Nothing Ventured…Nothing Gained
I just wanted to write a quick post on why you should always stretch yourself…to try new things…to forge into unknown territories. You never know what it will bring. It will increase your confidence and skill – and you may just get a few jobs you never would have gotten without stretching those unused muscles.
For over 20 years I was in the corporate world – you know…suit, sensible shoes and haircut and a briefcase filled with folders about news of fixed income investing, financial industry mergers and acquisitions…the Wall Street Journal and a fully booked daytimer. I did very well financially – but spiritually I was bereft. I knew that I needed a change but what was I going to do? I knew that I needed money to pay the mortgage, bills etc. Sometimes, change comes to you. It’s up to you to accept the change or defer and stay with the status quo.
After 20 years of creating executive conferences for the financial services industry (nearly 10 of those years as the head of my own company), I was experiencing extreme burnout. With the burnout came a severe reduction of the number of attendees to my events. It was partly my fault and partly the economy, but my little success machine of a company wasn’t earning as much money as it had been. So – after a few failed attempts to revive the company, I allowed my main investor in the company to start unwinding the organization. He had been a great help to me in the beginning, but he started to be a thorn in my and the company’s side over the years.
I gave in and allowed my 20 plus years of this business to just evaporate and fade. But, funny enough, it felt as if a huge ton of bricks was just lifted from my chest! I found that I could consult to a few companies on a part time basis, while I searched around for a new challenge.
My first mural…really!
I had always loved the decorative arts world and so I searched around for some mentors who could teach me the ins and outs of decorative painting, murals, stencilling etc. After taking classes in designer faux finishing, furniture painting and several other classes, I started to do some projects in my home. After I felt confident in what I was doing I did some paid projects in clients’ homes. I did my first mural class (above) and within a week of finishing the class I got a job doing an angel mural in an entryway for a wonderful client. This was only my 5th or 6th real client. I was a little unsure about my ability – but thankfully it turned out beautifully. I was able to create the mural on canvas in my garage (turned studio now!) and the artwork was installed a month later in the client’s home.
What I want to impart to all of you is that no matter where you are job-wise or life-wise, whatever skill level you have, there is always hope and a brighter side of life – if you choose to tackle it and not be hemmed in by fear. I had never picked up a paintbrush in years – but I was shown by some incredible artists and mentors how to recreate a classical work of art without having to go to years of art school instruction. Yes, I had some natural talent. But, mostly, I was just a corporate drop out looking for a way to be free.
Note: The way I did this mural was 1) by priming and painting a canvas, then I skip troweled an off white smooth plaster over it – then another coat of off white paint 2) by using a projector (what a huge help!) to trace as much of the artwork as I could and 3) building up layers of washy paint getting darker and darker each time – I learned to “see shapes,” especially where the shadows were, instead of trying to paint or draw the art. 4) I took a piece of sandpaper -sometimes medium…sometimes fine – and sanded here and there to give the artwork some age (this helped create crevices) 5) When done, I antiqued the entire piece.
Now all I have to do is figure out where I will place this in my home!
So don’t give up. Pick up a paint brush, buy some canvases, take some classes in your community or online. You never know what will happen and what it will bring you. I know for one thing – it will bring you happiness.
Happy creating! Just DO IT!!
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