Technically, I've known Rita Ortloff for a really long time. I grew up with her husband in our super small Oklahoma town where our parents are very good friends. But I didn't really meet and get to know Rita much until our paths crossed through blogging. And then we just hit it off like gangbusters. She is delightful!
I followed her blog Motherhood Is My Cardio as she wrote so many funny family stories. I read with interest when they decided to take a non-traditional education method with their kids. And then out of the clear blue sky, this woman who had never so much as mentioned a paintbrush online was an overnight artist sensation. I saw some of her stuff on Instagram and I clicked "order" right away. Soon she had an Etsy shop. She had pieces in a gallery show in like two months. It was amazing!
I've asked her to share a little bit about her sudden artistic trajectory. I think the whole thing is really interesting and that we should all sit up and take note that "dabbling" in something or having a fun little hobby can take you down avenues you never even knew existed. Not that it should all end in a side business - creativity for creativity's sake is the sometimes the most fulfilling of all - but that it's never too late to discover something new about yourself. And to share it.
Hollywood Housewife: Have you always been an artist, or did this come out of nowhere?
Oh it came completely out of nowhere. Like, imagine someone tripping and falling over some paints and an easel. It was *that* kind of out-of-nowhere. If not for Instagram and a supremely random set of events, I would still be the regular old middle-aged suburban housewife I was a year ago!
HH: Were you working as this all unfolded?
I was! I had a Real Job PLUS my kids (ages 10 and 6) go to a special kind of school where they’re educated two days per week in a traditional environment and then schooled at home the other days. So I worked from home part time (Marketing Manager for a local company), and I homeschool my kiddos part time. I had so much free time for painting! (Not.) (Am crazy.)
HH: How did you make your first sale and then how did you gain traction?
Oh Laura, I made my first sale completely by accident. I decided to paint something for my oldest friend on the occasion of her 40th birthday. I wanted her to have Something Meaningful. Bear in mind, I’d never painting anything. Ever. I bought a 5-pack of cheap canvases and some craft paint and went to town. My first try resulted in what can only be described as An Abomination. But my second attempt was a little better so I posted it on Instagram.
And here’s where it got weird: people went crazy over it. Within minutes a friend asked if I’d do one for her. Only she wanted it to be (literally) five times bigger. She said “I’ll pay”, and I (in what was clearly a moment of insanity) said “Sure!”. Then a friend asked if I’d do several pieces for an in-home party she was hosting. And I agreed again! Because apparently I was keen on pretending to be an artist for a day! That show was on December 1st, 2013 and I sold almost everything. By the 26th of December I’d opened my own etsy shop. And now, 120ish paintings later, I’m still busy! And still wondering how in the world this all happened.
HH: What does your family think of this?
My kids are nonplussed. They assume all moms paint things in their spare time. My husband, on the other hand, is adorably supportive. I often joke that he shows more people photos of my paintings than photos of our children. He bought me my first easel and has no trouble calling me an artist. I still struggle with feeling like a fraud.
HH: When in your day do you paint? At this point are you doing it during business hours or is it something you do at night after everyone’s in bed?
I have no schedule at all. I find that I get inspired and paint several over the course of just a day or two (during which time the dishes pile up and the laundry goes undone), then I may take a few days off because I’m just not “feeling it” (whatever *it* is). So far my job and the kids haven’t suffered, but boy oh boy is the housework piling up. I keep telling myself that no one ever wishes they’d folded more clothes while on their deathbed.
Isn't that inspiring?! I have absolutely no skills in the paint department, but I love so many other creative endeavors that I never do because I convince myself it's a waste of time or that I won't be good at it or that I might look foolish. Rita has made me rethink all that.
Because she's amazing, Rita is offering 25% off any completed original painting through 12/19/14 with the coupon code HOLLYWOOD25. Check out the Rita Ortloff Etsy shop to browse!*
*coupon code not valid on prints or custom commissions.