So as you, dear reader(s) know, I did it. I reached my goal of 100 portrait paintings in 2020. In some ways looking back on it, it feels like it should have been easier. I mean, in the end, I apparently got to 109, but until around November, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. And if I were to paint two portraits a week for one entire year, I’d end up with 104. And for me, at least, two a week is very very doable. So why was it touch and go?
Well, part of it was, for the first few months I didn’t even consider it. So there were weeks that I only did one painting. I’ve mentioned that in this blog before, but since I paint every day (at least as I remember it), I’m still surprised that that happened. What was I doing during those weeks? Maybe I was researching and didn’t save the notes? I mean, research is a good use of time, but I really don’t know. Anyway, there are other reasons that are more obvious, including the unavoidable fact that some of the paintings don’t work out the way I hoped. I definitely worked on more than 120 paintings, but some of them will never see the light of day. They were ripped off the stretchers they were painted on (which were re-stretched and prepared) and are now stored in a secret vault near the centre of the earth. Or something. There was also around three weeks that my wife and I spent together when she was off work, so that accounts for a few weeks of no painting.
Anyway, before I recap what I did I just want to mention that over the course of 2020, the only real feedback I got on my work, other than from family and friends (some of whom are artists, of course), was from Facebook and especially Instagram. I’m not saying all I did was try to beat the Instagram algorithm–I mean, I wouldn’t have painted all those politicians and imaginary characters if I was, because, let’s face it the pop culture stuff does best by far. But I certainly hoped that I could get lots of attention, followers and eventually sales through Instagram, so it did influence my output.
An example of this, is my painting of Bubbles with one of his cats (Bubs and Gary Laser Eyes) from Trailer Park Boys. It did pretty well on Instagram, so I did most of the main characters on that show. My wife and I were very very late to the Sopranos party, but we finally watched it and loved it. So I went ahead and did a few portraits of the characters, and they did just okay. But there were some surprises, I started to do portraits of cartoon characters, which was a nice break from semi-realism and some of them did very well. But the big surprise was my portrait of Beth Harmon from the Queen’s Gambit, which I painted just because I want to, became my fifth most popular post. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the fact that my portrait of Fleabag from earlier in the year didn’t do that well at all. Both very popular shows, but maybe I hit the Queen’s Gambit at just the right time? They’re both still available for sale, so I still need to get them in front of more eyes.
Anyway, it was a great year artistically for me at least. Please check out my instagram @chrissimoniteart this week to see 50 paintings painted in the second half of 2020 (ten per day). Once again, Happy New Year!