April 6th will be my six month anniversary of full-timing it as an artist, and I would like to share with you exactly what that has all meant. This blog is the first part of three posts and while I won't pretend to be an expert on art-making and selling, I have learned a lot and if you're ever considering being a full time artist, or just starting your own business in general, this may help you out!
I will start with the glorious, terrifying, suffocating and occasionally relaxing reality of solitude. What "They" don't tell you when you attempt your one woman (or man) show is that you will be alone A LOT! And being alone is strange. After a lifetime spent in school, then a small hunk of time with a half dozen part time jobs, I was surrounded by people constantly. In college I relished the breaks between classes when I could come back to my room and deprogram before going back out into the socialization center that existed outside my apartment. Being around people all the time was exhausting for me and I craved the day when I could have my own studio and great hunks of alone time to create to my hearts desire.
Now I'm alone about 75% of the time. And I really do love it. But not always. Sometimes I become a working machine, pumping out new work, bursting with pride and thinking "I DO deserve this time, look how cool I am now!". Other times I absolutely hate it. If it's a day when I'm uninspired, I need to get away from myself. Like a lot of artists, and people in general, I am my own worst critic.
Advice: When these days happen, I find a good dose of being around humanity can help. So I'll go to the VMFA, a gallery, or just ask my sister if I can play with her adorable son. Breaks are important, and so are people, without them I've been known to get cabin fever. Escape before you find yourself on the couch watching the entire series of Dawson's Creek for the third time.
I remember when I had all those part time jobs, complaining about how I didn't have enough time to make my art. Now without those jobs, I'm loving making my art but I find myself complaining that I don't have enough money to do the
same activities I used to enjoy when I had disposable income. For one, things like going to concerts or going out to eat with a friend have become such a rarity that I treasure them more than I ever did before. Another activity that has become a special treat is when I can afford to go to figure drawing classes downtown. If you know my art, you know that I love painting women. I paint women alllllllll the time and having live models is the best! But recently I started saving up my money for a scanner so all extra art $$$ has gone towards that, so I've had to get creative with my figure paintings. I've used myself as a model in the past but usually with a mirror. For my most recent painting that I'm currently working on, I experimented with my camera's self timer and while it may appear slightly narcissistic, it is 100% free! (See photo on bottom left, progress on right)
Advice: Getting creative with your available resources is essential. If you're like me and you love figure drawing, check out the self timer on your camera and pose! You may feel silly, but the great thing about being an artist is you don't have to paint exactly what you see. I tend to just have trouble remembering proportions (I make heads too big), having a photo to reference helps a lot.
So the take away from this experience so far has been:
Written advice from my favorite teacher, Mike Guyer.
Tacked to the wall of my studio, reminding me that this is what I'm meant to be doing.
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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