What Do Artists Do All Day?…

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The age-old question: what do artists do all day? Do they merely throw paint about a canvas with a maddening disposition, sit outside cafés all afternoon smoking and discussing culture, philosophy, and politics with artist counterparts? For this particular idea of an ‘artist’ has been assumed for some decades now; the drinker, the smoker, the eccentric, the lover…

Image courtesy of Charlotte Scarrow.
Image courtesy of Charlotte Scarrow.

I have recently been watching the BBC series “What Do Artists Do All Day?” (hence the title of this article) and have found it continuously fascinating. As an art student and young artist myself I have often found it an invigorating sight to behold an artist in their working environment; watching a group of established and diverse artists at work in their studios is, upon speculation, an education of sorts for an aspiring painter. Scottish artist Jack Vettriano, taxidermist Polly Morgan and Welsh sculptor and painter Shani Rhys-James are among my favourites. Their ardent passion for their practice is rather inspirational in setting aside goals for my future as an artist.

 

Do you know what significantly caught me? Of all the artist stereotypes, Vettriano is indeed a smoker, which somehow just fits. The idea of an artist smoking for some traditional reason is emphatic. It compliments the image as it has done for some years; and I like that. I admire that. Despite all the negative hype and unhealthy detriment of smoking, he still smokes. I don’t know. Perhaps this opinion just reflects the Franco-British blood within me. Vettriano, a painter of glamour and class of the lost golden age, works from his apartment in Knightsbridge, London, from 5am each day. In fact, each artist within the series were more or less ‘early birds’. You see? These artists are truly dedicated to their practice, efficient workers with brilliant minds. They do not sit about all day, drinking coffee and existing upon political discussion. They work; they hammer away profusely, whether writing, sculpting, painting etc. they put their backs into it as it were.
An artist fulfils their practice via a deep need and understanding to express visually and philosophically, I find. But to truly understand an artist’s mind, you need to be one. We’re a strange sort. As Rhys-James so eloquently puts it “not many people would understand why anybody would do this”. Out of a crying need to fulfil ourselves, a burning necessity that drives us towards the lucrative path of creating something extraordinary. Rhys-James is successful in her contemplation that “it is extremely important as a human being to fulfil yourself, man or woman.” She’s right. Just so inexplicably right.

 

What an artist does all day is central and only truly explicable to the creator. What an artist does each day is comprehensive to their form of artistic practice. An artist does not rehearse the art of being a virtuoso ‘lay-about’ as some may otherwise perceive, but rather use their time to express their emotions, memories, anecdotes and philosophies on this contrivance we call ‘life’. An artist focuses on the juxtaposition of light and dark, right and wrong, pro and con, and attempts to go about it in a way that conveys their concept.

 

Contrary to what some might think, artists are bloody hard workers…

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Currently the Winchester Editor of Wessex Scene, Kalisto is a fine arts student, keen writer and emerging artist with a mighty love of coffee...

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