An Artist's Persistence

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.“ —Calvin Coolidge If you are an artist, then I’m sure the word persistence strikes a chord with you. If you aren’t, it is easy enough to relate to this subject. Everyone has thoughts to create; to inspire; to relay a story. It can be done in different ways, but whatever the vehicle, we strive for success. No artist in his right mind wants to create art that fails to illustrate the point. Even abstract art is supposed to inspire and draw out emotion, and verbal or written storytelling is supposed to paint a picture. This is easier for some people, but regardless of your natural abilities, the need for persistence remains. Practice makes perfect, as they say. I learned at an early age that practice is key. I started off with stick figures and worked my way up. I was the typical kid that would proudly present a picture to his parents, only to be asked upon presentation: “What is this?” This inspired me to get better. I liked to picture myself as John Wayne showing his true grit. And it wasn’t until high school that I started to see the results I wanted. I focused on portraits and got to the point where I could produce work that was instantly recognizable. Okay. So now what? I would spend 8-10 hours on a portrait of Hugh Laurie or Donald Sutherland, and try to sell the work at a price I thought reasonable for the time put into it. But who wants to spend $150 on a celebrity portrait? Not many people. I still have dozens of these works tucked away somewhere collecting dust. Next was to try my hands at commissioned portraits. Again, little luck. I couldn’t do justice to recently deceased family members by copying low-quality high school yearbook photos and whatnot. Others might’ve had better luck, but I floundered. So I thought to myself “what kind of artwork would I like to hang up on my own walls?” And the answer came to me. People like landscape paintings. I bought the supplies I needed, scoured YouTube for tutorial videos, and went to work. In some ways, it was frustrating because I felt like I was back at square one, yet the previous experience with art, in general, helped with the learning curve. And best of all I grew obsessed. I was met with success!

The latter part of 2017 was spent doing commission pieces and original artwork which quickly sold during the holiday season. People gave positive feedback on my works and even after the holidays I still did well. During this time, I worked briefly as an illustrator for a company that published school curriculum. Although I enjoyed the work, was called to focus my time and energy elsewhere. I felt God directing me to use my skills to inspire and challenge the little minds of children. It is the most fulfilling creative journey of my life thus far.

Looking back, each step along the way has given me the tools I’ve needed to communicate and inspire. The drawing, the painting, the time spent writing; all of this has given me the experience needed. Persistence and determination brought me here. - Travis

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