Suffice to say, life has been very difficult, stressful, and emotionally draining for the last six months, hence the radio silence.
I decided though, to have another go at building blogging back into the schedule. I'm not going to be so rash as to make promises, but I will try and blog once a week. In theory, that feels doable. In reality, it might not happen, but I will try.
Kicking off, I want to write about working. Working when you're sick. Going back to when things changed for me is something I wrote a few years back in this post. I was medically retired in 2013 from the marketing position I held at the time, and due to the severity of my disease since then, have not been able to consider outside employment since.
So, what to do?
I spent a great deal of my working life layering concurrent jobs. As is the case for many women, my working life was interrupted by having children, and often tailored to being able to support a working partner. I haven't had a career, per se. I quit uni early during my second marriage as it was financially necessary that I work. My singing teacher at the time was furious. However, I was already singing professionally by then, and performing was my aim in doing a Bachelor of Music in the first place, so not achieving the academic qualifications didn't bother me too much at the time. It did, however, impede me further down the track in terms of other options. So, I did a visual arts degree in the end. By the end of secondary school, I'd wanted to pursue both music and visual art - which didn't happen, largely due to too many people pushing me to just focus on music. In the wake of the break down of that second marriage, I decided it was my time to do what I wanted to do. I distinctly recall an accountant friend suggesting that achieving being added to the core chorus of the local opera company and commencing a visual arts degree were perhaps not the most sensible choices when I had two children to support on my own. But at the time, I also recall feeling that the things I'd wanted to do had so often been sidelined by other people making decisions for me, and I'd had enough of that.
I got the degree, and followed it up with an academic masters in art history and curatorial studies. Most frustratingly, I never managed to land a full time job in my field - it's intensely competitive, as there are too many courses turning out wannabee curators for far too few institutions in this country. So I continued to lurch from contract job to contract job in sort of related areas, building up a CV that is anything but orthodox, because it was always a matter of taking what presented itself, because there were always bills to pay, and I didn't have the luxury funds to enable me to hold out for the perfect job.
Cue 2013 and the RA going berserk, and suddenly I had a massive road block to any full time employment.
Ironically, RA and being medically retired has gifted me something I lacked - time. Not being able to work full time, while frustrating on all kinds of levels, and financially difficult - particularly at the present time, has gifted me with time. Time to put into writing - which I've done alongside other things since 2004. And more recently, my art practice, which was always the first thing to get dropped in the face of work priorities.
My master's thesis supervisor was responsible for me getting into writing professionally when she handballed me an exhibition review for a craft journal. That lead to more writing within the arts, which I loved. Sadly, with the GFC and general downward trend of funding in the arts, that work has all but disappeared, and I miss it. However, I was lucky enough to discover, via a social media ad, an Australian ghost writing company that was seeking more writers, and I've been doing contract work for them for many years now. It varies in type, quantity and subject matter quite a bit, but the bulk of it, over the years, has been blog posts for business websites. So that's been there in the background in various amounts for about ten years now.
I'd tinkered with different art activities. When my father died, and I received a small inheritance from his estate, I made the decision to invest in myself, and spent a year as part of a ceramics collective. I loved that. I had access studio space, equipment, and people. It was a happy and productive period. I got gallery representation and sold lots of work through that gallery, and did some commission pieces as well as selling privately. Then the money ran out. I did a business plan back in art school, costing out setting up my own studio so I could work independently - the numbers worked. But, the initial funding was something I've never been able to amass.
Last year, Dragon Dad gave me watercolours. I eyed them with some fear for a month - they're a medium I've avoided most of my creative life, because they're HARD! Then the photo group I was in - I've written about that HERE - had its colour month, where each day's prompt was a colour, so I decided to bite the bullet and paint the prompts. I figured that if all I had to really focus on each day was the colour, I should be able to manage the paint. Well, famous last words. It was a hell of a month. Every day I was painting, finding subject matter that would fit the colour, then painting. Then the unexpected happened... I started, about ten days in, to get messages asking if I was selling the paintings. So I sold one, then another, and by the end of that month, I'd sold more than half of them. Not only that, I started getting asked if I could paint specific things - commissioned pieces. And then, messages started coming in asking if I could draw things as well, and suddenly, every day I was working on something, and have been since. I've revamped my Facebook page, which you can find HERE, and should there be something there you like, or something you'd like to commission, you can contact me via the messenger function there and we can discuss your options.
Another thing that happened, that was quite unexpected, was the flurry of requests for portraits of people's pets. I'd done a few drawings of our two Siamese cats during last year's #100DayProject, and one watercolour of the little one, and a number of those sold. Then the breeder of our Siamese requested a graphite drawing of her old Siamese boy as he's getting on and she doesn't know how much longer she'll have him. Following that, the requests flooded in - sometimes for animals people still have, but often in memoriam, after they've lost them. When I finish this post, I need to get back to the one I'm currently working on - a graphite drawing of a standard poodle, who is very much alive!