Laura Fortune


A Surprise Ending

Craft Show, Life Learning, Roadtrip, MovingLaura FortuneComment

July 9 

Sunday felt altogether more calm and relaxed.  I had my set-up figured out, I knew what hot felt like, and I understood that this trip was going to feel more like a meet-and-greet with a learning curve show, with a dream roadtrip bonus. 

I always meet really wonderful people at these shows.  The value in this experience is the information and advice I take in from other vendors and people that are visiting the show.  I’m open with people who are interested in enamel and I’m open when they are interested in where I am based out of.  “I’m in-between places.”  I left Brooklyn for Portugal and now have a metal studio in Southern Georgia, and I’m traveling the west coast.  It’s all a strange combination. 

But the highlight of my time in LA had little to do with the show, and more to do with the choices I have made in the past year. 

Sunday was over and I was packing up the jewelry for the weekend, and a lady approached my table.  She asked if I was the artist that moved to Portugal and I said Yes, in a where-is-this-going type of thought. 

She introduced herself stating she and her boyfriend were the couple that came to my apartment last year and bought most of my furniture when I was moving out of Brooklyn.  I couldn’t believe it. 

This couple was so sweet and encouraging of my move out of Brooklyn and taking the chance to go and travel.  They had just been on a similar type of journey and were settling in Brooklyn and reacquiring things for their new apartment.  They loved my stuff and wanted to buy much of it from me.  At the time, I was on-the-fence about whether to store my stuff, or to just sell it altogether.  Having them in my place, and watching it all walk out the door of my apartment so quickly made the decision rip of like a band-aid. 

So many decisions feel so hard, and then they are made for me, and I accept them.  People come along who buy all of your furniture, cars breakdown, a tooth needs extraction. 

It meant a lot for me to see this couple at that moment.  I wasn’t feeling totally great about the show in Los Angeles, accepting the losses, but sometimes it helps to just have a little moment, a small-world moment.  A reminder of a time where I was at the end of a major chapter of my life and where I currently am within a whole new experience.  It kind of just makes me feel like I’m doing something right, in the right place.


Down South, and kinda like it.

Art, Family, Jewelry, Life Learning, Moving, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I returned to the US in a whirlwind.  A visit with a friend in New York City outside of JFK airport, a quick stay with an old friend in Jacksonville, Florida, a sweet wedding in Asheville, North Carolina, a visit to my sister in a cabin in Elijay, Georgia....and that was the first 5 days back.

And after all of that, I needed to boogie down to Florida to set-up a studio and get to work.  I decided that in July, I would travel the west coast to participate in a series of Renegade Craft Shows, so I needed to stock up.  A series of events led me to Studio 209 in Thomasville, Georgia.

It's a perfect place for me, and this is a total surprise.  I'm growing fonder of being in an area I never thought I would return to.  I love my family and friends here, and the idea would come to my mind over the years, but then I would go for a visit and as fast as the idea came to me, it flew out the window and I retreated back to Brooklyn and back to the drawing board.  

The opportunity to have extended traveling time has changed me.  I don't feel trapped by places, because I can see that I can go away, experience new people and places, and return and quiet back down, work in my studio.  That is the life I want.  A studio life/travel life/gardening life/old truck with a dog life.  

And someday I will have that.  But in less than a month, I will pack up my 1999 Jeep Cherokee and drive west for a whole new adventure. 

Two Weeks, Wut?

Moving, Life Learning, International Travel, PortugalLaura FortuneComment

At this exact time in two weeks, I will be sitting in the Lisbon airport, waiting to board a plane and fly back to the US.   

My plan is vague at this moment, and I have a few options for what I'll be doing while back in the States for three months.  The options so far are, a west coast road-trip at craft shows, an artist residency in Southern Georgia, a summer in Brooklyn working at a Summer Concert Series and other odd jobs, even an offer to live in Seattle.  In the next two weeks this plan will take a shape.  But also in these two weeks, I will feel a sadness and uncertainty about how I am spending my last days in Lisbon, until I return in September.

I have settled into a life of spending time with my friends, eating at local places, working at the studio, or being home.  It isn’t so different from my previous life in NYC.  I stopped exploring as much as I did when I first arrived, and a guilty feeling has hit that I just didn’t do enough and my time is running out. 

“It will all be here when you return,” is what I am told.  But the next three months hold so much mystery, and I wonder what I will have experienced and who I will be when I return.

I ran into a guy I met here in Lisbon, and he was telling me about his plans to move.  Even though I could see the trepidation of getting everything in order, I congratulated him.  I know from my experience you have to keep putting one foot forward and plans evolve, the fear is a waste of time, although difficult to avoid.  He agreed and told me of an old Portuguese saying that goes something like, 'If all you have is cold water for your shower and you don’t want to take a cold shower, then lather your body with soap and using cold water to rinse is the only choice.'  I still kind of laugh at this story, and ummmm, okay, I guess it makes sense.  Lather up, the rest is inevitable. 

I will miss it here, and I will try not to dwell on every passing day…the 14 days and one hour.  These are some of my daily sights I don’t want to forget. 

Saturday and Sunday Morning cartoons in Portuguese

Saturday and Sunday Morning cartoons in Portuguese

The view as I sit in the window of my apartment on a rainy evening.

The view as I sit in the window of my apartment on a rainy evening.

My next door neighbor, the Panteão Nacional.

My next door neighbor, the Panteão Nacional.

Sights I see walking to and from the atelier to my home.

When I leave the studio, this yellow building always pops up in my view and I love that.

When I leave the studio, this yellow building always pops up in my view and I love that.

PANDO People

Moving, Art, Portugal, Studio, Life LearningLaura FortuneComment

So here I am presently, living in Lisbon, Portugal.  The women I met back in October, that set such an impression in my mind, are exactly the kind, smart, funny, talented and real type of people that I suspected I had found.  The type of group that made me want to pack up my life and move to another country.  They make up the studio called PANDO, and now I am a part of it as well...

The women of PANDO have welcomed me with wide-open arms and I couldn’t imagine experiencing moving to Portugal without having this little community. 

I have found sisters.

I lived in NYC for over 13 years and moving there out of college, I had never lived anywhere else as an adult.  I had a wonderful full-time job and good friends, but for a few years I was on a rollercoaster ride in my mind, of when to leave and where to go.  New York City isn’t an easy place to be, but cutting the cord and leaving it is a hard decision, too.

Check out Joan Didion's 1967 essay, "Goodbye To All of That"  A timeless and relevant piece on the topic of leaving NYC.

I wanted to step-out on my own as an artist and designer, and finding an inspiring location, an energetic and welcoming artist community and low-cost of living, was a difficult criteria for me to pinpoint in America.  I just didn’t feel strong enough about any place.  And then I found Lisbon, but more over, I found PANDO.

My idea was to come here for the trial period of what an EU tourist visa would allow, to see how it felt to be in the Portuguese culture, around the language and get to know people, to work in an art studio here and to attempt a life as an expat.  I wanted to do some traveling on the side to feel that solo-travel inspiration again. 

Fortunately and amazingly it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life with no end in sight.

Let's Rewind (to October 2016)

Moving, Art, International Travel, Life Learning, Portugal, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I had always wanted to travel more.  I think at some points of my life I thought I would have someone to travel with, so I waited.  And waited.

One weekend in June 2016, two of my best friends became engaged, and I saw wedding RSVPs on the horizon.  I had waited long enough and it was time for me to book the ticket.

I was to spend 18 days traveling around Spain by myself.  My first true vacation that was over two weeks long, and my first time truly traveling alone internationally.

I began spreading the news, “I am going to Spain in October!” and soon I recognized a pattern.  The response I received over and over, “oh cool, you should also go to Portugal.”  I was all, No, I said I am going to Spain.

Eventually I planned a trip where I would split my time between Spain and Portugal. That trip for me felt like a rebirth.  I had found a pleasure that I have never known and it was solo travel.  Lisbon was my final destination, and the feeling was immediate for me upon arrival.  The tiled and painted buildings, the parks, the stone sidewalks, the lookouts, the river, the light, and I had a sinking feeling.  Like a love feeling.  I haven’t been in love in a long time, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach was finding something I wanted to be a part of….and then I met a group of Portuguese women in a light-filled beautiful cooperative art studio in a little alcove on a dead-end street, and I knew I wanted to be a part of their world, too.  I teared up on my walk home from those initial sweet conversations of how they felt about making artwork and traveling and encouragement of living in other countries for a time.  I had never wanted to be somewhere more.


On October 21, four days after returning from this trip, I bought a one-way ticket from NYC to Lisbon.


On October 27, I told my employer of over a decade that I wouldn’t be returning in 2017.


In December I sold or donated everything I had collected in NYC for the past 13 years.


On January 1, 2017 I drove out of NY, with everything I owned in the back of my Jeep.


January One

Moving, Studio, Roadtrip, Life Learning, FamilyLaura FortuneComment

Last night on New Years Eve at 6:15pm I drove away from Brooklyn.  


I love that black Jeep. It's been good to me, and I weighed it down with my crap for this trip to North Carolina. My mom Googled the swaying motion we experienced after hitting any bump in the road, it was referred to as "the death wobble." Alright, no thanks. I pulled into a 7-11 and unloaded some of my heaviest equipment.

If any one needs an anvil or forming stakes, there's a garbage can in West Virginia I know about with a great view and some good tools.  


I took a little trip.

Illustration, International Travel, Life Learning, Moving, PortugalLaura FortuneComment

I have spent the last two weeks traveling through Spain and Portugal.  It was my first time traveling solo internationally for that length of time, and I have to say, I don't know how I will ever want to experience travel any differently.  There was so much quiet time for me to just look and listen and observe people and to think and write.  It was the most special time I've ever had and it has opened my mind to making travel as much a priority as making artwork.  There are pleasures we all find in life, and these two are topping my charts.  

I've considered that prior to social media and online photosharing, we used to have friends and family over to our homes and pull out a dusty slide projector to show our boring vacation pictures to our loved ones.  I'm going to spare you the endless line of colorful architecture and beautiful farmlands and ocean views, and I will just post a few of the watercolors I painted while on this little trip.  



Sitting in a Gaudi creation.

Sitting in a Gaudi creation.

Sitting on a wall next to a river.

Sitting on a wall next to a river.

Sitting on a beach chair and people watching.

Sitting on a beach chair and people watching.

Sitting alone for dinner.

Sitting alone for dinner.

Sitting for lunch at a sweet cafe.

Sitting for lunch at a sweet cafe.

Sitting at the airport waiting for a connecting flight.

Sitting at the airport waiting for a connecting flight.