Backstory, Part 2

I settled into my corporate job and felt very lucky to have landed on my feet. I was able to make a living, keep my house and take small vacations once in a while. Painting went on the back burner.

dogI would occasionally do pet portraits and other sketches for people I knew through work but I didn’t really like commissions. It was tiresome to be under the pressure of making other people happy so I decided to just paint and draw for myself. Nothing for sale or to make money on the side.

Painting pretty much fell by the wayside even though I was known at work as the “artist.” And I was somewhat of a joke over it. I worked in a department of all engineers (not their secretary) and even though I had more college than most of them, I made nowhere near the same salary. And this is where not having a 4 year degree really hurt me. I wasn’t considered qualified to do the work I had learned to do, and thus not the pay.

One particular engineer loved to ask me, “what does the artist say to the engineer?”

And the answer… “would you like fries with that?”fries

Hardy har har.

Still, I learned a lot of chemistry over the years and was able to save the company millions of dollars by doing specialized re-application work of steel orders. Then the recession came.

Automotive steel orders were cancelled to the point that the company had to take drastic measures. And I, the only non-engineer in an engineering department, was the first cut. So after 14 years of pushing myself to be a valuable employee, I was called in and let go in a matter of minutes. No notice. No thanks. Just an escort out the door after being stripped of security passes. The feeling was that of being kicked to the curb.

Again I had to scramble to make a living. And again I landed on my feet. I took classes in copywriting and was able to work from home, which beat slaving away in a cubicle every day. But it wasn’t all roses – health care was a nightmare. I’ll spare you that whole ordeal.

The point is… I was truly slaving to make a living and I wasn’t doing the thing that makes my heart sing: paint. I would think of it from time to time, and I periodically kept sketch books for the fun of it, but I wasn’t doing any serious artwork.

When I went to Italy I wanted to paint more than I did. I started the trip with a class to get warmed up, but it was difficult to keep up the momentum. I had to work while I was there. I was also overwhelmed by the culture difference. It was exciting, and there was loads to see but I didn’t speak the language and I was alone.

I churned out a number of small paintings but I was just getting started when it was time to come home. They looked pretty much like what I’d always painted, so there was no “breakthrough” to speak of. The trip was fantastic, but I did not come home a better painter.

When my mother died a couple months ago, I realized I’m running out of time. That 4 year degree is still on my mind but I haven’t figured out how to make it happen. And while mulling that over and talking to college counselors, I realized what I really want is to paint at a higher skill level. And that is still possible.

So I’ve found someone to study with and the method is quite new to me. What I love about it is the discipline and the “old master” feel of both the process and the finished paintings I’ve seen.

I don’t know how that is going to transfer to my own experience, but I’m hoping to learn something new and paint more like I want to. And I’m bringing back the Sketchy LIfe Blog to track it all. Even if it is only me following it, that is fine. This IS for me. Finally.

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