The art of finding your value

Dedicated artist Melinda Gladman had to put her paintbrush down to answer the zoom call in the middle of the morning on a Tuesday. She was in the process of rediscovering painting as part of her practice as she transitions from being an ‘art teacher' to an artist who teaches art.

The difference between those two descriptors, a world apart as far as Mel was concerned and the driving principle behind what she has planned for the next of phase of her career.

The journey to this point has been a long one for Broken Hill based Mel, with extended hiatuses from her arts practice to make way for priorities most women will relate to.

She began pursing her creative calling from a young age, studying at university and graduating with an arts degree before taking on an educational role teaching literature and art to high school and TAFE students as well as a stint working in the university sector.

Her artistic pursuits were put on the back burner for a considerable length of time while she prioritised marriage and raising a family before returning to a ‘day job’ to support her husband in his pursuit of a medical career.

Mel rekindled her love of art when she moved back to Broken Hill five years ago, when, after working at the university during the day, attended a night class in painting where the slow burn back to her creative field continued until the discovery of a portraiture app last year reignited her purpose with the kind of intensity she couldn’t ignore.

“I felt like this was really me, this is what I should be doing, this is was I really liked to do.”

Mel’s confidence in her art began to grow rapidly and after surmounting the hesitation and self-doubt she “bite the bulllet” and with her husband’s support, immersed herself in the pursuit of her arts practice and the associated happiness it brought her.

Armed with a new sense emboldenment, at the beginning of 2020 Mel resigned from her day job (at the uni) on the Friday literally beginning her art lessons on the Monday. She ran five different classes each week at the Broken Hill Art Exchange until COVID made things too difficult in between home schooling and lockdowns.

Things picked up again in June with a few online classes and one-on-one sessions before heading back into the physical teaching space.

But while she was busy conducting multiple classes for all different age groups each week, she soon felt weighed down by it all having no time nor energy left to explore her own practice.

“I was providing all the materials and doing all the work but I had people coming in at different points of the class breaking up sequence. I was trying to do everything that everybody wanted me to do rather than sticking to what I had planned. I was constantly having to break up the classes.”

The pattern became too dysfunctional, so Mel stopped her classes so she could work out a better way to run her business and earn an income from it.

As part of her business reinvention Mel found Kathie Heyman and her Masterclass and said the experience had been an enormous help during the process of rebranding herself as an artist rather than an art teacher. Admitting she had never been good at putting herself out there, especially in the online world, the Masterclass helped her to push herself to tackle her social media channels including Facebook, which she hadn’t touched in year and Instagram.

“You procrastinate hard when you’re an introvert artist but you have to become an extrovert,” she said.

She said having a creative head rather than a business one meant you tend to switch off whenever the subject of things like accounting or the money side comes up.

“I definitely needed help on that front. Kathie’s Masterclass was brilliant because she had done all the hard yards as a small business owner and had a personal approach to problem solving. She makes you accountable but is always there if you need support to run through strategies. I would have given in and thought it was all too hard without her help.”

With Kathie’s support Mel was able to stay on her path, with information provided step-by-step.

“By not having everything thrown at you at once you get the feeling, okay I can manage this.”

The other helpful facet to the Masterclass was its associated online support group Think Up, where other women going through the same struggles can talk openly to one another about their small business journey and share their achievements along the way.

“Everyone might be doing different things but there’s that common thread of us all facing some of the same issues,” Mel said.

“It can be a lonely thing setting up a small business by yourself, especially when you haven’t done it before. The group helped us to keep going and not lose sight of your goals, especially during COVID.”

Mel now believes she is on the right road thanks to Kathie’s Masterclass.

I’ve gone from art class overload by going in too hard and fast, to knowing exactly who I am and what I want to do,” she said. “Once you learn the value of yourself you can achieve anything.”

Find out more visit Mel’s Art Facebook page or follow Mel Gladman on Instagram @melggglad.