Sunday, November 5, 2017
How to ACTUALLY SURVIVE as an Artist- A Practical Compendium
I HATE self help books, those unending nags in the bookshops or online that will inevitably point out flaws- of which I don't like to be reminded , thank-you very much. They are very much like trying on clothes in a department store dressing room where the prison like lighting is designed to ricochet off every quivering piece of cellulite and eye bag.
Mind you I have taken MANY stabs at self improvement, a shrink, meditating, Weight Watchers, fasting, a very LOOOONG week in a woodland cabin without electricity or locks on the door- all designed to prop up my inner artist- but never have I ever looked at the practicalities. I thought because of my "genius" the world would catch on. Well it hasn't (sniff as yet), so at an advanced age I have taken to sniping and bitching- HOWEVER I find myself in excellent health with all my teeth AND according to when my relatives have croaked, I have a few good decades left- minus a few for lots of wine.
During a day trip to Vermont, I found myself at a book store-somewhat akin to a rat seeking cheese, I saw a small yellow book that was pestering me. It was Joanneh Nagler's "How to be an Artist Without Losing Your Mind, Your Shirt, or Your Creative Compass". I took it home and looked at it for a week reproachfully, out of the corner of my eye, until fortified with a bit of Chardonnay I read it. I loved it, it was the kind of book that I wished I had had at the onset, or even the middle of my career. It is a wonderfully simple guidebook that addresses the practicalities of supporting yourself , living your life, while pursuing a career in the arts. Ms Nagler honestly dissects her own problems, especially with that eternal bugaboo money. It made me confront destructive and wasteful behavior patterns- painful? yes!
It is such a useful little and cheap book $13 or so on Amazon. This is a great book even (especially) for students, who unlike me, face the daunting task of student loan repayment. It is worth every cent.
One caveat: Her advice to re-use old canvasses and cheap paint should be looked at with a grain of salt. Yes, Pollock used cheap paint and canvas but some of those house paint swirls are delaminating- falling off in one piece- impossible to restore. Also unless you are a rank beginner, do not paint over old canvasses as the under-painting will eventually show through as oil paint thins as it get older, an effect called pentimento. I find it is best to use the best paints you can afford,as they are fully pigmented unlike the student grades. I use them twice covered in aluminum. You can save money by buying poly canvas or acrylic primed canvas. Here in Providence, an artist I know goes around to the trash bins when the Rhode Island School of Design students are leaving for the summer. He picks up bagfuls of first rate hardly used art supplies.
Here is the best info that I can find of surviving and paying for your art education: