Monday, April 23, 2007

Making Luck

"March, Lake Louise"
Oil on Canvas

I've spent a lot of time in the past year thinking about what I want my life to look like, and what it's going to take to get me there. Part of that is figuring out what being successful means to me as an artist.

Art is a part of me that has always been there and will always be - I've been drawing and painting since I can remember, and there was never a time that I didn't entertain the thought that I'd love to be an artist someday. I would be an artist even if I never sold a painting or made a penny. But I have to admit that a big part of my dream right now is to make a living from my art. I set business goals every year, and they are just as important to me as the process of painting itself. If I dropped the business side of my art, I would be heartbroken, because a part of my dream of being an artist is getting my artwork out into the world.

Since I desperately want my art business to succeed, I know that there are decisions that need to be made every day about how to best fit that goal into my life. How do I fit painting in while taking care of Aspen? How do I make my art business succeed and contribute to the well-being of my family?

Nate deals with a lot of the same questions. He has a full-time job, but he'd really like to quit and build houses for a living. He built three spec homes in the past year, and discovered that it was what he really loved to do. He loves working with his hands and being able to offer an affordable product in a market (mountain real estate) where not much is affordable.

Nate and I aren't big risk takers, so we knew that we were going to have to find a way to pursue both of our dreams without taking a huge risk financially, especially now that we have a child. One of the things we discussed as a way to make ourselves more comfortable would be to sell our current house and use the profit to put a big down payment on a cheaper house, making our mortgage payment a lot less. That way we wouldn't have to worry about cashflow so much, and we'd both be a lot more comfortable with changing things up career-wise.

So, we put our house on the market three weeks ago. We figured it might take a while to sell, so we didn't find another house to move into, but picked out some neighborhoods we liked. Last weekend we got an offer on our house, and with closing set for May 18th it was time to get in gear and find a place to move. We found a house we liked last Thursday and put in an offer, and now we have closing all set for the same day as the sale of our house.

Since this all happens three weeks from now, things are going to get hectic. We have to find movers that are willing to store our stuff for a few days (we don't get possession of the new house until three days after closing), we have to schedule the inspections and appraisals (we're not working with a realtor), and in the middle of it all we're going to Texas for a week to visit relatives and attend the Oil Painter's of America National show opening. I don't know when I'm going to find the time to paint, but I'm determined not to let it slip. I'm still trying to build inventory so I can approach some new galleries, and I don't want that to come to a screeching halt just because we're moving.

Anyhow, the point of this really long rambling post is to say two things. First, I'm going to be unbelievably busy for the next month. Second (and most important), I don't believe that luck happens - I believe that you make it for yourself with the decisions you make. Luann Udell said this much more eloquently in her post on April 10th. The point is this - the average American thinks that Nate and I are odd for selling a nice house that we can afford perfectly well, and moving into a smaller cheaper house (seems like the American dream is to supersize everything these days), but our main priority right now is making our life what we want it to be, and we're taking the steps necessary to get there. I call it making luck, and hopefully it works!


  1. Some risks are just so important to take! And I am totally with you on this one.

    Doug left an incredible paycheck and benefits at duPont a few years ago, in order to do something that he loves. It still hasn't really paid off financially, but our life is so much better now.

    And I think you will soon be making some good money based on your success so far.

  2. Wow! We are in the same situation as you guys! We sold our house and are moving in 3 weeks into a house that is the same size as this one, only it has a big yard and is private :)People don't understand why we are moving either, but its for us - we want to take that step.
    Congrats :)

  3. Good luck!

    I am almost getting used to angry/frightened people saying that I can't do this or that. When ever I hear it nowadays I try to smile and think that they will probably get over it, because if often seems to be more their problem then mine.

  4. I think you are so right: simplify your life in order to focus on your big goals.

  5. Tracy - you nailed what I was trying to say - regardless of the financial result, it's worth the happiness.

    Suzanne - congrats on your new place! You just learn to ignore everyone and their opinions after a while.

    Bart - I think fear is the problem with most people. I guess it's safer feeling to do what society thinks is normal, even if it means more unhappy people.

    Ed - yup, we're definitely working on simplifying. It's amazing how simplifying gives me so much more energy to put toward my art!

    Anyhow, we've hit a small snag in the selling of our house and we're crossing our fingers tonight that the buyers keep their offer on the table - wish me luck!!! I feel like I jinxed myself with this post...

  6. Very exciting! Life is short and way too many people sacrifice it for stuff.

    Best of luck with the move.

  7. Oh, yeah, gotta watch out for those jinxes:) Be careful!

  8. Hope everything went smootly with the sale. Good luck with the move!

    And I love the painting of Lake Louise, I've only ever been there in teh summer.

  9. Lake Louise?? That's my neighbourhood.
    I think you and Nate have made an excellent plan. But yes, you will be very busy.

  10. Mary - thanks for the compliment!

    Shan - yeah, I think people get way too caught up in "stuff", and end up unhappy.

    Tracy and RG - it always seems that when I post something online, I jinx myself. We had an issue with the buyers freaking out about the radon level in our basement (which came back as fairly normal for this region), but I think we got it all resolved.

    Brian - I've spent a lot of time in your neck of the woods. My whole family is Canadian. I love painting the Canadian Rockies!

  11. I think your paintings are really great! i like them a lot :)