We’ve done it! With a lot of help from my artist friends, the final brushstroke has been placed on painting number 1000 for Running with Brushes.

When the completely bonkers idea of painting 1000 small paintings for a charity came to me, I had no real idea of how big a pile of 1000 paintings would be.

I debated with myself for a couple of days and then called a friend in the faint hope that she would tell me it was insane. What she actually said was, “For you, I think that’s quite sane. Go for it!”  I was encouraged by a conversation with an Australian artist friend who said, “Do it. It will give you great brush miles.”   She was, of course, referring to the fact that the more miles my brush did, the better my paintings would get.  Practice, practice, practice – and Running with Brushes was clearly going to be a great motivation to keep painting.

The first painting, Spring Bramble and the 1000th painting, Trees – both by Vandy Massey

I didn’t think about the work of mounting and packaging 1000 paintings, or photographing each one and putting them online – never mind the hours of social media that have gone into sharing the news of the project.  I just had no idea.  In typical fashion, armed only with paper, paint and a bucket-load of enthusiasm, I jumped in.  Once I had 6 paintings done, I put a website and Facebook page together and we were off! At this point I must thank my husband Marc, who has become the most adept painting mounter, photographer. social media person, packer, and shipper. This has been a Massey team effort!

Outside help

I honestly thought that I was going to create all 1000 paintings myself. When I wrote a blog post about the project and announced the website, I had no idea that anyone else would want to contribute paintings. I was bowled over when I got two emails within the first couple of days from artists asking how they could get involved. The fact that one of the two was from the Philippines was even more of a surprise. The RWB artist community grew from there.  We are now a group of 60, of whom 14 are from outside of the UK.  This project exemplifies the generosity of my artist friends.

Water, everywhere! Clockwise from top left: At Anchor in Moonlight by Anthony Osler, Redshanks at Dawn by Jan Couling, Norfolk Wherries by Mel Collins, Early Morning by Rita Browne, Ready, Waiting by Linda Purdy

Five years is a long time to be working on one project, and I had a commitment to the charity and to the artist contributors, and so we slowly slogged on towards the 1000 paintings goal. In May, RWB had reached the 800 paintings mark. We were in the throes of the first lockdown and I decided that my (season 1) IsolARTion article would highlight the project and set a challenge for SEAW members and friends. They stepped up magnificently – by July, the total had reached 946, with some gorgeous new pieces of artwork on our website, some selling almost as soon as they were loaded. The paintings shown in this article are a small sample of the pieces sent to be by members of the SEAW.

A cat among the birds. Clockwise from top left: The Waking Birds by Sue Downie, Geese in the evening by Fran Godwood, Early bird by Patricia Stoten, Matriarch by Stephie Butler, Where’s my supper by Lesley Rumble

A milestone is reached, the 1000th painting is on the website, but the project is far from finished … the paintings need to be sold! At the time of publication, 401 paintings are sold, raising over £7000 for the charity. There are 599 paintings on the website waiting for someone to love them and buy them. Buyers from every corner of the world are welcome! RWB paintings can be found in homes in the UK, France, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and the USA. They make great postable gifts!

Lovely landscapes. Clockwise from top left: Beyond by Beverley Hughes, Tuscan Vista by Chris Lockwood, Blue Shed Portrait by Helen Otter, In the Shadow of the Pines by Susanne Taylor, Autumn by Caroline Furlong, Dartmoor Moorland II by Penny Newman

The price is going up

A number of SEAW artists suggested that we raise the price to £25 plus p&p so that the charity gets more for our efforts. We think this is a great idea especially since £25 is still a fantastic price for a piece of original art. But before we do that, I want to give all of you fair warning in case you want to grab a painting while they are still at the original price.  Until the end of February we’ll keep the painting prices at £15 for the postcard size and £20 for the few larger paintings on the site.  Share this nugget of information with friends who might be interested.

Thank you for supporting my bonkers idea and for helping make a meaningful contribution to my chosen charity.

I also hope this inspires you to put in some brush miles while you have time!