The living room

It’s very early on a cold January weekday morning and I am sitting in front of a crackling wood fire with my dogs scattered around the living room, sipping my hot coffee, and balancing my computer on my lap. We returned late last night after an 8 hour drive from an art show and Steve, my artist-husband, is still asleep. There is no hurry for him to be awake on this morning. We have no long commute to jobs in a city or anyplace place we have to be this morning except our own art studio and that is just 15 feet from the house.

Welcome to one day in the life of a working artist!

It’s not always so calm and relaxed. We’ve been doing this a long time and even when we have balanced kids, school schedules, illness, art show events, aging parents needs and real life, we have the ability to take time off, anytime.

How do we do it?

My husband and I have been full time working artists for 30 years. Separately and together. Perhaps self employed would be a better term. What that means is that everything we have, own, do or want to do as a couple or individually is financed, entirely, from earnings from the sales of our art. There are no additional outside incomes. Romantic urban legends of artist lives aside, in reality, all working artists have similar lifestyles. Creating a balance between creativity and reality is the beauty and the challenge of a life as an artist. We have the ability to do nothing, or work all day on an inspiring art piece or drop what we are doing for whatever real life emergency arises. We have no fear of lost vacation days, irate bosses, snarled traffic, office drama or losing our jobs. Of course we also do not have a regular or even guaranteed paycheck.

There are no secrets or magic bullets to this lifestyle. I can summarize with three key elements: Discipline, Perseverance, Lifestyle Choices.


Even as I write this newsletter, I am making a list on the side of what I need to do today to continue my lifestyle. I make a one page, two column “To Do” list. One side has each day of the week and I balance out, according to priority, what needs to be accomplished daily Monday through Sunday. (weekends are seldom “free”). The other column has a “this week” urgency vs a “today”. There is a difference. One allows for the infamous human procrastination (within reason.) The other does not.

There is the business side of art which includes going to the bank, the post office, starting on the paperwork that the accountant will need. Organizing, ordering, re-grouping, summarizing results from art areas within the business. In other words, everything it takes to run a business. I have paintings to start and complete, people to contact, a calendar to update, events to plan, entries to send in, blogs and websites to keep up, newsletters to send out. These chores all fall under a specific day to address and complete.

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