• Kat

Finding a path: My art Journey part 2

Hi thanks for joining me!

Last week you found me crying and feeling like art was an impossible and silly thing to try and do (see part 1 if you missed it!)

So what happened next? I ended up working three jobs at a time to pay off my mounting debts. I would do a normal 9-5, call centre in the evenings and wait tables all weekend, and I did that for months. Luckily before I started uni and during, I always worked crappy jobs so I was used to getting my hands dirty. My first job was at 13 years old doing cash in hand at an egg collection factory where squished dead rats would fall through the conveyor belt every now and again! Fun times. I wasn't afraid to do horrible jobs but it was really depressing after having so much freedom to paint and do what I loved to do. I really didn't have time to reflect on it all though as I just needed to get by. After a while I stopped thinking about it and started planning a future where I could earn money, travel and buy a house and that became more important.

Eventually I caught a break with a restaurant as the assistant manager and then moved on to a sales management career which enabled me to buy my first flat at 22 and turn my fortunes around a little bit. I remember collecting the keys and a bottle of wine from the estate agent at 9am and letting myself into the empty flat and running from room to room in total disbelief. I got to do a few nice holidays and have travelled to Thailand, India, Cuba and some of Europe. India especially was a huge influence on me. Coming back to the UK looked incredibly grey and concrete, like something had sucked the colour out compared to the vibrant pink and jewel hues, scorching sun and street art that covers everything out there. I think my work now is really influenced by those memories of colour, heat and joy for life.

I still didn't pick up a paintbrush for art, but I did become really into interiors and a new dream of renovating houses as a future career. I think my creativity came out in interior decor and also once I had moved again and had a little back courtyard I could arrange pots in, I channelled that creativity with gardening too.

I ended up moving to Plymouth in 2009 and staying within the same company as a relocation. While I enjoyed the job at first, the last couple of years were hard as I wanted to leave but by then I was married and we were saving up to buy a house and needed two incomes. It is really horrible when you want to leave somewhere but you can't really make the leap yet!

Once we decided to have kids it was really hard to leave my daughter for 40 hours a week for a job I wasn't enjoying any more. Once baby number 2 (not her real name) came along it became clear that nursery fees would eat up so much of my salary, and so I took the plunge and decided to hand my notice in at the end of my maternity leave.

As soon as I decided to go a weight lifted, it was amazing. At that point we decided I would be a stay at home mum and find a way of working from home around the kids and live on a lot less income. Weirdly once I decided to put my notice in, within days redundancies were announced and I was able to get paid to leave! My husband jokes that I am lucky like that but I totally believe that when you work hard towards something, things just start lining up for you!

I was desperate to find a way to work from home and was thankful for a bit of space to figure it out. But I had no idea what I wanted to do. People say what are your hobbies and to follow those, so I was thinking garden design/gardener/florist/property renovation? But I couldn't afford to go back to education and it felt really daunting. How would I fit any of that around family life? I decided to let go and try to be open to what came up.

I was making money buying and selling things on Ebay and matched betting which is a legal way of leveraging sports bets. It's a good way of making money but takes effort and maths and concentration. Mistakes can cost you and I was severely sleep deprived so I did make some!

I have to point out as well that about 15 years had passed since I was in art education so I had completely forgotten that I had even been. My art education was like a past life that didn't exist any more.

In the meantime I was doing painting and drawing with my oldest daughter and picked up an adult colouring book so I could do something while she was engrossed in her projects. I thought...I wish I could get a job colouring in. I like colouring in! Ha ha. I kept telling myself I would find something, but still no idea what.

A few days later I was at a boot fair (like a garage sale!) and found two framed Ikea prints for 50p. I constantly bought stuff to sell on, so thought nothing of it. Once home I thought they were kind of boring and maybe I could draw something to go in them?

I started sketching out 8 succulent plants that were on my table. It was just a random sequence of events but suddenly I realised art, drawing and painting is something I had completely neglected and all that joy and love came flooding back! This was the lightbulb moment where I thought maybe I could sell a few paintings. Imagine if I could sell one and it be on a wall somewhere? Could that even be possible?

Another thing that happened during maternity leave was I deleted my Facebook account due to feeling like it was a negative platform, just endless politics and arguing. I thought I would give Instagram a go and found it was much more positive and uplifting. My interests in gardening and interior design meant I was also exposed to a few artists that seemed to be doing well on there too. My original account was all pictures of my garden and days out around Devon. I wish I had not deleted those early pics!

Emboldened by other artists on the platform I shared my drawings and paintings and got a good response. I think this was the moment where I realised the self limiting belief that was instilled in me from uni, that you had to get into galleries, that only a few could make it, all started to break down. Now there was the internet and social media, and that meant I could find my own audience of people who liked what I did. I decided at that point that maybe I could paint some pieces and try and sell them on Ebay with the other bits and bobs that I was flipping. I still didn't really think it would be my job, but the seed was planted.

A while later on a walk in the woods I found an acorn on the ground and started thinking about how that acorn has all the potential of a tree but you can't see it yet and how amazing that is. It just grows and keeps going. This was another big moment for me as a voice in my head said this is how it will be...just start and keep going.

A few weeks after my first painty post, I wrote a tag line saying 'I might do some more of these plant based paintings' and then decided on that as my name.

It all feels like it happened by accident in some ways but I am very grateful that it appeared to me as a way forward. I remember painting the first succulents and deciding that it was all going to be plants, all thick lines, all bright colours. I don't know why I decided that it just was there ready to go. I suspect my art style had just been there in the back of my brain, my style honed at college, mixed with my gardening and travel experience had distilled into a thing of its own. And now was the time where I thought if not now, when?

I am glad that having my kids gave me a new lease of life and direction, and pushed me to think about creating a life I really wanted. It has gone so much better than I could ever have dreamed and I can't wait to see where it goes next!

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