It was 2001 and I was sitting in the restaurant Cats Meow (in Granville island for those who are old enough to know what I am talking about). With my coffee in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other, in mid conversation, my boyfriend at the time decided to proclaim his love for the piece of art that was hanging on the wall behind my head. Annoyed that he interrupted the story I was just telling him, I turned around and I kid you not, thought to myself, “I could paint that.”
Having had about 20 minutes of painting instruction in my grade 12 art class, I have absolutely no idea why I thought I could so confidently paint something like that. But whatever made me think that in that moment is ultimately why I am here today writing about my fairytale story of becoming an artist.
To explain that story further, what ended up happening was that I returned to the restaurant the following day with my point and shoot camera (this is way before smart phones ladies and gentleman), pretended I needed to pee, snuck a photograph of that art, developed the film, bought some crappy art supplies and tried to recreate that painting that my boyfriend loved so much.
Funnily enough, I ended up finishing the piece and gave it to my boyfriend for a Christmas present. Even funnier, he thought I had purchased the piece from the restaurant. To his (and mine for that matter) amazement, he overwhelmingly thanked me for the thoughtful and well executed gift and that was that.
It wasn’t until years later that I picked up another paint brush and finally had the balls to create something of my very own (previous to this, I had just been trying to copy stuff I found on the internet). With this creation of my very own original artwork, something changed. And with the help and encouragement of another boyfriend (don’t judge ;) I decided to paint a bunch of new work and hold an open house in my home, invite everyone I knew and hope to hell someone felt bad enough for me and buy a piece. Well, it ended up being one of the coolest nights of my life (up until that point) because I sold a ton of work. Everyone seemed to love what I was creating and it was one of the most encouraging events I had ever had.
What was most profound about that night was that a complete stranger bought a piece from me and that was a game changer. (Family and friends are supposed to buy because they love you and want you to feel supported). But this stranger had no obligation what so ever and he still bought. He saw something in this small, black and white textural, 12x12 inch piece and he just had to have it. And I still know to this day that it is hanging proudly in a beautiful apartment in Coal Harbour.
After that open house event, everything snowballed from there. I got the opportunity to hold my first solo at Raw Canvas in Yaletown, (which I sold out and filled the place to fire capacity), joined the incredible group of exhibitors of IDS Vancouver (now doing my 10th year this year), exhibited in my first International show in New York City at the prestigious Agora Art Gallery, have my own gallery with 6 other artists (The Space An Art Gallery), teach the best paint class in the city (Paint with Donna) and a million more little things and strokes of luck that have brought me to where I am at the moment.
Oh, did I mention I was also working full time as a head nurse at St Paul’s Hospital while doing the art thing as well?
Eventually, the artwork became so busy that I began to struggle with keeping up my energy and devotion to do both full time nursing and art. So as every 38 year old decides, I gave my notice at the hospital on April 9th, 2018 and gave up my license right then and there. I didn’t think twice about this decision because I knew that I had to give my artistic career the full attention I thought it deserved.
And here we are, over a year later and I can honestly say, I am living the dream.
Every day is different. Some days are lonely and boring, while others are jam packed with exhibitions, emails, newsletter writing and selling art. But what I have come to realize throughout this whole journey of living my dream is that it is hard. It takes dedication, devotion, tenacity, energy, love, passion, a crap ton of support (you can’t do this alone), and most of all, the awareness that you are one of the lucky ones.
Everyone has the opportunity to choose this path, but not every one does. For what ever reason, (combination of luck and hard work), I was given the clarity that this is what I wanted to do and I did what I needed to do to make it work. And every day I am grateful and present to the fact that I am living my dream.
And I can’t wait to see how this dream unfolds……………… (stay tuned and find out with me)
I hope that this blog post at the least made you giggle about something, but maybe one of you have been thinking about changing up your journey and taking your passion to the next level and maybe my story has inspired you to take that next step you have been waiting to take. If that is you, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!!! And let me know if I can help in any way.
Thank you to every person that has been a part of my journey. Without you, none of this would have been possible.