You must be wondering what I am doing here on this blog. Well it's this new thing I am trying as a way to further my development as an artist, and as a way to keep track of my goals as I go along. Mostly, it was recommended by this awesome book I own, which the majority of you out there in the market already know about: The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. It is serving as my Bible these days, along with a new business class I am taking at RISD. (It's awesome, by the way. If you're a visual artist, and you live in RI, then Yes, Virginia, You Do Need To Take This Course.)
First off, please forgive my blathering on. I feel sort of put on the spot at the moment, and I'm not sure what to write.
I guess I should start at the beginning.
I have been an artist since the young age of...birth. Yes, it sounds corny (and for those of you who know me personally, this isn't nearly as corny as it can get), but I was pretty much born with a crayon in my hand. My mother saved just about everything- so I have the proof if you need it. I would doodle and draw, write little stories, poems, draw comics, diagrams of tree houses and castles I wanted to build, and make cards for family members' birthdays. I even had a knack for making little homes for my toys out of empty cereal boxes. It was pretty much known in both my parents households that if the tape was missing, you could find it by finding ME.
I also grew up LOVING Disney animated movies, (although what kid didn't?). And I don't just mean their catchy musical numbers and cute furry characters. I wanted to be a part of the magic, to draw and animate them. I would sit for hours in my room, just doing sketch after sketch of my favorite characters. I can remember specifically one year, when I was in the fourth grade, when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and my answer was: "I am going to RISD and then I will become a Disney animator!" That trend continued until one year in High School, Reality scared me off by telling me exactly how much it would cost to go to RISD as a full time student. Oh, and that Disney tended to accept graduates from art schools in California, not Lil' Rhody.
Of course you must be thinking, "Oh, Honey, that's so not true!" But I was in High School you see, and I of course knew absolutely everything, so I let go of that idea, being too chicken to move away from home, and lacking the funds to go to my dream school. Although I let go of the Disney idea, I never, ever let go of my talent, and I continued to develop my portfolio through high school, achieving a Silver Key Scholastic Art & Writing award for one of my pieces. I graduated with a finished AP portfolio, and then...fell in love.
"Love??" you say, "But what does that have to do with your art??" Ahh, but it has everything to do with my art, and any artist out there will be nodding their heads along with me. Art and creativity are outlets for feelings, which vary for each person. When I'm insanely happy, it is sometimes very hard to just sit down and draw. I'm easily distracted from my work, although I can't live without it. Go figure!
So, there I was, happily distracted, and without a proper goal sheet (you can get one in that awesome business class I mentioned before), I settled for our local Community College, winning myself a two-year scholarship, and then transferred to URI. I finally finished my Fine Arts degree in December of 2005. And then...
And then I got myself stuck.
I say stuck because that was, and still partially is, how I felt about my situation. I was not prepared, whatsoever, for the Real World. Oh, I was very trained in the visual arts, and very good at it, too. But I didn't know how to turn it into a paycheck. So I just worked at the job where I had been working since I was 16, the very same place where I met my sweetheart, and now husband, and the very same place where I am still working now. Did I mention that I will be turning 28 this year?
Yes, you may detect a slight bitterness in my tone, but not for long. I have worked and daydreamed enough to finally know what it is I want to do, and how I am going to achieve it. But, Oh! I forgot to tell you about my Aha Moment! That is by far the very best part (except for the getting married part... I like that part a lot!).
It was a few years ago, right before I got married, that I got this awesome idea for a story. This story, turned fantasy novel for young adults, completely consumed me, and I just kept writing and writing. I would think of different plot ideas and characters as I worked at my regular job, and researched how to do it during my time off. But my biggest Aha! moment was the summer of 2009, when after reading the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series to get a better idea how to write for my future audience, I checked out the author's website. Guess what was on it?
You guys are going to totally think I am the biggest idiot on the planet when you hear this one...
Illustrations. Yep, I saw the cover art. Yes, yes, I know it was on the books I read, too. But to see the images zoomed in up close on the website, it made me really notice them. I was ashamed, believe me, to realize I had been so consumed by words that I had forgotten about the pictures. But I think the mental sabbatical helped me to see a bit clearer, and I thought, "Well, heck, if I can write a novel and achieve that life's goal, I sure could at least look at RISD's website to see if I can achieve that goal, too." So I did. And let me tell you, I nearly peed my pants when I found that not only does RISD have a Continuing Education program, but they also had one for Children's Book Illustration.
So I signed up for classes, finished a semester and started another one. And here I am again, full circle, following the instructions given to me by professionals. Did I happen to mention that I am absolutely THRILLED about this? Yeah, I'm psyched! Woot woot for me!
Thanks for reading my little story. If you haven't read it, I really don't mind that you didn't. I just needed to get it out there, to record it's history so I can move on from the past and move into the future. That's all that matters to me right now.
"Mooovin right along, budda-bump, budda-bump...footloose and fancy free..."
Until next time, my dears...