Hard Decisions


Hard Decisions

Or Shifting my Focus

I have come to a fork in the road, my path could lead in many different directions, but I feel I need to make a decision now. I’m tired of drifting endlessly and being so indecisive. When I declared myself an artist in November 2015 (see link here) I was very vague, I didn’t articulate what exactly I meant by being an artist. I’m at a point now where I can look at the bigger picture and I’ve come to a decision. Have you ever gotten to this point before? I know I have many times, but this time feels different.

I’ve decided to shift my focus away from the path of a fine artist and a focus my energy on to my jewelry business. There are many reasons why I decided to shift focus. Mostly it is because I feel drawn to making jewelry, it was my first love.

This is not a decision about running away, it’s about moving forward. Jewelry will be an equally hard path as that of a fine artist, but I feel as though it’s more exciting to me. The idea of pursuing it gives me energy, as opposed to the vague notion of being an artist. I’m not 100% percent certain that this is the right decision, but I learned the decision-making isn’t about being absolutely certain, it’s about taking a leap of faith. Besides, life would be so boring if you always knew what was going to happen. That said, I have decided to commit to selling my jewelry 100% percent for the next six months.

I have been making jewelry for a lot longer than I have been painting. I feel more confident about my jewelry making skills and some of my pieces are selling. If I focus my energy on one specific project, who knows how far I’ll go?

In the next post I’ll share my history with jewelry making if you are interested. Please comment below to let me know what you think.

I’m going to focus this week on selling my copper disc necklaces. Come check them out and if you know someone who might like them, feel free to share.

I have come to this decision thanks to many people, first of all thanks to the support of my fiends at fizzle.co and my friend Lisa Walker England. I’d also like to thank my mother, without whom I’d be nothing (literally).

MARN mentors

Since spring of 2015 I have been in the MARN mentors program. I applied as an emerging artist to be mentored by a local professional artist. I was really nervous when I applied, but I got in! I was chosen by Della Wells, an amazing local artist.

In reflecting on my time working with Della Wells, the main thing that stood out to me about the experience was how much I learned and grew as an artist because of it. I have grown considerably from my time working with my mentor Della Wells. As an emerging artist living in the Milwaukee area I had very few connections and little knowledge of how the art world really worked. I learned a lot from Della’s considerable knowledge. Every time I met with her I took copious notes; in fact on our first meeting I took 5 full pages. What I took away from the first meeting was: think of money as an investment; invest in myself and my career; do research; have a body of work; know what I want to say through my work, the importance of networking; and she said so much more than I have room to write here. The main thing that I have gained from Della is the ability to think bigger and set my goals and horizons higher. I had been thinking small before and not really taking my career and myself seriously. While working with Della I started to paint and established a regular studio practice. I also have more confidence in myself as an artist and have decided to pursue a career as a professional artist, whereas before I was ambivalent. I feel as though I have many more opportunities open to me in the future through having worked with the MARN mentorship program. Many thanks to Tia, Cassie, Pamela. and everyone involved at MARN.

At the end of the MARN Mentorship program there is an exhibition to wrap it up. The show is at the VAR gallery, located at 643 S. 2nd Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204. The opening reception is this Saturday, January 9th from 5-9pm. I hope you can come down and see it. If you can’t make the opening, there is a closing reception on Saturday January 23 from 5-9pm. I have worked hard on my piece for the show, here’s a sneak peak:

 

Following up on Choice and Fear

I published the post Choice and Fear about a month ago and got so much positive feedback and comments, which I really appreciate. I thought I’d let you know what I’ve been up since then. I wish I could say that my life has been all sunshine and roses since I declared myself a professional artist, but unfortunately that’s not how life works. I mean, it has been great. The first few days were amazing, I had so many ideas and inspiration was just flowing out of me. Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase did not last that long. Don’t get me wrong, I am doing the work and I love it. I’ve worked an average of 3 hours every day. I would not want to be doing anything else with my life and I’m not quitting anytime soon, but it isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

The fear and the doubt never really went away, I don’t think they ever will. I’m starting to learn how to move forward in spite of that fact, but I had a real rough patch for about a week or so. I learned many lessons about myself from that time. I hope by sharing these lessons I can help someone else who is facing similar challenges.

The first thing I learned is not to isolate myself and plan social events. I worked so much in the studio and didn’t leave home for a few days, which was not good. Humans are social creatures and even though I need time to myself to make my art, I still need to make sure I get out there and interact with real people. I’m not yet sure how exactly I am going to do this, but my plan is to reach out daily to friends and family and try to schedule meetings in person. I also plan on finding events on Facebook and Eventbrite. All in all, I would like to get out of the house at least once a day.

The second thing that I learned is a just doing the work isn’t enough, I need to think ahead more and plan out further in advance so I know what I need to do beforehand.

The third I learned that I need to prioritize my health. If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t do anything else. I created a list to help me remember what to do daily, here’s a picture of the list, it is still a work in progress:

IMG_1641

Evolving Process

Ironically enough, the reason I started painting was because I wanted to make something faster than I could with fiber art. Naïvely I thought “how hard could this be?” And proceeded to start painting. My cross stitch pieces take months to realize and I wanted to have more pieces to sell. I knew that I could have prints made of my paintings and sell them as well. I’ve been drawings my designs for a long time, leading me to underestimate how difficult painting would be. I never took a painting class in art school, so I decide to teach myself by doing. That’s not exactly true, I did take 2D concepts class and there was a unit on painting. Anyway, I had all the supplies from then, plus the paints and brushes that my grandma gave me, which is a story for another time.
So here I was late spring/early summer of 2015, painting. I didn’t document my work well enough, from now on I’ll take more pictures as I paint. You can tell my early work by the sloppy brushwork and the white backgrounds. They are also on boards. I actually cover the boards with white paint before painting. I didn’t know much about mixing colors or transitioning from one to another, they are very flat and two-dimensional.

second painting, acrylic on paper, May 10th 2015

I thought I was doing well and was proud of them, looking back now, I’m really embarrassed. What woke me up was my mentor Della Wells. In the summer I met with her monthly for the MARN (Milwaukee Artist Resource Network) mentorship program and she gave me great advice.

Della is someone who tells things like they are, she doesn’t sugarcoat things. I showed her the paintings I had made up to that point and she said that I wasn’t ready yet, I forget her exact words, but she said that I needed to learn more, take classes, continue working on my technique and refine my process. I was little devastated at first, my ego really took a hit, but it was exactly what I needed to hear at that time. After that, I started watching tutorials on YouTube and I became more open to learning. I discovered that there is so much more to painting than I had thought before. Painting is one of those things that takes a little time to learn, but a lifetime to master.
Some of the things I’ve learned since then:
– Put a wash/ground on the background for the first layer
– Different brushes have different names and functions
– Paint is really expensive
-The more time and effort I put into painting, the better I get
– You can layer colors on top of each other to create a richer tone
– If you put dark on the edges and a lighter color in the center it creates a 3D effect
– I enjoy painting

There is so much more I would like to learn, I’m glad I started painting and feel as though I’ve come a long way in just a few months, I wonder how far I’ll get.

Early Paintings

 

Works in progress

choice and fear

I made a major decision today. I chose to pursue my art full-time and not look for a job, full or part-time. In other words, I am committing 100% to being a professional artist. This is a huge decision for me because it is something that I’m really afraid of, but also it’s the thing that I really want. I’m telling you this for many reasons, first of all I want to be held accountable for my actions. The second reason is that I wanted to let you know about what I’m up to. Maybe you’ll connect with something I wrote and get some value out of it, I don’t know, but I want to get this off of my chest and get my thoughts in order. I’m scared to share this post with you, but I think that the fear I’m feeling is showing me that this is something that I need to do. Please let me know what you think of this post, I would really appreciate the feedback.

I have so many fears about being an artist professionally, for instance:

  • putting myself out there in the world
  • people judging me because I don’t have a “real” job
  • people thinking that I don’t contribute to society
  • people thinking that I live in a fantasy world and that I need to wake up and stop dreaming
  • what gives me the right to pursue my dreams while so many people aren’t able to
  • being a leech on society
  • I don’t have what it takes to be a professional artist
  • my work isn’t good enough
  • etc.

Even though I have so many fears and reservations, I’m going to lean forward into the uncertainty and fear, because that’s where the potential for growth is. I know that most of my fears are irrational, but I still think them anyway. What fears are holding you back? What are you doing to overcome your fears? I have so much potential that I can’t let a little thing like fear stop me.

You might be wondering who I am, what I want to do as an artist, I am planning on writing a post on that, but I haven’t finished articulating my thoughts yet. I will add a link here once I’m done writing that post. I am a fine artist that works in a variety of media. I don’t know yet what I have to say, but I know that I have a voice and the responsibility to use it.

Right now I have the least responsibilities that I ever will have in my life, I am single, no kids, I have some money and if I don’t buy many frivolous things I can live off that money. I intend to live an intentional minimalistic lifestyle. I need to stop spending money eating out and going to cafés. Hopefully I will soon earn some money through my work that I can start saving some.

Starting to live as a professional artist will be hard, but if I don’t I will always wonder, “what if?”, what if I gave it my all, worked my hardest, what could I have done? How far could I have gone? I don’t know if I could live with that feeling and I have the means to do so now, so why not make that leap?

You might wonder what I mean by being a “professional” artist. To me a professional artist is an artist who makes a living from their art. I’m going to treat my art career like a 9-5 in that I will have regular hours and take it seriously. I will spend at least 3 hours each day making art. I plan on building up my body of work to roughly 50 paintings, then I will have a big enough body of work to approach galleries. I will also sell limited edition prints of a number of my pieces. I will continue to sell my jewelry on the side to make money, but my main focus will be on my art practice. I heard on a podcast, the thriving artist podcast, in an interview with Carolyn Edlund that professional artists spend half their time creating their work and the other half marketing. I’m going to create a schedule for myself and stick to it.

Thank you so much for reading this far and if you want to support me through this transition period while I make my body of work through a MARN (Milwaukee Artist Resource Network) micro-fellowship for a tax-deductible donation, Click on the link: here. To learn more about MARN’s micro-fellowship program click: here. To buy some of my jewelry visit my shop page To follow me and get updates on what I’m working on in the future sign up for my mailing list here

a shot of a work in progress in my studio
a shot of a work in progress in my studio