As an artist, I’m a very late bloomer. I’m nearly 53 and have been painting for a scant four years. All my life however, I’ve surrounded myself with artists. I’ve even chosen parallel careers to art making. I was what author Julia Cameron, in her book “The Artist’s Way”, would label a shadow artist. You see, my desire to create was so deeply buried, I honestly had no consciousness of it.
Yes, I’d always been “creative”. I knew how to make my home look pretty. Many of my friends would ask my help with their homes too. I earned high marks on college papers and could pen a wacky party invite.
During the late 80‘s to mid 90’s, I co-owned a fine art gallery with my Mom, a multi-talented painter, musician and interior designer. During those gallery years, I relished any time with artists. I often placed local ads seeking their consigned art. These led to my favorite days - when artists would arrive in trucks bursting with beautiful paintings, colorful ceramics and other wares. I loved climbing inside to sort through the treasure!
My passion for art was so great, my Mom and I began hosting a weekly show on local talk radio. From inside our gallery, we broadcast hour long chats with artists about the creative lifestyle and their art. I was intrigued by their process and “bohemian” ways, but I never thought to pick up a paintbrush myself. My life was about work, paying rent, caring for my dogs and squeezing in a social life, you know? It simply never occurred to me.
After several years, we sold our gallery and I moved on to new adventures. For many years, I worked in L.A.‘s highly competitive television advertising field. I was in sales however, not on the creative side. There, my closest friends were the producers, writers and marketing gurus. More rubbing elbows with creatives while I pushed pencils and computer keys . . .
About 10 years ago, I married my boss. (Gasp.) We knew that we didn’t want to live and work together, so my amazing husband gifted me the freedom to “pursue my passions”. This sudden opportunity sent me into a tail spin! Having no clarity on what my passions actually were, I fumbled and drifted. I tried out new “careers” and directions for several years. Each time I was disappointed and unenthused. It became clear I was only doing what I thought I “should” - namely bringing home a paycheck. I drove my poor husband insane with constant self analysis, guilt and angst. Gawd, he’s such a gem!
Even though no new direction hit the mark, I began to notice things about myself. First, my lifelong love affair with journaling was changing. Along with my stream of conscious words, I began adding collaged images to the page - and sometimes even doodles and sketches. I have no recollection of how or when that began. Also, with the time now to read solely for pleasure, I found myself drawn to books about artists, their lives and the creative process. I was amassing quite a library.
My creative path unfolded dramatically when Sabrina Ward Harrison hosted a nearby workshop. I spotted an ad for the class just a day before it would begin. I was stunned to learn there was one space left. The next day, I walked into a hushed room filled with the most amazing women artists. I never felt so terrified, or so absolutely certain I was in the right place!
Filled with inspiration, I began the search for other art classes. I discovered a world of internet based workshops. Who knew? I quickly joined an intense 6 month online painting mentorship with artist Shiloh Sophia McCloud. In this class, I painted my very first canvas! Working on that first painting, I felt such clarity and purpose. I now wholeheartedly believed I was an artist - a new artist, but one with potential.
Before completing the class, I took another leap. I asked my Mom, a lifelong painter, to share a studio! I knew she needed the space, and I needed to explore my newfound heart’s calling. Synchronicity confirmed I was on track when 2 days later I located a space for us ten minutes from my home. The rental met every criteria on our list - things like a large rolling metal door, a short term lease and a super safe area (it’s across the street from the police and fire departments). Within one week, we had our warehouse studio.
The morning we drove to our new landlord’s office, I couldn’t believe what I was doing. I signed the lease with a shaky, but certain hand. My life had changed so quickly . . . I’d begun calling myself an artist, painting on canvas and renting an art studio within a four month period of time! It may seem as if the epiphany was sudden, but as I write, I’m aware of the long journey to that point. Signing the lease was more than a monetary transaction - much more than a contract . . . it was my written commitment to following my heart and making art more than a hobby.
That was nearly four years ago - it’s early in what I hope will be a lifelong artistic adventure. Today, I continue art journaling, painting very large canvases and leasing the same warehouse studio. I have easy days and crazy making days alike. But the joy that comes from a committed daily practice and creative exploration is addictive. I know I will never stop!
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
- Anais Nin
To learn more about Tracie, visit www.mybloominglife.com