I am an oil painter living in S.E. Pennsylvania. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Studio Within

Its been awhile, and I missed being able to sit down to share the nitty gritty about what is going on behind the scenes... I've had a lot going on, and have not had the chance though...Being that there has been a lot that has happened since my May pop-up show, I'll probably miss a lot of details.  And this may be disjointed.. But I wanted to try to share my recent experience of being flexible and having faith as an artist and as a person, and how being flexible can be a catalyst for growth.

I've been so fortunate to be an artist and I sometimes can't believe that it is possible to make a life while having a career I love, but it is true and it is possible. Having a career as an artist means that, yes and obviously, I have to do everything... from coming up with the inspiration and ideas to paint to doing the actual painting, creating and marketing of my artwork, designing and making frames, communicating with customers and gallerists, handling shipping and receiving, keeping track of inventory and more...but the other thing, my most favorite thing is, I have the complete freedom to direct how I use my time.  This is my most favorite thing because in addition to the above mentioned, I am also a mom.  I have a 21 year old daughter who lives at home and commutes to college, pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy, and I have a young teenage son in 8th grade. 

I have always put my kids first and this sometimes means that I have to get extra creative in how I balance my career as an artist with being a mom.  Who am I kidding. I don't just do this sometimes... I am always balancing both being a mom and being an artist, making sure my kids come out on top while trying to ensure that my art business continues to grow.  Any artist who is also a parent will know what I am talking about. 

So, two years ago, my sons life changed drastically when he contracted a severe case of Mono.  He had to be home bound from school for 2 months and, his home bound schooling wound up turning into cyber school for another year and... then that turned into him applying to and getting accepted into a very excellent school for gifted students... which happens to be in West Chester, a mid sized town about an hour away from our house. As you might expect my life changed drastically right along with my son's life.  ...while he was sick and I was nursing him back to health,  I had to find new and different times to carve out to create and be an artist and when he started cyber schooling, again, I had to juggle my time and rearrange my schedule... And when he was accepted into the new school, I had to figure out just how I would continue to be an artist at all when I would be commuting an hour away from my studio 2-3 time a week.  But it was clear, I couldn't allow this opportunity to pass for my son, and figure things out, I would.  I decided that the only way I could do it was if I found a space for me to paint down in West Chester.

I considered all possible options with in reason of course.  With a daughter in college, I have zero expendable income.  That meant renting space for any amount of money over... $5.. was out of the question.  So, I looked at libraries, painting from my car, painting under pavilions in state parks, I joined the local art association in the hopes I would make a connection with someone who had extra studio space... I even thought about trading in my car for an old bus or RV and converting that into a travelling studio.  Yes, I would get my son to this school because I had to, but by God, I would paint.

 To make a long story short, all of September I searched high and low for some kind of alternative studio option...  and I would sometimes go into my son's school to hang out in their tiny parent room.. While there, I got to know the secretary.  One day she just came out and asked me, "Why don't you paint in our cafeteria?"  Why don't I, I thought... and that was that, as simple as can be.  She took me to the principal right then and there and he said Sure! sounds great to me, and they took me back to the cafeteria and showed me where I could set up... They offered me a space in the back along  a North facing, all glass green house wall... A better place I could not ask for and a more optimal situation I could not have dreamed up. In exchange for being allowed to haul my painting gear in and paint all day, I break for lunch for about 45 minutes, and while I eat, I monitor the kids lunch.  At first, I was a bit unsure how this whole set up would work out.. but it turns out I guess I am pretty good at adapting. 

A few unforeseen benefits to saying yes to the concept of making it work, being flexible and having the faith that things would somehow work out:

I get to paint in a relatively quiet, well lit, heated space with minimal distractions.
Strangely, I get more painting done while I am in my cafestudio than I do when I am at home.
I am surrounded by youthful energy, which is has benefits more than I can go into here..
I get to spend 2 extra hours with my son 2-3 times a week as we drive to school, during which I get to have real conversations with him.  Any parent of a 13 year old son will know the rare value of this.
With in a month of my son starting school in West Chester, I got representation through a super nice and close by art gallery... and have already sold work through them!
...and they recently contacted me  and invited me to take part in a 2 woman show next October!
I have gotten a pet portrait commission from one of the parents and one of the teachers has purchased a print from me..
I took part in the school's annual career fair where I talked to the students about being a professional artist.
About a month ago, one of the teachers approached me and offered me the chance to teach a painting class during their elective hour 2 times a week during the last quarter of school.
I have met and become friends with many nice and wonderful people, both parents and teachers...
and of course, my son is getting an exceptional education, which is the best thing of all.

So, finally, here is the critical thing I wanted to share in this blog post.. and I just it realized today.. (and it may sound kind of wooey wooey, but it is true..) 
I discovered that my studio is within me..
 and that being an artist is so unique because, being an artist means that my job, simply put, is being ME. The external space doesn't really matter, as long as it is well lit and warm (which my cafestudio is, in spades) As long as I know within what I am about, and what my plan is for that day, that week, that month, I can paint anywhere, I can be an artist anywhere. Like I said, I am lucky.  Not only do I have a home studio, but now I have gained another studio and a whole new world of artistic opportunity, simply by being flexible and having the faith that somehow things would work out.  I am thankful every day.  It can be a challenging life, but, it is 100% my life and as such, I could not ask for a better life.  Be thankful. Be flexible.  Have the faith to take chances. Things work out in ways that you can never predict. And remember, if you are an artist, your studio is wherever you are.

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