The Instagram effect

30 June 2020

This is my third post during lockdown and although things have eased, I am still feeling the effects. One of them has been my relationship with Instagram.  I felt I should try and understand it a bit better. I was fairly new to it and, once lockdown happened, I was determined to get to grips with it. I know that I have made mistakes and I will proabbaly never feel that comfortable with it (privacy etc.) but it was worth a go. So I started off by posting one painting a day from a series of paintings that I had done for an exhibition 10 years ago called the ‘A-Z of still life’.

It was good to revisit the work and it felt like an anniversary (I had given some of the proceeds to the Artists’ General Benevolent Institution as I was the RI’s AGBI steward that year). After the A-Z series, a friend suggested that I posted paintings for the numbers 1-10 which suited me because I like doing still life paintings of rows of objects. Each day I did a number – forinstance, on the day allocated to ‘7’, I would post all my still life paintings that included 7 objects.

Tied up in knots 29 x 91cm

 ‘Tied up in knots’, 29 x 91cm (7 pieces of string) – winner of the ‘Baohong Artists’ Watercolour Prize for a member of the RI’ 2020 – see here

It was at this point that I noticed the start of the #artistsupportpledge initiative on Instagram, whereby artists could post their work at a price of £200 or under and, once they had reached £1000 of sales, they would pledge to buy the work of another artist.  This is a thoughtful and expanding initiative, built on trust and generosity during a time when artists are being badly effected through the shutting of exhibitions and galleries.  I started by selling prints from the A-Z series and I was soon able to buy my first work. As luck would have it, I went on to Instagram at the same time as Claire Sparkes RI had put a painting up for sale and I was delighted to be able to snap it up.  I have always admired her work and this is a little gem.

 Feather and stone, 14.5 x 17cm by Claire Sparkes RI

Reproduction prints have their place (the ones that I did are good quality, small editions and can be seen here ) and it’s nice to offer things that are affordable when perhaps the originals are out of reach but it started me thinking about doing very small paintings that could fit into the ‘under £200 category’ especially as I had started doing a few little paintings towards a Lockdown A-Z. Since then I have been painting little pictures of little objects. They have sold well on Instagram and have led to several commissions (do get in touch if you are interested in one). The sales have meant that I have been able to support more artists by buying their work and I have gained some great pictures. Lucky me!  It’s been fun and interesting but I know that I still have not mastered Instagram or the magical ways that other people seem to use it – it is not second nature…..  larger paintings are calling to me from my ‘waiting’ list!

Lipstick on damask 11 x 9.5cm   Two clothes pegs 11 x 10.5cm   Knot and key 12.5 x 5.75   Three marbles, 6 x 8cm   Feather, 11.25 x 6.5