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The life of an artist

You know it's jolly hard work being a professional artist.

 "Green Tea Pot" by Lynda Cookson

It doesn't just start and stop at creating work with paints and other mediums, and then getting it framed. Then sold.

The work begins, often not with an idea, but with the process of looking for an idea. Trying out various inspirations in your head, choreographing them into compositions (still in your head) and playing with colour and shape. There are sleepless nights involved in this process!

Along with the creation of the piece, unless you have a large studio where mess and organisation are not that important, a lot of housework takes place with cleaning, sorting, and looking after your brushes and tools. Unless you're Francis Bacon who worked in a small studio with such a mess there was hardly a space to walk. The mice loved his studio.

"Ancient Forest" by Lynda Cookson

Often there's the preparation of the surface you're going to work on. This is not a huge process for me for each surface as I use artists' gesso. In the olden days artists had to mix and cook their own form of gesso. Just like they used to mix their own paints.

After the work has been created and framed if necessary, and because there are so many artists in these times who do not have the luxury of an agent, the marketing begins.

Each piece is photographed, having spent the time to set up a suitable space where the light is good and the painting is lying flat or is propped at the correct angle. The images are downloaded onto the computer where the originals are edited (cropped, and the correct light and colours fine tuned). Each edited  image is then saved in a separate folder (see my ePlan for how this is set out ). A second programme is opened in order to edit the edited image to a size suitable for online use and this is also filed.

Then each painting has to be protected with cling film and stored safely, especially if it has been well (and expensively) framed.

Looking for new galleries to represent you and your work is constant. In the present economic climate, unless you have already established yourself as an artist investors look out for, prices cannot be set that high if you want sales. To pay the bills and put food on the table you therefore need more sales and consequently more outlets selling your work. After paying shipping/delivery costs and gallery commission, then taking into account the costs you had to outlay to get the finished piece, the profit in your pocket is not very high at all.

Although I have managed to get my work into four galleries at the moment (it used to be more but some galleries have closed down) I still find it necessary to try and sell directly from my studio as well.

"Storm" by Lynda Cookson

This brings me to the present. Yesterday I spent most of the day pricing, setting up and displaying my paintings and other craftwork in our motorhome which will be my public studio for the summer. Each time we need to go to the shops or out somewhere, because our motorhome also serves as our daily vehicle, I have to stow everything away safely (probably on the bed!) and then set it all out again when we get home.

There's also the matter of how and where to advertise. This usually involves designing and printing signs and/or leaflets which need to be distributed in various relevant ways and places. More time spent.

In my case, I also take studies which I have produced in the process of making my formal art work, and I put them out publicly somewhere - like a bench at the swimming pool, with a note on them saying it is a gift to whoever finds it. In this way I hope to lead more people to my open studio.

Lastly, I have to make sure that whatever work I am doing whilst running an open studio, is something that can be dropped at a moment's notice if someone visits the studio.

It's really constant work, and sometimes very physical, but I love it!

"The Scent of Rose" by Lynda Cookson

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