Reflecting 2020 - setbacks and learning curves

Updated: Jan 7

Hi. Now i’m not particularly good with words - that’s why I paint, but I guess I’ll give it another try. My first post is going to be about the good old ‘let’s reflect about the last year’ post.

For me like for many others last year has been so bloody different. But it was also one of the best years that I had.

If anyone had asked me if there is one thing that I would have changed if I turned back the time I hands down would say - not have wasted a month playing Minecraft. You see I sort of became obsessed with it and was playing any chance I could get. But let’s rewind a little bit.

So in January 2020 I started working as a waitress and was kind of excited about being back to work previously being on maternity leave for nearly a year. However that was very much short lived as in March we went into a nationwide lockdown.

Now before we went into a lockdown I went back to painting again. Nothing big, just quirky pet illustrations. One a day. It gave me a sense of achievement and made me feel good as I was finally creating again.

greyhound watercolor painting, quirky pet painting

And then it happened. I discovered Minecraft. Bye bye painting, hello pixelated cows and zombies. I lost my head a little and spent every single hour I wasn’t looking after our kid playing.

Fast forward 4 weeks. I’m sitting on the couch and slowly realising that I have not done anything even remotely productive with my art for over a month. Shit. But hey ‘I don’t have good watercolor paper so how can I do any painting’. I am good with excuses. Found an excuse to not do any art for 3 years prior to this.

Somehow found some strength and lifted my now fattening arse from the sofa and ordered some paper. Started sketching. Doing time lapses. Slowly I was forgetting about my little addiction and replacing that addiction with a new much healthier one.

poppy painting, watercolo floral, botanical painting in watercolor

I could see that I was slowly getting better at what I was doing. So I started increasing the size of my painting. Started making them more complex. And one day I looked at what I have done so far and realized - SHIT I have finally developed my artistic voice. I was trying so desperately to find it for so many years. And finally I have my style.

I went from doing simple quirky pet illustrations to big expressive female portraits.

black woman portrait painting, gold leaf in art, watercolor painting

expresive watercolor woman portrait, watercolor painting, watercolor birds

Then I thought it would be a good idea to launch a kickstarter to get some funding so I could start selling my prints. That thing had such a great start and then a few people pulled out. I lost my confidence said fuck it and canceled the entire thing. I guess this was my first real set back. Had about a week of sulking.

My partner however gifted me a camera, I bought some lights and managed to get enough money to make some prints. I thought that people were going to buy every single print. So damn naive. I sold 3 prints out of 25 or so. Guess that was a second step back. But it’s ok. This time sulking lasted less than a week.

Then I jumped on a bandwagon and joined TikTok. People kept telling me how easy it is to get viral. VERY EASY. Till this day I have a whole whooping 70 followers. In all fairness I didn’t post very freaquent. This didn’t really make me upset. So no time sulking.

Oooh I forgot to mention I have also decided to start a YouTube channel. Boy oh boy is it hard to get any views there. But I still carry on telling myself that one day I will be YouTube famous. Ha.

I don’t know why but my partner and I decided that it will be a good idea for me to not go back to work and carry on investing all that free time into my art as I was really enjoying it. ALL THAT FREE TIME. As if we don’t have a toddlerino. But he is still helping me by giving me the time in the mornings to make my art which is mega appreciated.

So I started immersing myself in art every day. Filming, editing, painting, researching. It was getting better, I was learning a lot but not really making any profit.

Then I decided to create a SkillShare class. Spent an entire month filming and editing, re-filming, finding perfect music and sound effects. And NO ONE was interested. Guess you could call it the third setback. This did hit me quite hard and I spent a week playing Minecraft again.

I opened an etsy shop and started offering some merch alongside prints. And my main customer was my mum.

streetwear, pschedelic urban clothing, surreal art

Then I pushed through negative thoughts and decided to create another SkillShare class. Now the second one was a better success and in December I had my first good month with SkillShare since I started uploading content. I managed to get a little under £100 but hey that’s way better than £10 I was getting.

rubber stamping tutorial

December came and I got more orders coming through. People started noticing my Etsy shop. Had a few large orders. Started to feel a little bit better.

And then it stopped again. No orders, no people watching my SkillShare class.

Now you probably think that none of this sounds like the best year. But you see I realized that not once during these setbacks did I give up. Yes I had sulked. I cried. I doubted myself. But I managed to pick myself up and push negative thoughts aside and just carry on. I did not give up and I am not planning to.

2020 has taught me a lot. I am more determined than I was before. I am more confident. I no longer look at the little amount of followers that I have and think my art is crap. Because it’s not. I look at my paintings and am in awe how far I’ve come. How much my skills and technique has developed. And I am determined to make 2021 be even better.

Yes last year has had many obstacles and pandemic didn’t help too much but I think this is my first year that I truly feel that I grew as an artist.

So if you can learn anything from this post is to never ever give up. Only a few people will ever achieve success without having to work really hard for it. Most of us mortals will have to take extremely bumpy roads with lots of setbacks. And it is OK to sulk. Picking yourself back up is difficult but if you want to be moving forward you have to get up first.

Now let’s see what we can achieve in 2021.

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