Wednesday, June 29, 2011

illustration Friday- Midsummer Night

I'm once again combining my weekly sketchbook post with Illustration Friday because over the weekend - on a midsummer night - we took the Small Fry to see Cars 2.

Oh the excitement.

The Fry could barely contain himself through the 15 minutes of previews before getting to the main event. What helped was the 50 gallon drum of popcorn we bought him for dinner... uh I mean, to eat during the movie.

It ended up with me holding the popcorn so that he could more easily slurp from his giant lemonade. He buzzed through both in the 120 minutes it took for Tow Mater to become a 007 agent.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Every night in a good faith effort to get the kids in the general direction of a bath, we unleash something terrible around our house.

It snarls.

It growls.

It howls.

And if it has to, it will gobble up a hapless toddler who doesn't strip a diaper off fast enough. It is......

At approximately 7:15 most nights Baby Sprout runs through the house streaking "the trolls are coming! the trolls are coming!" whilst leaving a trail of clothing behind. Its definitely the highlight of her night.

To be continued....On another note, here's the first two sketches for a narrative I've been thinking of illustrating. Its about a boy who tried to take extra special care of his mother..... and then she went and ignored his specific advice. The words are not mine, and credit must be given to the great A.A. Milne:

James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree

Took great care
of his Mother,
though he was only three....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

First Base is a Million Miles Away

After winning back to back games on Thursday, Small Fry's baseball team was positioned to compete for their division championship. In the giddy moments that followed their second win of the night, the Sprout and I walked up onto the field so that she could run the bases and work out some energy. She had longed to be where brother was all season after being held captive in the dugout for fourteen innings. You think you know what your kids face. After all, I'm the grown-up and the parent, I've already slogged through childhood and lived to tell about it. But when I stepped into the brilliant glare of home plate and looked across the yawning stretch of dirt and grass to the flickering back fence in the outfield, I had but one thought....

.... jesus, I had no idea first base was a million miles away.

In that moment I was extra proud of my Fry for a season of climbing into that harsh light, isolated from teammates and parents, and swinging at the ball with everything he had. To me the distance to first base was unnerving, but Small Fry had never seemed phased by it. Was this because he believed that this time the bat would make contact, this time he would make it to first base before the ball matter how many times he'd missed in the past? Did he believe better than a grown-up could?

Small Fry says "you just go up there and watch for the ball and then you try to hit it, then you try to run really fast. That's how you do it mommy."

Two days later on a sweltering Saturday morning, the Orioles clinched their championship with a final score of 10-8. One of the points belonged to Small Fry who dashed across home plate to start a points rally that would bring his team from behind to take the lead in the 3rd inning. In the beginning of the season we parents had contributed $10 each to buy our boys a "participation medal." None of the 4, 5, and 6 year olds on our team had ever played baseball before. A championship - and the trophy that came with it - seemed well out of reach, we only hoped for a fun few months in the sun and a positive learning experience. However, not only were they in reach, one by one twelve gleaming, gold and red trophies, emblazoned with the heady word "champions" were handed to our dusty, grinning team. Small Fry hugged his to his chest and said "see Mommy if you hit the ball once you get the biggest trophy ever!"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ninety Percent Luck

Since ya'll know I am a horse nut, and 'tis the season for watching the ponies and making the attending analogies, I thought I'd throw out the insight I had today. Without going into the long story, I got news today of a fellow illustrator friend who has barely learned how to decipher one rejection letter, has a very unlikely story, and, most recently, has had an agent and a publishing contract flop into his lap.

Talk about your charmed lives.

So it made me think of all the stories I hear surrounding racing folks large and small, from East and West who pin their hopes on a colt to win one of the Big 3 in thoroughbred racing. They train, they coddle, they painstakingly pick the jockey, they train and coddle some more. They cross their fingers and the journey finally leads to the dark clanging opening of the starting gate, with a shiny river of track just on the other side. All the careful work in the world has gotten them to this point but when the doors burst open on the other side, all the careful work in the world matters little. A wrong step in the churning dirt, a fly-away program sailing out of the heaving stands, the spicy burned smell of buttered popcorn... anything can propel their horse - or another - under the wire first. The race is won on 10% preparation and 90% luck.

The same is true in publishing I think. As an author and an illustrator you pick your story, you pick your images, you revise and revise. Train and coddle. You painstakingly choose the agents and editors to submit to and cross your fingers. But when you send that work out into the world to find a home it is 90% luck that brings it to the desk of someone who appreciates it. The winner's circle is often filled with upsets and long shots. The sidelines are filled with athletes and people who have great potential but who's luck ran out seconds from the wire. That trip back to the drawing table is painful and frustrating. But in games of chance like horseracing and publishing, you've got no choice but to keep writing and drawing, training and coddling, and hope that the next time luck rides with you.