Linda C Smith & Linda C Smith, Artist
MAJOR CATEGORY WINNER: Artist and Writer who believes Life is passionate and colorful

Introduction Every story starts with a beginning and mine truly begins with memories of me watching my grandfather paint. Grandpa painted in oils and his main subjects were California missions and the sea. My father's parents lived in Salinas, CA for many years and I spent lots of time with my grandma on the beach collecting shells or working in her beautiful gardens or sitting with grandpa watching him paint and listening to him talk about art and the art of painting. Funny, my earliest dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up was to be an FBI agent!


Background I come from a family of entrepreneurs. None achieved financial riches, but all followed dreams. My mother's dad had his own orthopedic appliance business - he had suffered ill effects from polio as a young man and built his business life around trying to improve upon the very appliances he had to wear. My dad's father was a painter and for a time, my dad's mom owned a baby's wear shop. My dad was forever trying one little home business after another, but dear dad had absolutely no business sense. Mom, however was a genius with numbers. Although she did not advance beyond high school, she started her own bookkeeping business. She was amazing, teaching herself accounting and tax preparation. Eventually she also offered payroll services. She had quite a thriving home business. I had an uncle who started what became a very successful tire business and my sister and her husband started a successful pipe fitting business. With all this do-it-yourself entrepreneurial examples, it is no wonder that the fire burned within me too.


Professional issue I found my love for writing in high school where I worked on the school newspaper. In later years I worked as a newspaper reporter. One time was for a small business weekly in a seaside community; the other was for a small twice-weekly in my hometown. I loved those days. You learned to write on deadline and I found I was interested in many things. But I also loved art. After high school I wanted to attend college. As it turned out I was the only one of my parents' children to do so and I'm so thankful I did. In order to afford college I spent some time in the U.S. Navy. In those days I was able to take full advantage of the G.I. Bill for Education. In the Navy I worked as a journalist - I did a Navy news radio show, covered ship arrivals and departures and other general Navy news of interest to the community.


In college I studied art and literature. It was during those six years - two spent at one 4-year university, two at a community college in another state and then finishing at the 4-year university there. It was during my college years that I learned the skills needed in art: drawing, 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art, art history [it's always instructive to study those who have gone before you], and color theory. It was here that I found my love of color...but what to do with it?


Personal issue My parents had always told us kids that we could do anything we put our minds to. I wanted to believe that. My failings have always been in my choices in my personal life. My nature is emotional...I can see now that someone with a creative personality has, by definition, an emotional nature. I've always told my now-grown daughters that what is the best thing about you is also what will be your greatest challenge; and, for me, it was and remains my emotional nature. It is what allows me to do art and to write, but it also has, in the past, tended to rule my head in making personal decisions. I've had divorce interrupt my life more than once and these interruptions have sent me on roads I couldn't have predicted.


As I was raising my children, dealing with divorce a few times and the near-poverty that came with it, I had to put my art and writing on the back burner. I painted once in a while, entered a show here and there, won an award occasionally. But was never able to devote time or financial resources to it.


My big opportunity actually came about as the result of a health issue. In late 2001 I suffered a minor stroke. Although I recovered nearly 100%, it did leave enough of a deficit that I had to retire from employment. During this time I also met, and eventually married, my best friend. He is so supportive of my work and dreams. But what the stroke did for me was to crystallize my dreams. I actually now had the chance to choose: be an artist or be a writer. I decided to throw myself fulltime into my art and become a "working" artist. I believe that an artist by definition is an independent direct selling business. I have written about this on my business blog, see the reference below. For six years I only did art. But writing was always tickling my brain. Then came the big "ah ha." I can do both. To me, everything creative is part of one huge cosmic quilt...just different skill sets and gifts.


So now I do my art work...which has transitioned from painting to mosaics; and I write. I author three blogs, am a contributing writer on several others and am working on my first book for home-based business people.


I believe that Life offers you choices and opportunities. You have to be open to them and interpret them for yourself. You should always ask yourself questions like these:


    what are my dreams?

    what are my passions?

    what am I drawn to and good at?

    am I independent or do I require the cocoon of employment?

    what is my nature and how does it fit into my Life goals?

    what do I need to learn to do or know in order to travel the direction I want to go?

*A post I wrote on my business blog where I make the case that an artist is an independent direct seller: