2022 reasons to be cheerful

A warm and hearty best wishes to one and all as we begin 2023! Now please don’t be alarmed by the title of this post; I’m not really going to list out 2,022 reasons to be cheerful! Though after I started to reflect on 2022, I was surprised by the dominoe effect of one good thing remembered leading to another good thing being remembered!

I’m not going to labour any of the ‘highlights’ that I’ve listed but just reminding myself of some of the positive things from last year has already had a beneficial effect and has helped put the gloom that was hanging over me towards the end of the year into a much clearer perspective!

Here then is a quick whistle through some of good things that I’ve taken from 2022:

Brighton Painting Group

I love this group! (Perfectly illustrated by the fit of giggles I’m experiencing in this photo below which was taken during June’s / July’s / August’s get together in Hove Park).

Even though I’m not always able to make every session, those that I have managed to attend have always been invigorating, challenging and uplifting experiences! Mainly due to this group, I spent more time painting plein-air last year than any other year. Not only has this brought me into contact with a lovely bunch of artists, it’s helped to significantly raise my confidence about painting plein air. Here’s one of my favourites from the year, again painted from the Hove Park meet up.

I’m already looking forward to continuing these monthly meet ups, and I would encourage anyone that might be thinking of joining the Brighton Painting Group (strictly no fees and no obligations of course!), or any other plein air group to give it a go – it’s a wonderful experience!

using green in watercolour – online workshops with Paul Talbot greaves

I’d almost totally forgotten that I started last year by signing up for a course by the wonderful artist, Paul Talbot Greaves, on how to use green in watercolour. The course had about 5 separate sessions which were completed over about three or four months. It was a great course and even typing this is making me think that I should revisit some of the exercises and notes from the sessions. Even though this image below is probably more yellow and orange than green – it’s still one of my favourites from the course.

The benefits of the course were evident almost immediately as I started to use greens (whether from tubes or whether mixed) with far greater confidence. Here’s a quick slideshow of some of the sketches and paintings that I did outside of the course materials that I doubt I’d ever have undertaken without having done the course:

  • Watercolour painting Palmeira Square, Hove, by artist John Haywood

I remain a huge admirer of Paul’s work and found his workshops and feedback to be brilliantly structured. I’ve been keeping an eye out on his website for other courses and one day hope that I might be able to attend one of his ‘in person’ sessions.

New website: john haywood watercolours

I have slightly mixed feelings about this one but it was, nevertheless a significant development for me. Many of you may recall that my blog and website used to be titled ‘brushes with watercolour’ and it was a WordPress hosted and managed site.

After having built up an audience and following on this site, I felt it was time to embrace my passion for painting a little further by using my name in the title of the site, and to move to a self-hosted site that would provide me with greater freedom and great potential for selling my work directly via my website. So it was that John Haywood Watercolours came to be.

While I’m pleased with the outcome of my new site, it hasn’t been without its drawbacks. Previously, I was enjoying significantly more visitors to the site, and far greater engagement in terms of likes and comments. Even though I was able to migrate all of the content from the previous site, as well as all of my followers… all of the likes that I’d garnered disappeared and visitors and engagement with the site fell off of the proverbial cliff. Despite having built everything up over six or so years, this year has been like starting all over from scratch again. I can’t deny that this has been quite dispiriting in many ways and has made maintaining my practice of posting every week all the more challenging.

Were it not for the support that I’ve received from those people that have stuck with me (and from those that have discovered me more recently) I would surely have floundered! As it was, I was able to continue (even if it has been quite desperate at times!) to maintain another year of 52 weekly posts.

What I need to do this year is to invest a little more time with the website, and especially the gallery pages. I’ve been slow to update these new paintings and now realise that I can hardly complain about not selling as much as I might like, when it seems as if about 95% of the paintings in my galleries have already sold! Naturally this is great, but I need to find a way to showcase the works as I do them!

Ultimately, I much prefer the time I spend painting to the time needed to do the other bits around uploading, and keywording and pricing etc but I probably need to find a better balance that what I have at the moment.

I have no doubt that owning my own name and site as I do now will definitely pay dividends in the long run, but over the past year it’s been as much a cause of consternation as it has of celebration.

Joining the Sussex Watercolour Society

At the end of March, I shared the news that I’d become a proud member of the Sussex Watercolour Society (SWS). This was partly on the back of me making a little resolution at the beginning of the year to say ‘yes’ to more things! I’m certainly glad that I said yes to this particular opportunity. Apart from being a most welcome bit of affirmation, it has also brought me into contact with a group of well established artists and provided me with some additional opportunities to exhibit.

Here’s my entry on the SWS website:

My info page on the Sussex Watercolour Society website

This year the SWS held two short exhibitions, one at the beginning of September and one at the end of September. Below are my two displays from these exhibitions and even though each one was only for a weekend, I was thrilled to sell paintings to new buyers at each one!

Masterclass workshop with Alvaro Castagnet

May brought about my much anticipated masterclass workshop with Alvaro Castagnet. I’d booked this workshop back in January 2020 but Covid lead to it being delayed for two years! It was a great weekend and fulfilled a longstanding ambition to attend one of his in person masterclasses.

Alvaro, imparting his wisdom and his enthusiasm.

Just in case there’s any doubt, in the picture below, I’m the one on the left…

Me and Alvaro

Artist’s Open Houses exhibition

At the same time that I was on the Alvaro Castagnet Masterclass, I was also exhibiting at Starling Studios in Brighton as part of the Open Houses exhibition once again. Although the exhibition wasn’t running the full duration of the festival, I still sold quite a few paintings which was really gratifying! I haven’t had any invitations as yet to exhibit again in this year’s festival but shall be keeping my fingers crossed!

Here’s how my hang looked in 2022!

Fabriano watercolour exposition – Bologna

As part of my saying ‘yes’ to more things, I also entered my work to the Fabriano Watercolour Exhibition which was hosted in Bologna, also in May. I was so pleased to have my work selected and to be one of the artists chosed to represent England and Wales at the world’s largest watercolour convention. The painting below isn’t the work that was selected, but it is a view of Piazza Maggiore in Bologna so it seems to fit in well here:

Painting of Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, Italy, by watercolour artist John Haywood
Painting of Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, Italy, by watercolour artist John Haywood

I can still remember the thrill I had of simultaneously being on the Masterclass with Alvaro Castagnet, my work being on display in Bologna and receiving a phone call from Starling Studios in Brighton to inform me that another one of my paintings had just sold! It was a truly wonderful moment and one that I should try to tap into more often!

Atelier by the sea – open exhibition

I was delighted to have two of my paintings selected for the Atelier by the Sea Open Exhibition. It was great to be selected and to have my work on display in a gallery on Brighton’s busy seafront from July through to September. I hope that this may become an annual or biennial event. I didn’t sell anything directly from this exhibition, but it’s all grist to the mill!

Greenfinch gallery

The year closed with a wonderful invitation to have my work on show at the Greenfinch gallery in Ticehurst, Kent. My work has been on display there throughout December and I’ll be arranging to collect it soon. Although I didn’t sell any of my paintings on this occasion, I really hope that this may have been the start of something and that I may have the opportunity to show my work there again in the future.

Thanks so much to anyone that’s made it this far! When I first started writing this post, I had no idea that I had so much to celebrate and be thankful for in 2022! How wrong was I!

A selection of my favourites from the year

As I pulled this post together, I couldn’t help but see lots of images and paintings from the past year so thought it would be nice to throw some of these together in a little gallery, just for old time’s sake!

and for 2023?

To be honest, I’m plum tuckered out from writing this post; though now I only have another 51 to go for 2023! Also, and perhaps more importantly today (Wednesday 4th of January) happens to be my birthday. While I’m happy to post this on my birthday, I’m not willing to make myself late for the dinner out that I’ve been promised! I daresay that over the next week or two I’ll have mustered up some new resolutions for the year ahead but, in the meantime, I hope that you’ve all had a great festive season and that you all have a great 2023 ahead of you!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, the featured image for this post was my very last painting of 2022, done on New Year’s Eve. It seems like a fitting way to end this (not so) little round up of my year!

My final painting of 2022!

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