Q: What’s on the easel today?
Posted by barbararachkoscoloreddust
A: I am in the early stages – only 3 or 4 layers of pastel applied so far – on a large pastel painting with the working title, “He and She.” The figures are two favorites – a four-foot tall male and female couple, made of carved wood and silver and gold-leaf. I found them years ago at Galerie Eugenio in Mexico City.
These are the largest heads I have ever painted. As I work on this piece I remember one of my teachers saying, “Never paint a head larger than life-size.” Well, here’s to breaking rules.
For reference I am looking at a digital photograph shot with my Canon T3i. My usual practice is to make a c-print from a negative made with my Mamiya 6, but the photo clipped to my easel above is from a high resolution JPEG. Typically I set up a scene at home on a black cloth and photograph it, but my reference photo was taken in my studio without rearranging anything. In this painting I am breaking a few rules, while my creative process is perhaps evolving towards greater simplicity.
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2015, An Artist's Life, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Mexico, New York, NY, Pastel Painting, Photography, Studio, Working methods
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Q: To be a professional visual artist is to have two full-time jobs because an artist must continually balance the creative and the business sides of things. How do you manage to be so productive?
Posted by barbararachkoscoloreddust
A: With social media and other new ways of doing business, managing it all is getting more difficult every day. Bear in mind that I say this as someone who does not have the extra time commitment of a day job, nor do I have children or other family members to care for. I have no idea how other visual artists, who may have these responsibilities and more, keep up with all the tasks that need to be done. In The Artist’s Guide: How to Make A Living Doing What You Love, Jackie Battenfield lists a few of them (believe me, there are others):
…being an artist isn’t just about making art. You have many other responsibilities – managing a studio, looking for opportunities, identifying an audience for your work, caring for and protecting what you have created, and securing money, time, and space – in addition to whatever is happening in your personal life.
To begin with I try to maintain regular studio hours. I generally work on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and once I’m at the studio I stay there for a minimum of 7 hours. To paint I need daylight so in the spring and summer my work day tends to be longer. My pastel-on-sandpaper paintings are extremely labor-intensive. I need to put in sufficient hours in order to accomplish anything. When I was younger I used to work in my studio 6 days a week, 9 hours or more a day. I have more commitments now, and can no longer work 60+ hours a week, but I still try to stick to a schedule. And once I’m at the studio I concentrate on doing the creative work, period.
I am productive when I keep the business and creative sides physically separate., ie., no computers, iPads, etc. are allowed into the studio. Recently I tried an experiment. I brought my iPad to the studio, thinking, “Surely I am disciplined enough to use it only during my lunch break.” But no, I wasted so much time checking email, responding to messages on Facebook, etc., when I should have been focusing on solving problems with the painting that was on my easel. I learned a good lesson that day and won’t bring my iPad to the studio again.
As has long been my practice, I concentrate on business tasks when I get home in the evening and on my, so called, days off. After a day spent working in the studio, I generally spend a minimum of two to three hours more to answer email, apply for exhibitions, work on my blog, email images to people who need them, etc. At present I have part-time help with social media – the talented Barbra Drizin, of Start from Scratch Social Media – although my time commitment there is growing, too, as more details need my attention.
No one ever said it would be easy being a professional artist, but then again, I would not choose to spend my days any other way. As I often say, “Being an artist is a calling. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT a life for wimps… or slackers.”
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2013, An Artist's Life, Art in general, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, New York, NY, Pastel Painting, Photography, Quotes, Studio
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