My firstborn was only three months old when I developed the story of The Maiden Ship. That was twenty-one years ago. The book didn’t get far back then because the demands of a new marriage,… More
“After a few months of practice, David lamented to his teacher, “But I can hear the music so much better in my head than I can get it out of my fingers.”
To which the Master replied, “What makes you think that ever changes?” “ ~ Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland
Yesterday I posted a portrait of my character, Sable, on IG and I hated it. I tried hard to convince myself to like it, but I couldn’t do it. She just did not look the same way she did in my head. It maddened me. I deleted it. And then today I started all over again. The portrait you see here is my fourth attempt at Sable. That’s right, yesterday was my third. She has been down right obstinate, and nearly impossible to capture.
If you are a creator, then I bet you too have faced this kind of frustration. Our vision rarely fits our execution. It’s like the image in our mind’s eye gets twisted, mucked up, and lost in translation. On rare occasions it manages to work out, but for the most part it’s much like Picasso said, “I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.”
Now, we can do one of three things with this experience; we can simply give up, we can try again (and again, and again in my case), or we can just accept what Picasso calls “something else” and move onto the next creation. Nowadays, option two and three is where I usually land, but in the past I have given up. I don’t recommend it. It’s important to realize that our vision (the picture in our head) is, as the Master said to his student above, always going to exceed our abilities. And, in the end, this is NOT a bad thing. Without this vision we would never improve. The vision pushes us beyond ourselves. It asks greater things of us each time we create. While we strive to reach it, we grow. And growth is good.
Am I completely satisfied with how Sable came out today? That’s a good question. Maybe… She’s a bit better, I think… Either way, she’s taught me a lot. 😉
Sable is an original character from my up coming novel, The Maiden Ship.
I’ve written about this before, how obsessing over numbers on social media can make me miserable. And I might be beating a dead horse with this new post, but apparently it’s still needs to be worked out of my system. It’s source is typically in that conundrum of working umpteen hours on a painting I’m proud of to have it flop on social media, verses doing a fast sketch that gets triple the love. It makes me shake my head in frustration, rail my fists at the social media gods, and even slump into minor bouts of depressive thinking. Maybe I should just quit? Why am I even doing all this work? What is the point?
Let’s just look at those questions a little closer.
Maybe I should just quit? This isn’t even a realistic question. Let’s be honest, I’m never going to quit. I love being creative so much so that quitting would be a greater injury to my soul than continuing on with no recognition at all. Which leads me realize that recognition and reward drive none of what I do. Surprised? So am I. Turns out I don’t actually need it to create. That painting I spent hours pouring my heart into, the one I was actually proud of, that’s my reward. The joy of capturing what I wanted, the sense of real accomplishment are far greater gifts than any number of likes on Instagram or Facebook. And now that I have realized this, I have also inadvertently answered my other two questions above as well. I do the work because the process is fulfilling. I love the process. I create because I love creating, that is the point, and honestly, it needs nothing more.
Now this is not to say that all the likes, comments, and interactions on social media mean nothing to me. They mean a great deal in the sense that they help me to make a living. Every interaction here helps my family buy groceries. It means I can work from home, and care for my son who cannot be alone. These are deeply meaningful things. However, what I cannot do is base my intrinsic worth as an artist on the interactions I receive here. Social media is a fickle friend, and while I might need her to survive, she doesn’t deserve to be in charge of my heart.
There, done, I think perhaps I’ve got this now. Hopefully it resonated with some of your hearts as well. <3
At this point I just might be able to write a novel based upon the real events of my own life. If I carefully plotted out my forty-seven year old history, I’d end up with a story full of flawed characters, twisted turns, and insurmountable odds. Seriously, if you knew my tale, in all it’s strange and colourful glory, you’d probably agree that it’s near novel worthy. I am laughing inwardly now because, while I love fiction, I never really wanted my life to mimic it.
I’ve heard them, (you know them), say that the we are the authors of our own destiny. As a middle aged woman, with a fair amount of road now behind me, I know this isn’t 100% true. We do have a say in a large portion via our personal choices, but we have only to look at relationships, health struggles, accidents, and the larger world view to see that life is full of uncertainty. I’m going to quote scripture now, bear with, ’Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.’ (Proverbs 27:1)
Uncertainty is a universal truth, and if I’ve learned anything, rallying against it doesn’t work, but embracing it does.
Yesterday I learned that because of unforeseen circumstances Charting Stars will have to be put on hold for an indefinite period. (It was set to release October 1st.) I am obviously heartbroken by this, but I am trying to embrace the uncertainty (the fact that this is just life), so that I can carry on. Though I may feel like my life story could be novel material, I’m pretty sure it will not have that kind of cataclysmic finish that ends up on the bestseller list, but my prayerful hope is that, despite the uncertainty of every day yet to come, I will be able to live out whatever is left of my own story here moving forward in a positive, cheerful and worthy manner.
If you’ve read all of that, you are appreciated beyond words. Thanks for sticking with me.
I love my Instagram account, @whimsicalillustration. I’m not kidding, it is my favourite app for following everything I’m interested in. It has been a lifeline to me during my struggles with chronic illness, it has been a critical business tool as an artist, and, above all, I have met the most amazing friends there.
However, (there’s always a however), I tend to get sucked into the numbers; the number of followers, the number of likes, the number of comments. I sometimes even let the numbers affect my day and my mood. For example, if one post doesn’t get as much engagement as another I agonize over it. Did I post at the right time? Maybe this drawing wasn’t good enough? Perhaps I need to draw more of this instead of that? Do people find I’m posting too much, or maybe I’m posting too little? Aaaaggghhh… I can literally drive myself bananas thinking things through, all because of the blasted NUMBERS!
The thing is, we humans are hard wired for approval, and those numbers feed that need. They make us feel accepted, they give us a sense of belonging, and let’s be honest, everyone needs to belong. This need for approval and belonging are natural, and not bad in and of themselves because we are not created to be alone. Humans have always survived in groups, but if the need becomes obsessive then perhaps it is time to step back.
Do I get obsessed?
Yep, sometimes I think I do.
Is there a solution?
I could sing Elsa’s theme song from Frozen here, but I don’t think it’s that easy, and I simply don’t have the magic to build myself a beautiful ice palace in the mountains where I can live out my days alone. And, for me, the pros of Instagram outweigh the cons, so, I think I’m going to have to settle for awareness. By that I mean, I am aware that I occasionally obsess over the numbers, and that I might need to start making a conscious effort to relax my internal response to them. My guess is that some days I’ll do a better job at relaxing than others, but for the sake of my emotional well being it’s worth the effort.
Do you obsess about numbers on social media? If so, have you found a way to manage it?
In my last post I shared with you about how The Maiden Ship came to be, today I’d like to share my first painting inspired from this new novel, and also give you a peek at the synopsis. I hope you enjoy! Remember to follow along on Instagram or Facebook for more daily posts. 🙂
Dain Alloway was only nine years old when he began a new life with his father, sailing aboard The Maiden. Eight years later, the aristocratic city-boy turned merchant-sailor feels like he lives with one foot on land, and one foot in the sea. Life floats smoothly by until the night he wakes to find a mysterious woman in his cabin.
The events that unfold after her appearance transform Dain’s world. Now, hunted by empty-faced demons, he finds himself thrown into a dangerous web of intrigue and magic. As the crisis grows, the young sailor discovers powerful gifts buried deep within, talents that might shift the tide of a centuries-old war. Whether or not he’s ready, Dain will have to risk it all for the salvation and freedom of those he loves.
Isn’t it amazing how adversity can redirect our path? Most of you know that my drawing arm was severely injured six months ago, and for nearly five of those months I could not create art. It was an immense blow, not only financially, but emotionally. In addition to other chronic health struggles, this injury pushed me to my limits, and for the first couple of months I struggled through a profound depression. Eventually I sought professional counselling services, and for the sake of my mental health, I worked hard towards finding another creative outlet.
It was writing that I steered towards. It was something I could do despite my physical state, I could dictate verbally when the pain was too great, and I could use my good arm to type on the better days. It became a way to get the pictures out of my head without being able to draw them, and it gave me a sense of purpose amidst the suffering.
Years ago, when my children were small, I started a novel called, ‘The Maiden Ship’. However, as work and the demands of life accumulated I set writing aside. After nearly a twenty year relapse I returned to this book, and I returned to it because of adversity. Surprisingly, I managed to finish the novel just as my arm slowly began healing at the five month mark. The book is completed and now in the editing phases. The thing is, if these struggles had not happened to me, I very likely would have never written the book. I would have been too busy making art. (Which is still obviously my favourite thing to do in the world. 😉 )
I know this is the first book I’ve ever attempted on my own, so it’s definitely not going to be a New York Times bestseller, but that was never the point. If, in the end, only three people read it, I’m good with that because, honestly, this novel has already proven it’s worth, it saved me. That’s what makes it special.
All that to say, this is my first drawing related to my new novel, and I promise to share more details about these characters, the synopsis, and the release date soon, but for now, if you’re interested, take a peek at my Maiden Ship story highlight on Instagram to read some quotes and see some character aesthetics. 😘
If you read all the way down to here, then you are my hero, and the truest WHIMSY at heart. You are loved! ❤️
Brittany was diagnosed with TS-plus at a young age. In her words:
When I was first diagnosed with TS-plus, I felt like I was drowning. But in a way where I was the only one under the water. Only I could hear my singing and everyone else heard nothing, saw nothing wrong. I didn’t have any friends and no one really wanted to interact with me. No one understood what I was going through even my family (outside my parents and brothers) never wanted to understand what it was. An extended family member I loved told me I had to stop my tics because it wasn’t ladylike and they were gross. That’s probably what made me want to hide to the most… But overtime I learned to use my music to express myself and find courage. I still try to hide it. It’s probably something I’ll never overcome. Now even though days can be a struggle, I am more comfortable with myself and I’m thankful for everyday.
Tourette Syndrome (TS) causes tics that are sudden, intermittent, repetitive, unpredictable, purposeless, nonrhythmic, involuntary movements or sounds. Tics can be either simple or complex. The most important thing to understand about the tics associated with Tourette Syndrome is they are the result of a neuropsychiatric condition. The sounds and behaviours are involuntary and are not being done by choice.
TS can often come with package of other syndromes, people can also have OCD, anxiety, ADHD, depression etc. While some medications are available to help with the symptoms they do not completely take them away and there is no cure.
This art was inspired by a song Brittany wrote. The painting is meant to represent a feeling of what can go on inside a person with mental health struggles, the reason the individual is pictured nude is to represent the vulnerability of that struggle, the hand coming down into the water represents courage and hope. Sometimes courage can be found in unlikely places and can take many different forms. In Brittany’s case, courage comes through her music.
First Part of Song
Second part of Song
There is hope and knowledge out there for those who need it, if you have any of these health concerns please know that you are not alone and that you should reach out to the available services; doctors, counsellors and people around you. You do not have to face it by yourself.
Along with our previous awareness art this new print is now available in our shop and soon we will have bookmarks and stickers available as well. All the proceeds from the sale of these items will be donated to Tourette Canada, tourette.ca . We truly believe that increased mental health awareness can drastically improve the lives of those who suffer.
‘Courage, dear heart.’ ~ C.S. Lewis This art is meant to represent a feeling of what can go on inside a person with mental health struggles, the reason the individual is pictured nude is to represent the vulnerability of that struggle, the dragon represents the illness and the shield represents HOPE. There is hope and knowledge out there for those who need it, if you have any of these health concerns please know that you are not alone and that you should reach out to the available services; doctors, counsellors and people around you. You do not have to do it alone.
My son was diagnosed with TS at the age of 8 years old, he is now 17. Tourette Syndrome (TS) causes tics that are sudden, intermittent, repetitive, unpredictable, purposeless, nonrhythmic, involuntary movements or sounds. Tics can be either simple or complex. The most important thing to understand about the tics associated with Tourette Syndrome is they are the result of a neuropsychiatric condition. The sounds and behaviours are involuntary and are not being done by choice.
TS can often come with package of other syndromes, my son also has OCD, anxiety, ADHD and low level depression. While some medications are available to help with the symptoms they do not completely take them away and there is no cure. Since early childhood his daily life has been an ongoing battle, and yet, despite this hard journey he is growing into one of the most likeable, kind, and loving human beings I have ever known. 💗
When he was 15 years old he created the original cartoon pictured here as a way to describe what life was like for him on a daily basis. A monster lurking always attacking and ready to pounce on him the minute he woke up, the shield you see pictured at the end represents his family, counsellors, friends, and doctors who try to help him through. My son and I decided that we’d like to try to raise more awareness for people who, like him, suffer with real mental health concerns. In addition to this we also wanted to try to give back to an organization that works hard to support people with TS here in Canada, tourette.ca. Thus from Hunter’s cartoon I was inspired to create this painting which I am going to be adding to my shop in the beginning of June, it will be available as a print, bookmark and a sticker and all of the profit from the sale of these items will be donated to Tourette Canada. We hope you’ll consider supporting us through this endeavour by purchasing one of the items or even just joining us by sharing this story, painting and products with others.