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Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year from Atelier Steph Fonteyn!
Dec 21, 2017
"The two most important days of your life and the day you were born and the day you figure out why". It took me 30 years to figure out why and it didn't happen over night. It was a journey that required a leap of faith and courage to overcome my doubts and fears.
The journey started when I became a parent. It was like a juggling act with one too many balls to manage. Being a mum in an unfulfilling job started to pay its toll. There was no time for hobbies or myself. My son was 9 months old when I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. Confronting PND was one of the hardest moments in my life. It felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and everything was falling apart. It was like erasing a portrait than I had spent a life time creating only to start all over again. I felt lost, alone and a failure.
Hitting rock bottom was the moment that I realised that staying there was not an option and the only person to get me out was me. So I plucked up the courage to take a leap of faith, go on a journey to find myself, my dream and my passion.
There were some key moments along the way that helped me to see things differently. The first one, I like to call - the chair. I decided that I need some help, so I went to the doctor's. As I walked in, I neatly folded my coat over the back of my seat, then sat down perched on the edge. The doctor looked at me and said "The chair is not there for your coat!" I apologized profusely, in true English style, and moved my coat onto my lap, still perching on the edge of my seat. Then the doctor shouted,"No, No, No! The chair is there for you. Confused, I thought, what's the big deal? She then said, " If this is how you live your life, I am not surprised that you are hear". This was the moment I realised that I had spent 30 years living on the edge of my seat and not taking my place in the world.
The next step was about reconnecting to my passion, painting. Before becoming a mother, I used to paint as a hobby. I loved it. I was a self-taught artist. The day I picked up a paintbrush again was the moment that I realised that painting was a part pf me that I couldn't ignore any longer. I had ignored it at age 16 when I decided not to go to art school. Instead, I studies something 'more suitable' to get a 'real job'.
The third wake up call was about believing in the realms of possibility. Having coffee with a friend who had quit her job to follow her dreams (successfully) ended up with me writing a business plan on the back of a napkin. This was the moment that the impossible became 'I'm possible'.
So I took a leap of faith. It wasn't easy. My doubts were playing games with my mind. "You're not a real artist", "You can't teach people how to paint", "Now is not the right time". For the first time, I decided to listen to my gut and walk boldly beyond my fears. To do that, I had to let go of the need for security and approval. I told myself, it is now or never. So I quit my job and launched my business as an artist.
The journey was a bumpy one and cashflow was often an issue. In the first year, I sold my car for cash. The good news was, I had great legs from cycling! In the second year, after reading Seth Godin's Purple Cow, I wondered what I could do that would be remarkable. I decided to paint 100 faces, in a year, and unite people using art. At the same time, I solved cash flow problems selling the portraits upfront.
I knew the project would be a challenge. It was slightly crazy, even by my standards. What artist in their right mind would put themselves under so much pressure to paint and confront so many people with a vision of themselves? Let's just say that there were a few facelifts and nose jobs involved! Two months before the exhibition deadline, finishing the project on tine looked impossible. Pressure was on and there was no option to push back the exhibition date with the venue booked and the media were informed. Failing was not an option. Guess what? I made it! Thanks to a lot of sleepless nights, perseverance and some flexible clients. In hindsight, it was worth it. People are still talking about it today.
The year I launched my business, I signed up for fire walking to push my boundaries. I had no idea how I would do it, all i knew is that people have done it for 1000s of years, so owhy can't I? I will never forget it. The feeling of trust, focus and momentum. It was amazing! It got me thinking. how could I use art to awaken and inspire others? So I fused my HR background with my passion for art to run Collaborative Art workshops to take business professionals out of their comfort zone to create shared visions about their organizational journies in the style of a famous artist. The magic is seeing their doubt transform into pride at the end of the workshop.
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The materials I use to paint are traditional materials proven to last for centuries by the tradition of acrylic painting on canvas. I paint on artist quality cotton primed canvas and I mainly use Extra Fine heavy body Acrylics from Golden Artist Colors. My primer is Golden acrylic gesso. Visit http://www.goldenpaints.com/technicaldata/gesso.php to learn more about my materials.
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