I became a working artist (and I bet you can too)

Hand painted scarf at beach

I’m not usually one for psychic readings, but last November I signed up for one from actor/writer Charlene deGuzman because I wanted to hear what advice a visionary writer might give a writer stalled between writing projects.

Charlene told me stuff I’ve told my writing students like “Stop trying so hard” and she said my word going forward should be “allow.” I should just allow the next project to come. I’d been stuck long enough that “allowing” felt implausible. But I ripped a page from my sketch book with the patterns I’d been painting on silk and wrote the word “allow” in purple felt pen and stuck it to the fridge. 

I’d been painting silk scarves for the last year as part of my empty nest renaissance. When my youngest child went to college, I decided I needed to fill my life with learning. I’d first batiked fabric when I was a little girl in my grandmother’s backyard and painting silk scarves now felt like coming home. I did dream that someday the scarves might “become something,” but couldn’t see how. 

About a month after Allow became my word, I walked past a wall hanging my grandmother had woven thirty years earlier and practically shouted, “Rectangles!” I knew I needed to paint  rectangles on the scarves. A design popped into my head (the design I use on the Atherton Afternoon scarves). 

I started making the Atherton Afternoon prototype and posting photos in social media. The response from followers was immediate and visceral. (Because I’ve already worked in a creative field, I could tell people were genuinely enthusiastic and not “just being nice.”)

More designs started coming to me and people began to ask when the scarves would be available for purchase (something that has never happened with my writing). I even sold a few before I had an online shop. I could tell the public interest was there but more importantly, I was excited and this new scarf project didn’t even feel like effort or work. It was like, you know, I was just allowing it to happen.

I made a wall poster with my quarterly goals: Make fifty scarves, develop branding, and open an online shop. I found online tutorials for many aspects of developing a business and discovered the amazing courses on selling your craft from jeweler Megan Auman on Creative Live. Things were falling into place.

Three months later I opened my store Theo Nestor Designs and have been selling scarves steadily since that day. My next writing project is still on hold, but I’m having too much fun to care. 

Check out my scarves!


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