We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebecca Rhodes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rebecca, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I teach watercolor painting online. But my career began much differently. I became a full-time artist and teacher later in life.

I’ve always had the hunger to create – an excitement – an urgency – ideas trying to burst out. First, it emerged as music. I learned to play trumpet and piano at a young age, which led to a 27-year career teaching music in the public schools.

Teaching was fulfilling, joyful, challenging, and all-consuming. The urge to create was patiently waiting – but there was never time. By year 24 of teaching, although I loved the job, I was feeling unsettled. I took a sabbatical and earned a Master’s Degree. But there was also time to do something else! This was the year I began to paint!

I learned to paint online, watching free videos and finding artists whose work I admired. I painted everyday, experimenting, sometimes with success, at other times not so much, but always learning!

I have always been drawn to detail. It’s magnetic. I love to closely study flowers, facial features, animals, textures, miniatures, anything intricate. The more I painted, the more I was drawn to realistic pets and wildlife. I had a picture in my head of what I wanted to create. The problem was I couldn’t find any tutorials or courses to feed that vision. There were lots of watercolor botanicals, landscapes, still life, “loose” painting, but not a lot of resources on painting realistic animals in watercolor.

It took practice – failure – practice – perseverance – little by little, learning what worked and what didn’t – until I finally figured out a formula and developed techniques to create my vision.

After the sabbatical, I returned to teaching for two more years, painting on and off when there was time (and there wasn’t much time.) Finally, although I loved to teach, the yearning to paint became too strong. I remember telling my husband that I wanted to retire from teaching. This was a huge step backward financially. We would be going from two incomes to one. I would be moving into a career that was less than stable. It was a scary step for my husband, and an exciting one for me, because I had a vision of what I wanted to do. I’ll always be thankful to my supportive family and my husband who, although he wasn’t sure at first, never gave up on me.

Around three months after retirement, I started to miss teaching and interacting with students. So once again, I researched. This time, I discovered online education. The key was to find my own niche – something I excelled at and that stood out from other watercolor teachers, and it was realistic animals.

I began to record my paintings – mostly dogs and cats, edited the videos, and created my own Youtube channel. It was amazing. After one year, there were 4,000 subscribers! I remember thinking, “if this many people are interested in learning to paint animals, this might be something to teach online.”

I created the online school in early 2017, and it was an immediate success. People want to learn how to paint their pets. I taught technology in school, so it was a natural fit. The best thing is, I’m doing what I love and helping others to create portraits of their own pets and all kinds of animals.

The students in the school have been successful too – and we’ve got all levels of experience from beginners to advanced! I now offer online courses in painting realistic animals. It’s fun, challenging, and immensely rewarding. And I’m doing what I love – painting and teaching.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Life is funny. Ten years ago, I never dreamed of being where I am now. My former career as a teaching prepared me for what I do now – organizational skills, working with people, technology, and perseverance.

Whatever stage of life you are in, make time to do what you love, even if it’s just a small part of your day or week. Persevere.

Anyone can learn to paint in a realistic manner when you have a formula to follow and the proper techniques. Practice and be patient. Allow yourself to fail. Learn from mistakes. Persevere. The great thing is, there is always more to learn!

Never, ever give up, and remember – it’s never too late.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband and family for always believing in this vision

Website: https://rebeccarhodesart.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebeccarhodesart/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRhodesWatercolors

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUmINJt6r4mdlFY8-CicUcA

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