5 Tips on Working at Home from An Artist

Canadian Art Sales Gallery - Victoria BC - North Saanich Art studio

Right now, in Canada, we have seen life change dramatically due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Regular routines and ways of doing business have been disrupted, worldwide. Routine is essential to all of us, it is what keeps many us moving forward and motivated in life. I can only imagine how challenging it is for a person who is used to getting up everyday and going to a 9-5 job. Or a child who is used to school and an organized recreational schedule. Beyond this, if you are an extrovert, the lack of human contact could be causing a rise in anxiety.

As an independent full-time professional artist, who works from a home studio and has for the past 13 years, it is mostly business as usual. I have cancelled all studio visits, and am not on the road for any exhibitions, events, or resource gathering. Like many I am concerned about how I can keep my business moving forward. In many ways I have been preparing for this for 13 years, and I am thankful that I have established an online market that extends beyond local.

We all possess tools, talents, and skills that can be useful to our fellow humans. It is wonderful to witness the open sharing of resources and ideas, the world over, thanks to the Internet.

I decided to put together five tips on how I schedule my work day, at home. Here is how I make working at home, work.

Create a Workspace

I work from a dedicated studio space in my home, this space is completely disconnected from the rest of my home. Downstairs and with a door I can close off to the rest of my home. This space includes my office, computer, bookshelves, and filing cabinet. This space is about work; whether it be painting or talking on the phone to a client. No matter where, or how large; make a space that is for YOU where you can concentrate on YOUR things.

Establish a Routine

I keep the same daily routine when I am not on the road. I get up at 7 am; have coffee, breakfast, shower and get dressed. Just because I work at home doesn’t mean I wear pajamas! I dress for the job and arrive in my studio the same time every day, 9am sharp. Many days I arrive 15 minutes early, so I can organize myself before I begin for the day. From 9am -10am I usually answer emails and check in on different social media channels. I check my ‘TO DO’ list for the day and add to it. At 10-11am I begin painting, or working on new sketches for a painting I will create. At noon I go upstairs for lunch and then take 45 minutes for physical activity, it may be my treadmill or it may be a walk to the beach. I take time to get physical. At 1:30pm I am back in the studio. I check in on Instagram at 2-3pm daily, and continue making art. Around 4pm I check-in on Facebook and work on blog posts and website updates. I begin to wind things down for the day and at 5-6, and then leave my studio for the day. Often I take time to stretch, and work on strength exercises, yoga is great. Then off to make dinner and relax into evening activities. Sometimes if I have a deadline looming or am in the ‘flow’ creatively, I will work back in the studio late at night. For the most part, I stick to a 9-5 routine for the bulk of my work in the studio. I have found that I need this to keep me sane, otherwise I would never come out of my studio. Everyone needs to take breaks, it makes you better at whatever it is you do! On weekends I take time for family, and try not to work in my studio. I go grab supplies, hang art, answer emails and take time away. I make sure to get out of my home and studio.

Avoid the Kitchen

Unless it is for coffee, tea, water, or regularly scheduled meals; try to stay out of the kitchen. When you are working at home you are subject to all the food in the house, and during times of stress it can be too easy to stop and grab takeout in your kitchen. When you are working at home you are likely not getting the same level of activity, not like running around an office. Mindful eating is the best kind of eating.

Stop Scrolling

The biggest distraction we have in stressful times like these, can be our devices and all the little notifications they deliver. Turn off audible notifications and ringtones, this will help to keep the world out when you need to concentrate. I also turn my cell phone upside down, so I cannot see any notifications. I try to check in a few times during the day, otherwise I am offline.

There Will Always Be Sun

Sunny days are tough, they do beckon and when you have three windows in your studio with views of green grass and ocean, you absolutely want to join. I keep my sun time to lunch walks and weekend outings, and I save those photo tours for when I am on the road for work. Rainy days are easy, on sunny days I have to close my blinds to keep me focused on the task at hand.

Beyond these five tips on how to work at home, and during times where you are socially isolated, my best advice is to keep moving forward. Whether it is one foot in front of the other, one paragraph at a time, or one email; working at home can be very pleasurable. Relish this time. Take an online course to help bolster your business, work on your social media profile, get better at using Facetime. I find working at home to be extremely efficient, and do not waste time or stress in traffic commuting. It is ALL quality time, and I am in charge. Now you can be too.

Enjoy this time of isolation, or as I call it, a mindful time of introspection.

When you have your lunch break, or evening time, take a few moments to browse my Artwork. Someone once said, “Art is the only way to run away, without leaving home”, and I could not agree more.

Sincerely Yours,

Brandy Saturley

inside Canadian artist Brandy Saturley's art studio

The Work of Art is Ever Evolving

mountain forms collective - paintings in progress - canadian artist

Art is ever-evolving and so is the job of the Artist. This is a fluid career, where multi-tasking is a pre-requisite and if juggling isn’t your thing, you should stick with a 9-5. Now that is not to say that you can’t work a 9-5 and make art in your downtime, you absolutely can and it is much easier to do this than work as a full-time artist. Better yet, wait until you have retired from your 9-5, then make art your hobby, sell a few paintings here and there, maybe even find a gallery to represent your work, no pressure. Most who make art shouldn’t quit their day jobs, it’s a tough road and one that is not for most. For me, it is a ‘requirement’ like oxygen, if I were not doing it, I could not breath.

If you do decide to put it all on the line, and go full tilt at an art career full-time, you will need a support network that is SOLID. Your spouse or significant other, should be your BIGGEST FAN, if they are not, then don’t pursue your art full-time. The times when you need a shoulder to lean on, or someone to kick you in the butt and out of the ‘I must be crazy to think I can do this’ mode, you will need your ‘superfan’ at your side.

Thankfully I have a ‘superfan’ and a solid circle of supporters who’ve got me when the going gets tough, and it does, oddly enough it in fact is what keeps me moving forward. When you hit a certain stage in your career as a visual artist, you will find yourself being chased by many who want a piece and will grab at your ankles, pulling you back down. This is when you have to cut yourself loose from past relationships.

As a self representing full-time visual artist, I have carved a career that is unique to me and my brand of Art.  Any given week/month/year is lined with hurdles and wins that only I can make happen. It is a truly wonderful thing.

So, what does a week or month in my world look like? Here is a rundown of things I am juggling currently;

I am working on two collaborative series of paintings; the Mountain Forms Collective and The People of Canada Portrait Project. In the first I am painting mountainscapes with an artist in Calgary, shipping canvasses back and forth between two provinces. The Portrait Project is a series of paintings from photos submitted by everyday Canadians.

I am painting new landscapes inspired by my travels across North America, photography and writing.

I just released my first edition of fine art prints, celebrating a decade of the ‘Canadianisms’ body of work, a series of paintings inspired by Canada (now over 90 original paintings)

I manage three websites for my Art; along with my social media channels of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – yes, I use LinkedIn

I just finished writing a newsletter to clients and also stay in touch with numerous clients over email and social media

I just prepared several prints for shipping – sales management and bookkeeping

I am working to book solo and collaborative exhibitions of my work for the 2021/22 exhibition season

I am planning my next art trip, last year was a month in London at the Royal College of Art, the year before I was on Maui for a month

I am looking at presentation/teaching session at a local Arts School

Oh, and I am writing this blog.

These are just a few things I can tell you about.

I do sleep, and I do take the weekend off from my studio, but during the week I am working constantly.

I just painted the shit out this last piece, and am working on three new pieces that will be done by next week.

Damn I love my work, it comes with the deepest depths of self exploration and self-awareness. It comes with a deep intuitive understanding of the world and what is needed. It is deeply empathetic, with my fingers on the pulse of the world. I am incredibly disciplined and self-motivated, and I am here to learn, to teach, to do more than I did yesterday.

Pep talk, sure.

Around we go again.

Sincerely Yours,

Brandy

photo at #ICONICCANUCK arts exhibit

Celebrating 10,000 Art Shipping Crates – Congratulations to VEVEX!

It’s not everyday that your receive an invitation to celebrate the creation of 10,000 art shipping crates. This month my art crate maker and supplier of the past decade is turning out their 10,000th crate, a major milestone for a company built from the ingenuity of one man, Rod Russell.

About ten years ago when my business as a full-time visual artist was growing, I began to require a sturdy and reliable way to ship paintings across Canada and into the United States. After some sleuthing I discovered, VEVEX Crates in Vancouver BC. I remember calling around talking to different crate makers and there was something about speaking to Rod.

Rod Russell is a certified journeyman carpenter and managed a general contracting firm in the Northwest Territories. Rod was assistant GM of the first Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, and founded Yellowknife’s Folk on the Rocks music festival. In Vancouver, Rod consulted as a software developer, worked as VP Solution Development for eXcape Business Transactions, Inc and led a team developing Canada’s first wireless handheld debit card processors.

Rod is kind, hands-on, and experienced; he was full of information and the price was right so I rolled the dice and gave VEVEX a shot. Over the past decade VEVEX has provided me with a quick turnaround for art crates, making my clients that much more happy with their art purchases. The piece of mind I get, and can pass on to the client, is invaluable. I have seen boot prints on my art crates, had wheels torn off, seen water damage to the exterior wood and had edges cracked and slivered; but through all of this, the artwork has arrived safely to it’s destination and never damaged. Even with the best of art shippers I have seen damage occur, but knowing the artwork is safely contained inside an insulated, lined, cushioned, and waterproof plastic sleeved envelope, puts my mind at ease.

The crates have become so much a part of my work, that I began painting the exteriors and most recently exhibited the crates within my retrospective exhibitions in 2017. The hand painted crates were a hit at my art exhibitions Canadianisms; A Half Decade Inspired by Canada, in both Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. People have come to love the crates and understand how important they are to the complete artist process, as the work does not end with the finishing of a painting, the work lives on and with it the crates that carry the paintings to their final destinations. Art lovers often ask if they can buy the crates and I always tell them, if you buy a painting you may end up with a one of a kind painted art crate. If you have the room to store or display the crate, it could become a valuable addition to your art collection.

Over the years I have seen VEVEX crates pop up in differnet venues both on display and in storage rooms. The VEVEX 10,000 crate history includes patrons from all over Canada including; The Vancouver Art Gallery , The Spirit Wrestler Gallery , Artcraft Display Graphics Inc. ,Michael Nicoll YahgulanaasThe Museum of Anthropology , Erin McSavaneyHarrison Galleries , Monte Clark Gallery , Propellor Design , Sticks + Stones Furniture , and many, many more!

 CONGRATULATIONS! Rod and VEVEX, I am proud to say that I am one of your many patrons and part of your 10,000 crate history! Here’s to the next 10,000 crates.

A few photos of my crates from over the years, created by VEVEX and painted by Brandy Saturley.

Canadian Artist Brandy Saturley on her hand-painted art crates – crates built by VEVEX

 

Hand painted art crates by Brandy Saturley for 2013 #ICONICCANUCK exhibitons – crate maker VEVEX

Front window display – Gallery @501 January 2017 – Brandy Saturley

 

‘Canadianisms’ exhibit at Okotoks Art Gallery July 2017 – Brandy Saturley

Crates bound for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame 2011 – Brandy Saturley

Shipping artwork to Palm Springs – Brandy Saturley

Shipping artwork to Montreal, Canada – Brandy Saturley

Shipping art to Vancouver, Canada – Brandy Saturley

10 Years, 10 Lessons: Celebrating A Decade As a Full-Time Professional Visual Artist

This is not your average top-ten list, and this is not your average career. Succeeding and surviving as a full-time, professional visual artist for a decade requires hard-work and flexibility, it is more than a job, a career, or a profession, and it is all consuming. Prior to working full-time at it I spent many years working a side job, while making art. After ten years working at my art full-time I have come to realize there is no longer a division between art and life, it is one in the same and it is not something you can turn off, you are always working, whether doing the research that creates the backstory, making art, or handling business, it is a 24/7/365 adventure that traverses the right and left brain. It is a unique balance that requires the ability to leave all that is real behind and live in a self-created world, while popping up and grabbing a breath of reality when required. I have learned a great deal these last ten years about the business of art and about making art. At Seven years, I blogged about 7 lessons learned and it is fascinating to go back and read what I was thinking in 2014. As I celebrate these ten years I spent last night reflecting on what I have learned, and came up with a top ten list of lessons.

10 YEARS, 10 LESSONS FOR THE ARTIST

WORK HARD – CREATE DAILY

GET OUT OF THE STUDIO

TEACH & SHARE YOUR EXPERTISE

TAKE RISKS – IN AND OUT OF THE STUDIO

COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS

HAVE A ‘FLUID’ PLAN

TAKE TIME FOR CREATIVE PLAY

LEARN TO SAY NO

NEVER SELL YOURSELF SHORT

INSPIRE THE AUDIENCE, DON’T PLAY TO THEM

I would like to add that taking care of my health is still very important to my success, as without it, I wouldn’t be enjoying this life quite so much.

I have moved through several bodies of work during this time, often inspired by my travels. I have created more than 300 paintings, and captured hundreds of thousands of photos on my travels. Here are a few of my favourite paintings from the past decade…

Poppies For Louise – original acrylic painting on canvas by Brandy Saturley 2011

Saint Kanata – acrylic painting on canvas by Brandy Saturley 2011

Goalie’s Mask; red, white & Dryden – original acrylic on canvas painting by Brandy Saturley 2011

HBC Skull – acrylic painting on canvas by Brandy Saturley, 2012

Complementary Canoes – acrylic painting on canvas by Brandy Saturley 2016