Monday, February 16, 2015

Doing What You Love By, Thorny Sterling

Doing What You Love
by Thorny Sterling

I’m in a somewhat unique position for being both an author and artist. . .and getting paid for both.

The idea to do either wasn’t really my own. See, I joined a little critique group online and read other authors’ stories since I was pretty good at explaining my likes and dislikes. Offering constructive criticism made me a beta reader right away, but it was when I dared to offer a sexy bit of photo-inspired flash fiction that someone said I should keep going. That I was good at story-telling.

The same kind of thing happened when I first started letting people see my paintings. I feel like I’ve always drawn or painted and people always told me each finished piece was great. But they were family and close friends, they’re supposed to say that kind of thing. So when I started college, working part time in the art department’s office, and I dared to show a painting to the dean, I wasn’t expecting praise. I figured he’d have a lot of really big words to say, pat me on the head, and tell me to go answer the phone. And I would’ve been OK with that! But what he did was tell me he saw a lot of potential and that I should get myself into some art classes.

So I took some classes, learned a lot, and when I shared my paintings with other artists? OMG, they actually liked it! And then a very good friend suggested I try my hand at selling my artwork online.


Yeah, she was serious, and several thousand dollars later, I can say I’m a selling artist.

OK, if I wasn’t married to a man with a great job, I’d be a starving artist, but still. . . People are actually buying paintings I make. And loving them! And buying more of them! They’re actually making collections of my artwork.

{cue the big-eyed, open-mouthed staring}

Then came the craziest moment of all: People started asking me if I’d paint specific things just for them. If I’d be a commissioned artist.

After I woke up from fainting, I consulted with other artists, googled my way through artists’ sites, tried desperately to understand pricing my “talent” and not just the physical product. . . And dared to make an offer for the job. Totally could’ve fainted a second time when they accepted.

And that was when I had to start believing my work, this extension of myself, was worth it. They didn’t hesitate to accept because they believed. Sure, some have said they’d save up and get back to me — {eyes Mere and her mother’s gardenias} — but no one’s ever said I was charging too much.

It’s a heck of a boost to know you’re worthy like that. It’s provides a momentum that makes sure I won’t stop doing my best.

Right now, I’m working on two large acrylic paintings for clients and moving into different areas for paintings I’ll sell in my store, Sunshine Paintings. I’m really fascinated by light and water at the moment. Below is a work-in-progress of some ruins in York (Co. Yorkshire, England) at St. Marry’s Abbey. The photo I’m working from was taken by Anne Tenino while on vacation with her family. My original plan was to have it be 8x10”, but I might go larger, like poster-size. It’s just such a striking image.

Hopefully, when I’m done, this painting will join others in making it possible for me to continue making a living by doing what I love.


Thorny Sterling is an award-winning author and artist living in Ohio with his husband of 4 years. For more information, visit for his blog and commission contact form, or for his available artwork.


  1. I'm very glad you took the chance on selling your art, otherwise I wouldnt have been able to commission something from you....and I'm super excited for my piece you're working on.

  2. :D it's amazing to realize your own worth. Thorny has talent galore. So happy you get to do what you love.

  3. It's such a beautiful thing reading about people who can call work their passion. You are very lucky and I hope you'll be able to do this for the rest of your life (or for as long as you wish to). You are an amazing artist!

  4. I'm glad you're seeing your worth in your artistic abilities. You have them in spades. It's only your first year professionally at both so I'm sure it will keep building. I can smugly say that ;) I love what you have so far on Anne's painting. I love the details that are emerging out of the colors.

  5. You have two (at least!) wonderful talents and I'm very glad you found the confidence to share them. Keep doing what you love, because you're pretty amazing at it, Thorny.

  6. I think it's wonderful to discover your passion and talent. I think it's a dream to get paid for doing what you love! You have a unique style of writing maybe because you are an artist too. Every time I read what you write, I can picture in my mind what is happening, which doesn't happen always when I read. I'm not sure why, but I like it. And your paintings! It's difficult at first glance to know if it's a painting or a photograph. It's amazing. I cannot wait for what you come with next!

  7. I love your book, I love your blog and I love your paintings! You're three for three...keep going!

  8. Doing what you love, following your dreams and allowing them to grow is one of the best feelings in the world. You are so incredibly talented and the rest of the world is lucky we're allowed to share in the fruits of your talent.

  9. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Mere, and all your support.

    The rest of you guys are so awesome in your support too! Thank you. I feel really lucky to be doing all of this.

  10. I'm so happy for you and excited that you share your talents with us. That you're making money at it is even better. You are an amazing person, Thorny!

  11. I feel so lucky that you do believe in yourself and your awesome talents and share them. I think that your heart, which you also share in your blog, comes out in your creations. That sunshine that you share is the best part. I hope you keep doing what you love! :) ❤️

  12. There's not much better than making a living doing what you love. <3 Keep believing in you, Sunshine. :-)

  13. Love you Sunshine! Hi to Jazz! Thank him for us for keeping you fed & watered & Loved! Appreciate all of your talents that you share with us! Blog On ... Write On ... Paint On!