This post is brought to you by the lovely and talented Bethany Joy, of Bethany Joy Art. We hope you find inspiration in her story and her beautiful art!
Hi, friends! I’m Bethany Joy, a painter of color and “joy.” The feeling of paint on my fingers, wearing my favorite denim paint shirt, squeezing a new tube of paint, watching paint drip down a canvas, even waiting for paint to dry…those things make my heart smile. But, I didn’t choose painting, at first that is…
As early as kindergarten, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I enthusiastically pretended to be a teacher for my stuffed animals and dogs each day after school. My mother says she could amusingly discover the details of my day by listening outside my bedroom door while I taught my stuffed animals and my two, very patient, and thanks to me, well-read dogs. I even had my own white board and legit grade book, and old-school bulletin board décor! Art was not a prominent part of those younger days, but my closet was fully stocked with every craft supply and tiny treasures in my “making things drawers” for the creative times that I would attempt to re-enact art class.
I do, however, have two distinct memories from my childhood involving paint. The first painting encounter for me was when my mother placed me, then a young toddler, into my high chair fully surrounded by drop cloths, giving me freedom to explore my creativity with paint. I eagerly painted, ever so happily with an extra sparkle in my eye. Another memory that has become more treasured with time since the passing of my granddad, is when “Gaga” handed me one of his paint brushes to help him paint the shed he that had so proudly built, as he lovingly and proudly winked and whispered in my ear, “don’t tell your mother”!
Through the years art was fun to me, although more of just a simple hobby. In high school, even though I passed on taking art classes, it was during my senior year that I wondered if art could be incorporated with my dream of becoming a teacher.
Through all the college applications and interviews, I was awarded the NC Teaching Fellows Scholarship and accepted into UNC Asheville. I thought I now had everything set in place to officially pursue my lifelong dream. Just for the heck of it though, my mom suggested we take a closer look at Brevard College, the smallest, most unique, outdoorsy and artsy school ever. Within moments of the short campus tour, I realized this was the perfect college for me. I walked over to my mom with tears in my eyes (I knew there was no possible way we could afford tuition), and told her this is where I had to be.
My tuition was prayerfully covered by a miracle scholarship, and so my journey began…as a photographer/teacher! Yep, I thought I’d choose photography as my art concentration. Classes entailed learning all the ins and outs of the dark room and film photography, and somehow, I managed to ruin almost every roll of film. Super frustrating!
Thankfully, program requirements meant that I was to try all fundamentals of art, and so I enrolled in my first official painting class. And boy, was the classroom setting beautiful! The studio was filled with white walls and floor-to-ceiling windows giving half of the studio a beautiful view overlooking our campus creek. Talk about creative inspiration!
Although I felt like all my initial painting attempts were terrible, I still loved every moment in the paint studio. My professors took notice as well, and I remember being told by one in particular, “Maybe you should consider changing your concentration from photography to painting”. I am forever grateful that they saw that spark and persistently encouraged me to pursue painting.
I had no intentions of falling in love with painting. This is why I feel painting chose me; rather, God led me to painting through a beautiful journey. No journey is complete without struggles, however. My path was at times splattered with tears, in fact my junior year, I was ready to throw painting aside. I had become obsessed with teaching after working in the migrant education program during my summers. The strong ties with a sweet group of children made it difficult to focus again on painting, painting…really? How can that be rewarding? My professors continued to push me further though, with some tough love and encouragement.
I pressed on, and pushed forward reluctantly with painting. Finally, it was during my senior year that I felt like I truly started to find my voice through painting. All of those dreaded days with a paintbrush in hand were starting to pay off. I began to paint and study flowers; and slowly, that little artist spark in me came to life again. My senior gallery show was the perfect opportunity to “plant my own gardens” on those seven huge hand-built canvases and I absolutely loved this process. Playing with those layers of paint helped me gain confidence and truth that painting could really be my calling in life. Graduation came along and I couldn’t have been more excited for all the possibilities of my future. The age-old question “What are you going to be when you grow up” was now my reality. I had accomplished my dreams and achieved the right to teach Art/K-12.
Even though I still had a yearning to teach, now, I just couldn’t stop thinking about painting. Painting had become a part of my daily routine, almost a necessity to be me. I began working my two current part time jobs, tutoring at an elementary school and working as the Art Director of our local Boys and Girls Club, and still manage to fit painting into all my free moments. My husband and I also started dating long distantly during this time, and he was ever so supportive (and still is!) of my art. If it weren’t for him and my sweet family, I don’t think I would have had the courage or persistence to keep painting.
Putting my art out into the world was my next daunting task. “What if people don’t like my art? What if it doesn’t sell? Will I sound crazy talking about my art all the time on social media?” So many worries filled my head (and honestly, still sometimes do). I decided there was nothing to lose, however, so I made new social media accounts for my art. I even reluctantly re-opened my Etsy shop, once filled with photography prints rather than paintings, a complete flop. My product photos were not consistent at all, and I had no idea what I was doing. Much to my surprise though, I made a few sales within the first week, did my happy dance, and decided to persist!
After much research to this day, I feel like I finally have a better grasp on my small art business. I’ve prayed over it, worked on it consistently each evening after very long days at work, grown into new and improved styles of painting, and continue to gain more confidence as God presents each new client, customer, supporter, and opportunity in my path.
“Bethany Joy Art” has been a blossoming business for a year and a half now, and the journey is an exciting ride! You can ask my husband and family just how many times I ask myself why I bother to try, however, I hold on to the hope that I’m sharing God’s love through my gardens of paint.
I certainly haven’t got it all figured out, but with lots of prayer, I’ve been able to figure out what works best for me. Creating fine art prints in addition to originals allows me to offer my art at more affordable prices. Sharing positivity through social media and my website remains one of my main goals, and with the Lord’s help, I hope one day this will become a full time gig.
Praying, seeking God first, following His will, should be the ultimate priority for your small business. Surprisingly, I didn’t choose painting, but God chose painting for me. Ultimately, He created creativity, He is the original Artist, and what an amazing blessing and humble honor it is to be called an artist!
About the author:
Bethany is the owner of Bethany Joy Art, where she strives to share love and positivity in each paint stroke in order to fill your homes and lives with color, sweet encouragement, and unique florals. Click here to see the SWS gallery of Bethany and her artwork!
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