Bird's Eye View - North
So how does a new artist start to make progress in his painting career? Well how about a weekend in Thornwick Bay? That's what I did. Let me explain. You may recall that I was now exhibiting my work in several galleries but as yet no sales. That was about to change and the catalyst was the said weekend in Thornwick Bay. Now a friend of ours owned a caravan there and they offered us a weekend break so off we went. Passing through Rudston Merice noticed a brand new building in the grounds of a pub which bore the legend - 'Tony Hogan Art Centre'. We decided to have a look so pulled in and went upstairs into the gallery. There we met a lady and as ladies do, Merice and her got chatting. She turned out to be Eileen Hogan, the wife of Tony who owned the art centre. Anyway after a very pleasant half hour looking at some excellent art we carried on to our destination. Merice had given Eileen my email and a few weeks later Tony contacted me to say he was having a amateur artist weekend and would I like to participate.I said yes back to Thornwick Bay again. We called in and hung three of my latest paintings alongside a varied selection from other artists. Once again Tony was not there. But on Sunday when we returned on our way home he was. I was disappointed to see that my paintings were still there just where I had left them. There were several of the other exhibitors collecting their paintings and after about half an hour of chit chat we were all getting ready to leave. But Tony called me to one side and said he would like to speak with me after the others had gone. It was all very intriguing but at last there was just the four of us. He invited me into his office and told me that although I had not sold any of my paintings he had received a lot of very positive feedback about my work over the weekend and would I like to exhibit in his gallery on a permanent basis. Tony was so enthusiastic about his gallery and clearly knowledgeable about all aspects of the art business that I said yes there and then. This was the beginning of a life long friendship between the four of us - Tony and me and Eileen and Merice. Merice had supported me from the very beginning and she was willing to make any sacrifices that would be needed so I could follow my dream. She had been encouraging me for some time to try and make a living out of my art but it was Tony who gave me the final push and more importantly the means to make the move to become a 'professional' artist. The best was yet to come though. I had gone with Merice to one of our favourite haunts - Codbeck reservoir in the western edges of the North Yorks Moors national Park. It was a Sunday and we were enjoying a pleasant stroll around the lake when my mobile phone rang. It was Tony - "I've sold one of your paintings" he said which was the most fantastic news ever - my first genuine sale to a member of the public. Better still was another call about thirty minutes later - "I've sold another one!" said Tony. Can you imagine how I felt when I received yet another call to say he had sold a third. Would you like to see the first ever paintings I sold?
Looking at these it's easy to see why I became widely known as 'Treeman'. It was as if a dam had burst. I began to sell paintings on a regular basis and thankfully have continued to do so throughout my career. I spent a lot of time at the Art Centre with Tony and it was he who got me my first weekend workshop with an art club. Though very nervous I really enjoyed it and discovered I had a bit of a flair for it. I also liked demo paintings in front of the public or art clubs and have developed quite a 'show' that I still use today. But there was much more than my personal development to the Rudston Art Centre. It gave me a great camaraderie with a small group of artist friends that has lasted till this day. We were not a group in any organised sort of way - just a bunch of close friends who shared the same passion and interest in art. One of the group was Margaret Hockney. She took me under her wing so to speak and gave me the benefit of her lifetime involvement in art. For example she gave me sound advice on a universal question that all artists ask - "How much should I charge?" She advised to start low and if you sell put the price up a little. If you keep selling keep putting up the price until you stop selling when you reduce it a little at a time till you start selling again. This method certainly worked (and still works) for me. You might recognise the name because Margaret does indeed have a very famous brother who I was privileged to meet and spend time with but that is a story for another day. I also participated in my first ever major exhibition at the centre - our Venice Exhibition. How exciting that was as I had my first taste of being involved in the planning and setting up of an exhibition, the preview night and my first experience of dealing with the press. I could go on and on - how Tony helped me to become artist-in-residence at Burton Agnes Hall and the many happy years we shared together in the summer house, the joys of painting outdoors even in the freezing cold of a Yorkshire winter and so many more happy experiences which were especially memorable as so many were the first time for me. You will gather why I will always have a very special place in my heart for the Tony Hogan Art Centre and I don't think I'm alone in that. However life moves on and logically the next step would be to have my own gallery and art centre. So how was I going to achieve that. The answer is very surprising and involves a market stall and healthy living. Intrigued? Well all will be revealed in the next episode but in the meantime here's "Bird's Eye View - South" as another big thank you to a life changing trip to Thornwick Bay:
"Thornwick Bay. Bird's Eye View South"
Professional artist now semi retired and enjoying being eccentric!