Saturday, 2 June 2012

My Story

For just over 20 yrs I was blessed to be doing what I had always wanted to do. I was a housewife and Mum to four beautiful kids. As a little girl I loved playing with my dolls. Playing family.  Playing house.  I knew I would, one day, love being a real Mummy. And then, before I knew it, at 19yrs, I was married and within months I'd had my first baby.  I was so young and so happy.  I then had three more babies in quick succession, including twins!  I had 4 babies aged 3yrs and under!

And as happy as I was, loving my babies, being their Mummy, there were days of utter despair. Post natal depression. A failing marriage. More often than not, I was tired. Exhausted. Yes, even doing what you love isn’t always a bed of roses. But the days of bliss, of pure joy being a Mummy to those beautiful children, far outweighed any of the normal bad days that all Mums face.

And then in a blink of an eye, my eldest left for university. I remember sitting at my desk watching him packing his stuff in the car and I silently stood up, closed the door, rested my head in my arms and cried my heart out. I knew it was the beginning of a new era for me. For him. He was so happy. I also knew his siblings would be following him out that door within a very short space of time. I was facing an empty nest. A marriage that was still failing. What was I going to do? Over the following months and into a couple of years I started to make some huge changes to my life.

During the years that my children were little, I’d been given a computer, some software and taught myself to become a web graphics designer. My beloved father had initially got me interested in the internet back in 1994. He and his (then) business partner had just set up the UK’s first Internet Café in Whitfield St., in London. They were also setting up one of the UK’s first internet providers, Easynet. As such, Dad had wanted to me to learn html and how to create web graphics as they needed help setting up various web pages. It was “on the spot learning as you go” work. I loved it. And my love for this new found art and creative outlet just evolved. I wasn’t earning much money. It was more of a hobby with pin money thrown in.

My family was still growing. I was a full time Mum. Little did I know though, that my creative outlet would lead me to a new and wonderful bliss. I’d always been crafty and loved art. Both my parents were artists. My Mum was a published poet and Dad had always painted when we were younger. When I was a little girl my grandmother taught me to crochet. And my Mum spent hours making things for my Sindy doll. From cereal boxes, egg boxes, bits of fabric and odd bits of wool, beautiful accessories would be created. My best birthday and Christmas presents were always the ones that meant I could make something or draw or paint. So using a computer, to me, was just another tool in my creative outlet toolbox along with my sketch books, pens, paints and wool!

After my eldest left home, I went to art school. I started a degree in multi-media design. The creative environment was incredible. I just absorbed it all. I made new friends. I soaked up every lecture in art history, my favourite subject. However, during this time my emotional state took a battering as my 20yr marriage really broke down and I decided to leave. My ex-husband and I spent a couple of years trying to work things out but in the end we both wanted such hugely different things. We parted. It was traumatic. Divorce is horrible even when you want it. Years later, though, we are good friends and we stay in touch. It’s been good for our children (and grandchildren).

Not long after my marriage ended, I’d left my degree course and started working on setting up as a freelance digital artist. I initially worked as a 2d texture artist creating textures for 3d models for a company in USA, Daz3D. During this time I did some collaboration work with other 3d and 2d artists. And then out of the blue, I found myself falling in love with one of them. We had done some work together and just developed a friendship online through work. He lived in the north east (UK) and I was in the south east. To cut a long story short, we met up, moved in together and were married 6 months later. We live and work together 24/7. We just hit it off. Everything just worked. And we believe our deep and passionate love for all things creative and arty was a sure foundation to build a relationship on.

We needed that sure foundation as the following few years proved horribly tragic for me. Within the space of 2 years both my parents got sick and died of cancer. I also lost a beloved aunt during that time. Their deaths were all sudden and unexpected. Grief consumed me. Slowly though with much love, support and some grief counselling I came through the other side. Changed. More determined to live in the moment. To dream big. To not settle for less. My Dad ran his own business. He was a good man with much wisdom. My Mum believed in happy. She collected those yellow smiley faces. I came from great parents. Their legacy was strong and I knew they would want me, my brother and sister and our families, to be happy. And to truly live our lives. To be fully immersed.

In 2011 hubby and I set up our own digital art company and decided to develop our own individual brands. Talking shop is no chore for us. We understand the jargon. We love critiquing each other’s work. Steve is a traditional artist with a God given talent for drawing and painting. He is also a professional photographer and 3d modeller and artist, whereas, I come from a more crafty, “hobby into a business” kind of background. It works so well. Brainstorming new ideas for products or art has often led us into the wee small hours! We have a lot of amazing creative energy between us. He understands my passion and love for what I do and I understand the same in him!

Family is still a huge joy in my life. They are at the core of the why I do what I do. I’m inspired by them. At the end of the day, ultimately what we do is for those we leave behind. A legacy of love. I believe there will be a day when my children and grandchildren will go through my art, my creations and see me. Understand me. They will also see themselves in what I create.

After what has been an interesting and sometimes hugely traumatic few years, I’ve settled into a life of doing what I love. No matter what life throws up at you, I’ve learned to just push forward. Hold onto the dream. Continue you to take steps on the journey. Suddenly you will realise you are living the life you want. Don’t be scared of change. As I continue to build my brand, my business, I still fight past demons that tell me I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough or what I do is rubbish.

Those days get less and less as I continue to push forward. Stop thinking about it and just do it! I just keep creating. I surround myself with positive words, art and photos. And then there’s the ultimate motivation – when a customer buys a product from us; emails us to show us what they’ve created; or thanks us for an article or tutorial. That tells me I’m in the right place, doing the right thing.

Tell me your story!  Leave a comment and a link to your story.


Leanne Chesser said...

Diane, your story is beautiful and so is your artwork! Wow! It sounds like you have a wonderful family too :).

Cyndi Smith said...

I found your story so wonderful and such an inspiration Diane! I also absolutely love your work! Thank you for sharing your story with us all. :)

Michelle Drew said...

Diane your story is touching and echos a bit of my own life. I wish you and your family a fantastic life and I hope we can keep in touch now the Surface Pattern Design course has ended :D

Nat said...

An amazing story - very inspiring!

Maureen Wielansky said...

Diane: I am a Bschool blog babe with you and I am so moved by your story; in some ways it mirrors mine. I was a stay at home mom. I totally related to the ups and downs of my lifestyle and wouldn't trade one second of it. Thank yo for being so courageous and sharing your story. I am moved....

Rebecca Fowler said...

Lovely and inspiring story, Diane. Thanks so much for sharing!

Jennifer said...

Your story is very inspriational! Thank you for sharing it! I still feel like I'm finding my way. I love reading things like this because it assures me to just keep doing what I'm doing! I love your work!