My artist wife walked in the backdoor, dragged herself up the four stairs to our main floor, and flopped herself face first on our couch.
She never even made it to her blue easy-chair in the corner of the living room.
It was late. She had just driven 35 minutes home to our prairie suburb after spending five hours on display.
She had been live painting at a plated fundraiser dinner attended by over 500 of Edmonton’s best female lawyers. A decent gig for most artists, but for an introvert who also battles depression, it was a monumental task.
Every mix of paint, every color choice, and every brush stroke laid down on that fresh, 36-inch-by-48-inch canvas was visible to anyone interested in watching a painter in action.
Talk about vulnerability! It couldn’t have felt like anything less than being trapped inside a glass house.
Plus, if creating a painting live in a room of over 500 strangers wasn’t frightening enough, this was also her first time ever painting in front of a crowd of any size.
Against this backdrop, there she was with her eyes closed, her left cheek plastered into the soft fabric, and a trace amount drool gently running out of her half-open mouth onto our couch.
I left her to rest for 15 minutes. When I came back, her eyes flickered open when she heard my soft footsteps.
“Can you bring me some water?” she asked in a nearly inaudible whisper from the only side of her mouth that could move against the couch fabric.
As I brought the glass full of cold, tap water from the kitchen she began to stir a little more. Still exhausted, she pulled herself into a semi-seated position and took a sip of the water.
This organization had found her because of some of her university-student art. It had displayed on the walls of a downtown Edmonton office for many years. One of the organizers had loved seeing her work daily and when the committee was searching for a color scheme for their bi-annual fundraiser, she wanted to use one of my artist wife’s paintings.
One thing led to another and not only did my wife’s painting inspire the entire color scheme for the event — for the invitations, for the program, and for whatever else they could put it on — but they also decided they wanted her to paint live.
Indeed, it was a monumental task, but she agreed to do it.
It helped that she made half the proceeds from the sale of her live painted painting. The other half, along with the proceeds of the silent auction, was donated to the charity that was the subject of the fundraiser.
My wife’s introvertedness, a severe case of imposter syndrome, and a depression-induced voice critiquing her every move each could have individually derailed the entire experience for her.
My wife’s introvertedness, a severe case of imposter syndrome, and a depression-induced voice critiquing her every move each could have individually derailed the entire experience for her. But they didn’t.
To this day, I’m not entirely sure how she made it through. But she did. And she and her art business are all the better for it.
While the pandemic scuttled some of the potential gains that could have come from this event, the organization continued to use her art as inspiration for their virtual, pandemic-era fundraiser in 2020 and recently reached out again as they begin to plan their next bi-annual iteration of the fundraiser.
However, in that moment on our couch as she sipped water from the glass I had brought, I was incredibly proud of her for successfully marketing her art by stepping wildly outside her comfort zone.