I'm sharing this because I suspect I'm not the only one who's ever done anything like this, and not the only one who's had ambivalent feelings about it.
I had a very good summer of shows. I got into some top shows, my paintings generally sold well, and I enjoyed myself. I did 25 shows between February and September, and honestly, I was exhausted.
In September, the dog of my heart died. She had liver cancer, and I had to euthanize her. This broke my heart and left me truly sad, deep inside. Two weeks afterwards, I rallied to attend a plein-air paintout in which I'd been invited to participate. I wasn't up to being social, but I painted and met nice painters, and enjoyed myself. The sadness ebbed.
Right afterwards, I headed to Dayton, Ohio, for a show. I had a cheap Air BnB rental ($42 for an entire house), so I got there early, to rest and finish my taxes before starting the show. On Thursday, my husband called to tell me that another of our dogs had died.
I went home. Canceled out of the show (lost my booth fee, even though the show called someone from the wait list to take my place, but OK). I simply could not face people, could not interact, could not engage.
A month later, I realized I just needed a dog. I'd been painting, I'd been gearing up for my final three shows, in Texas, but I was still sad. Still lacking energy, drive, hope. My husband found a rescue dog who looked good, so I met her on my way to Texas and made arrangements to pick her up on the way home.
I got to Texas and drove to my first show, Huffhines Art Trails, in a total downpour. Cars were off the road the entire way. It poured, thundered, lightninged, and the show was canceled. I looked ahead to the weather and saw that hurricane-driven rain was predicted for the next weekend, too, when I was scheduled for a show in Houston.
So there I was, stranger in a strange land, and all I wanted was to go home. I was tired. Spent. Staying with strangers who were nice, but with whom I couldn't be myself. I tried a couple different things, went to Austin (unbeknownst to me, there was a Formula 1 racing event there that weekend, traffic was horrible, there were no rooms to be had). I tried to paint, but everywhere I could have gone, it was raining. I thought about heading to Arizona to see my dad, but he was away for the week. Nothing worked. Nothing felt right.
Finally, I just decided to go home. Blow off my two remaining shows, lose the booth fees, just check out.
The moment I made the decision, my world righted itself. I headed east, got my little dog (photo below), and am happily, safely at home.
I've since felt tremendous guilt about skipping those shows. I've felt that if I were really a tough, serious fair-going artist, I'd have stuck it out. But I have also felt tremendous power and freedom in my decision. One reason to work for yourself is to do just what I did, not work when I really, truly, in my heart didn't feel like working.
Of course I worry about the money, but there were no guarantees that those other Texas shows would have been good ones for me. I have commissions to paint, I have a project to start, and people have begun to call me asking to buy the paintings I still have.
I really wanted to share my experience, even though I suspect some artists might deride me for my decisions. It was hard to make these choices, but they were the right ones. And maybe my experience will help someone else.
ps, Hi, Connie!