I have written a series of children's stories. The stories are sweet stories about the friendship between a little dog and a boat captain. Why on earth I decided to do the illustrations, I don't know, but it is my goal, my dream. Just today I heard something that struck me, "Your dreams are a part of your purpose." So, is this my purpose? Maybe for now it is.
Last year I received a card from the Art Institute of Chicago that listed the classes they would be offering for the summer. To my surprise, they were offering a class on Children's Book Illustration. Just what I had been looking for, so I signed up. It was a bit of a disaster for me. The first day of the class, everyone introduced themselves and talked about their experience and education. I was immediately intimadated and from that moment on, I couldn't draw. I tried and tried and everything I did was horrible. In that class I met a wonderful woman, an artist, and she told me that she was going to have a class at Lurie Gardens in Millineum Park. Here I was, unable to draw and yet I agreed to sign up for the class. Throughout the 4 weeks of the class, I struggled. She then told me that I could take an extention at the Botanical Gardens. Once again, I agreed, while all along I was thinking that I must be crazy. Thankfully, I took the extention because it was then that I had a break through. We were in the greenhouse on a rainy day and I decided to draw the elephant ear leaves in the picture above. I drew, I erased, I drew, I erased, on and on. Michele came by to check on me, looked down and saw my empty paper. I immediately told her that I had been drawing, but I had also been erasing. She sat down and worked through a quick sketch. When I saw what she drew, I thought, "that's what I have been erasing!" She left me to work and when she returned, she couldn't believe what I had done. I too was so proud. The above photo of my drawing is my finished piece. I am so proud.
What I came to realize was that I was dealing with something that has haunted me since I was in the 4th grade. We had just moved to Waynesboro, MS. The school had an art competition. The piece I did was fine, but I didn't think it was all that good. To my surprise, I won 3rd place. My parents were so proud. The following year there was another competition which I also entered. That year I decided to try something a little different. It didn't turn out all that well, but I tried. Needless to say, I didn't receive an award. When my parents saw my piece, they told me that I had embarrassed them. I was devastated. I stopped drawing.
Now here is what is really interesting, my father is an incredible artist. He could have helped me, but what he chose to do was break my spirit.
Why this all came up for me at this point in my life, I don't know. As much as I have struggled over the past nine months, I have to admit that in the end I am so very glad that I have persevered. The end product has been worth the struggle. I am now working on the illustrations for my first story. I'm still struggling, but each drawing is a little easier.
I keep journals where I write down whatever has meaning to me. I may read something in a magazine, see something on a billboard or even overhear something someone says. If it is something that speaks to me, I jot it down on a scrap of paper and then later put it in one of my journals where I can refer back to it as often as I like. There's a saying that I think is rather fitting for what I have just written,
If you no longer have dreams, you no longer have a life.
I want to dream for as long as I can.