Today we’d like to introduce you to Belle Meade.
Hi Belle, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
While I just recently celebrated one year of making art my primary means of income, I’ve had a very long-term relationship with it. I grew up with the idea that art wasn’t a sustainable livelihood and was very torn through lower and higher education between loving all things artistic and the practicality of training for a career that was more stable. Psychology interested me a great deal so I pursued a double major in psychology and studio art in college.
After graduating, I remained torn about integration art and creativity into some sort of career but ultimately decided to move forward with a clinical psychology Ph.D. Fast forward a few years, a marriage, birth of a son, and terminal cancer diagnosis turned miraculous remission, the pandemic hit and I made the decision to retire my clinical license and pursue art as a career for the flexibility it afforded me with taking care of my son, now a first-grader, during a pandemic.
It was a happy excuse because I’m not sure I would have taken that step without such a great excuse.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My road to having a career in art has certainly been a long, drawn-out love story. I banished it to being something I would get around to “once I…” and it is always so easy to keep that list going and growing. When I had academic goals to achieve, and traditional milestones to accomplish, there was always the next step, and I kept up the pace and checked all the boxes.
But, ultimately, I realized I was feeling unfulfilled with my career and not giving art the time, respect, and label it deserved. Once I was able to see creation and creativity and something that it’s OK to invest valuable time in and once I woke up to the realization that it actually brought me back many returns in vitality and joy I realized it was worth the uncertainty. Since then, I have most certainly had setbacks in productivity.
Prioritizing time to create is very challenging when life gets so full of other things. I am learning every day what works and does not work for my creative process and when and how I get stuck.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Currently, I am loving creating charcoal drawings. I love portraits the most because it is such a challenge and dance, but with huge rewards. When I capture the likeness and personality of my subjects, who are mostly children, there is no greater sense of accomplishment for me.
I am most interested in moving away from traditional portraits, which tend to be a little still and stiff to suit a child well, and love to capture them in their pure state. Maybe that means messy, maybe moving, always emoting, and uniquely them. My favorite compliment when I do a childhood portrait is when a parent says “that’s my child!” I also am a big observer and lover of the natural world and so I balance out childhood portraits with drawings of animals and sometimes other things found in nature.
I feel that animals and nature are examples of the beauty of God’s creativity and I love sharing that message with others.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
It’s OK to do what you love to do! I have learned that success is relative and it doesn’t have to be a constant uphill battle. Joy can belong in your work.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: jbwardart.com
- Instagram: @jbwardart