Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Day In The Life

This morning, I wake up to the sound of tinkling cables on masts as I have spent the night on my beautiful boat at the marina. A bright shaft of sunlight filters through the skylight and gently warms my face. I can hear sea gulls screaming as they wheel and soar above and in the distance a gentle ring.....ring...... Hang on, I don't have a phone on the yacht! It gets louder and more harsh until I fully wake up, this time in the real world in my small cottage in Leiston, and pick up the phone. It's BT again, they want to make it really easy and financially worthwhile for me to 'come back'. Years spent as a soldier followed by many more working shifts mean that I am instantly awake and ready to deal with my first 'cold caller' of the day. When he pauses for breath I butt in and begin my spiel, explaining to the caller about the benefits of owning an original piece of art, how easy and safe it is to choose and buy an artwork from my website, what a wonderful and unique gift it would make for a close friend or family member. This guy is more resilient than most and it's a good minute and a half before he hangs up on me. Ah well.......... up, wash, dress and ready for another day.

One of the benefits of being a self employed, full time artist is that I get up and go to bed when I want to. For me that means very late nights and I basically get up when I wake (or I'm woken) up. So, coming downstairs about 08:15 I'm greeted as usual by a huge hairy ginger face, all sleepy eyed and unkempt. No, it's not one of the kids! They all left years ago. It's my German Shepherd Murphy, wanting to get started on his morning walk. I always take him out before breakfast. We live in a small town in Suffolk, about 2 miles in-land from the beaches, surrounded by farmland and heath. So whichever direction I go I'm soon out into the countryside. This time is important for me as it's when my mind is totally refreshed and with no distractions I can start thinking about what I'm going to be doing for the rest of the day. If I'm part way through an artwork I begin to focus on where I left off previously and get back into it. If I'm beginning a new piece then I start planning. Often my best ideas come to me while out with Murphy.

Running the gauntlet of dozens of kids on their way to school, half of them wanting to stop and pet Murphy, the other half too engrossed in their iPods and mobile phones to notice us, I get back to the house. I feed Murphy and get myself some cereal and fruit for my breakfast. Jenny, my partner since 1996, works as a supply teacher so if she has work she'll be long gone. If not then she likes a lie in so I'll take her a cup of tea about 10 o'clock. In the mean time I switch on my computer and see if there are any enquiries or messages to deal with.
Now then, do I need to refresh my supply of performance enhancing drugs? The replica watches are very tempting and one of these days I'm certainly going to find time to meet up with Natasha from Russia. Quickly dealing with the spam I'm left with the 3 or 4 genuine enquiries I usually have (not all leading to sales I'm sad to say) As a lot of my art is 'Western' influenced, many of my customers are across the pond in the USA and Canada so often enquiries will come in over night. Depending upon what is there can affect my plans for the day as there may be pictures to frame or unframe, packaging to do, couriers to organise, websites to up-date, queries to respond to.... the list can go on and on. At some point I catch up with it all and go into my studio to begin working.
I say studio, actually it's a back room of the house which looks out into the garden. All though quite small it is ideal for my purpose and I feel lucky to have a dedicated studio space right here in my house where everything is at my fingertips. Some people might prefer to actually leave the house to go to their studio, working at home would be too distracting for them and they would never get anything done. Not me. The first thing that I do is put on my music, quite loud. I have a very varied taste in music, anything from Pavarotti to Rory Gallagher. At the moment I'm playing a lot of Jethro Tull and also a lot of rural blues. I can't hear the phone, anyone who needs me can leave a message.
I work for about 4 hours or so. Often I will forget the time and forget to eat but if I leave it long enough Murphy will come and tell me sometime mid-afternoon that it's time for his walk. We always get in the van and drive down to one of the beaches close to Leiston. Sizewell, Thorpe Ness or Aldeburgh being the closest but I often go further afield. From any of these I can walk inland onto the heath or perhaps take a riverside route. It really is a beautiful area in which to live and I enjoy my afternoon walks immensely. I have a strong interest in wildlife and the countryside. I love it if I spot a seal fishing just off shore or perhaps an egret on the marsh. I can lose a lot of time watching the harriers coursing over the heathland. Magical stuff. I get a lot more time to think and plan while we are out and come back refreshed and ready to put in another 2 or 3 hours work before stopping for the day. If I have completed my artwork, then depending on it's size there is scanning or photographing to do next. I always create a master copy of each piece of a high enough standard to be used for having prints made if I so wish. From this master copy I can make smaller copies and detailed images to be used for the web. This can take a long time to get right but is very important as nearly all of my business is conducted on line. This image is all that my customers will have to go on when deciding whether or not to purchase.
The next job is framing. When I became self employed back in 2002 I sent myself on a picture framing course and then purchased the equipment needed to set myself up with a small picture framing business. This was firstly to have something to fall back on if I couldn't make enough of a living as an artist, and secondly to enable me to frame my own work thus saving myself time and money. (Nowadays, apart from a few 'favours' for friends, I only frame my own work). So I have a framing workshop out in the garden and this is where I will head if I have mounting or framing to do. It's extremely satisfying to finish an artwork and then to be able to have it mounted and framed and ready to hang within a few hours, all my own work.
After eating, a typical evening is spent usually with a bottle of red wine and watching telly but also a lot of time on the computer. As well as my own website to maintain, I have a presence on several other on-line galleries and each needs constant updating and refreshing if they are to maintain interest with my customers and the search engines. I reckon my working time is divided about 30% actually creating art and the rest is admin and actually trying to sell the art.
The above could be a typical day but what I like is the fact that each day is different and I never know what it's going to bring. If I am preparing for an exhibition (I don't take part in many nowadays) then I can be spending all day framing and packing. Sometimes I feel the need to get away from the studio completely and will go out walking for the day with my camera to clear my head and find fresh inspiration. But my thoughts are never far away from my artwork.

4 comments:

Art & Words by Wyanne Chase said...

What a great day, Peter. And Murphy is gorgeous, by the way.

Pat said...

I enjoyed reading about your day. You create a good scene with words too!
I also think Murphy's gorgeous :)

Tina Ashton said...

So enjoyed reading this Peter. You certainly are almost as creative with your words as you are with your paint! Lovely reading.

Peter Williams said...

Thanks all, I did this for the Affordable British Art gallery but thought I might as well blog it too.