Monday, March 12

Live according to your values. The End.

First things first, lets sets set some ground rules. I really have no idea what I am doing, but I hope what I have to say is helpful, I truly do. If someone out there has a problem with what I say thats ok, but don't leave negative comments. Also I am going to speak to an audience of any age people who want to start an art related business, or turn a hobby into a job (you know, with an income and such) or anyone searching for some advice on how to make a major life shift. This is just the start though, I have so much more I wanna talk with you about. Please leave a comment, or email me, I really want to know about you, and your perspective.



My own story, this embarrassing and a fucking long ass post. I wouldn't read a post this long. Just say'n

I have always been an artist but somehow though I never thought of it as a job, grownups always seemed to be working, and chugging and art is fun! I studied International Affairs in college. Problem solving is very satisfying, and learning about history and cultures is so fascinating and something I could do for the rest of my life and be very happy. Working with politicians? Hell no. I had to be really honest with myself and face the fact that I didn't want to slave so hard, uphill, against so much "worst of human nature" bullshit. I did manage to get a job at an agency that puts together international education tours for kids and teachers.

Our Park Slope Living room the week we moved in
It was not awesome. I would take my hour lunch and go to Borders so I could devour every magazine on art, design and illustration I could get my hands on. This is where I saw an ad for the Miami Ad School....very intriguing. I also met O right as I was leaving my job. Meeting O felt so big and important and right away I knew I would move heaven and earth to be with this man! So, instead of moving away, and enjoying all of the glorious travel that MAS offers...I decided to study branding at the Portfolio Center. I just followed my gut and stayed in Atlanta even though I had wanted nothing more in the world than to leave! and never look back!! I put my relationship with O first, and we have both done that in every single decision we have made since then. This was the first time I had really made a tough choice by forcing myself to live my life in accordance to my values.

We moved to NYC and I got my dream job at Landor! I spent my days trying to get fonts to load, I loathed some of the people I had to collaborate with and I realized how inexperienced I was, and how uninterested I was in trying to fix that. It was very inspiring though to be around so many talented people, seriously incredible! I worked late, a lot. I commuted an hour there and back, and when I came home I needed at least an hour to decompress before I would even make eye contact with O. One night he called me at my desk, I remember it was 11pm on a Tuesday...he said "Baby, come home now please. I miss you and I think you need to do something else, our relationship is suffering." He was right! My life didn't line up with my values, to put my love first...so I left.


working from home
I started a blog during this time, in 2007, and started painting and drawing for fun. I opened an Etsy shop (b/c everyone had one, so why not!) No one bought anything...I had three paintings and they didn't sell for a long time (my mom bought my first one). Soon after, we moved back to Atlanta b/c O wanted to focus and grow his business but it was not really practical to do it in Brooklyn. I wanted fresh air, long walks, a slow, southern life with dogs and my family around. I dreamed of enough space to really paint.

After a few months it became clear that I was sick, and getting worse. I felt bloated every time I ate anything, so tired I cried from it even right when I woke up, I peed alllll the time, my lady times were so bad one day I had to call O for him to run (literally) home b/c I thought I was going to die on the living room floor. I was painting about two things every six months, making jewelry, drawing, just shitting around. I had about two hours of normal activity a day, and we were poor again b/c I brought in no income and O had to work to support us both, and pay all of my medical bills. I sold a print here and there, about two paintings a year. He was so great, and encouraging and when I wanted to cry all day he pulled me out of my self pitty.


Well it turned out I had Adrenal Fatigue (diagnosed with a hormone test, ask your doc!) and Endometriosis. Awesome. Oh, and also Myofascial Pain Syndrome which meant I was often laid up in bed with severe neck pain. I couldn't even take walks in the months leading up to my wedding b/c I was so scared of hurting myself and not being able to walk down the aisle. My whole life became about getting better, even though I never said anything on my blog. I had surgery to remove Endometriosis on my intestines 1.5 months before my wedding and I was uncomfortable for most of it :( I hate talking about my medical shit, seriously who cares! But, since these experiences changed my perspective about life so much, I feel I have to mention them. Also I am happy to expound on all of the healing I learned about it you want to know.


I slowly got better, and am now working out, eating normally and getting in a full day of work!! Sadly that is not the end of it, but that is a tale for another day. I did it by pure motivation. I tried everything and went to so many doctors and healers and specialist I lost count. One person led to another and now I have a chiropractor, a graston and physical therapist, a deep tissue massage specialist (anyone in ATL email me and I will gladly share my sources), an orthopedist, spine specialist, fabulous set of docs for my lady parts, and herbalists, acupuncturists and nutritionist and I studied Chi Quong, and Pilates.


Ok, flash forward to like 2010 and I am only now starting to really set aside time to paint every day, and blog, and build up my shops, take part in art shows in the community and meet other makers in Atlanta and around the world (through my blog!) I never sold anything when I participated in events btw. So lets see, that means that every year when I look back at my income, I have to spread that out over how many years? So it looks like I went from obscurity to popularity quickly but I was quietly working for years. 


I knew I had to work for myself, I mean if I had had a job I would never have even been able to keep it. I was that sick and boy was I depressed from being so sick. I was young! Had endless ideas! I met a group of ladies who found me when my house was on Design Sponge in 08. We had our fist meeting right after my surgery, and have met once a month since then and have really formed a tight group were I can turn to for advice, to vent or for help of any kind. I suggest you make this a reality in your life too. Reach out and be around people who do what you want to do. I didn't have anything to contribute for about two years, but I learned a lot and I got over my hurt pride at being so unaccomplished too.



Sales slowly started to trickle in and I learned how to deal with shipping by making literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars of mistakes people. I said yes to every opportunity, I re-painted things for free, I spent hours and hours on new paintings trying to make them perfect and I kept painting and painting. I never had a fear of showing my work, art school will do that to you. You get over your fear of criticism in about ten minutes. One day I lamented to my friend that I was desperate for help packing things up because I couldn't bend over the table with my gimpy back and also paint...she suggested someone and my whole life changed! I didn't know how I was going to afford to pay her, but it worked out. I could get more painting done and the more I painted, the more people asked me to paint, the more I made and could pay her!


Moving to my studio was one of my proudest accomplishments. I saved up for months so that I would have a little support if it all went to shit. I found one in right away and signed the papers. I couldn't sleep for days and days! How was I going to make monthly payments! What if everyone stopped buying paintings? Then I hired another assistant so that I could spend even more time painting. They do things like: photograph and upload images to the store, keep track of the store, print shipping labels and pack up stuff to ship, paint the edges of the paintings and wire them in the back so you can hang them...pick up lunch, tidy the studio, research stuff for me. Having two people I have to train and be in charge of has taught me that I must be very organized, everything filed away, and a set procedure for every step. It is a whole new set of responsibilities. I made a ton of mistakes, and lost money from those mistakes but like O always says: This happend so that it will never happen again. Boy do I have to tell myself that all the time, and you will too.


Now I am working on inovation. I am changing things around so that I have more room for collaborations, different kinds of paintings and mediums, more galleries and events and expanding to different substrates. I have to keep going, I can't help myself. My friend asked me how I felt on my fist day in my new studio, I said, I dont know, I was busy working. I am banking on my belief that if I work, and create interesting things (interesting to me!) and innovate then people will be drawn to me and I can keep my dream job going. I mean really, how many people are on this earth? A lot, and I only need a small percentage of them to buy my paintings, so the pool is endless! It seems less scary when you look at it that way.

How did I do? What did I leave out? What else do you want to know? Coming up:


Getting over your fear (yourself)
Honing in on what you really are good at
Fucking making it happen
Gathering Creativity
Using tools
Motivation
Goal setting and time management

75 comments:

  1. you are such an inspiration.
    i've followed your blog for a long time and had no idea there was such a back-story to your success as an artist.
    you are so talented and i doubt i'm the the first person to say that your paintings really speak to me. they are simply gorgeous!
    thanks for sharing your story.

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  3. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!
    ..for your art, for your story, for what you going to tell)

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  4. Thank you so much, Michelle, for sharing your story here. You are so inspiring!! I have been an admirer of your art for some time now, but had no idea of your back-story. YOur story shows me really how hesitant I am and somehow coward. I can´t wait what more you are going to share with us here.

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  5. I really enjoyed reading about your career journey! Looking forward to your next post in this series :)

    Happy Monday.

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  6. I loved reading your story and am so grateful you shared it, despite your feeling like it is an embarrassing one. Seeing your work for the first time moved me to the point that I became interested in painting myself. And I found it is something that I enjoy immensely. I can't wait to read the rest of your posts on the topics you mentioned. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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  7. I loved hearing your perspective from this angle and I'm really looking forward to this whole series. Candor is so refreshing when it comes to things that are HARD. I appreciate you acknowledging that the journey is not all rainbows and kittens, and that you did it anyway.

    I also want to say that I have walked through chronic and terrible pain via endometriosis and literally thought it was going to send me to a psych ward. Maddening. Thankful that you and I both found our way to the other side of that, for now. Gave me new perspective about people who deal with chronic pain.

    Anwyay, thanks for this.

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  8. What a journey, Michelle and you still have so far to go. I loved reading about all of your experiences and I'm certain that we will each take away something different from your story. I don't know that I will ever have a career as an artist, but that's really not the point, because your advice to "live according to your values," is invaluable and really applies to every one of us in every facet of our lives. I love your honesty. Thank you for sharing your experiences, your beautiful love story, your wonderful photos...you are really something special!

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  9. Sheesh! I am already a major fan, so now I'm like puking on myself.

    But for real, I am very impressed. I am trying to do something similar myself, and I truly appreciate your sharing here. Though I gotta say I am always afraid at showing my work (never went to art school!).

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  10. thanks so much for taking the time to share your story. it is so inspiring and encouraging to actually see that with motivation and hard work you can shift your life into doing what you love to do!

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  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am a retired art teacher from the public school system. I had to leave early due to many things including a very sick husband. I am needed at home and have created a garage studio. I am also in the process of opening an Etsy shop. I am hanging on your every word. :)
    Also, love the wedding pictures.

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  12. THANK YOU!!! Seriously. You have no idea. I quit my job at a garage a year ago because it was destroying my soul and my body. I thought that once I had time to devote to my Etsy store that something would happen. But nothing has. I am in the process of re-vamping the whole thing all over again and getting my own artwork in there instead of bags and jewelry. It's good to know that even the best have a rough go of things. I had decided that if it doesn't work for me this time, that I'm closing the shop. But maybe I'll just swallow my pride and keep trucking.

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  13. A really great post. I'm lucky that I work in a gallery and most of the time rather enjoy it but would love to retire and work on my art. I'm looking forward to reading your next posts.
    Your wedding pics are lovely!
    Ps thanks for your comment about the painting I posted on the blog a couple of weeks ago :)

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  14. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE hearing your story! i am a big fan of your work and you are an inspiration to me in my own "art" journey. I am a full time RN, wife and mother of 3 who is a photographer/painter on the side. I can't wait to keep reading your posts!

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  15. Michelle, I wish I lived closer and could be your bff. Even though you said YOU wouldn't read a post this long, I did and found it very relateable. It's so easy to be overcome by pride or ego when our plans don't work out the way we anticipate, and clearly you are all about following your dream for the long haul. Good on you.

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  16. Michelle, this was such an inspirational post. Thank you so much for writing it and sharing your story. You are an absolute role model, especially for those who want to pursue their passions but have let perceived practicality stand in the way.

    Thanks again!!

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  17. Michelle, your story was so inspiring! Thank you for being so candid! I had to feature you on my blog today as a start to a new feature "Design Lovin'" I hope you don't mind me sharing your images.
    http://www.cwhimsydesigns.com/2012/03/design-lovin-armas-design.html

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  18. Hi Michelle. Love your blog and love reading your story. Proves to show that if you work hard and stay true to your passion, slowly but surely, you reap the benefits of not only success, but true happiness by living your dream xx

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  19. Thanks for sharing, very inspiring. I am an "older chick" who did go to art school, but spent the past um, almost 10 years dealing with alot on my plate. The cloud is finally passing and I have just started seriously painting again. Thanks again for being so honest. Can't wait for the rest.
    Debbie

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  20. Thanks so much for sharing this! This is a great post and I am looking forward to hearing more!

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  21. It has taken me nearly an hour to read this post...not due to length but because I have read it over and over, so much good and inspiring information to take in. Don't even have the words...will likely read this again and again in my mind. Similar health and professional struggles...and thankfully as with you an incredibly empathetic and motivating spouse. Thank you for this

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  22. As someone who turned her hobby into a business (interior design) as well, I can relate to a lot of what you said. I am so glad that you shared your story. It is so true that sometimes it looks like things come easy when we reach a certain level of success but it is the struggles to get there that make those successes so profound. And I agree that the mistakes are sometimes as important as the successes as that is how we learn and grow. I appreciate your openness to share - it is an inspiration and an encouragement. I only recently found your art and have been literally stalking your online gallery for weeks waiting for a small painting that would speak to me and I came over to tell you thank you because I just purchased one! I love that you titled it "truth" and it will have even more meaning to me now that I know your story. And also, congratulations!!! I just recently noticed as well that Anthropologie is selling your paintings - wow! xo Sherri

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  23. michelle, you will probably never really know how many folks this series will help and motivate. I am really appreciative of your willingness to be so honest and open. I, for one, am really inspired. looking forward to more...donna

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  24. Thank you guys, you are the very best! I just love hearing from you all. Thank you for making it easier to be honest and open, although I am not sure what took me so long :) I hope to keep hearing from you and learn more about you too!

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  25. Thank you for that. I am at a place where I love my job, but it is super stressful and I don't get the credit that I think I deserve. I get chewed out on a daily basis- for no other reason than we are busy and my boss can't handle it. I, like you did, drive 2 hours a day to work and come home exhausted and stressed-- no way to have a true loving relationship with my husband and 5 mo. son.

    I have contemplated going out on my own. I desire it so much, but am afraid. What happens if I fail? Can we survive? You have made me realize that I can do it if I put my mind to it. It WILL be hard, stressful, and risky; but if I don't, I will wake up 50 years old and miserable.

    You have given me hope and something to seriously ponder.

    Thanks
    Whitney @ http://whitneybrock.blogspot.com/

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  26. Michelle - I would love for you to read a little of my story - ironically from this past sunday's newspaper. http://www.gwcommonwealth.com/lifestyle/features/article_afc4378a-69f5-11e1-b175-001871e3ce6c.html
    you will have to sign up for the free 7 day trial in order to read the whole thing - i just thought "since we are all sharing" and everything it may be of some interest to you - pretty much along the same lines as you with following your heart.

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  27. Thanks for sharing!! So happy that you're doing what you enjoy most -- it certainly shows through your beautiful work! Love every piece you've EVER painted!! Congratulations on all of your success.

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  28. I am absolutely loving hearing how you started and your perspective on valuing your love & ideal life above all else is truly inspiring. What a wonderful testimony to the relentless pursuit of a dream you are! So happy for all of your success and hope it continues for years and years to come!

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  29. I was just rereading this wonderful post for the third time, and it won´t be my last. Every time I get more inspired and faithful. Thank you for much for this. I want to overcome my fear to show my stuff, this is a big issues for me (no real art education, never went to art school). And I want to find such a group, too! Thank you so much for your honesty and generosity here. About me, I have a day job in tourism (want to quit this some day!), but deep inside I feel and know that I am an artist, if I´d only give myself the permission to be one.

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  30. Michelle, I was looking at your pins in Pinterest and was blown away that there are so many, compared to what was there when I comissioned my beautiful painting "Fiorella" last summer. I just want to say, congrats on your success, and it is so interesting to read about how you started. Deep down I am an artist, just have not had a chance to go after it in my adult life (I have a few oils that I painted in my teenage years). I am also the child of immigrants so I relate to that too. I must say I adore your painting in my living room. Everybody that comes thru has something nice to say about it. I hope you feature it sometime in your blog! That would be fun! I have to spots in my staircase that I've been saving for something that I create, I think I am inspired after reading your post. Thanks!

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    1. Fiorella, I had sooo much fun painting for you. Send me a high dpi photo and I will post it for sure :)

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  31. When I moved to Portland I immediately got a job as an administrate assistant at law office, where I made more money then I've ever made in my life. And it was awful. Every day on my lunch hour I'd go sit in front of the library and draw -- trying to convince myself that I was doing what I wanted to, having a job I didn't care about so I could have room for the art. But that wasn't happening. Every day I would come home and cry. (The office dealt with divorce law, so you'd work the front desk and get calls from people in tears. I also worked for both a lot of rich people and Big Personalies who went out of their way to make life difficult for everyone.) It was a bad scene. It took me so long to decompress from work and psyche myself up to go back to work that I wouldn't paint anything.

    I quit after three months and got a job cleaning houses with an independent company. And that's been heaven. No other job I've ever had has been as low stress as this. You absolutely leave your work at work, because as soon as you close a person's door you think, ah! I'm all done! I make less than half of what I made at the law office, but learning to live lean is a good skill at any time. And the trade off is all that matters to me. I work every morning before I go to clean, and work again about 6 hours when I get home. At my cleaning job I get a massive workout, see beautiful homes, meet beautiful people (and animals), listen to hours and hours of audiobooks and old timey radio shows. It's exactly what I need. A stable bill-paying gig so my art need not bend to trends. The art can stand on its own, develop, flourish. As I make more paintings and get more interesting jobs I talk about it online, show it to agents and publishers and slowly, slowly the art begins to stand on its own. Slow and steady wins the race.

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    1. Maggie, what an inspring story! I am so sorry that the job was so stressful, it is such an awful feeling, I sympathise! I bet you do love cleaning houses, I know I would: time alone with my thoughts, physical but not hard work, people are appreciative of you, mental free space to peruse your passions...so great. Thank you for sharing.

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  32. They say when the student is ready the teacher will appear - thank you for being our teacher and inspiration. There must be a reason why I stumbled upon your blog recently. :)

    Our stories are somewhat similar and I have been thinking about getting back into art and possibly selling it but don't know how or where to start. I get stuck on the simpliest thing such as how to package the art so that it doesn't get damaged in transit and I let that fear take control and stop me doing anything.

    I'm very excited to read your future posts on this. Thank you very much for sharing your life with us.

    Mary

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  33. Michelle - I already felt like I knew you, and here I am, getting to know you all over again. It's crazy how much I can relate to everything you talked about here, and how funny it now is to me that we hit it off right from the jump. Ahhhh universe, you and the stupid sense you sometimes make. I LOVE hearing about your journey (and you should've told me to fuck off when you painted for me. SERIOUSLY.), and you continue inspiring me to follow my gut/heart to pursue my passions. Here's to giving the Man the finger!! Hugs!

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  34. Thanks for writing this Michelle. I think so often, people don't know how much sweat, tears, and trials go on behind the scenes of small business. I really needed to hear the part about staying true to who you are. My small business is an ever-evoloving story. I've worked really hard and made work the center of my life for a lot of years. Trying to figure out how I can re-focus a little.

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  35. Michelle, I've been a fan of your art, and also your "voice" and personality for awhile now. I LOVE your honesty, and thanks for showing your journey. Cajones grande! Rock it, girl! I want to see your studio when I finally make it to Atlanta one of these days.

    All the great things you've done - you totally earned it!

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  36. I knew you were an artist first semester in college. That beautiful collage of inspiration clippings, notes and pictures on our wall!! I bet I have a photo. Your mind was churning even then! And you taught me how to wear mascara. Even though it took me 10 more years to really get the hang of it! Of course, if the painting gig shrivels up and dies, we can always pursue the stimulate-yourself-awake alarm clock. Pure gold.

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    1. Oh my goodness, you just made me laugh so hard that I scared my dog and spilled my water! WHAT a great memory that is, an alarm clock marketed by Chris Rock that brings you to orgasm to wake you up...nice.

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  37. wowza. i loved this post and its honesty. it makes me feel like i am not an island. i found your work originally bc a friend sent me a link and asked if one of your paintings was mine??? what?? i mean...i can see how someone who sorta skims over things and moshes abstract art all together in the same category might see that? but i would think it the HIGHEST compliment if one of mine EVER had as much raw awesomeness as one of yours.....anyhoo....i've followed ever since bc i love your writing and beautiful colors.....the freedom in your work is something i hope to find before i'm, oh...say, 70?? congratulations on all of your success. it makes me beyond happy to see it find someone like you.

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  38. wow, you just got me thinking about my life. i want to do what you've done with yours, but my fears constantly hold me back. we're moving to georgia in a couple of months and when we get there i plan (hope) to move forward with my artwork. anyway, thanks for your honesty. the constant inspiration you provide through your blog and beautiful artwork. a big hug!

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  39. Michelle,
    I want you to know that about a year ago, while in my senior year of art school as a painting major, still not knowing how to get my paintings to be what I wanted them to be (I wanted happy, loud, colorful, contrasting, abstract paintings even if my boring old professors discouraged us from using bright colors for some STRANGE reason)and get excited about them and how to get inspired, my professor told me once again for the thousandth time that I needed to research artists. I FINALLY listened and did just that. I don't remember how I found your website but, when I did everything just...clicked. I had no idea who you were or that you're work was so well known but, I was incredibly inspired and obsessed. I painted my first of many paintings that I was actually excited about. I tribute my inspiration and my "taking the plunge" solely to you and your work. I have now graduated (December 2011) and moved to the big city of Dallas, Texas, trying to find a job and simultaneously get my name and my work out there. No such luck. A friend suggested I market myself, so I did. Today, I have a website, etsy shop, facebook page, and blog in hopes of them miraculously landing me a job. While writing my first blog post EVER this afternoon, I visited your blog for the first time and coincidentally this was the first post I read. I suddenly don't feel so alone and like I'm chasing after a lost cause. Any advice or suggestions in where to go from here?

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  40. Thank you for such an honest post. I recently quit my job as an architect and architectural consultant to pursue something...not sure what yet, but I know it will come. It's hard to work towards the thing you thought you knew you wanted only to discover it's not. For me, I have to contend and answer to all of my professional friends who struggled through all of the all-nighters at work and passing 9 architectural exams over a period of a decade; they think I threw my life away. All I know is that my insides were dying from the professional monotony and I had to get out. Anyways, your work is wonderful and your post is so so appreciated.

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  41. Thank you so much for being so open. I look forward to reading future posts. Wishing you continued success.

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  42. Hi Michelle, Thank you so much for this post. It really resonated with me and I have been thinking about some of the things you wrote all week! For me, a parallel to 'live according to your values' (which is so true!) is 'listen to your instinct'. Both ideas can get clouded especially with life pulling in different directions, but I find (if) when I DO tune in, find the clarity and follow my instincts, life just seems to flow and feel better. Anyway - I'm looking forward to next week's post re: overcoming fear - a toughie, but again, so where I am (and it sounds many of us are) right now. Anyway, thanks lady... you are amazing! Have a wonderful weekend!

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  43. Michelle - I love your post. So beautifully said, so inspiring and so honest.

    I especially admire your combination of super bad-ass strength + softness. Such a perfect combination for a woman....

    Anyway - As I said to you over the phone, you have a HUGE, HUGE fan here in Providence, RI. It is such a pleasure to follow your blog. You are like my imaginary friend...

    Wishing you all the best.

    MB

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  44. Pan Pa Dios michele. Gracias. I have been a huge fan of your blog and your fabulous paintings for over 2 years. I am so very grateful to you for doing this series. I will be telling all my friends about it. I think you are incredibly brave and generous for sharing your personal journey with us, your readers. I feel so moved and inspired. Keep up the great work. Many blessings to you and a very heartfelt thank you. Pan pa dios. Leticia, Southern California

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  45. Wow. I had no idea you were struggling with all of this! I have had issues with adrenal fatigue AND endometriosis, and honestly - besides my mom, I haven't ever heard anyone come out and say that they have AF too.

    This post came just at the right time, because I think I've been in denial about the fact that the AF is starting to affect my career (and probably my marriage, too). Too many times I think that it is just my cross to bear, but I'm committing this week to looking into better treatment. Thanks so much for sharing your story, and here's to you for your bravery and vulnerability. :)

    By the way, I've been such a big fan of yours for the longest time, and the other day when I got my Anthro catalog, I nearly threw it on the floor with excitement when I saw your work displayed so prominently/beautifully. MAJOR congrats, you! XO

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  46. Thanks for your inspirational story - I admire your perseverance and tenacity. You will always be successful because you have what it takes inside of you. You seem like the type that is full of life, and it shows in your art! It's refreshing to see someone succeed in this market!!!

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  47. You are awesome. thanks for this.

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  48. thanks so much for sharing your story. with so many flashy fancy oh so perfect life blogs out there, i appreciate your honesty. i look forward to reading what you wite next. i wish you much continued success!

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  49. HI!!!
    thank you for this amazing post!
    it is inspiring!
    i also have adrenal fatigue.... it started when i was living in paris... and got so bad i could barely make it home... and that was 6 years ago... and these past 3 months have been the first in years i have felt full of energy! due to a lot of factors (i keep excluding things from my diet, started with dairy, then sugar, now gluten) and i have been doing this breathwork which is an active meditation which has helped me understand my energy, acupuncture has helped too. but for years, like you, i struggled physically and emotionally. i even went through grad school like that. i'm not sure how... but you just learn to drag yourself around. but it really taught me how to love myself... and how to take care of my body... and read the signs it is sending me.
    anyway - not a lot of people know what this is, and even fewer know how painful and hard it is.
    so bravo to you for how far you have come!!!!

    i found your post via Jennifer (Ermie)

    xo-Lauren

    www.thesphinxandthemilkyway.com
    www.spencer-studio.com

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  50. So, so beautiful! Your honesty... your story... all of it.

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  51. Thank you so much for telling your story. It is very encouraging to me. I have have been decorating for events, mostly for free since 2007 and doing a few interior design jobs on the side in between my regular job. I just decided this year to make a go of my event and interior design business. When I did that, two jobs came to me immediately. I feel like I sewed my seed and now the harvest is coming up. I've made a few money mistakes already, but I have reminded myself that this is a learning curve and it will get better. Stories like yours spur me on and encourge me to keep on keeping on. Thank you.

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  52. oh my gosh, wow! thank you so much for sharing. this is EXACTLY what i needed today. thank you thank you!

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  53. You/re right, that was a long as post....and I soaked up every word. For inspiration for myself and for admiration for you.

    I can take some little snippet of all you said, but especially the part about working to honor your own values and to please yourself. I also struggle so much with feeling like a "loser" because I can't seem to get anyone to pay me for my work, I know it will happen, and when it does it will make up for the last three years that money has just trickled in.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, and for cussing, that always makes it feel better.

    xoxo

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  54. Well, hell, that was supposed to say "ass", not "as". Shit-sticks....;)

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  55. Thank you so much for your post, especially the following:
    "if I work, and create interesting things (interesting to me!) and innovate then people will be drawn to me and I can keep my dream job going. I mean really, how many people are on this earth? A lot, and I only need a small percentage of them to buy my paintings, so the pool is endless! It seems less scary when you look at it that way."

    That resonated with me to the core. I recently had the same a-ha moment after I found out that I had massive uterine fibroids and needed a hysterectomy. The 6-week recovery gave me so much time to reassess my life. I made the heart-choice to commit myself to my craft full-time (furniture making) and I am SO much happier. I still have a job in my field (book publishing) but now I get to go home after work and submerge myself in my lovely studio. Etsy is working well for me, and I dream of the day when I can go full time like you have.

    The part about having a community of like-minded women is key! I continue to work on that. You are so very lucky.

    Thank you so much for the inspiration and reminders!

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    1. Sarah, Thank you for sharing your story. How wonderful that you are pursing your love! Best of luck to you in finding a community of like minded ladies, it is a support that is invaluable! I am so lucky, and so appreciative of my friends as well.

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  56. Wow! I remember reading your blog for the first time a few years ago. I would check back every now and then and it has been such a treat to see how your dream has come to life! You are very inspiring and I have enjoyed seeing your art and career evolve. I can see from your experience, things don't always fall into place in the beginning. But years of hard work can really pay off and develop something great. It is a dream of mine to get back into creating art myself. I'm a graphic designer by day and I feel I spend so much energy and creativity at my job, sometimes I'm drained when I get home. I guess finding a good balance and more motivation is what I need. :) Congrats on pursing your dream!

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  57. Thank you for your story. I have been in business for 4+ years and have loved most of it. Most of it:) I make and sell jewelry in 5 to 6 shops in the southeast and sell online. I love creating but wish my business would grow more. Its encouraging to hear your story. I actually found your work a few years ago( I don't remember where) and then I saw it resurface on Anthropologie. You have such an eye for color and I love looking at your work!
    -Holly aka The Governor's Daughter

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  58. This story is beautiful. It really inspires me to get started on being the artist I've always dreamt of being and quit pretending to be an architect. ^^; Thank you for sharing! <3<3<3

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  59. Oh I could just happy slap you! Thanks for the honest pep talk! I just stumbled across this post at such an appropriate time! Thanks! :)

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  60. Thank you for sharing your story. It was just what I needed on a rainy Sunday :)

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  61. Wow - this is so inspiring! I am in the middle of trying to make a career change and healing from medical issues as well, so your story really hits home for me. I just found your blog through a round-up on Emily Henderson's blog, and I am excited to look around! Your paintings are beautiful - the seem like the perfect art to live with, not only look at. :)

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  62. Hi Michelle! I remember following you along when you first started and I was writing my other blog (Megan Cassidy Carty). I've watched you grow and become so successful and I wanted to say how exciting it's been to watch and see! You are EVERYWHERE and it's so great to see your authentic work take flight. I am now working on figuring out the kinds of art I most love to make and it's quite a journey. I'm thinking I'm going to be moving toward abstract landscapes; we shall see! Thank you for sharing your process and being so transparent. (I also have a lot of chronic illnesses and disorders that I am trying to get a handle on and have an understanding of how that runs your life in a way; I feel for you and will pray for your recovery). I just wanted to stop and say hello and tell you how great everything looks. Good for you!!!!

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  63. Hi Michelle, I've found your blog via your website via your work on One Kings Lane - this post made me laugh, I think it was your swearing, that often warms me to people! Beautiful paintings and so fun to read about your artist journey!

    - Georgie :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment Georgina. I also like when people cuss, it makes me like them :)

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  64. So happy I found this article Michelle, as you look like having it all together, but I see you kind of went through what I am going now. I pray that one day I will be making great art like you and have the perfect art carreer, but I believe the first step is to make time to paint every day. Not easy when you have a full time job in a cubicle and a 5 year old, but I guess that's the price to pay. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

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  65. I agree! What perfect timing to read this and again be reminded that we are all going at our own pace. And it takes a while! Even aspiring artists think other artists have had overnight success - we forget that too that it takes a while and being consistent with wanting to paint and make it a priority. I too have full time job doing order processing/invoicing and customer service with a 2 year old at home. Ugh. Went back to school for painting and MFA and still am trying to figure things out. Very inspiring and honest. Thank you Michelle - again couldn't have come at a better time to just stick with it. Even if you don't know what the hell you are doing, you do know you want to paint. And I can certainly understand that. Thank you! Your work is gorgeous!

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  66. Thank you for sharing your journey. It's so nice to see the real struggle and story behind the paintings. It has inspired me so!

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  67. Thank you for sharing all the glory and especially the struggle. It ALL makes the story so significant especially to women artists. Continued success in 2016!

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  68. Wow. Michelle. I was first drawn to your paintings on One Kings Lane, then the light-hearted titles you gave them, and the chatty way explain things on your site. Now reading your thoroughly honest post and journey to this satisfying place of making art and making a living at it, I'm hooked! No wonder your work is attracting viewers and buyers, you are sharing everything in such a real way. So compelling. I'm inspired and have more hope to get through my own FUNK right now. The depressing parts of today are fuel for tomorrow. Thanks so much for sharing your real story here!

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Yay! Your gonna reach out to me! I am so excited. I have tried to make commenting here easy for both of us. So please try your hardest to read the squiggly letters so I can chat with you.

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