By Jackie DiRoma
Well, Hello! I guess I should introduce myself and tell you what I do before I tell you how I got here.
My name is Jackie DiRoma, and I am a mother of five (4 boys, 1 girl. Ages from 17 to 7), wife to hubby Jon, and care taker of 3 dogs 2 cats & 1 newt. Needless to say my life is very full and very happy. Oh by the way I am also a freelance artist! That’s what I am here to talk about, how I started, where I am now, and where I hope to be soon!
Things weren’t always easy for me, I have always loved art but I do not have any formal training. The most schooling I have is high school. A year after I graduated high school I gave birth to my oldest son, I was 19, so let's just say No College degree here :( .
Soon after my son was born I married his father, my childhood sweetheart. I had hoped for the American dream but it just wasn’t in the cards. He dropped out of high school and didn’t really have the experience for a good paying job. Alas my art went on hold. On hold for almost 13 years!!
We divorced a few years later and I found myself with children and no money. I had to get a full time job and support us. Still I longed to draw, but I just didn’t have the time. Then I met a man whom I lived with for 6 years, didn’t work out either 2 more kids later, still no hope to stay at home and draw.
I got a good job bartending at night making really great money and I felt at home there. My boss let me do portraits of our regular customers and hang them on what we called “The wall of shame”. This was the beginning and I didn’t even know it. Out of nowhere, people asked me to draw their portraits!! I was so excited!! They would bring me a picture and I would draw it for them. It worked out okay, but, working nights and having small children it was hard to find the time to draw. Every chance I got, I took it (By the way this is where I met my husband Jon).
The restaurant I worked for closed. Jon and I didn’t work out and, I had to get another job quick because that was my only outlet for my drawings and I wasn’t getting any child support either. I got a job at another restaurant bartending, waitressing and hostessing. My new bosses were very nice but, no deal on hanging my portraits! Boy was I getting frustrated!! But I swore to myself I would never let go of my dream!
Now here’s the good part, Jon came back into my life, told me he wanted to take care of me and my kids. He loves them as if they were his own. I married him, smart me, and then I realized HEY!! wait a minute, I still haven’t pursued my American dream yet!!
I quit my job as a manager of a very popular restaurant and started my own business as a freelance artist. I draw and paint; I do portraits of people and animals. I advertise on the net, the library and joined the arts council in my area. I meet other artists. I go to shows, draw portraits at craft fairs, I go to galleries, and I have my own web site. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful husband who will go the length with me! He says he can’t wait till I make it big so he can say, with his chest out, “That’s my wife!”
I borrowed money from our savings to start. I pay it back monthly. I work every day, though summer has been hard, when business is slow I practice. I do work for my husband. He is a police officer and I did a portrait of his uniform hanging on a chair. That piece got more attention at a show I did then any other!!
Now that the holidays are approaching I’m getting busy. I also am decorating a friends store for her. I also designed her menu board. I love my work, and the best part about it is I spend so much more time with my family than ever before, they are proud of me, as I am of them, and I am finally achieving my American Dream!!
So in closing, I worked, I played, and I worked. Now I work and play at the same time!! I hope to be independently wealthy some day, don’t we all. I will retire to the beach and paint the ships out at sea, as my husband plays golf in our golden years. I will have time to play with my children’s children and just be happy. What more could I ask for? My words of advice are: Don’t ever give up your dream, even if you have to put it on hold for a while, because if you want it bad enough you can have it!