One of the misconceptions that people have regarding those who make art for a living is that they spend most of their days painting, drawing, and creating. They have visions of us sitting on a hillside in the shade of mature trees, drawing implements in had, making beautiful pictures. Or on the shores of a sandy beach, waves rolling in or crashing on the rocks while sea birds are flying above or swooping down to pick up lunch from the shallow water. While that may occasionally happen, it typically isn’t how it is at all. At least not for me and most of the artists and designers I know.
The reality is very different from what I just described. For most of us that make art our job, the ‘business’ of art can take far more time in our daily routine than the actual creating. After all, without being able to generate an income, many (if not most) of us would not be able to do what we do.
It is sometimes a catch 22 though. The more successful we become, the more we have to pay attention to the business side of things in order to perpetuate that success, which will allow us to keep creating. It can be quite a balancing act.
I have been finding a great deal of success over the past few years in supplying wood surfaces for decorative painters who paint from patterns created by myself and fellow designers. This has allowed me to earn a modest income while still being part of the painting and artistic community. Not only has this helped me build friendships with both my clients and fellow designers of all creative styles and levels, but it has helped me keep in the loop of what trends are currently popular. Being someone who is somewhat isolated (as we all are these days!) I find that these friendships with colleagues and clients help make my life very full. I am exposed to so many different techniques and types of media that I find myself wanting to try them all.
My only complaint (if you can call it that) with this is that I find it is often difficult for me to make time to do this kind of self-serving creating. I truly feel in my heart that if we choose to do so, we will be learning new thing until our dying day. I love exploring new techniques and working with new materials. I look at each of them as a kind of ‘language’ in which we can express ourselves. Be it acrylic paint, pastel, or watercolor – or any one of the hundreds of mediums available – each has its own specific characteristics and I love the challenge of exploring each method and learning to manipulate the mediums to portray the vision of the artwork that I have in mind. There is little that is more satisfying to me than ‘taming the medium’ and accomplishing a nice drawing with it. These types of self-challenges are what makes me happy and they keep me excited and enthusiastic every day of my life.
I am certain I will be addressing more of the business side of my life in future blogs, but today I wanted to share the result of my most recent ‘fine art type’ painting. This is a pastel painting/drawing (I never know which to call it regarding pastels) of a male caracal named “Marthe”.
It has taken me a couple of months to finish Marthe – not because he was difficult, but because I have been so busy with the ‘business’ part of my art business that there was little time for me to do my own artwork. By the time I finished in the evenings with the ‘work work’, I was usually too tired to think about being creative.
I have come up with a framework for separating the personal artwork from the professional artwork and business side of things. I am doing this in order to allow myself to create a bit more and advance my own skills a bit. Naturally, there are no hard and fast lines or rules to this framework. Life is too ‘liquid’ for that and if I don’t allow myself room for adjustments when life changes, I will be destine to fail. So I look at things as a starting point and I will go from there. Hopefully, this awareness of how much time I spend on the many specific tasks of my life will allow me more personal time to create as well as post here. We will see how that goes, but I am optimistic about.
In creating Marthe, I used the following beautiful reference photo from photographer Emmanual Keller:
I am very grateful that he granted permission for me to use it in my painting. He is an amazing photographer of wildlife and has such a wide body of work, I am sure I will be asking him to use more photos in the future. You can find him as “Tambako theJaguar” on Flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako
My painting is created using Pitt pastel pencils by Faber Castell, CarbOthello pastel pencils by Stablio, and PanPastels for the background and tree. I used and 11″ x 14″ piece of Pastelmat paper by Clairefonte. It is the only paper I will use for pastel. I am grateful to one of my mentors, Jason Morgan (https://www.jasonmorgan.co.uk/) whom I have been following and learning from for the past couple of years. He is an expert on pastels and his tutorials and lessons have helped me grow as an artist tremendously. I highly recommend his online classes.
I like using the pencils on the Pastelmat paper because there is actually very little ‘dust’ from them. The Pastelmat grabs the pastel and you can add multiple layers of pastel before it reaches saturation. I know many think that soft pastels are quite messy, but I assure you – this way of using them has very minimal dust. I have a ‘white’ studio with a white desk, chair and area rug and there is no evidence of mess at all except a ‘slight’ amount of dust on the desk which I easily wipe away between drawing sessions. Nothing has made it to the floor for me after several drawings using this medium.
I will share some of the photos of the process here for you to see. I did the initial line work on a toned Pastelmat sheet. This helped with the overall toning of the cat:
I then applies the darker under layers to establish the main shapes and contours of the caracal:
I added the ‘fur’ and eye detail with the pencils, and finished up the sky with the Panpastels:
And finally added the tree:
I created a short, two-minute video slideshow which shows several more steps in the process of creating Marthe. You can see it here:
You can see this and many other videos at my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/SheilaLandry
I also plan to post more videos like this as well as tutorial-type videos using different techniques and media. Feel free to subscribe, comment, and ‘like’ them if you do like them. It helps me grow and be seen.
I hope you enjoy seeing Marthe come to life. I also hope I did him justice. While I still have a lot to learn in creating with pastels, I am pleased with my progress and hope that the more I work with them, the more I will improve and grow as an artist.
Thank you as always for reading. Your thoughts and comments are very welcome.
Until next time. . .