I am asked almost weekly how it feels to be a full time artist. To make my living from the canvases I paint on. I think that just looking at that sentence in itself suggests how I feel about it.
Let me expand on it.
For years I dreamed of becoming a full time artist. After all I had an uncle (Jack Reid) who had forged out a nearly 40 year career as a watercolourist. I knew since early childhood that this was doable and that such a life need not be one of doom and gloom and “please pity the poor artist”. No, my uncle Jack Reid was very successful.
The parts I did not see and would not fully appreciate till I experienced such a life myself would be the responsibility.
Think about it for a moment. In your current job you have a regular pay cheque, which is generally enough or close to enough to pay your bills. Feed you and clothe you. What if that were not so regular? Ahhhh, you self employed persons out there know what I’m saying. When I dreamed of full time work as an artist I had all the usual underestimations: you just think that you will be so good at painting that the buyers will stream to your front door, galleries will be calling and you will be the next Picasso.
Think. Think again.
Picasso is a great example. Nothing ever happened over night and with such ease for him. There was a great deal of marketing, planting and networking involved in his success.
I like to refer to Mark Rothko for the best example. Rothko had what I call the best work ethic. Get up early, have breakfast, coffee and then change into your painting clothes and get to work.
I have heard all the usual chatter from the usual suspects in the art world. You know the line: “I’ll get to it when I really feel it”. So many hours of many days pass by with no work done and galleries and patrons left waiting. My uncle Jack Reid used to remind me over and over again that the best way to kill your career as an artist is to not have “inventory” when galleries come calling. The same goes for patron visitors. Those who keep on buying or selling your work must know that they can always acquire more within a respectable period.
So for me the work day starts early. Usually starts with getting my kids fed and off to school, yes, then I visit my local coffee spot where I sip and get my head in focus for the canvas I am planning to work on that day. Then I change into my work clothes and just like Rothko, Get to work!
It’s never about feeling creative first. In fact I have learned that creativity comes with work. What I DO struggle with is distractions. This is a chapter that I could easily expand on for pages. When you work alone at home you are often called upon by family members, friends, relatives who innocently believe that you have been blessed with this all day painting gig and you have plenty of time to spare for a quick errand here or there. I have one dear friend who understands this and he is always quick when inviting me for lunch or coffee to ask if I can spare the time. He and I know that I am not God and I do not expect to be spoken too in such a way, no. It’s just that my good Friend knows that I have this strict work ethic and that is how I continue to improve my work and turn out good inventory for those who request it.
It’s about discipline. Staying on track. Staying focused. Those, for this artist are the biggest challenges and a constant battle in the effort to put in a good 35+ hour week.
I do take my usual breaks. When I left the Bank world I promised myself I would never become a lazy artist. I would have strict start times, break times and meal times. The funny irony is that when I had the bank job I always looked forward to breaks and the lunch time nap. Now as a full time artist I often miss my breaks and lunch is but 20 mn. I need to get a grip on that. Breaks are important.
Another area of responsibility is in book keeping and accounting. Admittedly I fail miserably in that area. This year I aim to acquire the services of a good accountant so I can focus more on what I do best.
It’s a real joy to paint for a living. Haven’t felt boredom yet. I guess the mixture of flavors in this career help to keep things interesting.
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The Artists Journey
This is my blog page and it is where I get to be the opinionated man that I really am. The views are my own.
I invite your replies and comments, on my virtual welcome mat.
This sketch above became this finished painting below
The Pine Tree Painter.
How did I become known as the Pine Tree Painter? You could say I paint a lot of Pine Trees, that would be true. I paint a lot of other things too, but Pine Trees, Spruce Trees, Birch and others seem to be a continuous string in what i do. I just like the way they stand there like a custodian of the land. or a greeter to nature. So, I continue down the path with the Pine Tree Painter name on my head, It's ok.