For most of us, what we do has been a big part of who we are for most of our adult life.
For years, I considered life and its demands secondary to my art work. Although making money was nice, it was not the driving force behind the many hours I spent creating animal head sculptures. One of my favorite remarks was "I only sell them so the house doesn't fill up!" Every sale made room for a new creation. Yes, I'm also a wife and mother, but in my heart I'm an artist, and making the animal heads is my identity.
I'm sure many people struggle with similar feelings when they retire from their professions. Happy because they will now have time and energy for other things, like RVing. But also a little sad and uncertain about leaving behind a world with which they were quite comfortable.
I've let my business die a slow death over the last several years. I have not done any shows, nor promoted my web site in any way, nor pursued retail opportunities, nor restocked as my inventory of available work has slowly sold.
Instead of life being an interruption of the flow of my art work production, lately new orders have become an interruption to my life. Instead of being excited about a new creative opportunity, I feel like I've "been there, done that" when asked to make one of the animals on my web site.
After forty-some years, I'm ready to close the door for good.
In the last few weeks I've gotten rid of all of the fabrics I have used to make dragons. Many were scraps or remnants. I have made several hundred dragons, large and small over the years, and so the fabrics were paid for many times over. I have culled my fur fabrics and will hang onto them until the house sells. But I won't be buying any more.
Today I cleared out a large cabinet in the studio where I had many bags and boxes of "pretty shiny things": decorative gold and silver buttons, acrylic gem stones, glass marbles and beads, plus bags of old or broken jewelry that had either been given to me or that I had bought at Goodwill. I used such jewelry to make bases for my "Hoard Dragons" to roost on.
I am waiting for a return call from the local elementary school to see if I can drop them off for art projects. I figure this close to Christmas, some teacher might be able to use them. Our school no longer has an art teacher :-( I would like to see the stuff be used rather than tossed.
As I sat here today on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, wrestling with my feelings about slowly closing down my studio, the telephone rang. It was a New York decorator who wants to know more about me. Seems he had just found my web site and "loved" my work. He said he is doing a Manhattan hotel and my work would be perfect for one of the areas. He asked what I had that could go out immediately because the project was almost done and he had a deadline. I told him what I tell anyone who inquires. I am still making animal heads, but on a custom order basis only. No inventory, and that it takes several weeks from order to ship. This was too long for him, but he did say he would keep me in mind in the future. I told him I could do some things for him if he gave me advance notice and we left it there.
If he had called several weeks ago I would have been able to do the job. Except for a couple of international orders, I have not had any business for weeks. In years when I did shows, this would have been a very busy time with Christmas sales. Not this year.
The truth is I will be somewhat glad to have it end. I was not at all unhappy about not being able to take his order. I got more satisfaction out of making that blanket for the Alfa than I would have gotten from making yet another $500 moose.
I may be able to take some aspect of my work forward, or perhaps I will come up with another wonderful line that will be compatible with full time RVing.
To quote an old expression: "When one door closes, another opens."
I just have to have the creative courage to pass thru.
I think I'm ready.