We have all read those inspirational blogs and articles on how to make outstanding artwork and how to sell your work, most giving the illusion that if you continue producing great quality work that you will end up making a living out of it.
Now the truth, how many artists do you know actually make a living from their artwork and how many more do you know never actually get to sell anything or much at all?
If art was as easy as some make it out to be for you to make a living then the marketplace would be saturated with very talented young and old artists alike at every corner.
Yes, indeed, if you push and push and push you might sell. It might be designs on print-on-demand, illustrations here and there, a few paintings, you might even be able to make a steady income. For some it will be a career is design and the arts, but for the vast majority the reality will be that your work will be stored in some corner of the house, in some cupboard or drawer and you might never get the chance to show it. For these people finding the time and money to follow their passion will be difficult.
Choices will have to be made when this is the case, and for many it comes at an early stage in their lives where the importance of following their love for the arts has to be balanced with the reality that to live you need to eat and to do so you need to earn. And so the brushes, the pencils, the canvas and sketchbooks are shelved and gather dust. Expensive paint tubes are replaced by bargain shop paints and brushes. Spending is limited to just what you can spare.
And because art does not have the economic viability to provide much comfort spending time in following your passion is replaced by spending time in other essential day to day things, with just as great a value to you, such as raising your children, spending time with your family.
Now, how many of you reading this can relate to this circumstances? The fact is you are not alone. The fact is that there are probably more people who are following such pathways than those who are making a living out of their artwork. The fact is that there are probably many whose talent is beyond that seen from some who do make a living but their fortunes have differed and their opportunities have been lacking for them to have broken through what is a tight net and into what continues to be an elite sector. Many times success will be about who you know rather than what talent you have. It will be about who you come across and who sees you, rather than your talent.
Yet with all this said there is one thing no artists should contemplate, and this comes from experience. Do not put your brushes down, do not put that pencil down, do not let it gather dust.
For most art is a passion that they have grown with from childhood. The perceptions over what it is they do might have changed because of the way society educated us and developed us towards employment. Yet someone who loves to draw, paint, sculpt, craft or any creative activity will most probably have been doing it, even if not realising, since a very young age, and it was never about the financial gain or economic value. It is a part of your individual identity and as such should be protected and maintained as such. Putting down your tools will only see you wish to pick them up at some stage and it could be a long time in coming. In all that time your confidence will be diminished and you are most likely to feel its effects when in the future you do actually return to pick them up.
Ten minutes, thirty minutes, maybe even a short hour might be a reasonable amount of time you might be able to spare in your day, maybe even if your life is that hectic a week. But we all have ten minutes to spare for a cup of coffee at some stage, for a breather. Let your mind get active and let your fingers do the talking for those few moments. It is not about whether it will provide anything beyond ten minutes of downtime. It is whether you are willing to keep who you are intact and not have to change. It is about not switching off a part of you.
After years of having put the pen and brushes down myself and allowed circumstances to dictate a pathway away from allowing myself to have the ten minutes, finding the motivation to find those ten minutes took many a difficult months. Many frustrating moments and many moments battling against my own confidence levels reminding myself that once I used to do x,y and z.
But once you find that balance the difficulty will be adjusting to the fact you will be in a relearning process when you should have been at a comfort zone at least.
So don’t be daft don’t drop those brushes or pencils, canvas or sketchbooks, if need be replace them with scrap paper and anything which makes a mark, but give yourself the luxury of at least ten minutes in your life every so often to be who you have probably always been.
None of the sketches below took longer than twenty minutes to complete. The painting sketches themselves were done in a quarter of an hour and twenty minutes respectively whilst the other pieces, which will probably end up hidden with hundreds of other sketches were doodles. It’s not work of arts you need to produce every time, all you need to do is let your voice speak even if a silent tone.