A jobbing artist: After a year or 2 painting and getting to know something about the art industry, I've had quite a bit of success. Sold lots of paintings, had work in a few exhibitions and had the great pleasure of working with some really nice people on commissions.
I've also learnt a huge amount as well. For example, failure is part of success. Not everything has gone to plan and if you get too affected by that, you'll never succeed. Also, happiness is about the day to day life you lead right now, not an achievement for the future.
Here's to more learning.
General work years: I worked in Customer Services for a total of 14 years. Think rat race, management, policies, travel, money, late nights, all the usual exciting things associated with working life. I was lucky enough to be relatively successful though, which enabled me and my (ever supportive) wife Carol to save enough money to try and make a living from my artwork.
During these years I entered many paintings into many exhibitions. I sold at most, even winning an award or two. Although, I didn't get much time to paint, I was building skills and confidence throughout this time.
For 5 years, I worked as a freelance illustrator doing paintings for various clients on both sides of the Atlantic, including Readers Digest, BBC Wildlife Magazine and New Holland Press.
This was a mixed time for me. I love to paint but found the restrictive nature of the work difficult. A lot of the time, the client would dictate much (if not all) of the creative process, meaning that there was little for me to do but paint the required image. As a result I stopped being an illustrator after five years.