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Festivals, Cattle and Art

British White cattle, reference for Caroline Skinner's art projects

Each summer I volunteer as a festival steward for Oxfam at several music festivals in the UK. If you have the time to help out and you enjoy festival life, I highly recommend it.

Last month I went to Shambala Festival, held each year in a “secret” Northants location. It’s a music festival that also includes cinema, talks, workshops in various crafts  and permaculture, and a wellbeing area with yoga, massages etc. Recycling and clearing the site afterwards are actively encouraged and one-use plastic bottles are not sold on site. 

Also, for the last few years, all food offered by festival caterers is vegetarian or vegan, with a huge range of great food on offer. The cattle that usually live on the field where we were camping may have been relieved about the lack of meat on site!

These cows are a herd of British White cattle, one of the oldest cattle breeds in England, used mainly for beef, with some milk production. This particular herd of handsome cattle dates back to the 18th century, so that is quite some pedigree!  They were in a nearby barn during the festival, so as an animal artist, I naturally spent some time sketching and photographing them for future art projects. 

Here are a few of my sketches (paintings to follow!): 

              

 

If you would like news of my animal art and exhibitions, wildlife and animal stories, plus special offers for my followers, sign up below to join my mailing list. I promise not to bombard you with emails, I never share your details, and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

You can see original paintings and giclee prints of some of my colourful farm animal art here.

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How Much Do Artists Earn?

British wildlife paintings, colourful animal art, deep box canvas wildife wall art

OPEN STUDIOS

I’ve recently finished exhibiting during the 2018 Surrey Artists’ Open Studios (SAOS) at my art studio in Merstham, Surrey. In reality, many artists don’t have a grand studio, as you’ll know if you visited some of us.  I’m fortunate to have my own small art room at home. During Open Studios half of my dining room and the conservatory also get converted to gallery space. Weather permitting, I like to paint colourful animal paintings on my easel in the garden.

It’s always lovely to meet people who come to see what I’ve been painting – for some, they will have picked me out of the SAOS brochure and made a special trip, perhaps visiting other studios in Surrey during the day as well. There are always local people who notice my bright orange sign and pop in to see what it’s all about, and family and friends who come along to support my one-person art business.

BUSINESS OR HOBBY?

Yes, I use the term art business – whilst I love what I do, it is becoming my main source of income. I love that my art is taking over from my day job, which is slowly fading into the background. People are often surprised by this, perhaps believing the starving artist myth!

I have been asked numerous times how long a painting takes (it depends on the size and complexity, but the short answer is 40 years of painting and drawing so far!), or whether I can make a living by painting. Painting is only a small part of the equation for an artist – we also need to develop skills in marketing, social media posts, planning displays for shows and exhibitions and setting them up, talking to customers, building online shops, updating websites, buying supplies and developing products, processing sales, negotiating commissions, keeping accounts etc . It’s not for the faint-hearted!

This year I tried some new things during SAOS – firstly donations to the International Fund for Animal Welfare from my sales. I also ran a contest to win a print of an animal you’ve suggested (once I’ve painted it!). I haven’t drawn the winner yet, but I will do so shortly when I get back to painting. Another aspect of being a self-employed artist is that there isn’t anyone else to run your business when there are problems (though on the plus side, I never have to ask anyone for time off either).

FAMILY CRISIS

Some of you may be aware that I closed my Open Studio unexpectedly on Friday 15th June. My apologies if you tried to visit me and were unable to return the following day. Do get in touch if you are interested in a particular artwork or look at my website or online shop. I did put out social media messages and leave a note on the door. Unfortunately we had an urgent call to visit my Mother-in-Law who had been seriously ill in hospital for some time, and who sadly passed away on Tuesday this week. 

Normal business will be resumed shortly, and I will be in touch with commission customers to discuss slightly extending my target dates. Thank you for your understanding.

Oh and to answer the question, how much do artists earn? Mostly more than the paper boy and less than the top UK business earners, just like most of you. But feel free to buy my colourful animal art while it’s still affordable! 

Stay in touch and get all my art news, animal stories and special offers just for my followers by signing up below – get 15% off your first order.

 

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Where to See Art in Surrey

Surrey Artists' Open Studios, animal art, wildlife art, Merstham art studio

The short answer is : everywhere!

There are some very talented artists in Surrey and 273 of them are taking part in the Surrey Artists’ Open Studios (SAOS) between 2nd and 17th June 2018. I will be amongst them for the 2nd year running, opening my Merstham art studio on selected dates (listed on my website).

If you are not familiar with SAOS, the idea is that artists in Surrey open their doors to show their art processes and work areas, and discuss their work with anyone who is interested, making the art experience more personal and informal than your average art gallery. Some studios are running workshops, demonstrations or special offers during their opening hours. Entry is free, and there are some great art trails to follow, or you can collect a brochure from libraries across Surrey and pick out your favourite subjects, media or artists.  Whether you love 3D art such as ceramics, jewellery and sculpture, or you would rather see photography, drawings, or paintings  of landscapes, animals or abstract art in oils, acrylic or watercolour, you will find it all in Surrey.

During SAOS in 2017 really enjoyed meeting some great people and getting direct feedback about my wildlife and animal art, but some lessons have been learnt for this year – I’ll make sure I have enough stock of my most popular prints and cards in advance, and I won’t be opening my studio on the day that the London to Brighton cycle ride goes past my front door as no-one can get here!

Some photos from my Merstham studio during SAOS 2017:

 

 What can you expect if you visit my Merstham art studio on my open days?  I will be demonstrating my colourful acrylic painting style, hopefully in the garden (weather permitting). There will be new wildlife and animal paintings on display,  and you can see a display of how I develop my paintings and enjoy free refreshments.  Entry is free, and original artworks, giclee prints and cards will be on sale from £2.50 to £300. I like to support wildlife conservation projects, so on the launch day,  Saturday 2nd June 2018 I will be donating 20% of all wildlife art sales to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (10% on all other open dates).

Here are a few paintings from my new British Wildlife painting collection:

If you’re looking for something to do in Merstham this June, why not visit the All Saints Summer Fair on 10th June 2018 from 11.30am to 3pm, and pop into my art studio as well – look out for the large orange sign outside my house at 90 Nutfield Road, Merstham RH1 3HA. 

All of my opening dates and hours can be found on my website, with details of all of the Surrey Open Studios on the SAOS website, or you can pick up a brochure at Surrey libraries (my studio is number 40 on page 22).

If you visit 4 or more art studios and vote for your favourite artist you could win a £150 voucher to spend on SAOS artwork. Go and look at some art in Surrey this June!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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British Wildlife in Surrey

hedgehog, British Wildlife Centre, animal

Is this the biggest hedgehog you’ll ever see? It stands at the entrance to the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield, Surrey, which you can visit at weekends and during school holidays. 

My 20 month-old grandson is already mad about animals, and recently came with us dressed as a character from one of his favourite stories – a Gruffalo! Those who know the story will not be surprised that he could recognise the owls before anyone pointed them out! There is also a huge barn with mice runs that cross overhead within the building. Sadly it was too cold when we visited for the mice to be running around, but we did spot a few, and he was very excited to see another character from the story!

Scottish wildcat, wildlife, catThe frequent keeper talks are informative and interesting, and give you the chance to get a close-up view of animals such as otters that come out of the water onto the bank at feeding time, and Scottish wild cats that might otherwise remain hidden from view. The wild cats might look a bit like our domesticated cats, but they really don’t like people. 


otter, British wildlife, mammal, animalThere is nothing like a child’s excitement at seeing wild animals for the first time to remind me why I support wildlife conservation charities, and I really hope that my grandchildren will still be able to experience this when they are my age…

 

 

The staff at the British Wildlife Centre are very keen on educating children so that they care about our wildlife, and they do an excellent job in helping them to develop a life-long interest in animals through the keeper talks, various information boards around the site, and hosting school trips. Adults are welcome too, so if you live near enough, or you’re visiting the area, do go and support them.

And if you can take a small child with you, even better!


resting fox, British wildlife art, animal paintingI’m currently painting a new British Wildlife collection, which will be launched at my next exhibition in Surrey at the end of May 2018. Before the official launch of these new original paintings, prints and cards,  I will be announcing a special offer just for my followers  – if you would like to be included, please join my mailing list here.

 

Hare, British Wildlife Collection, launch May 2018 A sneak peek at just 2 of the paintings- the full British Wildlife collection will be revealed in the latter part of May 2018. Watch your inbox in May for news of an exclusive special offer, only available to my followers…

Interested in finding out more?  Sign up below.

 

 

 

 

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Animals in Spring – beautiful wildlife photos

l couldn’t resist sharing the beautiful wildlife photos on this blog – enjoy!

Animals Sniffing Flowers Is The Cutest Thing Ever Flowers have the most alluring smell, and not only to the impressionable bees. We have made a list of photos that show animals enjoying a whiff or two from a petal or bloom. Kittens, nature’s cuddliest critters, look even better when they’re enjoying the sweet scents of […]

via Animals Sniffing Flowers Is The Cutest Thing Ever — Flow Art Station