A manager becomes an artist: how to start earning money from scratch with art
On the occasion of World Creativity Day, we explain how an adult can make a childhood dream come true and develop creativity. Spoiler: coronavirus and lockdown can even help.
What is creativity? Since childhood, many people are accustomed to thinking that it's not for everyone, only for the chosen, special, talented ones. But it's not true. Everyone needs creativity in their life and we can express it in many ways: from creative ideas at work to cooking something new for dinner.
Psychologists say that people actively involved in creativity are better able to withstand diseases, more satisfied with life, confident in themselves and plans for the future; they don't focus on what they can't objectively affect. Creativity helps to cope with internal conflicts, anxiety, stress, psychosocial and emotional problems; it allows expressing our feelings without words and focus on the present moment.
How to awaken a creator in yourself when you're an accomplished adult person? Where to find time for some "silly things" when you're constantly racing on the house-family-work loop? After all, we're used to thinking that it's wonderful if there's even time left for resting; this is no attempting to ring the changes in your life. Still, stop for a moment and listen: there, deep inside, you still have a bright spark, your Dream.
Remember who you dreamed of becoming as a child, what you wanted to do. Maybe to play the ukulele, create collages, restore old chairs, make origami, become a famous rapper, artist, belly dancer, theater actor?
According to statistics, only 25% of adults consider themselves creative, over the years, this percentage decreases; after 35 years, only 10% of people continue to strive for their dreams. Put gadgets aside (by the way, the average person spends more than 5 hours a day on a smartphone, that's time for creativity!), dig up notes in the storeroom, a panting device, or paint: it's not too late to shake the dust of your wish and fix everything, because everyone is born to become a creator.
Kyiv resident Olha Matveiuk-Hranovska worked in the tourism business before the pandemic, and now she's painting. Within a year, her work spread around the world. Rubryka talked to the artist and asked how a travel agency manager managed to survive the crisis, hear her heart's voice and cope with the difficulties of the new profession.
From the office to an easel
The tourist field was the first to suffer from covid. Borders and skies, beaches, and hotels were closed, the owners calculated the losses; the workers were dismissed to stay at their homes. "Suddenly everything stopped," Olha recalls. "When it happened, we all found ourselves alone with the circumstances and ourselves. What to do next, how long will this dead-time last, how to pull yourself out of this swamp of hopelessness? For me, these questions weren't just a reason to reflect. I thought a lot about what was happening to the world and me. People around me now believe that I grabbed the brushes all of a heap. But for me, it was a long way from myself to the Universe. And when I returned… I suddenly felt that I wanted to paint in oil. I lacked colors, freedom, sea, wind. I suffocated without freedom."
Before deciding, Olha had never dealt with canvases and paints, and there was no one to ask for training. But the thirst for painting was so uncontrollable that one evening she suddenly sat down and wrote a post on Facebook.
"I've never asked for anything on social media before, it's better to help someone than to ask for help, everyone knows that, but then I thought: maybe someone has an old easel at home, taking up space, gathering dust, and I'd take it and thank. After all, we have a lot of useless things at home, which we're sometimes sorry to throw away, but we gladly give them away if someone needs them. I wrote a post a little jestingly, a little seriously, almost not hoping for any result, because nothing in my life ever came easily and never fell off the sky."
Not really hoping for an answer, Olha had already forgotten about her request, but a few days later a friend of hers answered her post and offered to pick up the old easel of her late mother.
"It turned out that Olena lived nearby. 1.5 kilometers on foot (public transport didn't operate), and I found myself at home with an old easel. I was walking around it for another week, I didn't know what to do with it because I've never even seen it up close. Not to mention that there was no oil, brushes, solvents, nothing. Olena Martianova was my first patron, she gave me a lot of what was left of her mother. I didn't even know how to dissolve the oil, how to apply it, how to prime the canvas… It was difficult…"
How adults forget and find creativity
Olha Matveiuk-Hranovska admits that she has felt the urge to express herself since childhood. Little Olia was interested in everything: music, dancing, sports. In her youth, she was big on swimming, athletics, ballroom dancing. She always wanted to paint, but with her fast-paced life, she had neither time nor money for it, because painting isn't cheap enjoyment. But she always jokingly told everyone that she'd paint in oil on the beach. "Who knew," the artist wonders, "that these weren't fantasies."
Olha had no fears that something might not work out. Because both the call for painting and easel happened suddenly. Abruptly, like a pandemic. She arranged the workshop on the balcony. Since she didn't even know the basics at first, she started studying the information on the Internet, and it became her teacher. Now everything is open, take it and learn, the key is an intention. The main thing is to know what to look for.
"I had a feeling that I was on the right track. I'm sure it happens to everyone when they do what they need to do. Honestly, I'm still not sure that I'm a real painter, because if someone had shown me a person who started painting in one day, never studied, I wouldn't believe it either. But my family was no less shocked than I was.
When I started painting my first work, my daughter looked at the canvas and said, 'No, it's not a picture… what is it?' But in half an hour or one hour, she came to me again, saw the changes and was surprised: 'Oh … the wave!' It was the first assessment of my work. And when I painted her portrait, seeing her eyes was enough for me. 'Mom, you can do THAT?' Her admiration is the main recognition for me."
How to support yourself?
When someone supports you, not devalues you, it's extremely important. People who try to be creative not for money, but because the heart asks for it, the artist advises not to listen to ranting. Just go your own way. If anyone likes what you do, that's a big deal. It's impossible to please everyone because people are different, everyone has different tastes, different views, each individual reflects his/her own unique view of this world.
According to the artist, social media is helping to get the necessary support now. The path to the public is simplified. Communication with viewers and future customers is simplified, and you cannot snap your fingers at it, especially when painting in oil. To paint, you have to sell them, because oil "is like a gemstone placed on a canvas."
"I paint only with natural paints, and their quality and price are corresponding. I don't want people to scold my work later. I try to do something of good quality for years, and maybe forever. I'm sure that all my works will outlive me. And that's great. Social networks are an amazing invention. The main thing is not to replace your real life with online."
And what about criticism? Olha advises to be careful:
"There's a big difference between faultfinding and criticism. Criticism with advice is good. Criticism without advice shouldn't even be allowed. Listen to your heart."
Often people doubt whether they should be creative because they "don't know," have no education, have studied nowhere. Amateurism in Ukraine is marked as negative, although it's not entirely fair, you can start at any point:
"When I started my journey, I realized how good it was that I didn't study as a child or young person. To me, the wings would break off quickly. I'm not saying that learning is bad. It's always helpful. I remember what I was like in my youth, listening to everyone, believing everyone. So don't trust those saying you can't do something. You must only believe in yourself. Even if others say it's the wrong way, it's not: it's still right because it's yours and yours alone! And in this journey, the key thing is the thirst for creating. If a person really wants something, he/she must go for it, make mistakes, take hard knocks, fall, and rise, it's your personal path. But your desire to go forward must be so strong that you couldn't breathe, thinking about your dream. We have a lot of vague wishes: I want it, I want it, but if you concentrate on one thing and truly want it, then everything will come to you: opportunities, inspiration, and teachers."
From water to painted water
All Olha Matveiuk-Hranovska's paintings almost always have water: waves, sea, pool paths, waterfalls. Olha isn't just a tourist clerk, she's a divemaster, she has done more than 2,000 dives. She cannot imagine her life without the sea, and she has no problems finding plots for paintings:
"Plots are everywhere. Nature is a great artist and I'm just copying the Creator's work, at least trying to capture His light. I paint energy. This is light, water, and other elements. For me, creativity is like breathing. Sometimes I breathe the sea, the forest, tourism, poems, stories. These internal vibrations are represented in various creativity types. For example, when I started painting, I stopped writing poetry. I don't paint pictures, I 'hear' and record them. For me, it's a rhythm and a huge part of my life. From the moment the covid captured us all, I really wanted to go to sea, to freedom, and paints became my freedom. I sit down at the easel and fly where I want. These are fantastic adventures, sometimes I even hear the wind or the wash of the waves. In art, I feel the highest degree of freedom being where I want to be now.
During the pandemic year, the Kyiv amateur painted more than 50 paintings. Most of them channeled off between customers from Ukraine and abroad. "I'm happy when the paintings stay at home in Ukraine. And I'm happy when they go abroad because they're like my graduates. I'm not an ambitious person. But, let me remind you, for art, you need paints, you need to sell your work. It's a loop. I don't like it when paintings stay at home. It's like your breathing, you have to let it out into the world. Although I kept some favorites for myself (these are portraits of my daughter and something for the heart)."
During this time, the artist has participated in international online competitions for painters twice, although she says she doesn't consider such events to be a measure of talent: "I understand that all these competitions are very biased. On the other hand, competitions are needed if you succeed in something and you want to tell the world who you are. This was the case with the DANTEBUS competition in Italy, to which I was invited by a girl from social media. She sent me a link on Instagram and assured me that I wouldn't be superfluous there. I thought, why not? One of my works ('SWIMMING POOL') was noticed at this competition (which I gratefully presented to my talented aqua aerobics coach Myroslava Synytska), and I received a certificate. It was very nice. Italian artists and world artists and I are different things. It's a strange feeling for me. Then there was the second competition. Its results will be announced in the summer, but I already feel like a winner, thanks to the strong support that my friends and fans have given me during the voting. In this sense, the competitions are very positive for the artist."
When asked how she feels in the newly discovered role of an artist, Olha shrugs:
"The phrase 'artist Olha' is still strange to me. We're all artists. Everyone has a lot of talents, and their discovery can happen suddenly, like mine, or never happen if there's no need. Nothing in the world just happens. I'm also sure of that. I wanted to paint. But I didn't know how, when, the hustle and bustle of life prevented me from thinking about it, because I love to fly, travel, and have a very busy life, where there was no place for paintings. Thanks to quarantine, my dream has come true, but it doesn't mean that I'll stop dreaming. I want to finish the website, have an idea to record my poems on the YouTube channel, publish collections of poems and stories, there are still unfinished novels… My dream is to gift my painting to the National Museum of Ukraine. It may seem too ambitious, but I only wish to share my energy with the world. Because everything around us is Energy and Light. This is how I perceive this world. Do I also have ambitions? I don't know, I just feel that I have the strength and still have time to do it. Life is beautiful and incredible! You need not only to earn a living but also to create, not to be afraid to show people what you want.
The tourism business is gradually coming back to life, so now the artist has to combine painting with the main work. Switching from one activity to another isn't always easy, sometimes even the company's director, jokingly, offers her to "finally bring an easel to work and paint here." "Of course it's a joke," Olha laughs, "but I'll think about it."