What are my Whys?


In the last three years, I have experienced unexpected - and to some degree, unlikely - success as an artist.  It's almost like something had been bubbling up inside of me for years and suddenly erupted.  There was a moment in that first year of painting when something significant shifted.  Out of the blue, I was able to imagine my work in a gallery, I also saw a trajectory where painting could turn into a viable source of retirement income.  With those those two clear pictures in my mind I made a commitment to myself to invest my time, energy and money into art.

Over 600 original paintings and three years later, I'm beginning the transition to doing this on a full-time basis.  I'm framing it as my semi-retirement, as it will be the first time in my life that I'm not employed by a company or organization.  I'll be able to set my own schedule, create my own opportunities, and pursue collaborations with others.

I found myself thinking about the WHY this morning.  What am I out to achieve following this path?  Is it fame and fortune?  I don't think so.  Fame is fleeting, and fortune holds little meaning to me.  I don't aspire to be hung in fancy galleries or esteemed halls of the rich and famous.  I don't aspire to be selling millions of prints or have a piece of my art on mass produced t-shirts.

There are several things that form my WHY, and underpin everything that I do.

Self discovery

At 50 years of age, I'm still trying to figure myself out.  Painting and the process of creation is helping me better understand myself.  The more I understand, the more curious I become.  Why has my work evolved the way it has?  Where will it evolve next?  What are the artistic mountains I'm meant to climb?  How do setbacks, failures, missteps and disappointments inform the journey?  What do I have to learn about success and how to respond to it, internally and externally?

Service to others

While my art is a form of personal expression, it is also a way that I feel called to serve.  Whether it is helping a charity raise money, doing a memorial painting, or capturing a precious family moment, I enjoy responding to the needs of others.  The reactions and moments of raw emotion that I have experienced in three years are gifts that I will treasure until the day I die.

The creation high

Once in awhile, I get to experience and feel an inexplicable creative high.  It's impossible to predict which painting projects will take me to that place, but when it happens, it is pretty amazing. I have developed a work ethic that allows me to push through the moments when painting feels like an effort so that I can emerge in the lush green valley of inspiration and pure creation.

I've spent time focusing on my WHYS because I found myself looking over the fence at other amazing artists who have hundreds of thousands of followers, fancy websites, and gallery showings and feeling a little inadequate.  The reality is - and I have to remind myself of this - is that there are thousands upon thousands of artists around the world, many more successful and many less so.  All of us are on our own personal journeys, absolutely unique and important.

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