• Cara Van Leuven


I’ll be the first to admit I know almost nothing about anything. But one thing I do know with absolute certainty is that big changes don’t necessarily feel good in the beginning. In fact, making a huge shift feels like shit. It inevitably involves leaving behind comforts. It guarantees you will be facing the unknown and you will get lost — literally and figuratively. Often it involves goodbyes and new hellos.

My big undertaking hasn’t even launched, yet I’ve said a temporary goodbye to my two beloved mares. I’ll be spending the next two or three months in Florida to pursue more art shows, a new audience, and duh, better weather.

At first I had planned to bring Penny with me to compete when I had free weekends. As my schedule began unfolding, it became painfully apparent not only would free weekends be scarce, my free time really needs to be directed at creating new paintings. I made a decision that felt about as good as a fox chewing off its leg to escape a trap; I’ve sent my girls on their own little journeys without me.

Another shitty decision I had to make is leaving Tom so he can run his business while taking care of our little farm and pets. He couldn’t be more supportive and is genuinely excited. Perhaps with this first attempt at being an artist during the Florida circuit will help pave the road for a future with warm weather.

If I allow myself to focus on my fears, I will freeze with the thought of potential failures. I would realize how much easier it would be to just stay in Illinois and get a normal job. But that’s not who I am or how I want to live my life.

So here’s a rundown of my future:

I’ll be staying with Tom’s long-time college buddy, Sugar Ray in central Florida. I also consider him a friend and have stayed in his mid-century home many times. I’ll set up easels around the pool and paint in the sunshine while swatting at bugs and screaming bloody murder when I see a lizard.

I’ll begin January with two shows slotted, starting in Cape Coral then Boca Raton. February will be jam-packed with Mt. Dora, Delray Beach, Coconut Grove and Key West. I’ll take time to explore the beaches and the everglades. You know I’ll be taking lessons and visiting show grounds.

The month of March is in question. I was planning on it being more of a trial month, experimenting with horse shows, food shows and specifically targeted equine locations. There would be a shift from fine art to merchandise. The beauty of being a gyspy is playing it by ear. March may come and I might just be over it all.

Join me as I partake on a journey into the unknown. I’ll fall on my ass and I’ll triumph. I’ll learn things and I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ll be honest when I make an ass out of myself. I’ll share the gems I discover as well as the rank underbellies.

Wish me luck. Here I go, into the unknown.