I receive many requests for advice from new artists or from students wanting to study with me. Unfortunately due to my hectic work schedhule (plus having a 2 young children!) I am unable to reply to every request, and cannot accept internships. However in order to help, I have written a few tips that have helped me through the years, and hope that they may help you!

Here goes….

Painting is something I have done all my life from the age of 4, when my parents handed me some crayons and some paper and encouraged me to draw. I remember how I loved it even then. These are the values I have lived by since then.

Step 1 – Be Passionate!

This passion from such a young age meant I found that I was able to paint and draw from life and get my proportions and perspective very accurate.

Step 2 – Practice, Practice, Practice!

I would paint and draw anything and everything on a daily basis. I saw it as fun, but it meant that I was able to hone my skills as the months went by. As a result I won my first commission at 15, and went on to make a living from painting as soon as I left school.

Step 3 – Get to know your subject as much as possible

I like to really spend time understanding the temperament and individual nature of each person or animal that I paint. Once this is captured, the painting just flows. I like to get to know my clients really well at first, which then allows me to portray the inner beauty of their personality. I am inspired to capture the moments that allow them to re-live magic memories for years to come. I love receiving phone calls from my clients telling me how they are still moved by a commission, often many years after completion.

Step 4 – Dream Big

Be fascinated by the magic that life has to offer. As Donald Trump once said ‘If you are going to dream, you might as well dream big’. Thrive on proving that you can, when others do not believe in you.

Step 5 – Model the Masters

Read books about the Master’s. Study their work, Visit as many galleries as you can and get inspired. In your imagination ask for the great Master’s advice, and await an answer. I told my parents that I was going to be a famous artist from the age of 5, and acted ‘as if’, and in my mind I continue to stretch the boundaries of my success.

Step 6 – Visualise

At the age of 15, I was an accomplished Event rider, and devoured many books on the subject. My ‘bible’ however was one book which taught visualisation techniques, how to win a desired outcome, and how to focus on the positive. Several of these techniques I subsequently used to massive success in many areas. In fact I was one of the few riders that never fell from her horse, due to a focusing technique taught in the book!

I once had the task of teaching a team of four eleven year olds on some distinctly untalented ponies. For seven whole days leading up to the event, I worked full time with my group of young charges. During the week the team changed theirs and their ponies’ names to adopt the names of some of the world class riders and horses of the day. As they modelled these people they amazed themselves with their new found abilities, and shocked their parents when the team took first prize in the competition.

I have subsequently used visualisation techniques in my artistic life, regularly following the examples of painters such as Sargent, Velasquez, Munnings, Constable, and Michelangelo, when I paint. The results are incredible, but it does take practice, and an open mind.

Step 7 – Broaden Your Horizons

When I was 18, I remember constantly dreaming about what it meant to be a true artist, living in Italy, and being part of a group of amazing painters leading a bohemian and magical lifestyle, travelling the world painting. Within 18 months this had become a reality, even more than I had ever dreamed. I won the opportunity to paint at the Charles Cecil school in Florence. I soaked up everything I could possibly learn and within 6 months, ended up as one of the teachers. I would recommend anyone to do some travelling and spent time in Italy, France or India or for that matter anywhere that inspires you.

Step 8 – Welcome the opportunity to overcome challenges and problems.

Let’s be straight here. Life isn’t plain sailing, and no job or vocation isn’t without its challenges (even if you’re the most passionate person in the world). During my early 30’s I painted ‘The Philosopher’. It was at a time that other parts of my life were experiencing challenges that I did not understand. I felt that I was losing my identity, and yet produced probably one of my best pieces, which at the time was called ‘Me, Myself and I’.

I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and had to deal with all of the problems that came with depression. On the canvas seemed the only place where I knew who I was, and in fact often I used to say ‘reality does not exist… except on the canvas’. It took several years to manage my condition, and eventually turned to anti-depressants, which I gave up after attending a Tony Robbins seminar, who helped me realise that I did not suffer from depression, but that I actually ‘did’ depression. By this I mean I was not serving my body and mind in the best way possible, and as a result, they in turn were not serving me in the best possible way. Toxic paints, negative thinking, poor nutrition, and not doing enough physical exercise, yoga or breathing and finally by my own negative self talk i.e. Am I good enough? Am I worthy? etc.

On one of Tony’s courses, which focussed on health, I was given a live blood analysis and I discovered that the lead paints I had been using for years were in fact poisoning me and that my health had been severely compromised. I had to go on a major detoxification regime, change my diet dramatically, and started focussing on my health, and my psychology. Although I began to feel better within days, the complete turnaround took some time, but I am now healthier and happier than I have ever been, and this continues to this very day. In fact the best thing to come out of my new healthy lifestyle, is my beautiful, healthy and wonderfully calm children, Sophie and Lucy. As a result I can wholly recommend Tony’s books and seminars.

I don’t regret those dark days of depression though, as they have helped me grow and become the person that I am, which is someone much more able to deal with life’s challenges. For example, one day you may have painters block (I get it regularly!), but this is just another opportunity to push through your comfort zone and break through to a whole new level. Sometimes you just have to take the day off and go do something else to inspire you. I find that contribution of some sort, however small, i.e. helping someone else with advice or delivering a bunch of flowers to someone who isn’t expecting it, can be a massive boost mentally. Sometimes thinking about someone else rather than yourself for a change makes all the difference.

Step 9 – Build Rapport with Your Clients

All my recent projects have brought home just how much I use psychology in my everyday life, especially my rapport skills in gaining not only a strong insight into the characters of my clients, but helping them to maintain a pose showing them at their higher self. Often, when they see the finished result it can be quite emotional as they connect with the reflection of themselves.

Step 10 – Enjoy the Process

Remember that what you strive for everyday, is never quite as much fun as the journey there. Each day take time out to reflect on what has been great that day and what you have learned. Cultivate a CANI attitude – Constant and Never Ending Improvement!

Finally – I wish you every success in your future and hope that my tips help in some small way to making your life more fun and fulfilled. If not – sorry for wasting your time!

My Other Painting Tips:

  1. Paint from life as often as possible.
  2. Sketch as much as possible and build up a body of sketch books
  3. Trust your eye
  4. Use good quality paints
  5. Experiment with making your own canvases
  6. Look at paintings by the masters and artists who inspire you
  7. Stand up when you paint
  8. Use bold brush strokes where possible
  9. Be bold and adventurous and enjoy what you do.
  10. Make time to do all of the above!

Best wishes and let me know if these tips have helped in any way.

Hazel x

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