Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Going out on a Limb

“What do you do?” It’s a common question. People ask it at playgrounds, parks, parties, everywhere. I dread this question.

“I am an children’s book author and illustrator.” That’s all I have to say. Why is that so hard? When I am brave enough to admit I’m an illustrator I get two kinds of reactions. Some people’s eyebrows go up in surprise. They say, “Oh really?” They are impressed. They have all kinds of questions. Are you published? What made you decide to go into illustrating? How long have you been illustrating?

Other people just nod and move on to the next topic of conversation. They show absolutely zero interest. It’s as though I said I worked at Walmart or a fast food restaurant.

No matter what reaction I get, I always feel incredibly vulnerable. Illustrating is deeply personal. I’m sure other creatives out there know exactly what I’m talking about. Musicians, artists, writers, dancers, etc. You put your heart and soul into your work. It is an expression of yourself. That is why it is terrifying.

D. W. Winnicot, a famous pediatrician once said, “Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.” This is exactly the way I feel. The urge to share my work is overpowering. I crave praise. I long for admiration. I am desperate to be noticed. But my heart beats furiously whenever I prepare to push those post, publish, or tweet buttons on the computer. It’s not that I’m afraid people will openly criticize me or anything. People are always very kind. It’s just that I feel so utterly exposed. I put myself out there for people to judge. This scares me.

As hard as it is to share my work online, it is even harder to share in person. I recently illustrated a picture book for my Aunt Linda. I spent hour after hour working on it. When it was finally finished over 30 people bought a copy, including a friend who came to game night at my parent’s house one evening.

He said, “Hey! I got your book in the mail!”

“Oh yeah?” I said. I was starting to blush.

“Yeah! It’s great. You are so talented.”

“Thanks.” I said. “I’m so glad you liked it.” By this time my face had turned completely red. I suddenly became very intent on the game I was playing and put my hair down to cover as much of my face as possible.

Why did I react this way? I’m still trying to figure that out myself. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my work. I felt that it was decent enough. I guess I was just taken by surprise. I wasn’t prepared to talk about it. I don’t know. It’s the kind of thing you have to prepare yourself for mentally.

Vulnerability. This is the price we artists pay to do what we love. We put ourselves out there. It is hard. It is nerve-wracking. It is absolutely necessary. To be successful at this job I have to be willing to get hurt. I have to take risks. I have to go out on a limb. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Illustration Friday: Passion

It's time for me to start doing Illustrator Friday again.  This past year I've been so busy with moving and commissioned jobs that I had no time for it, but nowI have a lot more flexibility so I'm diving in to this week's topic "Passion."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Allow me to introduce you to Owl

Meet Owl, a character from a story I'm currently working on.  She's peering inside a window hoping you'll let her in and protect her from the cold.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Victor's First Pumpkin

When a client asked me to do an illustration for his novel about a vegetarian vulture I was intrigued and gladly accepted the challenge.  Vultures are often portrayed as vile, ugly creatures and I was eager to show a different side to these truly incredible birds.  How cool is it that I get to work with such delightfully unusual projects! I seriously have the coolest job in the world.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Books I Read in 2014

My New Year's resolution last year was to read 20 books.  Sadly I fell short and only made it to 17.  I would like to use the excuse that 2 of those books were over 600 pages long, but then 3 of the books were under 150 pages long.  I have no excuse.  *Sigh*  Next year.  Next year I will have those 20 books for sure!

I have listed the books with #1 being my favorite and #17 being my least favorite.

1. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
2. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbra Kingsolver
3. Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler
4. The Underworld – Don Delillo
5. Watership Down – Richard Adams
6. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
7. Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut
8. Understanding Comics – Scott McCloud
9. Bird by Bird – Ann Lamott
10. Total Chaos – Jean Claude Izzo
11. Chourmo – Jean Claude Izzo
12. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
13. Mary Poppins – P. L. Travers
14. Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin
15. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
16. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
17. Sons and Lovers – D. H. Lawrence

I rate and write short reviews of the books I read on Goodreads.  If you'd like to follow my reading history more closely my profile is here.  Happy reading everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holidays!

I'm gonna disappear for awhile as I launch in to the madness of Christmas present preparation, but before I go I just want to remind you all to keep in touch with your inner child this season and wish you all very merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Literature vs. Film

We all love Christmas time so we can watch our favorite Christmas movies and read our favorite Christmas stories, but when it comes right down to it which is the most important to you? Christmas literature or film? It's a ridiculous question I know, but if you had to choose.....

I was having a hard time deciding so I made a bracket to help me decide. The dilemma was rough! My top two finalists were "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." and "It's a Wonderful Life." Gah! How could I choose?!!! I finally ended up choosing "It's a Wonderful Life" so I guess that means film wins (for now). My husband Keith is also a film person because his winner was the movie "A Christmas Story." but Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" put up a good fight.

I am interested in hearing your own thoughts! Feel free to use my bracket to help you decide. Keep in mind I made this bracket for myself so I apologize I've left out some of your favorites. Also please forgive the atrocious butchering of titles. I had to make them fit into very small, tight spaces.