Have you ever wondered why some artists, such as Andrew Wyeth, and others create their artwork in a series format? My first experience with creating artwork as a series was as an undergraduate at McDaniel College, taking art classes at the senior level. In this Senior Studio Capstone class, my fellow students and I were given the assignment to create a series of artworks that expressed a theme of interest or importance to us and to write an artist’s statement that described our artwork’s theme. For example, according to the website The Abundant Artist, some themes that artists might explore in a series include, 1.) “color and texture,” 2.) politics (Kathe Kollwitz), 3.) death, (Hirst) or 4.) messages that uplift, like Kelley Rae Roberts, Source: https://theabundantartist.com.
Prior to that, my assignments in drawing and painting consisted of drawing or painting to try and copy the still life or model in front of me, to teach the skills of observation. At that time, I had no idea how to even get started and had artist’s block for two weeks while I searched for artworks that inspired, all in vain. My Teacher did give us some guidance to the process though. He suggested that we create sketchbooks in which we pasted artworks of inspiration, no matter the medium, and he suggested that we look up art magazines, such as Art in America. Pouring over art magazines and artist websites, such as Forum Gallery, I could think of nothing new to say with my artwork that hadn’t already been said. I felt I had a lot of competition since there have already been many artists who have gone before me, who have created several unforgettable artworks to boot, such as Vermeer’s, Girl with a Pearl Earring, painted in 1665.
After weeks of struggle and seeking out artwork that inspired me, I had a solution. My answer came from an unlikely source, music. I decided to illustrate some of the songs of my favorite musician, Sting, using my self-portrait as a muse, along with color, and composition to portray various feelings of uncertainty, sadness, etc. Some of the songs I illustrated in my self-portrait series were Lithium Sunset and Secret Journey. The first song talks about how medication can help bring a person out of depression and make them strong enough to get back up again. While the second song, Secret Journey, talks about a mystical journey of enlightenment. I printed out the songs from Sting’s website, www.sting.com, pasted them in my sketchbooks, and underlined words and phrases that I thought were good candidates for illustration. And I referenced these songs and artworks of inspiration as I crafted my Artist’s Statement. As I searched through artwork that inspired, it became evident that I was drawn to the subject of the portrait, but I didn’t know how to make my work unique, because the portrait has been done numerous times before.
The imagery of Sting’s songs provided the perfect solution to my dilemma and I was off and running. My then-boyfriend, Dan, took photos of me to provide the source photos for my oil paintings. To make a long story short, I finished the series in time and even made a PowerPoint presentation as part of the project requirements of my finished works. In addition, I crafted an artist’s statement, which helped me to define the artwork by describing what the artwork would be about and what influences had to lead me to the finished work. I learned a lot about myself as an artist, such as how to distill ideas through writing artist statements and creating sketchbooks to illustrate my ideas by pasting artwork that inspired onto its pages. In particular, I discovered that I liked to make artworks that had a message, even if the search for the solution was far from easy. But back to my main question, “Why should artists work in a series?”
To investigate that question more fully, I did what many people would do, I googled it. The websites, Abundant Artist and Art Business.com, shed some light on the subject of content-based art. According to the authors, some of these benefits include: 1.) Making artwork in a series gives the artist a platform to connect with their audience on an emotional level because the artwork is focused and personal, 2.) Creating artwork in a series format helps others to understand what an artist’s work is about and who they are as a person, 3.) Artists who make artwork in a series are more likely to find art galleries to exhibit their work because they know how to market the artist and this format follow their business model, and 4.) Working in a series format helps artists to understand what topics/subjects are important to them, and which they like to draw or paint.
This week I am posting some photos of my latest painting, The Dream of Time Travel, which I started many months ago, and I am happy to say is finally complete! It is part of a series of paintings about the human condition, which is part of my portfolio for graduate school. These new works are a continuum of the series of paintings I completed as an undergraduate at McDaniel College, using the theme of the self-portrait, but expanding its representation to other themes such as poetry illustration. Thanks for stopping by!
Mixed media Explained: Part 2, Types of Mixed Media
Hello friends, family, and fans,
This week I am continuing to elaborate on the theme of mixed media art, and I will be highlighting specific types of mixed media art, such as sculpture, assemblage, and torn paper collage. Last week I covered a broad definition of mixed media art, and I also explored the historical roots of this art form, through the artwork of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. They began making cubist collage works in 1912, with a variety of materials including canvas and rope. (Source: Eapen, Boaz. 15 Inspiring Mixed Media Art Portfolios that You Must See, retrieved from November 12, 2019, pixpa.com.)
The following is a list of some frequently used types of mixed media art:
Sculpture: A sculpture can be made with a variety of materials; therefore, it can be classified as mixed media art. Some materials which can be used to create sculpture include wood, glass, wire, metal, or readymade objects, etc. To begin, you can start by making a base for your sculpture and then, incorporate other media to the piece such as paint. (Source: ibid.) While writing this blog post, I found a fascinating sculptor through an internet search, who specializes in fantastical animals with a surreal twist, named, Ellen Jewett. To see her work, go to my modern met website at https://mymodernmet.com/surreal-animal-sculptures-ellen-jewett/.
Collage: A collage can be defined as a base, or a surface such as wood, paper, stone, or anything which is adhered to another material such as paper or fabric. (Source: ibid.) You can use a variety of materials in a collage such as newspaper cuttings, photographs, ink, paint, magazine cuttings, fabric, etc. The artist, Romare Bearden (1911-1988), specialized in creating collages based on the African American narrative, using imagery from magazines, such as Look, Life, and Ebony. (Source: Romare Bearden Biography, (1911-1918), retrieved from, https://www.biography.com/artist/romare-bearden
Assemblage: A close cousin to collage, assemblage has three-dimensional characteristics, which are composed in a new way to create a narrative. Readymade objects, such as children’s toys or items from the great outdoors, such as leaves or flowers can provide valuable fodder for this type of art. For instance, the artist, Joseph Cornell, (1903-1972) made assemblage boxes out of shadow boxes, photos, “Victorian bric-a-brac”, etc. He collected these items in junk shops throughout New York City and re-imagined these items to create artwork that expressed nostalgia. (Source: Wikipedia, Joseph Cornell, retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Cornell.)
With all of these options, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin your next project. As for myself, I like to look for supplies that are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. One good starting point for a mixed media project could be using paper as a surface or substrate. I have used Crescent cold press illustration board for my latest mixed media projects, which is a combination of cardboard and “100% cotton rag cold-press surface”. (Source: https://www.cheapjoes.com/crescent-no-310-illustration-boards.html#:) My self-portrait pieces were made with a combination of wet and dry media such as acrylic paint, gouache, oil paint, and soft pastels to add texture and interest. There are many other ways to use paper as well in different types of mixed media projects such as torn paper collage, and printmaking, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless!
For example, below is a list of ways in which you can use paper in a mixed media project:
Printmaking: There are many types of printmaking such as linoleum block prints, silk-screen prints, and Gelli-plate printing. To make prints, you will need a surface on which you place or carve an image and then transfer it to your paper through various means. For instance, in linoleum block printing you can transfer your image on the block to the paper by applying ink to your design, and then pressing the block onto your paper to make a print. The supplies you will need may vary depending on what type of printmaking you choose to work with. To learn more, you can go to https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/drawings-and-prints/materials-and-techniques/printmaking. (Source: The Beginner’s Guide to Making Mixed Media Art, 20 September 2018, retrieved from format.com).
The sky is the limit as far as what you can do here, although it’s a good idea to find out what the journal is made out of and what media it accepts, before attempting to paint in it. I recently obtained a Strathmore mixed media art journal from Amazon. It’s made of Bristol paper with a vellum finish. It’s designed to work well with dry media such as pencil, charcoal, and pastel. Or it can be used with pen and ink, marker, or college papers.
I’m hoping to use this journal to start some new projects from the Skillshare art classes I am taking online. Today, I tried my hand at the torn paper collage technique, and I used the tutorial by Jeanne Oliver provided in her book, The Painted Art Journal, which I highly recommend! My artwork was based on a family photo of my grandmother, Gladys Carter. Starting with a tracing of a sketch, I transferred the image to mixed media paper, using carbon paper and a pen. Then, I used a variety of different media here, with soft pastel, watercolor pencil, water, and torn papers affixed to the mixed media paper substrate. I’m hoping to post photos of this portrait project in next week’s blog post, I ran out of time today and had to go to work this afternoon. It’s a work in progress, and getting outside of my comfort zone to mix up all these different media types! That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading.
Have you ever gone to an art gallery and observed a work of art that was labeled mixed media, and wondered what it meant? I know I have, and I have wondered, how might I incorporate these mediums in my artwork? This question was the catalyst for starting my new art series, Constructed Realities, which combines a variety of mediums including, gouache, soft pastel, acrylic, pencil, and oil paint with a cold press illustration board as a substrate. In some ways, my art is a mixture of mixed media and traditional techniques; because I use realism for the style, but I also combine it with a variety of media, rather than working on one media, such as in oil painting, as has been the traditional practice for painting.
Today, I am focusing on describing mixed media art, in terms of a broad definition, and more specifically to explain what I mean when I label my own art, mixed media. And now, I’d like to offer a brief definition of mixed media art. Mixed media is a type of art that doesn’t limit people who have limited experience with art skills such as drawing. (Source: Eapen, Boaz. 15 Inspiring Mixed Media Art Portfolios that You Must See, retrieved from November 12, 2019, www.pixpa.com.) Instead, it is an art form that is accessible to anyone, even beginners. (Source: ibid) However, one caveat is that after you decide what type of mixed media art you want to focus on, you will need to develop some familiarity with specific processes and specific media, (Source: ibid), such as watercolor interact with other media.
Did you know that mixed media art has been around for about 100 years? I didn’t until I started researching this subject in more detail. Some historical examples of mixed media art include the artwork of the cubist artists, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, his cohort. About 1912, they began to incorporate collages into their artwork. (Source: ibid) In addition, “Surrealists, abstract expressionists, pop artists and brit artists” followed suit, and added mixed media to their repertoire of art-making. (Source: ibid)
In recent years, there has been an explosion of mixed media artwork on the internet on websites such as Youtube and Cloth Paper Scissors, (which also had a periodical format with artwork featuring a variety of artists), and in art technique books, by authors/artists such as, Pam Carriker, Mixed Media Portraits (2015) and Jean Oliver, The Painted Journal (2018). These artists have used a combination of wet and dry media, charcoal and paint, and or gesso, in their portraits. On youtube, you can find art journaling technique video demonstrations by artists such as Dina Wakely and one of my favorite artists and teachers, Julie Fan Fei Balzer. It’s a fun and free way to learn new art techniques from the comfort of your own home, which is really important these days, since so many colleges and art centers are closed, due to the pandemic.
I started out my mixed media art journey by working in a sketchbook to conquer my fears about mixed media, and it gave me the courage to explore mixed media in this new series. There is little to lose if you don’t like the artwork, and you can simply turn the page, rather than worry about ruining an expensive art canvas. Creating artwork with mixed media techniques is also helpful if you find yourself caught in the dreaded state of mind called the artist’s block, where you know you want to create something but feel stale in your chosen medium and want to learn something new and feel excited about making art again. My favorite website for looking up art tutorials is youtube. If you have a specific artist you are looking for, you can search for them, such as Pam Carriker, who has many instructional videos. And to learn more about art journals, visit: https://mymodernmet.com/art-journal-ideas/, to read the article, “How to Combine Drawing and Writing into Deeply Personal Art Journals”, by Sarah Barnes, October 11, 2017. Thanks for stopping by!
When I started this new mixed-media series, which is based on poetry quotes, I was brimming with excitement and energy. I was on a roll, reading poems, writing notes, making sketches, and photo collages in Photoshop. Somehow though, about mid-way through the process, difficulties in composition and drawing issues in my sketches began to rear their ugly heads. In some instances, I got stuck and was unable to move forward. Some works were abandoned, while I took a break and started new works. Now, I have several unfinished pieces in progress, and I am trying to find motivation and energy to bring them to a conclusion. So, my new goal is to complete one painting a week to keep the momentum up, especially focusing on
those that have been languishing in my art studio. Why is it so easy to begin a new project, but difficult to finish it?
To that end, I am featuring a new work this week, focused on the theme of time travel. It has a bit of a surrealist tone to it with the theme of wishing I could go back in time to happier periods in my life, or at least, that is how I remember them. To represent this concept, I have included three self-portraits from different times in my life composed in a winter landscape. Time travel is something I used to be quite interested in as a child, during the 1980s. Popular books and films featured this concept such as Back to the Future, with Michael J. Fox, Somewhere in Time, featuring Christopher Reeve. I also read books about this topic, such as the book, The Hunky Dory Dairy (1986), written by Anne Lindbergh, in which a young girl is transported from the 1980s to the nineteenth century one Saturday morning on an errand to fetch milk and a newspaper.
I am including my revised artist statement for this series, which I have called Voices and Visions, but I am now calling Constructed Realities. I am finally getting into he value sketches and drawings, and its starting to slowly come together. But I still have a long way to go toward the final product. I’m not sure if they will be traditional oil paintings or mixed media pieces. Right now, I am looking for readers to let me know how my artist statement sounds, and if the artwork I am posting here, “matches” with it. If you could, post a comment on my website, http://www.artofschmidt.com or Art of Schmidt Facebook page and let me know how this statement and artwork make you feel. I want to be sure that I am not too esoteric, and that everyone who reads it can understand what I hope to express in my art. Thanks!
Artist Statement for Constructed Realities
How does an idea for a painting get born? For me, it’s sometimes a memory being replayed, hearing a song lyric that resonates with me, reading a poem that lends itself to telling a story or visiting an inspiring art exhibit. This series of paintings focuses on the connection between the human condition and stories described in the written word, through poetry and song lyrics. The works may describe a feeling, such as a search for love, broken relationships, and homes, uncertainty, nostalgia about one’s childhood, wishes and desires, journeys, the modern world and industrialization, overcoming adversity, artist’s block, etc. These themes are described using metaphors and symbols, such as maps, industrialization, etc. In addition, limited. The color palette in oil paint, to keep the focus on the content of the artwork and not the color.
Two things have sparked this re-current theme about visual storytelling, and they are: 1.) An art class that I took at Frederick Community College, and 2.) Learning about art journals and mixed media artwork. In January of 2015, I took a drawing course at Frederick Community College in Frederick, MD. One of the final assignments I tackled was to illustrate a poem of my choice using pastels. A major challenge in this assignment was to find a poem that had some concrete images to illustrate. I chose Robert Frost’s poem, Ghost House, which has an abundance of concrete imagery. The first lines, “I dwell in a lonely house I know, that vanished nearly a summer ago, and left no trace but the cellar walls …”
(Frost) griped me with a strong visual picture. I immediately thought of a derelict house and I tried to create a narrative about this haunted house. Slowly, different images popped into my head, a derelict house, a ghost bride, a tree, a path, and some crows. To facilitate this process, I collected artwork that inspired me on Google image searches and checked out art technique books on vampires and fantasy creatures from the public library. To create this current body of work, I collected a notebook of images that inspired me, from Google searches or Pinterest, and stitching them together in PhotoShop to create unique compositions. Next, I read books on poetry or did Google searches to look for poems that lent themselves to visual depiction. Brief lines from the poems or songs which inspired these works are embedded within the works so that the viewer can make the connection between the imagery and words which inspired each work.
I then collaged various photos of the house, ghost bride, path, crows, landscape, etc. in Adobe Photoshop and printed out the collage on copier paper in the size in which I intended to create the artwork. The final step was to trace the image with carbon paper and Pen and to begin filling in the pastel paper with tones and shades of blue and purple pastels. Some of the poetry that has inspired this new series, entitled, Voices and Visions, are verses written by Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, and T.S. Elliot, among others.
And my second inspirational spark to create this series is the art journaling movement. A new trend in popular culture is the concept of the art journal, in which the artist writes and illustrates specific things, feelings, seasons, etc., often in mixed media materials. According to mixed media artist, Dina Wakely, art journaling is a way to express your emotions through imagery and text, and no specific rules need to apply to this process. She also shares that the idea of art journaling is not a new one, and well-known artists, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, kept a series of notebooks. Like Dina, I find that creating narrative art can be a meaningful process, either to express difficult emotions such as sharing universal truths with others in
Much the same way as song lyrics do. In a similar fashion to the poets, Dickinson and Frost, songwriters such as The Cranberries, Sting, Shawn Colvin, U2, Roseanne Cash, Johnny Cash, and Coldplay, and many others have masterfully shared universal truths about love, loss, uncertainty, identity, depression, and loneliness. A good case in point is Sting’s song, Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot, an ode about uncertainty and the process of finding answers in the midst of it.
I will be hosting a pastel workshop at the Dublin Roasters coffee shop in Frederick, MD on September 22, 2018, from 1-3 pm. Here is a link to the website, in case you need directions: http://www.dublinroasterscoffee.com.
The cost per person is $25 and it includes a live demonstration about how to create a dramatic still life in pastels. Using a step by step approach, I will teach you how to create a masterpiece in pastels. All supplies for the class are provided by me, including pastels and paper. The subject will be a carafe and onions with chiaroscuro lighting similar to the old master, Rembrandt. Seating is limited so email me asap if you are interested. I will be reserving a small room in the back of the coffee shop, Room 1. To register, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can pay for the class the day of the event, by cash or check. Beginners are welcome! Come on down!
As I mentioned in last week’s post, I have been struggling with artist’s block this summer. During this journey, I’ve tried various things to break out of it, such as: copying art demonstrations from art technique books, re-touching/re-working old paintings, and working in a prompt driven sketchbook. Unfortunately, the later project hasn’t been working out so great lately. I’ve been procrastinating on doing the daily prompts, and have felt uncertain as to which mediums to work in for the sketchbook pages, should it be watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic, gouache or something else that I use? I have been unhappy with the colored pencils because they take so long to build up color and tone and I want to get some momentum and finish the nature section so I can keep moving along. It’s also difficult to correct mistakes with this medium, and I am finding that a lot of my prompts are not living up to my expectations. All of which keeps me stuck in neutral, and not making new work consistently.
Some insights I have gained about my artist’s block
Maybe it’s also the heat of the summer, which seems extraordinarily hot, even for Maryland. Or perhaps it’s the dislocation I feel in adjusting to a new house, guilt (genuine or otherwise, about abandoning household chores to make time for art), or something else entirely. Whatever the cause, I want to come up with some solutions so I can move forward and make more art, and hopefully at least some of the pieces will turn out the way I envision or will be at least good enough to post on social media. This year there’s been a mix of both good paintings and some not so good paintings. The paintings I’m not happy with might get thrown out, or sanded and re-worked, depending on the state of the canvases. I feel dry and uninspired, and I feel I have reached the limit of my skill set in art. In fact, I feel I need more fuel for my creativity and knowledge base.
Tips for breaking through a creative block
While I am pondering these thoughts, I’d like to share some tips I picked up from an article, “How to Survive a Creative Slump,” by Our Daily Craft, on http://www.ourdailycraft.com/2017/02/21/survive-creative-slump, by Sarah White, February 21, 2017. A few suggestions that the author offers include: 1.) starting with a small creative project, 2.) working quickly, 3.) reading a book you enjoy, and 4.) organizing or cleaning something in your home. For instance, the author suggested a few small projects to help jumpstart your creativity such as 1.) “sewing a cloth napkin,” 2.) “knitting a headband,” 3.) Paint on a 4 x 4-inch surface, or “writing a haiku.” (Source: ibid) Since I am not particularly good at crafts or anything DIY, which I learned after re-finishing some furniture and all of my kitchen cabinets in my new home, I have settled on painting a 4 x 4-inch canvas of Canada Geese. I re-worked this miniature canvas in oil paints about a week ago, and I am fairly happy with the result. Another suggestion that the author makes is to re-visit old projects that you had left unfinished. (Source: ibid) I certainly have a pile of unfinished works-such as unfinished drawings, pastels, and pages in my sketchbook where things just didn’t come together. Perhaps it would be a good problem-solving exercise to utilize my creativity.
In addition, the author also discussed making something quickly-which I’m not sure I would do
since most of the problems I have had with my art have been poor planning. Another problem which leads to unsatisfactory art for me is not spending enough time checking the accuracy of the drawing, as unfortunately happened with my latest portrait of Lincoln, which I decided to re-work and re-draw with oil paints. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out that well. Maybe if I were an abstract painter I could get away with a more intuitive approach to painting, than a more structured one with specific steps, but I am not. Since I am a more traditional painter, I am sticking with what works for me, which is starting with a drawing, adding three values in pencil to the sketch, and then making a colored sketch to base the final painting upon. Unfortunately, the more I tried to fix the drawing, the worse it got. In the end, I finally decided to abandon it, and start with a new sketch on a totally different substrate on a larger scale. It hasn’t become a painting yet, but I think I identified some drawing errors in the painting, by making a new sketch.
However, one thing I do want to try is to read a novel, article, or poem, to try and get some new ideas flowing. Some of my best works have been inspired by the poetry of Dickinson and Frost. Maybe reading literature will also help me to become a better writer and get me out o this writer’s block I seem to be assailed with lately. How about you? Do you have any suggestions for breaking out of a creative rut? I’d love to hear! Just post in the comments section of this blog. Thanks for stopping by!
Artists: What kind of Artist Are You-Amateur, Hobbyist or Professional?
Why I decided to Write about Artist Types
It’s been awhile since I last posted on this blog, and I have debated off and on within myself, whether to continue blogging about the series I started in May called, and famous failures. However, at the end of the day, I decided that I would switch gears and write about a more arts-based topic. Instead, I decided to examine the topic of different artist types and the pros and cons of each type. It’s my belief that there is no superior type of artist, and that it is all about what type works best for you. However, I do think that it takes a very unique person to be able to combine the roles of both artist and entrepreneur.
In my opinion, such individuals must be extremely dedicated to making art their life’s work, no matter what it takes, or how much time they have to invest in learning their craft and other business skills to make a profit. On the contrary, not every artist has that sort of drive or wants their art to be consumed by the public as a commodity. Perhaps for some, art is an outlet for their feelings and experiences and they would rather keep that private, which is perfectly fine. Meanwhile, there are other artists who find themselves somewhere in the middle between hobbyist and amateur artist. These artists, sometimes called, “double jobbers,” want to take their art to a more professional level, but also work a day job, such as the British artist described in the article, “The Double Jobbers, Making a Living into eh Arts, by Kathy B. Sweeney, posted on The Guardian,https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2012/jul/29/living-working-in-the-arts. Consequently, they are not pressured to make a living from their art. On the other hand, there are artists who cannot imagine doing anything else with their lives and spend almost all of their time marketing and making their artwork. The three types of artists which I will discuss in this blog post are a hobbyist, amateur, and professional artists, along with the pros and cons of each type.
Why is it important to know what type of artist you are?
I picked this topic because I have been wrestling with the question about what category I fall into as an artist: Amateur, Hobbyist or Professional? In my opinion, it’s important to know which category of artist that you fall into because there are specific actions that you need to take if you want to go beyond making artwork for pleasure and start making it with a business mindset. According to author, Alyson Stanfield, who wrote the art business book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio, it is not enough just to make art, you need to learn about how to market and sell your art, as well as to sharpening your artistic skills and creating a specific body of work that showcases your unique style as n artist. (Sources: Artwork Archive, “Alyson Stanfield Shares Her 10 Best Marketing Tips,” https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/alyson-stanfield-shares-her-10-best-art-marketing-tips, accessed on 06/14/18, and Alyson Stanfield, I’d Rather Be in the Studio!, preface, pg. 1, 2008, Pentas Press, Golden. Colorado, and Aletta de Wal, “Hobbyist, Amateur or Professional Artist: Which Are You?” http://emptyeasel.com/2011/02/01/hobbyist-amateur-or-professional-artist-which-are-you accessed on June 6, 2018. )
My Journey as an Emerging Artist
After my father died in 2011, I realized that I wanted to make the most of the time I had left. I wanted to live without regrets about not pursuing art to the highest extent possible. For as long as I can remember, it has been my dream to be an artist. In fact, my grandmother reported in her scrapbook that I began drawing at the age of 3. When I first started making art with the intention of selling it, back in 2011, my catalyst for making art was that I needed an avenue to express my grief.
Deciding what level of involvement in art I want to have in my life has modified my choices and informed my decisions about my career, how I spend my time, and how I spend my money. I’ve gone from being a wide-eyed dreamer of a someday art career, as an art student, who lived amongst the bubble of the art community, to living life after college with all its startling reality. This world I now live in includes: bills, student loan debt, working as much as I can on my art while balancing a night job, experiencing frequent rejections for art shows, and feeling unrelenting and crushing self-doubt about my abilities as an artist. I feel I have been drifting without many purposes in my quest to be a professional artist, and it’s making me wonder whether this is the life I really want.
Making the Jump from Hobbyist Artist to Amateur Artist
In more recent years, I have really stepped up my activity to bring my art to a more professional level, such as: creating profit and loss sheets in Excel, designing an art catalog of inventory, launching an artist website, blogging about art, participating in more frequent art shows, hosting studio sale events at my home, producing custom art, and starting commerce shops on Etsy and Red Bubble, etc. However, all of this activity has been challenging and sometimes disappointing. It seems to me that no matter how hard I try, I am still struggling to sell my art consistently. I have also made efforts to connect with people on a personal level through writing blog posts, and producing artist newsletters.
However, I am still not making a profit and instead, I find myself falling into debt to pay for framing, art supplies, and marketing expenses. Even more importantly, I feel I have lost the joy of making art in the midst of all this business related activity. Consequently, I’ve had severe doubts about whether I want to be a professional artist, because of the amount of work, time, emotion, skill, and unflagging confidence a professional artist must have to survive. I wonder, are I any other artists are struggling with this situation? And I’m also asking myself, do I really want to be a professional artist, or not? If not, then what type of artist do I want to be?
What are some Specific Types of Artists?
To investigate and to define the different types of artist that anyone can be, I read an article entitled, “Hobbyist, Amateur, or Professional Artist-Which are you?” written by Aletta de Wall on the website, Empty Easel, at http://emptyeasel.com/2011/02/01hobbyist-amateur-or-professional-artist-which-are-you. The author, De Wall, states that there are three categories of artists and they are: Hobbyist, Amateur, and Professional and that each type is distinctly different. (Source: ibid)
The Hobby Artist
For example, hobby artists are not trying to make a living from their art, and they may only make art when the creative bug bites. (Source: ibid) In addition, hobby artists may study for many years and hone their craft by taking classes and workshops, but they may not ever receive the recognition that their work deserves because they are not taking actions which would promote their art effectively, such as having a business or marketing plan. (Source: ibid) On the other hand, an advantage of being a hobby artist is that there is no pressure on them to cater to a specific audience or make a profit, so they are free to experiment with a variety of media and subject matter and styles and techniques. They may also have more time to make art because there is no imperative to make a profit and engage in business-related activities such as marketing, bookkeeping, or sales.
The Amateur Artist
Another category of artist types is the amateur artist. This type of artist has started to play with the idea of making their art into a profession. (Source: ibid) Perhaps they have started to think that they need to start selling their art to help foot the bill for their art supplies, and to start being able to deduct their art expenses from taxes. (Source: ibid) An important distinction between hobby artists and amateurs is that amateurs are willing to give up their personal time in order to learn how to sell their art and creating new works. (Source: ibid) However, they may be uncertain about how to turn their passion into a viable business. (Source: ibid)
The Professional Artist
Finally, the last category of artists that this article discussed is professional artists. This type of artist is distinguished from the other two types of hobby artist and amateur artist because they consider art to be their profession. (Source: ibid, and Drew Kimble, “9 Warning Signs of an Amateur Artist,” https://skinnyartist.com/9-warning-signs-of-an-amateur-artist, accessed on June 7, 2018. )
These types of artists want to make a profit from their art, build a following, and continue to build their business skills at the same time. They have an intense level of dedication to their art and are willing to sacrifice time, money, sleep and do whatever it takes to make a profit. (Source: ibid, and Drew Kimble) They might work another day job to help support their business or eventually quit their day job when they are able so that they can devote more time to making art and learning how to sell it. Other activities that they engage in are: making studio time a daily habit, applying for grants, writing artist newsletters, submitting their artwork for review at galleries and art fairs, write business plans, extend their knowledge of effective business practices by attending art business workshops, etc. (Source: ibid, and Hayley Roberts, “Twelve Things No One Ever Tells You About Being An Artist,” The Huffington Post, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/hayleyroberst/twleve-things-no-one-tell.html. accessed on June 7, 2018.) They also promote their artwork online and offline through social media, their artist website, and in real life artist events, such as art gallery openings, art festivals, etc. (Source: ibid)Some may also make a living by teaching their craft to others. (Source: Aletta De Wal, “Hobbyist, Amateur, or Professional Artist-Which are you?”, and Hayley Roberts, “Twelve Things No One Ever Tells You About Being An Artist,” ) .
These artists may receive more recognition for their artwork, but they may also experience more criticism and rejection than the two other types because they are more aggressively pursuing art gallery representation, etc. In addition, they may have less time for making artwork because they have to balance making art with business-related duties. Furthermore, they may struggle to sell their art or make consistent income and they may face stiff competition from other artists because it is such a saturated field. It is a long road for these artists towards building a following and making a success from their art, but they are dedicated for the long haul. (Source: Drew Kimble, “9 Warning Signs of an Amateur Artist,” https://skinnyartist.com/9-warning-signs-of-an-amateur-artist, accessed on June 7, 2018. )
What about You? What Type of Artist are you?
So what about you, reader? What type of artist are you? I would love to hear about your dreams and hopes with regards to making art. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read this. Next week, I will be talking about this topic of artist types in more detail, with a slight twist. The twist will be a more in-depth look at what it really means to be a professional artist and why it has been traditionally so difficult to be successful in this field.
The photos below are a collection of art demonstration paintings that I created to help re-teach myself how to draw in pastels and to prepare for the pastel workshop I taught on June 16, 2018, at the Colorful Canvas art supply store. Also included are photos of my art students at work and the pastel drawings they created at the class. Please note, the pastel drawings pictured here are based on the art demonstrations found in the book, The Art of Pastel, published by Walter Foster, in 2010. These pastel drawings are not my original works and are not intended for sale. The works were made simply to practice pastel drawing techniques and help my students to have a demonstration format to follow. In addition, the pastel drawings were originally created by the artists, William Scheider and Marla Baggetta, and no copyright violation is intended.
Today I taught a pastel workshop at the Colorful Canvas art supply store in Frederick, MD. It was quite a change stepping into the teacher’s shoes after years of being a student. I was amazed at how quickly my students picked up all the various concepts I tossed out at them including line, shape, color, and value. I started with a drawing and broke down the fruit still life into basic shapes. After I had done that, I broke down the colors and values to their most basic levels and continued to refine them. In addition, I took breaks in between each step, so the students could follow along and not get lost in the process. I hope to be able to teach another pastel class soon! Below are some photos of the art class students I taught today and the artwork they created. Thanks for stopping by!