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Diving off a Cliff and Building Wings in Mid-Air

Welcome to my little corner of the Internet. I’m so happy you’ve decided to join me on this journey. As a fellow artist friend of mine put it this weekend, “It’s like taking a dive off a cliff and building your wings in mid-air.”

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Brene Brown

After six years of post-secondary and a decade-long career as an environmental scientist, I am leaving my stable job and consulting business to be a full time visual artist. It feels risky and scary, but it is something I know deep down in my bones I need to do, so it also feels really exciting.

Just as interesting as embracing this new path is, there is also a part of me that has to let go. Let go of my old identity and way of being, and that always requires a bit of mourning. You see, I was really good at my job. There were many parts of my job and many people I worked with that I truly enjoyed, and it paid well to boot. So, I can honestly say it did feel like it was what I was supposed to be doing. As a scientist I had the credentials, the experience, I was proud of my CV and my skill set. I knew what my days would look like (for the most part) and I knew what my paycheque would be each month. But underneath it all there was a yearning.

The yearning was not always clear-cut. It often felt like I was just missing the mark; that I couldn’t quite thrive in a way that had me looking forward to work and to feel like I had real purpose in what I was doing. It all boiled down to not feeling like I could really satisfy the deep urge to create in an expressive way that was all mine.

I tried to scratch the creative itch with hobbies; knitting, drawing, making pottery and felting in my spare time. But I really romanticized painting. I put any visual artists I met on a pedestal. I wanted to be the woman with a paintbrush in my hand, feeling the texture of the bright paint colours come to life on my easel. So I took up painting and I was hooked. A busy job and two young kids didn’t stop me from painting, reading about painting and drawing with my spare time (what little I had). I lived for the nights I got to go to the studio and immerse myself in colours, water, brushes and new ideas.

Over the years my hobby turned to an obsession, I explored various mediums, subscribed to Artists Magazine, started carrying a sketchbook in my purse and took a backpack full of art supplies on hiking trips and travels. As I began to sell paintings, my art costs for lessons and supplies were paid for. The tipping point came where I could make more money, but I had no more time to create anything new and I was turning down opportunity after opportunity to display my art, paint live, participate in art shows, etc. Yet it was art that I was thinking about all day long.

I planned that maybe in a few years I could try my hand at being a full time visual artist. But first we would save up more money; I would give my science consulting another year or two, even though the thought was really disheartening.

My youngest son will go to kindergarten next fall and logistically we just could not get the pieces to fall into place to get him to half day school, keep him in his current childcare and bus him where he needed to go. So, this has been a golden opportunity for me to leap into spending some really great time with my youngest son in the mornings before he heads off to his “big school” AND to take a chance on this new creative journey.

I feel like a beginner, I may not have the credentials, the CV or the financial stability, but my day job now involves painting beautiful art and helping others find their creativity by guiding them to make their own art pieces. I pinch myself each morning to make sure it’s real. Stay tuned as I continue to muse about my journey.

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