A Weekend of Owls / by Alison C. Board

Welcome to my new blog and a new space for talking about new things. My social media and website both mainly discuss what my experiences are as a tutor, but in setting up this new blog, it seemed like a good opportunity to discuss what it’s like to be a professional working artist.

People generally have their own idea of what being an artist entails and like anything, some it will be false and some of it will be spot on. As I didn’t exactly ever have this career on my radar when I sat and chatted with my careers advisor at school, (I wanted to either be a ballerina or a speech therapist) all I can equate it to now are the standard chats at dinner parties, barbeques, in the pub etc.

Very often people get excited hearing about what I get to do for a job and I’m very grateful for that, there are plenty of unfortunately perceived ‘dull’ professions, and I get to talk about a more interesting one. The one thing that is difficult to get across to those who have no experience of painting for a living, is the CONSTANT questioning of what you do and how you do it. I’m not talking about confidence here, we all have moments where we ask ourselves if we are doing our job to the best of ability, I’m talking about the following scenario.

I held a lovely owl painting workshop at my studio this weekend, we had visiting owls (yes, really) and in a room of like-minded individuals, shared techniques and materials to satisfy all our artistic endeavours. I had conducted a full demonstration on Friday, produced a painting that was technically very passable, spent Saturday honing my new found photography skills and then was left with a little time on Sunday while others worked on their pieces. Why is this relevant? It’s relevant because I looked down at my piece of paper, mentally pushed aside every technique I had discovered in the last two years and went back to basics. One piece of watercolour paper, one brush and few colours. No fanfare of special materials, no specific techniques, no magic reveal, just good old-fashioned painting and producing something that comes from deep inside you that you can’t really explain.

Even if, by some miracle, a careers advisor helped you towards a creative path (don’t get me started on this topic), what they would never, ever be able to tell you would be that sometimes being an artist means that you have to tell yourself to forget what is at the front of your head and ask yourself the following question:

‘What happens if I don’t?’

I’ll leave that one with you…