whoa. March kinda flew by all on it’s own accord pretty much. I was swamped with work at the beginning of the month and finally got a bit of a break around the middle of the month… only to get whomped (hard!) by a lovely cold virus that Johnny Handsome brought home with him from work. I took to my poorly bed for a few days, knocked flat. Sniffles and a teensy bit of a cough still linger, but I’m well on the mend now. And good thing too, cuz work is picking up again and April’s looking busy.
Here’s my flickr faves for March. I’m actually quite enjoying doing these… it’s interesting to see what was occupying my brain that month and I think it’s clearly evident in my flickr faves. This month I was all about spring blossoms. There’s a magnolia tree down at the end of the street that busted out in buds about two weeks ago. Every day on the way to walk the woof, I swing by, watching for the pink wonder that will someday spring forth. I love magnolia trees. I want to get one for my back yard this year FOR SURE (I think this every year).
The bright orange and pink combo I was besotted with in Feb. has given way to pink and green, with cherry blossoms all over. And daffodils, great trumpeting, endlessly cheerful daffodils. And the simplicity of white. I’m consumed with sort of romantic, white washed cottage, English garden, fairy tale yearnings and imagine myself in dainty pin tucked blouses in soft luminous petal colors and feminine, strappy shoes (the kind I do not currently and likely will never own). I so long for true spring, i can’t even tell you. The little lilac bush I planted last year is showing lime green budlets, but that’s about it. I fantasize endlessly about stapling spritely green crepe paper leaves to the tree out front. Instead, I settle for surfing online about plants I want to plug into my life as soon as it is warm enough. Cosmos, dahlias possibly, flowering vines a plenty. Coneflower and buddliah to lure in butterflies. Hellebores and hostas for the shadier parts of the yard. Bleeding hearts like the ones my mom grew. O, spring! HURRY!
up above: photo composite from my latest obsession, photographing bubbles trapped in ice. And my latest Flickr Faves as we move into Spring and I yearn for pops of color and blossoms. Am once again completely and utterly swamped with work and stuff. send cupcakes.
OMGAWD. The Handsome Guy and I just got back from seeing Coraline in Real 3-D and it was absolutely and utterly astounding. I cannot explain how good. Just promise me you will go see it! In 3-D. You have to see it in 3-D. I promise you, your jaw will bounce off your knees, upsetting your popcorn. And you won’t mind one bit. Warning though: I think the subject matter is too dark for children under eight, even though there were children younger than that in the theatre when we saw it.
wow. what an achievement. what an experience!
P.S. Sorry I have been so absent of late. Have been working day and night on a bear of a project and am swamped for the rest of the month. Today is the first whole day I’ve taken off in over two weeks and I’ll be back at it tomorrow.
It would be practically impossible to overstate how completely besotted I am with the ceramic stylings of Megan Bogonovich. I completely understand why all those beskirted women are trying to wiggle their way into her ceramic wonders. When I look at them, I am absolutely overcome with the mad desire to climb inside and set up home. I cannot thank Susan of Artstream Studios and Art Esprit enough for introducing Megan’s whimsical wonders to me. Or thank Susan enough for introducing her exceedingly wonderful self to me at Squam Art Workshops 2008 last September. Susan has a magical way of making my every day just that much brighter, lighter and hopeful.
This is one of my favourite photos ever found on Flickr and it certainly sums up my feelings right now. I didn’t take it. It’s by Bucharest photographer Camil Tulcan. You can find more of his gorgeous work here. And below, a round up of some of my Flickr Faves. I think I’ll do this once a month. It’s a lot of work popping in all those links, man, but I think the original photographers deserve credit for their photos and the inspiration they provided me!
My agenda today: wash my hair, walk my dog and spend the rest of the day painting. And sneaking Hershey’s kisses. I swear the red foil wrapped ones taste better than the silver.
4) mum for eating
5) cherry blossoms
9) alien flower
10) snowy flake
11) sixth snowflake
13) Hopeful Winter
14) Pennsylvania snowflake
16) tessella forum reverse
17) sparkly k
18) sparkly k
20) When I said
21) A book I’m reading
24) snowflake curtain
25) cally creates
26) rhododendron on wire
27) howl at the moon
28) matryushka stones
29) window grill
30) 1st of december
31) sky butterfly blue
32) snowy fox
33) juj’s photo
36) sweet salty kitchen
It never fails. as soon as my thoughts start drifting and circling around art again, as soon as I start feeling that tickle of excitement and inspiration in the pit of my stomach, as soon as I turn with real earnestness to my drawing table, the space above my head opens and an unanticipated deluge of design work swamps me good.
It’s a difficult balance. Design work is pretty much my bread and butter and I enjoy it. I do. I’m never going to set the world on fire with my design prowess, I’m never going to revolutionize the industry, I’m never gonna be David Carson or Saul Bass, but I have a knack for producing reliably open, user friendly design that makes my clients happy. I am fortunate enough to have some fun, talented and connected clients that I really enjoy working with and through them, I have done projects for Target, Loreal, Olay and the like.
But I don’t get the same rush from design that I get from illustration. Design isn’t a personal process. It’s all about finding the right visual solution, interpreting someone else’s vision in a way they may not be able to do for themselves. Sometimes, I really love the end product but ultimately, it’s not about whether it’s to my own taste or not… it’s whether it communicates the clients’ desire and hits their target audience, delivers their message. I work hard at it and I am delighted when my clients are pleased and the piece I designed really delivers. It is challenging and rewarding and it certainly keeps me occupied, but not the way art and illustration do.
Design is just not as deeply personal for me as illustration, it doesn’t fill me the same way. Or torture me the same way either. Illustration demands something completely different from me. I can’t quite figure out how to explain it, other than to say that design is all about how other people think while illustration is about how I think. And feel. Illustration is much more about feeling than thinking. I tap into a whole different part of my brain when I am drawing or painting than I do when I’m designing. It’s like the difference between solving a math equation and writing a poem (although that analogy is a little weak too because again, I find the process of writing and the process of illustration/art entirely different again).
The fundamental challenge of problem solving is the same, but the route you take to get there is entirely divergent. Design is an express train straight to the target destination with clearly defined markers and clearly legible signage pointing the path whilst (whilst!) Illustration is a careless meander through the countryside, with unscheduled stops to peer into the knots of trees to spy on roosting squirrels and to look under footbridges for evidence of trolls and the Billygoats Gruff. Illustration takes naps, gets pollen and chocolate all over her clothing, takes back alleys (blind alleys too), trips and stumbles a lot and very rarely arrives on time. Design finds that sort of thing pretty much horrifying.
blah, blah, blah, blah… it’s doubtful that this makes much sense to anyone but me, but there it is. My as-per-usual long-winded way of telling you that this year I am really trying to make some real headway with my illustration career. I’ve been making noises about that for quite some time now, I know. And I have made some real forays into the back room. I have made some real progress there. Not the truly measurable kind of progress, to be sure, but things are beginning to tumble into place for me in terms of what I want to do with illustration, in terms of what works and what doesn’t. And what I’ve discovered is in order to make serious progress with my illustration, I need to stop taking it so damn seriously.
If we’re laying it all out on the table, I have to tell you that I really got my panties in a bunch about it this past fall. I flopped and floundered, threw a right wobbly and kicked over paint pots and stuff. I swore up a storm and pouted in the corner and flung myself sobbing across the bed. I spent a lot of time thinking big, v. serious, v. angsty Capital A Artistic thoughts, frowning and stroking my chin and generally carrying on as if it was The Only Thing That Mattered. Sometimes I thought for a moment that I had it by the tail, other times I was sure I had lost it forever.
And then January came a long and knocked me completely sideways and for a good 5-6 weeks there, I had not one real thought about illustration or anything to do with it. So imagine my surprise when I woke up this week to find myself doodling about and feeling quite comfortable and merry and absolutely, spectacularly friendly towards the subject. January was a horrible month for me and I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed it in any way, but one thing is for sure… it certainly righted my perspective and somehow paved the way for me to open up to the simple joy of creating again simply for the fun of it, the ease of it. And that, folks, is the essential ingredient that I lost last year with all my writhing about. In the twist and shout of trying to do Very Important Work Of Impeccable Taste, Talent and Originality (or VIWITTO), I totally smothered the one thing that keeps illustration alive for me. Joy, Simple joy.
I think I’ve got it back, at least for the moment. Joy is fluttering prettily around this room, morphing into shapes various and sundry, trailing dog hair and cookie crumbs and little silvery sparklets. And for once, I’m pretty sure it will still be here when I get finished with my unexpected pile of math problems.
* The above is a little self-portrait I did the other day for Rama Hughes’ Portrait Party. The Portrait Party is an incredibly inspired idea and if you enjoy drawing or painting on an level, I really encourage you to check it out and pass it on.
the pile o’ work atop my desk (virtual and otherwise) continues to teeter dangerously, but mercifully, I can feel the icy clench of winter unfurling digit by digit. We’ve had a succssion of almost blindingly bright days this week so far and that has helped immeasurably. i’m feeling lighter, more creative, more cheerful. It’s going to be awhile yet before I can commit to writing anything good or lengthy here, but I had an idea this weekend that I think will help fill some space here without taking up too much time and may actually be helpful for me to boot. While I’ve been wittering away at the work that is currently keeping me stocked in muffins, I’ve also been trying to grow ideas for updating my portfolio. My goal for this year is to completely revamp my illustration style, move it in a direction that is more editorial/adult and yet natural to me. I’m not there yet and I’m not really ready to show any personal work (indeed I haven’t had time for personal work, though I’ve been trying to carve out an hour or two a week to spend with my sketchbook), I have been compiling things that intrique me, spark creative ideas. Some of these things are more tangible than others and they are eclectic to say the least.
On Saturday, I spent the afternoon cleaning out and organizing my studio. I had to… I was getting lost in the debris and stuff kept falling on my dog, startling her out of her skin, every time she ventured in here for some loveies or to remind me that it was lunchtime. And I was losing stuff left right and center… important stuff. Anyway, as I was sorting thru the piles, I realised I really need to find some way of archiving this stuff, cataloging it. And maybe thru doing that, I’ll find some kind of common, binding thread. So I set aside some things I wanted to scan into my computer. And then I had the brilliant Idea of creating personal storyboards to support the evolutionary process going on in my head, especially given that I am innately visual. And then I thought there is no reason why I can’t post those storyboards here, why my blog can’t be a sort of virtual inspiration board. like so many of the incredible blogs I’ve been haunting these days are.
So here you go… my first “inspiro” board. I shall post these little exercises as I do them and we shall see what evolves. Maybe they’ll inspire you a wee bit too.
O, and P.S. If you’re here as a result of the shiny Penny’s self-assignment thing-a-ma-bob and are wondering where my week o’ daily vignettes are, you can either scroll to the bottom of this page or better yet click on January 2007 over there —-> in the right hand bar (up top under “navigate”) and that will take you directly too ‘em.
I know, I know. As the darling Liz,* she of the near daily posting, pointed out in my last series of comments, I kinda abandoned you there. I really didn’t mean too. I had a post all planned for last Friday (which would have been titled Fashionista Friday) which would have featured pictures of my fancy new boots, but as it turns out, it’s kinda hard to take pictures of boots whilst you are actually wearing them. And whilst there is a mini blizzard going on outside your door, making the midwinter light that much dimmer. I did come up with another plan for the boot shoot, but by then I was outta time and I had to book it to Toronto to meet the hubby and some friends for dinner. Of course we picked the coldest, snowy-iest, windy-est day of the year to do that and the streets were a mess and the train was running a good 30 minutes late … but it was an adventure. And I got plastic animals in my drink so it’s all good. Saturday, I was gonna post, but somehow just couldn’t summon the energy. I blame the plastic animals. And then Sunday… well, even God rests on Sundays so….
And somehow now it’s Wednesday. Whirlwind workaday wednesday. Things are really beginning to snowball workwise ’round here. I’ve got so much on the go, so many deadlines to meet. February is going to be super busy and likely kinda quiet around the blog. I hope to get in here and update at least once a week though, so don’t abandon me completely!!!
*a-HA! I note with a kind of snide, exuberant triumph that even Liz, good faithful always with the posting Liz, is too busy to blog these days! Something in the air?!!
heheh. Total departure today, but somehow it aptly applies to my day which was fun and zippy and light. This is for my dear friend Otter. . She’s all like super scientist-y and stuff. I turned to her page and saw this image of her little burrito boy and burst out laughing. Look at his expression of intrepid derring do! It’s so Buzz Lightyear! So Paige… I have no idea who has been stealing your IQ points, but if you’re wondering who has been swiping your photos… well. um. guilty.
You have to believe me, I’m magic…. See the toadstools there? I made them happen. I did. No, really. I did! Practically overnight. Okay, wait, backup… this is how it happened. So last year about this time (although actually I think maybe a little closer to Halloween) I found a patch off teeny weeny toadstools sprouting from an old willow in the park, the one that has the broken branch that looks exactly like a gargoyle, and I fell instantly in love with them. I love toadstools. They look like little fairy critter condos or something and I spend much more time than is probably healthy thinking about what it would be like to live in an itty bitty toadstool village. I took four bajillion photos of those itty bitty toadstools and though Johnny Shroomstomper thought that a bit obsessive, I’m awfully glad I did. Turns out it was a most serendipitous find, because when I returned the next day, they were all shrivelled and flopped over, as if their very souls had been stolen by Ursula the Sea Witch in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (remember? the little shrunken souls that lined the bottom of her lair, all wilted and wailing?). The magic was all used up apparently. Toadstool villages, it would appear, do not have a very long shelf life so maybe it’s just as well I don’t live in one. It seems a rather precarious real estate investment.
Anyway… that was last year and though I have been on the lookout, I have not seen anymore toadstool villages anywhere in the park. So about a week ago, I stood under that one particular willow (the one with the branch that looks just like a gargoyle) and sang it a very special mushroom song. I don’t remember exactly how it went, but it was something like “mushroom spores, mushroom spores, root and grow… mushroom spores, mushroom spores, put on your magic show…” and it probably went along to the tune “Smelly Cat” as written and performed by Phoebe Buffay of Friends fame as all my made up songs usually do for some reason, whether I intend them to or not. Either “Smelly Cat” or “Hooked on a Feeling.” Go figure.
And yes, before we go any further, I know! I KNOW! I am deeply, deeply weird. But in a friendly, completely non-serial killer kinda fashion, so it’s all good.
So I sang my song to the mushroom/toadstool free tree (what’s the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool anyway? Does anyone know?!) and two days later, an entire toadstool village sprouted up. It did! Really! I am sooooooo not making this up! I am completely magic! I am, I am, I am!!! Who knew?! The fact that my magic seems limited to conjuring very brief appearances of fungus in no way diminishes the delight I experience in having this wonderous charm, but I wouldn’t object if the Powers That Be saw fit to bestow upon me the ability to conjure up say money, chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream or peonies. There’s only so much employment for a Toadstool Whisperer, you know?
And it turns out that my magical mushroom song works not only on willows with gargoyle shaped branches, but nearby trees as well, because just steps away , I found a whole new patch of mushrooms/toadstools of a relatively gigantic variety, a hearty, pinkish variety. The picture up top is of one of those.
I took another five bajillion photos of the new patch of shrooms, and one of these days I will get my act together and post a set of the best ones in Flicker. I also took about five bajillion pictures of this the sight directly over my shoulder that was twitching and sniffing and imploring me to please, please, please step away from the fungus and throw something fetchable already.
Last night, almost accidentally and well after midnight (if 12:30 qualifies as well after midnight, which I realize now it probably doesn’t, but things always sound more profound and romantic if they happen well after midnight) I stumbled on a documentary about Canadian Women Painters, particularly Prudence Heward and the women of the Beaver Hall Group.
It’s horrible, but true… there’s something in me that generally revolts against anything too overtly Canadian. And I’m not alone in this kind of typically Canadian self-loathing. As a country, we have much to be proud of… Canada has produced a staggering array of important artists and we have a mostly (but not entirely) honourable history. But there’s an odd kind of deadly earnestness the Canadian government (and most particularly The CBC) employs whenever they attempt to promote Canadian culture or Canadian content that makes me squirm the way you did during the sex education unit you were forced to endure in 7th grade. I blame those awful Heritage Minutes . And Anne Murray. There is a limit to how much one person can be subjected to “Muskrat Love” and maintain only benevolent feeling about Canadian Content rules, and I think I surpassed my own personal limit around the age of eleven. (aside: I have just discovered the term Cultural Cringe which sums up the phenomenon beautifully. What would I do without Wikipedia?! )
But I’m meandering off on a whole ‘nother tangent here. Let me correct course. Suffice it to say that when I realized I was about to voluntarily subject myself to a bout of Canadian content, I almost changed the channel. But then the painting below flashed across the screen and I put down the remote. I knew I was tuning in for the entire duration.
Years and years ago, my mother gave me an address book featuring paintings by various Canadian women artists and this image was my favourite, Rollande. How fierce and striking and powerful she is in her pink apron. Look at her strong posture, her capable hands browned by the sun, planted on her hips. Look at her face, defiant, almost scornful, full of thought and humanity and maybe a bit of sadness. An honest, handsome face. A face that never failed to stop me in my tracks every time I flipped through that address book.
It shames me, frankly, that I never looked beyond that page in my address book. I never looked up Prudence Heward, i never investigated the artist, sought out more of her work, read her bio. Truth be known, even though this image is indeliably tattooed on my brain for all time, I never even made note of the artist’s name. Sickening really, appalling. I fill my brain with useless, anaesthetizing crap like how many times Suri Cruise’s mystery mug has been retouched before debuting in Vanity Fair magazine and the latest banal trials of Lindsay-Jessica-Paris-et al, but I can’t be bothered to research a painting that takes my breath away.
Ultimately, the entire film shamed me. To explain everything about the film would take too long, so I’m going to lift liberally from the good old CBC and this article to tell you that the Beaver Hall Group was an exclusively anglophone group started in Montreal in 1920 which eventually devolved into a group of nine women (Prudence Heward, Sarah Robetson, and Anne Savage were the primary focus of the documentary I watched.) What was most intriquing to me, most enlightening and most… well, shaming… was the fact that these women pursued artistic, creative lives in a time when women weren’t really encouraged to forge such bold and courageous paths….“Many of the women came from Montreal’s WASP ascendancy, with family houses in Westmount, summer homes in the Laurentians or on the Ontario lakes and art lessons at a posh girls school called Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s. Others scraped by in genteel poverty, particularly once the Depression hit. All of the women more or less conformed to the levels of propriety expected of their sex and class. When Prudence Heward studied in Paris at the Académie Colarossi, for example, she felt obliged to stay at the fashionable Hôtel Lutetia, far away from the bohemian garrets of her fellow students.”
And yet their art was nonethless provocative, daring and modern, even while they continued to conduct themselves with the decorum demanded of the age. Again, I borrow heavily:
“Though they might have conducted their private lives with strict rectitude, the women took risks in their work. In an atmosphere still generally hostile to modernism, they often used dark, heavy lines and patches of pure pigment. In 1926, the Montreal Daily Star’s Morgan Powell — clearly the Quebec equivalent of Toronto critic Hector Charlesworth, who liked to bear-bait the Group of Seven — denounced paintings by the Beaver Hall women, saying they were “marred by crudity of colouring, harsh tones, and neglect of drawing.”
Now that the shock of post-impressionism has worn off, it’s hard to reconcile this kind of scorn with these gorgeous, gentle landscapes. Walters points out that the Beaver Hall artists were never drawn into the Group of Seven’s nationalist obsession with rugged and remote nature. They held more to the Quebec tradition of painting inhabited environments, often depicting streets, houses, farm equipment, at least some trace of human presence…. The Beaver Hall Group also excelled at figure painting. Heward’s At the Theatre focuses on the pale backs of two women who are obviously more accustomed to heavy wool coats than revealing evening dress. They look endearingly vulnerable — so exposed, so chilly, so Canadian somehow. The group often expressed these kinds of Anglo-Saxon attitudes, painting with emotional astringency, tact and reserve.
Occasionally, the members dallied with more scandalous subject matter. Lilias Torrance Newton’s Nude in a Studio, which depicts a woman wearing nothing but green, open-toed shoes, managed to get itself banned from the Art Gallery of Toronto (later the Art Gallery of Ontario) in 1934 — 69 years after Manet’s Olympia caused a fuss in Paris….. While the nudes grabbed headlines, in hindsight it is the group’s portraiture that seems the most revolutionary. Psychologically incisive and emotionally generous, particularly in the treatment of women, these paintings are not ingratiating society portraits but specific descriptions of character and social circumstance. The subjects are often guarded, bored or defiant. They can be disconcertingly direct (Torrance Newton’s Martha) or so inward-looking they’re scarcely aware of the viewer (Emily Coonan’s Girl in Dotted Dress). Several of the Beaver Hall women also offered rigorously unsentimental paintings of children. The youngsters in Heward’s Sisters of Rural Quebec exhibit spooky, Dakota Fanning-like self-possession.”
“Their lives as unmarried women were in one sense constricted — it was considered improper for single women to travel alone, so the artists’ close alliance was as much a professional necessity as a personal choice. In another sense, the Beaver Hall women gained the strange, subversive freedom of spinsterhood. Often unnoticed themselves, they were free to notice others. This quality of observation — partaking of the same tart but empathetic tone that animates Jane Austen’s novels — is perhaps what made them such astonishing portraitists.
Just because these women didn’t enter into traditional marriages didn’t mean they were free from domestic responsibilities. Lockerby helped run a household of sisters; Henrietta Mabel May delayed her education to care for nine younger siblings; Sarah Robertson looked after her difficult, domineering mother; and Collyer kept house for her father and brother. These women studied, taught, volunteered and still managed to create landmark Canadian art works.
It is probably this staunch hard work that inspired the passage on Walters’s dedication page. She quotes from a book on successful dairy-farming written by Heward’s doughty grandmother, Eliza M. Jones, in 1892: “…to my sisters in toil, the tired and over-tasked women, who are wearing their lives away in work which has little hope and less profit.”
So here’s the shameful part… these women persevered and succeeded against all sorts of familial obligation and societal restriction, forging ahead with clear minded intent and determination, making their vision known while squat in the center of 2006, I flop about moaning about how busy I am, making all sorts of lame excuses to myself about various (largely imagined) impediments to my progress as an artist, knowing all the while that these excuses are all the worst kind of B.S. and almost entirely self-imposed and yet letting myself believe that because I regularly beat myself up about this particular grave fault, that that somehow absolves me of the crime I regularly commit against myself.
Because, let us be clear… any limitations on me are entirely self-imposed. I have every advantage… I have the education, the encouragement, the freedom, the support, the talent, the tools, the everything I need to forge forth and make capital A Art…. I just don’t. I hold myself back, I limit myself, I squish myself into teeny little boxes no one expects me to fit into. I make excuses. I blame my denist appointments, my committments to my clients. I blame the weather, my studio floors, my horoscope, small Polish men invading my house with carpet and staple guns. I blame time, I blame a lack of inspiraton, I blame the general ennui of living in the blank ‘burbs of Toronto.
That I do this to myself comes as no surprise. I’ve known this for a very long time, have lamented at length to anyone willing to listen wondering WHY, why, why I do this to myself, hold myself back like this, fail to live up to my potential. Maybe some of it is societal, maybe some of it comes from some deep-seated need I have to blend into the background, whatever. Maybe I’ve simply become complacent. No, I know I have simply become complacent. When I was younger, I was bolder… more willing to take a risk, reach out, explore, dare to be different, to be seen.
A lot of it comes from the fear that I am maybe not as good as I imagine I am, the fear that I have nothing new to say, nothing of value to contribute. It’s easier to interpret other people’s stories than lay out your own for all to see (and critique), it is easier to interpret other people’s ideas than to harvest your own. It is easier, safer, quieter, less challenging, less provocative to clothe yourself as a humble children’s illustrator than to express ideas that are dangerous… or worse, reveal yourself to be someone who does not have any dangerous ideas… just bland, overwrought whimsies that are neither original nor challenging nor even particularly interesting.
The thing is, I can wring my hands all I want, asking why, why, o, whywhywhy do I do this to myself time and time again, why am I holding back, what am I afraid of and I can go on doing this forever and ever amen… but in the end, it really doesn’t matter why. Continual exploration of all that is not going to get me anywhere, because really, there is nothing deep and dark and traumatic to reveal and solve here and I know that already. Everyone should be as fortunate and blessed as I have been thus far and honestly I wish they were. None of this agonizing matters at all. It just doesn’t. It’s really just more excuse making.
What I need is to just get over myself already and just bloody DO IT.
And last night, that was made more clear to me than ever.
So… you know that voyage of self-discovery i’ve been yammering about for the last forever? Well, last night, the ghost of Prudence Heward handed me my ticket.
Yesterday, shuffling through the debris underneath my drawing table, I came across this quote scrawled across the back of an old envelope. I have no recollection of writing it, but the handwriting is indeed mine and it seemed a magic sort of serendipity that I should find it just now, that it would find this moment in my life to resurface.
As I plow toward the end of the comic I’ve been toiling on for the last forever, as i wrap up the myriad of smaller design projects i’ve been working on, the only thing keeping me motivated is the promise I made to myself a couple weeks ago, the promise of taking a month off. A month off to devote to myself. A month off to devote to “the work.”
For years, I’ve been circling around the same issue with my illustration, trying to define my own personal style. I know I have lamented at length about it here, but I don’t know that I’ve ever truly been able to articulate what I mean by “style” exactly. Yes, i have a way of working with a particular medium, yes there is continuity in the way that I draw, but the truth is I have rarely, rarely felt that my illustration work expresses who I really am, deep down. It rarely, rarely reflects ME.
I guess in some ways, it’s not suppose to. Illustration, like design, is largely about expressing someone else’s story, using your skill to define your client’s image, express their vision. That is what separates illustration from fine art.
But the illustrators I admire most, the most successful illustrators, manage somehow to do both… express their souls and yet tell the story in a way that is universally appealing and understood. People come to them because of their particular vision, their particular way of telling the story.
That hasn’t been happening with my work. Largely, my clients come to me with their own distinct vision of how something should look and rely on me to make it happen, make it real. And you know, that’s okay. I’m proud of the fact that I can do that, that my skills are flexible enough that I can step into their heads and make it come to life the way they see it.
But there’s a big part of me that’s being denied in that process. I’ve been so busy telling everybody else’s story, that I haven’t figured out a way to tell my own. I haven’t done the work that I need to do to figure out my own visual language, define my own vision. And the time has come for me to do that.
Which brings me to this announcement: i’m taking a break from blogging. I’m not sure for how long, but for at least a month. For the first time ever, really, I am going to seize the break coming up in my schedule to turtle inward and try it figure out just what it is my heart wants to say with my gifts. For awhile I thought maybe I could go through this process and document it all here for you, but then I realized no. NO! That sort of negates the whole point. I need to spend time with myself, my own voice, and listen to what it has to tell me without running it through the grand internet filter, without submitting it all for review and comment. It needs to come from me and me only. I hope you understand.
Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind and post whenever the energy is right. Of course! I am a woman, i am tempermental, I may change my mind at any moment and that is my right! But if it’s quiet here for awhile, don’t be concerned. I’m okay, I’m just swell, and I will be back. Eventually. But it’s time for this caterpillar to cocoon up in her chrysalis and try to morph into the butterfly she secretly hopes she was meant to be. Of course, me being me, I may well emerge a giraffe or a dolphin or a many tentacled octopus, but at least I will be confident that it will be 100 percent unfiltered me.