Happy anniversary to me and Ella Yang Studio! 15 years ago I made a deal with myself: try making art on a full-time basis for five years and see how it goes - by any of many possible criteria, e.g. how I improve/develop as an artist, can I get my art exhibited, will anyone buy my artwork, might I get any recognition from anyone in the "art world" (which was quite mysterious to me). I also was new to Brooklyn, not aware of or part of any artist community. I told myself that I could always go back to what I used to do by staying in touch with former colleagues. This gave me a (somewhat delusional) feeling that I had a back up plan. I put my trust in myself and "the Universe," and thanks to the whole-hearted support of my husband, started off on an incredible journey. What a ride it has been!
Pretty quickly I found a tiny, windowless studio in the northern part of Gowanus. Every nice day I went outside to paint, otherwise reveled in having an art studio for the first time in my life. . Rooftop views became my "landscapes" and, given that the Gowanus Canal was near my studio, it also became a natural subject.
While painting outside, I met other plain air artists. I also pursued my interest in figure drawing and painting at a couple of studios in Manhattan, where I met other Brooklyn-based artists.
That first year I participated in my very first Gowanus Open Studios and sold a painting. What a thrill! The next year I volunteered to work on the committee organizing the still somewhat nascent open studios event. I started to meet other artists in Gowanus. Over the next few years I joined various artist organizations in search of more "colleagues" and to contribute my business knowledge and skills. I had opportunities to show my work in juried group exhibitions, participated annually in Gowanus Open Studios which grew in size and public notice, and sold a few paintings pretty regularly.
In my 4th year the Universe spoke, or rather Cynthia M. Dantzic included me in her amazing book, "100 New York Painters" (available here). Right around the same time I was accepted into the Vermont Studio Center, a renowned artist residency. But just before I left, I partnered with a friend and we found a well-price, large studio space farther south in Gowanus, which we built out into three spaces - each with tall, north facing windows, perfect for painters. Turned out that the five year horizon was longer than I needed.
Since that incredibly fulfilling and fateful year, I've been on a path full of adventure, getting to know wonderful artists, fans and collectors; growing and developing my portfolio of paintings; finding entrepreneurial ways to show my artwork; trying to keep up with social media; and continuing to volunteer my time and business skills to the community of artists in Gowanus. I have had incredible studio mates who have shared with me their art education and moral support. And, I am forever grateful to my husband for being "the wind beneath my wings."
Here's to the next 15 years!