Liza Mackintosh, Fine Art

I'm Liza, and I'm an abstract landscape painter

Describe your job

I am a Fine Artist, I work independently in my studio creating original oil and acrylic abstract paintings of my local landscape.

I am responsible for running all aspects of being an artist. This includes making the work, sourcing the materials, reaching new audiences, selling my pieces, keeping up contact with galleries and hosting exhibitions.

As I love creating my paintings, and they take a lot of time due to being made up of many layers, it is important for me not to get lost working in the studio. It is important to remember that the paintings and the process of making them need to be shared with an audience in order for people to connect and engage with the work.

Social media is a great platform to give a day to day insight into the process behind my work and as it is so visual it works really well. Many artists have picked up on this and there is a vibrant artist community on these different platforms.

A typical day for me involves going for a morning walk, this helps to loosen me up for the studio and to collect some inspiration; taking pictures or making sketches can help. I then head back to the studio and lay out which paintings I am planning to work on. I enjoy painting so much that the day can go quickly.

Sometimes it can be frustrating when pieces aren’t coming together the way I hoped and other times it is incredibly rewarding when they finally do. I tend to take pictures in the studio of the pieces coming together which I share later on. At the end of the day I have a look at the paintings and decide which pieces are finished, which pieces need to be put to the side and which I can work on the next day.

About once a week I spend time taking high quality photos, cataloguing new paintings, sorting out ordering new materials that are running low, organising social media and updating my website.

Each day is different and the great thing about being an artist is that I can choose my hours and manage my time. I can arrange creative trips or days out if I have a creative block or spend the evening in the studio instead of the day.

I would also say a highlight of being an artist for me is the private view of an exhibition when you have created a body of work you are proud of and you can celebrate with your friends and visitors and hear what people think. Making sales is always such a confidence boost that someone loves your piece so much they want to see it in their home everyday.

What are the most important skills you need to do your job?

As you are solely responsible for managing yourself it is vital to be disciplined and determined. You need to have the motivation to continue to push and challenge yourself, without others to bounce off and work with or without a manager or someone that sets you deadlines. You need to have these skills in order to prevent your artist practice becoming stagnant and collectors and galleries losing interest. You need to be passionate about your work and the need to create it in order to continue doing it.

Having the practical skills and knowledge of creating high quality artworks is important, as well as to develop your own independent artist’s voice and image. These skills are usually developed on a Fine Art course where the focus is on creating artwork as opposed to sustaining a living as an artist.

Having an eye for professionalism and high quality presentation in all aspects that you put into the world through your artistic brand is of high value. Being a visual person wishing to pursue a career as an artist helps with this. I believe that the way you present your artwork speaks volumes about how much you value your work and how much you believe others should. Investing in frames, taking high quality photos, hosting atmospheric private views all do wonders at building your artist brand.

A skill which I think is vital, despite not going with the vision of being an artist is being organised. Having a scheduled calendar and working to deadlines you set yourself. Cataloguing your work and keeping a monthly newsletter all help to keep up a hype about your work and collectors on their toes to see more of what you're making.

And the last one is resilience. Being an artist is not a secure, reliable income and you need to be able to pick yourself up and persevere. As well as have confidence in your own work and continue to believe in yourself.

I left school and...

After leaving secondary school I did an Applied Arts and Design course double award which is equivalent to two A levels. This was a very exciting step for me as I was starting to invest much more of my time to creating art as opposed to the time I had during my GCSE’s.

I knew I wanted to pursue a career as an artist so I applied for a Foundation Diploma in Art at Falmouth University in Cornwall. This involved leaving home and living in a new and far away place. At the age of 18 this is exactly what I needed and I loved the course. We drew and painted all the time, including large scale drawings on beaches and creating outdoor sculptures. I specialised in Fine Art with a focus on painting and there was a wonderful teacher who was passionate about painting, he encouraged me to apply for a BA in Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon College of Art in London.

The following September I went to Wimbledon College of Art where I spent three years with my own studio and artist friends honing in on what areas of painting I was most interested in and developed a love for abstract art.

I’m most proud of...

Each year I take part in the Lewes Artwave Festival, East Sussex. I host a solo exhibition of my paintings alongside 100+ other open houses with other artists in the local town. It is one of the highlights of my year. It gives me a deadline to create work for and I am lucky enough to have the use of a beautiful old brewery to exhibit my work in. It has high ceilings and old period features as well as lovely white walls which sets off the work perfectly.

I invite my artist following and friends and have a great weekend sharing and selling my work. Each year the exhibition has been more successful and this September will be my 5th year.

Before I started my career, I wish I knew…

I have realised in the five years since I left university that not all opportunities are equal.

When I first left uni I was very eager to be a successful artist and to spend as much time as possible creating work. This meant that whenever an opportunity arose, such as a new contact or gallery showing interest I jumped at the opportunity without doing enough research. It is important to visualise how you want your artwork exhibited and engaged with, many of these galleries were not to the standard that I needed in order to make exhibitions and events worthwhile.

One gallery for instance was overwhelmed with artwork and had no curation or thought put into its interior. I exhibited work in this gallery and can see how my work got lost in the environment it was in and was consequentially under valued.

When thinking about opportunities make sure the align with your work and your vision of how you want your work presented.

A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...

Making mistakes and the concept of failure is, I think, an integral part of creativity and progress. For every successful painting there are many that just didn’t work. This is part of the process and it is something that for me as an artist is important to accept.

So, what’s next?

I am always pushing my work to evolve with me and what feels right at the time. I would say that I like to take my work day by day and as my work represents the seasons and subtle changes in the landscape this approach works well for me. I don’t like to spend too much time focused on the future or planning out my destination. As my work develops and I keep sharing it as well as looking for opportunities when they come my artist brand develops organically.

Here's my:

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