We first went to look at the room that would become our studio on a balmy October day in 2015. Stepping inside, the chill of the air was like a shock to the senses and the first thing we said to the landlord was, “If we take this we’ll have to install a wood burner.”
“Good idea,” he said, “That’ll be no problem to me.”
We like things with a bit of character so, once we’d signed the lease, we hunted about on the web and found a lovely enamel stove of vintage years. Thrilled with this beautiful object we gave it an overhaul, found some stove pipe in the local metal merchant and as soon as we had the keys for the studio we carted the lot down there and set about installing it. They hadn’t named this model ‘Espresso’ for nothing and it was quick to heat every morning. As winter started to bite outside the stove toasted the studio, giving us day after day of practical warmth and visual delight as well as a pot full of bubbling supper by evening.
And then … an email from the landlord with a form to fill out: questions about the stove and what about a certificate?
To keep things short let’s just say that the next 6 weeks were a nightmare of red tape and faltering on the edge of having to give up the studio as without the stove the place would be unaffordable to heat. We kept working on our creative projects in between the letters and phone calls and eventually the certification came through to keep the landlord happy.
The whole experience reminded us of why we’ve lived an alternate lifestyle for so long, of how empowering it is to make our own decisions, assess our own risks and not have ‘nanny’ ruling our lives.
One of the creative projects from that time is ‘WOOD BURNER’, a watercolour of a scene at Buckler’s Hard in the New Forest. The 18th century cottage seen through the trees would never be allowed to be built today … nanny would definitely say “NO!”
Click HERE to see more about this watercolour.
We are privileged to meet really lovely people through our art classes and many of them have become our friends. When we were in Spain we spent a couple of winters in the Mar Menor and gave art classes in La Manga. The hours ashore with those enthusiastic students led to the creation of a pastel drawing called ‘The Art Class’, a fun piece to remind ourselves of our time in Spain.
Starting from scratch in a fresh place where we know few people is nothing new for us: when you choose to travel the world on your own boat it’s what you expect and we have ‘started again’ many times. The difference this time is that we have taken on ‘premises’ with monthly commitments of rent and utilities. The studio has to pay its way and we have to learn how to market ourselves. So we’re studying business marketing, a deep learning curve, especially when it comes to online tools like social media. We’ve been thrown into the deep end, we have to learn new strokes to stay afloat and the water is cold.
Right … we have a pastel drawing and some marketing, where to next? Well, we decide to put them together to increase our visibility in the area. As the local art shop/gallery has agreed to advertise our classes in their window we take a chance that they might consider expanding their offer to include the pastel drawing as part of the visual enticement to get people to come to class with us. So we find an old frame, mat and mount up the picture and take it to the art shop along with our advertising poster.
The response to the pastel is so enthusiastic it feels like being dunked in warm chocolate and left in a field of wild flowers.
“But,” the shop owner says, “get rid of the awful frame and give me a price. It’ll go quick.”
“It’s not really for sale,” we reply, “it’s a marketing tool.”
“Make it for sale … get some prints done.”
Good grief! We’re very serious about so much of our work and here we have a whimsical little drawing that’s getting far more attention than we expected. What do we do?
- Take ‘The Art Class’ to the fine art printers for scanning.
- Order a frame and present ‘The Art Class’ in the best way possible.
- Get ‘The Art Class’ in the window to do its job of attracting new clients.
- Think how rice and peas can be a great daily meal until we fill the hole left in our budget.
- Thank our lovely friends in Spain, especially Angie who is such a meerkat enthusiast.
If you’re a meerkat enthusiast or an art lover, an art buyer or philanthropist or anyone who wants to have a better look at ‘The Art Class’ click here and you’ll be whizzed over to the Gallery page on our website where you’ll find the original drawing for sale and prints to order. Cards will be available soon.