The creative journey of an artist inspired by animals and life by the sea

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Measure of Success

When I decided to become an "artist" in high school, I was very serious from the start.  I knew I was blessed with a talent and was lucky to have parents who supported and believed in me.  I always remember my father's advice when I told him at 18 that I was going to paint animals and also wanted to be a forest ranger.  He was concerned about my choices and we decided that Graphic Design would be the best decision in my chosen field.  He said...."You can make a living with that and will have something to fall back on hon"....

I remember like it was yesterday one summer setting my work up at a local horse show out of the back of my hatchback.  I think my parents were shocked that people were paying me to paint their animals!  I struggled through the years though, and ended up working at many other careers to support my painting.  My sisters joke about "Gail's resume" and the list goes on even today.  I don't like to talk about "my other job" with other artists or clients because you are often judged as a successful artist by whether you are supporting yourself solely with your art.   I have come to realize now, over thirty years later, that everything I have worked at and learned by trying to do my art has made me the artist I am today.  I was employed as a Product Researcher at The Franklin Mint and also worked in Visual Merchandising and Display at a major department store for many years.  I have worked as a Custom Picture Framer for years, worked at horse barns, run a boarding facility and broke my own horse.  

We recently moved here to North Carolina over a year ago and I am joining art groups, exhibiting in shows, recently joined a co-op gallery, advertising, and have been able to obtain portrait clients.  But, the reality of this economy and the need for affordable health care has forced me to again "expand" my resume.  I have been working at Lowes Home Improvement in the Home Decor and Paint departments for almost a year now.  I am often frustrated by the lack of time to paint and feel like I have signed my life away to the corporate world.  This can lead to not believing I am an "artistic" success.   But, I now realize that all these life experiences and knowledge not only makes me a better artist, but a better person.   I am now learning about color trends and decorating, meeting interesting people, making contacts and more in touch with the economy.  I am also not in a constant worry state about paying my bills and what will happen to me or my husband if we get sick.   

So, the roller coaster life of an artist goes on....I think my Dad would be proud of me for not giving up!

The posted drawing was done in college and was one of the first pictures I sold as an artist.  It sold at one of my first big shows on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Barter for Dressage

It was a beautiful sunny day today! I had a dressage lesson this morning on "good old Ben", nothing like a 22 year old schoolmaster who really knows his job!  I met my trainer and now good friend Jennifer Collins here in NC and fell in love with her methods of training and teaching.  She is a certified Lynn Palm instructor and travels to Florida often.  I was able to work out a barter for dressage lessons exchange with her that has been great for both of us.  I am painting her numerous dogs and horses and she keeps me in lessons.  I recently completed a watercolor painting of her two older dogs, a dalmation and a boykin spaniel.  My next portrait subject for her will be "Nick", a 23 year old gelding who has started to go blind this past year.  We want to portray and honor him as the horse that taught many adults and children the joys of riding a horse.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Letting go

I am often torn when the time comes to sell a painting or drawing I am really pleased with.  Such is the case with this drawing I did many years ago.  I have never wanted to sell it and at one time it belonged to my father.  Perhaps, that is why I feel the need to keep it.  Maybe I am afraid I may never create something like it again or lose the memories it holds for me.

Today, I took it down to the Co-op gallery I just joined called the Carolina Artist Studio Gallery and hung it on my display wall.  It now hangs with other paintings I have for sale.  In order to grow as an artist...I need to let go.