A little background : Just in case you thought it all came out of nowhere….

“Hi, my names is Simone, I am a multi media artist and I’m here to learn how to make a living from my art.”


That’s what I said to a group of twenty plus strangers, a few weeks ago in the first session of a workshop called “Professional Artistic Development”.

I don’t know about any other Artists, but when it comes to being one of my age and stage (early forties) making such a proclamation feels both dirty and “big headed”, full of self-interest and entitlement. There exists the age old; “Artists must suffer in poverty before they become successful” myth. There is also the; “only a few artists will ever make it” myth. These are all from the many years pre-internet where success hinged on one or two gallery owners picking you up.

In fact there were no artists making at all in my acquaintance growing up, so I had no idea it was really an option. My mum took me around galleries when I was around 18 and my work earned many “no’s”. The internet was a few years away from blowing that process out of the water. So off I went to university to study “Visual Communication” and to start my path to becoming a web designer.

I really enjoyed that career, I met some lovely people, became not too bad at it and had something I could take part-time and still earn enough to live off (just) and nurture my creative side. But it also has its challenging parts. It’s linked to that world of “making lots of money quickly” and there are deadlines that all seem to bombard you around Christmas time. It was hard, ten times as hard when I became a parent of two amazing kiddos that needed me to be a nice centred and a present person to parent them. Personally, I couldn’t be that and work in web development. Never mind what it did for my newly fragile health being that stressed.

After my third attempt at restarting my web designer freelancer work, I admitted defeat and decided to go back to “the drawing board” – pun totally intended. 🙂

While having my babies and taking those intentional breaks away from web design, I took up various “hobbies” that could fit in around the children. The criteria was pretty minimal; I had to enjoy the hobbies and be able to pick them up and put them down super easy. I instantly started drawing more and I taught myself a bit of watercolour painting – through videos, wee courses, books and lots of practice. I also completed two correspondence courses; a level three horticulture and a level three Tikanga (Maori culture). An online permaculture home gardening course, embroidery and sewing courses… goodness. Now I think about it, it’s been an amazing time for learning!

Financially I am really lucky that my partner is earning enough to keep us going (if we keep things pretty basic). I feel huge amounts of guilt around this though and still do. There is a rather fierce sense of independence that has to be smothered a bit as I rely financially and at times physically on my partner. Let’s just say, it doesn’t come naturally.

How did I even start? Last year after completing all the courses and pottering on easy, small scale pictures I had an itch to get stuck into something. I didn’t really know what it would look like or what the topic would be, but I knew I needed something to work on consistently. I was ready. At the end of a particularly hard health period, I started to feel up again. Some free time magically presented itself; my partner took the kids away for a long weekend to see the Grandparents. I had a whole three days to do ANYTHING. I organised a few small things, good to do with no kids, but other than that, I committed to creating a painting. I ensured I didn’t overthink, by limiting the sketching and planning phase to only one hour. Picking a topic, I found a cool photo and planned my piece. I then sampled the colours I would use, printed out the artist’s work who inspired me, put on some music and just did it. By the time my whanau came home, it was done and hanging on the wall. I liked it, they liked it and I wanted to do another.

Now I was feeling ready to keep going. Knowing me and my tendency to overthink, I decided on some ground rules. I would NOT put any pressure on this phase. I am not thinking about selling, money, expectations or anything. This is about me and the act of creating. That Is It. I picked a topic to work on, to stay focused – birds. I have always loved birds, but their shape and life felt interesting and approachable – so just went for it.

My big painting was super doable because my whanau was away, but after I struggled to complete my third one, I decided I needed to change the medium to work in with my chaotic family life a little easier. I went back to watercolours and then got some coloured pencils to do the “odd” touch-up. Coloured pencils later became this satisfying blissful medium that I didn’t need to wait to dry, that behaved exactly as predicted and was even a little able to be lifted and reworked (within reason). It worked well with kids and fragmented days. They were compact, easy to set me up with and quick to pack up at the end. All parents of small kids can see why, currently, this medium is so beloved by me!

That’s it really. My current collection is a bit of a spin-off from wanting to draw birds, then draw birds with watercolour and coloured pencils. I then I added the “extra’s” for reasons that will be revealed when I launch my very first collection. “Preened”. Have a fab rest of your day, thanks for reading!


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