By Melissa Whitaker

I have often felt that the art world does not consider artists who must work a second, third, or fourth job as a serious, professional artist.  I have been a REALTOR since 2002 and an artist all my life, but I still have bills that must be paid and a family to feed, so yes, I have another job.  Matter of fact, I have a LOT of jobs.  Artist, Photographer, Illustrator, Realtor, Property Manager, Landlord, Mother, Wife, and I even sit on a couple of company Boards.  Life is Chaotic, and from that Chaos comes art.

A gallery manager in Santa Fe, New Mexico, asked me, “Why do you paint?” Not “What do you paint?” but Why.  I looked at him with a befuddled face and said, “Too breathe.”  It’s that simple.  I work to pay the bills and to pay for some of the extras in life, (I’m kind of partial to food and never could do the starving artist thing).  But to paint or to draw, that is LIFE itself.  It calms the soul, and helps the mind soar off to other places.  It is an escape.  It is a DRUG.

A friend recently encouraged me to venture into the new territory of digital art.  I now call him my Drug Pusher, because once I finish a picture on my iPad Pro, my skin is crawling for the next project.  I often have to set a timer to remind myself to eat something and to step away and socialize with people (for some reason that is still required these days).  The truly great thing about drawing/painting on the iPad Pro is, you can take it everywhere with you.  I can do my job and do my passion at the same time.  The highest accomplishment of multi-tasking.

Yes, I have another job.  I have several jobs, but foremost I am an artist to the depths of my soul.  I am an artist who has bills to pay.  Now, who wants to buy some Art and if you don’t want to buy art, perhaps I can interest you in a 6 bedroom, 6 bath home, shaped like a riverboat with a salt water in-ground pool for $1,180,000.00.  The Realtor

Update March 7, 2021: I quit my job.

Addressing the Fear

“It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.” ~ Paul Cezanne

Fear is the one thing that can stop any progress from being made. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. As an artist I struggle with fear constantly, however fear is also what urges me on. I will sit and stare at a blank canvas, afraid of putting that first stroke of color on the pristine surface. What if I put it in the wrong spot? What if it comes out looking like crap? What if nobody likes it? What if people discover that I have no idea what I’m doing? Then I role my shoulders back, sit up straight, and say, “What if it frees my soul?”

Welcome to my fear.

We can sit and stare at the blank canvas in the hopes that inspiration will come.  We can leave the canvas sitting in the corner of the room waiting for the moment when it will come alive.  In the meantime, it’s only collecting dust.  Take this first blog for example.  I stare at the blank screen with the cursor blinking at me as if saying in Morse code, “w.r.i.t.e.m.e”  a constant nagging that raises the blood pressure.  Let me tell you, that cursor has been blinking at me for 3 weeks now.

I have found that facing my fear head on is the only way I know to conquer it.  Now fear and I may end up having a staring contest that lasts for weeks, but eventually fear will blink.  It always does.  The same principle applies to the blank canvas.  That painting is not going to magically paint itself, (although that would be pretty cool to watch).  At some point I have to put that first stroke on the canvas.  This may sound crazy, but I have found that if I just put a small dot of paint somewhere on the canvas then the fear of the stark, white canvas is minimized.  It will still nag at me, just like that blinking cursor, but the canvas is not nearly as pristine as it use to me and I have claimed it as my own with one simple stroke.Blank_Canvas

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