On Becoming a Full-Time Painter

It was a tough decision, but I decided to cut out teaching and administrative work to make room for painting.  I’ll go back to teaching again soon. I can’t imagine not sharing project ideas with kids, or working with them as they develop their plans and then hearing their thoughts after it’s complete.  Gosh, even writing that leaves me wistful. 

But the shift ignited October 2015 when I held true to a resolution to do a portrait of the people closest to me.  At the time, I imagined I would whip out my sketch pad hanging with friends and family- like I was in college again or something- and do a few 20 minute sketches.  The reality I fell into was to take a bunch of photos of a person (like my son in his new suit!!), pick a shot and paint it.  I liked the process and result, so I made one of my husband, and grandmother.  I carved a few hours from morning until I went into work to mix my acrylic paints and set paint to canvas.

One painting turned into the next.  I got complements and people started asking me to paint a portrait for them.  A friend asked me to paint her son in his football helmet and my father-in-law to paint his father from Israel.  

May 2016 is when I thought why not.  I could try my hand at becoming a professional portrait painter.  I love how a facial expression and body language can share so much about a person.  While painting my grandmother I was literally going down memory lane painting her fantastically large wig.  Her hair was such an integral part of her personality.  Subsequent portraits I realized the power of capturing a personality in the details  Like the way a person holds an intimate object like glasses. Or the way jewelry falls with the weight of gravity against the body.  Even a strong expression captured in a portrait grabs a loved one.

I love my decision to take the leap over the huge abyss of uncertainty.  I’m figuring out the details of running a business, checking off the list as I go: LLC (check); PO Box (check); business cards/website/readings/exhibits/and/research/more/and/always/more… 

BUT it’s all worth it.  Because the one thing I am confident in is that I can persevere to paint the likeness of a particular person.  

Through portraiture I’ve realized that we really are so alike to one another, and that is a very comforting feeling. 

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