'Must be nice to sit around and paint all day.' - Anonymous
That's actually what someone said to me one time - to my face! I just smiled and said 'Yes'.
But it got me thinking of how little people know about what goes into a creative career.
All artists have different paths but I'll tell you a little bit about what I do, so grab a coffee and read on.
Painting and looking
Well, that one is obvious. I do paint. Some days it takes up a large chunk of time but some days it doesn't or not at all depending on the circumstances of the day. Not because I don't have "inspiration" (more on that in a separate post) but because of other tasks I have to complete.
Looking is an important part of painting. You have to paint and then look. Sometimes you look longer than you paint, sometimes the other way around. If I get stuck I'll leave the painting to look at for a few days while I work on something else. I always work on multiple paintings at the same time.
This takes up way too much of my time at the moment and I'm working to streamline it. This includes posting to different social media accounts to make my work more visible and to interact with my collectors and followers. A post will have a photo, some text content and hashtags. This is all created by me. By the way, if you're on Facebook or Instagram you can follow me there, I post pretty regularly.
I write these blog posts and they take up a portion of the day that I write them. I make the content, format and edit them. I include hyperlinks when needed and photos. I try to make it interesting - whether I succeed in that is up to you.
I created my own website using Weebly (yay for me, cue applause). While it is fairly simple to begin, it really takes a while to figure out how to do it properly and I'm still learning. I can't even tell you how many things need to be done to create a living, working website with a shop. It's just a lot. Every time I release new work it needs to be uploaded to my shop which takes time. Every sale that happens off my website needs to be updated online. Every blog takes time. Everything takes time. I try to schedule things so that I can do it all in one chunk (except for the blogs) so that I'm not sitting on a computer all day. Although, when I do it it does take all day.
I have to photograph my art for the website and for social media and newsletter posts. I also photograph work when Collector's can't visit the studio and need a closer look. Then I have to edit those - crop, colour correct (because it never quite matches the real thing and it has to). This takes me the most time at Christmas when I have my ornaments for sale.
Emails, sales and inquiries
Yep, those take time. I don't mind! I'm not complaining (I'm super grateful for every comment, inquiry and sale - it's what gives me my mojo). I keep a spreadsheet of my art inventory and that requires updating too. I still haven't updated it from my fall/winter sales so that'll be on my to-do list soon.
Yep, I do these myself too. I maintain the list, create the newsletter with photos and content, update my hyperlinks etc.
This takes sooooo long. And can be costly in both time and materials, especially now, so I may have to reconsider how I accomplish this going forward.
Those juried shows and gallery submissions don't happen by themselves. There's no art gallery fairy that says 'You're amazing, come work with us'. I wish. And if you are an art gallery fairy then please do that (ha ha). These submissions usually include an application or write up plus good quality photos, biography and/or CV plus an artist statement. I write all of those too and keep them up to date.
For me this comes in the form of reading books, listening to art podcasts, doing mini workshops, making art for my own sake when I'm not working in series, visiting galleries, spending time with other artists and picking their brains, travelling and taking photos of those travels.
Studio Visits/Show Openings/Art Fairs
When this was a thing, you know - in life "before". I love interacting with people and it really makes my day to explain a technique or what a painting is about. This is one of the fun jobs of being a painter and I miss it and I miss all of you too.
There you have it!
There's still so much more behind the scenes but those are the basic business areas that I deal with day to day as a painter. My studio and gallery are in my home and as a mother and wife I have to be careful not to let my domestic life spillover, which happens because I'm human, but I didn't list it because it isn't my job.
Keep in mind that I'm an independent artist. If an artist has gallery representation there are a few steps they won't have to do themselves (but they do come with a cost, well worth it too).
As you can see, it's not just painting. But really, it is just about painting at the end of the day.
There's a fabulous BBC show series called What Do Artists Do All Day? that was the inspiration for the title of this post. I highly recommend it if you need an art fix.
I will keep you updated on my latest work and perhaps some insight into my creative process.