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Good Times & frustrations

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

I am so excited to finally show you the finished beach themed artwork I have been working on! The brief was a torn family photo at Bondi Beach, I was given some background to a family member (love of music, specific bands, crochet, sport, a mystery lover and the 1950s) and my client was wanting the essence of the photo to be captured in the artwork.

When I get a commission, I like to brain storm on Pinterest and share my ideas with my client which is exactly what I did with this one. I am a visual learner, so Pinterest is the best for me to get the ball rolling. This one however, took me ages to get started. The photo was so beautiful, and I didn't want to ruin it, I wanted to do it justice. Making my own pictures is easier because I have the image in my head or I work unintentionally, and the just idea pops out of the page. Commissions are a completely different ball game. There are expectations and ideas already set for you by your client and you don't want to disappoint them.

I learned a lot doing this particular artwork, business wise and about myself. To be honest, I quite often suffer from "Impostor Syndrome". I don't know if people suffer this in other forms of careers or if it is an art thing? I know I am not alone in the art world. I hear it all the time.

I think about how I haven't had any formal training and how some of my competitors have and have noted it. I think about how much effort I put into my artworks, hours and hours of work, the hours of self-led study it took me to get to this point and how some non-artists don't understand and appreciate this, so I feel like I undersell my art.

Do you know what? STUFF THAT!

I sell my art, people come to me for commissions, people send their kids to me to be taught, adults come to me to be taught. They have faith in me and so should I. If people are coming to me wanting art, it is because they like what I do, they believe in me and I should believe in me too.


Even if I haven't been to Uni or art school, I am good at what I do. It has been a long journey from an uninspiring high school teacher, to Community College classes while the kids I nannied for were at school, to online courses while my own kids were little. I have a passion for art. I have worked hard at coming up with my own style. I have evolved and so has my art.

Teaching the kids at Riv Kids, the home school group I used to run, gave me the confidence to start teaching from home. Word spread, and I have to turn kids away. Word spread more and the idea for the Art Classes For Busy Mums group and Art Journaling Fridays came about.


Back to the commission, I literally agonised over the photo. I had ideas, but I couldn't put pen to paper, or paper to the board in my case as I was doing a collage. A conversation with a friend about "artist block" inspired me to set an intention before I started, and it worked! It got me over the first hurdle and I worked until early morning to finish the background. I started off writing on the canvas board, all the ideas I had been given and ideas I had about the artwork. I chose papers from Bondi Road Art Supplies, my own hand printed paper, music sheets, paper doilies and scrap booking paper to create an above view of Bondi Beach. Some of the papers I cut into scallop shapes to create waves. I also found a map of Sydney which is where the photo and the family are from. Paper doilies, which reminded me of crochet, were used as the waves splashing on the shoreline.

Hand cut paper
Scallop cut paper to create waves

My business mentor, Kelly Heylen set me straight when I had another block.

Once I got it in my head that I was good enough and I was going to make something my client knew I was capable of, because that was the reason she came to me in the first place, ideas kept coming to me.

The next thing to work on was the photo itself. It was torn with a hole out of the middle. Having the straight edges didn't fit with the wave feel so I cut around it. I tested out different papers to put behind the photo to bring it off the page to make it a focal point. I didn't want it to get lost in the words. I chose a very bubbly textured, pearl coloured paper which I thought highlighted the photo perfectly and glued them together.

photo of friends at Bondi Beach
Testing out the beautiful pearl, bubbly textured paper

I worked out a theme of love, splash and music and that is what repeated itself throughout the artwork.

Neil Diamond, ABBA, Aretha Franklin, Herb Albert and The Tijuana Band was some of the bands spoken about. I set about scouring Pinterest for band quotes and lyrics. I finally decided on Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. I think the lyrics really capture the freedom and youth of the photo.

Next up was the font. I googled 1950s fonts and came up a couple I thought fit. I tested them out and came up with "the one". After I finished putting the markings on the lettering, I thought the letters looked like an octopus which was totally unintentional. I thought, "Oh well, it goes with the beach theme!".

I used thick, coarse paper under the words which reminded me of sand underfoot. Under that I used black and beige paper with a wave and splash print on it. I glued them together and set about the placement of the words.

The artwork didn't feel finished. All my artworks have lots of pen markings on them so that is what I had to do. I had been messaging my client sneak peaks throughout the process and told her I would be finished in a couple of days and sent the invoice. The money was on my account the next day and she hadn't even seen it yet! Fist pump!

I gave the artwork a wave and splash border and splashes all over the blue paper "waves". I put some markings around the photo too, to tie in with the musical notes on the "sandy" background.

I was so happy with it when I was finished. The photos taken outside turned out well too, no filters needed.

The day I was to deliver the artwork, I was so nervous, I felt sick!

Would my client like it?

Did I do the photo justice?

Was it good enough?

The response I got said yes to all of the above. I breathed a sigh of relief.

She wrote a beautiful review on my Facebook page as well.

After an old black and white photo of my mother and her friends enjoying life on Bondi Beach in the 1950's was accidentally damaged I asked Jade to create something with the remains. The result is a beautiful and complex work which captures the essence of the photo and explores several themes related to my mother's life - the beach, music and friendship. I am delighted with it and can't thank Jade enough.

So, what have I learned from all this?

1. I think not setting a time frame for myself was a downfall which I have learnt from. I think I would have completed it quicker and gotten over my hurdles quicker if I had that time constraint.

2. This was my second adult commission, usually I do kids ones where I have a set formula and know how long they will take.

I think not realising how long it was going to take me to make - 7 hours of art and research, was a downfall too as I couldn't give my client an idea upfront of how much it was going to cost, so ended up underselling myself as I didn't want her to freak out and feel obliged to pay. The previous artwork she had bought from me was considerably cheaper and again I had under priced myself.

I am not worried or stressed out AT ALL about these things.

I am ridiculously grateful for having been through this process and for learning the things I have from it.

It is all about the journey, and I can work on how to do it better next time.

So, what AM I going to do about it?

1. I am going to go back through all my artworks on my website and price them accordingly.

2. I am going to come up with a better plan for quoting adult commissions, so the time frame and amount is clear for my clients.

3. I am going to set my intentions before I start an artwork, and each time I sit down to work on it. It blows my mind how clear my head is each time I do this. If you want to read more about setting intentions you can read my blog about manifesting your desires.

4. Stop speaking negatively about my value.

I need to get my butt into gear as I have 3 more commissions waiting!

So now over to you, my readers.

1. What do you do to get yourself out of a rut?

2. Do you suffer from Impostor Syndrome?

3. What have you done to make your work easier for you?

4. What have you stopped doing in order to move forward?

I would love to hear from you!

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