Meet the Maker Week #4
day 4 : variant
Today’s prompt is ‘Detail or Variant’ so I thought I’d take a few moments to talk about the most recent (as of two years ago) addition to the Sunshine Portraits, and that’s the watercolour versions 🎨
I first started to offer these at one of my fave markets back in my home town, Nottingham. Back in 2016 @rheaclements asked if I’d like to draw people at her upcoming winter market and at first I panicked. As you can imagine, being able to offer everything involved in my regular portraits at an event just isn't possible but when Rhea asked me it got me thinking. Actually, that's a lie, the thought of drawing people in front of people terrified me and I didn't think anyone would pay for just a sketch so I kinda shied away from it, until I started an INKtober challenge.
I started playing with ink pens and watercolours, something I hadn't used for yonks but I loved it! So I put on my big girl pants and mentioned to Rhea that I might have found a way to produce super quick portraits - if I practiced! Eeep!
So... I practiced and timed myself and practiced a bit more! Eventually I felt happy that I could offer 10 minute watercolour portraits if I just did head and shoulders of people and used ink and watercolour paints. Rhea was happy to give it a shot and booked me to do Pop Up Sunshine Portraits at the Handmade Nottingham Winter Fair in November 2016.
The rest, as they say, is history! It went really well and after several handmade Nottingham markets and even a few weddings, I have conquered the fear of painting in front of people and can now confidently say that I LOVE IT!
Up until the Summer, I had only offered watercolour style portraits at events or did personal ones as I keep practicing. I absolutely LOVE creating them in this format but I found it hard to figure out how to price and offer them as commissions in a similar way to my digital portraits.
If you look back at the digital process you'll see that there's a helluvalot lot of admin time, a lot of this would work out the same with watercolour Sunshines if they were done over email. After initial emails, photo organising and agreeing what would be drawn, plus costs for P&P, then adding in studio time and actually getting to the post office, it would take so much longer. Compare this to being set up at an event and spending ten minutes drawing a lovely customer exactly as he/she is in front me and then letting them walk away with the finished portrait ten minutes later - I'm hoping you can see the difference.
I let my brain gremlins stop me from listing them as an option in my shop for so long, until this year when I just thought ‘fuck it!’ and went for it. The digital ones are still by far the most popular but I’ve done some wonderful watercolour commissions this year and even more exciting is the ones I’ve been employed to paint at weddings!
So, not only did the 10 minute portraits help rekindle my love for painting but it’s helped give my business a new focus for 2019 with weddings and more pop up events *fingers crossed* So this variant of Sunshines is a very exciting one for me and something I hope you enjoy seeing pop up on the feed now and then!
As it happens I’m actually going to be painting portraits at the Cambridge Made Christmas Market TOMORROW (from 10am) so if you’re in Cambridge and fancy turning yourself into a Sunshine, please do come and say Hello 👋🏻