Making Money and Creating Art (sometimes simultaneously)

I do not make my living at art.

I think it’s important to state this, because too often artists feel ashamed of not being able to live off their art. Many artists (especially on social media) allow viewers to assume art is how they earn their living, while in truth they may make the majority of their money by teaching art lessons, by being a landlord, having a day job, or through the support of a spouse.

Some schools of thought dictate that you should NOT try to make your art carry the responsibility of supporting you- that it taints creativity to put financial pressure on the art. Though I appreciate the sentiment, I disagree.

I have a job because:

  1. My family could use the money now, not some time in the future when my ship comes in.
  2. It makes the time I have more precious, motivating me to paint faster AND smarter.

That being said, I plan to grow my art sales to the degree that I may no longer require a day job (and I trust that when that day arrives, I will recognize it. That process of discernment may be the subject of a future blog post…). I am doing a number of things to improve my art income- primarily involving: tons of research, some networking, and as much easel time as I can manage.

I do not have a day job because my creativity is fragile. As William Faulkner said:

 

I only write when inspiration strikes.

Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.

 

I will sit down and do the hard work at the easel, and I will do my day job. For now….

 

 

such a fan

“Vintage Fan” 2017

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Instagram as Accountability Tool

While I use social media to promote my art, my snobby side tends to feel the marketing work is “beneath me”– a waste of good old fashioned easel time!

The thing I often fail to recognize, is the absolute exhilarating benefit of the accountability social media lends me.

I do not require an audience to paint. In fact, I would be quite content to paint alone in a room where no person ever trod and no eyes ever ventured. Yet, the fear of failing can quite dampen and slow my productivity on a regular basis. As I have gained a small group of friends and followers on Instagram and Facebook, I feel the weight of their expectations and also their joy at seeing art magically appear in their feed.

While I struggle to see anything but the failings of my work, genuine viewers greet my work with eagerness, and it lends me a burst of giddiness that helps to propel me to greater productivity.

It’s refreshing to see my work with new eyes, and I am so grateful for the love and support I receive. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Follow Me: @hhighfield

 

hhighfield

Quick Sketch in the nude… Wait no- OF! Of the nude.

The human figure is generally considered the most difficult things to paint and draw. Many representational artists study anatomy as a scientist or doctor might, and it has been a practice used for centuries. A couple of months ago I was doing a LOT of drawing and anatomy sketching and decided one day I just could not pick up the pencil one more time. Paint won’t let me ignore it for very long- it gets impatient, jealous even! So  that eventually, I’m obliged to indulge it.

So I sat down and did two quick figure studies in paint. It felt so easy and so natural after all that drawing. Maybe I should remember to make paint wait every so often….

 

*Reference photos courtesy of the amazing New Masters Academy image library!

 

figure1

 

figure2

I love painting. It’s the worst.

Yeah, so I love painting. It’s the best. Sorta.

When I’m painting for a long stretch of time (you’re supposed to frequently take a step back from a painting… but I get lazy, so this may be part of the problem) and I walk away from a painting I am always shocked to see it again. Sometimes it’s a good shock, like: “Oh wow, I’m awesome.” But usually it’s more of a: “Wait… WHAT. I’ve been working on this for x hours and it’s not good at all. I’m a failure!”

And sometimes I switch back and forth between believing I’m awesome and believing I’m  failure quite rapidly. It’s truly a dizzying experience.

However, a few things seem to calm me down:

  1. I remember that I’m still learning.
  2. I remember that I’m still learning. AAANND that my learning time (& budget) has been fairly restricted this past year, so I may be learning slower than I have in years past. And that’s ok. Because generally, I’m still headed up the mountain.
  3. A good cup of coffee.
  4. Posting a painting on social media and having friends and family say nice things about it (even though they aren’t artists, it feels good. And that helps a lot.)

 

Stopping and starting and stopping and starting…

You know, for as much as I love drawing and painting you’d think I would do more of it.

Sure, I could blame my day job. It is absolutely easier to make art when I’m not working. But I cannot justify watching four consecutive episodes of Parks & Rec (but it’s so goooooood) when I could be practicing my drawing or starting a new painting.

I have time available to me.

I forgive myself for being silly with my time (it’s important to live a silly life, I am sure of it) but I know that there is a little tiny voice inside me dying to create. But I get nervous and squirmy at the thought of making a bad piece of art… so I go eat some chocolate and distract myself instead.

So here’s to a daily art practice that I am starting… again. And if I get nervous and stop I will just start again. And again. And again. Because starting again is the most important thing.

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I’ve started at the beginning of the Watts Atelier curriculum (again) and I will work my way through it. Here are some skull studies I did for one of the first course assignments.

Rosemary Brushes

Instagramentry

Well, I’ve been working the good ol’ day job pretty regularly for the past couple of months, which means my painting & drawing time has been less than ideal! But I did manage to whip up this fun little photo entry for an Instagram contest in a desperate attempt to win some amazing brushes from Rosemary & Co. (The BEST brushes). Fingers crossed!

LCAC Spring Show

I am thrilled to have received an honorable mention (in the oils category) at the LCAC Spring Show. The painting is a small alla prima study of strawberries entitle “Strawberry Jam.” There were so many amazing pieces. I am so grateful I was able to participate. About 600 pieces were submitted to the show and only half were accepted.

Honorable Mention