I’m a 50-year old woman. That’s cool. I’ve lived half a century. And now that I’m not quite as young and cute as I maybe once was, I’m relieved to report that I’m actually feeling a lot happier than when I had things more traditionally “in order.” It’s been a long time coming, and I’m glad it’s here. And, oh – if you’re not quite as old as I am yet and you think you’ll have your life all figured out by 50, you might be a little bit surprised when you get here. :)
I’ve always been entrepreneurial in nature. I wasn’t happy working a traditional job where I reported to a specific place every day; it felt like I was trying to force myself into clothes that were all the wrong size. So in my early 30s I finally started an art business working for myself. I’d just been divorced after 12 years of marriage and I had that, “To hell with it, my world is upside down anyway so I’m just going to go for it” attitude. (Sometimes pain can be the very best motivator.)
Although I was flying by the seat of my pants, I had a lot of success with my fledgling business. I showed up, made mistakes, did a lot of things well, and for the next 14 years I spent my days painting Italian ornamental murals in high-end homes. I eventually had a crew of about 5 people who worked with me. It was demanding, and delightful too. I learned an enormous amount about business and art, and I lived the experiential knowledge that you can, in fact, make your living as an artist. (There’s a myth in our culture that you aren’t allowed to do that: have fun, do something creative, and still be able to afford to live.)
As time progressed, things changed a bit. Many of the murals I did were on ceilings, so I essentially spent 14 years climbing up and down scaffolding. Over time, my knees and back suffered from the exertion, and I began to be burned out on the work as well. I am a person who completely commits to her work and works very long hours to produce a product that I’m proud of. Those hours took their toll mentally and physically, so in my mid-40s I decided to join my husband working in our real estate business. I love houses and love remodeling, so this didn’t feel like a huge sacrifice – just a change. I found other ways to channel my creativity and I was convinced that my days as a professional artist were behind me. That’s what I get for thinking.
Fast-forward six years to this past summer. My sister, Lesa, spent a few months staying with us. Lesa is a very successful and talented painter (see her website here). She kept pestering me to come out to the workshop and paint with her. I said no. Again, and again, and again, I said no. But she was persistent! One day I finally caved to the pressure and followed her out there. And BOOM! All of my love of painting came rushing back to the surface.
In May of last year I wasn’t even remotely considering selling my artwork again, but by December I was once again a full-fledged working artist. This time I’m painting figures – mostly animals. And I’m painting on a much smaller scale – framed paintings. But I’ve once more fully embraced that ever-present drive to create art. And much to my delight, I’ve found an audience for my new style of artwork.
Yesterday I received an incredibly flattering and exciting invitation to hang my painting “Hey Bear!” in Yosemite Renaissance 34 – a very competitive, yearlong art exhibit in California in 2019. It feels like a bit of a “Hey there, kiddo - you’re going in the right direction” nod from the Universe. It just goes to show you: you never know what is just around the corner in your life. You never know where you’ll be or what you’ll be doing even just a few months from now. And, if my experience means anything, you better not assume that you know what you’ll be when you grow up, because life can throw you a curve ball. That’s why you’re reading this blog and that’s why I’m writing it. Life can be wonderful, eh?