Wednesday, 6 July 2011

New Life, New Blog

At the end of this month, I am quitting my job as a lecturer to become a full time artist. I took voluntary redundancy, and the pay out means that I have a year or so to see what I can do with this so-called talent of mine, to see if I can make the transfer from hobby artist to professional artist. I have been warned on numerous occasions that it is difficult to make a living as an artist and almost impossible to succeed as a portrait painter, but the deciding factor for me was the prospect of lying on my death bed regretting that I didn’t give my art a fighting chance.

So this is where I am now. I have thrown myself from the belly of a plane and I have no idea as to whether or not I have packed a parachute. I can tell you that from where I am floating at the moment, it all feels terribly exciting, but I know I have limited time, and I have no intention of crash landing.

My main plan for the coming year is to paint as much as possible, as I feel I have the capacity to improve if given enough time, to study the work of past and contemporary master portrait painters, to visit galleries and exhibitions, and to rub shoulders with fellow artists. I also need to get to grips with how the art world works and the ins and outs of running a business. Believe me; I am starting from a pretty low base line of knowledge.

My first challenge is learning how to write a blog (!), but in due course I shall be grappling with issues such as setting up a studio, writing a business plan, keeping accurate records of artwork and sales, tax implications, copyright, marketing, dealing with clients and galleries, maximising website traffic, virtual social networking, real-life networking, IT resources, photography for portrait artists, finding the right models,  entering competitions, getting the pricing right, etc, etc. I shall also need to develop a more robust attitude regarding the value of my work, and a thicker skin to withstand the rejections I know I shall face along the way.

So welcome to The Portrait Painter’s Progress, which will track what I imagine will be a very steep learning curve – my challenges, my successes and my failures. If what I write leaves you a touch uninspired, please feel free to just look at the paintings!


  1. Wishing much success over the coming year. It is a brave decision and I will be popping in to see how you are doing. Good Luck


  2. Thank you, Mark. Please give me a prod if I don't post enough!

  3. Congrats! I look forward to the day I can quit my "real" job. It CAN be done. There are plenty of artists making a living out there. (Two of my nephews are making a living as caricature artists, despite being laughed at in the beginning.)
    I'm sick of people telling artists it can't be done. Just remember, they don't know because they haven't tried it. They just repeat, without thinking, what we're "supposed" to tell an artist because that's what's been ingrained in our heads. Prove them wrong!

  4. Thank you for taking the time to post, Crista, and for your support. I am an admirer of your work and I hope opportunities to paint full time come your way soon.