Progressing-Kind of long......
I was just looking over some of my past work. Often I have felt that my progression is so slow but, I realized that I have actually made some progress. I first illustrated an ABC book for a friend which she self published. I thought I did a pretty good job (doesn't look as great now ). I decided I wanted to learn more about illustrating children's books and I found a class on it by Will Terry. It was an old group called Folio, I think. I signed up and lost the password. When I contacted Will for the password he let me know about this group and I joined. I did one book project shortly after I joined-it was self published. I had tried to illustrate a different book I had written but I couldn't even figure out how to thumbnail it. It was very difficult for me to illustrate a story. An ABC Book didn't involve laying out a story at all. What a difference! Since I was having trouble with the book (Uncle Carl Has a Chicken on His Head), I decided to pull out a little lullabye I had written when my kids were young and try that. I managed, with a lot of help here, to lay it out. I thought I was done but found out that I still had a lot to learn. I improved those illustrations and finished that book (Tick-Tock Lullabye) , I printed it up and sold some and ended up giving most of them away. On to my next project. I figured out how to lay out a story...but I was actually overdoing it. I had a mother and daughter telling the story of Uncle Carl and 10 chickens. I was struggling to figure it all out when one morning I woke up and realized I didn't need the mother and daughter at all. I was telling two different stories with the illustrations! So I knocked them off. I got so much helpful feedback to get that book to the finishing point. I drew and redrew and adjusted. I did it all traditionally and, pretty inefficiently too! But, I finally finished all the illustrations and painted them. Then I was in trouble because the illustrations were so big that I couldn't scan them on my scanner and, since I am not in it as a business, I didn't want to pay BIG bucks for a photographic scan (which is what you need with watercolor). So then, I tried taking photos of them. They were too dark. I tried again. Still kind of dark. My son tried fixing them up for me and they were much better but when I showed them to a friend who is a designer he let me know that they really needed to be scanned to look their best. I sent him the illustrations and I am having him finish it up, add text and make it look really good. Now I am in the middle of my newest project-Granny Can't Find Her Glasses and I have to say that it has been going better. I was able to figure out the layout faster. I am working smaller so I can use my home scanner. I still don't know how to add the text digitally. I might hand letter or else I might actually learn how to add the text and move it around to where I want it...not sure. I might do the old fashioned tracing paper method I learned about a million years ago. Ahhh! There's always something.....
I'm better at taking critiques and have a greater desire to get them! I have been taking the perspective and figure drawing classes and though I still have a lot to learn, I think my drawings have improved.
Why am I going on and on about this? Because I want those of you who might feel that you're not good enough to know that you are probably progressing much more than you realize! Also, that projects are a really great way to learn! There are so many problems to resolve and overcoming the hesitancy to put it out there and getting the critiques is so helpful. Finished, Not Perfect. Fail Your Way to Success. I have decided not to become a professional. I'm old and I don't want to deal with all that but I do want to make books for my friends and family and I want to progress and develop whatever talent I have. I want to act like I'm a professional and do projects that will, hopefully, bring joy to some children along the way.
If you've made it this far, thanks for listening. You deserve a medal! Keep at it.
Your thoughts are not only helpful to those feeling that they are not progressing as much as they really are but also to others like you on this forum who are not seeking professional employment as illustrators. As a permanent amateur myself, it's inspiring but also humbling for me to look at the quality of the work on this forum and I often feel like I'll never measure up but I have to keep reminding myself that I am here to get better at what I can do, not beat myself up for what I can't do (and may never be able to do realistically.) Although there are tons of forums for amateur artists, this one is unique in its emphasis on storytelling, and stories are wonderful ways for us to connect with others whether professionally or as amateurs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your art -- I loved your story of Uncle Carl and his chickens!
@demotlj Thank you, Laurie
I, for one, am impressed with all the work you continue to do. In the recent past you had a major life change and down-sizing in the form of retirement and RV life, too, if I remember correctly.
I envy your commitment to keeping up the work. The sheer act of keeping on is a hard one for me. I’ve spent my whole life quitting when things got challenging. So now I am working to break the horrid habits I have tethered to my soul for the past 43 years.
Reading your thoughts here is encouraging. I don’t know if I will be professional or not. But I think I need to give it a real solid effort. People like you on this forum are part of the reason I feel like I can keep trying. You obviously love making art and sharing it with your loved ones. I’m sure they will treasure the heart you have poured into your books.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your kind words, Jenny.