Have you stopped to think about how much of an adventure the artist’s life really is?
Let me see if I can change your mind!
“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”Gandalf, The Hobbit
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 this Phase of My Artist’s Life Journey 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.