Yes, We are about $60,000 in debt for a new van we use for business. And property debt. The property debt is for a parcel of adjoining land to our home studios, another is for acreage we bought in New Mexico some years ago hoping to move there, but dreams change and now it is up for sale. Living in Northern Michigan we have very long andarduous winters, and again it is very isolating. We found Abiquiu, New Mexico to be beautiful, sunny and exciting, and close enough to Santa Fe and Taos for some culture. But we soon realized that if we built there - and after 2008 we could no longer afford to - but that it would be another situation of isolation, and that Santa Fe could not provide the art community we really craved.
My husband and I are artists and we make a living from our paintings. We show at several galleries around the country, but the galleries that we depend on most for our income are small local galleries in affluent Michigan summer resort towns within hours of where we live. We primarily sell landscape and still life paintings. The financial reality is that we can only afford to live here, in this country village of 13 people because it affords us a very large old store and barn for our studios, and this property is nearly paid off. It is very beautiful in summer but I feel very isolated here, especially in winter. I miss the camaraderie of other artists and progressive thinkers that thrive in larger art communities. A few years ago at my urging, my husband and I used our savings and risked the financial impact of moving to Chicago to absorb cultural resources, go to lectures and get to know the art community. We established working studios and an apartment, made deep friendships, were living rich and stimulating days and felt like we had gone back to school. But after 2 years we drained our savings and had to leave Chicago, moving back to our little town in Michigan.
I made a very conscious goal to make my living as an artist when I was in my twenties waiting tables. I started to show landscapes in a gallery and those sales contributed to 5 % of my income eventually leading to 20%, to 30%, and so on until I could finally put the waitress tray down many years later. But depending on painting for income can also restrict ones subject matter and style of work. This has been a artistic challenge as I have grown as an artist more interested in abstraction, social practice, issues of social justice, Feminism and anarchist theory. It has also been an ethical challenge. When time allows I contribute to gift circles, free markets and time banks. I participate in other artists social projects. My husband and I offer an unconventional residency in our guest house at no exchange rate to other artists. And I look for ways my art can help sustain me through trade, exchange and barter. I have bartered for dental care, car repair, my bar tab, my hair salon, carpentry, lodging and lots of wonderful artwork.