There are a few little things about being an artist that I would like to draw attention to. Some of these points may be fairly obvious to most of you, but I think these points also cover some of the things that nobody really talks about.
Things that I had to find out on my own…
HANDY LITTLE SNIPPETS
1) Do not underestimate how much paint you will get on yourself.
No matter how careful you are, or how meticulously you think you may have washed your hands, YOU WILL get paint on yourself or some unwitting inanimate object.
I often find myself rushing to clean up the paint that I have smudged over my favourite mug, unknowingly smearing more paint on with a hand I thought was paint free. And that’s the thing about paint, it has a cunning way of hiding just out of plain sight (somewhere sneaky like an elbow or a foot) and reappearing somewhere uninvited (like your mobile phone).
This is a war I am forever battling against, but I continually fail to realise I have paint in my hair and on my face…..
2) Do not underestimate the importance of RUGS!
I have taken some very important steps to safe guard the furniture and carpet in my home from the common little paint related incidents. If you want your carpet to remain paint free, buy a rug. Or if you are like me, buy six colourful rugs and completely cover your entire floor in them. That way, when you inevitably splatter yellow and green acrylic paint on the floor who is going to know?!
3) Kitchen roll is a vital artist’s tool
I cannot stress enough how much I rely on having a handy roll of kitchen roll by my side as I paint. It has a multitude of uses, from soaking up excess paint/water from your brush, to swooping in and saving the day when your paint tube explodes.
4) Bubble wrap. It’s exceptionally irritating but incredibly useful.
Bubble wrap is vital when it comes to protecting artwork for transport and shipping. But do not underestimate just how much time you will spend STRUGGLING against a giant roll of bubble wrap with Sellotape in your hair. It may look easy, but awkwardly trying to wrap a large canvas painting sufficiently well enough to protect it from couriers is an art in itself. Trust me.
5) You’ll become pretty handy with a hammer and nail
Artists paint with the intent to have their work displayed where people can hopefully gain joy from looking at it…
But if you’re like me, and you are still at a stage in your life where money is tight, having your work framed by professional framers for display is not really a viable option. To overcome this obstacle I have found that I often spent a lot of time sprawled on the floor with a tape measure, screw eyes, and nails preparing paintings to hang myself. Nobody ever warned me about the blisters you get from frequently twisting screw hooks into the back of frames…
6) White Spirit. You will use this like it’s going out of fashion.
I wish someone would hurry up and invent a bottomless bottle of white spirit. Whether you are using oil paints, or varnishing your work, you will use ridiculous quantities of this flammable, fume ridden liquid. Oh and do try not to get it on your hands, or you will end up using equally ridiculous quantities of moisturiser. Fact.
7) You will become inventive with household recycling.
Seemingly useless empty plastic pots become nifty little places to store brushes or keep medium in.
Ice cream lids become handy light weight paint pallets.
Discarded cardboard becomes protective packaging to post art
Newspaper becomes ammunition in my on going battle against unexpected paint splatter….
The list goes on!
ONTO THE MORE SERIOUS ISSUES
8) There are days where you want to throw your paint brush across the room
My art is a process which is continually evolving, improving and undergoing experimentation. Whilst this is very rewarding and exciting when it is going well, it is highly frustrating and difficult when it isn’t going to plan.
You will produce A LOT of paintings that you HATE. But equally, you will produce a lot which you are extremely proud of. I think its very important to remember that when you are staring at a piece you want to tear from the easel and hurl out of the window. One of the greatest motivational forces behind my art is the prospect that my next piece could be my BEST WORK YET.
9) Loving art can be hard…
I don’t think any amount of forewarning could have prepared me for how much I think about art, and how much I would wish I could spend everyday doing what I love the most. I am not yet in the position where I can afford to pay all of my bills from my art alone, but it something that I desperately wish for and I am working very hard towards.
Whilst I am realistic and know that building a steady and sustainable art career takes a lot of time and hard work, it does not take away the ache that I feel because I am not quite there yet. On the flip side, this ache is immeasurably positive as it powerfully fuels my motivation to keep chasing my dream of becoming a full time artist.
10) Don’t give up
When I was growing up, my Mum frequently told me when I was struggling with one thing or another ‘nothing worth having in life comes easy’. It has now become the mantra I repeat to myself when I feel a little bit pessimistic about the likelihood of a blossoming art career.
Just keep swimming 🙂
‘If the path of a lawyer is like a bamboo plant, an artist’s is like ivy. Ivy can flourish despite its unpredictable form’- unknown.