I'm a full time pencil portrait artist working from home. Here is my family... my husband Joe, my son Joey, Max and me. The boys are bigger now, but this is the only drawing of the four of us I've managed to do:
Here we are now:
I used to be corporate person for over 20 years until I told the president of the company to stop lying to everyone. I cleverly wrote this suggestion in an email so that he could print it out and angrily wave it at me later. Plus, I thought I had another job elsewhere, but I like to leave that part out. In any case, that was the end of my corporate life.
My husband and my mother urged me to try drawing full time. It had been a fun little side hobby that generated a bit of income without much marketing effort on my part. I never, ever, ever would have quit a decently paying job to draw pictures for a living. I have such a deep rooted fear of not having enough money that I have had full blown panic attacks when my husband decides I need to participate in bill paying. I promise him that I will remain calm and stop panicking, but I never can. After one or two sessions, he gives up and just handles it on his own, putting up with my occasional shock and outrage that we have credit card debt when I dare to open any envelopes. Mostly I just like to hand them to him in my happy, clueless ostrich way. If I was very, very wealthy, I might not shop in resale shops, garage sales, Wal Mart and clearance racks, but I doubt it.
So in utter fear of impending poverty, I started my full time portrait business, Pencil Portraits & Cards in 2005, drawing stuff from photos that people like or love, or that they want to give as a gift to people they like or love. It's been incredibly rewarding. I hear things like, "You're so talented! What I wouldn't give to be able to draw! I can't draw a stick figure!" It's funny how dramatic people like to be when announcing how artistically bereft they are. Here are the most popular ones....
I can't draw a stick figure!
I can't draw a straight line!
I can't even write my name!
That last one cracks me up. Really? That's a shame, because it seems to me you must have had a plenty of practice writing your own damn name all this time. But I'm all for melodrama. When somebody has a skill that is missing from my tool box, I always compulsively point out my shortcomings as well. Anytime I walk into somebody's neat house, I like to immediately say, "Wow, what a beautiful house! You are never allowed to come over to mine because it is filthy." When people are very fit and slim, I like to accuse them of having good genes and over-share about my love of wine and Cheez-its while stalking people on Facebook when I should be drawing. All my organizational, neatness, time management and math skills have been reassigned to being able to look at a picture and draw it in pencil.
It amazes me that people will drop a couple, few hundred on my drawings. I do draw pretty well, but I like to think that it isn't just being able to draw one hell of a stick figure. My ability to capture images on paper also has much to do with how much I love people, how much I care about relationships and how desperately I need to please. Actually, the drawing stuff was never what I cared about growing up. I cared about writing. I cared about stories and talking with funny, compassionate people. It's what life is all about. When I first started drawing full time, I noticed after a few months without any corporate written communication, I was spelling words wrong for the first time in my life. I was also using the wrong words randomly which is startling to discover and of course yet another sign of my upcoming dementia. It's like I have my own unfunny version of autocorrect that is punking me.
To remedy the deterioration of my writing skills and to keep busy (there weren't nearly enough drawing projects in the beginning...), I wrote a book about losing my corporate job and becoming a full time artist. I worked hard on it for awhile until a friend of mine in the New York City publishing world told me it would never get published. He suggested self publishing. That was around seven years ago. This is cheaper. Procrastination: check! Tightwad factor: check!
So for those of you with Pencil Envy, I covet your clean house, your ability to argue without feeling like the world is ending, your steady pay check, your lovely singing voice, your slim legs, your clear skin. I hope you will enjoy my ramblings. I'd love to hear your story and draw some stuff for you someday, or you can just stalk me.