I'm 50. There, I said it.
I've been keeping that a secret as I pursue my goal of being a professional illustrator. I wasn't lying about it, but I definitely wasn't sharing it.
I had this fantasy that after I became what I considered "successful," I would share the fact that I did it after age 50. But something changed.
This week I listened to Chris Oatley's Escape From Art Jail #9 and #10, How to Become a Competitive Professional, parts 1 and 2. I pondered how to be a purple cow, and really couldn't figure out what, if anything, made me purple. And then I felt sorry for myself; I felt bitter about the choices I've made, things I haven't done, like not going to art school, and about how far I am from where I want to be. I felt bitter about competing with so many incredibly skilled artists, many much younger than me, and many with the foundation of an art degree. Not being a total idiot, I also recognized that bitterness was only going to keep me stuck, so I Googled "midlife bitterness," hoping to find a way to put my regrets behind me and focus on the future.
I ended up on a site called Life After Tampons (love that name!) where I read a piece entitled My Deepest Regret about how the author repeatedly gave up the pursuit of something she loved when success seemed just within her reach because she was scared. Oh, how familiar that sounded; when one of my promotional mailers finally brought major publishers to my website, I stopped sending mailers for almost 5 years; when one of my Etsy shop items was included in an Etsy Finds email, and visits to my shop and sales shot up, I let my shop languish. Seeing my own story of fear and regret in someone else's experience, and the comments from other women with similar experiences, made me realize that this journey I'm on is worth sharing, regardless of what my destination is, if there even is a destination.
So, taking some more advice from Escape From Art Jail (Episodes 8 - 10), and modifying it a bit, I've decided to make a weekly blog post where I gather together everything I've done in the previous week: social media posts, sketches, pieces I've finished, progress on WIP pieces, story ideas, podcasts I'm listening to, classes I'm taking, and anything else I can think of that is part of my journey toward my goal of being a professional illustrator.
I'm not quite sure that being 50 and a not-traditionally-schooled neophyte makes me purple (maybe a nice shade of lavender?) but it does make me different from all the young art school grads out there and when I decided to embrace that difference instead of hiding from it, my bitterness evaporated.
So without further ado, here's what I did this week:
The week started with a brand new idea for a PB that's a twist on the standard prince-rescues-princess fairytale, but since the self-rescuing princess idea has been handled quite nicely by many others before me, my focus is on the prince; what's a prince to do when princesses don't need to be saved anymore? I'm also having some fun with the picture book form and plan to have the characters physically interact with the text to change the story. Here are my rough ramblings:
I also finished these two pieces and added them to my portfolio:
And did some sketches of squirrels in preparation for designing the main character in the picture book I'm working on for the PBDummy Challenge:
And worked on this portfolio piece from yet another picture book idea about a monster with not-scary bunny feet and the knitting, crocheting new friend who helps him with his problem and who has a secret of her own (still very much a WIP):
And as I mentioned, I listened to two Escape From Art Jail podcasts, and finally posted in the SVS forums, although I still have yet to officially introduce myself there.
So that's my artistic week in a nutshell. I'll be back with a new post next week and in the meantime, you can find me on FB, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn (links are at the bottom of the page). Thanks for visiting!