Watercolour deja-vu…

Happy New Year to one and all. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive season and that you’re all looking forward to whatever lies ahead in 2019!

For me, it’s either my rapidly advancing years or the fact I’ve been having such fun in 2018 but this first post of another New Year seems to have come around surprisingly quickly, hence a distinct feeling of deja-vu!

Here’s a quick look back over the year, beginning with my top nine most liked posts on Instagram:

My top nine most liked images on Instagram in 2018 by John Haywood
My top nine most liked images on Instagram in 2018

What I like most about this little montage is that it reflects my visits to Barcelona, Paris, London, Dieppe, the South Downs and, of course, time spent in my hometown of Brighton – and that alone makes me happy!

What makes me a little less happy, albeit by this rather unscientific measure, is that all of these paintings were done in the first six months of 2018. If I didn’t know better, it would be all too easy to think that my painting has taken a turn for the worst!

On the whole, I think last year was a particularly good one for me so I thought it might be useful to remind myself of my hopes and aspirations from my first post of 2018:

  • Submit my work to some of the more high profile/established open submission exhibitions in a spirit of nothing ventured, nothing gained

Tick – I submitted works to lots of competitions and open exhibitions during 2018. Admittedly, this did prove rather fruitless until my perseverance was eventually rewarded with a painting being selected (and shortlisted for a prize) for the Biennial Worthing Open Art Exhibition. I’ll try to keep this up in 2019, but I’ve already decided to be a little more discerning about which opportunities I go for, and what I submit.

  • Participate in Brighton Festival’s Artists’ Open Houses and (weather permitting!) the Brunswick Square Art Fair again

Tick – along with a few fellow residents for where I live, we ran our very own Open House during the Brighton Festival – during which time I sold more work than I have ever previously sold. For 2019, we won’t be running our own Open House again but I’ve secured a place in another Open House and will provide more news on this as the year progresses. The Brunswick Square Art Fair didn’t take place this year so I wasn’t able to participate but, if it goes ahead again in 2019, I’ll aim to have a presence there.

  • Approach a gallery or two for exhibition opportunities/advice

Ah, erm, yes, well I did ‘think’ about this on and off during the year but that’s as far as I got! I’ll mull this one over a bit to see whether I should add it on to my 2019 ‘to do’ list!

  • Explore the merits of ArtFinder (I’d welcome feedback from anyone that has any experience of ArtFinder!)

Hmmm, please see answer above…

  • Paint more plein-air/on location

Hmmm, quoting my school reports of old, I think the phrase ‘could do better’ seems applicable. I did do some on location painting and sketching, most notably joining the British Plein Air Painting Society’s ‘paint out’ in St James’s Park, London.’ This was definitely my highlight for plein air painting and again, it’s something I’ll try to do more of in 2019.

Aside from these points, 2018 did also feature a few other things worthy of note:

  • Some really enjoyable sketching in France with outcomes that I actually liked! (this felt like real progress!)
  • Participating in the Heart Research UK’s ‘Anonymous HeART’ charity art auction and raising £358.66 for Heart Research UK
  • Receiving my wonderful new Binning-Monro watercolour palette from John Hurtley’s Little Brass Box Company
  • Eventually getting around to creating a page that documents my materials and equipment – something I’d been meaning to do for ages. All I need to try to do now is to keep it up to date!
  • Maintaining another year of 52 weekly Wednesday blog posts (small fry compared to what many bloggers do I know but it still feels like a huge achievement for me!)
  • And finally, and perhaps most importantly, meeting more people, both online and in real time, who share a passion for painting or creativity more widely.
  • Oh, yes, there was a nice end to the year when my last painting of 2018, Rooftops of Kotor, Montenegro sold before the paint had barely dried!

There may well have been some other things too, but these are the ones that have come to mind first!

Looking ahead to 2019, I think that the very best that I can hope for is some more of the same so, in an effort to start as I mean to continue, here’s my first effort for 2019 – a view down a side street behind the Eglise St Remy in Dieppe.

Watercolour painting, Rue du 19 Aout 1942, Dieppe, with Eglise St Remy in the background by John Haywood
Rue du 19 Aout 1942, Dieppe, with Eglise St Remy in the background

And with that, I’d like to wish you all the very best for the year ahead – let’s hope it surpasses all of our expectations!

Thoughts on Watercolour deja-vu…

19 thoughts on “Watercolour deja-vu…”

  1. Hey John, I had some time earlier today and I went to your website to really check it out. Oh my gosh! I have always followed your blog via the WordPress reader, so I never saw your actual site.

    Your work is even more stunning than I thought. Seeing your images on my big monitor was just breathtaking. I will be visiting the site more to really see your work. Just keep sharing, as I really love what you do. Best wishes, John! 🍻

    1. Hi Tim and many thanks for taking the time to visit the site and have a rummage around – and for your very kind words, really heartening and makes me want to get my brushes out and start another painting! Thanks so much Tim

  2. A very full year John and well done on setting goals for yourself. I have had an Artfinder shop since May 2017, and I am just starting to make sales. I sent a painting to America just before Christmas and was very pleased with myself. Some artists seem to make a living at it. You can visit my shop if you want to get an idea. I just treat it as one more display alongside all the others. It costs nothing until you sell, so give it a go.

    1. Happy New Year David and yes, I remember you setting up your Artfinder account, and making your international sale. I do also know of someone that make their living from it – mainly through sales to the US, albeit work that is much more commercially viable than mine. I recall that her experience was that it took quite a bit of time for the sales to start coming in but this also gave time to get a substantial body of work listed for people to view. I’ll definitely check out your page and will see about adding this to my list of resolutions! Many thanks David and all best wishes to you for a successful 2019.

  3. Happy New Year to you and your family John. Isn’t it interesting when you look back on your year’s achievements and see progress? ….I sometimes think it’s one step forward and 2 back for me! …however I think we can feel that and still continue to progress steadily.
    I have been treated to the start of an online painting course for Christmas and have achieved 14 tonal paintings in a week…all small but feel excited that progress should follow!
    I wish you joy and success in this coming year 2019.
    Best wishes,
    Carole j

    1. Happy New Year to you too Carole! I know exactly what you mean about the one step forwards and two steps back. I usually find that if I only look at the paintings I’ve done over a month or two, there’s rarely anything to discern, but as soon as I look back say 6 months to a year – then you can really start to see and appreciate the progress made and the lessons learnt. Your new course sounds great and it sounds like you hit the ground running (or should that be painting) in 2019. I hope that you have a great year (and that we might be able to move the balance more towards two steps forward and only one step backwards!)

  4. John, your watercolours are absolutely beautiful. I think submitting to galleries and exhibitions is such a good “goal” and one that I struggle with myself. I have taken it very personally when my work is not accepted which can hurt my motivation. Congratulations on persevering and all the best for 2019.

    1. Hi Eva and thanks so much for your kind comments. I really wouldn’t worry too much about submitting to exhibitions – I visited your site and it looks like you’ve got too many commissions on your hands to find time to do any competition entries! Many thanks for visiting Eva and all best wishes for 2019!

  5. Happy New Year, John! I really admire how open you are about your work (painting) and your goals and accomplishments.

    Thinking that just because your most liked paintings were all in the first half of 2018 you have regressed is doing yourself an injustice in my opinion. As art is interpretive and very subjective, what other people “like” will always ebb and flow. Sometimes the reason for a “like” is as simple as the subject.

    From what I have seen in following your blog, it seems to me that you have grown and developed all along during 2018. Most importantly though is what you think. If you feel you are learning and progressing, then you should be happy.

    For me the creativity definitely comes and goes. What I have noticed is that my best work comes from simply taking time to be patient and being able to immerse myself in my subject matter. Then I am so much more relaxed, and things just flow. An old instructor once told me to “be one with the subject”. Very Zen.

    But in the end, the artwork should be fun for you. And isn’t that really why we create?

    I love your work and your openness. Thanks so much, John.

    1. Hi Tim and a very happy New Year to you too and many thanks for your comments. I try not to read too much into the likes (or lack of) on instagram. I do find it interesting, but also recognise it’s bluntness as any form of accurate measure. I’m glad that you perceive a continual development as it’s how I feel. I know it’s a cliche but I think the creative process is all about the journey rather than the destination or arrival so we have to try to enjoy the journey as much as possble and accept that it will, on occasion, be a bit rocky!

      I do quite agree about the zen-ness! I know I feel differently about my painting when I’m relaxed and not feeling any external pressures (I should be doing this, I need to somewher by a certain time etc) and only wish I was in this state more often! All best wishes for the year ahead Tim

      1. Thanks John! I totally agree about the journey. And boy I wish that we could both have more time to devote to our art. That relaxation part is much easier said than done. Take care and happy painting. 😊

  6. Great luck in 2019. I too consider admitting my art to competitions and all that jazz. However, at the moment, it’s fun just to keep painting and trying to improve. And yes, more plein air painting would be nice!

    1. Happy New Year Al – I think you’re already enjoying a meteoric rise and development in your painting which I don’t doubt will continue throughout 2019! All the very best

  7. Happy New Year to you and yours, John, and to anyone else who’s on here at all regularly. By the way, shouldn’t you be offering Dieppe an exhibition of your works?

    1. Happy New Year to you and yours too Rob! It has crossed my mind you know! I’m building up quite a body of Dieppe paintings now – all of which I hope show my fondness for the place! If anyone from Dieppe with any influence in these matters happens by this – please do get in touch and let’s make it happen!

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