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My Story: Part 3

College Again & A New Career

Continued from Part 2...

Needless to say, I really enjoyed college the second time around (regardless of the fact I was significantly older than many of my classmates). I was making art again! It was a very supportive environment where I was surrounded by creative and inspiring people. As to be expected, this was a hugely productive period for me art wise. (Unfortunately, mid-way through my second year, my laptop hard drive crashed and I lost a ton of work, mostly digital projects and photos). My chosen major was now Graphic Design, however, I must admit that in my mind this was a bit of a compromise.  I was still working off the presumption that I couldn't make money with my art. So I went with something that would allow me to be creative but more importantly, it was practical. I knew I could get a job and earn a living in my chosen field once I graduated. My number one goal in going back to school was to become financially independent.

This was also an increasingly stressful time for me. I love my family to death, but living at home when you are 28 years old is bound to create some tension. I continued to struggle with finding solid ground in dating. Relationships from the past were still haunting me, getting in the way of forming new connections. The first job I landed after graduating was full time and pretty demanding. I felt like I was always giving 110% and soon enough I was completely burnt out.

I had to make a change.

In March of 2014, stress from my personal life and my professional life had reached a boiling point. In a moment of desperation and an overwhelming desire for change, I packed up my car and moved to Ohio. I had connections there who offered to help me transition into the next phase of my life. To many people, and even I had my moments of doubt, this seemed like a drastic and crazy decision. Looking back now, it was both one of the most difficult things I have ever done, and as it turns out, also one of the best things. Six months later, I found a good entry-level job, working as a graphic designer for an advertising company. Slowly, things seemed to be turning around.

I worked there for the next two and a half years (During this period, I took another hiatus from art, as most of my creative energy went into my job). While I learned a lot and had some good times, even working as a designer left me feeling unhappy. Something was missing. It felt like I was trying to force myself to fit into a role and an occupation that just wasn't meant for me. I hated the 9 to 5 grind. I hated my commute. I hated living my life around someone else's goals and agenda with nothing in it for me other than a paycheck. Everything was so stressful ALL of the time. I wanted to decide what I was going to do with MY time. I wanted to feel a sense of fulfillment at the end of the day, like what I was doing was really worthwhile (nothing against advertising or graphic design, it just isn't my cup of tea). Considering all the misguided decisions in my past, I felt like I had already wasted so much time on things that didn't make me happy. I had spent over a decade trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life. Along the way, I had learned some very important yet very costly lessons and among them was the value of time.

Life is too short.

At this point, one thing was blatantly clear to me, life is finite. We are only given so much time on this planet and every moment is precious. How much is ONE day of someone's life worth? Can you even quantify that? I needed to be doing something that was meaningful to ME. I found myself dwelling on my past, how much time I had squandered on negative relationships and poor educational choices. The "If only I had done this..." or " I wish I had done this back then...." bogged me down. For all of my frustration, I did experience quite a few successes. I was able to become financially independent. I got my own apartment. With the help of my parents, I bought a new car (a red Mini Cooper which I love!). I was FINALLY able to free myself of the emotional baggage from my past and open myself to new people and experiences. Yet I was still not making art outside of my design work.

In October of 2015, my life really started to change for the better. Once I let go of all the burdens that were bringing me down and holding me back, the things I had longed for seemingly fell into my lap. I started researching other avenues for my career online. Articles about how to find your passion and how to identify your strengths, to name a few. I spent hours reading and looking for anything that could help me find a new path. I knew that if I kept trying I could find a better way.

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My Story: Part 2

College Life:

brown-foalwebContinued from Part 1…

After graduating from high school, I was really lost about what to do next, other than some vague idea that I was supposed to go to college. The only problem was, go to college for what? At this point in my life, the only two things I was really passionate about was my art and my horse (Not much has changed in this regard, lol). From my perspective at the time, neither of those directions looked like a viable career path and I really can’t blame myself for having such a limited view. It was a different time, the internet was not what it is today, and I had a much smaller understanding of the world. It didn’t occur to me that it was possible for an 18-year-old kid to start their own business. Not to mention, I hadn’t learned a VERY important skill yet, one they really ought to be teaching in school, and that is HOW to overcome the many obstacles life throws in our path. Back then, if I saw an obstacle in front of me or a string of obstacles, I would just give up. I didn’t even try to figure out how to get around it. This way of thinking made me feel very boxed in and stuck.

I really struggled to find a direction and a career choice that suited me. After a year of crappy minimum wage jobs, I decided that school had to be better than what I was doing, and almost on a whim, I enrolled at a private college. By my sophomore year, I had to decide on a major…and it being a small school I chose the thing I disliked the least, English. Now I have to admit that I enjoy reading and also writing to some degree, but it never felt like, “Yes! This is what I need to be doing with my life.” I questioned what I was I was going to do with an English degree, what kind of job would I get after I graduated? Since those options didn’t appeal to me, I decided to transfer to a large state university where I would have more choices.

 

It was around this time that I fell into a bit of depression. I felt disheartened with my art, what little I created, because I had lost my purpose. I thought, “I will never be as good as a camera, so why bother?”. I was still stuck in the mindset that art wasn’t something I should pursue professionally. I was afraid that if I had to make art for a living, it would ruin the joy I found in the creative process. On top of that, I was now at a large university, I could major in whatever I wanted, but suddenly there were WAY too many choices. I ended up choosing Environmental Science, which was a return to the path I had followed in high school. Again, I liked studying the environment and greatly enjoy the natural world, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Unfortunately, my required courses only added to my depression because they were all focused on how humans have had a detrimental effect on the world’s ecosystems and basically the planet was dying a slow and painful death (Global warming, hole in the ozone layer, pollution, species extinction, the list goes on). Just what I needed…NOT!

landscape-2001_web

My senior year rolled around and I got a serious reality check. Environmental Science was not what I wanted to be doing with my life. After a small meltdown and taking another semester off to try and find myself, I figured I had been in school long enough, and settled for a degree in General Studies. My last semester was great, I took Italian, drawing and art history. Finally, in December of 2007, I earned my first bachelor’s degree. It had taken me a total of 6 years, minus the two semesters I had taken off, to finish school and yet I STILL felt just as lost as I had been when I had started (I don’t know how many times I’ve looked back on this and thought of it as a huge waste, both of money and time). I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall, spinning my wheels but not getting anywhere. A few months later, I got an assistant manager position in a retail chain store at the mall. I love clothes as much as the next girl, but retail was not for me and I didn’t last very long working there.

Bluebird on a Fencepost

This was the beginning of a very disjointed and largely unhappy time for me, during which I produced little art (And I have a bad habit of giving away my best work as gifts!). I did a LOT more floundering around, trying different jobs and living in different places. None of it felt right career-wise. I invested my energy in personal relationships since I didn’t have any real self-goals or a set career path, but this was in vain as the relationships didn’t last. By 2011 I realized that something had to change, I had to move in a new direction, and I decided to return to college to earn a more specialized degree that would get me a job I could tolerate.

 

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My Story: Part 1

My Childhood Art

Some of the people reading this may know me very well, in which case they will have heard all this before, but for those of you who don’t know me, I thought I would share a little bit about who I am, where I came from, and my journey as an artist. For lack of a better idea, I shall start with the beginning…

I cannot remember the exact moment when drawing entered my life. According to my mother, it was at the prime age of 2 that I first picked up a pencil (and held it correctly, mind you), so it seems fair to assume that my artistic journey began roughly around 1985.

Montessori & Home Taught

I was largely home schooled prior to 8th grade and this allowed me ample opportunity to incorporate art and drawing into my school projects. I also took private art lessons with a local watercolor artist off and on for several years. My favorite thing to draw was always horses, followed by other animals, and then perhaps dinosaurs. When I was a little kid I wanted to grow up to be a paleontologist! I genuinely thought that science was the path for me because I loved animals so much. Looking back I find this hilarious! I am terrible at subjects Chemistry and Physics.

Going to Public School

By the time I was 13 I had to make the transition to public school. In 8th grade, our first major science project was a bug collection. The class was instructed to catch various insects and place them in a jar with a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover. If possible, we were then supposed to display the remains using the very traditional pining method that you might see in natural history museums. I approached the teacher after class to ask if I could draw the bugs instead. As to be expected, he said, “no”. Well after watching a tiny white moth slowly suffocate to death, that was enough for me. There was no way I could do that again (I am guessing now at the number) twenty or so more times. The next day I told the teacher of my distress and begged to be allowed to do drawings for my project. To my great relief, he relented. It was also at this time that I became fascinated with the naturalist John James Audubon. This greatly influenced my approach to drawing at the time and is more than likely a good part of the reason my art became so detail oriented. We did a leaf collection as our last project of the school year, this time I was requested to do drawings instead of gather leaves. I would love to show you what some of those illustrations looked like, but I never got either of my projects back. As far as I know, they are still in the possession of my 8th-grade science teacher!

Science Over Art

During high school, my love of animals influenced a lot of my decisions regarding class selection, which landed me in pretty much every science class I could take. I spent most of my time after school at the horse barn, working and caring for my horse, which meant a lot less time for drawing. It wasn’t until my senior year, and after struggling through Chemistry and Bio-Chemistry, that I finally took an art class. Needless to say, my ideas about a career path were somewhat misguided. Even at that young age, I didn’t think that there was any future in pursuing art as a profession. Little did I know that this perspective would haunt me for years to come.

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