Baldwin Fine Art

 

My life as a portrait artist          
I recently was contacted by a 32 year old man, whose passion appropriate to his age, wanted to share with me his life's journey and goals. With my nearly sixty year old wisdom of being a full time artist for 30 years... my reaction didn't surprise me, but it made me think deeply about the way I feel now verses the thirty year old me that was never happier to become a full time portrait painter, artist, and teacher.
At thirty, my life was never better than the day I took a voluntary layoff from Unisys where I had worked for eleven years. I was finally doing what my heart felt I was called to do. I had that first experience where someone cried over a portrait of his dearly missed mom, that heart aching feeling of so much heightened passion for the thanks I received for the work that I did. The ability to touch someone's soul like this made me really know without a doubt, that this is what I am supposed to be doing. It was a calling, a gift, a blessing. I feel incredibly blessed that this does happen often in my years of painting portraits and it never leaves me without this same feeling.
Well, thirty years have passed and there have been many chapters in my life. Throughout those years, there was never a change in my focus or the drive to be better than I am, to learn more, and to share it all in a way that was simplified for those who came to me for their own education. I always raised my bar so that what I knew and taught was what I saw as the underlying reasons that a fine art painter was seen as a master. Am I a master? ...so many of my students, collectors, and followers say as much to me often. But, with every step I take, my bar goes higher and there is never an end to what I can learn still. I think the day I quit learning will be the day I die.  Because not wanting to grow in this skill, not doing what I do, not creating would be the death of me. And every time I go to the easel or sculpt, I am still learning as I work.
Being an artist, supporting myself, where every cent I make is usually spoken for prior to making it, is the only burden in my life. What I do is not just a gift, but years of learning, long days, hard work. I am seen as successful by so many others. It's an inch of talent and a mile of training. There is a saying in the art world that "you are only as good as the miles of canvas that you cover!" I have done over 600 paintings in my lifetime. Does that make me a master? No. I am just a painter still working passionately to learn more so that I can share more. And yet, the balance is thrown off by being a business owner, designing my own website, maintaining my marketing skills, and understanding all it takes to run a business, etc. on a shoestring budget. It is a constant strain on the part of me that has nothing to do with the creative genius and has to be fit all into one day a week where I devote my time to these endless marketing jobs, so much so that I don't have the opportunity to seek out locations to show my work. I am too busy doing.
I currently have the honor of coaching a very talented and passionate artist who is creating a wonderful business plan for a series, showing, and future successful focus for her work. I am so very excited to be doing this. She is retired and now has every opportunity to make this happen.  She doesn't have to worry about the overhead of living. I know she will be very successful and I am so proud of her.  It truly is an honor.
My response to the thirty year old artist, who still works full time for a great company, is that he should keep his day job, work as a passionate artist part time, and fulfill his life with a retirement. I am now turning sixty in a few months and although I am truly passionate about what I do, I have no IRA, I have no retirement plan, I have worked and struggled through years of doing what I passionately love to do. I have had my good periods and my deep struggles. All of my friends are now retiring, traveling, and possibly becoming my students. And, I am here to teach them as I have hundreds of others before them. They put in their dues to enjoy this new chapter of their lives.  I put in my dues to be of service to them and all the other wonderful creative people that I had the blessing to touch the life of.
Would I have changed my choice back then? No. I honestly wouldn't have; when you are called to do anything, it is beyond your control. It is the driving force in your life. So, to the young man who passionately wanted to quit his job and "live in the moment, follow his passion" I say... if it's a calling... YES! Follow it. But, understand that callings have prices just as much as keeping your day job and having your passion on your off time.
I would never change my own life; it has been the best way for me to emotionally feel fulfilled. But, I will tell those who want to follow in my footsteps that it is the "Agony & and the Ecstasy", the bitter and the sweet, the blessing & the curse, and the pearl that made my life.
-Bobbi Baldwin

NOTE: Throughout the centuries, artists have had patrons who helped support their calling because they believe in that artist and the gift they brought to the world.  Please don't be offended by my sharing these words with you.  I am merely looking for the few who feel compelled to work with me and help me to further my mission in this life.

All donations of $400 and above will be gifted a plein air painting.  Thank you so much for your gift of support in my business, passion, & calling.

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