Do you find a beautiful painting to be captivating? Do your fingers itch to be wrapped around a paintbrush? If you enjoy art and have a talent for drawing and painting, perhaps a career in the visual arts as a painter is something that might interest you.
Painting is an art form whereby the artist expresses him or herself through the 2-dimensional medium of acrylics, watercolors or oils of varying colors brushed onto canvas or another surface. Artists experiment with different types of painting genres, such as realistic representation of landscapes and figures, as well as abstract and modern designs, which push the traditional boundaries.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is generally a surplus of talented artists as compared to jobs available, making the field highly competitive (www.bls.gov). Only the most successful and well-known artists are able to support themselves from their paintings alone. For this reason, many artists support themselves with part-time or full-time work in a related field, while painting on the side.
For the artist who pursues a more advanced degree in fine art, he or she may work as an art director in an advertising agency, gallery, museum or other art-related organization to ensure a steady income while building a portfolio of accomplished paintings, as well as a steady client base. Some artists choose to work in galleries as art dealers, while others may work in painting conservation and restoration. Some fine-art painters become art teachers.
The BLS reported in May 2010 that fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, had a median annual wage of $44,850. It was also expected that employment would grow about as fast as the average for all occupations at about 12% from 2008 to 2018.
Most artists begin with an innate talent for painting and hone their skills in art programs. You may decide to take independent online painting classes or perhaps try a few classes at a local community college to augment your talent by learning technical skills. Alternatively, you may pursue a fine arts degree with a concentration in painting.
Some painters opt for a less specialized, more comprehensive degree as an art major, which allows them to study a wider variety of art topics. This could be a competitive advantage later when applying for art-related jobs, allowing the artist financial freedom while still being able to pursue painting at his or her leisure.
Regardless of the type of degree you choose to pursue, you may expect to learn many different painting techniques. You will study composition, line, form, space and color while learning to be a keen observer of the world around you. You will learn how to analyze paintings of various techniques, both past and present. Classes in painting techniques, art history, landscape, abstract and modern painting, drawing, color, figure painting and design will all be part of a painting curriculum. You will also spend time building your portfolio. Admission to art school can be competitive and is generally based, at least in part, on submission of a portfolio of your best work.