Start the Art

This is the corner of my painting table today.  I love the accidental carnival colors.


Its hard for me to even believe it myself, but I’ve never had an art studio till now.

Still, I have always had lots of art in my life.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to give me a pencils, pens, and paints to keep me entertained when I needed something to do. I’ve taken a few drawing and painting classes, but mostly my training has taken place between my eyes, hands, and heart, and the muse and the materials.
I’ve done pretty well with my art, considering that it was never, till now, the main thrust of my work life. Along with drawing and painting just for my own pleasure, I had a lot of fun designing wedding invitations and restaurant menus, painting big trees on bedroom walls, making special gifts for loved folk, and anything else family and friends asked of me. I also made a bit of money designing logos for businesses, painting those logos and lettering on a handful of store windows, and even doing murals for various places of work. I illustrated another of my sister’s stories, too.

This is a (blurry) picture from about 17 years ago. I designed the logo and painted the window for Meg when she was shoulder-deep running the animal behavior business that lay behind that glass. As I look at it now, I can’t help but smile. Both of us were doing work back then that is amazingly essential to this project that we’re working on together now.

wolf window

But what we’re doing now is a whole new level for me.
I’m noticing the gaps in my artistic training. I lie in bed some nights wondering if I am really going to be capable of making the art that I see in my head.  
I so very much want to do justice to this beautiful story. 

It feels pretty vulnerable to say all of this out loud, but I place great value on vulnerability, on transparency. I know it might open me up to being scrutinized, even criticized, but that same openness is also what lets me find a closeness with people that I never want to be without.  Taking that risk is hugely important and rewarding to me. And truly, one of the most vital motivators for me in this whole book project is, indeed, to nurture connection for all of us.

The first draft of this beginning story required some quick sketches, a sort of storyboard, to go with it. I wanted placeholders for what I envision will be colorful paintings. Here are a couple of those:



Since we sent those out with the manuscript to our readers, I have been trying to recreate something similar with acrylic paints using a pour technique. This is a style of painting I have never tried before. After many learning experiences, some more disastrous than others, I am finally getting closer to getting the results I am after. Here are a few pieces that are beginning to take the shapes I want to see:



I love that Vincent Van Gogh said, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” This week, especially, I am really feeling the struggle of that learning curve, and being as gentle as I am able with myself in it – whether what happens on the canvas makes me giggle in delight or groan and tromp back up the stairs for a cup of tea before I try again.

How lucky I feel to have this opportunity, and how grateful I am to the people who are helping me to have it.  Yes, I have my first real art studio. And after half a lifetime, I am at long last able to spend the majority of my time indulging in these greatest of human pleasures:
reveling in curiosity, experimentation and learning,
and creating something as beautiful as I can make it, as my gift to the world.

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