My fancy studio is in our bedroom.

My Story.

When I was in art school, I painted in an elaborate studio. We each had our own easels, were able to pretty much come and go as we pleased and had glorious floor-to-ceiling windows with abundant natural light. (You can see me way in the back with the clouds.)34635_144495152233396_416674_n

After graduating, I got tricked into thinking that my art space had to be large. I talked myself out of painting because I didn’t have the best easel or paints or space…the excuses went on and on. I moved into a small apartment and hung the clouds on the wall. 1928704_121444080214_9417_n

Then 15 years later when painting had, sadly, been put on the back burner, I realized that even my sketchbooks were dusty. The small tools that I DID have available to me were not even being used. There was a bigger issue at hand- I didn’t believe in myself.

It took encouragement from my husband for me to finally try my art again.

I started small, painting tiny 6″x6″ pieces. If I couldn’t paint something, I would grab my pencils and draw. I made a promise to myself not to get too wrapped up in WHAT I was doing just THAT I was doing it. Soon enough, I got more comfortable with my tools.

When we first walked into our 1950’s home in Salisbury,Md., we fell in love with the windows. Natural light burst thru them and the entire home felt like a breath of fresh air. We just knew we had to live there. (Here is a photo from when we had just moved in…sadly, none of those plants are still alive. ha!)1172268_10153176224720215_145980376_o

In our new home, I quickly discovered that the best light was in one particular east-facing corner…which happened to be in the master bedroom. I had tried to set up a “fancy” studio in our bonus room, but because it lacks temperature control it just isn’t the best place to store paper and paint. So, for the past 3 years, I have been faithfully painting daily from a small corner in our bedroom- finishing over 200 original pieces of art.

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Why am I writing all of this? Sometimes we talk ourselves out of starting something because we think we don’t have all of the best equipment, the inspirational dedicated workspace or the talent. What we don’t realize is that the only way to become something is to start. We all have to start somewhere.

While I do dream of having a secluded space where I can paint and pack orders, this pretty little corner of our home works just fine for now.

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My encouragement to you is: start. Start doing that thing you’ve always wanted to try but were nervous you would fail doing. Start making promises to yourself and keep them.

You will never regret trying, you’ll only regret the fear that kept you from it.

xoxo,

Rachel (TheNapTimeArtist)

 

Nothing is ever a waste.

My Story.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how so much of what I had done BEFORE I started an art business had been preparing me for what I am doing now. So, here’s my story- from seasonal worker at a music store, to Starbucks manager, to university store employee–and just about everything in between…

When I was 27, I put my 2 weeks notice in at Barnes & Noble, and took a job in Baltimore at an educational center for kids. I packed my things, moved away from my hometown, and landed in totally unknown territory— all because I couldn’t take the retail management world anymore that had sucked me in after art school.

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the best little apartment in the world.

 

Just 4 months after relocating, my boss, three co-workers and I were sent to a region meeting in D.C. There, we met over 300 other young professionals with bright eyes for their futures. Little did we know that the men standing in the back of the room were there to hand us our severance packages, and that we had just 2 weeks of work left, right before the holidays, before we were going to have to start our job searches all over again.

So, here I was back in the game just as fast as I had gotten out of it.

I vowed that I would NEVER, EVER work retail again. The long hours, and hard, physical labor just weren’t what I was hoping to be doing when I graduated from college. I applied to over 100 jobs- avoiding anything that even smelled like “customer service”.

I remember it well- that one day, about 2 months into my job search (think economic depression of 2008…),  when I had called my mom and broken down into tears. It had never taken me so long to find a job before, and the pressure of life was really starting to weigh me down. She reassured me that all of my previous experiences would be helpful to me now, and that my job was right around the corner.

Later that same day, I found myself at a Starbucks for an interview with two women who were starting an art school for kids and were considering me as an instructor. “Finally, something art related”, I thought.

Picture this:

We meet outside, all dressed in business attire, portfolios/resumes in hand, and go in to order our coffee-

“What can I get for you?”

me: “tall black coffee, please.”

woman #1: “I’ll have a medium half-caff, extra foam, sugar free caramel latte.”

woman #2: “Medium Pumpkin Spice latte, 4 shots, extra hot.”

We sit down at a round table, and awkwardly begin the interview process while we wait for our drinks.

Barista arrives and delivers all three at the same time. I pick up the small cup.

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The two women I was with sat there, confused as to which coffee was theirs. I picked one up, slid the sleeve down the side of the cup, and said: “this is a half-caff, extra foam, sugar free caramel latte.” They looked stunned. One woman reached for her drink. “How did you know which one was which?! That’s amazing!”…..”I used to be a manager at a Starbucks”—

Right there, in that very moment, I realized that all of the times that I had scrubbed the cafe floor on my hands and knees, daydreaming about a different career, those moments would lead me up to this day. It was, and still is, a clear moment of clarity: wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, you could be preparing yourself for your dream.

I had been tricked- I’d wasted way too much time thinking that the grass would be greener. It wasn’t until almost 10 years later that I went out on a limb and applied for my business license.

What does this have to do with being an artist, you ask?

Things are different now.

When I do the mundane boring tasks, such as taxes and inventory, I think: these things wouldn’t have been available to do if I had not had any customers this year.

When I package my boxes to ship, I use tools that I learned to use when I was packing books, cds and college merchandise in my previous retail jobs.

When I get a great product review from a customer, I think of the people who used to ask me  (in a sarcastic voice)  why I was in RETAIL instead of being an “real artist”. To which I would respond: it’s an art to help customers, and I really do enjoy doing it.
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When I write my thank- you notes for customer orders, I think of all of the times that I wasn’t able to help the customer find that one “book with a blue cover”, but went the extra mile trying. (bookstore people, you know what I am talking about).

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photo from Pinterest (oneillibrary) to prove that this happens.

When I set up for art shows now, I think about the overnight shifts I worked to get the tables merchandised and ready for the holiday rush.

I still drink coffee, lots of coffee.

I still LOVE helping customers, and get to do it from my own home.

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So, wherever you are right now- whatever you are doing- enjoy the moment.

You are still an artist, even if you’re not painting.