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“Be the Hero of Your Own Story”, Art Imitating Life

I’m reflecting this evening on how my artistic process parallels my life process. I had an idea of how I wanted this illustration to go… a Fairy Tale girl with a cape that reads “Be the Hero of Your Own Story”. I had a vision of the end result and I spent hours drawing, redrawing, erasing, drawing, erasing, and redrawing trying to get some approximation of the vision in my head. Illustrations as in life often take revisions and rarely turn out the way we originally envision. At some point, if we’re lucky though, we experience the peace of acceptance, and we step back to see that we have crafted something of value. We learn that things are never perfect, never our ideal, but we recognize that we have built something with character and love it because of its flaws not in spite of them.

This process repeated itself as I began painting this illustration. I intended to keep her light and soft, but I guess she wanted to be fierce and strong. I was struggling with the background, then spilled the paint, and when I stopped to clean it up, things dried into a frozen mess of disjointed colors. Her cape became a hot mess, and all my beautiful gentle blues flowed into my yellows and mingle to make making the background green. I didn’t want green, but clearly the painting did, and I have to admit it works. How many times in my life have I stubbornly insisted that things go my way, and fight against alternatives? Most of the time, when things didn’t go my way, it was because there was a better option waiting for me if I could open to the possibility.

Patience is another virtue I struggle with and I’m learning to be more conscious of my impatience through the painting process. I too often get excited, rush a step, and end up with disappointing results. I’m learning slowly, and am grateful for the gift of awareness that the painting process affords me.

I stepped away from the illustration after the spilled paint debacle, and gave it some time to dry. I played with Dexter, took a walk, danced around the camper to the radio, then came back to it with fresh eyes and turned that background into a deep luscious carpet of green. I now see some castle turrets appearing on the left hand side in the distance, a happy accident, so I will bring them into the painting tomorrow. I like how she’s coming out of the dark and into the light. My fairytale girl has to dry overnight for the salt treatment to be effective on her cape, so I’ll say goodnight to her and continue the journey then. Tomorrow is another day as the saying goes.

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