My name is Rae.
My titles are: Daughter, Sister, Friend, Wife, Momma, Artist, and Instructor.
For many I'm known as Rae Rae and thanks to the children of Guelph, I'm also known as "That Painting Lady."
If you've been following me for some time now you likely know my story, but just in case I'd like to share with you.
I used to be an Early Childhood Educator. I went to school for it and hold a diploma and an additional certificate in Children's Mental Health Studies. During my time as an educator I've worked with children as young as 6 weeks and as old as 6 years. I was in the field for almost ten years.
Twelve years ago I started my business as a photography business in Peterborough, ON. My focus was mainly on capturing candid moments of couples (my favourite because you could catch real smiles). During this time I would draw and paint the photos I was taking.
When my husband and I moved to the Ottawa Region for his work I decided to focus on my career as an ECE. This unfortunately went downhill when I suffered a number of accidental nasal fractures (and a few years later would need to leave the field due to this). During our time in Ottawa Area I began teaching art classes at the request of one of the women I had befriended while there. I taught one class and from there two of the participants booked their own events and before I knew it, it had snowballed to the point where I was teaching 5-6 nights a week (sometimes 2-3 times per day on Saturdays). I did this while going to school and teaching at a daycare in Ottawa full-time. When I was preparing to lease a studio - in 2015 - so I could teach more regularly, my husband received an amazing job offer in Toronto and in a whirlwind of accepting, packing, phone calls, and a LOT of drives back and forth we moved again. We landed in Guelph, ON. I was lonely. I had no friends nor family. No job prospects. My husband had moved ahead of me and because of this he had already started building our life there but to me it felt alien. I struggled finding a job in the ECE field as at the time no one was hiring. Trying to re-launch my business was difficult as there were a number of similar companies I'd need to compete with. This was something new to me because I didn't have that in the Ottawa Region.
I decided to focus on my ECE background and submitted resumes everywhere and to some of those places it was a cold apply. They had no job listings, but I was determined. I don't know what made me apply to a nursery school but I did and apparently they had just had someone leave the field. Serendipity. I was hired! While starting my new job I was able put myself out there to rebuild my business. I didn't work past early afternoon which freed up my evenings for events. The cold application worked getting my back in the field so I figured it was a good time to cast my net back out and I put up an ad in a few online groups. One woman messaged me back. She was trying to make new friends and thought an art class would be a great ice breaker. She held the event at her house and invited a lot of moms she'd never met in the hopes of making new friends. I didn't realize at the time that I was also making absolutely wonderful connections with some of these women. Some of them have grown to be quite close friends and for that I am truly grateful. After the session I had three women ask to book their own events. Three! I was thrilled. When it got around that I was also instructing for children and the elderly population I saw a boom of bookings. This was fortuitous due to the fact that two years after I started at the nursery school I was forced to leave the ECE field due to the nasal fractures. It gave me the opportunity to solely focus on my art and classes. Guelph likes art. That was very plain to see. What was absolutely lovely to me was that Guelph liked my sessions. Guelph liked me. Finding my fit in the community was a long road but because of the amazing people who supported me I was able to give back. I created something called "Community heART." Every October a portion of my sales is funnelled back in to the community to non-profits who need it most. The number of people I've met through this endeavour, the community leaders, the recipients of those funds, everyone involved,
is astronomical. It's been an honour to work with them. It's been an interesting five years (last year was absolutely bonkers, but that's for another time). And we're all caught up... for now. Feel free to call me Rae Rae. Everyone does. I look forward to getting colourful with you! Stay colourful and paint on, my friends. Rae