Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Monday, March 18, 2013

I never tire of telling people that they're not too old to learn new tricks. I personally change my view of what's possible as often as I've change my hair styles.


By trying new things as I get older, I find that I'm able to do more than I ever thought possible.

Maybe the previously unearthed talent of Spanish acquisition was only meant to be discovered for the time I needed to act on it; I wanted a job, taught myself Spanish, went after certification in the language, and got a position within the field. A few years later, I can barely remember whether I'm married to an esposo or an esposa. I can only imagine that Zumba will have a similar shelf line. Do I want to Zumba forever? Yes. Will I be able to? I have to think that I'm successfully building up my muscles and bones; but, seriously, the jury's still out.

Perhaps longer lasting will be my latest interest; it involves my hands rather than my feet. While I've enjoyed writing on and off through the years, I never felt the least bit artistic. I tried it once about thirty years ago when I drew illustrations to accompany my first picture book; they weren't terrible but showed no real talent. I only tried a very few times to draw after that, only to find that I didn't have it in me to draw a straight line or a circular circle. Faces? Ridiculous! Bodies? Stick figures only. From then on, I stuck with doing things I knew I could do, and that sure as heck didn't involve picking up a 5B pencil.

When I started writing picture books in more recent years, with an initial first-place win followed by one published book (albeit, by a nonprofit segment of an insurance company), I hoped the publishing world would clamor for more; instead, I've amassed dozens of rejections. Not one to go after the seemingly impossible for too long, I began to examine what might make a better impression on editors. Author illustrators seem to strike a chord, so I decided to search for that single artistic bone within me. Maybe I just needed a goal.

Anyway, I took a 4-day, 2-hour drawing workshop with Nancy Darrell in NC last fall and loved it. But the action of taking pencil to paper from that moment on still didn't grab me; it wasn't something I felt compelled to do. I've figured out since that I just needed time for the idea to percolate--much like English language learners need time to process before speaking. After the new year, I talked some friends into joining me for art classes at my house. Ashley Kellow, art teacher extraordinaire, teaches us the value of shading, measuring, and believing in ourselves. Andrew Loomis's Drawing the Head & Hands has become my bible.

So now, after finally dipping my toes in the artistic pond of black and white drawings, I want to soak myself up to the neck. So far I've copied a few photos; I've even used myself and my husband as live models. (And if I look younger and prettier than I really am, I claim poetic license.) I hope to eventually achieve success through what I call bringing to fruition the 3 M's (Model, Memory, and 'Magination). So far, my memory and 'magination only calls to mind another M (Miserable). But never you mind. If I were younger, I'd probably be embarrassed to share my work, but these days, that's half the fun of drawing.

So try something new yourself; you'll just never know what you're capable of until you do.


  1. I hope you don't move on from illustrating for quite some while... I have a lot of fun exploring this with you. And your progress is amazing. I look forward to you illustrating one of your stories. I think when it all comes together at your desk, it will present well at the editor's desk.

  2. As far as illustrating goes, I'm still a looooooooooonnnng way from that, but I DO know I'm making lots of progress--and it's mainly because I was able to easily talk you into drawing with me, despite the drive it takes you to get here. I apparently needed the kick in the seat of the pants that your company provides--as well as that of our fearless leader Ashley. Thanks!