of the problems I encountered, all of which are absolutely relevant for today, perhaps even more so that there are so many of us now working freelance.  

Feel free to send me any questions and I'll do my best to reply.  

One Thing A Day Toward Your True Vocation.

To make this applicable to everyone, I am going to write to you as if you are working in your back bedroom or garage and probably working elsewhere to get the money in.  I'm imagining that you are frustrated that all those years of study/work learning your skill has led you to where you are now and assume that you want to go further, earn more money and get a little more recognition for your art and perhaps more importantly, gain more time to make more work - all of which is highly doable.

Chloe Harrison Painter - Illustrator - Print Maker Based in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, UK www.chloeharrison.com

Chloe Harrison Painter - Illustrator - Print Maker Based in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, UK www.chloeharrison.com

I remember this stage well.  I remember the burning frustration I had at spending at least 8 hours per day on someone else's business let alone the hours I spent on trains and in cars getting to the actual office and back.    I'd been out of art school for a number of years by now and wasn't getting anywhere fast - or so I thought.   In retrospect I see that all my previous jobs helped me in various ways to become the artist that I am now.  I worked for a frenetic event organising agency as a general dog's body which of course helped me in the future to organise my own exhibitions and shows, another job was in The V&A Museum in the book shop, gaining vital retail skills , another position was cold-calling for a presentation company, again, honing those vital communication skills.  All very well to look back and see how each job helped me and the benefits I got from them -  but not then, in those actual years and months I could not have felt further away from my vocation and my precious time away from my drawing board seemed to go SO slowly.  

Maya Angelou

To combat some of the annoyance at my portfolio of artwork laying dormant under my bed, I told myself that I was going to do one thing a day, just ONE THING that would help me get to my dream of being a full time artist.  My one thing a day consisted of anything - literally anything that would help me get to my end goal.  Sometimes it was simply buying myself a paint brush, other times it might have been phoning a gallery to ask how like their artists to approach them, visiting an exhibition, calling an old friend from art college, take part in a life drawing class - my one thing a day helped me beyond measure because, weekends included, I was doing 30 things a month and those 30 added up fast to something much bigger.

My one-thing-a-day stage lasted for about 4 years and in that time I held my first exhibition, broke my arm and used the time off to paint (yes, with my broken arm) started to make new paintings and drawings, joined a printmaking studio and did the odd class and workshop and began to connect with other artists outside of my paid job hours.  I can't tell you that it was easy, but the frustration was certainly lessoned by my one-thing-a-day-plan.  I can see now that I  needed that frustration because that gave me persistence and determination to succeed in becoming a full time career artist.  

So now over to you - how can you implement the one-thing-a-day-plan?  My advice is to keep it simple when you begin, the smaller the thing the more your confidence builds.  Don't overtire yourself because you are precious.  Keep a journal, sketchbook or notebook to keep track of your things and like planting seeds, watch them grow.

Best, Samantha



How to be an artist, How to earn money from your art, artist, samantha barnes artist, art studio, one thing a day, solo creative, art facts, samantha barnes, The Art Retreat


artist, how to be an artist, how to make money from your art, The Art Retreat, Solo Creative





The Eden Project, Community Support Programme - 3 days of workshops, here I come...

Big Lunch Extra's at The Eden Project in beautiful Cornwall is my destination this weekend. I'm excited and little nervous about this amazing opportunity - who knows what might come out of it?

You can read about the Community Support Programme here.

This weekend I get to go to The Eden Project on a funded workshop place that teaches and helps the attendee's to define their community-minded offerings and ideas.  I deem my community to be both online and in person, local and those not so, via the power of the net.  I'm a little nervous as will be going on my todd along with the other 60 people invited from all over the country who are seen to be community movers and shakers.


What am I hoping for?  In truth, I'm hoping that I can relax!  Relax and take in as many workshops as I can attend.  Notepad in hand, I'm going to be scribbling notes of course, but also doing my darnedest to get into the groove of actually being there, in the moment as it were, rather than hammering myself to come up with the answers before I've digested the questions.

The journey to and fro is going to be interesting too.  I can't remember how many years it's been since I've been on a train for 5hrs or more - probably way back when I was studying at Edinburgh College of Art which was a long, long way from Winchester were I grew up.  I digress, apologies. During the journey I intend to drink coffee and look out of the window, read my book, listen to my audio books and play in my sketchbook - bliss.

See you on the other side...

Sam x 

Eden Project Community Workshops is organised by Big Lunch Extra's and funded by The Big Lottery  among others.  

Keywords, community support, community projects, social enterprise workshops, CIC business, Community Interest Groups.


Ask Away. The Importance of Asking The Question.

How do you ask a question when you are squirming in your shoes with your toes all curled up?   Essential pointers from a creative girl in the creative business.

Being brassy and asking for that which you might or might not receive.  

Google the question 'what is the best way to ask a question' and a gazillion answers come up.  Go find and read them to find out ways of controlling your nerves, your breathing, body language - they all help and knowledge is power.   My article here today is about working for yourself and getting your wares out, to be seen and therefore purchased.

Ask & ye shall receive - you shall receive dear heart but perhaps not in the way that you initially set out to.  Having worked as a solo artist for over 20 years now, I've had an awful lot of reasons to ask for an awful lot of things.  I've gotten much better at it over the years and believe me when I stress that for the major part of my career, I've asked whilst not truly believing in my talents, not really feeling like I am worth that which I'm asking for and generally feeling like an utter fraud. This is entirely natural and generally speaking all part of being a creative.  It's the doing that matters here - not the thinking.

I've heard it said many times that 'artists don't like to promote themselves and their work'  'Solo creatives aren't great at getting out there' etc etc and I am sure they have large swathes of truth in them - the thing is though that unless you are prepared to ask, you're not going to be going nowhere, anytime.

I have two examples.    

The first of which is from a time that I was new new new to being self employed in the mid 1990's.  I was on benefits for having a broken arm - (yes, my painting arm) and was convalescing at home, bored out of my mind and on benefits.  I decided that I would send out pictures (no internet then - can you imagine?!) to FIFTEEN GALLERIES PER WEEK.  Fifteen letters, by hand and all with photographs.  That amounted to an awful lot of asks over the month period.  It cost me my benefit money in photocopies, stamps and paper, but beans on toast wasn't so bad - for a month.  

In total I sent out about 200 letters - that is 200 asks.  Naturally, as is the way of things, I got a mere 7 replies all of which said a polite - no thanks and the rest of the galleries didn't reply at all to me.  I was sore (with a broken arm) and very fed up.      A year and a half later,  I received a telephone call from 'The Pump House Gallery' in Battersea Park (one of the galleries I wrote to) asking me if I would like to have a two week solo show with them in the height of the summer, August.    Further to this, the TV company LWT (then bigwigs) were making a film about the park called 'ParkLife' and they would like to include my work, my story and my show in two programmes.  Wow.  I did, it was a success and all was jolly - however, how the show went isn't really the point here - the point is that one of my many asks I sent out came good in the end. Your asks are still asking - long after you have forgotten them.

My second example is more recent.  In 2014 we moved to Suffolk.  Away from most of my client base I recognised that I really needed to get booking in some things locally and start introducing people to my work.  I had no studio and my art materials were all packed away, still in storage boxes but I had to begin somewhere so I got my thinking cap on.  I looked at the big events held in this beautiful county and thought about how I might try to muscle myself in.  Latitude Festival is a huge event here and each summer over 25,000 people come up, en famille to rock out, chill out and generally have a ball at this groovy three day party.  All my target audience.   I wrote to them.

My letter asked if they might need any artists workshops?  I would be happy to deliver drawing workshops to anyone - children or adults and happy to offer as many as were needed, in exchange for tickets and simply being there working and doing my stuff.  They wrote back and expressed delight at my asking as they love to work locally with artists and craftspersons and hope to show off local talents as much as their own.  I was in and all due to my asking them.

So my pointers in asking are:

  • See it as very likely the answer will be a no,  utter silence or we'll get back to you.
  • Keep your ask polite as can be.  Not grovelly, just the right side of humble but assertive too.
  • ASK IN ABUNDANCE!  Ask away people.  20 asks will very probably yield only one possible yes.
  • Have in mind a plan in case your yes comes back as a yes and NOW!
  • Ask and then move away from your ask.  Don't breathe over it.  Send your letter and walk away.  Perhaps a polite 'just checking your received my proposal' email or call  a few days later - once you know they did - leave it be and DON'T HOVER.
  • Dream up another 100 asks and ask away by letter, email, social media, carrier pigeon, etc.

This Summer I'll be at Latitute Festival again, delivering my workshops to families for my third year running.  It's a great festival and one that I highly recommend - the line up this year is wonderful too, the best I've ever been to.

Make a list of your asks and let me know how you got on.  Be brassy and ask!

Samantha - ps, enjoy the short film of me at Latitude 2015.

Keywords,  Latitute Festival, The importance of asking, creative clues from Samantha Barnes Artist, Solocreative, artist working from home.

Tags, working for yourself, being a creative, top tips for being a self employed artist










How Do Children Make 'Doing Art' Look So Darned Easy? My Own Secret Painting Methods I've Learned From The Young 'uns.

How Do Children Make 'Doing Art' Look So Darned Easy?  My Own Secret Painting Methods I've Learned From The Young 'uns.  This week's blog is all about my secret sources of gusto...

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