3 Lessons From My Past Year as a Part Time Painter


2021 was a year that didn’t end up going the way I anticipated in the slightest, but I’m still happy that it went the way it did. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to find a handful of professional contract artist opportunities, and these opportunities taught me some new lessons when it comes to working independently as an artist. This year gave me some much needed time to relax, recharge and devote time to art, and I’d like to share a few things I learned while doing this.

1. Be Patient and Consistent.

This year has taught me patience when it comes to artwork and opportunities in a few different ways. For example, the first few months of 2021 were exceptionally quiet for me, and I didn’t land a single paying gig. Naturally, I felt slightly discouraged as the months went on, but I tried my best to stick to a daily painting routine and work on my art no matter what was happening work wise. I devoted 1-2 hours a day to painting, and this taught me a lot about acrylics as I was getting used to using them. Eventually, though, my patience paid off when I received an opportunity to paint a mural in my city in May. I was so excited! This was the biggest art contract I had received up to that point, and it taught me that as long as I practice some patience and remain consistent, eventually I will find ways to share my art professionally.

2. Apply for things, even if you don’t think you’re ready for them yet.

I learned this lesson when I first came across an advertisement for a contest The Woods, one of my local art galleries, was holding. This contest contained an opportunity for a solo show in the gallery, or a group show for the runners-up. I had shown in this gallery once before, but my imposter syndrome was strong with this one, as all the art is REALLY fantastic and it felt like mine wasn’t up to snuff. However, I decided I might as well try and apply anyways; after all, what was the worst that could happen? I had been making artwork that was tied to my emotions surrounding the pandemic, so I used that as a jumping point for an exhibition idea and used that to apply. To my surprise, I was one of the runners-up! This led to a group exhibition with two other artists for the month of August, and it was such a great experience. I’m happy I decided to take a risk and enter, because it definitely ended up working out in my favour.

3. Charge your worth.

2021 was the first year I found myself having trouble deciding on a rate for my artwork. It was important to me to remain affordable, but supplies are expensive, pieces can take a long time, and I don’t want to undercut myself, either. This led to a lot of indecisiveness when it came to pricing, and more often than not, I ended up charging less than what I felt I should just to insure I made the client happy. In retrospect, this has shown me that most of my art takes much longer to do than I might think it will, and that I deserve to be compensated fairly for that time. I still want to have negotiable prices in 2022, but I want to make sure that I remain fair to myself as a professional.

I’m happy with everything I learned in 2021, and I am sure I will learn more in the coming year as I continue to strive for a professional painting career. Thank you so much for all the support I have received; this was my most successful year as an artist yet and I can’t wait to see what the future brings. I hope everyone has a great 2022!