Violet Vert Is Born!

I've had some really interesting discussions during the past few weeks with a couple of artist friends and my fiancé, about the art I would like to make alongside my usual work and also which direction I should take my work in. To cut a long story short, for a while now I've wanted to develop a collection of work that is really quite different to the landscapes, birds, trees, and astronomy art I've become known for. To be completely clear, I will definitely still be continuing with these! But in the past, when I've attempted to change my colour palette, subject matter, or style, I've lacked the confidence to do it. I became concerned that it didn't 'fit in' with my other work, I wasn't sure how to brand or market it, and I wondered if anyone would even like it or whether it was actually any good. Anyway, I've decided that now is the time to really go for this - creatively it's what I feel I need to do and I don't want to keep putting it off. Dominic suggested that I should perhaps have an alter ego in the way some artists and writers do when they want to create something totally different to the work they've become known for. At first I was unsure, and then I thought, "This is a brilliant idea!". We tried to think of a name for the Natasha who will create this new work. I've always loved the name Violet, and so Violet Vert was born! (Vert being the French for Green).

Essentially this will be the name of the online shop and the name/brand I will sell this work under, but unlike a lot of alter egos, you'll know it's me (mainly because I'm telling you!). But Violet Vert is courageous; she creates the work she wants to create without all of the worries and doubts I have. She's totally free to do as she chooses, and is brave in her choices. And so a new era begins...

Before I go, would you like to hear a funny story?! Yesterday afternoon I'd been working on a logo design for Violet Vert, and when Dominic saw the design he said, "Oh, I must show you these!". 'These' being a beautiful pair of wooden glove stretchers, probably Victorian, that he'd discovered in the cellar of the house! As I was then going to photograph the logo to share on Instagram, they proved to be the perfect prop at the perfect time - I love them!

The hand in the logo represents me - to my mind it looks more like a glove, and symbolises the persona of Violet Vert that I can put on or take off like a glove. The leaves represent growth and my interest in nature - which is also where I gain most of my inspiration. I look forward to sharing more of Violet Vert with you in the future.

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10 Facts About Me: Part Two

Studio Desk, Suffolk © Natasha Newton 2017

Studio Desk, Suffolk © Natasha Newton 2017

When I posted the first 10 of the '20 Facts About Me' here a few days ago, I mentioned that I'd probably be doing a Part Two, so here it is!

11. I find everything to do with farts really funny. I mean REALLY funny, in the way a 12 year old boy would find them funny. A man farted on the train the other day and it was all I could do not to acknowledge it and/or fall off my chair with laughter.

12. I get bad migraines and have done so since the age of 15, but they were only diagnosed as migraines a few years ago.

13. I love neon pink.

14. I live in two places right now: Suffolk (on the east coast of England) and Surrey (south of London).

15. I lived in Paris for a while between 2010-2014 on a part-time basis.

16. I eat chocolate every day. A little of what you fancy...

17. My work has been published in at least three books and eight magazines so far, and has been used as the cover art on several more.

18. I want to launch a range of products with my designs on them. We're looking into it.

19. I am quiet, very polite, and laid back, but if I see injustice, rudeness, or when someone pushes me too far I can certainly stand up for myself!

20. I believe the most important things in the world are love and kindness. Kindness is hugely underrated.

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A Life Update & Deciding Where To Go From Here

I've really been out of the blogging loop over the past six months or so; despite my best intentions I seem to have only managed to update the blog very infrequently. It has at turns been a wonderful, exciting, frustrating, difficult, inspiring, questioning, 'up and down' time, and I think that, sometimes, when you have a lot going on in your life, it helps to take time to work things out in your own head before sharing them publicly.

Alphabet Painted Stones © Natasha Newton 2017

Alphabet Painted Stones © Natasha Newton 2017

To be honest, I'm still working them out. This year has been a strange one so far. A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote about the fact that I was ill for much of the first two months of 2017. This severely hampered my ability to work with any kind of consistency, and as a result I saw my sales drop, which is what often happens. I generally find that the more work I create the more I sell, and at the same time, the more opportunities seem to come my way. It's almost as if the universe rewards my hard work! But the moment I stop for a while, so do the sales and the enquiries. It's bizarre - I would never have thought it would have such an effect, but it really does. Have any of you experienced this too?

I think that this fear of everything slowing down - or stopping altogether - creates a lot of anxiety within me. It takes a lot to admit to feeling like this, but it's true. Even when I feel as if I need a break for a couple of weeks or so, or I want to take the time to develop new ideas or a new body of work, I'm scared to do so. This is the thing with building much of your career via the internet; you need to create new content constantly and post it online all the time to keep people interested and to keep growing your following. It seems to me that if you 'disappear' for even a week - if you don't post any new work online, and don't spend a lot of time 'liking' and commenting on other people's posts - it has an effect. You'll start losing followers, and without getting too technical (I actually can't, because I don't fully understand how it works myself!) it seems to impede your ability to be 'seen' when you do return to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc., due to their various complicated algorithms, which decide how 'relevant' you are and where your posts show up - and even if they show up at all - in the timelines/feeds of your followers. It can sometimes feel that the following you've taken so long to build up can easily be taken away. I wonder whether this is the reason that some of the artists & illustrators I follow online with the largest followings post once a day or even several times a day, each and every day? Maybe they have realised this too, and their diligence has paid off? Personally, I sometimes go for days without posting anything! I try not to do this, but I find that life gets in the way, I get busy, and I want to cherish the special moments with those I love in the real world, without becoming obsessed with social media. Generally though, to become really successful online, you have to be at least a little bit obsessed with social media, but it can feel as if you're on a treadmill at times.

I think it wouldn't bother me nearly as much if I was just doing all of this as a hobby, or sharing parts of my life with a small number of friends and followers online for fun. But for me, it's my livelihood. It's the only way I have of making money at the moment. My very wise fiancé said to me:

"You will never see on someone's gravestone: Here lies the body of xxxxx. He had 10,000 Instagram followers."

It's a good point and it did kind of put it into perspective for me!

So I need to find the right balance between making time to regularly post online and engage with people, but not to let social media or online followings dictate the course of my art and career. After all, there are many ways to build a career. And to create the work I want to create in the future...well, it will take time. I won't go into detail about that right now, but we've been making many plans over the past few months, and I've spent a long time talking through with family and friends which path I wish to take. I've been making some changes behind the scenes already, because what worked 5 years ago doesn't work for me now. I'm sorry if this sounds cryptic; I promise I'm not doing this deliberately! Do you see what i mean about being reluctant to share my thought process publicly - it's hard to know how much to say; what to share and what not to share right now.

I was intending to write more in this post about just how weird 2017 has been so far (the 'ups and downs' I mentioned earlier), and how to cope when you go from an extremely busy period in your career to a quiet or uncertain period, and the anxiety that this brings. Is that something you'd be interested in hearing about, whether or not you're a self-employed or freelance creative? Because I'd be happy to write about that subject at length in another post! I think I'll leave it there for today, but I'd love to hear from any of you with your thoughts and comments, either via Facebook or Twitter, or you can contact me by email if you'd prefer.

Oh yes, one last thing! I have now finally added a shop to the website, where I'll be selling many of my original paintings on canvas as well as the larger painted stone collections! After the success of my Etsy shop (which will remain open in the same way as before) I've realised just how much I love selling directly to my collectors and customers and having that personal contact with them, as well as knowing where my artwork will be going to live, which is something that doesn't really happen when you sell through a gallery. There is also free worldwide delivery on all orders of original paintings through the new shop - if you'd like to take a look, you can find it here: www.natashanewton.com/shop  I'll be adding more work as and when it's completed, so please check back regularly and contact me if you have any questions. Thank you!

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10 Facts About Me

10factsaboutme_blog_natashanewton_1500x1500.jpg

I was tagged on Instagram to share '20 Facts About Me', and I really enjoyed reading about the person who'd tagged me and finding out more about her! I decided to take her up on the offer and join in, as it seemed like fun. Due to time constraints I'm sticking to just 10 random facts this time, but if you all enjoy this post there may be a Part Two where I add another 10 in the future!

These were first posted on Instagram this morning, and since then I've received an amazing response from people, many of whom left incredibly kind, touching, and heartfelt comments that I deeply appreciate.

Ok, here goes...

1. I've been a full time, professional artist and illustrator for 10 years this year. Before that I always had a second job to help bring in a regular income. 

2. One of those jobs was as a chambermaid at a really nice hotel. I met a handful of famous people while doing this job and it opened my eyes to a lot of things!

3. I've always had an interest in the paranormal, fuelled by many strange and unexplained experiences throughout my life.

4. I love the smell and taste of coffee but cannot drink it. I'm super sensitive to it and can't tolerate even half of one weak, milky cup! But I'm generally ok with tea, and so that's my hot drink of choice.

5. I sadly lost my long term partner to cancer in 2014. It was the most horrific thing I've ever been through, and I'm still dealing with the anxiety and sadness within me, and finding ways to cope with the difficult feelings I have. 

6. But then in 2016 I met my current partner (now my fiancé - pictured with me above) who has brought light, happiness, and a huge amount of laughter into my life. We had actually known each other and had been friends for 10 years online before we met in person! 

7. In late 2015 I was asked to take part in something so huge and so exciting that I was bursting to tell everyone, but couldn't and still can't because I signed a NDA / contract and I'm bound to silence! 

8. Art is the thing that kept me going through my grief - I threw myself into my work and it was the valuable focus and purpose I needed.

9. I listen to probably hundreds of documentaries and podcasts each year - I have them playing in the background while I work. I love learning about new subjects and have a very curious nature!

10. I am an INFJ. Apparently this personality type is the rarest, making up around 1% of the population. When I discovered this and read all about it, a lot of things in my life began to make sense for the first time.

[If you like this post and want to show it some love - or would like to see Part Two! - don't forget to press the little heart in the bottom right corner, or share it with your friends on social media by clicking on the 'share' link, where a drop down menu will appear with various options. Thank you!]