“I’ve always been an artist.”
That’s what I said to the gallery owner when I went in to get a job. He laughed, looked at me and said, “Of course you have always been an artist.”
I was in a serious slump then in my early 20’s. I’d graduated college with degrees in fine arts and journalism, and gotten a “dream” job at an arts newspaper in the city. But working in an office crushed my spirit.
I’d been going to this Ghanian restaurant on my lunch breaks to help sooth my soul. The owner knew I was an artist and we’d talk for hours while she gave me food to try – plantains and jollof rice, fufu and peanut stew. Soon, I was spending entire afternoons there and no one at work seemed to notice.
So when the owner asked if I wanted to go to Ghana in four weeks, I said sure. Somehow, I got my visa, renewed my passport, took a month off of work and was on my way.
My trip to Africa changed my life forever.
After that, I couldn’t return to my job at the newspaper. It felt meaningless. So, I quit and moved back to Wisconsin.
That’s when I went in to apply for the job at the gallery. I remember exactly what I was wearing – a navy suede newsboy cap, a pink linen button-down shirt (untucked), and striped, wide-leg pants.
Apparently I looked like an artist, but I’d convinced myself I couldn’t be a painter, so I’d stopped creating.
I stopped painting for years after college. I felt like there was no sense in creating if I couldn’t do it all of the time. But when I lost my job, I needed a way to renew my spirit, so I went back to what I loved most as a chlld – laying out all of my art supplies on a blanket in the backyard and playing. I hadn’t ever painted whimsical characters at that point, but once I started, I just couldn’t stop. Creating brought so much joy back into my life.
It took many different jobs as a journalist, photographer, graphic designer, floral designer, website developer and more before I finally realized the only thing I could put my heart into was being a full-time artist.
Going back to whatever it is that makes my heart sing, has always helped me find and follow my passion.
Ps. If you’d like to learn more about my creative process and life as an artist, click HERE to join me for a Free Painting Workshop and learn my favorite painting techniques and supplies.