I recently received an email from one of my subscribers. In the header was the title “painting as a viable career” the reader asking if I might be able to offer some advice for her, on how to proceed in pursuing a career in the arts.

Well, the irony is that this is a question I wrestle with often myself.  {I feel far from having “made it”}. There are so many aspects to an artistic “career”and as corny/simple as it sounds I don’t think there is a recipe for artistic success (if you think otherwise and you have a strategy that works, PLEASE share with me!).

So, I apologise for being unable to answer the question at hand, but it did get me thinking about my own “career” so far, sharing the whole story of how I got to the present day would take a long series of blog posts. But, I am happy to share this story with you about how my “journey” as an artist first began. The small seeds that were planted and slowly grew.

In my little girl heart, many years ago now, I always thought I would like to be an artist. I day dreamed a lot and was always making something out of nothing.

The fire was really lit in my heart during my first year in Primary School.  Mrs Opanowitz was the school art teacher and she immediately took to me and I to her. She left a lasting effect on me and for a long time embodied what I thought an artist to be. I was struck by her heavy European accent, her bohemian dress code and her long braid, which always fell over one shoulder (I determined to grow my own plait, so it could fall in a similar manner). This warm hearted teacher, impressed me greatly.

Mrs Opanowitz nominated me to submit an entry to the Korean World School Children’s Art Competition. I have my very supportive parents to thank, as they let me do nothing but work on my art entry for several days (I had time off school to finish it), the result being “Kelly the Giraffe”. I still recall using a painted mosaic technique (which I continued to use for years afterwards), to build up her spots using brown and orange tones.

kelly the giraffe award

And like it was yesterday, I remember being called up to the assembly of my school to accept the above award, (and in case your wondering I was once known by the name of Emily Mellor). My cheeks were hot and red with a mixture of pride and embarrassment. I was very uncoordinated and terrible at sport. And as a child from a vegetarian family, who didn’t own a television and spent a lot of time in church, I was very pleased to find something I could be accepted for. In art I had something I could identify with and understand.

I moved town and school not long after this, and never had the foresight or opportunity to thank my first grade art teacher. I also never saw my painting again and it is probably in an archive in Korea somewhere.

When I got to thinking about this time in my life and to digging out this award, I noted that it is dated 1985. That is a long time to be working on a “career” don’t you think?

It also feels significant that this is 30 years ago now. Things seem to go in ten year cycles for me and so that is like three lifetimes ago.

Anyhow, the moral of the story is (my advice is), that if you really want to be an artist, just keep making your work, keep improving it and make it whether people like it or not. Be determined and dig deep to find your inspiration.

My painting has been my best friend and my worst enemy. It has been my company and at times my unhealthy obsession. I have been both elated and deeply disappointed by the reception of it. I have let my ego be pumped up and I have had it deflated. Seriously though, the cliche is true. You wouldn’t be an artist for any other reason than that you feel compelled to be one and that you would go crazy if you weren’t one…

Thank you so much to the person who sent me their question. It took over the thoughts of my day, and was cause for healthy reflection. I am happy for you to do this if there is something I might be able to help with or share.

I hope you enjoyed my little story..

What shaped you and brought you to what you do now? Or are you still seeking that “thing”?

Jasmine x