How Do You Answer When Opportunity Knocks?

I have recently started illustrating a non-existent children’s book that I intend to write. I chose to do the process backwards; I wanted my illustrations to tell the story so I have spent the last 5 months drawing these pictures. I am now on #14 out of 17 so they will be finished before I know it. When I started the process I knew a general theme that I wanted to use, but didn’t write the words down. As the months have gone forward the theme is still there, but the words aren’t gelling. I get a wisp or two of a thought or idea but not enough to make it flesh out, so I let it go.

It’s funny but I’m not worried about this lack of words. For some reason I am at peace that they aren’t there right now. The reason I say this is that it usually doesn’t take me long to write a story; especially a short story, but this time I think the words are waiting until the pictures are done. I am drawing these pictures in no particular order. Therefore, I know that the way they are laid out in my sketch book is not the way they are going to end up in the book. Maybe that is why there aren’t any words yet. Even now as I am thinking about a story, instead of thinking about the words I am designing my book cover in my mind. I can see it plain as day which means to me that is what I will be drawing when I am to that stage. Can I say, I have goosebumps right now? I’m so excited about that one picture which will be my #17 of 17. Or it could be my #15 of 17, the one I will finish next once #14 is complete.

What does that have to do with opportunity knocking? I have been sharing my pictures with some of the ladies in my church, I can’t help myself. I showed them to a dear lady and she asked me to draw a concept picture for a short story she wrote. I have not completed that yet, because I want to finish this project before tackling another one. But the opportunity is there to illustrate a book that already has a publisher. How cool is that? I don’t even necessarily have to be picked as the illustrator after they see the concept drawing; just the idea of a publisher seeing my pictures is exciting.

I have been reflecting a lot this last year about the me that I am now. The person that I was in high school would not recognize who I have become. 30+ years ago, I would never have dreamed that I would be in this position to become a possible illustrator. 30 years ago, I barely doodled; I was told to select another class because I didn’t have the talent to be an artist. I wrote poetry and dreamed of being a teacher or writer. But, through the years I have always done something crafty. Embroidery, counted cross stitch, latch hook rugs, paint by numbers, etc. I even tried my hand at a quilt or two. I completed one of the quilts and gave the other one to my grandmother to finish for me. That type of art was just not for me.

Four years ago my family was going through very difficult times, rather than give in to my urge to run away I chose to seek counseling. It was during the counseling sessions that I was challenged to try to draw something, it didn’t matter what it was, just draw. So I bought myself a small 5×7 sketch pad that would fit easily in my purse. Because I work in a library I had instant access to those “Draw this…” books plus you can’t beat internet tutorials that show exactly how to draw things. I started drawing a variety of pictures using both those resources, but they were all in pencil. When I showed them to my counselor she asked why there wasn’t any ink or color. I told her the pencil was erasable; I could get rid of the mistakes easier that way. The pencil represented how I felt about my life at the time; I wished I could simply erase it and start over. So once again she challenged me this time it was to add ink, make the drawing something permanent.

So I put ink to a couple pictures, when she saw them she said they were pretty, but where was the color? Color gives it life, so she challenged me to start adding colors. I added and added and added some more; then I got more and more detailed until there was nothing left of a drawing that could be erased. I drew quite a few of those pictures, and with the exception of one, I gave them all away. Before I gave them away I scanned them to maintain a record of what I had drawn. When people saw these scanned pictures they thought they were fabric quilts, they couldn’t believe that they were regular 9×12 drawing pad sized drawings.

By keeping these scans I can see where I had been in my beginning art work as compared to where I am now. Always during this time when people would see these drawings they would tell me that I needed to illustrate a book or that they had a book they would love for me to illustrate or that they knew someone that wrote a book that needed an illustrator.  I always brushed those suggestions off, I wasn’t an artist, there was no way I could do that.  But I had to start rethinking how I saw myself.  Several times when a friend would introduce me to a friend of theirs they would say, “this is the artist I was telling you about.” I would look around to see who they were talking about until I realized they were talking about me. Huh, this was never a title I would have given myself. “I am an artist.” Not an amateur artist, an artist. Wow! It’s weird to think that the first thing I get published could be something that I am drawing for someone else.

I ended my counseling a couple years ago. My counselor has never seen the drawings that I have completed after her challenges aside from the few I had completed while visiting her. My goal is to get my book published and then go visit her and give her a copy as a thank you. The encouragement she gave me during that time is what lead to the possibilities I am facing now. Who would have thought that a few counseling sessions would lead to these doors being opened for me now? Okay, it is more than a few; it took me a while to recover enough to say I was strong enough once again to walk on my own.

The steps to get to this stage were not easy, it didn’t happen overnight; I didn’t just pick up a pen one day and draw. I look at my first drawings and I can see the growth from then to now. But those steps were needed to be able to now have this opportunity knocking on my door now. Whatever your dreams or goals are, remember, to reach them you have to take it one step at a time. You can’t just say I want to be a doctor or a lawyer and then wake up the next day and be one. You have to put in the time, money, effort, etc. to reach those goals. So when you dream, dream big and pursue your goals and when the time is right opportunity will be knocking on your door too.

Thank you for reading. I love comments and answer them all.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather Mertens
    Jun 04, 2015 @ 09:44:57

    I’m So happy for you! Why not just because of the publisher as God will guide those steps at which your art travels – but also because you allowed your creativity from The Lord – God given – to heal and to learn to live and love who He made you to be inside. I love this story of redemption, Charlene!!! Amen!!



  2. Chatter Master
    Jun 04, 2015 @ 05:57:03

    I went to your pininterest. I’m glad you found your colors, your art is beautiful.



  3. Shelley
    Jun 03, 2015 @ 21:14:36

    I believe as we take on each small challenge, the opportunities grow out of them. Also, I’m doing something similar. I don’t have a story, but I began to develop a few characters that I would like to be a part of it. I’d love to see your illustrations.

    Liked by 1 person


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