Modern Contemporary Artist Osian Gwent
I had an interest in drawing as a child. As a teenager, I had a strong desire to attend art college. I studied fine art painting and sculpture for four years. College taught me how to paint but failed to prepare the business skills a young aspiring artist needs to pay the bills.
The pressure from others was get a “real job” ensured that I put my art business to one side. I went into teaching for a “proper job”. Although, I am thankful in a way, as I was able to live and work in various countries, giving me access to cultures and languages other than my own in rather a unique way.
Fast forward 30 years and I found myself in a tough place. I had lost pretty much everything. I returned to the UK with two suitcases, no home, no job, and very little money to my name. I was on the wrong side of 50 to start a new career. It was becoming quickly apparent that time was not in my favour. It was now way harder for me to find a “proper job”.
I began painting again for the first time since college days. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. If I failed to create and sustain a business, then at least I can say I tried. It was a bit strange at first getting used to painting again. I had to relearn and retrain hand and arm muscles including my fine motor skills from scratch.
I was trained as a figurative painter. My work has evolved by drawing upon a mix of life experience, intuition, feelings and emotions. I allow each painting to talk to me. I am becoming more expressive and less focused on the details and more connected to the soul of subject.
As a child, my eldest sister inspired me with her amazing paintings and drawings. More recently, I have been inspired by a fellow Welsh artist Roger Cecil who is very much under estimated in my opinion.
I actively seek referrals into my niche market. I create opportunities that will further establish authentic relationships with my buyers and collectors. I surround myself with supporters and encouragers. You can’t do this alone. Which is why I have a mentor.
I stay away from negative people. I listened to the dream stealers in my youth. The ones who said, “you’ll never make a real living”, or “you won’t be famous until you are dead”. They are the ones who will tell you to get a “real job”. I filter out these comments. No one is jealous of losers, but isn’t it strange how jealous he or she becomes when you do well? Perhaps that is a good indicator you are on the right track.
I am a member of a local and national art organisation. I am continually learning to use social media as one of my tools for effective marketing. I have learned to utilise their intricate inner workings such as analytics and target marketing. It’s how many national and international galleries/curators/collectors discover me.
I also create opportunities myself, e.g. teaching workshops. I set aside time to research new techniques, funding, and residency opportunities. This involves lots of paperwork and I have to learn to prioritise and stay highly organised. This has nothing to do with painting, but everything to do with maintaining the business. That includes hours and hours of writing, blogs, articles, and posts. All this requires time and consistent diligence and hard work. Painting is valuable but so is marketing. I employ and account and in time I will add other members to my team to take care of the business side so that I can stay focused on producing ht e work.
As a visual artist, my natural choice was to prefer using Instagram as it is naturally lends itself as a visual platform. I didn’t get Twitter at all. However, the more I familiarised myself with Twitter, the more I realised, that I needed it in my toolbox. I came to value the power of Twitter when I found I was being approached by collectors around the world.
More recently (2021) my painting emanates from a deeply personal life experience that resulted in grief and loss. It was raw. Significantly messy. And particularly painful. Ultimately, it left me utterly broken and messed up.
On the positive side, the experience revealed to me the surprising depths of my own humility and integrity. Even more surprisingly to me, is the beauty I discovered in ones own brokenness. On top of that, the endurance to make a come back from a wipe out. Rising above the hurt and the pain with no bitterness or resentment. But with lashings of forgiveness instead.
Bearing this in mind, this is both the implicit and explicit source of my recent inspiration. Until now, I have expressly been avoiding reaching into these deeply personal and raw emotions. But I cannot continue to ignore them anymore because by confronting my brokenness, I actually bring healing and meaning through my own vulnerability.
My biggest weakness now is my eyesight. I wish I had the clarity of vision I had in my younger years. Another “weakness” is my technical skill. It’s been 30 years, and yes I am rusty. However, you know what? That’s not important anymore. I have life loads of life experience to draw upon. That is my biggest strength. I am beginning to pull that into my work. I am also more driven and focused compared to my younger years. So that too is a strength. 30 years ago my biggest weakness was a lack of life experience, lack of money, and a lack of focus to see things through. A lack of self-belief. My older wiser self can see past that. I know my WHY, WHAT, WHO and HOW. When you figure that out things fall into place.
You have to enjoy what you do and be focused. Not everyone is going to connect or understand your work. It’s important to figure out you niche. Your who. Then work at discovering your why, what and how also. You need a mission that is bigger than you. Something that has nothing to do with your art at all. Keep producing work. Keep evolving. At first 1 in 20 paintings may turn out OK. Over time, this will become 1 in 15. Then 1 in 10. After many years it should be around 1 in 3.
Not all of us are fortunate to be plucked out of obscurity. I don’t believe in luck. I do believe in opportunity. Focussing on planning and preparation is important. You need to be ready to strike when planning and preparation intersect with opportunity. Or what others call “luck”. You need to plan your art business carefully. A plan not to sell art is no plan at all.
If money is an issue, and it will be, then be realistic. Part-time work pays the bills. You may have no option but to work full-time. That will have a noticeable impact on your painting. However, that didn’t stop a young artist I know. He worked full-time for four years. He saved and saved and made many sacrifices. He went onto Italy to learn how to paint classical portraits for another four years. And he is brilliant!
Alternatively form a collective where you can pool resources and each others time together.
If you can’t afford classes, then look at the school of youtube. I have learned more techniques from youtube than they taught me at art school. Learn how to market yourself – digital marketing (youtube/internet/schooling/other business owners). Learn the inner workings of social media/ creating SEO websites. Learn how to target your online market and measure what strategies are/not working. Learn how to run a business – it is a business. Get your work out there making connections – keep producing– keep putting it in front of others – online and in person. Build personal relationships. People buy from people they like and they see value. Network with people. Real people. By that I mean, authentic personal relationships. Pay it forward. Help others succeed. It’s not all about you. You need multiple streams of income. Galleries typically take around 50% in commission. Some less. Others even more. In fact, stay away from galleries altogether. Don’t waste your time on competitions. Leave that for the hobby artist. Stay away from vanity galleries. If you haven’t come across them yet, you will. They will contact you and flatter you to hook you in. You will end up absorbing most of the costs, which can run into the £1000,s. You pay them for the wall space upfront. They still charge around a % commission. They have got their money, and there will be other suckers to replace you if your exhibition tanks and you come out of pocket. Watch out for scam artists too. Treat suspicious emails and phones calls with care. Google the number or details from the email.
Research residencies in other countries, e.g. the British Council. Be resilient. Be resourceful. The only failure is not to try.
In the early stages of a painting, I will add liquin medium. This extends the paint coverage and allows me to work at speed and improves glazing and blending. Sometimes I use cold wax medium and encaustic paint. Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which coloured pigments are added. The liquid or paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used. The simplest encaustic mixture can be made from adding pigments to beeswax, but there are several other recipes that can be used—some containing other types of waxes, damar resin, linseed oil, or other ingredients. Pure, powdered pigments can be used, though some mixtures use oil paints or other forms of pigment.
I work from life and refer to sketchbooks frequently when I am back in the studio. I paint in the open (en plein air) and in the studio. I work from a limited palette. This helps to maintain colour harmony. Take a look at the Zorn palette. The three stages of my painting are basically; composition and blocking in, modelling, and finally the details. Initially, I paint what is called fat over lean. In the early stages of a painting, the paint is used thinly, with less oil in the mix (therefore it dries faster); as the painting proceeds, the paint applied gets thicker. The fat over lean process prevents the surface of the painting from cracking. I enjoy blending colours. The buttery consistency of oil paint and cold wax, and the natural blends that occur as brushstrokes mingle make working into wet paint very satisfying. I will use the brush in various ways, such as stippling and daubing. I paint a process called ala prima, which is the ability to adapt and change a wet painting (wet on wet) and is usually completed in one session. Sometimes I will paint with non-brushes. That could include, but is not limited to a palette knife. I recently painted a 4′ x 4′ painting just with my fingers! And I thoroughly enjoyed it! There is a technique I use of scratching into the paint when the call arises. This is called sgraffito. When the oil paint is dry, I can paint over the top of it, with a thin transparent film of colour. This is known as glazing. Sometimes I will use a wash, which is a thin layer of opaque paint, laid over dry colours. One of my favourite techniques is to ‘scumble’ a thin, dryish glaze, mixed with a small amount of white oil paint, scrubbed lightly but vigorously, over dried paint with a bristle brush. Sometimes I will use an impasto medium, which adds depth, body and texture to the painting.
Yes! Drop by in person to the Art by Osian gallery in Llanidloes. Or visit my online gallery. See the link below or the menu at the top of the page. In the meantime, if you are interested in a painting or a drawing, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me via the contact page, or call 0800 999 1953. You can also enquire or purchase directly from within the gallery page. I will do my best to respond within 24 hrs.
I include a certificate of authenticity and an invoice with your new purchase. Please note, most of my work is unframed. Framing is a personal choice, and I usually leave that with my patrons to manage for themselves. If is it framed, I will let you know.
I offer no-questions-asked refunds to all my collectors and buyers within 7 days of either collection or delivery – as long as the work remains unaltered and/or undamaged. If you are not happy with your purchase, send me an email within 7 days of receipt of the painting meaning collection in person, or personal delivery, or delivery via post or courier. Include in your email a copy of the invoice and any shipping related documents re: proof of time and day of delivery. You will receive your refund minus any damages, shipping and delivery charges. You are responsible for paying for the return shipping which you must do in a timely manner. Further costs will be deducted from your refund if there is any damage to the frame or painting or both, and/or any further additional costs incurred by me personally such as reframing due to damage. Each painting is securely packaged to ensure they arrive in mint condition. You must ensure the work is packed safely to prevent damage during transit. Your refund will be returned to you within two-three days of receipt of return delivery.
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