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Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Job as an Artist

Earth Talisman, copper sheet and wire

These are parts of my job as an artist:

  1. Design, color, drawing, composition
  2. My particular medium and its uses (acrylic, gouache, watercolor, oil, charcoal, pastel, etc.), and the supports I prefer (canvas, wood panel, paper, for example)
  3. My subject matter
  4. Capturing images in whatever way I choose (some choose plain air, others images from the newspaper, old photos, the flotsam and jetsam of the internet, and on and on)
  5. Completing a painting, including signing and framing
  6. Visiting art museums and galleries to see what others are doing or have done and letting those images enter my subconscious mind, to percolate there and subliminally or directly affect my imagery or process
  7. Entering juried shows on a regular basis, following the rules of each show, being on time with entry, delivery, and pickup
  8. Networking with other arts, and attending their individual shows, and signing their guest books
  9. Promoting my work and finding venues to sell it
  10. Shipping sold pieces so that they are well protected in transit and therefore intact on arrival 
  11. Keeping track of expenses and income for tax purposes, and to ensure I understand how much, if anything, I am making on my work. In the past, my painting has paid for my materials, tools and supplies. For taxes, materials are considered part of the piece, and tools and materials like brushes, palettes, and so on, are prorated over their lifetime. They are overhead. A home studio must not be used for any purpose other than art. 

The reality is that, as I was told in art school, "only paint if you have to". It is not a career, with a clear path upward to success. It is a vocation, and each artist has to decide how to support their painting habit. Some have other jobs to make ends meet. Some make a living. Some become famous. Some give up. Some just keep on doing it because it is so fulfilling. 

Each painting I do is more than the sum of my work, design choices, and materials. It responds to my efforts, and suggests direction that I do not plan in advance. Each finished piece feeds my soul. Some are simple images that give back a sense of the place I visited and shot with my camera, others have something extra that the camera simply could never have captured. That something does not come from my conscious mind. Wherever it comes from, it shines back a light of sorts into my heart and soul. I am grateful for my aptitude, and the people who have supported and nurtured my work. It is a journey of the soul.

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