10 years ago, if you would have tried to describe to me what my life would look like today, I would have said "yeah, right." I never knew it was possible to create a career as an artist, and honestly, was not very interested in learning how.
"Best live wedding painter in Louisiana" was certainly not on my list of possible things I wanted to be when I grew up.
I really just wanted to get a job, paint for fun here and there, and settle down and start having kids. No kidding! However, soon after graduating from college, an unexpected desire crept into my life, and it's only grown bigger and deeper over the years.
The desire to create this business was not born until 2014, when I was sitting at my desk job, bored out of my mind, wondering what other options were out there for me.
I found myself getting sucked down the Pinterest rabbit hole, pinning pictures of animals and landscapes that I felt inspired to paint when I got home. (Sorry, boss!)
It wasn't even the lazy idea of sitting around and painting all day that inspired me to quit my job. It was the desire to serve people in a more meaningful way than I was able to as a graphic designer. I found myself becoming personally invested in the clients we served at my little advertising agency, involving myself in every stage of the process - to the point of frustration for my coworkers.
I remember being told, "Just do the job you were hired to do." As an employer, I completely understand and agree with that request, but at the time, the words were a ball and chain to my desk. I just wanted to help! I knew we could do a better job. I wanted more control. Obviously, my time there was limited.
I began my new career, and truly embodied my new identity as an independent artist in 2015. My mission was as clear on day one as it is today:
I will use my talents and skills to bring joy to people by using their unique interests as inspiration for custom paintings.
Aside from the occasional personally inspired painting or series, my time is focused on creating individual, realistic paintings that reflect each client's specific vision. From Pet Portraits to Anniversary Paintings, to the many Unique commission requests, each work of art is sent to it's new home with a piece of my heart painted within the strokes.
A new specialty is born:
Since the dawn of my new career, my client's requests have stretched my creativity and abilities beyond my imagination, and the most impactful request came from a friend who had just gotten engaged.
"You have to paint at my wedding!"
As an artist, my reaction quickly went from laughing out loud to wiping sweaty palms as I tried to respond with "Are you kidding, absolutely not. Is that even a thing?"
However, as a broke new business owner, I JUMPED at the offer. Looking back, that seemingly difficult decision was made easier by a history of increasingly braver decisions:
Deciding to leave that unhealthy relationship.
Standing up for myself when I wasn't being challenged enough or fulfilled at work.
Starting a business from scratch - with virtually no savings.
Each time I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found myself in a new place that was pregnant with possibilities - a new adventure. Agreeing to paint at my friend's wedding changed the trajectory of my business, and consequentially, my life.
I jotted her wedding day down on my calendar, and immediately turned to social media to promote myself as a "live wedding painter." Other than the pressure of performing in front of a group of strangers, how was this service any different than what I had been doing, I asked myself. How hard could it be?
Those bold efforts paid off, landing me 15 wedding gigs in my first year and 50 the following year. To this day, I see every blank canvas as an opportunity to develop my skills in realism and color accuracy; to create my newest "best painting ever."
My goal is still the same as with custom paintings, but the duty is even sweeter: I have one chance to capture a newlywed couple in their happiest of moments, while also entertaining their guests and creating a masterpiece that they will cherish for a lifetime.
I'm Stephanie, and I have devoted my life to bringing joy to others through my artwork.
The greatest loves of my life, aside from my work, include my sweet husband, Chris, our beautiful girls, Madeline and Charlotte, and our three XL dogs - Jake, Lucy and Dakota.
I'd also like to mention another very important part of my life - you! Whether you've been with me since the beginning, or you just recently joined in on my journey, thank you for being my friend! From the bottom of my heart, know that I cherish your encouragement, feedback, support and friendship.