Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Meet Marie...

Awhile back, my mom sent me a link to this wonderful blog. While we were in AZ I started checking it out pretty regularly, because this lady was just so energetic and excited about her work. I was hoping it would rub off on me a little, because as we all know, I hadn’t really been feeling it in the art department. One day she had this post about how she just can’t turn it off. She can never relax, the minute she starts to give herself a break, she panics and something in her tries to make her go back to work. And I just had to laugh because I felt the exact opposite. I mean, I just couldn’t get started. It was like, I just kept finding ways to avoid work…still “productive” things like cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping, but evading the real creative work that needs to be done if I want to call myself an artist or writer.

I think that one of the main difficulties was/is just narrowing it all down. I’m always fantasizing about all these different possibilities for myself, and what I’m realizing now is that if I want them all (or any!) to happen, I have to get crackin’. You can only do things one at a time. If I want to be an author and freelance magazine contributor, and screenwriter, and documentary film virtuoso, and begin a card company and little boutique and slowly build it into a brand empire, then I can’t just sit around being overwhelmed by all the options and never make any progress on any single front.

I knew this all along, of course, but I wasn’t ready to dive in. And then the other day, I was looking out our window, thinking about how to teach my students English, and I wished I had a children’s book for them to look at. And then I started to think about all the places we’ve been, and I got out my sketchpad and within an hour I had a little working story line about “Marie”, a little girl from Chicago who goes on a trip to China. It practically wrote itself. And then I sat down and planned some illustrations for it. And then I started painting and so far I’ve got five “sample” images finished and big plans for other stories of Marie visiting other places.

I don’t want to jinx it, but I feel really good about this. Not just about the new illustrations, but about this new situation we are in. The traveling has been amazing. It really filled up my creative reservoir, but I couldn’t really begin to empty it with all the constant transitions and moving and general uprooted-ness. I’m not saying we’ll be in China forever, but it feels like a great place to explore and create and sort things out in. We can stay for a year or so and see where that takes us.

And it is just such a relief to be alone again in our own space. I realized that since last August, we’ve been sharing spaces with other people. No matter where we’ve been, it has been someone else’s house. So to have our own apartment, in a place where we know hardly a soul, and it is finally quiet, and I have my own things around me…it is just a huge relief. I didn’t realize how much I missed that private time.

So now I can exhale and start putting things out there. I just feel so excited and happy and content and ready to really make things happen. This is thrilling, because I haven’t had energy for creating something new in a long time. Instead, it has been about managing what already exists in my life. So there is just this incredible sense of freedom and possibility.

This picture book is just a beginning, but one I am really happy about. It comes with really tangible initial goals. I have a story and each sentence needs a picture. And they are so fun to paint! I am combining my favorite parts of painting and drawing. The flat blocks of color (and texture) that are always the best part of painting for me, and then the wild whimsical lines of drawing. First, I lay in the background and let it dry. Then I pencil in the foreground and start filling in the nice flat blocks of color with gouache (which I haven’t really worked with much before this) I actually bought it at a little art supply store around the corner here for $1.50. And yesterday I noticed that the brand is “Marie”. I feel like it’s a good omen or something.

Anyway, once the gouache is dry, I use a sharpie to add more details over the top of the color. I'm having a ball. And I can't wait to see how this little person evolves over time. I'll be sure to post pictures as things move along, and maybe you can give me suggestions! I know Eric is quite opinionated on the whole endeavor. He's trying to figure out how we can be the next "Harry Potter" franchise. You know Eric, always thinking big. More to come, of course!

1 comment:

Nick said...

So cool. Creating a character that you love is pretty much the best feeling ever.

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