Friday, September 14, 2012

Non profits and artists

 Red Shore
5 x 7    oil

As artists, most of us have alternate jobs that pay the day to day bills and keep us supplied with materials to continue producing our art.  Unless you have a source of limitless wealth or someone who is willing to keep you fed, housed and watered, we all have to work to supplement our art at some point in life. 

We often resent the time spent away from making art and think of it as worthless and impinging on our sacred time that could be spent in the studio instead.  While I often have those feelings too, I think about how the job I have done has helped me in my career as an artist.

I manage a non-profit.  If you have ever worked in that field, you'll know instantly what its like.  If you have only worked in the public or private sector, you'll have no idea of the challenges that come with the territory.

Working for a non profit almost mirrors being an artist.  So many of the same issues arise and are dealt with in similar ways.  What are the similarities?

1.  The workload is huge and often done by one person or in conjunction with volunteers.
2.  There is never enough money to do everything you want (or sometimes need) to do.
3.  Time is spent chasing grants and donations that a thousand others are chasing.
4.  The work is often solitary without input from others or reward.
5.   The pay is below average for the work involved.
6.   There is a stigma to some degree working outside the mainstream

The benefits of this work experience for artists are these:

1.  You learn the ability to work by yourself.  No conversations with coworkers, no chatter over lunch.
2.   You learn to be creative with a limited budget and you understand financial management.
3.   You learn to become multifunctional and work with all levels of people and all levels of work.
4.   You understand marketing.
5.   You understand the commitment of others who work for no pay - volunteers. 
6.   You learn that not everything is based on labels and dollars.

Are you beginning to see the correlation between the two careers?  Without my long background in non profit work, I would not have had the experience in the business side of art.  Non profits provide entreprenurial skills that few other jobs do.  In art school, business should be a required component of the curriculum, instead of an aside or worse still, an idea planted in young heads that selling art is 'selling out'.  What other degree would you train for that discouraged you to make money from your training!?

The training in business that I did and have built on through working in the non profit field has broadened my ability to function as a visual artist as well as a business person.  Could I have done one as effectively without the other?  I doubt it.   Time constraints for art compete with daily work, but if you want anything badly enough, you find time for it.

So for all the artists working in jobs, day or night, think of the skills you are honing that can transfer to your art career and be thankful that the job you are paid regularly for helps smooth the path to your art work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Storm

The last two days have been disrupted by Hurricane Leslie as she barreled through, taking trees and power lines with her.   With winds clocked at 137 km per hr there was a lot of damage on the property to trees, luckily no structural damage or not much.  Power was out for about 30 hours for the farm and the generator was called into action for basics - and to please the chickens who like a little light later in the day.  I know, night lights for chickens, but have to keep those egg layers happy!

Most of St. John's was closed down for the day due to the high winds, downed power lines and poles, trees and debris flying.  I didn't attempt to head into the city as I didn't know what streets would be closed or what may fall in my path or if there even would be power at work.

I spent some down time finishing up the demo piece I started in the workshop last weekend.  This is watercolour on gessoed tissue.  

Trees went down all over the farm.

at the pond...

the back road to the woods...

 at the edge of the driveway

within the woods near the house

and in the driveway

Lots of clearing up to do, but power was restored this afternoon and life gets back to normal, more or less.  I guess there'll be lots more firewood that wasn't planned for this year.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Say it out loud: I am the Artist

I posted this awhile ago, but couldn't show the completed piece as I was saving it for a Creativity workshop that I was teaching on Saturday.  The workshop was great fun and pushed some out of their comfort zones, which is always a good thing for learning new techniques and ideas.

There were a few glitches, like blowing a circuit in the studio so we couldn't dry gesso and then my smart phone decided to not be quite so smart and refused to take photos and shut down.  There were about 17 OR 18 people in the workshop, so it was busy and we got creative both with work and with problem solving!

  photo credit  Dora Cooper

Isn't it odd how difficult it is sometimes to say out loud "I am the artist"?  Why are artists so self deprecating and scared of announcing their profession as if its something to be embarrassed about?  This multimedia piece puts that voice into a less intimidating package that you can display on your wall or send as a note card to someone who may just need that little extra pat on the back to reinforce what a great artist they are.

I have made this piece available as a reproduction, which is available in several forms from paper to metal supports as well as note cards.   On my Facebook artist page, if you share the post with this image in it, you will have a chance to win a 10 x 14 paper reproduction of this cropped section of the original painting "I Am The Artist".  So drop by my artist page on Facebook and share with your friends so everyone can have a chance to win.

Or if your really despise Facebook but still want a chance to win a reproduction of I Am The Artist, share this information on your blog and let me know in a comment on this post and you'll be included in the draw on September 30th.  The more the merrier!

Or if you can't wait til the end of the month, you can purchase your own card or fine art reproduction from my Fine Art America link.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Looking over my shoulder

This is a continuing series of Sunday posts where I reflect on Sundays past, subjects, topics and progress.  This week is September  2006 and a progress shot of a dog portrati that I was working on in coloured pencil.

I haven't used cp in quite awhile, but always enjoy the process of layering and developing the piece.  The final effect of coloured pencil work is unique and always beautiful and has really come a long way into the art world, with Canada now having a society dedicated to the medium.

Coloured Pencil Society of Canada

You can read the full post from 2006 here.