I have been an artist for a year . . .

So 31 January marked a whole year as AndyKnillArt. I had investigated and come up with the name in November 2016 about the time I had a breakdown and left teaching. I wasn’t in the right headspace so came back to it.

AndyKnillArt is different from my keeping sketchbooks for mindfulness. I was sticking my neck over an imaginary parapet and seeing if people would buy my art work. Friends had encouraged me that my work was good enough, but they are friends …

So it started commercially when I approached Swanage Tourist Information Centre and sold a card design and was commissioned to produce three more designs. This commissioning idea proved to be stressful and I wasn’t strong enough but luckily my second drafts passed. They continue to this day to be selling four designs by me. They are often mentioned in conversation as people say I have seen your work before.

I approached my landlord and gained consent to use an outbuilding for a studio for Purbeck Art Weeks 2017. The studio area wasn’t completed until the night before PAW started. I also tried some craft events where I met more artists and crafters but sold few pieces.

PAW 2017 was my first big success. I now had a range of greetings cards and prints of some of my Swanage pictures. I had joined Swanage Art Workshop after Easter and had some primitive attempts at acrylics. I also displayed some of my photo canvases I have had printed from my photos previously. My studio is on a track to the coast used by walkers and dog walkers, visitors were guided to park and walk 400 metres to reach me so I was one of the most remote studios. However I still attracted 250 visitors over the two weeks. I sold cards, some work on canvas including a rowing regatta original. Prints sold but only in small numbers. I took an active part in PAW through my use of social media especially Facebook which raised my profile. In the end I earnt 20% of the first year’s takings in PAW.

PAW offered some exhibition opportunities so I had work displayed at L’Artishe in Swanage (Artcubed exhibition). PAW at Etches museum, Kimmeridge; RSPB Arne on the theme of Dorset verges; Rollington Barn, PAW headquarters. I am also currently exhibiting as part of the PAW 2017 sketching programme exhibition at The Orchard Cafe, Holme Nurseries.

An active participation then and one which brought me to people’s attention. I had also sold prints to Qatar, Belgium and Germany and Canada more recently. I continued to attend Rempstone Road craft fairs monthly, one original sale made my table profits for the year.

My most successful event was to be the Artisans on the Beach from November 27 to January 07 on Swanage seafront. I had chatted to and met artists here in 2016 and produced my original Swanage beach huts piece that was to be my first sale. While I had sat there often very quiet and withdrawn in my own thoughts. In 2017 I was a new character – lively, engaging, hyper at times. I wore colourful outfits, I acted the fool, I drew outside my beach hut even when others found it much too cold and it worked. My enthusiasm was recognised by Tourist Information and I was awarded Artisan of the Year 2017. Most importantly many people saw me producing new art and talked with me about it. I also took 50% of my earnings for the year over 6 Weeks.

I was invited to go into Swanage Primary School as a local artist, for me this was very special as it had nothing to do with me the ex teacher, my artwork was the reason. This work is continuing.

So 2018, January plans fell behind slightly for various reasons beyond my control. I still have the portfolio photographic work to do. The Year has started well with the culmination of Artisans on the Beach; work on exhibition; Primary School work on landscape art and Paw entry for 2018 done. I have even booked a two month slot to exhibit at RSPB Arne for late 2019.

I no longer deny being a local artist, my sales prove that I am one of those. I enjoy the art community I now belong to and I look forward to many years of promoting the enjoyment of art as a participant or observer to locals and visitors of all ages.

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