This website started as simply a place to showcase my recent work, and a personal blog of my artistic adventures. But after fielding so many questions from young artists and aspiring writers, many of whom are my former art students that have grown up watching me pursue my passions. I realized I have a LOT of information to share. So, like a good shopkeeper, I am here to show you around and point you to just the right thing for your needs.
But First - let me tell you who I am and how I got where I am today
Wife and mama to four fabulous, and nearly all grown, kids and a self taught mixed media artist. The journey I took was unconventional and often times misunderstood by those around us. I homeschooled my four and was a foster mom. We all dove headfirst into soccer - playing, coaching and managing teams - and I even pursued roller derby for a few years. (Skaty Cakes was my not-so-scary-derby girl alter ego)
Adding to this busy life, I pursued my creative passions. Always doing what I could squeeze in (and what would pay the bills.) Each creative pursuit led directly to the next and this is my super power. Keep reading to see my story unfold, or jump to the end of this page to check out your first set of action steps.
Just do the next thing. Do it well. Repeat.
For example, I was asked to teach creative writing classes at a homeschool co-op and few art classes. This background isn't much on it's own, in fact, it could stop there, but I leveraged the experience into writing a blog (now defunt) and from there pursued a successful freelance writing career under the pen name, Sylvie Branch.
One of my articles (on a pierogi festival of all things) went viral and led to a job opportunity as an event planner for a nationwide restaurant tour company. This was FAR outside my comfort zone, but it was a great opportunity, I could do most of the work from home, and sounded like fun, so for the next few years I planned and hosted large events and made contacts within the media. We were on the local news and radio, blogs and newspapers. Crazy.
While I loved most of the job and did it well, I am an introvert who loves to make things most of all, and did not like being away from my family. During this same time period I was also teaching art at a small school where my kids took classes on Fridays. While there, I was told that a performing arts school was looking for an art teacher. So I applied, and got the position, but took it three steps further and instead of simply teaching a single class, I suggested building a real fine arts department and was hired on as the Director of Art Education. I taught a slew of classes in everything from fashion illustration to mask making, cartooning, painting, mom and me classes, sculpture, and more. Preschool, elementary, high school and all the workshops and summer camps. I loved it all.
(still reading? I am impressed. Okay well this story keeps going....)
Since it was a performing arts school, theater productions were the main focus of the institution. I was asked to help out with sets for a summer camp and that quickly snowballed into doing the scenic art for 6 full scale shows a year and then being the lead set designer for several others.
Life stepped in at this point and promptly redirected me. We moved to a new home and then I landed in the hospital (ICU unit) which quickly altered my next steps. While lying in the hospital I had TIME to reconsider what I really wanted to accomplish with my life. Teaching nonstop and designing sets was no longer it. I wanted to make my mark in a different way. So I stepped down from the big position at the performing arts school.
Now I had time to look into other art opportunities.... but first I had to replace my income. Visual merchandising was my go to next step. It was creative and very flexible. I simply travel to different stores and set windows and displays. On the drives I listened to podcasts, tons of podcasts. I learned about new opportunities, and listened intently to other people's stories, their journey through creative careers and made new goals for myself.
I started putting together proposals, applied to art shows, and submitted ideas for public art projects. One of which landed me a spot in the P&G Olay campaign, and soon to be a feature in O magazine!
I started creating again for myself, not just for classes or productions. The key here is I knocked on ALL THE DOORS. (that seemed even remotely interesting) Naturally, this led to one open door after another....not every door, but enough doors keep opening to keep me busy and engaged in life (and making a real income with art)
Looking back over this long story I realized I left out numerous projects!
Here are a few....
In addition to all the writing and event planning, teaching and visual merchandising, I worked as a photographer in a portrait studio, showed my work in galleries, art shows, non profit events and worked as a muralist. Designing multiple murals for homes and businesses, painted all the party rooms at an indoor playground, outdoor murals on Kelly's Island and a large interactive mural at Great Northern Mall. I also ran a Creativity Series at the mall where I had to wear a wireless mic and teach art to large groups of the general public (preschoolers to senior citizens in the same class!)
I love the winding trail my creativity has taken me on. It has given me a lot of insight and connections into different creative careers and while I know that I will always be creating and trying new things - maybe,
just maybe, what I am REALLY meant to do, is help you figure out how to take your dreams and make them a reality. You are not stuck. I can help show you how to do what you can with what you have and Take The Next Step with confidence and enthusiasm.
So watch for my weekly updates in the Action Steps tab and sign up for my weekly newsletter! Thanks so much for stopping by!