I’ve got some news to share… In a just couple of days, I will be taking a plane headed for the U.S.! I’m trying to mentally prepare for the shock of not only venturing further than my front door, or the much-walked streets of my neighbourhood, but crossing the Atlantic and setting up house for a year in Michigan! While this is only a temporary move, spending a year in another country certainly entails sorting out a whole lot of life things!
There has been much anticipation surrounding this upcoming move. I’m thinking of the new adventures I’ll have, the new landscapes that will influence the themes of my paintings, and the opportunity to meet new people & hopefully make some connections with others in the arts. At the same time, many questions have been swirling around in my mind: What should I leave behind and take with me to continue my painting practice? What does this mean for my still-available paintings? How can I plan for my business during this year abroad? In the following, I’ll share what I’ve planned so far and what I’m looking forward to…
Looking at my open, empty suitcase, the question of what to bring in terms of my painting materials is easily answered: not much! I will be bringing my trusty brushes, some of which have been with me for years and were previously my grandfather’s, passed down to me. Due to space, weight, and the messiness of paint, I will be leaving much of the rest of my atelier behind. While the cost of stocking up on materials is daunting, the opportunity of trying out new materials is exciting! Perhaps I’ll experiment with different types of paint, pastels, or inks!
Beyond the suitcase, I’ve been thinking about what this means for my business. Over the last several months, I have developed my website and webshop, invested in marketing and promotion, and have had some success in selling via other online platforms, including Saatchi Art and Catawiki. Here’s how I will continue my business during the next year:
- With packing and shipping support here in Belgium, I am able to continue to run my webshop and keep my paintings available on other online points of sale. This means, if you are interested in purchasing a painting already for sale, you can do so with ease. Please get in touch if you have any questions. If you’re interested in finding out more about my packaging process, read about it here.
- Biweekly blogs and, for my subscribers, newsletters with studio updates, will stay the same! Become a subscriber here!
In reflecting on how I would like my year in the U.S. to go, I’ve come up with three general themes to guide my actions and decisions: Exploration, Experimentation, & Development.
Exploration: I have spent a grand total of one weekend in Michigan thus far. I don’t know a lot about it. I hear there are lakes, forests, and a lot of coast. In Ann Arbor, where I will be living, there are many farmers’ markets and seasonal delights, like apple cider! I look forward to exploring the city and the surrounding landscapes, which I am sure will influence my work.
I am also excitedly anticipating reuniting with my Canadian family, who I have not seen since January 2020. I expect my new themes will also be influenced by spending some time in the Canadian Maritimes provinces. Perhaps some more works that focus on the red cliffs of the Fundy coast will come about.
Experimentation: As mentioned above, I plan on taking this opportunity to expand my experimentation with materials. This past year, I have mainly painted using acrylics on stretched cotton or linen canvas. The constraints of travel inspire flexibility and creativity. I’m bringing sketchbooks with me and plan to work more frequently on paper, in addition to making paintings on canvas. I’m looking forward to seeing how mixing it up with materials influences my style.
Development: My goal for this year abroad is to continue to develop my technical painterly skills, to stay curious and follow my evolving interests in subjects and themes, and to grow my business by continuing to invest in marketing and networking both on and offline.
I will be making new work while in the U.S., which I will share as collections and/or series. A goal of mine is to exhibit some of this work while in the U.S.
While there are some things we can plan for in life—where to go and what to pack—there are many aspects that remain a surprise. I’m as ready as I can be for this adventure and look forward to discovering what Michigan has to offer!
Thanks for reading!
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