Saturday, August 27, 2005

Do You Love What You Do?


Here's the pen and ink rendering I mailed out yesterday. This is what set me to reevaluate my goals. I could do these for the rest of my life, but they aren't where my heart's at. They bring in some money....but that's not my ultimate goal (well....maybe part of it, but not the core)
I've been reevaluating my children's illustrating and writing lately to figure out where I'm at in it.
If any of you are like me, there can be periods where the muck and mud of procrastination, distraction, discouragement and duldrums that hold you back. It's so easy to get things flipped around due to the desire to succeed, and unrealistic expectations.
The key factor in all of this for me this morning has been......Do I love what I do?
Yes...I do.
Once that is determined, it's important to:
*reevaluate the goals set.
*Restate them clearly. Once they are stated, figure out whether they are attainable. (not that this has to hold you back..after all most of us in this field are dreamers in the good sense of the word or we wouldn't be in the children's illustration/writing field)
*Sort out the goals into bite-able bits...make them clear and doable. Set goals for each day, week, month, 2 months, 6 months year, 5 years.
Even if the goals seem far-off or rediculously high, keep them...as long as your heart leads you there.
*Find areas where you need to hone your craft and set out to do this by taking classes, reading books on the subject, asking questions, researching, but mainly....
*Do the work of perfecting your craft by writing, painting, drawing. Sweat. Face the tough areas. (it takes courage to be an artist or writer) Tackle figure drawing or perspective or color theory if those areas need work. Tackle character developement, plot, or the nitty gritty of grammar. If the drawings look weak, ugly, warped, do them until you're satisfied. Do them 100 times if necessary. Write, rewrite.
*Leave room for the important priorities and life events...like spouse, children, school activities, extracuricular activities...the people and events that come first.
*Now. Cut out all distractions and time-wasters in your life. Be ruthless. (this is if you are serious about accomplishing the goals set in your illustrations and writing)
*Don't be discouraged when things don't go according to plans....they never do. Just find creative ways to work in spaces and times that come up...dental appointment waiting rooms, doctor and ortho appts, etc. Bring a pad of paper and pen everywhere with you to sketch and take notes on. use a small recorder to record ideas if necessary for illos or story ideas, and story lines.
*The key is to keep your own heart and vision intact. It seems such a simple thing, but it isn't.
*Remember what it was that drew you to the field in the first place. Try to think like a child. Find the wonder in things you've forgotten about. Take time to look and listen to things carefully.
If necessary, cut out images, fabrics, color combos that inspire you and place them surrounding your studio (most illustrators probably do this inherantly) Keep books nearby that inspire you.
*Print out inspirational quotes and surround yourself with them.
*Weed out the discouraging voices (in your mind and in other nay-sayers) When you hear the voices, that give vague discouraging comments, don't heed them. If there are voices from knowledgeable friends, or trustworthy souls, rooting for you, maybe critiquing your work, listen to those.
*Be willing to take those honest, friendly critiques. They are gold, although painful at times. Find crit groups of illustrators or writers to work with. There are many online as well as in communities.
*Make lists of what you love most about your own work and other's work. Make lists of what styles you enjoy working in the most. Make lists of what you hate to do, and what styles you dislike. Don't do these. You'll regret it.
*Do what you love...there will always be pressures...financial, comparisons with other's work, and progress, unrealistic expections (of your own or others).
The main point is to work at doing what you love most, from the heart. Pour your heart into all that you do, as much as possible, not imitating anyone else, and it will show in your work, as you persevere, sweat, erase, redraw, rewrite, research and complete works.
I'm feeling much better now that I've found the heart of the issue again...and am buckling down for a wonderful Autumn of illustrating, writing, and hard work.

I recently checked out two books for my son by Cressida Cowell called How To Be a Pirate, and How To Train Your Dragon. She wrote (or as she says..Translated from Old Norse) the books, and illustrated them.
My son is hooked already, and much as he enjoys reading, he isn't easily convinced to read books if they look boring. He likes Calvin and Hobbes, the Lemony Snickett series and that sort of book.
Cowell's books are fascinating, with quirky illustrations scattered throughout. done in a sketchy pen and ink or pencil style. The names of her characters are disgusting enough to please picky young male readers....at least in my opinion. I'm thrilled to have found the books.
I also found two for my older son. One is The New World Order by Ben Jeapes. It seems he approves. (Not an easy accomplishment on my part..He has an ecclectic taste). Check Jeapes' book out at this link. Once more I can't seem to find a link for him. I didn't find one for Cowell either..sorry...I'm not sure what's up with that. If I were as big an author as both of these, I'd want to at least have my own website.
Here's another blog link to Jeapes' book. The blog itself may interest you.
The second book I got out for my older son is SilverFin by Charlie Higson. Here's a Review of SilverFin.
I also found some music at the library. I'm listening to Billy Childs-The Child Within (appropraite for a children's illustrator/writer). It's dynamic, fantastically played and arranged..I love it. I'm looking for some great jazz pianists...anyone recommend any of their favorites? Or any favorite pianists at all...just not classical at the moment.
I also got out Nat King Cole-rare recordings CD. Can't wait to listen to that one. The other CD is Steve Allen Plays Jazz Tonight. It looks like another great CD.
By the way...this Steve Allen CD is FANtastic...wowee. Amazing music. The trumpeter, Glenn Zottola is incredible.

7 comments:

Roz said...

Wonderful Post, Amy!
Keep on keepin' on! It's always good to take a step back and reevaluate our goals and see if our actions are in sync with them. I loved your drawing. What a gift you have!

Amy C. Moreno said...

Roz,
Thanks so much for your encouragement, and for taking time to read my blog.

Kathy Holmes said...

Excellent advice, Amy! This is what we all need to remind ourselves.

Ron Chironna said...

I've always loved your home renderings, Amy. And, I can see why you'd be able to make a living doing just this kind of lovely artwork. Hopefully, you'll be able to find a balance between what makes you money, and what makes you the happiest. Your own advice should get you on the right path to that goal.

Ron

Amy C. Moreno said...

Kathy and Ron,
Thanks for your comments, and for taking the time to stop by and read, and comment!
Ron, I appreciate your words. I'm working on it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Amy. You and I've had to stop and ask myself these same questions recently. It sure helps you refocus, doesn't it?

Janee

Amy C. Moreno said...

Janee,
It's good to see your name here! I hope you're doing well.
I'm ready to focus now. It seems that the beginning of Autumn does that to me. Maybe it's the knowledge that there will be a more set schedule. What are you planning and working on these days?