I was not always an artist. 12 years ago, I worked in network television as an account executive and sold local television airtime in Philadelphia for both ABC and Fox.
Then a pattern began to form after my son was born. I started trading money for time.
First, I left an amazing job at Channel 6, ABC to job share at FOX-TV. This job share was an arranged marriage. Although, I had never met my job share partner, I had to agree to work with her based on someone else’s recommendation (someone who I really respected.) We both left very secure jobs to jump into the unknown with a stranger.
We both had to trust that the other would not change their minds. If one of us had, the other would have been vulnerable and probably out of work.
So we joined hands without knowing the other and we leaped.
We were the first television job share in Philadelphia. It was a great experience as we both learned quickly to try to put ego aside (not so easy!) and just concentrate on each other’s strengths. We had to recognize what the other was best at in order to succeed as a team. This partnership lasted five years and exceeded our expectations in every way.
Eventually I had another baby, a sweet little girl. Plus I had my son, who was three. And the nanny. And the cleaning lady. And all the other people I felt I needed in order to keep it all together.
So, after two years passed, I asked my sweet husband if I could take the nanny job. And all the other jobs. And to do that we had to make some major changes. A smaller house (but so much cooler with lots of personality) was one of them. We also bought a boat we lived on for six summers. That was magical.
There was a shift in our priorities. We realized early on we needed less to live the life we wanted to live.
It was all so worth it. I remember lunch with a client on one of my last days at work. She looked at me and asked “What are you going to do with all your time?”.
I answered “I am going to paint”. ”Paint what?” she asked.
“I think I will start with a canvas rug.” I replied.
She now looks a my art each day. It hangs brightly on her living room wall.
And I did paint that rug. I painted yellow lemons on a cobalt blue background. I placed it in front of my stove. I remember how exciting and scary it was to put my art out in my house for everyone to see.
I moved past the fear and kept creating and I kept putting little pieces of art out there, pieces of me.
And slowly I started to see myself not as Colleen, who used to work at FOX-TV, but as Colleen, who paints. Eventually, I saw myself as Colleen, who makes joyful art from reclaimed materials, a business owner…a treasure hunter.
Which has lead me here, to this beautiful, colorful, eco-friendly existence, where I paint with rejected paint on vintage frames and windows. And where I make colorful mixed media pieces using all kinds of art materials. Where I think up happy, repurposed installations for healing spaces. And where I can daydream and think up all the creative ideas my heart can hold.
I am so glad I once worked in a very corporate world. It taught to be comfortable taking risks. It taught me to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And I learned to trust my instincts.
It has been an amazing journey since I placed that canvas rug in front of my stove. I still feel scared and excited at the same time when I put my art out for all the world to see. And I am very comfortable with that.