Written by Weston Rayfield, Artist and Corporate Coach
I have reinvented myself, three times in my life, now I am where I should be, and with a story that will help people to find their way. Just a short time ago, I never would have thought I would be a full-time artist, writer and a motivational speaker. As I continue this cathartic experience, my take-away is this:
Sometimes failure is God telling us to change our life — to dream and to “go for it”. Now, I live the dream.
Things perceived as hardships comprise the marathon of tools to overcome our adversities. Throughout life, people will testify that survival is a marathon of sorts. It takes experience to create the tools needed to try to change life; it takes even that much more to achieve victory from within—self-gratification. I have owned three very different businesses in my life. Spending most of my life as an artist, 15 years in advertising as an illustrator—I have made it to the top and lost everything twice. Energy out of focus, I suffered from a world of attention deficit, a combustion chamber of aspiration—the kind of energy that starts the next-door neighbor’s house on fire. Like many, I learned business (life) the hard way. It took 50 years to figure out I was happier in the arts. How do we identify and achieve our role in business, in life? How do we locate the people who will support us, strengthen us? These were questions that repeated in my mind and transported me onward to my continuing journey.
It’s a mighty thing that I currently I teach people how to find happiness within themselves. Ten years ago I was a middle-aged businessman, who had a hard time admitting that he had lost the battle, again, for the second time, leaving me evaluating my own worth. Never judge a man by his wallet. Judge him by his heart and his will to laugh at the madness. Oh yes — there will be madness.
Refusing to give up after I found myself divorced and alone, I ventured out to find my creative self. I was a middle aged man in crisis and in a gamble. I did abstract paintings, experimenting with color, space and shape. I wrote my first book. I decided to put my resourcefulness into high gear — I took it on the road. I gave up my house, my business and all my worldly possessions. I went on a journey with my books, my artwork and my wits. I had no idea what life would have in store for me. I took my rearview mirror, snapped it off at the neck, took my life and faith and set out on the road to re-design America. That was 49 months and 57,000 miles ago. I have been everywhere from Mackinac Island, to Key West Florida.
I grew up in Grand Ledge, Michigan and owned a large transportation business outside Detroit for 17 years. I started and operated three businesses for thirty-five years. The stress began to take a toll on my health. I felt sidetracked. I needed a change.
Sometimes you have to leave everything you have known behind to discover what you were meant to do with your life. For me, I discovered it is art. I am committed to be an artist forever.
I struggle to find the words to explain this journey. It has been incredible, outstanding, and surreal. People have taken me in and given me food and inspiration and bought my art and books. It has been more than I ever could have imagined. Every day is a new adventure, meeting people that I had never heard of the day before. However, it can be lonely — there are real dues to be paid. Nevertheless, when you have something as good as this, you can’t stop until you see the dream through.
I am living my dream: I am a full-time artist, developing my subject and developing my craft.
People walk up to my art, then make a double take, turn and look back. “Yes, they really are authentic newspapers from that decade”. I believe I am the first artist on record to paint period art over period newsprint. After 46 years in the arts, I have developed a new genre never tried before — allowing me to live my dream as a full-time artist.
It took two years for me to perfect my current method of painting on newspapers. In the beginning, I used newspapers as an abstract addition to my paintings. I matched 1920’s newspapers with 1920’s art, or 1950’s scenes with 1950’s newspapers. Then one day I stopped and thought, “Why don’t I put the newspapers on a surface and paint directly on them?”. That was all it took — I began to match newsprint with matching art, and in some cases, I match memorabilia framed with furniture into life-sized shadowboxes.
Now, combining my background in illustration, I use customers’ newspapers and memorabilia, (or something from my collection of over 3000 newspapers and antiques), to do one-of-a-kind portraits, or custom corporate artwork for anyone looking to celebrate a special event, anniversary, or to tell their story in a unique way.
I love where my journey has taken me and I love that my loss has led to a career in corporate coaching for creative people. I teach others to follow their dreams…
Here are five out of my twenty “tips” for happiness and personal success that have taken 35 years to learn:
- Never settle — Whether in traditional marriage or in a business partner, you better spend time with that person (s) and connect on all levels of life—spiritually-mentally-physically-emotionally-financially. Communicate your vision of the future and never settle, because of loneliness, and or need of capital.
- Expectation. It’s okay to have a vision, and aspirations, just be careful about expecting lofty goals (don’t make unreachable goals, your whole world) to be handed to you. When you’re in a giving state of mind, is when blessings can sneak up on you.
- Make accidents happen. Constantly battle in the trenches—fight to be better, experiment with new ideas until (when you’re not expecting it) you stumble onto something your competition overlooked. Prepare for change, it can happen fast, what you do today might not be what you do tomorrow.
- Natural Flow. Life wasn’t meant to be forced, that’s not to say; you won’t have problems, because you will. I’m talking about ubiquitous problems that seem to mount up from all sides with no end in sight. Luck, faith, talent, knowledge, timing, need and flow; all equal karma, if you’ve got these things… you’ve got it all.
- Failure is not always a bad thing. If you’re doing what you love, and test studies show there’s a market for what you love; then, never give up. Sometimes you have to be at the bottom without any support to make you think deep enough. There is something to be said about desperation, it makes you creative. You’d better get creative or it’s your ass, now you are ready to out think your competition, create a new style, idea or product, and venture into the unknown.
To read the complete list of “20 tips” go to: CorporateCoach.com
For more information on Weston Rayfield contact:
Seen above is: “Legacy”, 2′ x 5′ acrylic and pastel, newspaper mounted on canvas.
“Legacy” is my favorite picture of John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy is with his brother, Robert. The assassination President Kennedy is the most saved newspaper in history. For this work, I used several newspapers which featured his life, including the inauguration. I felt the Kennedy brothers represented “the people”. I tried to “grow” humanity out from their images, which transform into common pallbearers carrying Kennedy’s last known photo before his death.