This post is by guest author, Lynne Hurd Bryant. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in theFineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 25,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.
I have to be honest. My goals as an artist have never included painting full time and not having a job with a regular paycheck. I was raised to be responsible, not to take risks and to maintain the status quo, at any cost, even one's dreams. I'm a single woman and there is no one else around to have my back and pay the water bill if I didn't sell a painting that month. I also clearly realized when I started my professional artist journey in May 2009, that there would come a year when everything would start to cut loose and my working full time at a day job was going to become unsustainable. In that time since, I have wisely paid off my living situation free and clear, paid myself out of debt, and have begun to tackle some of the bigger projects around the house that need to be seen to before I move to part time employment.
Earlier this summer, I read a blog that outlined rules about working full time and transitioning to full time artist. These rules are the ones I have been following all along and I've made great strides. I was encouraged by what I read and decided that I would keep working full time until it didn't make sense any more. My life has been conspiring behind my back.
I had no idea going into 2014 that this would be one of the hairy, busy, "cut loose" years. I had been happily putting in overtime whenever there was any available, collecting my paycheck and painting when I felt like it in my off hours. By the end of July, I had completed quite a number of charcoal drawings for practice and 17 finished watercolors. My output has never been great owing to time constraints, but 17 by the end of July in any given year is a lot for me. I had 12 exceedingly busy days at the beginning of July and sold more in that time than the entirety of 2014. I've never sold many prints, but began to do so. Nice work if you can get it, I told myself. All that was quite pleasant, but it is over now. I need to clean the house and think about something else for a time.
Then, I had an author approach me about illustrating a children's book she had written. I'm not trained in illustration and the subject matter is not exactly up my alley. The story is lovely and this is a project I'd quite like to be involved in. After talking to several genuine illustrators, she chose me to do the work. I thought I had most of the fall, but I was only going to have six weeks to turn out 16 illustrations. I said yes. This six weeks of work would double my output for the year. The house isn't going to get cleaned.
Before all of this happened, I had made plans with a fellow artist to go gallery scouting out of state. We are friends, have a great admiration for one another's work and have similar work ethics and attitudes about art. This would be my paid vacation for this year and I thought it would be a wonderful trip. I said yes. I'll be out and about in October, talking shop with a good friend, what fun. What if I come home with a gallery or two who want my work? I think 2015 could be even hairier.
This past Monday, I got up to an email inquiring whether or not an original was still available. The piece is question is one of my all time favorites of my work. I've put it up for sale and taken it down a number of times, thinking I would keep it. Technically, all my work is for sale, so I sold it. It hurt me to the core to part with it. Usually, I don't mind, but this time I did. I had to remember why I do what I do. It isn't to keep every piece of watercolor paper I have touched with a brush, it is create beauty, to touch someone's heart, to bring pleasure. Sometimes that pleasure is at the expense of my own feelings, but such is an artist's life.
Tomorrow is Friday, the Monday of my work week. My heart is no longer in this job and with outsourcing my work to India on the horizon, it is feels like it is soul destruction to continue. My house, the place I call home, my refuge, my studio is a mess that will take a month to straighten back out again. Working on the book illustrations is time consuming to the point of losing any hope of feeling like a balanced human being, but it will be over in a month or maybe less. While I feel like falling into bed and crying myself to sleep, I can't crumble now just when things are beginning to shift. It is a hard spot and I'm next to a rock with no wiggle room except upward. Time to get a good foot hold and push.
Whether you sell a painting near and dear to your heart or take on a project that is bit more than you can do comfortably, it is all about the choices you make. It is my choice to continue working, my choice to take on big projects and to sell a special piece. Now, I'm going to have live with my choices, especially the choice to be an artist because it isn't a job, it is a way of life, and not an easy one.
Editor's note: You can view Lynne's original post here.