Today we’d like to introduce you to Kat Furtado.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Kat. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) by trade, and when my youngest child was born four years ago, I took a break from work to stay home with her. Truth be told, my leave was up but I wasn’t ready to face the workplace yet. I struggled with my decision because I wanted to be home with her but I didn’t want to lose my career.
Here’s reality: I care immensely about my career as an SLP. I really believe that communication is one of, if not THE, most essential human actions. It is LITERALLY what connects us to other humans. It’s what helps us convey our needs, wants, thoughts, hopes, and ideas to our loved ones and what allows us to understand those intentions from others. I LOVED that about my job. And I think I didn’t want to lose my career-focus, but I also knew that my unique skill set and knowledge as an SLP, particularly my knowledge of early childhood development, offered me an opportunity to provide my little one with a strong, language-enriched environment. So, I stayed home.
The problem is that that decision led to depression and isolation for me because we were new-ish to the area and I felt a little bit of loss-of-self when she was born. No one ever talks about what it means to be the primary caregiver for a child–that you put your own needs in the backseat and push forward. She, her little sister, and my husband Ryan are the absolute best things in my life, so in the long run, it was an easy decision to stay home even through the inner emotional turmoil I faced. But to say that it was easy the whole time would be a lie. I still wonder sometimes if I made the right decisions, but I am thankful for where I am and thankful for every minute I have with them.
After my second child was born, I knew I needed to practice better self-care, especially when the depression came back. So, I started to paint. I took online coursework, I joined online art communities, and I started learning the basics. Truly, I hadn’t ever even taken art courses in high school so it had been years (a lot. Like… 20. We’re talking grade school here) since I had explored that side of myself. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I kept at it. It provided me with a calm spot in my day when I could refocus. It was almost meditative and it was definitely therapeutic.
I wanted to learn to paint flowers so I painted flowers every day for a month. I wanted to learn portraiture, so I did digital portraits every day for a month. I just started moving in the direction of the next thing, whatever it was. Pretty soon, after painting every day and sharing my progress on social media and via art-communities, friends and others started asking me to paint things for them. I started getting enough requests that it seemed like a legitimate option to try and start a business.
So, I did. I mean, I was TERRIFIED but my business hasn’t even been running a year and I have been doing steady work that brings me joy. I don’t know if there’s anything better than that. I never ever could have known that staying home with my two daughters would yield a business that would change the trajectory of my career, even if it’s only for now, and even if I am just getting started. And I also see so much connection to being a Speech-Pathologist in my art. If I can help someone feel a connection to a piece of art, or if I can help someone feel less alone and like someone HEARS or sees them, that’s communication. It all comes right back to human connection. It’s why I paint.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I definitely referred to some of these before but my major struggles have been my own mental health challenges (depression, anxiety), a feeling of losing myself and regaining a new self, the idea of starting over but still staying connected to who I have always been, and working hard to show my daughters that they can move in the direction of their dreams even when it feels like their dreams aren’t attainable. With my kids, it’s absolutely about showing them that learning never ends and that they can always learn new skills. Growth mindset is really important to me in that sense.
I also felt behind and lost at times in the area of art because my skillset is limited as I learn and grow. And I STILL struggle with calling myself an artist because there is always someone better than I am out there. It’s just that it’s bigger than that, right? It isn’t about how good I am. It’s about being able to create a connection with others. It’s about that feeling of electricity you get when you know you’re on the right track, or when you know others see themselves in your work. It’s about doing the next thing so that I can continue to get better. Growth mindset again.
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I’m an artist. I do pet and human portraits, abstract portraiture, florals, general abstracts, and ocean/seascapes. I specialize in watercolor, acrylic, digital and mixed media. And I always love custom work because it pushes me out of my comfort zone.
Honestly, I am proud just to be starting out. I’m new to this. Every day is a learning curve. Every day is a new start. I am proud to be a dedicated beginner.
My whole career as an SLP sets me apart from others. I have a Master’s degree in Communication Science and Disorders and I had an entire career before staying home and following the path that sort of showed itself to me. I don’t think this is a typical path, but it’s been mine, and I guess I am proud of that too.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Hands down, whenever my kids call me an artist, I feel a swell of pride. The thing is, it is SO hard for me to say the word artist without some reservations. Imposter syndrome, you know? Doesn’t matter that I create new art almost every day or that I sell my art or that I get steady commissions–I still struggle with that title. But my kids? They see me making art and they see me as an artist.
If they can take that from what I do and apply it to their own futures, I will absolutely consider this whole thing a success.
- Website: www.katfurtadoart.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/katfurtadoart
- Facebook: Kat Furtado Art