One of the best things about being my own boss, is that for the most part, I get to decide what I want to do, and when to do it. I can choose to take a gig or pass it on to someone else. I can decide to do more of what fills me up, and less of what doesn’t. Most self employed artists embrace and understand this, though when times get tough, we tend to forget some of our superpowers. Like we can choose to pick ourselves back up, or choose to wallow in self pity.
Lately I have seen so many of my fellow artists in one of two camps. One group is doing everything they can to remain positive, in the face of crippling financial hardship. They are using their newfound free time to do good and spread positivity, controlling what they can and letting go of what they can’t.
The other is curling up into a ball in their hole of despair, making comments like “well, I guess I’ll never paint again.” or “everything I’ve ever worked for is now completely worthless.”
I know that the state of the world is absolutely devastating to the core of us who rely on a thriving event industry for our bread & butter. My business of 25 years has come to a 100% screeching halt just like the rest of yours. What puts me into group #1, however, is that I have not given up my I’m-my-own-boss power. I am using it to not only decide whether to work in my pj’s today, but to decide that my circumstances don’t create my joy.
No, I’m not happy that I have no gigs in the foreseeable future. I am not happy that nobody else does either, and as a result nobody is ordering supplies from my shop. No, I’m not happy that my credit card debt is going to grow, and my income will not fund any family fun this summer. I’m not happy that my birthday was spent in quarantine. I’m not happy that my dad had a stroke right before the “stuff” hit the fan, and nobody is allowed to visit him in the hospital. I’m not happy, no, but I am joyful and that is what keeps me going.
I love this definition of happiness vs joy that I found via Google search:
“Happiness may dwell on materialistic, worldly pleasure while joy is derived from soul satisfying, emotional well being.”-diffen.com
What satisfies your soul? For me, it is absolutely my faith. I can’t imagine how people can get through things like this without it. For a lot of us, especially artists, it is also doing what we love to do…what we were created to do!
If you’re having trouble finding any positives in your current situation, try gratitude…yes…in ALL circumstances. Challenge yourself to find something to be thankful for every day. Sometimes a perspective shift is in order.
- I’m thankful that I’m now forced to snuggle my boys & watch movies on my couch, while so many health care workers now can’t be close to or hug their own kids.
- I’m thankful that I still have my talents, and can use them for so much more than my income.
- I’m thankful that I don’t live in an abusive home
- I’m thankful for Amazon, and my full cupboards.
- I’m thankful for a home with multiple rooms, and a yard to play in.
- I’m thankful for our health.
- I’m thankful that I’m able to work from home.
- I’m thankful for the technology that lets me see my family & friends’ faces and hear their voices.
- I’m thankful for puzzles, perler beads and Neftlix.
- I’m thankful that winter is on it’s way out.
- I’m thankful for memes that make me giggle.
- I’m thankful for our many parks that allow us to get outside while social distancing.
What are YOU doing?
“Well, I guess I’ll never paint again.” To this I say, why not? Sure, we face painters may move from painting on kids at parties to painting on practice heads, boards, and our own kids until this all passes. But the beautiful thing about painting is that you can do it anywhere! If the only reason you painted faces to begin with was to be paid at parties, it may not have been your calling after all. We don’t create our own circumstances, but our circumstances can reveal the person. Yes, even positive people are entitled to their own occasional pity party. But don’t let that be the new definition of you! Get your cry out and get back to creating!
You have control over whether you keep doing art or not. You now also have control over what you create, when and how you create it…no clients to satisfy, just yourself! Take advantage of that! I’ve seen artists sharing their huge, new design boards they’ve created this past week. I’ve seen artists painting designs to reflect their current struggles, depicting our current world through their eyes. I’ve seen artists sharing their gifts with others. Sewing masks. Decorating sidewalks. Making cards for the elderly.
What I’m Doing…
I can’t control the timing of when my income will return. But I can choose to make the most of this thing I ALWAYS seem to wish I had more of but money can’t buy: time!
The irony is not lost on me. So often I wish I had more TIME…the thing money can’t buy…because I’m so busy spending what time I do have trying to earn the money that can’t buy it, and spend what little extra time I have well. Now that we have no source of income, we find ourselves almost drowning in this elusive, priceless gift of time. Will we spend it well or waste it, only to long for it again when our work picks up?
For now I’m just taking it one day at a time. Having kids really helps because you HAVE to be positive for them. They are watching. All. The. Time. And learning from their parents how to react to tough situations. Right now we are on spring break, so I’m trying to let it be just that…a regular spring break with no strict schedules. They’ll get back to that soon enough when our district’s e-learning plans start. For now, they spend the week with mom, having fun and being creative, just less going out to movies & playgrounds…
Over the weekend I took advantage of the chance to give a little art lesson to my boys! Art imitates life, so I decided to do a still-life project with the subject being a roll of toilet paper!
We are each creating 9 little pieces, using 9 different mediums, on little squares of paper that are exactly the same size as a sheet of TP! The boys learned about drawing cylinders, how ellipses change with perspective, how to shade, and use some fun tools they’ve never used!
We now have a puzzle table set up, which we’ve really never done. My boys are helping me cook more…
…we’ve gotten out our huge stash of perler beads and are creating a growing honeycomb art piece. My boys have even been helping me sort and organize my gem stash!!
As for my work, I’ve been able to start some projects that have been waiting on the back burner, like creating new stencils for my shop that are designed to be used with my new tutu bling, and painted tutus with 3D fairy wings! (Follow our Facebook page to find out when these stencils are available in the shop!) I’m remaining hopeful that the MN State Fair will happen, and preparing for the Glitter Glamper‘s 2nd year! And if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be super prepared for 2021!!
I’m also already working on the next issue of Wet Paint Magazine. Not because it will make me any money, because it has yet to make any profit for me…it’s purely something I create because I love to do it, and it’s mission is to uplift, inspire, and encourage my fellow artists…something we ALL need right now!
I was in a wonderful Zoom call with over 20 other artists around the country last week, put on by Lori Hurley. My favorite quote from the call was when Steve Klein said, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”
The Big Question…
So, I ask you again…are you an egg or a potato? Will you choose to let your circumstances turn you into mush, or will you allow them to make you stronger than ever before? Whether you use your talents to uplift your family in quarantine, or your greater community, show the world what you’re made of! Your circumstances can’t take away your talent, or even your joy, if it comes from the right source! Stay strong painty friends! Hope and joy are just as contagious as fear! What are YOU choosing to spread?
What have YOU been doing to keep your sanity in quarantine? How are your kids keeping entertained? How are you using your art to spread hope and joy? Please share in the comments! We all could use some more ideas for the days and weeks to come!
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