Updated: Mar 18
This isn’t the newsletter and blog I’d planned to send this week. The world's events are all a bit surreal.
These are my first thoughts, some positive stories and some nice pictures.
York Open Studios 2020 cancelled
“In light of the Prime minister's announcement yesterday, sadly we have made the decision to cancel York Open Studios 2020.
If you have a copy of our directory, remember that our artists are artists all year round and you can still get in touch with them, sign up to their newsletters and see their work in their upcoming exhibitions.
We would like to thank everyone who has supported us this year, especially our artists who have worked so hard.
We'll see you all in 2021!”
I need time to gather my thoughts properly. These are my first few. I'd had a few restless nights with the uncertainty.What if York Open Studios is cancelled? What if I need to cancel my workshops? How will I earn money etc etc. Of course this was layered on top of, will vulnerable family and friends be ok? How can I help the local community etc?
Last night I finished cleaning up from day 3 of teaching linocut workshops. A very welcome escape but hard to come back into the news. Last night knocked me for six.
I did look at all my part printed designs in the studio and think what's the point. I had such enthusiasm for them over the last few weeks. This upside down world and the uncertainty has messed up my head. I’ve received some lovely supportive messages. “You MUST keep going with your amazing prints! The world needs colour. So keep going!” I will. Might just need to get my ducks in a row first!
After my initial ahhhhhhh panic and pity party, I go into problem solving overdrive. It’s not the first time I’ve faced challenges of this nature. I’ve been through 4 redundancies and out of work through a change in life plan. I’ve been described as being resilient, determined and resourceful. In the words of my friend Jules Wyman who's a life coach “You always find a way.”
Some of the story is on my creative journey blog.
At 3am my problem solving head kicked in well and truly. I’ve not really slept. I sat in bed eating a bowl of muesli, scribbling down ideas.
Financially I’m in a fortunate position compared to many. I don't employ anyone, have low overheads and a lovely home and studio.
Aside from workshops, most of my time since December has been dedicated to creating new designs for York Open Studios and our York Printmakers exhibition at the North York Moors Center in May. The investment in time and results of that work were meant to bring in income over the next few months. Well there’s a spanner in that!
I’ve taken lots of photos and videos of my work in progress on my new designs. Over the next few weeks I’ll start to share them through social media, blogs on my website and videos on YouTube.
We can't control whats going on around us. We can control our response. How can I future proof my business? How can I generate a bit of income to see me through? For now I'll focus on one day at a time.
As an artist I’m fortunate that I am already set up for e-commerce with an online shop. I’ve no doubt everyone will stop buying non essential items and art is a luxury after all. If you would like to brighten up your walls or someone’s birthday it’s there. You can also contact me directly and pay by BACS which saves me a little in card processing fees. If you’re in York I have a way of leaving your purchase in a safe place and may be able to deliver on my bike too.
I’d been holding off stocking up on frames and mounts for YOS. I need to get my head round how much to invest in those to fulfil any orders. Bear with me on that. A job for later this week.
How to order my linocut prints
My original linocut prints can be ordered through my online shop.
You can also contact me at 07808 472379 and email@example.com
York pick up point.
I can deliver by bike locally in York. Further afield if the sun’s shining!
Digitally printed greetings cards
£3 each or 4 for £10
Unframed original prints
5 x 7” £20
Small square £55 - £65
Large square £80 - £90
Gift vouchers are available for linocut workshops or linocut prints. Get in touch to order.
Mothers Day gifts
Next my thoughts turned to helping others.
Loneliness and isolation is rubbish at the best of times. What would happen if everyone popped a note to their neighbours to see if they need support?
I had a call this morning from one of my elderly neighbours a few doors down. She was ringing to say that she was happy for others to ring her if they needed someone to have a chat too. We've since had a good natter on the phone. She doesn't have family and is normally very sociable, going to lots of groups. At the moment she's more upbeat than I am. If you'd like to do the same idea, there's a draft copy of a note to print off here.
The creative community pulls together
In response to York Open Studios being cancelled. Terry Brett, the owner of local gallery Pyramid Gallery will be creating an event on their website for York artists. Keep an eye on their website for that going live.
I’m a member of York Printmakers. This month we’ll be having our meeting online.
Sharing our latest work within our closed Facebook group page, to give feedback and support each to other.
There are many other creative ideas bubbling around.
I will need to postpone workshops until the situation improves. I know it's not the same but I will look at ways of teaching linocut workshops online if this is something of interest. I’ll be in touch with anyone booked onto any of my workshops individually this week.
I’ve got a whole host of ideas up my sleeve. Things like virtual mini linocut tutorials and creative projects to try.
I need to find my mojo to finish the new linocut prints I’ve started first. But watch this space, I’ll be in touch.
If you are thinking of buying some lino cutting tools and materials please buy local or from small companies rather than Amazon.
Lino and most tools you’ll need can be bought from Hawthorn Printmaking Supplies in York. They’re a small family run company that I buy most of my things from.
In times like this it's even more important to look after your mental health. In fact I was writing this newsletter and realised I should be kinder to myself and listen to some of my own advice! At 3pm I unplugged, mowed the lawn, took photos of my hellebores, did my first outdoor yoga of the year, then made myself some proper food, while dancing around to a favourite CD. Boy did I need that!
Things I find helpful:
Mediating. I like the Insight Timer app, it’s free.
Time in nature. Noticing the little things. Watching things grow. Listening to bird song.
Riding my bike or going for a walk. At least I can still do that.
Making things. Being absorbed in something focuses me in that moment and takes my mind off other things.
Baking. If you’re craving a slice of cake I’m sure I can fix that!
Yoga. Looks like it'll be self practice for a while.
A few things that help:
Stay connected and maintain social networks.
Engage in healthy activities you enjoy and find relaxing.
Eat healthy food.
Keep informed with the facts but minimise watching things that make you feel anxious.
Share positive messages.
Thank you for all your support as always.
With love to you and all your family.
Update 18 March 2020 I’m already overwhelmed by the response I’ve had from people on email. After 4 redundancies I’m well practiced at sudden change. * Ask for help * Take one day at a time * Focus on the small things that fill your heart with joy.
That comes from an over thinker and big picture planner!
I've also found out that our York Printmakers group exhibition at the Inspired by Gallery, The Moors National Park Centre, Danby in May has been cancelled.
That's everything I've been working towards since before Christmas. My resilience to weather this uncertainty is going to be challenged. I'm going to need to dig very deep to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Not surprisingly our York Hospital exhibition has been cancelled too.
About the author
Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour.
Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.