Friday, June 30, 2006

Do We Teach Our Kids Self-Doubt?
I should know better by now! Today we walked into Chapters for a summer book fix and when I didn’t find anything in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section that justified paying full paperback price, I wandered over to the children’s book section. I began to flip through book after book to look at the different styles of illustrations that are out there....

"WHACK" Sound of Self-Doubt Mole Being Whacked VERY Soundly! "WHACK"

It’s been hot and sticky and I’ve been trying to get my drawings done without sweating on artwork or sticking to the dining room furniture, but the photo up above shows what kind of mood I was in at almost midnight last night when Nick asked me to smile for his digital camera!

I was quiet when we came back home from Chapters... enough that the kids and Nick noticed. I’ve crawled down to the basement to blog about my thoughts while they finish watching a movie.

So when do we learn to self-doubt as kids? Is this something that the adults around us teach to us in an effort to protect us from being disappointed?

I can still remember how much confidence I used to feel about everything I drew or created. So much so that when I entered the Illustration contest for Jack and Jill magazine the summer that I was 11, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d win! From that point on, I knew that I wanted to create images for a living.

Perhaps it is the world that tries to teach us this as we compete with others. When I got to Fine Arts, the professors habitually critiqued my work to tell me what it was lacking or what was wrong with it instead of how I could make it better. I ended up in photography and printmaking because of the way in which those professors guided and encouraged rather than shredded their students... but I was made to feel very early on that my talent was far from “genius”. I was persistent and stubborn and dedicated, but not particularly gifted in my class according to most of the feedback.

Did I begin to doubt myself as an adult when I first began to look for work and found so little ways to do what I love for money?

If I try to strive for “perfection” then I will never get this book done. If I don’t see any illustrative styles out there that are exactly like mine, then maybe that means my illustrations will stand out more on the shelves. I can only be me...

But I have become so much more cautious about how I speak to my kids when I am helping them learn new skills. I want them to keep more of that impulsive wonder and belief in impossible dreams and odds. Maybe then, they can teach me how to rediscover that for myself and I can learn from them!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Girl Power and Customer Service...

I can tell that it is going to be much harder to blog until we get our summer routine in order. This weekend was a flurry of social activities as school and most commitments wrapped up for the year, but that made it harder for me to get work done. Sometimes as an artist, it is hard for others to understand that I may want to work on the weekend when everyone else is relaxing! This is partly because I truly love what I do, and partly because I really, really, really hate feeling backed into a corner! Managing to illustrate a children’s book and get ready for a needlework show this summer is going to be challenge enough, but add in a vacation to see Mum and Nick doing several conferences... and you can understand the slight panicky feeling I get sometimes.

After a HORRIBLE day on Monday when I felt as if my hands were made of cement, my girls were going to drive me insane and Nick was trying to wrap up his Vice-Principalship in Petitcodiac, today went MUCH better!! I had to work a double shift at Weight Watchers to cover for another leader’s French meeting, the one that follows mine every Tuesday, so the girls spent a morning with a baby sitter from down the street. Nick picked me up once I was done and I drove him to the Fox & Hound, a pub where most of the teachers in town congregate after they finished working at noon today. On the way home, the girls and I picked up the movie AQUAMARINE for a chick flick afternoon since I knew Nick wouldn’t be heartbroken about not seeing that one. This also gave me time to work on part of an illustration without the Barbie wars of Monday! This was a really cute girl power movie and fun to watch through Erin’s eyes. She just loved the part where the mermaid (with legs) goes to the mall and yells hello to everyone from one of the balconies. When the two human girls with her look at her in shock and horror that she has created a scene, she smiles at them and says something like “Why go through life being ignored?” A great Girl Power movie!

Last night, the girls and I also hit a frustration point playing Natsume's wonderful new game Harvest Moon: Magical Melody. We had split the file and made a second copy so that we could pursue two different love interests in this addictive little game, one of them being the boy rival, Jamie. When we approached him with the Blue Feather to propose marriage, he just kept saying “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” We began to wonder if we had misread the manual which insisted that you could marry your rival, when Erin noticed that the back of the pamphlet contained a customer service number in California that we could call, so off we went to the kitchen to call the West Coast.

I was SO IMPRESSED!! First of all, I reached a real, live human being on the very first try without getting stuck in a menu loop of pressing selections. Secondly, this warm, friendly human being took the time to listen to our concern and explain to my girls that they had taken on the toughest challenge in the game. She then gave us some hints and clues as to how to overcome this apparent obstacle and wished us luck! I, for my part, thanked her for taking the time to explain things to us and shared with her how impressed my girls and I were with this fun video game that was designed to include girls, avoid violence (except whacking a pesky mole which fits in perfectly with my recent imagery exercises) and encourage a wide range of skills from patience and friendship to literacy and logistical thinking. You have to love a game that lets you make friends, encourage romance, build a house and farm, plant crops, raise cute animals and pick up wildlife creatures that make cute squeaky noises and get little hearts the more you befriend them!!! Kudos to Natsume for having some of the best customer service I have ever experienced!!

Now if I can just learn to get work done with everyone underfoot, I’ll be just fine!!!