I'm going to start this blog post by talking about something that's hard for me to put out there on the internet: my struggle with mental health. But then I get to share this awesome thing I did this week, which, while scary for me, turned out really amazingly (thanks to an awesome community. Thank you Fairbanks!)
In November, I left my regular job to be a full-time artist.
Yes, this has been my dream for a long time-- I’ve always painted, and hoped someday I could “make it”. In reality, it happened because I didn’t see another choice at the time. My anxiety and depression was getting worse, and I started having panic attacks again, seemingly out of nowhere, and while I was at work.
Working in pizza kitchen with knives being handled in close quarters to other humans, not to mention the oven I’d burned myself on with unfortunate regularity, it was simply dangerous, and that’s what it came down to. I liked my job, but I decided to take the time to make sure I was well.
I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can actually take such a drastic step for my mental health.
So right around the holidays, I find myself facing a whole new set of puzzles. My boyfriend and I had just settled on moving in together, and I have friends who help out with side-gigs when I need them. I even landed a spot in a group show this May.
In short, things have been working out-- but in moving my studio and life into a new home, I realized how many paintings I had around from old shows, and I looked at the state of the cupboards. It struck me that I might do something about both.
I hopped on Facebook, and posted on a local “For Sale” page.
I offered to trade my art for food. Simple enough, and I would turn the money from sales into groceries anyways. I figured I’d get a few nods, maybe someone would have some spare canned goods, but at least the paintings would be in good homes.
The response to the add was astounding. I had multiple offers on paintings, and a few requests for commissions. Some people had bulk goods, picked up canned food, and were savvy in finding deals on goods to trade with. Others offered cash coupled with baked goods. Everyone went above and beyond my expectations.
I’ve sold four paintings so far this week, and every time, I’m overwhelmed by the response of my community. I can’t possibly claim to be a “starving artist”, because Fairbanks has been incredible, sending me home with rice, canned veggies, coffee, and frozen game meat. My cupboards are looking pretty spiffy!
In all honesty, I feel like a magician. A dear friend told me this week that I’d mastered the art of transmutation. But instead of turning lead into gold, I’m turning art directly into food. Shazam!
But here’s the thing: The paintings aren’t here anymore. They’re out in the world, making people smile. I get joy out of making the paintings, but their real purpose is to inspire others, whether they inspire joy, thoughtfulness, creativity. That makes everything worth it, and I’m overwhelmed at my community’s joy at helping me continue to inspire them. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, and now I feel like I have more of an opportunity than ever to continue making that my reality. Thank you!
As a side note, my Studio Puppy Dublin sends love from the sick bed. She took a misstep, and hurt her paw in a dangerous way. Emergency steps were taken, and she’s going to be dancing a jig soon! I had to tape a sock around her paw to keep her from chewing the bandages, but that won’t stop her from chewing on a spare paintbrush.
Much love, have an artful day!