Finding True Alignment in the Face of Isolation and Loneliness – An Artist’s Story

You know how it is. “You can’t make money from art”. “You’ll be a starving artist”. I listened. I believed the stories. 

My name is Sheila Tan and I’m an artist based in Sydney, Australia. I’ve loved drawing since I was a child. Graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor’s degree in Design Computing, I left my art behind for many years, attempting to build a career in the traditional corporate way.

Knowing that this was not my path, I started drawing and painting again, launching Funky Portrait in 2015 and sharing my work. Interest grew gradually and I started creating portrait commissions – the majority of whom were successful men who wanted to give their wives/girlfriends and fiancés a unique gift.

Funky Portrait studio

I love to create inspiring portraits of individuals based on a style that can range from realism to abstract, depending on your request. It is my fascination to capture your story through your portrait and to show you who you are. Portraiture has the power to connect us with a compelling, visual story. The great thing about Art is that it speaks for itself. It requires no words.

I love to create paintings with personality, using subject matter that inspires me – whether they are abstracts, florals or scenery. There is always a story behind my painting, and it is often as simple as how I’m feeling that day. Or perhaps the emotions I’m experiencing during the time that piece was created. 

My art is about the unique path I’m carving out for myself as an artist. It’s a journey. Just like a piece of art that starts as a blank surface, my path is being created through the joy of the process. I’m inspired by simple moments found in everyday life – walking through Sydney, food, roses, scenery and friendly smiles.

art by sheila tan

It was only in June that I finally turned my back on the 9-5 world. After treating my art as a side-hustle while working various jobs for years, I could no longer compromise my time and had to choose between the office or a client project. I knew in my heart that it was time to go. 

Having figured that out, it took gradual steps to transition into being a full-time artist and it required counting the cost and risks. However, this was the final step. While the future is uncertain and I’m working during the pain of isolation and loneliness, I’m experiencing the magic of commitment. Opportunities are popping up because I can now focus my energy on the possibilities, instead of being distracted by a job. Clients, sales, publicity opportunities are coming out of the woodwork. I will be featured on a global TV show about artists on 6th August – the greatest opportunity I may have missed had I not taken the plunge.

Yes, it takes careful planning and consideration to make the commitment. Am I 100% confident that things will work out? No. However, I am 100% committed and I have faith and trust that everything will fall into place. It’s only the beginning for me, so watch this space!

Art by Sheila Tan

During the lockdown, many are turning to creativity to feed and nourish their mental health and wellbeing. Many of us are questioning the status quo in the silence of isolation. The message I want to share is to use unfortunate circumstances to reconnect and re-align with our true selves and perhaps answer that calling you’ve put off for years in favour of other people’s expectations on your career and personal life.

What is it that you’ve always wanted to do? 

What do your heart and soul truly desire? 

At what point do you stop caring, burn all ships as it were, and dive in headfirst? 

It took the second lockdown in Sydney for me to commit fully and go “all in”. What would it take for you? 

As an artist, I’ve lived this pain for a long time – the feeling of discouragement and the pain of giving up. I’ve been there and I feel that you are better off pursuing your dreams and getting into true alignment, regardless of the outcome. 

I understand you. The pain of giving up on your dreams and being out of alignment is truly lonely. I know this first-hand. There can be no success unless you are in full alignment! How can there be? You are better off taking the risk and going all-in on your dreams! This is especially if you are creative because it is tied to who you are on a soul level. 

I encourage you to reconnect with your true self and find joy in carving out your own journey. Start creating again!

I hope to inspire you to be your true self so that you can live your fullest life.

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