10 Facts About Me: Part Two

Studio Desk, Suffolk © Natasha Newton 2017

Studio Desk, Suffolk © Natasha Newton 2017

When I posted the first 10 of the '20 Facts About Me' here a few days ago, I mentioned that I'd probably be doing a Part Two, so here it is!

11. I find everything to do with farts really funny. I mean REALLY funny, in the way a 12 year old boy would find them funny. A man farted on the train the other day and it was all I could do not to acknowledge it and/or fall off my chair with laughter.

12. I get bad migraines and have done so since the age of 15, but they were only diagnosed as migraines a few years ago.

13. I love neon pink.

14. I live in two places right now: Suffolk (on the east coast of England) and Surrey (south of London).

15. I lived in Paris for a while between 2010-2014 on a part-time basis.

16. I eat chocolate every day. A little of what you fancy...

17. My work has been published in at least three books and eight magazines so far, and has been used as the cover art on several more.

18. I want to launch a range of products with my designs on them. We're looking into it.

19. I am quiet, very polite, and laid back, but if I see injustice, rudeness, or when someone pushes me too far I can certainly stand up for myself!

20. I believe the most important things in the world are love and kindness. Kindness is hugely underrated.

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A Life Update & Deciding Where To Go From Here

I've really been out of the blogging loop over the past six months or so; despite my best intentions I seem to have only managed to update the blog very infrequently. It has at turns been a wonderful, exciting, frustrating, difficult, inspiring, questioning, 'up and down' time, and I think that, sometimes, when you have a lot going on in your life, it helps to take time to work things out in your own head before sharing them publicly.

Alphabet Painted Stones © Natasha Newton 2017

Alphabet Painted Stones © Natasha Newton 2017

To be honest, I'm still working them out. This year has been a strange one so far. A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote about the fact that I was ill for much of the first two months of 2017. This severely hampered my ability to work with any kind of consistency, and as a result I saw my sales drop, which is what often happens. I generally find that the more work I create the more I sell, and at the same time, the more opportunities seem to come my way. It's almost as if the universe rewards my hard work! But the moment I stop for a while, so do the sales and the enquiries. It's bizarre - I would never have thought it would have such an effect, but it really does. Have any of you experienced this too?

I think that this fear of everything slowing down - or stopping altogether - creates a lot of anxiety within me. It takes a lot to admit to feeling like this, but it's true. Even when I feel as if I need a break for a couple of weeks or so, or I want to take the time to develop new ideas or a new body of work, I'm scared to do so. This is the thing with building much of your career via the internet; you need to create new content constantly and post it online all the time to keep people interested and to keep growing your following. It seems to me that if you 'disappear' for even a week - if you don't post any new work online, and don't spend a lot of time 'liking' and commenting on other people's posts - it has an effect. You'll start losing followers, and without getting too technical (I actually can't, because I don't fully understand how it works myself!) it seems to impede your ability to be 'seen' when you do return to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc., due to their various complicated algorithms, which decide how 'relevant' you are and where your posts show up - and even if they show up at all - in the timelines/feeds of your followers. It can sometimes feel that the following you've taken so long to build up can easily be taken away. I wonder whether this is the reason that some of the artists & illustrators I follow online with the largest followings post once a day or even several times a day, each and every day? Maybe they have realised this too, and their diligence has paid off? Personally, I sometimes go for days without posting anything! I try not to do this, but I find that life gets in the way, I get busy, and I want to cherish the special moments with those I love in the real world, without becoming obsessed with social media. Generally though, to become really successful online, you have to be at least a little bit obsessed with social media, but it can feel as if you're on a treadmill at times.

I think it wouldn't bother me nearly as much if I was just doing all of this as a hobby, or sharing parts of my life with a small number of friends and followers online for fun. But for me, it's my livelihood. It's the only way I have of making money at the moment. My very wise fiancé said to me:

"You will never see on someone's gravestone: Here lies the body of xxxxx. He had 10,000 Instagram followers."

It's a good point and it did kind of put it into perspective for me!

So I need to find the right balance between making time to regularly post online and engage with people, but not to let social media or online followings dictate the course of my art and career. After all, there are many ways to build a career. And to create the work I want to create in the future...well, it will take time. I won't go into detail about that right now, but we've been making many plans over the past few months, and I've spent a long time talking through with family and friends which path I wish to take. I've been making some changes behind the scenes already, because what worked 5 years ago doesn't work for me now. I'm sorry if this sounds cryptic; I promise I'm not doing this deliberately! Do you see what i mean about being reluctant to share my thought process publicly - it's hard to know how much to say; what to share and what not to share right now.

I was intending to write more in this post about just how weird 2017 has been so far (the 'ups and downs' I mentioned earlier), and how to cope when you go from an extremely busy period in your career to a quiet or uncertain period, and the anxiety that this brings. Is that something you'd be interested in hearing about, whether or not you're a self-employed or freelance creative? Because I'd be happy to write about that subject at length in another post! I think I'll leave it there for today, but I'd love to hear from any of you with your thoughts and comments, either via Facebook or Twitter, or you can contact me by email if you'd prefer.

Oh yes, one last thing! I have now finally added a shop to the website, where I'll be selling many of my original paintings on canvas as well as the larger painted stone collections! After the success of my Etsy shop (which will remain open in the same way as before) I've realised just how much I love selling directly to my collectors and customers and having that personal contact with them, as well as knowing where my artwork will be going to live, which is something that doesn't really happen when you sell through a gallery. There is also free worldwide delivery on all orders of original paintings through the new shop - if you'd like to take a look, you can find it here: www.natashanewton.com/shop  I'll be adding more work as and when it's completed, so please check back regularly and contact me if you have any questions. Thank you!

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10 Facts About Me

10factsaboutme_blog_natashanewton_1500x1500.jpg

I was tagged on Instagram to share '20 Facts About Me', and I really enjoyed reading about the person who'd tagged me and finding out more about her! I decided to take her up on the offer and join in, as it seemed like fun. Due to time constraints I'm sticking to just 10 random facts this time, but if you all enjoy this post there may be a Part Two where I add another 10 in the future!

These were first posted on Instagram this morning, and since then I've received an amazing response from people, many of whom left incredibly kind, touching, and heartfelt comments that I deeply appreciate.

Ok, here goes...

1. I've been a full time, professional artist and illustrator for 10 years this year. Before that I always had a second job to help bring in a regular income. 

2. One of those jobs was as a chambermaid at a really nice hotel. I met a handful of famous people while doing this job and it opened my eyes to a lot of things!

3. I've always had an interest in the paranormal, fuelled by many strange and unexplained experiences throughout my life.

4. I love the smell and taste of coffee but cannot drink it. I'm super sensitive to it and can't tolerate even half of one weak, milky cup! But I'm generally ok with tea, and so that's my hot drink of choice.

5. I sadly lost my long term partner to cancer in 2014. It was the most horrific thing I've ever been through, and I'm still dealing with the anxiety and sadness within me, and finding ways to cope with the difficult feelings I have. 

6. But then in 2016 I met my current partner (now my fiancé - pictured with me above) who has brought light, happiness, and a huge amount of laughter into my life. We had actually known each other and had been friends for 10 years online before we met in person! 

7. In late 2015 I was asked to take part in something so huge and so exciting that I was bursting to tell everyone, but couldn't and still can't because I signed a NDA / contract and I'm bound to silence! 

8. Art is the thing that kept me going through my grief - I threw myself into my work and it was the valuable focus and purpose I needed.

9. I listen to probably hundreds of documentaries and podcasts each year - I have them playing in the background while I work. I love learning about new subjects and have a very curious nature!

10. I am an INFJ. Apparently this personality type is the rarest, making up around 1% of the population. When I discovered this and read all about it, a lot of things in my life began to make sense for the first time.

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2017: What A Year So Far! (And Not In A Good Way)

Well, hello there! How are you all? I really hope you're all feeling better than I am at the moment. You may have noticed that I've been silent on the blog, and I've also been pretty quiet on social media too. The reason for this is that 2017 has been a difficult year so far and I've been struggling with several different things.

Clockwise from top left: Snowy Landscape with Sheep and Birds; Midnight Walk 4; Snow Storm Coming; In The Dark Forest. All acrylic on canvas, various sizes. The first three are at VK Gallery in Cambridgeshire, and the dark forest is a commissioned painting. All of these were created during early January 2017.

Clockwise from top left: Snowy Landscape with Sheep and Birds; Midnight Walk 4; Snow Storm Coming; In The Dark Forest. All acrylic on canvas, various sizes. The first three are at VK Gallery in Cambridgeshire, and the dark forest is a commissioned painting. All of these were created during early January 2017.

Just before Christmas, my partner and I both came down with a very strange virus. It wasn't a cold or flu, but it caused painful, swollen glands and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue that lasted throughout Christmas and well into the New Year. We finally managed to shake that off in January, and then it was time for me to complete my annual Tax Return by the end of the month. It quickly became apparent that I need to implement a different system this year for my accounting, because as my business has grown I'm finding that what worked before - and took far less time - really isn't very efficient now. I had to put painting on hold while I worked on that for a week or so, but consoled myself with the fact that I would soon be able to concentrate on my long overdue personal projects when the paperwork was out of the way. It was also the first time in maybe a year that I had reached the end of my commissions list, and I was excited to think that I'd finally have the time to put all of the new ideas I have into action. So I paid the larger-than-expected tax bill, and got back to work. We're in the middle of house and studio renovations at the moment and I'm also living in two different places as well, so I'm basically working wherever I can set up a temporary work space, which is disruptive to say the least. I'm actually very happy about all of this so I don't want to come across as an old moaner - I'm worried it sounds that way! It will all be worth it in the long run, it's just a little difficult right now.

Anyway, as soon as I started getting back into my art, I became ill again. Firstly with a bad migraine for a couple of days, then with what we'll politely term as "hormonal issues", immediately followed by the flu. I've spent most of February ill, and it has been truly awful. We both came down with this flu virus at around the same time and it knocked us off our feet. I'm somebody who usually gets ill maybe once, sometimes twice, during the winter season. If I'm ill twice I consider myself unlucky. This is the THIRD virus I've had this winter (I also had a cold a few weeks before the weird glandular thing over Christmas). I've mentioned this online recently, and whenever I have, I've been inundated with people saying the same thing - that the viruses this year are very intense and hard to shake off, and that there are more of them. I haven't had something that has made me feel this ill for YEARS, and it appears I'm not alone. Sadly, as I haven't been able to do anything, my work has fallen by the wayside again, we also haven't been able to get on at all with the house and new studio as planned, and I've been struggling to get well, regain my energy, and just get back to normal. I'd love to be able to replenish the money I spent on the tax bill, but as I'm working so little at the moment, my income has dropped severely over the past month or so.

Also, at the beginning of January I started a new year-long project, where I will be painting one mountain per week throughout 2017. I've been intending to create more mountain paintings for about a year now - ever since I went to Scotland! - and yet I never seemed to have the time during 2016. I thought that this would be the perfect way to encourage myself to make a little time for it each week. All was going well at first, but due to ill health I am now four weeks behind! I am going to try to catch up - it shouldn't be too difficult as I can choose how complex or quick each mountain painting can be. But as you can imagine, all of this has been very frustrating, and it's hard to feel positive about things when each day all of your energy and effort goes into just trying to feel "normal".

Well, this blog post has just turned into a massive whinge-a-thon, hasn't it?! I apologise for that, but I wanted to let you know what's been happening this year so far, and explain why I seem to have just disappeared. I also wanted to write about how I feel about my work in general at the moment and some plans going forward, but this has turned into a very long post already so I will leave that topic for another day. There are lots of positive things happening in my life right now as well so it's certainly not all bad, but I think we all go through times of struggle and maybe it's not such a bad thing to share those sometimes. Honesty is a good thing.

Here's to good health and getting back to work...and looking forward to Spring, which is just around the corner!

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The First Painting of 2017!

Happy New Year to you all! I hope 2017 will be a healthy, creative, and prosperous one. I've been thinking a lot about my work/business/career and the way I'd like it to develop this coming year, so I'll be writing about that soon. Also, my website finally has its own shop for 2017! I'm adding new items whenever I have the time, and eventually there will be a selection of prints, original paintings, and painted stones that you'll be able to buy directly from me. You can find the shop here, and I'll also be keeping my Etsy shop open too - I've just had a very busy Christmas on there, which was wonderful! A big thank you to everyone who placed an order during 2016 - your support is deeply appreciated.

So, on to the new painting!

Midnight Walk 3. Acrylic on canvas. 20x20" / 50x50cm © Natasha Newton 2017

Midnight Walk 3. Acrylic on canvas. 20x20" / 50x50cm © Natasha Newton 2017

Midnight Walk 3 was a pleasure to paint - apart from those tiny branches that actually started to drive me a little batty towards the end! ;) But I've really enjoyed painting trees like this again, and I'm now working on the companion piece to this one, so I'll be sharing that soon. I have a lot of plans for tree paintings in 2017 - my new surroundings are definitely inspiring me and it feels as if I'm being drawn back to this subject matter and new ways of depicting them.

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