You hear it often enough: An artist still has a job outside the art world in order to pay the bills. Here’s the story of one person’s liberation from a day job.

Lead Image: On her first day of full-time painting, Diane Young painted this.

Ohio painter Diane Young decided to take a part-time job to help pay some bills. It was supposed to be four hours a week. But she slipped up and did a good job, and within a couple of months, the United States Postal Service promoted her to a career position, one that had her working six days a week, sometimes for 12 hours a day. “All I did was go to work and come home and go to sleep,” says Young. “The job was exhausting. I would have actually liked the job if I were not an artist with a burning desire to paint landscapes. My family encouraged me to try and stay a year.”

On the following day, this was Young’s output.
On the following day, this was Young’s output.

She did stay a year … and then she got out of there. “One day, I guess I woke up and said, ‘This is crazy!’ I gave them a month’s notice and made plans to live an artist lifestyle again. My first day of plein air painting was a mixture of excitement and fear. I had plenty of time in the last year to envision what I wanted to do differently in my approach to painting. Of course my first day did not go smoothly at all. I like using my old French easel. But I could not find my palette. I looked everywhere. So I grabbed my little 6”-x-8” guerrilla box … but I could not find the tripod. I thought, ‘OK, then I will paint on the steering wheel.’ I got to a painting site that I could paint from the car. I opened the little 6”-x-8” box and all the screws fell out at once. I was bound and determined to paint, and nothing was going to stop me. I leaned the detached lid on the steering wheel and painted my first plein air painting this year. I had a wonderful time painting.”

On the third day of painting freedom, she painted this.
On the third day of painting freedom, she painted this.

The year away from painting did do her some good, if only to show clearly where her heart is. “Even though I don’t want to go another year without painting, I have to admit I did come back to my artist life feeling stronger and more determined to use my time wisely and to strive for excellence. I am thankful!”

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Editor PleinAir Today, Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the Editor of Plein Air Today and works as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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