“It took time, it was a struggle, I still have a long way to go, but what I have learned is ‘it’s never too late to be what you might have been.'” -George Sand.
I was the quiet kid, drawing in my room. The weird teenager hanging out in the art room. But when it was time for college, my girlhood dreams did not find footing in the real world. Maybe it was my insecurity, the lack of encouragement, or the times just prior to the women’s movement. And, the endless loop of “no one makes it as an artist.” My parents expected me to be a wife and mother – not a professional and certainly not an artist.
I thought I had talent, but I was a shy and quiet kid.
So, I did a million other things instead. I worked my way up in retail, all the way to the buying offices and management, and then chucked it to be a display artist. Dressing mannequins and making beds and doing window displays was incredible. I opened a business doing displays, creating props, designing stores, but my partner and I were not always watching the bottom line. I became exhausted and closed after six years.
I got married and put my first husband through law school. Someone had to have the “real” job; the one with a steady paycheck and benefits. I had a baby. By this time, I was a breadwinner, parent, housekeeper, cook; there was no time for art and no support from my husband.
I ended up in non-profits. No matter what though, I always had room in my home for artsy stuff. Husband one moved my art room into a closet, then into the laundry room, then the car port. And I eventually moved myself out of the house.
I created a new life for myself. Single parent with an art filled house. I made funky lampshades, I painted murals, I broke tiles and made a mosaic counter top. I made my own shutters; I put together a chandelier. Those “itches” were fun, but they were never really scratched in a way that made me feel fulfilled.
Then, many years later, I met and married my dream husband – at 50! He adores me, supports my artistic dreams – built me a studio – gave me time and space to work and grow as an artist. A year into our marriage he said, “the only way you’re going to make it is to put everything into it – quit your job!”
I held my breathe and took the leap. No golden parachute. No trust fund. No MFA. We sacrificed a lot. We didn’t go on vacations. We went from Kiehl’s to Oil of Olay. We ditched the suits. It was work, work work. Make art, find shows, galleries, sell, market, create a web site, pack, ship, file… Oh yeah, and make dinner, do the laundry and help a kid through school.
I spend time every day in my studio. I spend time every day exploring every possibility – from researching galleries to looking for opportunities for PR, to writing a blog, sending out emails, networking and planning art festivals (which includes filling out forms, applications, etc.) and then booking travel.
Today, my work is in several galleries in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and more. It is in museums, and in private and corporate collections throughout the world.
I had to accept the fact that I AM AN ARTIST. I didn’t need someone outside myself to tell me that. I appreciate my husband’s love and support. I put in the time every day. It is my dedication and focus to make this happen on my own terms, in my own way.
What I have achieved is not an accident. And I am always excited about what’s next. I have more goals for myself, and am looking forward to more adventures!
I accepted I didn’t need a professor, a degree or a family member to tell me what I knew inside. I am an artist. I am an artist because I say I am.
I love my life. I get to be who I am on a soul level every day. I have the love and support of my family. I love my family. I love my art. I love it when other people love my art.
I appreciate the opportunities. The opportunity to love: to be a parent to the greatest kid and to be the wife to the greatest husband. The opportunity to make art, show art and sell art. The opportunity to help others.
My most rewarding achievements are: parenting, being a wife that loves and is loved, and finally having a career that I designed. I am doing what I love to do.
I am not perfect in this way – I don’t follow the rules. I am not sure I even know what the rules are. I do what I want, when I want, the way I want. Do you like what I do? Great. I didn’t get a formal education in my [now] chosen career. I know there are prescribed steps. I don’t have time to suffer in silence for my craft. I want to be happy, I want to be successful. There, I said it.
You can find more on Sandhi’s art at www.schimmelart.com.
Photo of Sandhi provided by www.schimmelart.com