Work for Free until you Gain Experience


“Skudeneshavn Norway”  20 x 16 Oil on canvas; SOLD, Prints available!

The economy goes up and down, depending on the world’s financial health and our own. The stock market rises and falls with the state of business and who the decision makers are in Washington.

My first husband thought my writing was a waste of time until I started getting paid for it. When I could pay for my own dental bills, contact lenses and clothes the time I spent at the typewriter and computer was suddenly valued.

“Money is the root of all evil” until it digs us out of a hole or provides for our wants and needs. Money is power and a necessity in today’s society.

But I have to sound off about all those hours and days I volunteered my time and talents to organizations such as “Kansas Right to Life, Pro-Family, Neighborhood Watch, and the churches I’ve been a part of throughout the years.

Practicing my craft writing plays, skits, and stories for local groups helped me develop the skills I needed to write for profit. I also met many artistic types and those who only needed them. I learned how to solve problems, reduce costs and persevere to the end.

In the fall issue of Guideposts magazine, a young single mother was asked to paint something patriotic on the tailgate of a truck. She had never painted something like that before, but she took the challenge. Her beautiful work was noticed and other jobs appeared. She enjoyed it so much that she began painting these scenes for nothing for the many veterans who admired her work.

When I moved to Florida 13 years ago, I ended up painting on the outdoor Nativity scenes with another member of my church for our mini Christmas pageant. I had to improvise, create in my mind, and use up gallons of acrylic paints when up to that point, I had only used oils. After this there were so many outlets to express myself and participate.  I became involved in a totally new genre’ of art leagues, artists and shows.

Great things can come from the giving of your time and talents for a good cause. What can happen?

  • Recognition. People get a glimpse of your artwork or read an article they enjoy and they remember your work and your name. Soon you’re in one of their contact lists and the rest is history.
  • Opportunities. Your work may be admired by an Interior Decorator, a buyer or an agent. Your skills may be wanted by a business or a corporation. I was able to write for an airline, an insurance company, a rehabilitation center and many other health and education institutes.
  • Connections. Getting work is all about networking and getting to know people in many walks of life. By word of mouth, I was able to connect with the heads of many companies. Sometimes other people who were working on a project found out that I’d been on a similar project with a photographer at another company. I would get a call for a meeting, and then I’d be off and running at another place, using the skills I loved.

Don’t give up. Your generous heart may eventually be rewarded!


“Arabesque” 18 x 14 Oil on canvas; Egrets taking off (framed)

Learn to Recognize an Opportunity Before it Gets Away


“Serena Shines” Pastel drawing on Bristol 11×14, matted and ready for framing.

How do you handle opportunity?  Are you afraid of the challenge? Do you drag your feet and dither around until you eventually get rejected by default?

You say you want to be successful, but sometimes your actions prove otherwise. Do you believe in your ability to follow through and complete a project or job? Sometimes when a break presents itself, you may have an anxiety attack wondering whether you’ll be able to fulfill the expectations of others.

Every prospect, every chance must be faced with confidence and pride. You are trained, educated and skilled. Don’t go limp when someone makes you an offer and hands you the prize or at least a bridge to the next great thing. Take it! You have to act like a pro in order to become one. You must believe in yourself before anyone else will.

“The Cook” acrylic on canvas 11×14

I gained my experience through volunteer work. It gave me a chance to go public long before I felt ready. I could gauge the viewer’s interest and the audience’s reaction. I wrote scripts for youth events and churches, painted scenery for plays and pageants, and even wrote a script for one that was presented for more than three years in the community all for free.

My first real art show took place many years after my initial education. My life had taken several twists and turns, and I’d had to give up my dreams in order to obtain health benefits for my family. You probably know what it’s like. We’ve all been there at some time or another.

I set up my display at a popular shopping mall early in the morning. I had no more than finished, when two women came out of nowhere to make an offer on one of my Norwegian scenes. Neither of them spoke English, but I surmised that they wanted to make a purchase, but had no cash. Off they went to get some, or so I deduced.


“Vikeholmen Lighthouse” Skudeneshavn, Norway, 16×20 acrylic on canvas.

I wasn’t sure what just happened, so I kept the painting on display. It seemed like almost an hour had passed before they finally returned. They looked disappointed that I hadn’t saved the painting for them or tucked it away. They paid in cash and then took the canvas. I never understood a word they said.

Looking back, I’ve often wondered if they were angels sent to save me from myself. Their presence has lived on in my memory, and given me confidence whenever I get wobbly knees or a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

We are on this earth to thrive, to have joy, and to make others happy in the process. When we do our part, God does his. Our job is to follow through and take advantage of the stepping stones that are given to us. We may never reach the heights we longed for, but at least we know we tried. Our best may never be good enough, but it’s all we have to give.

Gratitude is our way of giving back and paves the way for future opportunities and blessings. An old saying goes “Don’t look a Gift Horse in the mouth.” Better yet, when you receive an unexpected gift show appreciation. Sadly, many people chalk it up to good luck, happenstance or fate, and they miss the miraculous unfolding of a greater plan of which they are a part.


“Skudeneshavn, Norway, Harbor” oil on canvas SOLD, but prints are available.

Here are some “Rules for Recognition”:  An opportunity . . .

  1. Gives you a chance to show what you can do.
  2. Enhances your credibility.
  3. Helps you gain experience and adds “credits” to your CVA.
  4. Provides a legitimate reference for your work.
  5. May lead to other networking opportunities.
  6. Develops poise, control and self-awareness.
  7. Helps secure your trajectory to success.
  8. Enables you to establish your reputation as an artist.

Next time “opportunity comes knocking,” don’t just open the door. Receive the gift with open arms and embrace the moment!