After much thought, soul-searching, and input from loyal readers, I’ve decided it’s time to do more than just think about leaving social media.
It’s time to act.
Before I do that, though, I want to answer the questions most likely to arise at this news.
Why are you leaving social media?
From my first Twitter account years ago, my primary goal has been promoting this blog. I followed the advice of bloggers and marketers who said I must be active on social media in order to direct traffic to this blog.
So that’s what I did.
That goal has motivated every subsequent decision about the venues I’ve chosen, the ways I’ve used those media outlets, and how I’ve interacted with followers through social media, this blog, and my weekly newsletter.
And the response has been good in some ways.
The problem is that although a lot of people follow me or like me, very few actually make the leap to the blog. That means that the return on investment of time, creativity, and persistence has been very small.
Putting that time into blog posts or the weekly newsletter would provide more and better content to you as a reader.
Content on the blog is easier for you to find, and much easier to update than content on social media.
I also have control over what I publish and how long it stays published. No banned posts. Nothing marked as spam by an unseen authority.
Besides, as a writer as well as an artist, I’ve just always been more comfortable blogging than trying work around the limitations of social media.
So it makes sense to stop doing what isn’t working so I can put more time and energy into what is working.
Which social media accounts are you closing?
I closed my Twitter account in August 2020.
My Pinterest account has also been deactivated.
As of this post, I’ll no longer be using actively marketing on Facebook. I will maintain my art page for the foreseeable future and blog posts will continue to publish automatically to Facebook.
But further participation will be limited to when I have time or something of interest to followers and readers.
I have yet to make a decision about YouTube. I’ve never posted a video on YouTube, though I hoped to do so at one time.
I’m also undecided about MeWe. My gut instinct is to quit everything cold turkey, but there is the colored pencil group at MeWe and I have been trying to generate followers on MeWe. It’s a relatively new platform, however, and developing traction there has been a time-consuming effort.
How much better would the blog be if those daily posts were written for all readers and posted here?
Or published in the weekly newsletter?
But I follow you on social media? What do I do now?
First of all, thank you if you’ve been following me anywhere. I do appreciate you!
The best option is to sign up for my free weekly newsletter. That way, you’ll get news about the latest posts, new products, and tips and tools to help you make the kind of colored pencil art you want to make.
If you’re a follower on any of the outlets I’m about to close and you want to continue to hear from me, sign up for the free newsletter and you won’t miss a thing.
How can I connect with you?
The best way to connect with me has always been by email through the contact page on this blog. I answer every email I get as quickly as possible and email correspondence comes directly to your inbox.
If you have questions or comments about specific posts, I encourage you to share them in the comment section for that post. I get notifications about new comments and respond to those too, usually within 24 hours or less.
My leaving social media doesn’t mean I’m no longer interested in connecting with you. There are alternatives to social media. At present, the most intriguing from my point of view is a member forum. There are ways to host a forum on this blog and for many of us, that may be the best current option.
But there is much to consider and investigate before any such decision is made.
Thank you again for your participation on social media if you have followed me on any of the venues mentioned above. I do appreciate you and your very kind support.
Are you looking for an informal group of colored pencil artists to join? A place for colored pencil artists of all levels to share their work, get help and be encouraged? Then Carrie’s Colored Pencil Club is for you.
There are no secret passwords, handshakes, or codes. All you need to do is apply for membership.
What You Get When You Join Carrie’s Colored Pencil Club
When you join the club, you instantly have access to live chats among members, group discussions and group challenges. Members can also post works-in-progress if they need help.
Members also help me decide which tutorials to publish next. How? When I’m ready to start a new project, I’ll post the subjects I’m considering and members vote on their favorites.
I’ve also created an album filled with photos I’ve taken and which members may use free of charge.
Regular Q&A chats and art crits are also in my plans for the group.
How to Join
Joining is easy and takes only a few minutes. Click this link to request membership and answer three simple questions. I review all the answers and approve new members, but don’t worry about getting the right answers. The only real “wrong answer” is not answering the questions. Requests that do not include answers are considered spam (yes, it really does happen,) and are automatically deleted.
So answer those questions!
You must have a MeWe account to join, but it’s easy to open and use and FREE! If you aren’t already a MeWe member, join here.
Never heard of MeWe? That’s okay. A lot of people haven’t. MeWe is a social media platform founded in 2012 and which does not collect or sell personal data, runs no advertising and offers both free options and a paid version. It’s like Facebook used to be.
So far, it’s proven to be a great platform and, as one of the club members said, it’s a fun place to be. I hope you’ll join us there.
If you have problems finding the club, click here to visit my MeWe page and let me know. I can then send you a personal invitation.
All of the original five cats still live with us. Basil, Bing, Bob, Bud and Lou have grown into fine, handsome cats. They are all healthy and happy, staying indoors at night, but getting outside as they wish during the day.
It’s been so hot the last few weeks that they’ve spent most of their days sleeping in cool, shady spots, but I have seen some chasing flying insects and hunting grasshoppers.
In other words, being cats.
We rescued poor Basil with bad infections in both eyes. His mother hid her kittens in a hollow of a tree, and dirt and debris was stuck to Basil’s left eye. When we cleaned the eye, the third eyelid appeared permanently closed. The eye eventually healed, but sealed itself, and we were never able to determine whether not there was actually an eye in that socket.
Basil still has a unique “air” due to the lack of a left eye, but that hasn’t hampered him. Much. He did have difficulty learning to climb and jump, requiring us to rescue him from high places a couple of times. But once he learned how to judge distance, he was fine. He now makes routine visits to the second story windows that overlook a low roof.
He’s grown into a lean muscled, long legged fellow, that doesn’t back down from opponents (even big dogs,) but is affectionate toward us.
One thing he hasn’t done is grow into his ears. They still seem too large for him!
Bing is a small dog in a cat’s body.
And a chatterer. He often greets us as the back gate when we’ve been away and escorts us to the house, talking all the way.
Pick him up and he automatically rolls over to have his ears rubbed. Sit down without him already on your lap, and he cannonballs into your lap. He is definitely not an old lady cat!
Bing went missing for two weeks in September 2019. We have no idea where he went or what he did, but he was in good shape when he returned. Maybe just a little lighter.
He now weighs in at around eleven pounds, which makes his floor-to-lap cannonball routine all the more startling for the unwary!
Bob, the first member of the Kitten Posse, looks a lot like his littermate Bing, but is much more reserved. He still has the dreamy-eyed expression that made him the subject of an old email drawing class.
He spent about a week as the only orphan. When the next two came into the house, he looked a little dismayed at having them in his overnight bed. Sometimes, he still looks that way!
Reserved or not, he’s still friendly and often comes inside to help me clean litter boxes even on nice days. Quiet he may be, but he likes being outside and is quite often the last one to come in. Most of the time, I have to go and get him.
Once or twice, he spent the night outside after mysteriously disappearing at evening.
Bud was the smallest of the original five and had persistent respiratory problems. Despite that, he was playful. I have photos of him tussling with the others, playing around the keyboard while I worked, and napping with the younger kittens.
He was “best bud” to Ember, a young adult female about two years older than he. She was never well, and usually ate best when Bud ate with her. When she died early this summer, Bud seemed a little lost.
He continues to have respiratory problems, though they seem to have settled in his sinuses now. It amazes me that he remains so friendly after all the treatments he’s put up with it. He’s like a bucking bronco to medicate, and hides if he sees us with a pill popper or syringe (even if they’re not meant for him.) But through it all, he remains affectionate.
Lou is still the biggest of the five and tops out at twelve to thirteen pounds in the winter. During the hot summer months, he slims all the way down to about eleven pounds.
Despite his size, he’s pretty mellow with us. Definitely an armful when carried.
He behaves toward the non-posse-members as though he’s boss (or wants to be,) so he sometimes spends afternoons inside to prevent his running the older cats off.
Like Bud, Bing, and Bob, Lou suffers lingering respiratory problems, though nothing as severe or persistent as Bud. A little face cleaning now and again is all he requires.
As of the date of this writing, I’ve been unable to get a good photo of Lou as an adult, but will add one when able. Just imagine Bing mostly white, and you have the idea. They are built a lot alike and no wonder. They are litter mates.
Later Posse Members: Pee Wee and Her Siblings
After the original Kitten Posse was settled, we took in four other kittens. Pee Wee and her three siblings; cousins to the original five.
One of them, Brummel, is no longer with us, but the others are doing well.
Pee Wee is the smallest member of the Kitten Posse, though she’s grown more than I expected, given her poor health as a kitten. If there’s a “teacher’s pet” among them all, she’s it. At least in her own mind. If I happen to lean against the kitchen counter while talking to the chef (Neal,) it isn’t long before Pee Wee is as at my feet, gazing lovingly upward. If I pay no attention, it isn’t long before she takes matters into her own paws!
She also loves jigsaw puzzles, especially rolling around on partially assembled puzzles (while I’m working on them,) and loose pieces. She’s a good companion, but not much help.
Rebel has grown up to be as big as Lou, which is a surprise since he wasn’t remarkable for size as a kitten. He’s not the bravest cat in the pride, preferring to be safe rather than sorry. He gives the older neighborhood toms wide berth and sometimes also retreats from the three older females. He’s also cautious around strangers, though he’s friendly with us.
Make friends with him, though, and he’s all kinds of affectionate.
I’ve tried on several occasions to photograph Rebel as an adult, but he’s shy by nature and photographing a black cat in the shadows is challenging, to say the least!
Sorrowful is next in size to Rebel. She would like to be an outdoor cat, but is confined to the inside, because the outdoor cats simply don’t like her.
She also had one scare with a car (which I saw.) When she manages to sneak outside, she stays away from the street, but we keep her inside for her own safety.
Maybe, once the other Posse Members accept her, she can spend time outside. Until then, she gets time in her own upstairs room with an open window. Complete with all the amenities.
So That’s the Kitten Posse Update
Those orphaned kittens not only survived my mothering, but have grown into big, mostly healthy cats. For the most part, they grew up better than I could have hoped, given the rough starts a lot of them had.
Have you ever experienced something I call the end of project blues?
That happens when you’ve worked on a piece for a long time, and put a lot of effort into it? Sweated over it to make sure everything’s just right.
It feels great to finish it, doesn’t it? Time to celebrate.
But then what?
A lot of big projects come with a hidden problem. Something that doesn’t show up until the project is finished.
What is it?
Apathy about starting the next project.
How to Handle End of Project Blues
End of project blues takes many forms. Maybe no new subject really inspires you, so nothing looks appealing. You feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled by the masterpiece you just finished.
Or maybe you just need a break.
I’ve been in each place many times. Some of my “breaks” have lasted months, rather than days. One time, I walked away from the easel for two years!
We all need a break now and again, but not for weeks, months, or years (most of the time.)
So how do you keep moving forward after finishing a big project (or any project)?
Following are three things I’ve done in the past that keep me creating. Not all of them will work for everyone, but I hope they at least get you thinking about ways you can curb the end of project blues!
Always Have Something New in the Works
It’s a lot easier for me to go from one project to the next if I already have something in progress. Sometimes it’s just a collection of photos in a folder. Sometimes I’ve cropped some of those photos, and sometimes I’ve already started the line drawing.
It doesn’t matter how far along the piece is as long as I have something already started when I sign the current piece.
You might also try working on two things at once. That way, you already have something else well started when you finish the current piece. That’s also a great way to combat boredom with a project. Just work on the backup piece!
Batch Work Basic Things
Batch work is what happens when you do a batch of similar tasks at the same time.
With art, that might be sorting and preparing reference photos. What I sometimes do after finishing a project is go through all the photos in my Potential Projects folder and sort out half a dozen or more that look promising.
Then I spend an afternoon cropping them in various ways to find the best compositions. Sometimes I combine photos.
Technically, I’m not drawing, but I am preparing to draw, and that’s the first step in the process.
Try Something New
Perhaps the best suggestion for overcoming end-of-project blues is doing something completely outside your usual work.
For example, if you do human portraits, try a landscape.
If you work in a realistic style, give surrealism a try. Or maybe an abstract.
Getting outside and drawing is also a good way to cure the end of project blues.
You might also try something that’s just, plain fun. I like to play around with watercolors and watercolor pencils. They’re more spontaneous, and even if I don’t get a masterpiece out of it, I’m almost always motivated to get back to the serious work.
Beating the End of Project Blues
These are just a few ideas to get you started. As I mentioned earlier, not all of them will work for everyone.
But if they get you started on the right path to what works for you, then they’ve done their job!
Colored pencils have come a long way since I started using them in the mid 1990s. New brands have entered the market. When I started there was only Prismacolor (so far as I knew.) Now beginners can chose from dozens of brands.
And yes, most of them work well with all the others.
New Drawing Surfaces
Pencils aren’t the only things being updated and improved. Drawing surfaces continue to develop too.
As of the writing of this post, Brush & Pencil has launched a brand new, fully archival sanded art paper that takes sanded art paper to a new level. Lux Archival is the latest product from this artist-run company and it’s getting rave reviews.
New Accessory Products
New products are now available that make painting with colors pencils more like painting with colored pencils. I refer, of course, to Brush & Pencil’s texture fixative, which is sprayed over a work in progress to restore tooth. Back in the day, there was only workable fixative and it was usually unsatisfactory.
Actually, Brush & Pencil has become one more reason to love colored pencils for a lot of artists. Their fully archival line of products transformed colored pencils in a big way.
(No, this isn’t a sponsored post. It’s just Brush & Pencil has developed so many great new products in the last few years that it’s impossible not to find one that excites you!)
Exploration is Easier
And usually more fun, too.
I’m not sure why that is. All those years (over 40) that I created horse portraits in oils, portrait work is about all I did. I had no interest in landscapes, still life paintings, or just playing with the paint. About the only time I did anything different was when I got so disgusted with a piece that I slapped paint all over it and made an abstract out of it.
But put a colored pencil in my hand, and all that changes!
In the last few years, I’ve drawn a still life or two, food, and fabric. I’ve drawn from life (something else I never felt the need to do with oils.)
I’ve even dabbled with mixed media by doing watercolor under paintings!
It’s Easier to Have Fun
It’s also easier to just have fun with colored pencils. I do understand that. It was next to impossible to carry oil paints, brushes, and cleaner with me all the time. Painting was always in the studio, so it was always work.
But I keep a few pencil stubs in my purse all the time and also have a field kit that’s more completely stocked. That means I can draw wherever I happen to be, and that makes it fun!
There’s So Much Great Colored Pencil Art Out There
Finally (for today,) there are so many wonderful artists creating great colored pencil art that it’s easy to be motivated to create my own. Subjects are as varied as the artists and so are their drawing methods. There’s always something to learn from each one, and that’s the most exciting reason of all to love colored pencils.
So there are a few more reasons to love colored pencils.
What are some of your reasons for loving colored pencils?
Today, I want to take a little time to share a message of encouragement with my readers; with you.
I don’t usually talk about current events here, because that’s not what this space is for.
I didn’t intend to talk about the present situation either. There’s already more than enough talk, and much if it is not helpful. I didn’t want to add to the hype, and I still don’t.
But I’ve been reading your emails and comments, and have decided it’s time to at least let you know I’m getting your messages and well wishes.
Thank you to everyone who has asked about our well being over the last few weeks and who continue to do so.
We’re doing fine and have actually seen very little change to our daily routine (other than shopping, of course.) I’ve been working at home for ten years, after all.
As a matter of fact, Neal and I have been busier than ever despite what’s happening around us and around the world. We’re both old enough to understand that nothing lasts forever, good or bad. The only thing to do is keep moving forward.
That may seem difficult these days, but it’s worth however much effort it takes.
My Message of Encouragement to You
I don’t know how bad this situation really is. I believe very few people truly know that. It’s next to impossible to accurately evaluate any situation when you’re in the middle of it. I know that from personal experience—recent and past.
It’s also difficult to maintain any sense of equilibrium during any kind of crisis. It seems like the situation will never end, and that life will never be the same afterward.
But nothing lasts forever. Not good times, not bad times.
And, all media hype aside, there have definitely been much darker days in this country (I’m writing from the United States,) and around the world. The fact of the matter is that for many people, the Coronavirus has taken a backseat to more personal life events.
There have been challenges for many of us in the last few weeks. Yes, some of us have lost loved ones or have loved ones who test positive. I have a niece, nephew, and sister working in healthcare, two of them in retirement facilities. My niece has been exposed, so I know how that feels.
But unreasonable fear does no one any good, least of all the one enslaved by it.
It’s in response to that overwhelming sense that the world is about to end that I am writing.
Things have been bad before.
You don’t have to go back very far to remember the Swine Flu, the Bird Flu, and any number of other seasonal flu events. It seems like there’s a new one every year.
Go back a little further and you find the Irish Flu and Spanish Flu, both of which were much worse than what we presently face.
Things looked bad then, but they passed and life resumed.
Things look bad now, but this too will pass and life will pick up pretty much where it left off.
So What’s the Bottom Line?
What I hope you realize is that this post isn’t about the Coronavirus. It’s about staying on an even keel and holding course no matter what happens.
Yes. Take reasonable precautions.
No, don’t let panic drag you under.
What I Plan to Do
Take Reasonable Precautions
That includes staying home, but also getting outside to walk and get some sun, washing my hands regularly, and guarding personal space for myself and the people around me.
Listen to Local Authorities
When I want or need information, I go to the local authorities. City and county first, then the state if necessary. If you need or want more information than that, skip the mainstream media and check out the Center for Disease Control for the latest updates in the United States.
Maintain the Regular Routine
I’m carrying on here in southwest Kansas just like I did before.
CP Magic will continue to publish each month.
I’ll publish new downloadable classes and tutorials to help you improve your skills and maybe learn new ones.
I’ll draw as often as I can, and I’ll take care of the family, the cats, take walks, and putter around the yard. I’m even considering some kind of sketching challenge to keep my pencils moving across the paper.
The most important message of encouragement I can offer is to have (or come to) faith.
The most important part of my daily routine is faith-based. On trying or frightening days, I spend more time in prayer, thanksgiving, and the Scriptures. My trust that God was not surprised by this situation (or any other,) that there is a reason for it (even though I don’t know what it is,) and that He has already ordained the restoration of life afterward is all that stands between me and total paralysis.
It’s all that keeps me putting one foot ahead of the other.
It can do the same for you, too.
That’s my Message of Encouragement for You, Dear Reader
What I’m encouraging you to do is be aware of the circumstances, but don’t let them paralyze you. Take reasonable precautions. Behave sensibility. Keep your head.
I’ve doing a lot of updates and behind-the-scenes administrative work this year. You know about some of them already. CP Magic, for instance. Among the many things you haven’t heard about is creating new colored pencil art galleries on my art website.
New Colored Pencil Art Galleries
It’s been a busy time the last few months, both on this blog and in other ways. In the last few weeks, I’ve launched a new monthly magazine, a new series of colored pencil class downloads, and started plans for new tutorials.
But I’ve also re-organized existing galleries and added three new galleries on my art website, where I share my best colored pencil work.
The reorganized website now includes galleries for Kansas, Michigan, the Flint Hills, and Horses. No surprise there.
But I’ve also added a gallery for Miniature Art and ACEOs, for Sketches in Colored Pencil, and for Experimental Art.
Miniature art, and in particular ACEOs, have intrigued me since I first learned about them over ten years ago. In 2007, I challenged myself to paint one ACEO every day for a year. Some of those pieces will someday appear in this gallery.
But the pieces you’re more likely to find there are more than quick studies. They may be experiments, but they’re also complete pieces in their own right. Small studies of larger landscapes or other subjects, perhaps.
Or a means of using small pieces of expensive drawing paper.
These works are either life drawings or sketches from a photograph. Sometimes, they even arise from my imagination or memory. They’re meant to be completed in one sitting, so are small, and often use only one or two colors.
They also aren’t usually highly detailed, but are still nice pieces deserving of a place in a public gallery.
Sometimes, I want to try a new method, technique or tool, but don’t want to try it on a “serious” piece.
Sometimes, I just want to have fun.
In both cases, I use small pieces of paper to conduct my experiments. This gallery is still small, but you may be surprised by what you find there. Even though this gallery features the best of those pieces, they’re not easily recognizable as my work.
At least I don’t think so. You may think differently.
As with all of art, my art galleries are always changing. I’ll be uploading new work and the best of my old work over the course of the year, so I hope you’ll visit www.CarrieLewis.com often.
Be honest. Have you ever gotten tired of drawing your favorite subjects?
Everybody has something they love drawing. That subject is their go-to subject. It comes above every other subject they might ever consider drawing.
Some artists love still life art and assembling the elements of a still life is as much fun and making the art.
Others are drawn to animals and prefer pet portraits or wildlife art.
Still others specialize in human portraits or landscapes or urban scenes.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone is born with special interests and everyone gains life experiences that sharpen those interests or introduce new interests.
But what happens when you grow tired of drawing your favorite subject?
When You Get Tired of Drawing Your Favorite Subjects
Don’t be like me when that happens! You’ll end up stifling your creativity!
You see, I’ve been doing horse portraits for forty years or more. For most of that time, I thought I’d never do anything else. I saw no need to. I loved the look of horses, their long manes and tails, the way they moved and even the way they smelled. What else did I need?
Then came my first look at the Flint Hills of Kansas and all of a sudden, the idea of doing landscape art leaped into my mind.
At first, I resisted it. I wasn’t a landscape artist; I was a horse artist.
Then I decided to pair my horses with landscapes. That made sense, after all. Horses are part of the landscape around here. A big part.
That idea produced a couple of nice colored pencil pieces, but no more.
Since then, I’ve struggled to draw anything.
Yes, there are lots of fun pieces resulting from experimenting with my first set of artist quality watercolor pencils or new papers. And there have demonstration pieces for blog posts and tutorials.
But what I call “serious art” has dwindled to the point that it’s now been nearly a year since my last finished piece!
So what’s going on?
I haven’t really given that much thought because I have been busy doing other things. Things that need doing like writing and designing tutorials and improving the weekly newsletter.
I’ve also started writing a book based on the best posts from this blog. So it’s not like I’ve been sitting on my thumbs waiting for inspiration.
But a few days ago, a radical thought popped into my awareness.
Why am I waiting for inspiration to make another horse drawing when what I really want to do is a landscape?
You know, when you’re an artist, that’s one of those thoughts that pretty much stops everything in its tracks! You cannot not give it serious consideration.
I look across the room as I write these words and I see the line drawing of Thomas clipped to the sample of Clairfontaine pastelmat.
I received the sample this summer but didn’t know what to do with it until after Thomas had passed to the other side.
Now, I have the following dialogue with myself every time I look at the drawing.
“I wonder how that paper would work with a landscape?”
“No. That paper’s meant for Thomas’ portrait!”
And then I remember that stunning thought from a few days ago.
Maybe it’s time to move on.
I still haven’t taken that line drawing off the Pastelmat, but the idea grows more appealing every day.
And yet, I waiver between wanting to keep doing what I’ve always done because, well, that’s what I’ve always done and doing something I want to do more right now. It’s difficult to let go of old habits even when there’s the possibility the letting go isn’t permanent.
I hope you’ll forgive my rambling this way, but I know that when I struggle this much with something, there are others out there wrestling with the same dilemma.
That’s perfectly all right! It’s part of the growth process in life and in art.
So what should you do when you get tired of drawing your favorite subjects?
If you’re torn between making another drawing of a subject that’s been a personal favorite for years (or decades) and doing something new, don’t fret. It’s not unnatural. It may instead be a sign of growth.
Let go of that old habit and try your hand at the new idea. Maybe it won’t go anywhere, but maybe it will. Maybe you’ll discover a new Old Favorite. At the very least, you may discover ways to improve on drawing that Old Favorite.
That’s what I’m going to do.
Let’s try it together and see what happens, shall we?
You don’t need to be a Hobbit or a wizard to have an adventure.
The plain, simple truth is that if you’re drawing breath right now—and I hope you are—you’re also on an adventure. It’s called Life.
And if you happen to also be an artist—and the chances are good that you are, since you’re reading this post—then the adventure is doubly exciting.
How My Artist’s Life is an Adventure
My adventure began years ago, when I picked up my first crayon and made my first mark on whatever it was (a wall or something of that nature if I remember correctly).
I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember. I’ve been painting since my preteen years and have been painting portraits of horses for paying customers since I was seventeen.
From the time I sold that first portrait, I knew I’d grow up to be a famous painter of horses, traveling the country and the world to paint the horses of wealthy horse owners.
That was my dream. My goal. My quest, if you want to put it that way.
Adventures rarely happen according to your plans
Mine was no different.
Although I always had paintings on the easel and had a number of clients, including several who bought more than one portrait, the dream just never fell into place.
I had a good small business, but not exactly what I’d envisioned. Consequently, I always had a job to keep the bills paid.
For nearly thirty years, the path of my artist’s life was a winding, up-and-down foot path through an uncharted canyon.
What’s an adventure without the unexpected?
When I got married, my husband promised I could become a full-time artist.
Fulfilling the dream never seemed more real—or attainable—than in those days. He talked about exhibiting my art and attending horse shows more than I did.
The year after we married, we attended a huge show in Louisville on Derby Weekend. I painted a new collection for that show. That was an adventure all its own. From the moment I was accepted as an exhibitor to the moment we got back home after passing through Kansas City only hours after the biggest tornado in decades.
But being a full-time painter was more work than I imagined. It was fun, but it wasn’t as easy as I’d envisioned.
Then my husband lost his job and we spent eighteen months unemployed, facing bankruptcy, and countless other challenges. I begged God to show me what to do.
What’s one unexpected turn without another?
God sent a job.
The director of the local art gallery called to ask if I’d like a part-time job. I thought she wanted an assistant.
She wanted a replacement.
The following 4-1/2 years were mostly good. I had a lot of fun, learned a lot of things, and had a chance to try marketing and exhibit ideas I would never have otherwise tried.
And then there was all the great art I had the privilege of exhibiting and the great artists I visited with and learned from.
In 2009, I left the gallery. My husband and I discussed my becoming a full-time artist. Could we survive on his income until I got my feet under me? He said we could. I wasn’t so sure.
Could I generate enough art income to replace a regular paycheck? He thought so. I wasn’t so sure.
For a long time, I’d been like a fledgling bird, poised on the edge of the nest, looking out (and down!) at the world and thinking about trying to fly.
Wanting to fly, but afraid to take that first jump.
God finally took a hand in matters. HE said “Enough dilly-dallying. You will fly. You will fly now. Off with you!” and He gave me a push I couldn’t ignore.
Back on course?
As it has turned out, the direction I was to go wasn’t the direction I’d expected.
Portrait work dropped off to nothing. In its place came a regular gig with EmptyEasel, where I’m a near-weekly contributor.
Then other artists started asking me to teach them what I know about colored pencils. Who would ever have foreseen that? I sure didn’t.
I have no regrets. None of the things that followed each of the two previous job losses followed this one. Quite the contrary, I felt like I’d been freed from the chains of the nest and set on a course that is frightening, exhilarating, and challenging all at once.
The chain of events from the time I picked up my first big Crayola to enrolling my most recent student and launching my most recent lesson download has been God’s way of forcing me to take huge, scary steps and go in directions I’d never considered on my own. He just had to do it in a way that left me with no doubts.
The sequence of events that followed confirm the notion. I’ve been pushed, prodded, and goaded further and further along that path.
At this point in the adventure, grand dreams painting horse portraits have been replaced by teaching others to paint horse portraits.
And landscapes and other things!
Where will all this lead?
What’s the point of sharing my artist’s life with you?
It’s important to realize that all of life is an adventure, and that the artist’s life is also an adventure.
It’s important to begin your adventure by taking the first step, but it’s also important to realize that the first step is only the beginning.
You also need to have a goal in mind when you begin. A dream.
Expect the unexpected, and learn to work with it.
And by all means, don’t worry if the original dream turns into something else somewhere along the way.
Sometimes, I feel like a character in a Clint Eastman movie. I’m reachingthe point of thinking about getting sidearms and a holster to wear around the house. Don’t worry. (This kitten update isn’t going to read like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!)
No, nothing I’d have to get a permit for. I’m thinking more along the lines of a water pistol.
Overall Kitten Update
We’ve been “schooling” kittens the last few weeks. The primary schooling tool is a squirt bottle. You know the type. They’re a dollar or two, and you ordinarily use them to mist plants or other things.
They’re extremely excellent tools for disciplining cats, too; old cats and young ones.
Most of the kittens are pretty smart. It didn’t take very many sudden “isolated downpours” from the water bottle for them to learn where the precipitation came from. It didn’t take most of them much longer to know they needed to stop doing whatever they were doing when suddenly faced with the water bottle.
The fact of the matter is that most of them squint and stop whatever nefarious activity they were about to do at the sight of the squirt bottle.
Then there’s Brummel.
Brummel sometimes just crouches down and takes it. What do you do with a youngster like that?
The climbing pant legs is decreasing daily. Now we’re dealing with drape climbing and other such behavior.
It’s a source of constant interest and, yes, amazement, to see character and personality emerge.
They also like to have a hand (paw?) in whatever I’m doing. Sweeping with a broom is of special interest, but so is everything else.
Bud has discovered the great outdoors. He sneaks out the front door at every opportunity, so I’ve decided it’s time for harness-and-leash training. Bud doesn’t seem to mind the figure-eight harness I began with.
Basil is more interested in finding interesting alternative ways to wear it. He had a great deal of fun wearing it like a tie and batting at the dangling ends.
No. I haven’t attached the leash yet. Mostly because Thomas (our oldest cat) has been spending his days on the porch.
But I also confess to some trepidation!
As Far as Health Goes….
They’re all doing well. The five older kittens are getting past outbreaks of ringworm, mostly, I think, by passing it on to the four younger kittens. We’ve gone through two cans of PhytoVet CK Antiseptic Mousse so far and are working on the third. It’s on the pricey side, but it is helping immensely.
The incidences of sniffles are diminishing, too. The hottest part of the summer is gone, so I’ve been keeping windows open more often and running the air conditioner less, and that does seem to help.
Vaccinations are coming up. We’re overdue on those but have had to wait out sniffles and cash flow bottle necks. It seems like we either have the funds or the health, but not both at the same time.
As soon as they’ve been vaccinated, it will be time to start rehoming them. I will hate to see them go, but they do need to be placed sooner or later.