Time for another artist interview. This month, CP Magic is talking art with Carrie Lewis, discussing some of the challenges of being an artist.
Carrie has been painting and drawing since she was old enough to hold a crayon. In the late 1990s, she began doing more colored pencil work, which is now her primary medium.
She blogs regularly about all things colored pencil, and publishes the monthly e-zine for colored pencil artists, CP Magic.
She’s currently in the process of designing a new course.
Carrie is the featured artist for the March 2020 issue of CP Magic, where she talked at length about her art story, as well as presenting a landscape tutorial on Pastelmat.
For this post, Carrie talks about the things that have given her the most challenges as a full-time artist.
The Challenges of Being an Artist
CPM: Thank you for agreeing to share a little bit about what it’s like to be an artist. How long have you been an artist?
Carrie: I don’t remember ever not being an artist. I have a photo of a drawing I did in crayon on the bottom of a dresser drawer, but I don’t know how old I was at the time. The earliest drawing I have was drawn when I was 7-1/2 years old.
CPM: And you’ve been doing art ever since?
Carrie: Pretty much, other than two periods when I stopped. I’d say I’ve spent fifty years (more or less) making art. Mostly horse portraits, but some for myself, too.
CPM: And are you full-time now?
Carrie: As full-time as possible with so many other things also going on. To be more specific, I’ve not had an outside job since August 2009.
CPM: So you’ve been making art more than enough time to encounter some of the challenges of being an artist.
Carrie: Oh, yes! Even before I went full-time, I encountered challenges. Some types of difficulties were the same in both parts of my art life, but some where unique to each part of the journey.
The Biggest Challenge of Being an Artist
CPM: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when it comes to art.
Carrie: That’s easy! Making time for creating.
I used to say “finding” time to make art, but then I realized that I had the same amount of time every day. Twenty-four hours. The trick was making the time for art by letting something else go.
CPM: Does that really work?
Carrie: Absolutely. When my husband and I decided by mutual agreement to unplug the television set many, many years ago, productive time suddenly seemed to expand. It may not seem like much, but an hour a night spent drawing instead of watching TV speeds up the drawing process significantly.
Even if someone gave up just one night of television, that’s an extra one to three hours of art time a week.
If they stopped TV altogether, like we did, that’s a week full of evenings to draw. Imagine what you could do with five to fifteen extra hours a week, not counting weekends.
The trick to making the time for art is letting something else go.
The Most Surprising Challenge of Being an Artist
CPM: What was the most surprising difficulty about becoming a full-time artist?
Carrie: It was quite a shock to discover that I couldn’t paint or draw eight hours a day!
You see, I’d always had to work around a full-time job. The job was necessary to pay the bills and support the art habit. I’d been successful painting portraits most of that time, and was able to do one a month around my work and family schedule.
But when I became a full-time artist, I really expected to double or triple production. It would be easy! I’d just have several pieces in progress at the same time. I was doing oils then, and would move from one painting to the next while the others dried.
So it was something of a stunner to discover I had, at best, five hours of productive creative time in me. After that, the battery ran dry. Most days, I could work four hours before running out of energy, no matter how many paintings were in progress.
Creating is a very mental exercise and if you work standing as I did and often still do, it’s also physically taxing.
The Most Persistent Challenge for the Artist
CPM: What challenge has been the most difficult to overcome?
Carrie: As a one-artist-show, there are also other things to do. Blogging. Bookkeeping. Inventory control. Customer fulfillment. Marketing. It’s all my responsibility. Until I’m making enough to hire someone to do some of those things, I have to do them.
In one way, I haven’t really given up the “outside job,” because I consider all of those things to be my day job. I just don’t have to leave home to do it.
The real difficulty is not that they have to be done. That’s just a fact of life if I want to earn a living with my work (which I do.) The real difficulty is that I so often find myself back in the position of having so little time for creating art.
And I can’t give up TV, because we’ve already done that!
CPM: LOL, I hear you on that.
Thank you to Carrie for being so open about the challenges of being an artist.
Thank you, Reader, as well. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. You can read more about Carrie and her life as an artist in the March 2020 issue of CP Magic. She’s also provided a stunning and dramatic landscape drawn on dark Pastelmat.