Tax Considerations for Artists

"Tepid Marsh", 6x6 Pastel on sanded paper

If you are an artist, and you are selling your work...you may have to file for taxes! Now, I'm no professional tax consultant, but I have been filing and writing off my business for some 15 years. And what the IRS would love to prove is that you are some starving amateur artist that is dodging taxes! So, to keep things running smoothly in your artist career, I am offering some tips that I have been using for some time now that I hope will help you decide if you really are in business as an artist: (some of these examples come from "Taking The Leap" by Cay Lang)

1. Keep receipts of all expenses for each calendar year. List in categories that are relevant to your type of art. Ex: art supplies, office supplies, travel, promotion, and shipping are some of mine.

2. Keep a mailing list. This proves that you are connecting to clients and are actually pursuing business.

3. Send out announcements or maintain a blog or website with all your art activities. This proves that you are attempting to attract more clients. Really!

4. Save the announcements from your shows. This proves that it really did happen.

5. Keep copies of all your communications with galleries, shows, and festivals. Keep the return communications in a folder (either on your computer or in a cabinet). This proves that others are responding.

6. Keep and maintain invoices of art sold with date, item, and client info. This one is most important!

The list can go on, but I'm only offering this as a starting point. Using a tax consultant is your best bet, if you have the money to hire one, and especially one who is savvy with artists practices.

So, there is my 2 cents on taxes! Please feel free to comment and add to this list.

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Break with Color, 12x9

"Break with Color" 12x9" Pastel on sanded paper Sold

This past week was Spring Break for my family, so we took a much needed trip to the coast. Traveling about 500 miles south of Portland we found a State Park in Sunset Bay, Oregon. We stayed in a Yurt, as described by my kids as, "a sort of hut with a silly name." As funny as it sounds, a Yurt is actually pretty cool to stay in. As much as I love Spring in Oregon, is a bit moist, or drippy to say the least. One day out of the whole time spent was actually incredible, and it worked out that that was the one day I got out to paint at Shore Acres gardens. This is my first plein air of the year. Rusty doesn't even come close to the feeling I had after setting up my easel! This is the pond at Shore Acres park. On the other side of the pond beyond the trees is a beautiful cliff, beyond and below is the ocean and I could hear the waves crashing while painting. Oooh, the outdoors!

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A quick pastel portrait done good...

At the beginning of this year I wrote several goals down, as I do for every year.  So, I'm proud to say to you that I have completed at least one of them..."To learn my videocam, create a fast-forward film of my painting process and upload it to YouTube. Done!  Isn't it great when you can say "I did that" and then step on to another goal?  I'm big on goal setting, if you haven't figured that out yet, you still have time...

Now, go check out this little video of a piece I did back in January of my friend Sylvia.   Created in the "Kitty Wallis" style that I learned from Kitty.  Also, I couldn't just post it with no sound, so I had my daughter play a couple of jingles on her flute and combined them together in the movie program.  What fun it is to make a movie! What goals do you set for yourself, be it personal or professional? Have you made good on one yet this year?  Let me know. I'd love to hear about it!

Note: It seems that the widescreen format that I created it in doesn't fit well. Click here for a better view.

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Orange Mist (study), 6x6

"Orange Mist (study)", 6x6"  Pastel on sanded paper

Back in October I had an Open Studio and created many, many small demonstration pieces. Some have since been finished, after adding more detailing, and then posted to this blog.  Some have simply been tossed into a pile of what I'd call "lessons learned".  This one piece in particular needed no touching up....no noodlin' or fussy touch ups!  A 15 minute piece!  Personally, I've always struggled to keep my work loose.  It's been a challenge for me, since I was brought up and encouraged to paint just like a photo realist.  As a child my teachers and parents would look and say, "Gosh, it looks just like the real thing!"  This encouragement helped me to continue with my work. Since then, I've worked to loosen up, with the encouragement of other artists that I admire.  I can make more art in less time now, leaving the photo realism for another day.
How were you encouraged as a child?  Did you continue or change? How has it affected your art?

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Painting Water & Reflections

I will be giving a presentation on Thursday, March 12th at the Oregon Society of Artists on my favorite subject,  water!  I'm a bit nervous, but I keep telling myself to relax and have fun with it.  I'm prepared with some really useful info and interesting diagrams, examples of my work, and just plain observations I've learned over time.

Come join me if you can!  

March 12th from 11:00am -12:00pm
2185 SW Park Place
Portland, OR 97205


Evergreen Colors (study), 6x6

"Evergreen Colors (study)" 6x6"  Pastel on sanded paper

Sometimes you just have to paint something!  The feeling one gets when making something just for the fun of it is like playing an imaginary game as a child.  This playfulness should be embraced, otherwise we crush ourselves into a little box and conform.  I played with this one piece and had a lot of fun. Even though I wouldn't call it a masterpiece by any means, it's still a colorful piece.  I have to be honest with you here, in the beginning I struggled with it giving up my first intentions, then played with it..."just have some fun!" I said to myself.  So try to play a little today, giving yourself the freedom to mess up.  You might discover your masterpiece!


April Waterway, 6x6

"April Waterway (study)"  6x6  Pastel on sanded paper

It seems like it's been months since I last painted anything and posted.  Being an artist and having a family is like juggling 5 plates on those long sticks you'd see in the circus.  My excuses come from every aspect of my life, making me feel like Sillyputty.  Those of you who have or had children would know what I'm talking about.  I Googled the word "excuses" and I found many explanations and thoughts for this verb.  Every definition makes me feel worse, like: excuses negate responsibility, are harmful because they prevent one from succeeding, or worse yet, they become believable!   So, am I saying my family should be 2nd to my art?   Nope!  They are the reason I paint!  If it weren't for this outlet, this way of communicating without words, I'd probably go nuts!  What are your excuses or reasons for not painting?

Here is another study from the Reference Image Library on WetCanvas.  I wanted to call it "March Waterway" because I painted it in the month of March, but "April" sounds better.

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