building an art biz

On Being A Beginner

Being a beginner can be scary but it can also be beautiful. You get to choose.

I've been making art off and on since I was 12 not ever really considering it to be a viable career choice or way of life. While I enjoyed art back then, I excelled in science and math and told anyone who would listen about my plans of becoming a surgeon. In the fall of 2013 things changed. Actually several years ago I put my doctor ambitions to rest and settled into my career as an epidemiologist, but 2.5 years ago I gave voice to the years of resistance, restlessness and seeking and affirmed what I've known since I was 12 - I am an artist. Making things light me up.

Knowing who you are is liberating.

Knowing who you are is way more important than knowing where you are going.

Two and a half years ago I decided I wanted my creative life to be my entire life and not just something I day-dreamt about or did in the evenings after work or on Sunday mornings to soothe and bandage the inflamed parts of my life. Parts left that way because I was just too afraid to quit and start at the beginning. Then, being a beginner seemed scary.

That fall I also stop caring about what other folk thought about me and my coloring ways. I only have one life. You only have one life. What is it going to be? Who are you going to live it for?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? -Mary Oliver

I want to craft stories with my words and my paint brushes and I want to live comfortably doing it. I am not sure who or what coaxed me into believing that a creative life meant an unstable life or a lonely life or an impoverished life. Thank the heavens, I let that go! I stopped believing that and every day since then my belief that my gifts - my divine creative gifts - will make room for me have carried me.

Had I decided to go on to an art conservatory after graduating from high school (I went to Fame school by the way...yep the one where students sing and dance in the cafeteria and paint on walls), who knows where I would be. All I know is here I am, a beginner. An artist at the beginning of her beautiful and brilliant career, perfecting her craft, earning her chops, enjoying the process, and making work that mostly misses the high mark she has set for herself, but an artist nonetheless.

Hearing the words of journalist Ira Glass stirred me enough to share all of this with you. If you have a couple of minutes do watch this lovely and creative rendering of Ira Glasses's pep talk to beginners.

Are you a beginner? Come let's hold hands and swap stories. Meet me in the comments.

Tell On,

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What Artist Romare Bearden Taught Me about Commitment

What am I committed to? Who do I need to be to make it happen?

These are the two question you need to answer now. Like right now if you're ever going to have the life you dream about.

March 30, 2026...Ten years from now, when I reflect on today. I want to know that I pursued and practiced my talents fully, without letting up, without apology, and most especially without regret. Hearing what your soul is telling you - pick up the brush and paint, write your story, sell the farm move to the city, leave the city buy a farm, dump the boy, slowdown, down size, make room - is the easier part. Committing to what you hear then deciding who you need to be to make it all happen is an entirely different thing.

Can you imagine ascending to greatness based on how you decide to spend time, your evenings and weekends for example?

Romare Bearden, the brilliant artist, writer and activist, spent most of his adult years up into his 50s working as a full-time social worker in New York City. He made art in the evenings and on the weekends. For thirty years, he created masterpieces in the evenings and on the weekends. Masterpieces. Mind blown? Oh, he took care of his wife and children too. Mind blown, now? I know right! 

Romare Bearden, Mother and Child, 1977, Silkscreen with Photo-lithograph

Romare Bearden, Mother and Child, 1977, Silkscreen with Photo-lithograph

Bearden ascended to greatness based in large part to what he decided to do with the little time he had. He was that committed to his art, to his soul's calling. No excuses. He honored himself, his talents and his commitment.

Can you imagine ascending to greatness - top of the pack, best selling, known for your brilliance and bravery, mentioned in the same breath as the other greats - based on how you decide to spend your evenings and weekends, your "free-time."

Great because you committed to starting your business, launching your blog, writing your novel, learning that thing you always wanted to learn, being brilliant. Great because you figured out who you needed to be - dedicated, responsible, vulnerable, open, present, available, patient - to make it happen.

So ask yourself...

What am I committed to? Who do I need to be to make it happen?

I want to root for you. Declare your commitments in the comments. We're in this together.


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