Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Embracing the Artist's Life

I met Pam Brewer Varacek through an online class that we both took.
Artwork by Pamela Brewer Varacek

She’s the first one to holler out “Europe Anyone?!? Who’s with me?” You can just see her big heart and her warm approach in the way she encourages others and creates her art. I was so glad that she decided to share with me about the giant leap she just took.  She's left behind the land of the regular paycheck to pursue her dream of being a full-time artist: 

KD: Hi Pam, thank you for taking some time away from painting to chat.  Not too long ago, you announced that you were leaving your full-time job to pursue making a living through your art. I think this is something many artists think about, how did you know it was right for you and how did you know the time was right?

PBV: I had a children’s clothing store for 10 years and I loved it. I didn't really do much art making except painting on kids furniture-but it was creative and I loved being my own boss. After my business closed, I worked at a gourmet shop and then most recently at an oyster company doing accounts receivables-Ugh! I was miserable because there was no creativity. I kept saying I didn’t belong there. Finally I begged my husband to let me quit. Financially it was a hard decision because we would be losing my income but I felt in my heart that it was time and that it would all work out so I would be able to do this. 

KD: You have the heart of an entrepreneur and the soul of an artist-the best combo! I can just imagine that Accounts Receivable didn't really light you up like art does.  So what are you dreaming of with your art venture? 

PBV: I’m trying to keep an open mind and let the possibilities present themselves to me-so far that keeps happening...I have sold 6 paintings since December, was asked to show my art at a local restaurant and last week I was asked to hang my work at a church, of all places! I have been invited to join a group called Live Art Fusion-where artists paint while musicians perform and I had a friend ask me to send my work to her as she knows someone that works at The Huntington Art Museum on Long Island. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that. It feels like it’s all in sync right now so I am trying not to think too much about any of it or react to it. I love it though. 
Artwork by Pamela Brewer Varacek

KD: You're approaching the process intuitively, just like you do with your painting. That's fantastic and inspiring. I love how the world is rising to meet you! So how, after working for yourself for 10 years, did you find that you are an artist? 

PBV: I always thought of myself as an artist even as a little girl-my older brother Michael was an artist and he inspired me. I knew in first grade that I wanted to be an art teacher and so I eventually went to Nazareth College for art education and then went on to teach for about four years. I lost my job and decided to try other things such as selling hand painted items at craft fairs. When I became a mom, everything creative pretty much came to a standstill in my life. I didn't do any art for a long time and I longed for it but never allowed myself the time to do it. Two summers ago I felt this overwhelming urge to paint again and a friend from college posted an online course called “Get Your Paint On.”  It really opened something up in me. I ended up taking the course twice. Something inside started stirring and I was craving more. That's how I discovered Flora's class-it has changed me completely. I feel like it has woken up my spirit. 

KD: I can see your spirit awake and shining in your artwork! You seem to be living the perfect artist’s life, complete with an upcoming trip to Switzerland and Paris? 

PBV: Yes, I’m going to Switzerland on the 19th to see my brother and then maybe to Florence and Pisa, I would love to go to Tuscany too. On the 29th I will take a train to Paris and meet up with someone I met on the Flying Lessons Group-she is from France. I’ve never been to Paris and it's been a dream of mine to go! 

KD: That sounds amazing and it’s great that you now have the freedom to travel without worrying about what’s waiting for you back at the oyster place. I said your life seemed like an ideal artist’s life, but it's got some rock star elements too.  You've been painting on stage while a band plays?  That is so wild, what was it like? 

PBV:  I have painted onstage while a local band called Soundswell played-that was an awesome experience. It was such a high to be up there with great music and have people watch you create.  People kept coming up to me after the show to tell me they enjoyed it. Many wanted to see the finished result too. It was hard though because the lighting was dark and the colors kept changing so you had to work around that but there was great energy! 

KD: That is serious pressure to perform, it’s definitely not for everyone but that's one of the things I love about you! You are just out there grabbing life by the bawls (as they say in LI)!

PBV: It’s so funny you say that because I don't think of myself like that, I feel like I'm not grabbing enough bawls hahaha! I see others in our group and feel like they are so brave and doing so much already and it’s always baby steps for me.

KD:  I see you as one of those people, and while we're on the topic of our online group, one of your greatnesses is the support and encouragement you give to others.  Is teaching in your thoughts or plans? 

PBV: Teaching adults scares me but I do love being able to help others out by telling my story and maybe my process will help someone to be inspired-that's what its all about. I love and treasure our little community, it’s been such a huge part of my growth. I am hoping to get going with a painting/art night at a local restaurant and then I am definitely kicking around an online course at some future point. 

KD: Do you have artists online that you follow or who have influenced your work?

PBV: Dan Casado is one of my faves at the moment. I have a lot of people whose work I love, here is my Pinterest link to see some of my influences.

Artwork by Pamela Brewer Varacek

KD: You mentioned that you have sold 6 paintings since December. How are you getting the word out about your artwork? 

PBV: I have sold paintings to people on Facebook and the restaurant where I have them displayed. My friends and someone I met on vacation have also bought paintings. It's encouraging that I haven't spent a dime on advertising and I am selling them. 

KD: I think your art appeals to many people-I think they're going to sell faster than you can paint ‘em. So where can people see and buy your artwork now? 

PBV: Right now only on my facebook page.  I've got someone coming over this week to work on my website too.

KD: It's good to know where your time is best spent and what to enlist the help of others with.  I'm guessing you have a great sense of this after years of owning your own business.  Thank you Pam, for inspiring us with your art and your actions! I can’t wait to see where this new journey leads you! 


Candace N'Diaye said...

What a great interview! I've talked to both of you girls through the BT Facebook group, and always enjoy seeing your work and hearing your insights.

Pam, congrats on all the success. I'm so happy for you that everything is just coming together so well. Way to go with the flow :)!

Kelly D said...

Thank you Candace. I admire you as well! Hmmm....I feel another interview may be in my future...

Regina Jessup (gena) said...

Great post Kelly! Love Pam, love her beautiful work. Super Pam, congratulations.

Great meeting like-minded artists, who have the courage to live their authentic lives. Creating your authentic life, creates happiness :)))
Great interview Kelly, thanks for this, so inspiring. It takes a lot of balls to Do What You Love! Brava!! Cheers!

Kelly D said...

Appreciate the support Regina! I can't wait to see what you're cooking up with your new site too!

Unknown said...

Sorry I missed this 1st time around. Such an inspiration you both are! I loved the interview and your boldness Pam to follow your heart and inspiration! Your work is amazing! So glad to be a part of our bloom true group and watch those taking big risks on this creative journey!

Kelly D said...

Thank you Lisa! I too, enjoy witnessing everyone's journey and watching the transformation. Appreciate you stopping by!