Met John for a beer after work. He’d heard about Media closing and offered to buy me a beer. We are both teachers, he in high school, me in a community college. We teach basically the same subject. Photoshop, web design, film making.
We talked about the challenges all teachers face, and his experiences running a similar program up north…that also closed. We also talked a lot about how, when we were younger, people told us to forget about our dreams. He wanted to be a musician, I wanted to be an artist. We were both told to get a real job because there was no money in artistic work. And we both did. And now we both are frustrated artists working day jobs that are fun, and sort of artsy, but not what we dreamed of doing.
He told a story about visiting the emergency room and being told that his test showed he had a deadly artery condition on his heart. It was in-operable. Later tests proved this was a mistake…he was fine…but he spent an entire day thinking he might die.
As he lay there in the hospital bed, his thoughts were these:
I had two good kids, I feel good about that. But my career, my dreams of being a musician…I totally blew that…and now my time is up.
I looked at him and thought how similar we are. People our age are keeling over of heart attacks and dying. Someone did that a month ago at work. I knew him well. He looked just like me.
I’m at a fork in the road. I can use my part time status to study programming and get a full time job in either teaching, or web design, or I can take the other fork and use my part time status to work full time as an artist. This would be on the days I’m not teaching. I will still be teaching web design for the foreseeable future.
But on those two days a week, instead of studying programming, I can take my easel outside and paint 10 hours a day, two days a week. I will still have time to climb on the weekends…but I will be painting 20 hours a week. I think we can survive on half wages for one quarter. That means I should get considerably better. My painting skill is all about practice. With more skill, I can begin to build up a body of sellable work. I’ve been told I need 6 galleries selling my work, with about 10 paintings in each gallery. That is a doable goal. As a weekend painter, it’s far too easy to make bad art. But 20 hours of painting a week, that could make a huge difference in my skill.
I’m looking forward to the challenge.