Draw Your Own Thing

The other day, I sat on the couch next to Myla, sketchbook in hand.  I sighed and said, “I’m in an art funk.  I’m just not happy with anything I’ve been drawing lately.”

Immediately, our caring 7-year old girl jumped to comfort me, saying, “MOM!  Don’t talk about yourself that way.  You’re a great artist!”  I thanked her, but told her I guess I’m just  in an art funk, that I’ll just have to wait it out.  It’s okay…it’ll pass.

“You know…” she said, thinking carefully.  “You’re always looking on your phone at other people’s artwork.  What you need to do is put that down for awhile, and just draw your OWN thing.  Just draw what’s in your OWN head.”

She’s so smart.

It’s true, I spend hours each day scrolling through Instagram.  It’s been an amazing source of inspiration for me.  We’re often stationed in places that aren’t bustling centers of creativity, so Instagram has made me feel closer to the world of art and other artists.  But when you catch yourself looking at other peoples’ work and comparing it to your own, and getting DISCOURAGED by it….it’s really time to take a break.

I put my phone down, and looked at my blank sketchbook, and an image came to mind.  I’ve always loved the balance between cute and creepy, and this cute little pixie-girl floated to the surface of the page, holding a six-legged monster-kitty.  And it made me smile.DRAW1

The next day, I showed it to her.  “See, mom?  I told you you could do it!  Just listen to your OWN voice.”  I gave her a hug, because as she had done so many times in her little life, she had inspired me.

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I looked through vintage photos to find references for some of the poses I wanted to use, but strongly avoided looking at Instagram (I nearly only follow artists) until I had seen the idea in my head float to the surface of the page and take shape.

I giggle at my happy awkwardness as a kid, and my love for my rainbow suspenders and E.T. t-shirts (a fashion combo I must’ve gotten from Mars).  I had big owl glasses and skinned knees.  My sister and I played dressup a lot, and made up characters in our rooms.  (I did spare myself the horrible hairdo I had growing up, replacing it in the doodle with a cuter ‘do.)  Add my beloved ballpoints, and I called it “Pens are Friends.”

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I didn’t question my skills as a kid.  Drawing was just a tool to get my ideas out, not a measure of how good or not-good I was.  I did it without expecting pay, without attention, and without acknowledgement.  I did it whether or not anyone “liked” it or commented on it, because I’m older and we didn’t have social media back then.  I did it JUST for the love of doodling, just like my daughter does.  Just like I need to remember how to do.

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So sure, I’ll do portraits.  Sure, I’ll do commissions.  Sure, I’ll go back to looking on Instagram and being inspired by other artists.  But I need to remind myself that I’m here, too.  That I’m right where I’m at, and that’s okay.  Sometimes (quite often, in my case) it takes a kid to remind you of something you should know as an adult.

Seven year olds give great advice.

13 responses

  1. That’s so sweet. Those pictures are really good.

  2. It always hits me like a “head smack” (you know “shoulda hadda V8” like) when I realize that even artists like you, artists I consider at the top of their game, share the same doubts and feelings as the rest of us. Nice message, Myla. You girls rock!

  3. Thank you! I’ve been in a slump too, and maybe this is what I need — to just doodle my way out of it. Give Myla a hug for me.

  4. Myla and you are a great team.

  5. Out of the mouths of babes…

  6. Good advice and lovely drawings (love the self portrait!).

  7. You are amazing ! I’m an artist who looks at you! We all need inspiration but what Myla said startled me … She’s so right and what you said about drawing as a kid sooo correct ! Inspiring …thanks !

  8. That’s such a great reminder! I feel like I rarely make what’s in my own head anymore. Drawings and paintings just for fun, just for ME! What a wise little girl you have!

  9. Margaret Rhode | Reply

    Love this, Mica and Myla! Thank you.

  10. You are raising a smart & compassionate child! Good job both of you. And the pictures are wonderful! I love the creepy & cute mixture. 🙂

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