My life as an illustrator.

May 16, 2011

My life as an illustrator began when I was three.

I sat on the cold concrete stairs in front of my house, coloring a picture of a monkey. My older sister stopped by and added her critique.

Lets just say she didn’t share my enthusiasm for scribbling.

The next memory was in the fourth grade.

Every single day, without exception, I drew a picture for my teacher. Miraculously, one day she said she could choose one student to attend an art school over the summer. I raised my hand right away. She said she would choose the next week. I immediately upped my production to two or three picture presents per day, tied in ribbon. Finally, she announced that Robert could go. (I never gave her another picture.)

The final straw was in the seventh grade.

I sketched what I thought was a pretty good likeness of an explorer, De La Sale for a project. My dad saw it, he liked it! Then he started “fixing” it a bit. My father is an artist. His fixing got me an “A” and an undeserved reputation as an artist. (I could never draw at that school again in fear of being caught cheating.)

Despite these experiences, I still love drawing.

A few years ago, I illustrated Arithmetic Village with stick figures. Lots of people liked them. But last year, before I self published, I acknowledged my artistic short comings and hired an illustrator, despite the fact that it was expensive and time-consuming.

I fought with my inner voice as the books neared completion. The voice was telling me that the books weren’t quite right, but my head told me to leave the artistic decisions to professionals. My head said,”Be quiet, you don’t know what you are doing- remember the monkey!?”.

Then the universe gave me another chance, a chance to say, hey, everyone is an artist. Hey, that monkey wasn’t bad- it was just “extra furry”. A chance to say that fourth grade teacher had no taste and must have been related to the boy she chose. A chance to say not every artist must be as good as my father.

The new design will be quite different. The characters will basically be the same (As they were born from my very specific design brief.) Think “Clarice Bean” meets “The Purple Crayon”..

I am taking an illustration course on-line through and although I am the obvious novice, it is a blast.
The new design will be done in a few months, meanwhile the time I used for writing will be used for drawing.

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3 Responses to “My life as an illustrator.”

  1. Jacinda Says:

    Yay, great opportunity to expand into more of all that you are. Keep having fun with the course and keep loving the monkey.

  2. julia Says:

    I love the monkey, too! And I love to see what the eCourse participants do while they’re not drawing. Youre a writer, I’m delighted to see (or read)!
    Your post made me smile. When I teach adults I so often find that someone told my students that they were no good at art. Way back when they were children. Or that ‘art is for the stupid pupils. The smart ones do science’ or something along those lines. Which, most understandably, for most people is the end of their artistic career.
    As though we need to be perfect at everything we do. As though it were somehow mandatory that we ‘get it right’ artistically. I always wonder who decides what ‘right’ is in that context.
    Frankly, just having fun and expressing an idea clearly and understandably is enough for me. It’s what I make a living with 🙂 And it makes my day to read that you’re having fun learning to do just that.

  3. Debbie Says:

    I totally understand! I did not know I could draw or paint until a wonderful basic art class in college. I use that knowledge almost every day. And it helped me survive subbing many days!


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