Hello, my name is Cathy and I dropped out of the corporate rat race a year ago to become an artist. I’m self-taught in watercolor and have no experience in the medium before 2015.

Many people announce the moment they finally decided to take the plunge to pursue their passion, as if that is the end all be all. Others share their stories of success after having achieved it, reminding us that it takes ten years of hard work to reach overnight success. I am living year two of my own version of the story, far from where I want to be yet closer than where I was a year ago. I’ve started to relax more about arriving at a certain destination and focus on being happy with the here and now, because even a dream job doesn’t guarantee happiness.

To keep things light, I just want to share my progress as an artist since I first started almost 2 years ago. I began painting when I craved autonomy and a creative outlet that were missing from my bureaucratic and analytical corporate job. Little did I know this 100-day project I started as a stress reliever would become the foundation of my art business less than a year later.

The title of this article may be deceiving because I would never advise someone to quit their job after pursuing a creative hobby for 9 months, but that is a story for another post. However, if you currently feel unfulfilled and find yourself dreading Mondays and living for the weekends, I hope this will inspire some of you to try something that piques your interest and persist with it for a while because you never know where it will lead you.

More info: seewhyzhang.com

This was my first watercolor painting at age 32. I squeezed paint directly onto my paintbrush and treated watercolor like acrylic

I was drawn to animals from the get go, but could only copy other animal paintings at first

This was #100 of my 100 day project, and my first ever sold painting. I donated this painting to a charity auction and it was purchased in a pre-auction event

Slowly but surely, I identified a style that I enjoy painting the most

I started to paint in series to build a more cohesive portfolio

While sharing pieces of my animal alphabet series on Instagram, I would accompany each animal painting with interesting facts to raise awareness on their existence and various ecological challenges that many of these animals face as a result of human activity and climate change.

B is for Baboon, one of the 26 animals of my alphabet series

70 paintings and over 100 hours later, I selected the final 26 animals that made up this Alphabet in the Wild art print

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with wild cats, like this leopard

If this continues, I might do a wild cat series.

Spanish Lynx – endangered like a lot of its wild cat friend

Sometimes I record speed painting videos. My husband records voiceover with me, then edits and uploads them to YouTube.