Paint Schoodic

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's tax season

Plein air painters drive around until they find what they want to paint, and then they stop and paint it. That makes absolutely no sense to auditors. This is my dearly-missed painting pal, Marilyn Feinberg, in Naples, New York.
I get a “how to succeed in art” newsletter. A few weeks ago, they sent a sample schedule out. It included time for making and marketing, but no allowances were made for recordkeeping.

I love the time I spend zooming around from plein air event to plein air event in my elderly Prius. However, summer generates not only revenue but receipts. Eventually they all have to be entered in my books.

A scene on the same road, above. They don't magically happen; you have to look for them.
Some people do that as they go; I prefer to collect a stack of papers and curse at them in March. Not only do I do my income tax and sales tax returns, I also look at our investments and determine if they need to be redeployed. At the end of this, I clear out and reorganize my files, which is why Easter is the one meal we’re able to have at our dining room table.

There was a time when we had a single, standard currency. Although our financial system is pegged to the dollar, we now use credit cards and EFTs more than we use cash. That’s convenient, but it means that we must check credit card statements, Paypal, Amazon, bank statements, EZ pass records, and cash receipts.

A recent tax ruling involving artist Susan Crile validates the idea that artists regularly lose money in the pursuit of future success. This is only fair, since the IRS eagerly taxes those of us whose ship has come in.  But before you can deduct your expenses, you must keep track of them. It’s persnickety business.
And you don't get beautiful paintings without generating a rather ugly stack of receipts.
 “I don’t have a destination,” I once told an IRS auditor. “I drive until I find a view to paint, and then I stop and I paint it.” She couldn’t find a reason to disallow that on the spot, but she warned me that my future mileage logs better include destinations. Now my GPS unit logs my mileage—as longitude and latitude points, which are converted into addresses with software my husband wrote for me.

But most people don’t have a software guru at home, nor should making a living be such an exercise in appeasing government inspectors. I spend about a hundred hours a year on record-keeping to satisfy the IRS. How does that advance art, or advance the American economy?


Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

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