The bathroom is calling out to me: ‘CLEAN ME! Clean me quickly, before I self-implode under the pressure of your offspring’s liberal and carefree use of my once white facets!’ Although I can feel every part of my being yearning to scrub until the sheen of the mirror cannot be separated from the shine of the sink, my list says that I must ignore such domestic issues right now and focus on the current illustration which, despite saying so myself, is coming along quite nicely thank you very much!
With an excited fire in my tummy, I wake up my laptop (I can’t help but be slightly envious of its ability to be so perky and ready to digest information the moment it is awoken by the unforgiving prod of a finger), connect my drawing tablet and beckon the latest picture to the screen. I love this bit! I have spent so long on each separate element of it, so to have the whole image impact upon me with fresh, new day eyes, I can see it in its entire state. I like that I like it.
My drawing tablet and art software have become like friends to me. They are reassuringly familiar, they are a comfort and they allow me to express myself without judgement. It is with ease and contentment that I pick up the pen and continue to create an image which I hope will become familiar to others too one day.
It wasn’t always like this though. There was a day when I knew nothing of how to enter the world of children’s picture book illustration or how to begin on a journey of creating children’s books full stop. I saw this as some distant realm where only well-known, established authors and illustrators could visit, or in fact reside permanently. Someone like me had the dream but that was all it was. A dream. I didn’t know how to gain entry into this wondrous land.
It is easy to feel as though our dreams can only be realised by others and that we couldn’t possibly know enough to embark upon them too. It is easy to feel as though it is all a bit too scary and the fear of failure and rejection overpowers our better judgement. It is easy to let go of something important to us and leave it to ‘The Experts’.
I am thankful to Jez Alborough for highlighting this issue of ‘misinformed’ fear in his beautiful books ‘Where’s My Teddy?’ and ‘My Friend Bear’.
The stories link and where both a boy and a bear were once afraid and unsure of each other, time spent with one another results in finding comfort and happiness. Such a notion reminds me of the way in which I find comfort and happiness from the writing and illustrating process. Uncertainty and lack of knowledge is now replaced with determination and awareness, and a massive dash of hope that my books will become cherished household stories now exists in place of the fear of rejection that once was. The grizzly bear now seems somewhat cuddly!
As I share Jez Alborough’s stories with my own children, I am sure that their young minds digest the concept of facing what they may be unsure of. I like that they can apply this message to many aspects of life, but I would be particularly delighted if it helped them to begin upon a path which they would like to walk, just as the bear and the boy walked their woodland path, smiling side by side.
And it is with a smile that I look upon my current illustration. I’m glad that I rejected the worry of being rejected. I’m glad that I found out what I needed to find out. I’m glad that the fear of the unknown is now replaced with resolution and resolve. Who knows where this wonderful, colour-infused and creative path may lead. One thing I am certain of, however, is that I shall keep walking it until I find out!