Blog: Thoughts

10 Years of Being a Full Time Artist – Newsletter Thoughts

I don’t know if you know this, but I’ve been writing some thoughts in my monthly newsletters – thoughts on creativity, making art, and being an artist – along with some other info about what is going on around here. In February I shared the following – a topic that I then hosted a webinar about along with some other artist friends who also weren’t always full time artists. You can check that Spill your heART webinar out here and then be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE for more of these :)

10 Years of Being a Full Time Artist

As the 10th Creative JumpStart comes to an end, I realized that I actually quit my career as a paralegal in January 10 years ago.

I remember how I asked my boss for a meeting and how my heart was pounding when I sat down to tell him that despite loving my job in this pro-bono/legal aid office, I wanted to be a full time artist and quit my career of 17 years. I remember how relieved I was when I spoke those words, and how wonderful it was when my boss said that he was sad to see me leave but that I would have his full support. Just a couple months before, they let me have an art exhibit in the law office and throw an opening party. I was very fortunate to have worked there. It was a good place and while I might not miss the stress of being a paralegal, I do miss the office and the people. 

I gave myself 3 years to work it out and to see if I could sustain myself as a full time artist. I had 3 years to build up my little n*Studio, teach, consult, write and above all make art. I decided on 3 years because I figured that if I failed, I might still be able to deal with the changes in law to fall back into my paralegal career. My father died when I was a baby, and my Mom was a hard working single mother, so while I had a lot of support from my husband and friends about this decision, having a Plan B was necessary to calm the nerves of my family as well as my own honestly. 

Now 10 years later I am still at it and I love love love my work: I love making art, I love teaching, and I love writing and organizing events like Creative JumpStart. Has it been hard at times? Very, but I have also learned a lot, not only about art making but also about me and about life. And above all, I have met so many new wonderful people, students and other artists. What a blessing this has been. My heART is full! 

And so I thought, what better topic than “I wasn’t always a Full-Time Artist” for the first episode in my Spill your heART webinar series. I invited three other artists to chat with me about past careers, our paths toward our dreams and tips we have for anyone who might think about becoming a Full-Time Artist. You can watch a recording of this webinar and learn about upcoming webinars here on my website.

I also hope you will join me every last Friday of the month, when I talk to different guests on “Spill your heART”. If you have a topic you would love to have an episode about, let me know!

Check out my Community tab of my website for info about webinars, my ArtCollab zoomcasts, and my Facebook Group Nat’s Creative Hood. For all the latest info on webinars and zoomcasts right in your inbox, along with my monthly Thoughts, sign up for my newsletter here.

Thank you for all your support during the past 10 years and here is to at least another ten :) 

Comments (1)

  • Liz Thayne


    Congratulations Nat and best wishes for the next 10 years.Hope you go from strength to strength. I especially love your “stools through the hood” feature. Well done.


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Comparison is the Thief of Joy – Newsletter Thoughts

I don’t know if you know this, but I’ve been writing some thoughts in my monthly newsletters – thoughts on creativity, making art, and being an artist – along with some other info about what is going on around here. In January I shared the following – a topic that I feel really passionate about as both an artist and teacher. I hope you enjoy and you can sign up for my newsletter HERE for more of these :)

“Comparison is the thief of joy”
I truly believe in this. Trust me- I know. Been there, done that… many times. While I am checking out the amazing work of our students in Creative JumpStart and reading hundreds of comments, I stumble once in a while over something that goes like this: “I tried it for the first time but it doesn’t look perfect!” and all I can think is, “how amazing you actually did this and hey, this looks pretty awesome – I cannot believe you did this the first time”. And trust me the latter is not just some Nat-Kindness-Program – because oh boy you should see some of my first takes on something. There is a lot of Schtuff that goes down the drain. I also admit I curse a lot in my studio… you don’t want to hear me some days.

The problem with a sample or tutorial we art teachers show, is that we usually do not show the many, many in between steps, the failures, the ugly stuff. I make a lot of ugly stuff …my trash bin is littered with ugly stuff right now from a “brilliant idea” I am working on for a technique for an online class. Trust me… I am getting there. I am making notes on what worked and what didn’t. I am still thinking about how I can tweak it and make it work so that I like it and that it comes closer to what I envision, and then I will teach it. This part makes me actually excited and if it doesn’t get to that point that I want to teach it, oh well! I learned something new. EVERY TIME. None of this is wasted.

But to get back to the initial point: I usually don’t show in my classes the many hours that it took to get to that point, and the really bad failures along the way, because that is not what the class is about. Maybe it should be… I have thought about a book called Art Failures… but I guess now that I put it out here someone else might write it – LOL.  

So in the end, as a student, I hope that you might have it easier because I can give you some tips on the way: which materials to use, what worked for me, and what you should or maybe should not do. (Hey, ask me how I know what not to do ;) But at the end of the day you still have to put the work in if you want to have it look as you envision . “You haven’t even tried as many times as the Master has failed”  is one of my other quotes I have been saying for years in my classes, as probably some of my longtime students eyerollingly will notice ;) . But the reason I want to stress this is that you shouldn’t compare yourself to your teacher or your co-students because you will be taking the fun away from trying something new and exciting. You don’t know how experienced the other students are, how many times they tried, how often they work with the material, yadayadayada. Look at their work as something that could spark an idea in you or as another take on the same theme. And if that still doesn’t keep you from comparing yourself to others… then take a hiatus in looking. That is absolutely ok – I do that ALL the time. 

Don’t take the fun away from discovering something that you might explore further, and from the experience of getting better, and maybe even taking it to a whole new level than you initially started out with. Don’t let perfectionism and comparison creep into your hobby and something you love doing – there is enough of that pressure out there in all sorts of other areas of our lives. Kick it to the bin… along with the fun ugly stuff you do and embrace it like I do. A full trash bin or drawer of “new collage paper” is a sign of lots of great hours in the studio. Have fun – fill your waste bin!

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts. If you’d like to read more, please sign up or my newsletter HERE for more of these :)

Comments (3)

  • Cate D


    Excellent thoughts and a great reminder. I know I am sometimes guilty of this and it totally steals the joy.


  • tracie


    Great reminder!! Thanks Nathalie


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