journey through art

A Journey Through Art (part 1)

Guest Article written by Kat Bennett
(edited by laura prather)

After many years in the art industry, I feel now is a good time to begin to unravel and share my journey through art – alongside motherhood. It includes the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a single parent and creativity.

I am the owner of three separate businesses and at the time I launched my businesses, a single mother to five.

Living Art Works was the first of my businesses. It was created organically. Initially starting as a single mom face-painting my kids, and their friends, at birthday parties. As times got rough and money got tight, I turned that creative adventure into a little business. Honestly, I really didn’t know anything about starting a business except I had to pay the rent and feed my kids, and painting faces was one way I could do that.

From that, Bennett Art Design was born as a branch out of Living Art Works. I consider it my “legacy company”. By this, I mean it is not a company that can be traded, sold, or franchised. Bennett Art Design’s purpose is to be a platform where I can sell my own canvas creations and mural work.

Next, came Traveling Easel. This company was created from a desire to teach others and begin to share with them that they too can paint more than stick figures – even though I absolutely adore stick people art!

One would think having three art companies is a bit difficult to juggle. That’s true, especially when it comes to websites, designs, and all the other work (and money) that goes into marketing a business. However, each one of these precious, creative little branches of my personal artistic adventure is so different from one another that they deserved to be their own endeavor. I never planned on having three separate businesses. Frankly, it took me by surprise but I love each one and wouldn’t have it any other way. I liken it to the moment when a mother finds out that she is pregnant. What an exciting and wonderful experience she is going to have! Then, a few months into her pregnancy she goes back for the ultrasound and discovers instead of having one baby she is going to have triplets. Now she is going to have to prepare for three! There’s joy and panic at the same time.

What Was Unplanned Turned Into A Blessing

As I mentioned, I never planned to have a business, much less three! In the beginning, I was a single mother with a need to have amazing birthday parties for my kids on very little funds. Because I had some artistic and creative abilities, I purchased a face painting kit and started to paint. It truly was that simple! Until one day I realized that, as a single parent, I could actually make money doing face painting and it wouldn’t take me away from my children very often. What a blessing!

The name of my initial company changed often – and it wasn’t really a company at first, it was a hobby. But I had the attitude and named it as if it was going to be the most successful thing I have ever done. And for a while, it was the only thing that put food on the table. 

Trust me. It was really hard work. I learned how to work at festivals and birthday parties and corporate gatherings.
I had to put up my own tent and take it down; put the tables up, take the tables down. Plus, learn how to place all of the equipment on the table to be able to endure hours of painting without being exhausted by the end of 12 hours of painting. Then there were the children that eagerly arrived in anticipation of their face being painted but had runny noses and candy stuck all over their faces. Quickly I learned to carry wet wipes with me and how best to politely ask the dear mother to wipe her sweet innocent child’s face.

I had to work in the rain and the cold and the heat. 

One time I had to pull the tent down and pack it up in a matter of minutes because a tornado was coming! It was quite the adventure. Other people at the same event refused to take precautions and said, “Oh it won’t be that bad”. They looked at us as if we might be crazy. They did not pack up (nor take their things with them when they did have to run for cover). Once my tent was packed up, I went over to another vendor that I knew very well and asked him if he wanted to come with my family. He had a wife and a child back home and I was concerned for his welfare. Arriving at a restaurant, we took cover in a walk-in cooler. While there, we learned a tornado came through just a year earlier and ripped everything up in this exact same spot. Wow! Life can be so interesting.

Once it was all clear, we returned to where we were set up to survey any damage. Those that chose not to listen lost so much. Life on the road working summer festivals was always an adventure!

A Family Business

At first, it was just me painting but when the lines started getting longer I taught my daughter how to paint as well. This really added to our business as my daughter brought not only an extra set of hands but a difference in style. Not too long after that, we had a day when we were extremely busy and the lines very long. To my surprise, my son picked up a paintbrush and begin to paint. He did a really good job and offered yet another completely different creative perspective! Soon, the lines at our booth began to split into three and you could hear some say,” I want the line with the guy painting”. It really was a highlight to this mother’s heart to see that all of us could create and contribute financially. We weren’t necessarily creating wealth…but we did create a bit of stability for our family through our face painting business.

This company paved a way where there seemed to be no way. It was not always easy but it was definitely a victory and not a defeat!

My journey through art did not end here. We continued on…but that is another story.

To be continued …..

Kat Bennett is an artist that lives in Branson, MO. You can follow her on her 
Instagram account: @artist_kat_bennett

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