Saturday, May 17, 2014

Transitioning to the Life of a Full Time Artist

I have six weeks of working full time at my day job left before becoming a full time artist. I would like to share with you how things are going through this transition, some of the practical aspects of preparing for this transition, and what I learn through the process.  I truly believe that there is always more than one path to each destination.  I am only sharing the one path I am taking in these articles but keep in mind that there are always different possible paths to take.
First, I’ll share how it’s going as I face the prospect of abject poverty (no full time job, no full time paycheck).   All of a sudden I am starting to smile more often.  My heart is beginning to hear the music again.  I am starting to lose some of that unwanted weight.  An inner calm is beginning to pervade my inner being.  The list of future artistic projects is growing and filling my dreams.  So in a nutshell the transition so far is going well. Keep in mind that I haven't faced the abject poverty yet.
Second, I’ll share some of the practical aspects of how I have been preparing for the transition. The first thing that you need to do to prepare for the transition to full time artist is to never allow your fears to get in the way of facing the challenges you find along your path (you can read more about the 10 lessons learned from a well lived life here ).  In preparation for this path I have started teaching online doll making classes a few years ago. I have something that I know I will be working on as I transition and this helps me handle the abject poverty fear.  It’s not that I expect to make a fortune teaching online doll making classes, but I enjoy teaching them a great deal, I believe in sharing techniques and assisting other artists along their way as others have helped me, and I hope that teaching will help pay for some of the art supplies I need to continue to create.   I have been working for the past year on a tuck comb inspired doll that I will teach a new class on called Brigette.  As I mentioned in my last post it is difficult to find the time to create when you exhaust all of your energies in your full time non art field job on top of your other everyday responsibilities.  So the project has moved slower than I would have liked but I have so enjoyed working on her.  One of the challenges of the project was to create cloth doll jointing techniques to imitate the mortise and tenon joints of the antique wooden dolls I fell in love with.  That took more than one try.  I also have a little OCD tendencies when it comes to my art and online classes.  So I created more than one pattern for the doll, more than one undergarment, etc before I was pleased with the outcome. I didn’t like how some of the pictures came out so I also created an additional doll to retake some of the pictures for the class.   I am currently working on her costume and hope to get quite a bit done on her overdress this weekend.  Here are some pictures of her in progress.

Other things that I have been doing to prepare for the transition to full time artist is setting very clear goals and expectations.  My goal is not to make a lot of money as a full time artist.  My goal is to set aside the time to fully immerse myself in my art and develop my art as far as it can go.  I don’t expect to bring in much of an income from my art for several years.  That being said, one needs to eat, one needs to sleep.  My husband and I have been preparing for this transition for quite some time. To prepare for this transition we have lived within our means for a long time and have added ways to keep our expenses down once I make this transition.  We will have our mortgage paid off shortly, our cars are paid for, and we have cut our utilities by adding geothermal and solar to our home. Our credit card balance is paid monthly.   We live in the country with plenty of space to garden.  I have grown many of our vegetables for several years and we are putting in more raised beds to grow more so I can freeze or can some of our food for the winter.  I love gardening and look forward to the time I will have to spend doing this.  I have dried the herbs from my garden for several years already and not only does this cut the cost of buying seasonings but they also taste so much better than the dried spices you buy in the grocery store.  If you don’t expect a lot of income coming in while pursuing your art it helps to minimize your expenses.  So a lot of the preparation has focused on minimizing our costs.

How all of my plans fall into place and what I learn from this I can’t share with you yet but will continue to post updates on this blog to let you know how it goes.  So follow, or check back in from time to time, pour yourself a nice cup of tea, and I will continue to share the story of living the full time artist dream.

P.S., P.S.
I am teaching a class on A for Artistic beginning next week on how to create a Boudoir inspired ball jointed cloth doll called Mistique.  You can learn more about the class and sign up for it if you wish by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to transition from a full time job to becoming a full time artist

I am in the process of transitioning from working full time with a full time pay check to becoming a full time artist without the full time paycheck.  Jumping into the starving artist realm has always been financially scary for me so I have pretty much always worked full time with my art placed on the back burner.  But as any of you artists out there that have made the same choices by now know, it is really difficult to find the time to create when you have exhausted most of your energy into making a living outside of the art field and keeping up with your other responsibilities in life.   So I finally set aside 51 days last summer to create art every day.  It was wonderful!  I couldn't wait to get up each morning and start my art projects for the day.  Thoughts of my artwork filled every waking moment and filled my dreams as I slept.    I smiled so often my smile grew wider than the Cheshire Cat grin.  My heart sang.  I glowed with inner calm and contentment.  I even lost some unwanted weight.  One of my dolls won the people’s choice award at the Figurative Artist Consortium in Ottawa.  Another one of my dolls won second place in a Doll Street Dreamer’s contest.  I taught an online doll making class on A for Artistic.  Then I went back to work.  I gained back the weight.  My heart doesn’t sing like it did last summer.  My smile isn't as wide as the Cheshire Cat’s grin.  I stopped glowing.   Life is short.  I am fortunate that my husband has always been my number one fan and has always encouraged my growth as an artist.  My husband and I had several conversations and both agreed that it was time to take my art off the back burner and leave the education field earlier than we had originally planned for me to do.   So as of July 1st this summer I will be a full time artist.  I plan to share with you what works and doesn't work during this transition and first year of living the full time artist dream.    I will share some of the things we have been doing to prepare for this change in a later post.  Until then I am wishing all of you well and hope you are able to find some time to be creative.
P.S.  If you are interested in taking my online class Mistique it is starting on May 22nd and you can sign up for it by clicking on the link below.