Will Paint For Food.
When I moved out of my parents’ house, I was 19 years old and had no idea how I would pay my bills. Other than the occasional babysitting gig, the only job I could get was as a retail clerk in an organic dog food shop, working a mere 16 hours per week at minimum wage. Rent was $400 and I didn’t even want to think about utilities, cable, or grocery expenses. Being on my own was the result of my own free will, naive and ignorant as it was, but it was a choice I made against the advice of my parents. I found myself suffering from idyllic thoughts of surviving on my own, scraping by, and leading the life of a “starving artist.”
And I did starve.
But sometime between bagging doggie treats and chew toys and being “babysitter” a couple nights a week, I started painting. A lot. Not a day went by when I didn’t have paint somewhere on my elbows, knees, and inevitably, my hands. For hours, I would sit in the middle of my living room floor with brushes, towels, and cardboard slats covered in acrylic paint of every color. Eventually, the colors would blend together to form different shades of brown, but the result would always be an original work of art. I painted every spare minute I had and then I would sell my work.
And they would sell! People from all over the country, in various parts of the world, would bid and outbid for my paintings! That’s right, ladies and gentleman! My paintings can be found in states like California, Texas, Michigan, Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, and foreign countries like Canada and New Zealand! So yes! One of my paintings might be mounted in a doctor’s office that you visit, in a bank where you have an account, in a house of your friend, or maybe in your own home! I often wonder if I’ll happen upon my work while traveling or taking a vacation. I wonder if I would recognize it if I saw it. And what if, decades from now, someone takes my artwork to the Antique Roadshow and they learn the two dollars they spent on their neighbor’s painting at a garage sale was an investment worth thousands?!
It could happen, right?
Thoughts of being the “next Picasso” aside, the babysitting, dog food selling, and paintings on EBay was enough to pay all my expenses during my first year as an independent. So sufficient, in fact, that I would even have a handful of change leftover! I ate like a canary and lived like a gypsy, but I would not have changed it for my own condo or personal chef! I didn’t want luxury! I loved my sketchy apartment where only half the electrical wall sockets worked and with carpet that smelt like cat pee! Because I was living more than I ever had before. Everyday felt like a white canvas, one that I could paint in any and all the colors I wanted! Some days were abstract, others felt like self portraits, but everyday was a chance for art and self reflection. I wanted to paint the whole world with colors from my soul’s palette! I wanted to leave my signature in the corner of each day’s canvas, to call it mine, my own, a complete original work of art…