Today’s contributor, in her own words, is Alice Sheridan. I am slightly envious of Alice, it must be said, because as well as being fantastic in pictures, she’s also pretty wonderful in words, as you will see here and on her blog.
My name is Alice Sheridan and I am an artist: painter and printmaker.
I am also a busy mum with all that entails – as the children grow older (13 and 9) life just seems to get more complex with even longer days.
My business is not really a business. In fact it was the biggest hurdle I felt to joining Club 100. I thought this was only for ‘proper’ businesses who really had a business plan, a product, a market. But during our first call Judith made me see that I already had all those things; a good idea of what I wanted to achieve, my products are my paintings and I already have a loyal market who buy my work.
I trained as graphic designer but felt no desire to return to work for someone else after I had children. Yet I missed the creative output so I started going to drawing classes again. It was a chance meeting with a neighbour who called herself an artist (and yet seemed to be perfectly normal!) that gave me the confidence to show my work publicly for the first time and make the first sales.
That was six years ago and my work has developed since then but working on your own can get lonely. As an artist you have to set all your own deadlines and boundaries. Without them the possibilities are limitless and that can be pretty daunting! Learning how to stay focussed on one main thing at a time is a constant battle.
Being part of a supportive group who will be cheerleaders and give another point of view when asked is extremely gratifying. It’s a two-way process and I learn much from seeing and understanding what other people are going through. Knowing that I have a back-up resource has given me the confidence to push myself further, and keep myself on track even when things happen that derail me. Balancing a long term vision with what I can do today is hugely helpful – being able to check back against my intentions is a great way of keeping sight of that vision.
This year I have started a blog, and begun to get to grips with social media and explore how that can help me extend who sees my work. I used to find it intimidating that there were so many artists out there, now I find inspiration from other people who are doing the same thing as I see ways to publicise my work that feel comfortable for me. I no longer feel like I’m working in isolation and making connections and having comments back via my Facebook page and Instagram can be very encouraging. I have had worked selected for a national print show on the South Bank and completed my first commission which feels like a big milestone.
The things I love best about working for myself are also the hardest – being in control of my own time and balancing that with all my other life commitments. I love creating something that didn’t exist before. That is still a great thrill for me and again when other people see a painting or a print and respond so positively at the Open Studio events. Ultimately creating work is no use unless it means something to other people so although it has to be driven by me initially, it has to find a home too.
The surprises have been realising that other people in business don’t always know all the answers at the beginning. I’m learning to trust that I will learn as I go along. Letting go of needing a perfect plan has given me a sense of freedom and faith that if I keep working, things will keep moving forward.
I am building my website myself and I love the satisfaction that comes from figuring out things I had no idea about a year ago. Even if it takes me a while, that’s fine. The thing I’m most looking forward to is a set of large scale abstract paintings from a series of sketchbook work I did in the summer, and participating in a new Art Fair for the first time.
See and read more about Alice and her life and work as an artist at her website: AliceSheridan.com
And her Facebook Page: Facebook.com/AliceSheridanArt