Today in the humanities class I’m teaching with my sister, we discussed “Delight.” If I had to choose a single artist who best depicted the combined feelings of joy, peace, and love in a single moment, it would almost certainly be Norman Rockwell. He’s well-known for his ability to depict variations of joy and happiness, and there are lots of paintings to choose from. But out of all his works, I decided that this somehow fit the theme of “Delight.” I liked the idea of simplicity, the sense of warmth, and of course the upcoming feast. It seemed so straight-forward and “easy.” But after looking at it and discussing it in class, I kept on thinking about it and I slowly unpacked why this image specifically seemed to resonate with me and my own perception of delight.
I had a surreal moment this week: I scheduled all of the pages for chapter 1 of my comic*. All of the pages. They are drawn, inked, edited, lettered, and scheduled. There is no more work for me to do on chapter 1.
I’ve been working on this comic for years. Originally, it was in short story format, and then novel, and now as a graphic novel. Even as a comic, there are have been many rounds of drawing and re-drawing, and constantly second guessing myself. The courage to “do and let be” is something that I struggle with. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, so much as a “finish-phobe.”
Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope you had a good week!
I’ve been wanting to add more portraits to my portfolio, so I’ve been working on some this week. I’ll be sharing them throughout the week!
First up, this one, titled “Wispy”
If you’re interested, the original is available for purchase in my store!
Have a lovely weekend, everyone!
I’m in the muddy-middle of my developing comic right now. The story almost totally nailed down, and the art for the first chapter (50 or so pages) is well underway. In a way, it’s the hardest part: the end is nowhere in sight, and the initial burst of inspiration has faded away. Around this point, I start to have doubts about what I’m doing. In particular, there’s one doubt that bears a lot of weight in my mind…
Someone else has already done this.
As artists, we are under pretty intense pressure to be creative and original. We want to be groundbreaking geniuses, so that people will marvel and say, “We’ve never seen that before!” But this pressure is so great that our fear of failure (and being labeled uncreative) is paralyzing. It’s so easy to convince myself that the comic I’m working on (heavy on the Victorian romance) isn’t original or unique, and I should go back to the drawing board until I come up with something new.
During one of the low moments, when I feared that I was a total rip-off, I decided to reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and my way of somehow crossing time to commiserate with both Eyre and Bronte on the troubles of storytelling and
men with wives in the attic wait what. But Jane Eyre does more than give me an escape: it reminds me that the number of times a plot has been used doesn’t matter. What matters is that we find the audience who needs to hear that story again.
There’s no limit on a good story.
Jane Eyre is the story of a young woman who grows up in hardship, falls in love only to discover her lover’s dark secrets. After she leaves him (rather than compromise her morals), she inherits a small fortune. She suddenly feels called back to the man she loved, and discovers that his dark secret (and wealth) no longer stands between them. That’s…that’s pretty much it. The story of a young, lower class woman clinging to her virtues and eventually guiding the man to redemption… it’s been done. But instead of throwing the narrative away like an over-played melody, I ask myself…
Does someone still want to hear this story?
The answer will almost always be yes, no matter the narrative. The stories may have been told before (perhaps even told by brilliant storytellers), but there’s something to be said for taking on the role of a contemporary storyteller. Past literature, art, and music are all important parts of where we’ve come from. But why not share what we (you and I) feel and think right now? Bronte and I share a love for a brooding intellectual man: rather than let that commonality be a barrier for my own stories, why not use it as a building block? Surely my love of Broody McDarkster isn’t that unusual.
So instead of trying to create something that no one has ever seen, I’m trying to do the opposite: I want to tap into universal, timeless stories, with characters that (while not generic or flat) ring with certain familiarity. This isn’t copying. It’s a matter of recognizing the why behind the myths and legends that shape our very cultures. And let’s be honest: there’s no such thing as too many Mr. Rochesters.
I’ve been listening to The Magnolia Story audiobook lately, and Chip freaks me out. Not even kidding.
Most recently, I listened to a chapter where Chip describes how he would avoid getting “too comfortable”, and keep looking for ways to shake things up in his life. Personally, I’ve grown up with a different attitude: my approach is to always strive towards something steadfast and reliable. I actively try to get comfortable in life, and find ways to avoid change. Needless to say, while listening to this story, I spent a lot of time thinking “Chip, you’re crazy!!”
Of course, Joanna often voiced the same opinion, so it’s not like I’m abnormally clingy to comfort. Continue reading “Writing My Own Magnolia Story”
We all know how motivating (or crushing) a few words from a friend can be. A simple compliment or criticism can make or break your day. But do we realize how often we dish out these comments to ourselves?
Most artists (especially the budding, newer types) struggle with insecurity about their work. We compare it to more professional work from more experienced individuals, and we tend to highlight our own failings. It’s a hard thing to avoid, and it quickly becomes a natural train of thought: I’m not that good… I won’t ever be that good… I’ll never be good enough. Continue reading “Watch Your Language: the Consequences of Self-Talk”
Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: you spend some time making something (a drawing, a story chapter, a poem) and you feel pretty good about it. But then you see someone else’s work and you suddenly realize that your work just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t compete. A feeling of inadequacy washes over you, and you’re not sure you know why you got into this craft anyway.
(Sorry if that stressed you out.)
We all know we’re not supposed to compare our work with the work of more experienced artists. That’s pretty much just asking to demotivate yourself, so y u do that. We do it anyway, of course. But do you know what the worst part of it is? We’re dismissing all of the progress we’ve made. We look at the finished result, and we forget about the hours and effort that went into it, all because it’s not “enough.” Continue reading “Don’t Dismiss Progress”