Yes, GD's do have a steady 9-5 workday with a stable, fixed salary. And some do freelance. But Freelancing has its Pros and Cons.
Freelancing depends on the person . I know a few who does. But it could quite difficult to keep from their bosses. The bosses will not like the idea. Currently, Im a freelancer. But before I made that move, I had to do it on off-hours or off-days just to get the feel of looking for clients, doing the work order, sending the FA to the service bureaus , collecting , delivery ..... all that. But I didn't leave my job back then, till I was comfortable I can manage on my own...... You see, to do freelance, you have to act like a one man company....... Benefits and Pitfalls are part and partial of being a freelancer.
For me I don't keep regular hours - Even when I was working 9-5 I would end up working late into the night with freelance work - Which made me permanently exhausted.
I also didn't like having to do unlimited design work during the day for a fixed amount a month and then have less time to do freelance work (which brought in more income as you get paid per item) Also in SA Graphic Designers don't get much. I would get as a salary what I now get freelance for a website and 3 designs.
Freelance is risky as its not a guaranteed income - But whats great about it (that I find) is that you can go anywhere in the world and still do your work Plus there's nothing worse than sitting at work doing nothing and thinking ~ I have so much freelance work to complete and cant do it at work!!!
Now I work Freelance for myself and freelance for the company I previously worked full time for because I was the only Graphic Designer at that company which specialized more in printing and they didn't want to hire a replacement.
Its not for everyone I do believe, as there were moments in the beginning (and some months still) where I start panicking ~ in Full time the work comes to you and you get paid no matter what ~ in freelance you have to find the work and if there's none well then you don't get an income.
"I am looking for a career that provides a steady income and uses my drawing and painting skills. "
I saw on a disney site somewhere
Weeks ago they were hiring full time people with drawing and painting skills. Try that.
Freelancing isn't going to provide steady income, especially if your just starting off. imo