I have never been a woman who played it safe or followed the crowd—that just hasn't been my nature. When I decided to stop working as a lobbyist at the height of career and instead pursue my dream of becoming a visual artist, people were not lining up to wish me well.Skeptical comments trickled in from everywhere. No one asked “Wow! How did you arrive at that great decision?” As a matter of fact, I remember one person laughing at me and commenting, “Politics and art? That is a strange combination!” Another person told me in a very stern, fatherly voice, “Do not quit your day job, because you can't make any money doing [art]. Artists only make money when they are dead.” I took all these well-meaning (if not entirely accurate) comments, turned them into useful energy to propel myself forward, and began laying out a strategy that would help me fulfill my dream.
Let me backtrack a little and tell you just how I arrived at the decision to become a visual artist. In the midst of playing politics as a consultant, I decided to reach back and explore my natural talents that had been lying dormant since childhood. In 2008, I enrolled in a beginner’s oil painting workshop. Through that workshop, I discovered that I wanted to explore my hidden talents, which gave me inner peace, tranquility, and great clarity. Up until this point, I always saw myself as an observer of the arts, not a performer. Yet in my gut I knew I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to being a visual artist, even though I spent more than twenty years gaining a wealth of experience in government administration and governmental affairs and a lifetime raised in a political family. I had obtained my master's degree from the University of Chicago and successfully launched my consulting business. Inside, I told myself, So what? You are a woman who knows what she wants! People asked me, “Are you really going to give that up?” I closed my consulting business and launched my visual art career.
I set out to learn everything there is to know about the business world of art, while also sharpening my artistic techniques and turning my raw talent into a successful creative venture. What do I bring to the table? A wealth of expertise in leveraging human capital, successfully marketing programs and products, having the ability to adapt strategies to move toward successful outcomes, and networking, networking, networking!
Once I established my business plan, I was ready to get going. I recognized that no one knew me as a visual artist; in the art world, I did not even exist. But I wasn't going to let that stop me. I wasn't going to shy away from even getting started or be paralyzed with fear that I might be rejected. No way! The excitement of this new challenge was too exhilarating. At this stage of my life, being concerned about the art world rejecting me did not even enter my mind, nor did I care. I moved forward based on the clarity of my vision. I thought about where I wanted to be at the end of 2012...in two years, in five years... While I am still consuming all the information that I can about the art world and being open to experts sharing their advice, I am the one who sets the tone of my journey. I am the one who determines the pace. I am the one who brands my style and steers my career in the direction I desire. I will not let galleries that reject my artwork, or juried exhibition panels that do not accept me, or art critics who give me negative reviews determine my destiny. Who do I have to answer to? Myself! So, not delivering is not an option and is unacceptable. What I promise to me is to implement my vision to the best of my ability and trust that my creative inner voice will connect me with the right people, inspire my audiences, and propel me toward my goals.
Being visible on the Internet has helped tremendously in announcing to the art world “Hey, I exist." I have gone from designing my own website to getting a Facebook account which has attracted more than 2,300 friends. Where did I go from there? Though I have no formal training, in January of 2011, I started selectively answering calls for artists and received acceptance into seven juried group exhibitions. I continued my path to success in 2012 by receiving my first gallery representation from Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, and getting my first Special Recognition Award from the All Women Juried Competition sponsored by the Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery, competing against more than 1,500 entrants. Recently, I was accepted into the Oil Painters of America which represents more than 3,400 artists throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and accepted as a member and featured artist of Anatomically Correct Gallery, juried by founder Debra Hatchett.
For a year and a half, I have gotten my feet wet and have had just a taste of the enormous possibilities that exist. Thank God I did not listen to those naysayers! From where I am siting, the two worlds I've been involved with—art and politics—show similarities in that both influence the way people view the world and, in both, I have acted as a catalyst to change the quality of peoples’ lives. Who says I can't be a visual artist? I am going to trust that investing in my artistic talent, presenting my creative body of works to a wider audience, and continally sharpening my strategic plan will ultimately yield success.
Renée LaVerné Rose is an emerging artist who currently resides in Glencoe, Illinois. For more than twenty years, she served in the government sector and cultivated a wealth of expertise including political strategy, policy analyst, public affairs, corporate social responsibility, government relations, and government logistics. In 2000, she launched Rose Consulting Service, Inc., working as a power broker and lobbyist. Ms. Rose has a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration. She is currently pursuing her passion as a visual artist.
Written in Spring 2012.