Back in high school, I had a plan: I was going to live within the vibrant, energetic streets of New York City, painting my days away while enjoying the glory of having at least one piece on display in the MET.
Of course, that plan changed. I went to college and became a designer. Soon after, I became a wife, then a mother. In the process, I also became a homeowner -- a far cry from the street-living of my past dreams.
I shared these past dreams recently, with none other than Steve Dougherty, editor of my long-time favorite magazine, Plein Air Magazine. (A magazine that shows up every other month, filled with plein air inspiration, and makes my day each and every time.)
On painting -- and buckets
I had the chance to take a class with Steve during the Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival in Canandaigua in June, and found myself enamored with more than just what he was teaching on the easel.
As part of his workshop, Steve shared soundbites and stories from artists he’s interviewed in the past for the magazine, one of which caught my attention immediately: Andrew Wyeth, my all-time favorite artist. (Seeing his work at the MET in high school on a field trip with my teacher, Dick Trick, shaped the aforementioned city-girl dreams.)
Putting my fangirl awe aside (knowing he’s met Andrew Wyeth and visited his home on more than one occasion is incredible), I saw something I recognized: The story of a painter making his way with more than just brushes and canvases. Steve is a writer and editor, but also an amazing painter.
Sure enough, in side conversations, I was able to chat with him about the struggle most painters face: working a job to pay the bills versus painting full-time. For Steve, it’s his writing that fuels his ability to own a home and provide for his family. But, much like me, it’s painting that fuels his soul. Not only did he share that it’s something he’s balanced his whole life, but it’s one he’s talked to artists all over the country and world about.
Fortunately, we see eye-to-eye on this supposed struggle: that there’s no one way to live. And no one bucket to fit into. Even better? We both believe that having more than one discipline is a good way to live.
Because while painting may be my passion and my ultimate calling, my design work provides more than just a reliable income: it provides a steady stream of inspiration, a network of clients who stretch my creative bounds, and an introduction to new places I can take my painting when the time comes.
And, of course, spending time behind a computer screen with a WACOM tablet and my good friend Adobe gives me a finer appreciation of those moments when I’m in front of sprawling mountains, rolling waters, and peaceful clearings with nothing but my easel and paints.
The Renaissance Woman
The Renaissance Woman we all strive to be is, quite simply, a person with many talents or areas of knowledge. So why is it, then, that when we aren’t confined to one thing -- like painting -- we fail to believe ourselves to be painters?
I’ve lived far too long believing that we have only one life purpose, and that all of our actions have to fit neatly into one bucket. It’s only now that I realize that continuously filling various buckets can help shape us into exactly who we are meant to be.
PS -- Should my work ever enter the pages of the illustrious Plein Air Magazine, I’ll certainly be able to consider at least one bucket full.