“I want to be able to wake up, have a cup of coffee, and paint all day for the rest of my life”Samiha Brown
Taking the plunge and quitting your job to pursue your art and happiness during a pandemic is not easy. It requires courage and A LOT of hardwork and dedication.
Samiha Brown, the artist behind The Crafty Brown, is a woman of diligence, wisdom, and passion and her work–beautiful watercolor paintings–reflects these characteristics.
In 2011, Samiha came to the U.S. from Bangladesh to study architecture at the University of Texas. After 4 years in San Antonio, Brown dove into her career as an architect.
At the height of her career, she was working for one of the largest architecture firms in the country. She enjoyed her field’s creativity but working 60-70 hours a week started to get old. She began switching companies fairly often, finding herself excited for the first few months and then ready for something new once the novelty wore off.
“I started getting lethargic, on weekends I had no energy to go out with my husband or paint.”
Brown was very stressed and overworked. During the beginning of the pandemic she was working from home; with extra time in her day from not having to commute to the office, she began reflecting on her life.
“It got to a point where my salary was not enough for me. I kept denying that to myself. But then I realized I was lying to myself”
She asked herself:
“How do I want to live my life? Do I want to keep doing the same thing over and over again and be unhappy or do I want to take a step and do something different?”
Samiha Brown said it was the pandemic that pushed her to take the leap. With more time at home, she had more time to paint and it began to reignite her passion. Her husband encouraged her to start doing her art fulltime.
“I took a leap of faith”
Brown quit her job as an architect; her coworkers and boss thought she was crazy, but these words kept running through her head:
“If I don’t do it now I will never do it. I want to live a happy successful life and to me, success is being happy and loving what I do”
By July 2020, Samiha was taking a sabbatical from architecture. She promised herself she would take six months to focus on her painting; there would be no self promotion or searching for financial support. For six months, she wanted to paint, learn, and explore her personal art.
“If I could paint one thing for the rest of my life, it would be birds. I love how pure and beautiful they are; I could observe and learn about them all day.”Samiha Brown
Within a few months, people were reaching out to buy her work, she had about 12 commissions by the fall and more on the way. Soon enough, she was close to replacing her salary from her architecture job.
In the fall of 2020, Brown began teaching herself the business side of being an independent artist. She launched her own website and a shop on Amazon. When asked why she chose Amazon as one of her sale platforms, she said there were three reasons:
- It’s a hub of customers
- Automatic customer service
- Automatic fullfillment
With outsourced customer and shipping services, Brown has more time to create. It is a lot of work and a big time commitment to run all areas of your own artistic business. Everyone has their own reasons for choosing their route. Brown chose Amazon to give her more time to do what she does best, paint.
When I asked about the name “The Crafty Brown”, Samiha talked about how when she married, she took her husband’s last name and thus became, The Crafty Brown!
Samiha believes it is important her business is known as owned by a woman of color. She struggled in the beginning with showing her face and even her hands in painting videos; this hesitancy came from fear that negative or rude comments would start if she showed she is a woman of color.
However, with time, she realized that she needs to be able to express herself freely:
“Women of color in the artist industry need to be able to present ourselves, use our voices, and support each other.”
She finds the Instagram community very supportive and has formed surprising friendships during her journey.
Watercolor is a tricky medium to work with; many struggle with the lack of control, I am one of the many.
Samiha Brown chose watercolor because it is the medium that allows her to express her love for art freely.
“It’s like I am part of the water and it’s leading me down a path. You’re dropping the pigments in the water and they blend beautifully and then you are assisting the water through the paper. That fresh and organic liveliness cannot be achieved in other mediums.”Samiha Brown
Watercolor is a type of therapy for Brown.
Minimalism is defined by Merrium Webster as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity”
The Crafty Brown paintings lean towards minimalism from the blank backgrounds and singular images. For instance, in her botanicals series, each print features a single branch or section of a plant on a white background.
Samiha is passionate about the honesty of minimalism.
“I love that it stands out and speaks for itself. That is how I’ve always approached art”Samiha Brown
A majority of paintings by Samiha Brown tend to be focused around nature.
Brown camps most weekends with her husband and when they aren’t camping, they are hiking. She takes photos of everything while they travel.
When she goes to paint, her inspiration comes from her wide collection of photos.
Her most recent series on Amazon–Botanicals–is inspired by her time camping and hiking throughout Seattle. Brown currently lives with her husband in Texas and the city they live in does not offer much natural escape.
Botanicals was created as a representation of the mountains and hikes Brown craves; the plants she chose to paint are primarily native to Washington State. Fun fact, the Browns are moving to Seattle in the next few weeks!
According to Samiha Brown, next is the move to Seattle, of course, AND speaking of cravings…she is going to begin of series of pop art paintings of breakfast food!
During the pandemic she has consistently craved big luxurious breakfasts. Her husband in the last few weeks has been making morning feasts and Brown snapped photos every morning for future inspiration. She wants to paint the American breakfast.
“I want it to be simple, honest, and realistic. You will be able to see the honey running down the sides of the pancakes”
Advice from Samiha Brown for new artists entering the business:
“If you have any hesitation, talk to yourself, tell yourself that you can teach yourself anything. The most important thing in life is to be teachable”
Samiha is a self-taught artist, she watches YouTube videos, reads books, and practices all the time.
“In the beginning, when I started painting five years ago, I sucked at it; I was horrible. I was so mad that I would start a painting and be demoralized by my work. My advice to artists is if you start something, always finish it and learn new ways to develop a technique. Immerse yourself in your work.”
As for the business side, Brown feels this will eventually will come naturally. Market yourself with who you are and your language.
It took her about 10 months to a year to feel comfortable with her business. It’s a slow progress but that’s okay; take time to learn as much as you can.
What Samiha Brown would tell a younger version of herself:
“Do not criticize yourself so harshly. Be kind to yourself. You sometimes need to ignore that criticism because it can be a hinderance to your potential. I had to push it into the background and be emotional about my paintings.”
Samiha Brown, the talented artist behind The Crafty Brown, is a one of a kind person. It was a pleasure speaking with her and getting to understand her process and inspiration. I am excited to decorate my workspace with her “Botanicals” series to bring some peace to the chaos.
If you are a new artist looking for inspiration, whether it be for your work itself or finding the courage to pour yourself into your passion, explore Samiha Brown’s work. Message her. Ask her questions.
I’ve found over the years, as an artist myself that many artists are alike. If they have 500 followers on social media or over 300,000, when you ask a question about their work or reach out and ask for guidance, you will be met with open ears, wisdom, and acceptance.
Speaking with Samiha Brown reminded me of how deeply a person can fall in love with creating. The connection an artist forms with their work can be raw and cavernous. Our conversation was just that, a conversation. Brown is clearly one with her work and there is a tremendous fire behind her motivation and it is fueled by her dream.
If you are a new artist, looking for answers, not sure what’s next because we are living in a hecking pandemic, that’s okay. If you are able, take a page out of Samiha Brown’s book and maybe take some time off. Explore. Learn new things and transform.
Thank you again Samiha
Follow these links to learn more about The Crafty Brown.
Facebook: The Crafty Brown