Some of you may have noticed that there’s been some wind whistling through the empty spaces here, that my posts to this blog have become rather more spaced out than they used to be – but you have all been kind enough not to point it out. What gives?

I’m no longer a full-time artist. This feels like a confession of failure, somehow.

The economic downturn has been hard on both my art business and the business my husband is in, so a few months ago I found high-tech employment. Yes, right here in Missoula, Montana! (although it is a California-based employer). High-tech jobs here are scarcer than white bison, so I’m grateful; the work I’m doing suits my strengths and experience, and I’m good at it, but it’s not the same as being home in my studio with my crazy agility shepherds, the smell of oil paint, and colors and brushes and equipment waiting for me.

Well, maybe my current experience in the dual-career arena can be useful to others. So let’s keep up the conversation, and hope that the economy begins to turn around for those of us in the discretionary-purchase business. In the meantime, I am back to working the 70-80 hour weeks (between my job and art) that I thought I’d left behind in California.

P.S. the benefits with my new employer are superb, something we haven’t experienced in YEARS. Let’s all hope that whatever health-care reform results from the mishmash now in front of Congress benefits the self-employed more than the pathetically nonexistent ‘health care’ I had before, and paid through the nose for the privilege of having, I might add.

15 Responses to “A New Year”
  1. Jim Bortz says:

    I wondered why you weren’t posting. I’ve given myself until the end of February to make some headway financially. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll be liquidating and starting over… and that means a “real job” again and painting when I can. It’s not something I’m looking forward to.

    Congrats on finding good work with benefits! Your move back to dual career paths is certainly understandable… if not a little disheartening… especially to those of us relatively new to the artist’s life. Hang in there and post when you can. I love this blog!

  2. Adrienne Cantler says:


    I’m saddened to hear your news. But am pleased to hear you found a good job in this economy and that it’s close to home. Don’t think of it as a “confession of failure”. You have brought so much to each and everyone of us. Whether it’s from your art or your teaching or just getting to know you personally! I wish you the best in the upcoming year. Hang in there! You’re an inspiration!

  3. Susan Fox says:

    I don’t see what you’ve done as a “failure” at all. You’ve done what you’ve needed to do to stay afloat financially. It’s just too bad that it’s cut into your painting time. I hope you’ll keep the blog going with posts when you can. It’s been such a great place for all of us to get together. And things will get better. I really do believe that. Enough that I’ve signed on to do the Marin Art Festival again in June. I’m going to do a pile of 30 or so small pieces for under $200 and see what happens.

  4. Yvonne Todd says:

    You a failure? NO. With the economy the way it is you simply did what you had to do. That’s not failing. That’s surviving. etc.

    I do hope you continue with your blog as often as you can. It’s one of my favorite and one of the first to be read every morning.

  5. Marti Millington says:

    We all do what is necessary to survive. While still looking for work, I am currently selling portions of my stamp collection (had it for eons) on ebay; something I had planned to do when I retired – but which became a necessity with the financial hardships I and a lot of others are faced with. There are not many jobs here – and younger people tend to get preference – but I know there is an employer out there who will see the “experience” which comes with an “older worker.” Kudos to all of us for finding ways to keep us going!!!!

  6. Doug Fletcher says:

    julie you have not failed far from it. You have given all of us a place to connect
    or reconnect and a place to learn. That in it’s self is more of a success than you
    know and I thank you for it! Just because you had to go back to the 9-5 so to
    speak is just another fork in the road that had to be taken to survive. This will
    I suspect give you even more drive to succeed as an artist. I myself still work
    and long for the time when all I do is paint. We all are challenged by this
    economy. I have taken it upon myself to try my hand at making my own
    frames. Earlier this year my framer left the business after 25yrs. I know there are other framers in my area but for the prices that are being charged I know
    buy doing the numbers I can save money in the long run and get a better understanding of that part of the business. It will cut in to painting time
    but I still get the chance to be creative! This economy will teach us to be better artists and even more self reliant. We are all waiting to see the next Chapman
    Master Piece!!!

  7. Julie Chapman says:

    Oh my. I can’t begin to tell you all how meaningful it is to hear your comments, encouragement, and empathy. AND…your posts inspire ME to keep up my end of the bargain and provide a virtual artist coffee-shop for hanging out and discussing art stuff.

    I also believe – with all my heart – that things will get better. While my husband, who is deeply studied in international economics and finance, suggests that 2010 will see more shoes dropping (more bad notes coming due), I see signs of encouragement in different places. And by golly I’m going to work to that. Time for a new post!

  8. Lori Lemanski says:

    You are not a failure…at least you paint. i work 40 hrs a week and earn a whopping $24,000, with a Masters degre…trying to find a full-time librarian job in the Detroit area is a joke- it has been 2 years now since I got my MLIS.
    And, when I get home, I am too pooped to paint. And my days off are filled with errands and house work.
    So I feel that you are WAY ahead of me!!! I need to have the energy to paint after work…so that I can find gallery rep and sell some of my work. The economy has hit us all so hard….but you are one of my mentors and idols so HANG IN THERE!!!!!
    PS I love Missoula! Would rather be there than Detroit ANY day!!!

  9. Marti Millington says:

    After months of submitting resumes, today good news – I am once again employed in the legal profession. While it is going to painfully cut my painting time, it is a relief to know I won’t be doing the literal “starving artist” thing. This new position will be a lot less pressure/stress than the last – small firm – great people! I think I’m gonna cry!

  10. Larry Jewett says:

    If anyone has failed, it is certainly not you, Julie, or any of the countless other artists or other “ordinary” people in this country who now have an even more difficult time than usual making a go of it.

    The real failures are sitting in the halls of power in Washington.

    They should be hanging their heads in shame, but ironically, they are the least likely of anyone to do so, patting themselves on the back for “saving the economy”, as it were. “Heckuva Job, Timmy” (see “Dunning-Kruger effect”)

    Contrast the primary focus of our current “leader” (trillion dollar bank bailout) with the primary focus of FDR (massive public works projects to put millions of people back to work, including artists, writers, etc.)

    Sorry to get political, but the way our so called leaders have set the “priorities” in this case just makes me ill, especially given that Obama is now sitting where he is largely based on his promise of “change we can believe in”.

  11. Larry Jewett says:

    …and of course I left out the biggest failures of all: Alan “I believe I have discovered a flaw…” Greenspan and the bankers and others who “created” the financial mess, out of whole cloth, it would seem (think “derivatives”).

    Perhaps “creativity” is best left to the artists, writers, poets, scientists and engineers. Much less dangerous.

  12. Julie Chapman says:

    Wow. Reading each of your stories, and thinking about your courage, inspires ME. Lori, can you squeeze in time to draw, or do little paintings, and sell them yourself on eBay or at local fairs?

    Marti – CONGRATULATIONS. I’m relieved to hear that you’re in a good situation.

    Larry – to a large extent I agree. Sometimes I’d like to go grab some of the Wall Street jillionaires who got us here, and who are even now taking big bonuses, by the lapels and force them to see what their actions have wrought. I’d rather see stimulus funds going local – like FDR did – than to “too big to fail” crapola. OK, enough ranting…

  13. brigitte woosley says:

    Julie, Congratulations on finding work. I know lots of folks out there still looking. I’ve gone back to my old standby of teaching to pay the bills and am having to re-think a lot of things. Nice thing about teaching though is that it doesn’t chain me totally and I still have the time to paint (smaller and less expensive still selling) I’m an optimist by nature, I remember tough times from the past and know that things will turn around (eventually) and have learned that when the going gets rough I’ll still manage (I’ll whine and complain, alot but I figure that’s allowed.) I use the downtimes to build up inventory and experiment with styles, mediums, etc. that I wouldn’t ordinarily have the courage to try w/collectors, figuring if it ain’t selling, well, what the heck, at least I’m learning and improving. Keep the faith, keep painting and, oh, BTW: what do you use to texture your panels with?
    Brigitte Woosley

  14. Julie Chapman says:

    Brigitte, thank you – and I’m glad you have a standby. All this has taught me what I value most (my TIME!!!) and I’m adjusting accordingly. I think your approach – that downtime is the a time to experiment – also applies for me. For some reason I’m doing more interesting work, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been with my techniques, and I feel generally my work is stronger than it was a year ago. You have the right attitude – this is the time to grow and improve.

    I use various Golden acrylic media to texture my panels with; I’ve tried molding (modeling) paste, and also grittier media like the fine and coarse texture gels. So far I like the fine texture gel and the modeling paste best (including combined).

  15. Patty says:

    Julie. Please email me. I am so happy to hear about all your endeavors and talents. :)

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