Roundup of the Week – Easter Weekend

It’s been a bit of a mad week really. I’m still battling the tail-end of a nasty cold and feeling like I’ve neglected my writing somewhat over the last few days. The least I could do was post an update on what I’ve been up to.

Website Redesign

I set about re-designing my website to improve the user experience. First time around, back in 2016, I had the idea that I wanted to show my entire body of photography work, but after a while, I not only found it to be impractical — adding every single new image I create as well as every old one in my collection — but I also wondered if people were really willing to trawl through all my work, and decided that they probably weren’t.

Another reason for redesigning was that I wanted to make the first visit to the site more of a general ‘experience’, as previously, visitors were greeted by a large display of four of my many galleries. I felt this didn’t really say what I wanted to about the site and what I do. In my mind, the site is more than just a portfolio — it’s a blog with a portfolio element. A place for me to post about my thoughts, ideas, things I’ve been up to and all that.

I dug out an old WordPress theme I purchased some years ago and re-purposed it for my new site. It’s a masonry-style blog format with a clean and simple design. However, as this was a blogging based theme rather than a photography portfolio theme, I had to do a bit of digging to find a suitable gallery system. I settled on a combination of FooGallery and HugeIT lightbox for displaying the images larger. It seems to work well on both desktop and mobile, but also, it’s not too much of a big deal to change it up if I decided to adopt a different gallery system in future.

With the galleries, I made the choice to display just a handful of images — some of the best of my landscape shots, my digital artwork, and my traditional artwork (now split into two galleries comprising of ink drawing and painting. My artwork galleries are pretty small at the moment anyway as I haven’t created a large amount of work, but when the time comes, I’ll be dropping the weaker pieces.

What makes this new theme really great is that I can post images and even galleries in my blog. These then show up on the home screen, and it’s a great way for me to show new work, even if it’s not particularly portfolio-worthy. Say for example I have a day out visiting the waterfalls at Pontneddfechan — I might come back with a bunch of ‘nice’ shots, but there’s no need to clog up the galleries with them, so I can post them all in a single ‘gallery’ post. In essence, if someone new visits my site and goes to my landscapes gallery, if they like what they see, they can also delve into the photography section of my blog to see more stuff. I think it will work much better this way, and helps it become a ‘journal’ of my work too.

I’m sure I’ll make some tweaks as time goes on. I’m always trying to improve it, but it’s safe to say I’m really happy with how it is right now.

My Acrylic Paint Odyssey

Aside from the work done on the website, it’s been a prolific week for me with my acrylic paintings. I’ve completed five pieces and gone through all the emotions of anxiety, doubt, excitement, frustration…. It’s been quite an emotional roller coaster, though I have learnt LOADS by just starting pieces and seeing them through to completion. I actually feel like I’ve grown as an artist this week, and it feels really good.

After finishing a piece based on a photo I took about six years ago on a camping trip, I posted it and immediately started doubting my abilities and hating on the work. I have to say it has grown on me with time. I was also pleasantly surprised when a follower of my Facebook page asked if it was for sale. I messaged him back, and the sale is arranged! It’s good to know it’s going to a good home, and a bit of a confidence boost for me.

I finished a piece today of a summer meadow scene and felt I’m finally starting to get the hang of the paints. Layering seems to be the most effective way. Now hopefully that I’m getting used to them, I’ll start naturally developing my style.

I was tempted to do another piece tonight, but I think I need to take some time out to reflect, perhaps do a bit of reading and clear my head.

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