Crit Quad #3: Eloise Shelton-Mayo

Eloise_Shelton_Mayo

Eloise Shelton-Mayo
“Bends & Bridges III”, oil and cold wax painting, 12″ x 12″

“I’ve been interested in how we define spaces in our lives, some chosen and some not. There’s a dialogue between the shapes that reads like a kind of topographic map with a history, a story.  The Bends & Bridges Series of which this piece, No. III is a part of, began out of an exploration of shape and color using the medium oil and cold wax.   Creating contained shapes and those that blend into other ones started out intuitively but became more deliberate as certain ones were covered and others isolated.  My fascination with what separates and connects is evident here and the boundaries of those spaces, like the connections appear changeable.”


Sara Bloem, Teaching Assistant
Sara Bloem, Multimedia Artist
“The textures are really working for you. I love the oil and cold wax technique, it makes me crave to see the person in real life, up close.”
Mentioned: Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape #1


Lauryn Welch, Teaching Assistant
Lauryn Welch, Painter & Performance Artist
“I just want run my hands over your piece, I love seeing the little scratch marks in the surface.”


Yves-Olivier Mandereau, Teaching Assistant
Yves-Olivier Mandereau, Designer & Ceramic Artist
“I really appreciate the vibrancy of the color, and the liveliness of the painting.”


Clara Lieu, Visual Artist & Adjunct Professor at RISD
Clara Lieu, Fine Artist & Adjunct Professor at RISD
“Be more assertive about what you’re going after in terms of the color scheme.”


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Ask the Art Prof: How Can I Balance Planning and Spontaneity in My Artwork?

Chipboard Personality Sculptures

“I paint based on my intuition, and I usually do not know what the message of the painting is until the draft is down. This usually evolves over a few weeks, with new insights and connections happening. I feel rather out of control, and my tutors say I should finalize a plan and then execute it. Instead, I modify during execution. Is there some balance between planning and going on impulse that is ideal? “

The key is to strike a balance so that planning and spontaneity are mutually supportive. You can maximize the benefits of both by organizing your time and fostering work habits that will allow these two approaches to complement each other. I organize my time so that I have periods that are dedicated to loose experimentation that are balanced by periods of executing finished pieces. Managing these periods in this way keeps me focused and provides a well-rounded experience.

The ability to think and work in an unpredictable manner is most useful in the beginning stages of an artwork. This approach significantly expands the range of work you can create, and is especially critical when brainstorming ideas for your artwork. From a practical standpoint, it’s crucial to limit the physical execution of the artwork to small scale sketches. This strategy allows you to quickly make fundamental, sweeping changes without the consequences of wasting expensive art materials or needing to start over a time-consuming piece. You can explore many options without investing large amounts of time.

At this early stage, spill everything on paper and entertain every option without passing judgment prematurely. Maintaining flexibility is hugely important; you have to give yourself the freedom to react to anything that arises and then run with it. If you are too fixated and on your first ideas and unwilling to make impromptu changes, you will shut down potential options that might have been great.

An impulsive approach can lead to fresh and exciting ideas that might otherwise not come up. Excessive planning and thinking can sometimes paralyze your creativity. The equivalent would be a baseball player who ruminates about how to hit the ball, when really, no amount of thinking will help when the ball is being thrown at you at 85 mph. I frequently tell my students to turn off their brains and just touch the paper with the charcoal. Start a physical action and then let yourself react to those actions in the moment. This approach will get your creative juices pumping and push your progress forward.

However, you can’t do this forever, and ultimately you have to arrive at a cohesive vision. At a certain point, you will start feeling scattered and overwhelmed. When jumping around becomes detrimental to your process, it’s a signal that it’s time to start making decisions and nailing down what you want to do.

If the preparatory stages of your work was substantial and exhaustive, fabricating the final pieces should be fairly straightforward and smooth. In my own artwork, executing the final pieces always takes much less time than the planning stage. Frequently I spend months, sometimes even up to a year brainstorming and sketching. As a result, I reap many rewards; my preliminary work is comprehensive enough that by the time I’m ready to make the final pieces, I’ve anticipated and ironed out almost all of the problems. I can concentrate exclusively on the technical aspects of interacting with my art materials. This allows me to work without the distraction of troubleshooting unresolved issues.

Keep in mind that fundamental, sweeping changes at the execution stage can be disruptive, expensive, and impractical. You can waste a lot of time and art materials, and end up doing a lot unnecessary backtracking. Once you’ve spent $300 on canvas and paints, and invested 12 hours working on the painting, it can be painful to discover that deep into the process, you want to scrap everything and create a pastel drawing instead. Once in a while, the situation can be so dire that starting over really is the only solution. After all, no one wants to squander their time beating a dead horse. So, be thorough in the brainstorming stage, and avoid this situation if you can.

I’m not saying you can’t make changes while you execute the final work. Inevitably, new challenges emerge that you couldn’t predict, and you have to build in room for adjustments. Modifications made at this point should be minor, so that they enhance the overall work without sabotaging your progress.

Sometimes major changes are just not possible because of a professional commitment you’ve made. When I’ve spent a year creating a body of artwork for a solo exhibition, I cannot make hasty decisions one month before the exhibition opens. Despite a burning desire to investigate a new idea, I’ve had to immediately reject radical changes because it was just too late. Running with a last-minute idea at that point would have been foolish, and I couldn’t risk everything I had accomplished.

Take the initiative to exercise both spontaneous and planned approaches in your work process. If you limit yourself to only one way of working, you’re missing out on everything the other has to offer. Let these methods influence each other in a positive manner, and you’ll begin to achieve a balance that will make your overall studio practice more fluid and coherent.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


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Ask the Art Prof: Can a Math Teacher Become an Art Teacher?

Pastel Portrait Drawing Assignment

“I presently enjoy the rare chance to teach drawing in my math class. We have discussed perspective and symmetry so my math students are working on drawing in perspective. After teaching high school math classes for almost ten years, I am more than ready to get out. I would like to teach art or digital imaging at the high school level.

However, I feel trapped in this high-demand, high-pressure, test-obsessed field with no room for advancement or creativity. Although I could obtain a certification to teach art in my state, I have never been to art school. I suppose my question is about how feasible this is. Could a math teacher teach art?”

Technically speaking, if you obtain the required certification and degrees to teach studio art, you can do it. However, being an effective art teacher is much more than degrees and certification. A huge part of being a successful art teacher is the ability to draw from your own experience as a visual artist. You can read, write, and analyze all you want about art theory, art technique, art education, etc., but until you have the hands-on experience of actually making your own artwork, your ability to teach studio art will remain superficial. The equivalent would be a soccer coach who reads about soccer techniques, but has never physically played a soccer game.

Teaching studio art at the high school level has its own unique set of challenges. Most high school art teachers teach general art courses that cover a wide range of techniques. For this reason, you need to have expertise in multiple techniques: drawing, painting, sculpture, and more. You have to know all of these processes inside out, which requires many years of working with those techniques through your own artwork. Teaching a course as specialized as digital imaging at the high school level would be rare, usually only private preparatory schools are able to offer a course like that.

There are many aspects of creating your own artwork that would tremendously inform your capacity to teach studio art. Troubleshooting is a significant part of creating your own artwork, and you will learn much more from your mistakes than from your moments of success.

For example, it took me years of mistakes to figure out a reliable technique for stretching canvases. Despite technical demonstrations by my teachers, I made many errors: my canvases were too loose; I didn’t accurately measure my rabbit skin glue sizing which resulted in cracked oil paintings, etc. It was only after making these blunders that I could see what was required to execute the technique properly. These experiences are critical to being an art teacher because you acquire practical strategies for difficult problems.

So much of my time as a teacher is devoted to showing students how to fix things when something doesn’t work out. Students will make mistakes, and you have to be able to provide your students with options no matter what goes wrong. The demonstrations I give emphasize ways of dodging potential problems. As much as I try to anticipate problems, new issues always arise that you could never foresee. One of my colleagues told me that a student once accidentally ran a pencil through a printmaking press! Since hearing this story, I am adamant about telling students that absolutely nothing is ever allowed on a printmaking press other than the press blankets. Being told what to avoid is just as important as being told what to do.

Making art is usually a very physical process, and seeing a professional in action can be tremendously influential. The individual demonstrations I give to my students can have a greater impact than any verbal description I can provide. In my drawing classes, I often ask students to simply watch my body movements while I draw. I tell them to not look at the drawing I’m making, but instead to see the direction my wrist moves in, the sweeping motions I make with my arm, and to observe the swift pacing of my movements. These physical actions could never be portrayed in a book, they simply have to be experienced in real life and can only be demonstrated by someone who has done it many times before.

Essentially, you have to be an artist before you can be a studio art teacher. Students look to their teachers to be role models, and they need to see that their teachers have active studio practices. This makes the idea of being a professional artist real for students. Initiate your career change by building your own history as a working artist. Collect your own tricks of the trade, and share those experiences with your students. Inhabiting both roles as artist and teacher will enrich your art students beyond measure.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


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Jenny Saville and Willem de Kooning

Jenny Saville

British contemporary artist Jenny Saville

I’m gathering all of the various supplies necessary to make these drawings: etching ink, x-acto knives, lithographic crayons, Dura-Lar, rolls of white paper, and much more. The logistics are all falling into place, and I’ll have my very first drawing session in the studio later today. It’s been a really long time since I’ve drawn anything substantial, much less on the scale (7′ x 4′) that I will be working on. I’m thinking that I will have to put myself through a number of warm up drawings before I start working on the final sheets of Dura-Lar. Most likely it will be charcoal drawings on paper, with the sole purpose of getting myself back into shape. I feel really rusty, so it will be nice to get myself deep into the trenches again.

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British contemporary artist Jenny Saville

Recently I’ve been looking a lot at the British painter Jenny Saville’s work. I’ve always admired the audacity of her work, as well as the immense scale that she works at. Her paintings really feel larger in than life when you view them in person, and the scale has a lot to do with it.  I first saw her work in person at the Royal Academy of Art when I was in London on a travel grant from my graduate school.  I was astounded at how abstract her pieces were in person, especially when seen up close. It finally made sense to me that Willem de Kooning was a major influence in her work. I’m going to strive in my own work to achieve a similar quality.

Willem de Kooning


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Ask the Art Professor: How Can I Learn to Draw Noses?

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Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci


“I have a really difficult time trying to draw noses. How can I learn to draw them?”     

People tell me all the time that that they can’t draw _______________.  If you’re having an issue drawing a specific subject, it’s because you are thinking too much about the end product and on achieving a convincing likeness.  Instead, you need to be focusing on the basics of drawing that will get you there.

Approach drawing every subject the same way. (read this article I wrote on gesture drawing for drawing tips) Many people think that each subject demands a strategy specific to that subject only, when really your strategy for every subject should be fundamentally the same. I would draw a rabbit using the same strategy as I would if I were drawing a lemon or a bicycle.

The next time you sit down to draw a nose, forget that you’re drawing a nose. Instead, look at the nose as an abstract series of forms that you’re observing, and don’t let yourself get distracted by how it looks as you draw.

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Drawing by Albrecht Durer


I was a portrait painter for a few years after I finished my undergraduate degree.  I used to put unnecessary pressure on myself to achieve a perfect likeness, which of course was hugely problematic because that’s the whole point of being a portrait painter.  I would worry and stress the whole time as I was painting about the outcome of the finished piece.  Naturally, this was counter productive, as the more I worried the less and less of a likeness I was able to create. Once I started to block out my mental concerns of achieving a likeness, and started to focus exclusively on seeing abstract forms and relationships in the face, the painting immediately got better.

Remember that the nose is just one small component of a head, and that for a nose to work, it has to fit in with and relate to everything else on the head. The classic mistake I see everywhere with portraits is people starting out by drawing the eyes, nose, and mouth.  The problem with this approach is that there is absolutely nothing structural about the eyes, nose, and mouth.  The eyes are soft squishy spheres, the nose is cartilage, and the mouth is just soft tissue. Instead, structural forms like the forehead, the brow, the cheek bones, the jaw bone, and the chin are what need to be addressed first in a portrait.  Once these structural forms are established, drawing in the eyes, nose, and mouth should be like dropping the cherry on the sundae.

033

Pen drawing by Michelangelo


The reason why portraits are so challenging for many people is because they carry significant psychological baggage.  We see faces all the time, and they are one of the primary forms of visual communication between humans. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t be judgmental of the way someone draws a pear the way you would with a portrait.   With a portrait, anyone can always tell when something is a little “off”, even if they can’t point out exactly where the problem is.

Finally, I think that noses are funny looking forms to begin. Look at these wonderful grotesque portraits by Leonardo da Vinci below, certainly the noses in this drawing are exaggerated, but even the most average nose is a strange form.  If you accept that, noses will be easier to deal with in your drawings.

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Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci


This charcoal drawing tutorial I did on the Art Prof Youtube channel shows the entire process of creating a portrait drawing in charcoal from direct observation (see below) I wrote this article which provides detailed explanations of the numerous tools needed to make charcoal drawings.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related Videos
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


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Ask the Art Prof: How Do You Compose an Artwork More Rich with Details that Will Catch the Eye?

Scratchboard Project

“I have a question about composition, how do you make an artwork more rich with details that will catch the eye?”

Details are what dazzle and impress viewers in an artwork, they’re basically the fireworks at the end of an event.  However, what many people don’t realize is that details can only successful if they are supported by a strong composition. Without the structure of a compelling composition, details will fall apart and lose their context. Composition is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of making art, but unfortunately it is one fundamental skill that is notoriously overlooked.

Seduced by details, many artists will place far too much emphasis on specifics in the early stages of a work when really they should be concentrating on the composition. It doesn’t matter how amazing your details are if you have a lousy composition, so don’t even think about details until your composition has been solidified. (For more information about how to sketch compositions, read this article I wrote about preliminary sketching.)

The French neo-classicist painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres is renowned for his astonishing detail in his oil painting portraits.  He painted details that seem virtually microscopic in the textures of the clothing, hair, and lace in his artworks. Most people are enthralled by the extraordinary level of detail in his paintings.  They don’t take the time to recognize that the choices he made in the composition of his painting contribute just as much, if not more, to the effectiveness of the piece as the details do.

Jean August Dominique Ingres

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Below is a list of three primary objectives to consider when composing a piece, followed by concrete actions that you can take to get those results.

1) Lead the viewer’s eye to continually move throughout the work
A strong composition should get your eye continuously moving from one place to the next. Your eye should bounce from top to bottom, side to side, and inhabit every single piece of the composition at some point. Avoid placing your subject matter in the center of the piece, as this isolates all of the visual activity to the middle of the page. In general, symmetry also makes for a less engaging composition because it’s predictable and too consistent.  Let your composition surprise your viewers.

2) Make every part of the artwork important
I had a piano teacher who used to say “make every note special“.  It seems like an impossible task when you think about how many notes are in a piece of piano music, but the point is that every note in a piece of music has it’s own special role to play within the delicate balance of a work.  Assign roles to different parts of your work so that some are large and dramatic, whereas others are quiet and subtle.  A composition won’t work if everything is big and loud.  Fabricate sections of the composition to contrast against the rest.  All of the parts of your piece should work together and feed into an intricate web of relationships. Have your composition so complete and tightly woven that the removal of even one section would cause the balance to fall to pieces.

3) Be visually dynamic
Keep things visually exciting in every moment in your composition. One concrete action you can employ to make this happen is to implement diagonals anywhere you can. Diagonals fabricate a sense of action and movement, whereas horizontals and verticals tend to appear static and stiff.  Cropping your subject matter can also make the image appear grander and more dramatic. Leaving the entirety of your subject matter confined to the four edges of the page feels stale and boring.

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Gericault, “The Raft of the Medusa

I’ve always felt that Gericault’s painting “The Raft of the Medusa” is one of the most striking compositions ever made. This piece is an astonishing 193″ x 282″ with life size figures, (make sure to see it in the Louvre in Paris before you die) and is propelled by it’s remarkable composition. If you examine the piece, it’s essentially a series of diagonals that slice up the composition very dramatically. With their thrashing limbs and desperate gestures, each figure points and leads to another, ending with a climactic finale in the figure at the top waving a rag.  There are quiet movements like the soft transitions in the sky, contrasted by brutally dark and powerful forms in the human figures. All of these areas work together to create a boldly balanced composition that Gericault’s horrific details flourish within.

Once you have a strong composition set up, you’re ready to tackle details.  Be selective about where you put details, and distribute them sparingly throughout your composition. Too many details in a piece can make a composition feel cluttered.  You don’t want to create a situation where the details are constantly competing for a viewer’s attention. Allow for large, ambiguous areas in your composition where the eye can rest temporarily. Think about details as little treasures that are to be discovered when looking at a piece.

st-peter

Caravaggio, The Crucifixtion of St. Peter

In this Caravaggio painting above, one of my favorite details is the pair of feet in the lower left hand corner. Not only does Caravaggio paint the veins and skin folds of the feet with intense detail, but he takes the time to paint the dirt on the feet! The simplicity of the dark, shadowy background around the feet allows these details to emerge beautifully. Not only is this detail stunning, but it also provides a visual description that enhances the depth of the narrative.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related Videos
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


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“Is it bad to start another piece of art before finishing another one?”
“How do you work in a series?”
“When and how should you use photo references to draw?”
“How do you know when to stop working?”

 

Ask the Art Prof: How Can a Visual Artist Overcome their Financial Issues?

Studio View

“How can an artist overcome their financial issues?”

Finances are one of the tough realities of being an artist that rarely gets talked about. This is surprising to me, considering what a major issue finances are for almost every single artist. To put it bluntly, being an artist is costly. Certainly, there is an enormous range of how expensive a career as an artist can be depending on the the type of work you do.  However, every artist inevitably has to deal with three major expenses: 1) paying for a work space, 2) paying for materials, and 3) paying for the time to work.

Finding, maintaining and paying for a work space is of great concern for all artists, especially for those who need access to complex facilities for processes like casting, printmaking, glass, etc. One of the prevailing myths about being an artist is that you have to move to New York City right after art school to start your career.  Unless you’re independently wealthy, I couldn’t think of worse advice to give to a young artist. The artists I know who did this had a very, very hard time financially.  It’s quite common for young artists in New York City to find themselves paying for studio spaces that they don’t use because their time is dominated by trying to stay afloat financially.

My advice instead would be to start elsewhere, in a less expensive, smaller city where you can be more financially stable.  In a context like that, you can gain a few years of professional experience and build up a substantial, professional body of artwork before tackling New York City. Living in a smaller city may not be as glamorous, but you’re so much more likely to be able to afford a studio space that you are actually putting to good use.

Studio View

If you really can’t afford to rent a work space, you can make a work space at home. When I was a recent graduate, I purchased a small, $500 printing press and made drypoint prints and oil paintings in my living room for four years.  Or if you work at a college or art school, you have access to the facilities there and can make use of them.  I have never been able to afford my own studio space,  so for the past few years I’ve worked in the facilities in the art department at Wellesley College. I have a sculpture studio, a printshop, a drawing studio, a painting studio, computer labs, printers, etc. all at my fingertips. At times, this can be tricky to navigate, as you have to work around class schedules, and you can’t leave your work and supplies all over the studios, but for me it’s well worth it for the amount of money that I save.

Purchasing materials never ends for artists.  Every artist has their own way of dealing with this, ranging from artists who work with cheap/free materials to artists who are buying the most high end materials that exist.   In graduate school I had a friend who always seemed to be showing up with great objects all the time for her sculpture work.  Every time I asked her where she got her materials, she would reply “the garbage”. I have a colleague who makes sculptures using plain old Elmer’s glue and paper towels, while I have yet another colleague who will only paint with Old Holland oil paints, frequently known to cost on average $50 for one 40 ml tube of paint.

I’m intensely organized and efficient about what materials I use because I know that any misstep could result in hundreds of wasted dollars. I spend months preparing and planning my projects before I invest money in expensive materials so that I am absolutely certain when I make purchases. Whenever I test out a new material, I always start out by purchasing a small quantity that I can test out and experiment with before launching into a full scale project.  And it never hurts to make friends with your framer, who gives me 20% off on all of my orders.

Time is quite possibly the most precious thing you can “buy.” The difficulty for many artists is that they have to choose one of two options, neither of which is ideal:  1) being financially stable, but having no time to work on their art or 2) and just barely scraping by financially, but having time to work on their art. Having a balance that allows you to be financially stable with plenty of time to work on your art is the ultimate dream for most artists, and one that almost always seems out of reach for most of us.

I remember the first four years after I graduated from RISD I experimented with both extremes.  The first two years I worked like a dog, working more than full-time hours and saying yes to every single teaching opportunity that came by.  The result was that I was financially stable, but I didn’t make any artwork for about two years. I did sketches here and there, but I was so busy patching together a living with paid jobs that I couldn’t buckle down and focus on creating art. When I started getting serious about applying to graduate school, I knew that I had to reserve large blocks of time so that I could concentrate and work on my portfolio.

I went part-time at my teaching job, lived on $850 a month and nearly depleted my savings hiring artist models-but- I painted on average 20 hours a week and within two years I had a portfolio for graduate school. Today, as I go into my thirteenth year working as a professional artist, this balance is something that I have to constantly work on all the time.  I’ve learned to accept the fact that there will be periods when I have a lot of time to work, and periods when I have to sacrifice time in the studio in order to take on a paying job. I go back and forth between the two, which is what creates a balance for me.

Then there are those things that seem to descend from heaven: individual artist grants. Grants are another way to relieve the expenses of being an artist.   An artist grant can free up vast amounts of time to work, and can allow you the opportunity to work with materials that you would never have dared to dream of. The problem is, artist grants are so incredibly competitive and difficult to win that you really can’t count on them as a financial resource. They range from small, local grants of $1000 to major, national grants like the Guggenheim which is $30,000+. When you do win a grant, it’s like Christmas morning to the tenth power, and winning a major grant like the Guggenheim redefines your career and positioning in the art world.

Apply to every grant you’re eligible for, every chance you get, and don’t ever stop. Any time you don’t apply for a grant cycle, that’s basically a missed financial opportunity.  I’ve applied to every cycle of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant since I was 21 and have never won, but I still faithfully mail out my application every two years.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


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