Art, Life

I Cut My Hours to be an Artist: The Beginning Stages

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What we make time for is what is most important to us. This is actually kind of embarrassing considering the stuff I've logged countless hours doing (gives Netflix an accusing glance), but this has really been hitting home lately; in somewhat unsettling ways. I've touched briefly on the subject of creativity and inspiration and the silly expectations we get stuck in. It can actually be self-crippling in a way because, say, if I feel more strongly than life itself that I'm meant to be a world-famous, critically-acclaimed painter, I can quickly and easily become consumed by that expectation, not the actual art, which in turn makes me feel either so inadequate I wonder why I bother, or resentful of anything in my life that I perceive as a hinderance to my goals. I speak from experience. Big time. I'm probably not way off the mark here that every artist has felt this to some degree (if you haven't, I will personally interview you and air it on all the major networks).

I've been trying to see it all more simply. Honestly, I just simply love painting. I love art. I love that it pursues me; it's right at my fingertips whenever I return to the easel no matter how much time I've spent away. Art has no expectations. It just says, "Here, try this. See what happens." Art feels like home.

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So here's the skinny: I decided very recently to cut my hours at work so I can commit more time to "Home." I TOTALLY haven't had moments where I think, "WHATHAVEIDONE??????" and start scavenging for large boxes in case we have to live in an alley... but crazy awesome things don't happen without crazy scary feelings right beforehand.

Let's face it, there's a stigma in the world regarding making a living as an artist, and, frankly, it can sometimes be for good reason. I'm currently trying not to get hung up on that as I type this. I'm not going to try to argue that, but what I will do is list my reasoning for this big transition in my life that I've dreamed of for years so that, if you're in the same boat, I can help a fellow creative rationalize such an emotional decision.

  1. FINANCES: Okay, so, my husband's a youth pastor and I've been working a graphic design job with freelance design and painting on the side. With all that, we do kind of mostly alright. We live in a really affordable area and own our 850 sq. ft. house. BUT, we by no means live a lifestyle that many would call...decadent? Or even, in some circles, nice? And you know what? It's changed our perspective. Instead of working more hours so we can eat out more, shop at World Market with reckless abandon, and get our galley kitchen expanded out about twenty thousand feet, we've discovered the sweet simplicity of homemade hot chocolate and good conversation with people we really like. It's encouraged my creativity by making me see the potential in Goodwill finds. It's forced us to really analyze what makes us happy (disclaimer: it's not "stuff"). It's so cliché, I know. That's why we love it. So that's why I'm not completely wigging out about this. Sure, we will probably (definitely) have less income for a while as I work on my business, but we know what's important. We will make it work.
  2. FULFILLMENT: This builds off of finances. I was really really fortunate to figure out early on that I wasn't getting fulfilled through clothes, knick knacks, or imagining myself working at Pixar (I graduated with an animation degree). I'm such a simple person; I just want to hang out with my mom, catch a movie with Dad, pet my cats, make dinner with Jonathan, and live a life full of art and love. I for real just got this hilarious visual of Jon Lennon nodding his head appreciatively at me. Such validation. Are you living a life that reflects your fulfillment? Do you spend time deliberately? I certainly wasn't for the longest time and it's actually mind-boggling to look back on how I spent my days just two years ago. Complacency is the wall between us and fulfillment. But really, folks.
  3. SELF-MOTIVATION: This is the trickiest one. Ugh. I, ironically, just don't even want to try to explain this one. Here's the gist: I started joining freelance and artist Facebook groups. My whole Facebook feed turned into people seeking advice, posting wins, and showing off their amazing work. I got some help from some of the communities and have gotten more and more engaged with the members. It seems stupid-simple, but I don't think I would've had the chutzpa to walk into my boss' office and start the "So here's the thing..." conversation with him without the support of these internet strangers. I wouldn't feel half as motivated to paint without seeing the hard work of other artists. Seriously, COMMUNITY MATTERS SO MUCH. I can see a massive difference between Pre-Facebook Group Lynn and Now Lynn. easel

This is my most recent painting, "Isle Survive." This one is going to hold a special place in my little arty heart because it's kind of a symbol of this transformation. To me, this painting says, "I'm the real deal! I was made with passion and purpose." Same here, painting, same here.