‘But all you do is paint pictures all day, its not hard is it?’

If I had a quid for every time I heard this line i’d be pretty well off so I thought i’d actually keep track for a day exactly what goes on in my life on an average Monday. Buckle up!

8AM : Up and showered, prod the child to get out of bed, probably about 10 times before she actually gets up and dressed. Dogs sorted out, fed and watered, lunch made and ready for the off. Kind of…

8.40AM : School run. I actually hate it and the scramble to try and get on and off the car park in one piece.

8.55AM : On a good day i’m back home by this time, later if the council yet again decide to dig up the lights at the top of the hill for the twenty-fifth time this year. Brew and sit down with laptop to start prepping for the day – check social media platforms and set up scheduled posts for the week, prepare my images for the day that were prepped last week. Start to look at what i’d saved over the weekend, interviews or TV shows that I hadn’t seen or press clippings. What are fans looking at right now? Head back over to Facebook groups and see if there is any news or announcements. I question what I thought I wanted to do today, come across some images that arrived in the post last week that I had forgotten about and totally re write my days work. Give myself 10 images to play with and roughly gauge what effect I want to go for. Pack up my paints, laptop, paper, inks and whatever else I can cram into my boot. Package up some originals that have sold over the weekend and ring my printers to arrange for some print orders to be fulfilled and posted.

9.45Am :Head over to Winnington Hall. Bec’s hasn’t arrived in yet so prepare everything we need for the day, fill up all the water pots and set up my space. Look back over the past weeks work. Where did I end up? what was the flow? do I want to to continue with that or try something new? Usually with a continuation I can pretty much pick it from where I left off, but today I choose a new direction. Back to the images and changing my prep again….

10.30Am : Prep done for the 3rd time today. Becs is in now and we have a brew on the go. A set of Canvases drying which should be ready to use this afternoon. Looking at these blank canvases I can see exactly in my head what I want to do and how they ‘should’ look – Maybe I can turn this into a seperate collection? We start flinging some ideas about that covers backgrounds and techniques – wait – we can use that in class too! more notes for our up coming courses and classes.

11.45AM : Work is well underway for us both, music playing its a very relaxed atmosphere and ideas are bouncing around. Even though we are opposites with our themes, we can very easily feed of each others energy and thought processes. We have a visitor from the local college to come chat about what its like to be a working artist and how a studio works. Topics covered are things like marketing, how we work together, coaching and teaching and lots, lots more. The conversation quickly changes to the business side of art and just how difficult it is to make a living in this industry and the impact of social media on our careers.

1pm : Lunch. Working Lunch. Social media check – 3 emails to answer – and a planned meeting for Friday has just cancelled. Post a quick ‘work in progress’ shot to all my currently platforms, post a few questions in my class facebook group to find out what images they want to work on this evening. Time to grab our note pads and start to jot ideas down about what has to be done for the week ahead. How many do I have for tonight’s class, what are we working on, how much printing is needed? a stock take shows I need supplies for the night so its a trip to Northwich Art Shop for extra paint and a top up of my inks.

1.50pm : Back from town. Roadworks again! Back to actually painting. I manage to get 1 ink done and the basics down on 2 of the canvases. Start to think where and how to build this collection. Prints won’t work because of a metallic element, the scanner won’t pick it up. Maybe it’s a hand finished collection only? Maybe I can try something new!? Pick up the phone to my printer….. Yep, a new idea has formed and about to grow legs. This could be a really good piece to develop further.

3pm : Call in home to let the dogs out quickly and onto the school run.

3.20pm : School run done, post office next. I’ve built a great relationship with the team there which makes the trip a pleasant one rather than a chore, they are always passing on news that’s likely to affect my postal charges.

3.40pm :Back to the study with Ruby in tow. She has an ongoing picture that she is working on herself of a rather large donkey that she got inspired by from watching Bec’s and her brilliant animal pieces. Ruby is very tuned into her art and crafts, since I have been coming into the studio she has really been inspired to do well at school with her homework and turns all her tasks into a creative one. Even a small amount of time here has changed so many paths. Actually remembered to order more hard backed envelopes. Time for me to carry on with a bit more painting! I had set myself a target of 6 paintings by the end of the day – currently heading towards 5pm i’m way off that target…..

5pm : Home to cook for tea for us all. Shovel down my dinner as quickly as possible, scoop up all my supplies for tonight’s class that I had forgotten to pack this morning for class and print out additional pieces of work.

6pm : Back to the studio to prep for the evening class. Canvases out, paints, brushes, pallets and water all ready for the arrivals. This class is aimed and designed to be fun and relaxing. Generally they like to look at doing some kind of portrait. Just recently they have been bringing their own family pictures to work from which has been a challenge for them and me as some pictures are many years old and out of focus.

6.3opm : All students are settled in well and ready to crack on, some will bring work that they have been doing at home that we all take a look at give some feedback about. We have become a close knit little group, each one trusting not only me as a tutor but also their peers in gaining valuable feedback and suggestions about how they can take it to the next level. They are also looking at their artwork in a different setting and lighting perspective. Now that everyone is set up and ready to paint, I can pick up my own paintbrush and join in, pausing throughout the session to give advice and guidance to each student. Often I will be working with a different medium and different subjects which the group will pick up and try and add into their own work, stopping their own work and watching me demo a few techniques. This builds nicely into prep for the next class, they would like to try what I am working on themselves. I down tools and make some notes with Bec for next week.

8.30pm : As we are nearing the end of the class, i’m starting to pack away whatever isn’t being used and my own stuff. Time to take pictures of all my completed works and some snaps of what the group is working on. Upload everything to the relevant social media locations and our group. We start to look over our evenings work and assess the progress made. Some may finish their pieces, some may take theirs home to carry on – everyone works at their own pace and structure. No 2 of the group are the same, each has their own journey. I start to scan in all the paintings that I managed to finish.

9.00pm : Everyone is packing up ready to leave. We have a quick feedback session talking about what technique they want to develop further. Lots more notes to take forward to next Monday. Time to empty the bin, pack up the room and lock the doors.

9.30pm : Back home to the laptop. By now Ruby is in bed and (sometimes) asleep. Reply to emails and messages. A little more research for my projects, i’ve been thinking all day about what my printer can now do for me and have the images ready to send over to test.  Upload my completed work onto my website and adding links to my my social media. Within about 10 minutes 2 of the paintings I finished today have already sold so a few more emails to complete.  Each painting needs cellophane wrapping with my business card and enveloped up ready to post in the morning.  Set up a couple more scheduled social media posts to go out when I know I will be otherwise busy – its vital that I have at least 2 – 3 as minimum posts going out daily to ensure that i’m actually reaching people who want to see what is happening.

10.15pm : Laptop closed, time for bed….Not before checking in with my friends just to say hello. Read a few newsletters and see what my other artist friends have been up to today, its not unusual to find that artists are night owls and working/posting at similar times. I think the last time I look at the clock its 23.55pm.

This is just an average working day. Often I have to force myself to take some downtime and try and switch off, but, its virtually impossible when paying all your bills relies on the success of your business activity. I am VERY lucky that I have a good network around me that support what I do, without that then I wouldn’t be writing this now. I have a plan for where I want to be, and what I want to achieve. Building a career in the arts IS doable, however it doesn’t happen over night and comes at a huge cost, financially and personally. This is now my 5th year being self employed and truthfully its no easier or less stressful. It is however what I will be doing for the rest of my life, and I doubt I could ever go back to being employed in a conventional sense. So yes, I do paint pictures, I think I do it pretty well too, and I hope this dispels the myth that us artists ‘just sit and paint all day’

Until next time

Lea xx