"The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time” - Mary Oliver
I first read this quote some years ago as I sat in my very stable office job, with its very frequent pay cheque and all the safety and tedium that comes with working a 9 to 5. I graduated with a First Class Honors in Criminology and Sociology from Cardiff University and followed the well-trodden route to gainful employment with the mindset of building a career and ever growing salary. I would paint and draw in every spare moment that a busy social-life and work left me - a blissful retreat from the day-to-day - and then return begrudgingly to the status-quo. That is not to say that I disliked my work, in fact I enjoyed much of it and met many wonderful people however I was constantly suppressing the notion that I was not doing what I really wanted to do. Painting and creating was where I felt most happy and fulfilled but pursuit of the arts seemed to be a reckless and uncertain leap into the unknown. However Oliver’s words rang loud in my ears and I found myself evermore frequently asking, “If I do not chance pursuing a career in art, will I regret it?”.
The idea of building a career in art was not a new one but rather something that I had conditioned myself to ignore due to an unfortunate turn of events. Studying art in university was what my 17 year old self wanted to do, so I applied and was accepted to study a BA in Art and Design at the University of Leeds. I had the most amazing time and poured all of my creative energy and passion into learning, making, sculpting, printing and painting. However half way through the degree, in a dark twist of fate I witnessed a tragic hit-and-run incident. The emotional trauma of the incident had a significant effect on me and eventually a decision was taken to suspend my studies (despite great protest from me). The process of returning to art, therefore, was a slow one.
I resigned to putting Leeds, the accident and the art career behind me and focused my energies elsewhere. However the more distant I became from creative processes the more I craved artistic outputs. This desire to create, coupled with and inescapable restlessness in my work, meant I found myself constantly questioning whether I should roll the dice and chance painting full-time. So in 2016, bolstered with some savings and encouraging words from friends and family, I took the leap the of faith and left my very stable office job. It has been the best decision I have ever made. With every like, comment, share and purchase you are helping me to avoid becoming one of those ‘regretful people’ and for that, I am forever grateful.