Has Painting Become Too Expensive?
Some of my favorite emails are from artists who have taken up painting for the first time. It is wonderful hearing about about their exciting discoveries. Some are from artists that have returned to painting after a long interval. Life does get in the way at times. But more and more artists lately are concerned about the cost of getting their painting kit together. Shocked may be a better word for it. Once all the painting paraphernalia is put on the shopping list it can add up to quite a sum! But why should it? I think I know the real problem and there is a way around this.
The Leisure Market is Mad!
Do you love to visit art stores? If you have a local shop that has lots of art goodies does it attract you like a moth to a flame? What about the many online art supply stores? Yikes – I am also a fan of these treasure troves of artist equipment. I confess, without shame, that I have spent too much on stuff that I did not need. Easels and paint boxes have caused some damage to my wallet in the past.
I have learned from my mistakes. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I did not need three easels. I only used one. Still works fine. Plein air boxes? I don’t use the fancy one imported at great expense. I prefer the homemade one that cost a few bucks. Like every leisure activity these days, painting is massively catered for. It is nuts actually. How did Da Vinci cope with just a little egg tempera?
Then there is paint. Many varieties at every price point. Then mediums to go into the paint. And the colors! Sixty tubes or more! There are only three primary colors. How did this happen? I have written before about the high costs of paint. Especially on imported paints with our weak currency. My solution is to paint generously on smaller panels. I stick to that advice.
Painting Is Cheap
Here is the truth. Painting can be enjoyed very cheaply. We need to be aware of the crazy attitude that results in massive credit card purchases of art supplies. The fact that these goods exist does not mean you need them to paint well. It is simply business. You can paint at a high level with only the basics. I have proved this to myself every time that I go away for a holiday. I take a bag of supplies and a paint box. A few painting panels and about three brushes. Result? A series of paintings of similar quality to that in my studio.
So with that in mind I want to see how easy it can be to start oil painting without hurting the wallet. And without scrimping either. I want decent results from good materials on a small budget. Sounds like an experiment worth trying.
What Paints to Get?
Do you want to save and learn to paint better? Then use four tubes of paint. The primary colors and white. I prefer Maimeri's Classico paints. They have 60ml tubes and have a buttery quality I enjoy. Plus they are good value for money and still have a professional quality. Winton paints will also be fine if you cannot secure Maimeri. Check out the video below to see how easy it is to mix your colors. Okay so four tubes of paint at R90.00 per tube. Total R360.00.
Things can get out of hand quickly if you go for sable or premium brushes. Get a student oil paint brush size 6. A fine brush to sign your name? Optional. There are other ways like turning the brush around and scraping your name into the wet paint with the thin end of the handle. Brush cost: R60.00
Easel? Not Necessary. In a pinch you can use a shelf to house your painting panel. In fact a shelf is a good idea since it can take large canvasses too. Simply lean the canvas on the wall, but make sure the shelf is at a convenient height. Alternatively use those adjustable shelf brackets. Other alternatives are basic DIY easels. A table top easel is simple to make. A few planks of wood and basic skills should be enough.
Please use a small panel or canvas. The 10"x12" size is ideal. A panel of MDF or masonite provides an excellent painting surface. Simply prime with a few layers of gesso or suitable acrylic primer. Small panels are good not only because they are inexpensive, but you can be generous with your paint without running out. I do not like a starved painting! Feed it lots of paint and you will get better results.
This can be expensive too. Rather use good quality turps. The type that does not smell bad is best. It cleans wonderfully and costs very little. It can be resued often too. Cost? R20.00.
That is it. No mediums required. Other fancy palettes, containers and so forth can be purchased when you sell your first painting. This way your painting pays for itself and need not cost anything. Wonderful!
Total cost including painting panel? Less than R500.00 with enough paint left for another couple of paintings.
Now add the other benefits of painting to the account:
Now how much does the average hobby cost these days? Looking at what most folks get up to it looks very expensive indeed. Even general crafts, with all sorts of supplies, quickly adds up. Painting can remain simple and yet lose none of its power. Consider how little it has changed in two hundred years? The basics remain the same. Stick to this and you will be the better artist for it.
Mix Your Paint Easily and Save: Demo
Do you have a few money saving tips for painting? Add them below or send them to me.
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New Artist's & Collector's Circle
It has been long overdue, but hopefully worth the wait. A new experience for my website members packed with exclusive content at no extra cost. This is not a paid membership, but a source of art news, special features, video lessons and downloads. How to get these benefits? Simply visit the Free Download page and enroll. Then every few days or so new goodies will arrive in your inbox. Simple as that.
This is an ongoing project and one that is convenient for you to enjoy. Unsubscribe at any time if necessary. I will be adding to the member's circle all the time. These features will be exclusive to members so the only way to get them is to join up.
I hope that you will be able to give the revamped service a try and let me know how it works for you. Plus this is one way to share your questions about art with me. I try to provide as much useful feedback as I can to members.
See you there!
Would you like to start your own creative business? Many creative people are doing just that every day or planning for this in the near future. Whether by choice or necessity having another income stream is an attractive option. But it can be tough getting your work noticed. Building up an audience for your new business is daunting. I know this first hand!
Maybe you are struggling with the technology issues of online business. Or simply where to start? Looking back at my own experience it comes down to two issues. Firstly working on improving my art and secondly making a meaningful connection with people interested in my work. Without the two there was no business.
The improvement came when I started using content with a strategy. Then I could focus on what I had to share with others. What people wanted from me and how I could help others. This all comes down to content marketing in an honest, fun and mutually beneficial way. Suddenly I was getting results, feedback and my message was getting across. Before this I was simply hoping for the best.
Simply doing my art was not enough.
Many other artists, writers and creatives have similar frustrations. So I recently completed a book called The Art of Content Marketing. It was published on Amazon about a week ago. It covers the strategy of content, creating content, distributing it and measuring results. All with the emphasis on visual content. This is our secret power!
Now I am happy to have published my companion course. This course focuses on Strategy. Why? Because without a strategy you will not get the results you want. It is simple as that! But is this not a waste of time and lots of effort? Not if you follow a basic system over time. Really it starts with one page of notes. That and action. Making the start with a plan makes all the difference. I have included a copy of my book in the course.
The Course includes topics on:
In the future I will add Part 2 to the course including Creating Visual Content and distributing it effectively. Course members will get these updates for free. For now let us focus on content strategy. This new course goes through the entire strategy process with an example of how to do this in practical terms. Anyone can do it. It is a case of getting started.
Okay where can you find out more about the course? Visit my art marketing page and see the special offer I have running. There is a big discount plus other benefits. I must mention that having a content strategy can benefit any business. I do believe that creatives have a huge advantage that needs to be tapped. This course should help you do that.
If you know anyone else who could benefit from this information please share it with them. Thank you for your support. Here's to your success.
Learn to Paint the Ukulele Way
I am reading an excellent book called How to Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness That Helps the World by Colin Beavan . It is about getting back to living life fully. Getting off the hamster-wheel of life where we chase things and waste out personal resources - including our precious time.
One story in the book is about a guy on holiday who gets an opportunity to play a ukulele. I think they were in Hawaii. He has never played an instrument before. A friend shows him four chords and he slowly learns them. He gets a kick out of learning these simple chords. A ukulele is much easier to learn than a guitar. He feels good.
Before going home he sees a second hand ukulele going cheap and buys it on the spur of the moment. When he gets back home he looks up a few ukulele lessons on YouTube. He practices off and on making quick progress with these simple lessons. Minutes a day. He focuses on one simple tune and soon can play this melody. He feels great.
Little by little our ukulele player gains confidence and even starts to sing a bit too. After a time he plays his ukulele in front of his friends and they love it. Some time later, after more practice, he performs for a larger group. He is appreciated by strangers for his ukulele playing. He is amazed about where he has reached considering his lack of musical education.
The Takeaways are:
No Fear and No Pressure
By taking a simple and honest approach he also put aside the fears that come with unreasonable expectations. Spending too much money can bring on guilt. The pressure to justify the expense. Then there is the self-defeating mantra that comes when the activity is inevitably abandoned. How often have you felt bad about not meeting unreasonable expectations? Yes we have all been there. Instead take a simple and genuine approach. One that does not set you up for failure. Embrace the journey and see it through to the end. That is the way to build confidence and achieve results.
Why not follow the ukulele approach for everything? Take it easy and learn comfortably. Not spending too much money. Getting the job done a little step at a time and being humble. Not comparing ourselves to others. Taking pleasure in the process.
PS: A reminder that you can find a Free painting course on my website. Use the ukulele approach and have fun painting.
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How do artists make it in the world these days? At some point turning your art into income becomes a compelling dream. Imagine living the famous quote: Do what you love and never work a day in your life. This quote is believed to come from Confucius, but its origin remains in doubt. Still it is a troublesome idea with serious consequences. It seems to be the modern malaise. Almost everyone is unhappy with their work and they want to follow a passion career.
If so many people are supposedly unhappy with their careers then what would they rather be doing? The next question usually does along the lines of: " What do you love doing?" The answer then becomes the passion career you should be following. Sadly this is bad advice. Hobbies are not careers. Fun activities do not turn into careers merely on a whim. There is a reason our passions are so much fun. It is because they are not our work.
When you change your hobby or other passion into an income making activity it becomes a business. This involves work, marketing and pressure. Sleepless nights and cashflow demands. Are you ready for these things? If you are and the idea of working for yourself is driving you onwards then perhaps you need to take it to the next step. This does not mean quitting your regular job yet. Very often it means working at you passion career in your spare time. Testing whether people will pay you for your work. Then saving like crazy from your regular job. Keep this up until you are ready to launch your own business. It could take six months or a few years. The bigger cushion you have the better. It will get tough.
Get the business right first. I am impatient by nature. Especially when it involves entrepreneurship and launching new ideas. I love the creativity involved. The possible outcome. The thrill of the sale. The business part quickly gets stale. This is a typical entrepreneurship cycle. But I can assure you that entrepreneurs know the importance of business basics. If you do not have these in place no amount of marketing will pull you out of trouble. A business must make a profit and be sustainable over the long term.
Research is critical. Having a written strategy for reaching your ideal audience is vital. Talking to your audience and giving them what they need is the life of your business. This is where your content marketing strategy plays it's part. Content marketing is how you build up a relationship with your audience. How you become trusted as an expert who can deliver the goods. This is where your business becomes a living thing that can sustain you. It is not social media and it also takes time to grow.
One of the reasons that I wrote a book about content marketing is to show creatives that they can take responsibility for their own careers. That it is possible to make a career from the arts. It is not easy. But it can be done through persistence. What you need to know is that work is hard, but it can fill you with a sense of purpose. It is the lack of purpose in regular jobs that is the killer. We all need a sense of purpose. Money is not enough on its own. If you love what you do enough to work hard at it. Plus you can end the day feeling that you have made a contribution to the world then you will feel a sense of purpose. If this is missing then you may need to look elsewhere.
Many people are missing this sense of purpose in their lives. Not necessarily changing career. If the latter is necessary then I hope this article has brought some perspective to the process. It can be done, but a transition plan is necessary. Then business and marketing knowledge must become part of the process.
If you are interested in learning more about building your creative business strategy take a listen to my podcast as well. I cover more topics there about marketing your business.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa