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2015 and what’s ahead for Jen Dixon in 2016

Greetings! I have gone from being an almost obsessive (personal blog) blogger to a most infrequent long-form typist. This deterioration is the result of a few things: Twitter, depression, and a few major life changes. Dust has, inevitably, settled and you’ll be seeing more regular updates here both in the blog and in the portfolio pages.

2015 was perhaps the best and worst year for me professionally. I’ll explain. I sold a lot of work, both large and small, thanks to a great increase in exposure and hard work via social media avenues. I ended a relationship with one gallery, began (and ended) a relationship with another, had a very successful large, three-week, solo exhibition, followed closely by a well-trafficked Open Studios, great sales and conversations at the unique Cruel and Curious exhibition, and two additional exhibitions including a run (which is still going till the end of this month) at the National Trust in Boscastle.

“How tremendously successful and wonderful,” you might be thinking. And it has been. But… 2015 killed my creativity and led to deep professional depression. I barely painted or made anything creative in 2015 because the focus was on the business end of art, almost exclusively. I didn’t update my portfolio. Or Saatchi. Or get my sales site (minimally) launched until December. I was busy with dates, times, spreadsheets, appointments, sales, space planning, installations, tear-downs, contracts and left the art creation in the cold. I have vowed to myself that 2016 will be different. Here’s how.

Firstly, reclaim the title ARTIST. That’s what I am, and while the business of being an artist is woven into my chosen career, it is not to dominate as it did last year. I was terrible at achieving professional balance in 2015 – and I understand the psychological reasons, which is for my personal blog, not here – so, I am changing the way I operate this year. I am an artist. I need to make art.

Secondly, manage my exterior engagements and opportunities better. I intentionally have not sought another solo exhibition for 2016. I do not need to do one every year – that’s madness. I am doing Open Studios again [28 May – 5 June], but although the work involved is deceptively great for such an event, it is not all-consuming in the same way a solo exhibition is. I am interested in being a part of Cruel and Curious again, but that happens later in the year, so I feel I’m spreading the ‘public engagement’ load.

Thirdly, I am the best salesperson for my art. I have been included in two, very good galleries in Cornwall and have sold one – inexpensive – work through them. That’s after each had a selection of my paintings for – combined – a year and a half. Unacceptable. In the same amount of time, I sold thousands of pounds worth of my paintings, drawings and prints around the world. Direct sales is the way forward, as no one wants to sell like I want to sell. This is my living. I sell to pay rent, go to the dentist, eat, and buy materials to make more art. I don’t buy myself perfume, handbags, or go out to restaurants. I make art for living, and no one will ever sell my art with that in mind but me. So, no galleries this year; I can’t afford them.

Lastly, share the knowledge. I have a huge amount of teaching experience and have had two art book manuscripts started for years. Years. That changes now. I’ll get one written this year, possibly published. I’m also looking into becoming an online tutor with a specific site, and will have packaged, downloadable lessons on my own site as well. Private tuition will still happen in my studio, but growing my student base through online avenues and publications is the way forward.

In summary, 2015 was great and terrible, but that was largely down to me making it so. 2016 is building on all the tough stuff learned and moving very positively forward. Let’s go!

Nearly exhibition hanging time!

Good morning! Let’s catch up.

It’s the Monday before my first solo exhibition, and I have some thrilling news to add to the excitement: Due to a sudden availability of The Blanchminster Room (the other gallery space at The Castle, Bude), I’ve been asked to expand my exhibition into there for the first two weeks! That means, my exhibition has nearly doubled in size. OH MY GOODNESS!

I’ve mapped out 21 framed paintings for The Willoughby Gallery room (the larger of the two spaces), and 15 framed paintings for The Blanchminster Gallery room. That’s 36 works on the walls, plus I’ll have ready to frame, mounted originals in racks, and a postcard display with 20 designs available for only £1 each. This exhibition went from big to massive! The main exhibition is for three weeks (24 April – 14 May), and the additional room is from 24 April – 7 May.

I’m in the middle of waiting for the laser printer to churn out some A5 flyers and A4 posters for me to distribute around the local villages and towns. The to-do list is getting down to the last tasks. The art works have been done for a month, the framing wrapped up this past weekend, so now it’s a matter of updating my inventory database, finalising my exhibition pricing structure, creating additional labels for walls, and finishing promotional activities. I’ve been working my ass off since November for this show, and I’m so glad I’m in the home stretch before hanging later this week.
Containing Chaos exhibition

There will be photos, video, and probably some Periscope footage of the exhibition. For family and friends in far-flung parts of the world, I’ll arrange FaceTime and Skype tours. Links to all this online stuff will appear later this week.

Sounds like the printer is done. Back to it!

Framing highs and lows

Had a brief freakout this morning after I phoned my regular bespoke frames provider to purchase long length moulding only to be told they don’t do that… This is contrary to – an admittedly old – catalogue I have of theirs. I’ve experienced some particularly awful depression lately and so this news hit me hard. I cried. I have a major exhibition next month and to help with the huge expense of framing, I had decided to do it myself. No moulding was suddenly a big problem.

I got my cool back and hit the internet searching. The frame company has to buy their stock somewhere, so I started looking through wholesalers. The moulding I use is a very specific type; it is a “tray” style which can be cut two ways to accommodate either deep or standard depth canvases. A match for this somewhat unique product isn’t easy to find, but I have. For all I know, the framer I used orders from this company.

I called the wholesaler, spoke to a very nice guy, confirmed they’d sell to me and the 20 metres I require. They’re sending me their catalogues too. Oh, and I’m getting my order overnighted for free (which is standard practice for them). I’m so pleased.

Putting together a solo exhibition can be stressful, but I’ve been taking care of tasks for it since November of last year to avoid as many curveballs and late nights as I can. The frame moulding issue wasn’t a thing I thought would be a problem, so I didn’t concern myself till now to order. Just goes to show that you can’t take anything for granted and that a phone call can change everything. Fortunately, a phone call to a new supplier undid the mess I found myself in, and I am smiling.

Time to set up my mitre saw! I’m going have a lot of frames to make!

Prepping for a spring exhibition

It’s official! I have a the dates for my big solo exhibition in the spring. I’ll be showing my work in the Willoughby Gallery at The Castle in Bude, Cornwall from Friday 24th April 2015 through Thursday 14th May 2015. There is a Private View/Meet the Artist event on Sunday 26th April from 2-4pm, and there will be refreshments. Opening hours for the exhibition are 10am-5pm Monday through Sunday.

So what next? Well, I’m painting and prepping for the exhibition, of course, but also busy with getting a variety of printed materials sorted. I’ve just ordered thirty postcards to check colours on three of my paintings and will be ordering more if I’m satisfied. I’ll be offering postcards for sale both online and at the exhibition. I know I buy them up by the handful every time I go to the Tate Modern, so I’m certain they’ll go down well. Postcards should be all figured out by the end of the month.

A press pack has been assembled and is available now. It’s a new thing for me, having ready-made blurbs and quotes, photos and press links. Exciting. I feel terribly organised now.

More information for you as I have it, and I’ll be releasing a newsletter soon, so if you want to be the first to know my happenings and also subscriber offers on my art, you’ll want to sign up. There’s a subscriber box on the Contact page and also most other pages of this site.


Exciting news

Truly exciting news from this afternoon… I shook hands on securing a large (probably at least 20′ x 40′ room), three week, solo exhibition of my work in spring 2015. They were very impressed with my art as well as the range of pieces I offer. (I typically sell a range between £50 and £2000, up to £6000+.) I’m looking forward to bringing a big showing of my abstract work to the area.

There is a special Sunday afternoon party planned (wine and nibbles, casual) and perhaps several appearances (possibly workshops) by me over the exhibition weeks. I’ll have more details after the contract is signed.

I am one very smiley artist this afternoon.