GUEST ARTIST: “Follow Your Passion” by Amy Giglio

Californian Landscape Watercolor by Amy Giglio - Doodlewash

Hello! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amy Giglio. I am a watercolor artist and teacher with over 20 years of experience in drawing and painting. My favorite subjects to paint are landscapes, birds, and other animals, with the occasional flower thrown into the mix.

It is my goal as an artist to encourage and inspire others to follow their dreams, in art or other pursuits, by cultivating a positive and meaningful online presence. To further that aim, I would like to share the story of how I became an artist, in hopes that my struggles may help others find their own way. Do keep in mind that this is not the end of my art journey, but rather only just the beginning.

Flower Field Watercolor by Amy Giglio - Doodlewash

Flower Field

I have recently discovered and fallen in love with Daniel Smith watercolor paints. My favorite color right now is their Moonglow, a deep granulating violet! When it comes to paper, I prefer Arches cold press for its outstanding quality and then cartridge paper by Seawhite of Brighton for sketching because of its lovely soft texture. For brushes, I love the Black Velvet line by Silver Brush Limited and series 402 round brushes from Rosemary & Co. There are many others but I won’t list them all here.

My imagination tells me that there must be a few lucky souls out there who are born knowing what they want to do in life and they just go out and do it, but for me, it was not so simple. For starters, I grew up in a small quiet town in Connecticut and was homeschooled until 8th grade (AKA I grew up in a bubble).

Northern Lights Watercolor by Amy Giglio - Doodlewash

Northern Lights

Believe me when I tell you that high school was like culture shock for me. Then at 18 years old, I was suddenly expected to know what to do with the remainder of my adult life. The only “guidance” I received was a computer generated aptitude test. High school didn’t give me the skills I needed to enter the real world. No wonder I struggled so hard to find a direction in college.

People expected me to pursue a lucrative career path but the only two things that I ever really felt passionate about were art and horses. Do something “practical,” they said. There is no money in Art, they said. But where did that leave me? Facing a future of 40+ years working in a profession that was at best, a compromise, or at worse, felt like indentured servitude.

I refused to accept that reality. There had to be a better option, but at the same time, I had no solution to the problem. I felt lost, directionless, like a tiny boat on a vast dark sea shrouded in dense fog. I fell into a depression of sorts, feeling really unmotivated about where I was heading in life and my college grades suffered as a consequence.

Norway Sketch Watercolor by Amy Giglio - Doodlewash

Norway Sketch

I spent a total of six years floundering through my first round of college. Before graduating, I changed my major 3 times and took several semesters off. Then I went through a string of short-lived jobs in completely unrelated fields, trying to find a place that fit me. I moved out of my parent’s house…. only to move back in a year later. Not to mention several failed and unhappy relationships with the wrong guys.

Then finally at the age of 28, I decided that becoming a graphic designer was the best option available to me. It was a compromise between being an artist and something “practical”. So I went back to college, not sure if it was the right answer, but knowing in my heart of hearts I had to make a change.

Pastel Landscape Watercolor by Amy Giglio - Doodlewash

Pastel Landscape

Needless to say, I really enjoyed going back to school and honestly would have been happy to remain a lifetime college student (If only it wasn’’t so expensive! I swear, I will be paying my student loans back until I’’m 50!). Working towards a new career had given me a ray of hope on the horizon, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet.

While my education and future career seemed to be coming together, my personal life was falling apart. I was overwhelmed with stress and had reached a breaking point, something had to give. So I decided to follow my gut and make another big change. In March of 2014, I left Connecticut and moved to Ohio. I had some connections there who offered to help me transition into the next phase of my life. And while this was not easy or perfect by any means, looking back it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Pink Sky Watercolor by Amy Giglio - Doodlewash

Pink Sky

Soon I found a job working as a graphic designer with an advertising company and could finally afford to have my own place. It was a 400 sq. ft. shoebox studio apartment but it was all mine. (It was also around this time that I met the man of my dreams and he should be given credit for supporting my decision to become a full-time artist.) With trying to balance my personal and professional life, it didn’’t take long for me to realize that working at a “normal” job wasn’’t for me. I am just not cut out for the 9 to 5 grind.

It left me feeling drained and exhausted with no creative energy leftover for personal projects. After 2+ years, I decided to quit the graphic design gig and pursue a career as a professional artist.  I wanted to spend my time, my life, working towards something that was meaningful to me. To put my energy and effort into making my dreams come true, rather than someone else’s.

I knew I was choosing the harder road but it was the only way for me to be true to myself. Looking back on graphic design and what I had thought of as a compromise, was really leading me to the next big step. It was the digital skills that gave me the tools I would need to become a creative entrepreneur.

All that so-called “wasted time in college” had been building up to this moment in my life. Granted this is so much easier to recognize in hindsight but if you are feeling lost, know that nothing is forever. We are always transitioning on to the next thing. Sometimes it takes longer than we want it to, but trust that it will happen. Trust in yourself and just keep moving forward.

Rural Irish Landscape Watercolor by Amy Giglio - Doodlewash

Rural Irish Landscape

I am right there with you. I am still figuring out this crazy hot mess we call life. Like I said from the start, I am only just beginning. And to be completely honest, I am broke…. but I am also happier than I have been since I was a small child. If that isn’t success, then I don’t know what is. Yes, it is hard work, but the freedom that comes with being my own boss is well worth it.

The moral of the story is that life is too short to spend it doing something that doesn’’t make you happy. If you don’’t like something change it. If something or someone makes you unhappy, say goodbye or let it go. Make more space for good things to come into your life. Only you have the power to make things better. No one else is going to do it for you. All you have to do is believe in yourself. If I can do it, so can you.

Amy Giglio
Doodlewash
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Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

Recommended7 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
33 Comments
  1. Bekki Page 2 weeks ago

    Oh, Amy! Thank you for sharing your journey and your stunning artwork. Headed over to IG now 🙂

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you Bekki! So happy to share! Lots more artwork over on my Instagram feed for you!

  2. Jodi Ballenger 2 weeks ago

    Amy, your paintings are just beautiful. Thank you for the inspiring words!

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you so much Jodi! So glad you could relate to my story.

  3. Mary Roff 2 weeks ago

    Your work is beautiful and I especially love your landscapes. Wish everyone could read and follow the philosophy in your last paragraph.

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I love painting landscapes, they always make me feel calm and peaceful. I genuinely hope others can benefit from my mistakes.

  4. drawabunch 2 weeks ago

    Oh these are lovely!! Wonderful work!

  5. Zertab 2 weeks ago

    Your work is awesome and so is your story! Thanks for the motivation. Like you, I had the same situation when art and English Literature were discouraged as these wouldn’t fetch money. I now realize that business studies was not at all the thing for me. I’m looking for work now but enjoying the time I’m spending at home because I feel so much at peace painting my day away.

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you so much! I am happy to help. I think so many people struggle with finding a fulfilling career path. I truly believe we can find a better way.

  6. Les Grindey 2 weeks ago

    lovely work Amy

  7. Karen Russo 2 weeks ago

    Thank you so much for sharing your artwork and your story.
    Virtually every beautiful piece left me wishing we could sit together so I could ask you, “How’d you do that? And that? And that…?” 😄

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      You are so welcome Karen! I would be happy to chat with you. Feel free to contact me directly via email or Instagram!

  8. Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

    Amy, your work is inspiring and so is your story! Thank you for sharing both.

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you Sandra for the lovely compliment! I am happy to be of service!

  9. cjwaterfieldart 2 weeks ago

    Very lovely work Amy, so delicate I adore Pink Sky and Pastel Landscape!

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you so much! That I would have to say you have picked out some of my favorites!

  10. Sharon Nolfi 2 weeks ago

    Your work is lovely, especially the birds.

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you so much Sharon! Birds are a subject I come back to over and over again. I have been fascinated by them since I was a small child.

  11. Jill Gustavis 2 weeks ago

    Thank you for sharing! Your story is only too familiar! Especially the part where I did graphic design for a few years thinking the inbetween-ness of it would work the miracle of making a “professional” job fun. lol. I’ve yet to make my personal art my full-time job, but I did fall into a full time job the past few years doing illustration and photography for a company doing great work so I can’t complain! 🙂 It’s great to hear you’re working for your dreams; your work is beautiful!

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      It is incredible how similar our experiences have been. While I like graphic design, I find that digital media just doesn’t do it for me. I much prefer the feel of a brush in my hand and the texture of the paper. So glad you have found work in illustration and photography. Thank you for your kind words!

  12. Shereen 1 week ago

    Bravo in pursuing your passion! Your story is so generous to share the reality.

  13. Janneke Booister 1 week ago

    I love your art! And your story only shows that good things don’t always come easy 🙂 🙂
    Enjoy now you have found it!

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you Janneke! I used to think I had wasted so much time in the past not knowing what direction to go in, but looking back now I realize it was all leading up to me becoming a professional artist. Still feel like I have a long way to go! 🙂

  14. kimstrande 1 week ago

    I love the honesty in this post, and how it all came together for you ☺ I am also in love with painting, but it’s hard to feel that my own work is good enough for other people to see ☺ I still show it off on the internet though, even though it’s frightening 😊

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you! I really appreciate it! I think it is important to share the struggles and the mistakes just as much as the successes. No one is perfect and we are all just trying to do the best we can. In regards to your own work, I would say that it is extremely important to try and keep perspective and not make comparisons. Painting is a skill that takes a loooong time to develop. And I believe that as an artist you never really stop learning. There is nothing wrong with being where you are at in your art journey. Don’t worry about what other people think of your art. The important thing is that you enjoyed making it.

  15. ROBERTA 1 week ago

    You have a beautifully delicate touch. I cheer for you all the WAY/
    .

    • Amy L. Giglio 1 week ago

      Thank you so much Roberta! I will take all the encouragement I can get! 🙂

  16. LoriCtoo 1 week ago

    Beautiful work! Thank you for sharing your story.

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