What does an artist do all day?

I can only answer that question for my own self, but here’s a typical painting day for me.

I wake up usually around 10.  I’m not really awake until I’ve had my coffee.

Coffee mug with paint tubes

My coffee mug with paint tubes

While I drink my coffee, I check my email and twitter to see if there are any messages for me, and if there are I reply to them. I may get distracted by Twitter for a while, especially if there are a lot of funny cat pictures.   Speaking of cats, I have two.  I feed them when I wake up and again in the evening.  One of them is a picky eater, the other one snarfs up everything and is always howling for more food.

My easel is a slightly rickety tripod-style easel with a ledge to hold painting materials.  I set it up next to the computer if I’m painting sitting down, or across the room next to the window if I’m going to be painting standing up.  I usually begin by sitting down but I’ll stand up to reach the upper part of the canvas or if I just feel like it.

Artist's easel with painting "Purple, Copper" on it

My easel, with “Purple, Copper” on it.

I use mostly M. Graham acrylics, which I love.  I don’t work for them or anything, but they really are my favorite paint brand, for both oils and acrylics.   The paint is the perfect texture, soft and juicy.  You can’t buy them in Europe, but I have them sent to me from the US.

You can see some of their paint tubes in the coffee mug picture above.   I also use Maimeri, which is pretty good, and occasionally Winsor and Newton or Liquitex.

For an acrylic palette I like to use the lid of a 1-liter plastic ice cream container.  I put water in the container itself, and when I want to keep my acrylics from drying too fast, I can turn the lid upside down and reseal the container.  The water at the bottom of the container keeps the paint from drying.

My palette (with balcony and plants in the background)

My palette (with balcony and plants in the background)

Paint builds up on the palette as I use it, but when it gets too crusty, I can just put it in the recycle bin and use a new lid.  This is much more convenient than using a standard palette.  Of course, it does require eating lots of ice cream.

Ice cream container palette

Ice cream container. I use the inside of the lid as a palette, the bottom part holds water.

If I’m using oils, I have a glass palette that was originally a glass cutting board.  It can be cleaned with a razor.

I prepare the canvas, if I haven’t bought one that’s already stretched and primed.   When I stretch my own canvases, I use brass tacks instead of staples.  I find they’re easier to remove if necessary.  Then I prime the surface with polymer gesso.

Then I get to work on the actual painting.  Sometimes I use a digital sketch to help me design a piece, other times I just wing it.   From my chair I can reach the easel and the computer at the same time, which is handy both for using references and for tweeting while the paint layers are drying :)

Early stage of "Purple, Silver, Copper" abstract painting

Early stages of “Purple, Silver, Copper”

I also eat lunch in between paint layers drying.   Often it’s pljeskavica.

While I paint, I listen to music, or sometimes crime documentaries on Youtube.  (I’m trying to phase them out, because I think the cumulative effects of all those crime shows just desensitize people to violence, but they’re addictive.  Also they have a lot of narration so it isn’t necessary to keep your eyes on the screen to follow the story.)

This is where time seems to go by very rapidly.  When I’m in “the zone”, I’m not aware of anything else than what I’m doing.  Then I’ll snap out of it and realize hours have gone by and the sun is going down.

I paint only in natural light, so if it’s a dark rainy day I  have to stop early.  Natural light is important in order to see the  colors accurately.

In the afternoon/early evening I go out for a walk and/or bike ride to get some exercise.

My bicycle, "Deep Purple"

My bike. I’ve nicknamed it “Deep Purple”

I don’t eat a full meal in the evening, just a light snack if I’m hungry.

I spend the evening either watching a documentary or something, or catching up with friends on the internet, reading articles that they linked to, talking about the issues of the day.  If I finished a painting or got to an important stage in a painting, I share pictures.

I try to drag myself off to bed before midnight, but I’m a night person and I feel most productive then (it’s a pity I can’t paint in artificial light, or I’d have a lot more paintings done!).

My room and bed, with green landscape outside the window

My bed

And that’s a day in the life of this artist.

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