• Simone Arthur

Dream Big and Reach for the Paint

I once stayed up all night planning my life until there was nothing left to do but die.

First, why are we here? Imagine devoting all of your time to pursuing your passion. What would that look like? Well, let's find out. In less than two months, I leave the security of my day job to devote a year (maybe two) to teaching myself how to paint. In pursuit of this, I also plan to move to the Republic of Georgia. I say "teach" because I have no formal art education and haven't spent a great deal of time actually studying. I stopped pursuing anything creative when I started college. Between taking a full course load and working full-time there was no time for thought. Now, I find myself back where I began. Welcome to my first blog post.

I’ve always considered myself an emotional risk taker, but I’m also cautious in the sense that I have to have a plan. Those plans. Those plans. The last time I made a long-term plan it took a decade to complete and I ended up with a few degrees and depression. Hit the reset button. Three years ago, I scraped my original plan of dying from a heart attack in a corner office and moved to South Korea to live the life of a vagabond. I was actually supposed to come to South Korea for a gap year between undergrad and law school, but I was so worried about staying on my schedule that I didn't do it. Eventually, I grew to regret not taking that time and would often day dream at my desk thinking, what if?

As I practiced going dead inside, it wasn't lost on me that the view from my office window included a tiny sliver of the Art Institute of Chicago.

My first year in Korea was very stressful and I had a lot of anxiety regarding my decision to abscond with my life. After a year abroad, and not being able to formulate another 10 year plan (or even a 5 year plan), I decided the most rational decision would be to return to the security of a pension plan and Prozac. The safe choice. As the reality of going back to my old life drew closer, my anxiety grew worse. Even thinking about returning to the psychological void brought waves of nausea and heart palpitations. Going back was not an option.

It took me a minute to figure out the meaning of my hotel room door.

I wouldn't describe myself as superstitious but I believe in flow, otherwise know as "synchronicity." My second year in Korea was better than the first. I adopted a cute poodle, Mewa, and settled in for the long con. I stopped thinking about making a 5 year plan. My new plan was to focus on finding satisfaction doing things I used to enjoy, shed my anxiety about the future, and keep my mind open to alternative options. This brought me back to investing energy in my art without worrying about it's ultimate usefulness. Suddenly, the non-plan plan became a real plan and new opportunities started to emerge.

Progress. My first Inktober submission, October 1, 2017, and most recent art work, March 4, 2018.

Inktober 2017, I decided to take the challenge and I am so thankful I did. Not only did Inktober teach me that I could commit to creating everyday, it showed me how much improvement could be made in a short time. I started to wonder, what would happen if I seriously focused on trying to improve this skill for a year or maybe two? Could I make up for almost two decades of not painting? I need to know the answers to these questions. So, here we are.

On April 23, I’ll shed the safety of a structured work environment to take my own sort of gap year. I've lived like a hermit since August of last year preparing for my escape. The bills are paid and the budget set. I’m starting with a commitment of one year to see what will happen. It’s important for me to share this journey publicly because documenting what I am doing helps to keep me focused, and knowing that people are watching keeps me from sleeping in. So, here goes nothing, or everything. You can see new artwork as they are completed by following my Facebook page, Art by Simone Arthur, or on Instagram, Art_by_Simone_Arthur. I’ll see you down the rabbit hole.

Not all dreams happen in our sleep.

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