Eight years ago, I set myself a goal of designing five product lines and selling them at a holiday craft show called Artisans' Alley in my home town of Coronado. In the Spring of that same year, I gave notice at the job I had loved and worked at for 20 years. Even though I was sad to move on from working in the capacity I had at Gallery Services/Artrageous!, I knew in my heart the time had come for me to move on. Also at this time, one of my sons was struggling in school, so I knew he needed an advocate who could be there to support him as necessary. Thankfully, my husband's business allowed us some financial flexibility, so we made the decision as a family to allow these situations to line up, and low-and-behold, I was a studio crafter with a home based business!
Artisans' Alley was a wonderful experience for me. At the end of the show, I learned I had been the Featured Vendor for the show! All of my product lines were warmly welcomed by the shoppers, and I sold much of everything I had busily been creating over the previous 10 months. Thus, "Val's Art Studio" was born, and my love affair with felted wool and needle felted embellishing was established.
Ever since then, I waded into the adjoining world of selling online via an Etsy shop, I began writing a blog (Hello, you!), I created a website, wrote and filmed an online teaching experience called Hello Felt, reached out to the world of consignment and wholesale selling. I have entertained at Gallery Openings, reached you via Facebook and Instagram, began teaching local needle felting classes and ultimately, I have taken my craft to a level I had never before imagined. All this time, what I was doing for the craft and art world was giving so much back to me!
Who knew this push-me-pull-you world of art and craft would have the result it has had on me?During this whole time, along with running my art business, our family was facing some really tough stuff as we navigated my son's struggles and illness. We suffered through 3 years of my son being away from home in a residential placement setting, 3 lawsuits with our school district, which we fought - and won. We had multiple denials of care for our son from our insurance company, which I fought - and won. We struggled through the perils of my son's co-occurring disorder and worked hard to learn how best to support him. We worked through years of family counseling and helping our younger son deal with the unique trials our family was dealing with. I became an expert on IEPs, learned how to navigate the world of addiction, co-ran an Al-Anon support group, took and then taught the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Family to Family class. All during this time, I wrote a blog on our family's experience called The Mom in the Arena. Whew!
Now, standing where I am and having the ability to look back at the wild jungle our family has trudged through, I can see the role art has played in my life.
Art has grounded me, it has allowed me to focus and grow into myself. Art has calmed my worried heart, given me a vehicle for expressing my sadness and pain. Art has been my friend, my muse, my shoulder to cry on, my pride, my joy - ART has been (and IS) MY SALVATION!I'm not about to tell you I am going to stop making my art, or that I am moving on. No, art will always be by my side and at my fingertips. But as I accept a new role life is offering me, I will allow my art brain to muddle and seep. This probably sounds weird, but I feel it's time to focus my attention in a different arena right now. My art brain is ready to move into something new. I do not know what that will look like, or how it will happen. I am simply going to TRUST that it will all happen as it is meant to in the grand scheme of life.
Over on my other blog, The Mom in the Arena, I discuss my new job with NAMI San Diego, working as a team member of the Child, Youth and Family Liaison, as well as the matters of advocating for my son and family. Now, it is time for me to turn my attention towards families who need help, and work my own particular form of magic that I know to bring my voice, passion, and purpose to the table of Youth Advocacy.
I will still be here, I promise! Just a bit more part time, while my "Mom brain" is doing what I can to help another cause I am passionate about.
Please know you can find me at ONLY two holiday shows this season: I will be at the Contemporary Crafts Market in Pasadena this Nov 11, 12 and 13. And, I will be at Artisans' Alley on Sat, Dec 3 along with my mom, who is putting a few of her handcrafted items out into the world. I will still be showing and selling my work on Etsy, and in my local galleries, a list of which you can find here.
Hope to see you in Pasadena or at Artisans' Alley! Please know I will always respond to your questions and requests, so feel free to email me too :o)