Friday, January 22, 2016

The artist as a small business owner

I love being a painter. It's a very gratifying profession. How cool is it to make a living doing what you love best? Very cool, boys and girls, I can tell you that. But right now I have to deal with one of the more unpleasant aspects of being a painter: bookkeeping. I'm preparing for the annual meeting with my accountant. Got to get the numbers in a row for my tax return.

No, it's not all about creativity and inspiration and expressing yourself. In fact, as an artist you're a small business owner. Besides bookkeeping you have to expand your network, find new customers, stay in touch with the gallery world, keep your website up to date, produce and post new videos, write a blog, take care of crating and shipping, send invoices, fill out customs declarations and oh yes, produce paintings.

On top of that (like every small business owner) you have to deal with an unsteady income and that requires a specific mindset. You got to be realistic, but at the same time not worry to much. You got to use all available resources and yet accept there are circumstances (like an economic crisis) that you can't do a thing about.

I had a steady job for quite some time as a high school art teacher. It was nice to get a paycheck every month. I liked teaching, but still I prefer being my own man, making my own stupid mistakes, rather than trying to make the best of somebody else's stupid mistakes.

So I count my blessings. Just finished a small 15 x 45 cm painting of a figure on the beach. Planning on a number of oil sketches on paper. Being a painter is cool. I'll keep you posted.

A Walk on the Beach, oil on panel, 15 x 45 cm

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How to paint waves

Though the sea plays an important role in my work, I don't consider  myself a seascape specialist. Still I've tried my hand at the genre a couple of times, so I thought I'd share some pointers with you.

My technique is based on working in layers and that's no different when I make a seascape. The first step is painting the basic colors and transitions. I pay a lot of attention to this stage. A carefully done underpainting is very beneficial in later stages. 

On top of this first layer I outline the waves with a brush that combines sable and squirrel hair. I wrote about it in my 17 January 2014 blog. I have no idea what the name of this particular brush is in English, so if anyone could help me out here I'd be very grateful.

 I add a lot of medium, to make the paint easy to handle and to prevent the outlines from standing out to much. That would only bother me in later stages.

Big jump to the final stage of the painting. I skipped a few steps, but if you insist on seeing the the other stages too, the clip on the bottom of the page will show them.

Waves, oil on panel, 50 x 100 cm