Let me tell you about the time I quit my high paying, stable corporate job to try and make it as an artist with my wife and 3 kids. But before that… I’ve got to back it up a bit.
I’ve painted since I was very young, probably 8 years old. It was special to me, I enjoyed it, and I took a lot of time to invest into that skill. I could get lost in a painting for hours. I was fascinated with layering colors and shadows; wielding contrast to create the illusion of depth and form. Using imagery to tell stories.
But… somewhere in my teenage years, someone I respected told me that one day I’d want to have a family. They told me that I wouldn’t be able to support them as an artist. That’s when a lie took hold in my heart and my world flipped upside down. I no longer saw myself being a painter… maybe it could be a hobby?
Graduating high school, I decided that I needed to pursue a degree and career in graphic design. After all, it’s close to painting, and you can get a steady job as a designer! It was the safe choice. I didn’t hate it. I was OK as a designer. I was definitely not the worst at design, but it didn’t have the joy that I had in painting. I started my “big boy” career and did that for a few years, eventually transitioned into a software product management role, and was quite successful for over a decade.
In those 10+ years I would go through long dry spells, between short flurries of painting. I’d start up an artists group for 6 months and paint regularly, and then it would fizzle out and I’d stop painting entirely for 2-3 years. I would just forget to do it. I’d get busy. That cycle repeated for the whole time.
The worst part was that the whole time I felt guilty about abandoning my passion. You see, I truly feel like this talent was given to me with a mission to share it. I’ve always felt a calling on my life from God to paint. I remember many times in the last 15 years confessing to my closest friends that I felt like I was in rebellion of my purpose. Running away from my calling. I felt that way because it was true.
I felt guilt and shame for years, because I was never willing to give it an earnest attempt. Being a full-time artist. It was so scary. What if I ran out of ideas? How would I pay the bills? Would my wife stay with me if I was a bum? Would I ever be good enough? Would I destroy my successful career in software by trying it out? The list goes on.
Then two things happened around the same time—I started going to therapy, and my wife started painting. I started seeing someone to try and make sense out of the emotions I’d been shoving down for years (I didn’t know it at the time). He helped me work through that, and also helped me to see that I had a mountain of limiting beliefs around whether or not I could truly be an artist. I’ve worked through some of those, but every day I’m turning over new rocks and having to repent from new ones.
Below are some of the paintings that I did while in that season of introspection. Many of these come from a deep place of processing through emotions of fear, guilt, and shame.
That’s also when Lorrie, my incredibly patient wife, started to paint. She was going through her own journey at the time, and a course at our church assigned her the task of doing a “creative expression” for homework. You see, her mom was an art teacher, and I think that she steered clear of art as a teenager to find her own way. She never really tried painting. But now she had an opportunity to paint and… well… I think she tapped into something deep in her that she didn’t even know was there. Her paintings were incredible and it wasn’t long before friends and family started asking to buy them.
All of this converged and I slowly started to see that… maybe we could do this? Maybe it would work.
We began to dream, and in the dreaming we began to yearn for something better. What if we could both be full time artists together? What if we could share our gifts, and what God was doing in our lives, through our art? We could have more flexibility, be home more, get to raise our kids in the way that we want, and follow the path God is laying down for us each day. We weren’t unhappy in our lives, but we knew there was more.
So we made a plan. We started to save up a pile of cash as a buffer to take this leap. We had a 6-month plan to save, build the business, and then re-evaluate if God was saying that it was time. It didn’t take long because we had avoided debt and kept our spending to a minimum even before this, so the savings built quickly. That was one advantage of my corporate job.
God had a different plan. We were 4 months into our 6 month plan when the company that I worked for decided to move me to another project. We had to take a step back and evaluate, and we realized that it just didn’t make sense to pick up an entirely new project when we were so close to our savings goal and moving on. It wasn’t the right thing to do. It wouldn’t have been good for us, and it wouldn’t have been good for the team as it would have created a lot of disruption.
So I resigned. I put in 2-weeks notice and in April I stepped out on my own. It was incredibly scary, it didn’t make sense in so many ways, but it was right.
I’m so pleased to say that God has shown up and provided in so many unexpected ways. We received confirmation in many ways that this was the right move, but I’ll leave that for another time as it’s a whole story of its own….
So here we are. Lorrie and I have taken the leap and are building our business as painters.
I’m painting in oils. My passion is to paint stories that move people, and I have a few that have been well received. I’m also letting myself enjoy the process of painting sunsets, nature, and clouds… because it brings me joy, and sometimes that’s enough in itself. I’ve also picked up quite a bit of farm scenes since we’re in Nashville.
If you’re reading this and wondering what the next steps are, I want to invite you to follow along with us. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay connected, and make sure you’re following Lorrie and I on social. Of course, buying artwork also helps, but the thing that would help us the MOST would be to help get our story out. We believe that God wants to use our testimony to inspire and embolden others who have similar struggles. So if you could, take a minute and write something about us on your facebook or instagram. Remember us when you’re with your friends and they need courage.
We love you all and we hope that this brings you joy and hope to read. Look forward to more!
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