Recently, I returned from a ten day trip to Northern Italy, which has been a goal of mine for more than half my life. It was truly amazing! And, equal to that experience was what happened prior.
I applied for a scholarship from a design networking group of which I am a member and, while I was a finalist, I didn’t receive the scholarship. I was very disappointed. But, being very determined, I knew I had to get really creative in how I might finance my trip. I’d been following advice from Ann Rea, a mentor to artists. One thing she said kept nudging me. It was her story about how she realized a dream and made her way to France. Ms. Rea emphasizes relationship building as a primary piece of one’s success. And, so she approached a handful of her clients, people she treasured and who had supported her for quite some time, and she asked if they’d sponsor her trip to France. In return she would produce a special painting with them in mind. They were only too happy to oblige (more info on Ann Rea here: http://artistswhothrive.com/about/?t=b5ifiypvr9csdb1i).
Which got me thinking…
Who did I know? Who would be only too happy to show their support for me and appreciate my talent in return? I made a list of friends, family and clients who had rallied around me over the years and consciously released any preconceived notion they might not want to help. I paused to realize I am fortunate enough to know many good people. Then, I wrote a heartfelt letter expressing my gratitude for their enduring emotional and financial support. And, bravely(?), I asked for their sponsorship with the understanding that in return if they had ANYTHING, any project they’d put on the back burner, we could discuss it and I would produce their commissioned piece.
As I hit the “send” button each time, I felt a twinge of fear — that old, critical voice telling me I didn’t deserve and how outrageous it was of me to think anyone would want something I could provide. After all, my art isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t change the world significantly. So, this was really going out on a limb for me. How dare I ask for something I want, something so extravagant and unnecessary! And, each time as I put my finger to the key, I breathed deeply and replaced the negative thoughts with an intention of love and positive blessings for that particular person. Have you ever felt that vulnerable? I’d love to hear how you overcame your fear.
For me, it was a full and whole exercise in gratitude, vulnerability, humility, allowing, and releasing. It was truly monumental, a turning point of sorts for me.
What I didn’t expect was the quick return of enthusiasm from so many! Some had no hesitation and gave freely and generously and had something in mind for me to make for them or a loved one right away. Some were excited for me, but couldn’t help with the finances. Some wanted to give a small donation for “spaghetti money” or “glasses of chianti” and required nothing but a report in return. It was so exhilarating to feel their complete support. And, then, of course, there were those who didn’t reply at all or felt the need to let me know they’d just given to “other causes.” I was very clear that this had to be a win/win situation for all involved with nothing given to me from a place of obligation or hesitation. The intention behind how I give is extremely important and sacred and I want that to be the case for others as well.
Another facet to my request was the Etsy page I created with some items I’d had in storage for a while and some new, smaller pieces I’d finally felt motivated to complete. I advertised on my Facebook page and it was a huge success. If someone donated or bought from my Etsy page (https://www.etsy.com/shop/Artnstuffnjunk), I promised to “pack you in my suitcase” and find a hiding place somewhere in Italy. I printed out profile pictures and found crevices all around Venice, Florence, Milan, Lake Como, and Cinque Terre. I took a picture of the locations and made a note of where I lodged their photo, texting it to them on my return, with a special thank you attached. It was a very fun game!
I have many projects in the works now, all very personal commissions. This weekend, I painted a chair for my garden-oriented friend, which includes sunflowers and a praying mantis. I am working on a butterfly logo for a friend’s design business. I will be doing more ocean artwork for the fourth restaurant of a very loyal customer of mine. And, I have a few paintings on canvas slated for a few other friends. This fills my heart as I know these are all projects they trust me with and they are in full appreciation of my ability to deliver exactly what they want.
I will leave you with a description of one of my favorite moments from the entire trip. Many years ago, I was a participant in a local TV show, much like HGTV. The clients in one of the initial episodes asked me to paint a scene from Venice as it was one of their favorite places. I had to do some research and found a really wonderful book with great photos. As far as I knew at the time, this was as close to Venice as I would ever get. I fell in love with so many of the details in each photo and had a difficult time paring it down to the best depiction to showcase within their master bath jacuzzi area.
(See the TV interview here:)
So, fast forward to the day just weeks ago when I am standing in the middle of St. Mark’s Square, Venice, Italy (Piazza San Marcos, Venezia). I am twirling in every direction and overcome with the beauty of the architecture and the details adorning each wall of each building. It is a total feast for the senses and something I have been longing for. Then, I walk a few steps toward a series of boats. And, suddenly I am surprised to find I am standing on the very platform in exactly the place of the painting I’d completed nearly ten years ago!
So, I do what I always do when overcome with emotion, gratitude and an inability to speak. I cry and cry and cry… all happy tears (lol!) as I realize how long I waited to give myself this gift! It is a surreal manifestation. And, the moment and the scenery is indescribably beautiful! Thank you, my friends!
It was déjà vu or rather, già visti!
…but with a whole new set of eyes.