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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 elses.
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.
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.Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!