So I just realized it’s been a YEAR since I first posted the story about collaborating with our 4-year old! And while a lot has changed (she’s 5 now, for one), so much is still the same. I thought it’d be sort of cool to share a bit about the whole experience, and what we’ve been doing since…
1. People have been SO super nice! I still get SO many wonderful comments, messages, posts, and emails, saying wonderful things and sharing wonderful stories about how this fun little project that Myla & I do together has affected them in some positive way and it’s such a wonderful thing to hear. New-mom artists saying they couldn’t figure out how to still create while caring for a kid have told me they have hope now for a new way to create. Other type-A’s like me, who have been reminded to let go a little bit and enjoy the ride. People spent time doing similar projects with their kids, their students, their patients, and shared the stories with me. It feels really good to hear that something we did just for fun has had such a positive effect on so many people.
The fact that people take a little time out to say something nice to someone they don’t know personally, is very heartwarming, and makes me feel good about the fate of the human race.
2. Some people can be jerks. I have learned the age-old internet rule, and will agree that it is most definitely true (mostly on external blogs, not my own, thankfully): DON’T READ THE COMMENTS. SO many websites, instead of linking directly to my full story, retold the story using my photos on their own website. Usually, they don’t tell the whole process I went through, leaving readers confused and critical, and more likely to make random nasty (and not at all constructive) comments. Everything from “She’s holding her pen wrong,” “the mom overindulges her,” “the mom probably does those herself, for attention,” “those drawings aren’t THAT good,” and “what the hell am I even looking at???”
…Some people make a point to take a little time out of their day to be total jerks to a complete stranger, which makes me a little discouraged about the fate of the human race. Thankfully, though, there are WAYYYYYYY more positive comments than negative, and I do my best to ignore them, and focus on people who AREN’T talking out of their butts.
3. We self-published an AWESOME BOOK. We had a few publisher nibbles after the post, and even worked for quite a while with one, trying to narrow down how we might possibly turn it into a book for children, until they finally gave up on the idea altogether. It wasn’t until then that I realized it might not BE a children’s book. So I made my own Kickstarter video, and with the help of SOOO many people sharing and getting the message out there, we were able to exceed our goal and make a book I am very very proud of, that tells the story of our collaboration, has pages to doodle in yourself, and is a collection of a great many collaborations, and the fun little titles I gave them. We also were able to make a little children’s book of animal collaborations. I can’t seem to part with the originals, so I don’t sell any of the originals to anyone. I keep them in a very full binder for her to enjoy later. So since we weren’t able to have a professional publisher work with us, at least I was able to make our drawings into a fun little book that we can share with people.
4. We still get around a bit, from time to time. Aside from a great many interviews & articles from all sorts of places in the world, we’ve had a few little online adventures. We had someone contact us to see if they could purchase a few prints to use on a TV show as set design background if the show stayed on. (We allowed it, but I haven’t seen them on the show, and I don’t think it was picked up for a new season.) A theme park on the other side of the world asked if they could display a few for a Mother’s Day event they were having. Our post was shared on facebook by a couple of fun names…
(None of this at all means anything to Myla, though. She just likes to draw.)
5. People have asked us to do stuff. We have been asked to do custom work, but trying to “control” what a 5-year old draws is nearly impossible. Sometimes I can give her suggestions, and sometimes she turns the person into Nightcrawler or a mermaid, just for fun. You can never tell. Nor would I want to stifle what she does, or put any limitations on it. The very few times I’ve tried to steer her in a certain direction is hit or miss: sometimes it works out like magic (as in the Hellboy doodle we did below), and sometimes it doesn’t work, and it’s just frustrating for the both of us. So instead of getting frustrated, I just take the pressure off by saying no to most custom work, unless it’s something fun that we can do in a way that has little to no pressure. (Reading Rainbow’s Kickstarter, for example, is running an art contest for their calendar. We’ll give it a try, but if it doesn’t work out, no big deal.)
We have been asked to design logos for products, but aside from just the logistics listed above, it just feels weird to use them for a product. I don’t have any big political belief behind that thought. It just feels weird, so I just say no.
We were once asked to have a film crew film our day to day life and doodles, but I couldn’t see how that would work, since both my husband and I have agreed that we’re not comfortable with the idea of having Myla’s face fully openly out there in internet land. Why not? Well, aside from just the regular worry of creepy old creepers, people can be plain nasty, as I said earlier, and nastier when they have something in front of them to point at behind the safety of their screens. She’s adorable, but she’s five. I don’t need random people commenting and judging her SOLELY based on her physical attributes (as I’m sure the world will do in plenty of time when she hits puberty). No thanks.
6. Life is pretty normal. When we first did the collaborations was just before my husband was deployed, so he missed the majority of the hubub, and watched it lovingly from a distance somewhere in the middle of Afghanistan. Now that he’s back, things are pretty normal again. Myla started Kindergarten, and is on a mission to share her love of superheroes with the world. Like everyone, we have good days and bad days (but they are very nearly all good days). She loves superheroes, mermaids, and “crafty crafts” (which is what we call all the artsy art things we enjoy doing). I post our work primarily on Instagram, but also on Facebook and Twitter. I also use Instagram to post a ton of whatever strange drawings, sculptures, or projects I’ve personally got going on as well.
7. We still draw. A LOT. When we first started collaborating, it was incidental. It just sort of happened. Now, she ASKS me for heads to draw, and sometimes for certain characters. I like to mix drawing, say, a certain actor’s face for her to draw a certain character’s body on, and she has fun with that. If she wants to do one of Wolverine, for example, I draw Hugh Jackman. It’s fun for both of us. Her drawings have become more narrative, with so much more going on, and it’s been REALLY fun for me to try to make them make sense by making the background more detailed, adding more highlights and shading to the artwork, to the faces. It’s so much fun!
People have asked me about her tiring of drawing only the bodies–but she doesn’t LIKE how I draw the bodies on her heads (she hasn’t worked on that “letting go of expectations” thing that I’ve worked on, and is sometimes critical if I go off-course). Drawing faces and characters on her own, though? She’s WAY into that! Oftentimes, I’ll tear out pages from my sketchbook of drawings I haven’t finished, and don’t intend to finish (even if it’s just an eye), and let her just use her imagination:
But now that she’s a little older, a great deal of our work is directly influenced by the things that influence her: superheroes, characters from shows and books and comics. This past summer, I signed her up for day camp (basically 3 hours a day of themed daycare). She could choose between Princess Camp and Superhero Camp. She chose Superhero camp, which has been a huge influence on her drawings:
She’s also had a thing for mermaids lately…
There are also a great many characters she’s never really watched the actual shows of (she’s only 5, remember, and she’s not too fond of too much action & violence), but has seen or heard of the characters. I’ll usually just tell her a toned-down, simplified story about the character, and let her elaborate:
She will draw characters from some of her favorite, most beloved tv shows, books, and movies:
There is always a WHOLE lot of Star Wars:
And some of them come straight from her own imagination:
8. We still LOVE to share… Whether it’s between Myla and me, or other people, we love to share our doodles. I recently did an art trade with an artist on Instagram, whose 4-year old daughter decided to make Myla a little sculpture to add to the package. It was so awesome! Myla loves to show people how to draw “step by step” (but she will almost NEVER tell you what it’s going to be in the end…probably because she makes it up as she goes). She loves drawing marker “tattoos” on any visitors we have who are willing. Last time we visited my husband’s family, they all gathered round chit-chatting and waiting their turn for Myla-tattoos.
…SO WHAT’S NEXT? Well, we’re just gonna keep on keepin’ on. Since I have all these books now, I thought it’d be fun to take them to a vending table at Wizard Con in Austin, Oct 2-4. So I’ll be doing that, and bringing my niece along to help. Myla will mostly be hanging at home with Daddy, and only stopping in on occasion (since I’m guessing it’d be pretty hard to keep a kid at a booth ALL DAY for THREE DAYS??) to see costumes and such (conventions scare her, though, so we’re gonna play that one by ear). I’m bringing TONS of books, some prints, a few of my own originals, and whatever else we can muster up. It’s gonna be FUN! So if you’re anywhere in the area, PLEASE come see us!
I absolutely LOVE watching her develop her drawing. I get so excited when I notice her drawing something new, like Wolverine’s “fists,” and the amount of detail she remembers just from seeing a few pictures of a character. We’ll keep on doing them for as long as they’re fun. And if they’re not fun, we’ll lay off them for awhile. But right now, we still love drawing together, so that’s what we’ll do. And I’m always happy to post them!
Most of all, I love love LOVE hearing from other people who have been inspired to do their OWN doodle projects with their friends, family, students, and kids, so if you’ve got stories to share, I’d LOVE to hear them!
Love, love love. Just realized there was a WHOLE lotta love in this post. And that’s awesome.
(Posted below are just a couple of the wonderful doodles people have sent me that their kids have done after being inspired to draw by our doodles. I love seeing all that imagination growing!)
So that’s a little update on our doodles this past year! I’m so grateful for all the positive response we’ve gotten from something we just love doing together. It’s SUCH a good feeling to put something good into the world!
(I constantly post new prints for purchase at Society6. Please feel free to take a look!)
Okay, we’ve been sick. We’ve been feeling all around miserable around here this past week. So I’ve been slacking in the blogging department. Hey, I can’t keep it ALL together ALL the time. I’d run out of duct tape.
So I thought I’d share this quick little project as a sort of mini half-post. I promise I’ll write a better one in a few days.
I’ve told you before how much our daughter loves Star Wars, and has a crush on C-3PO? So I should also mention, she’s a pretty rough-and-tumble little girl. She’s not afraid of a few bumps and bruises. Which also means sometimes she wears holes in the knees of her jeans. When I decided to get a little more life out of those jeans with a patch, I thought, “Oh, cool! I’ll put some simple, cute design with iron-on patches, and BOOM, done.”
…Until she said, “Can you do one as C3P0 and one as R2D2?”
Well, darned if I don’t like a challenge. So I did.
It took me AGES to figure out if that was even possible. I thought about hand-sewing felt, about stitching the detail on with embroidery thread. I thought of all kinds of magically impossible ways this could possibly work, and was coming up blank every time. Until finally, I lowered my standards.
I finally just cut a simple outline of the body out based on the references I printed out (in black & white in the center), filled the detail in with Sharpie, and ironed them on. Bam, easy peasy.
She liked them so much, she insisted she wear her Lego Star Wars shirt to match.
FAIR WARNING: One trip through the washer, and the edges started rolling and looked horrible, so maybe this isn’t such a cool project after all, unless you’ve got wicked mad sewing skills. …In which case, can you please sew my daughter some Star Wars patches? 🙂
Anyway, we’re all on the mend here. Hope you’re all feeling well!
I had planned on making my own R2D2 costume (at my daughter’s request), but since Halloween plans were dampened by a bad week-long case of strep throat for the little one, I was a bit distracted, and time sort of slipped away. Luckily, inspiration struck at the grocery store, when I found a sad little kid’s Vader costume for 6 bucks in the Halloween aisle. It came with a tiny cape that was way too tight around the neck, so I just extended it by sticking a longer piece of velcro to it where the ends met up. I mean, technically, Vader DID CREATE C3PO, so I think it’s a better companion piece than R2. …At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.
But Vader alone wasn’t enough–I wanted to spice it up a little, so I wore a sugar skull shirt (because it’s black and I already own it), which gave me the idea of painting the helmet. There are a bajillion sugar Star Wars characters online (which I love), so I just grabbed a paint pen (which I already had) and BOOM–two minutes later, my costume was complete.
The kid was feeling better, but still pretty sick, so we just went down the street & back. She had a chance to do her thing, and then she had fun handing out candy. People seemed to dig her homemade costume. We even saw a kid dressed as Vader, one as Yoda, and another as a Jawa! Star Wars still lives, if you ever have your doubts.
So if the costume giddiness is over and you’ve got the dressup blues, I present, for your consideration, a paper doll I made ages ago for an art show I once had. She’s got a mix of old-skool circus performer, pinup girl, derby blocker, and steampunk fanciness. And if paper dolls aren’t your thing, just head on over to that bucket of candy. There’s one in there calling your name….
Call me old fashioned, call me overprotective, but I’m a little weird about having my daughter’s face all over the internet. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the internet, while a wonderful and amazing resource, can be quite creepy.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned from the “Collaborations” post going viral is that nothing is sacred. People are free to say and do anything from behind the protective shield of a computer screen. And they do.
I am reminded of an installation piece by Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal, who lived in a room for a month with an internet-controlled paint gun. Anyone at all could log on and shoot him, with no repercussions, no consequences. And they did. A LOT. SO much so that he was haunted and traumatized by it. As this article states, “…when people no longer fear reprisal from their actions then they will become monsters with little regard for other human beings.”
So if I’m so protective of her, why post anything at all about my daughter? Simply put: she is an enormous part of my life. I know the things I do with and for her are things another mother or father might like to know, or might feel better for having read. People can be nasty, and while I’m a big girl and can handle it, I feel there’s no real reason (other than the fact that she is, in fact, super adorable) to show her face. Cropping and sideshots, folks. That’s just how it goes.
But since my artistic likenesses aren’t exactly photorealistic, I feel fairly comfortable sharing a painting I did of her. My first one of her, actually–and it was pretty intimidating. Photos rarely capture someone’s personality, and I find with portraits, I will sometimes paint it as closely as I can to the photo, and yet there is something always missing: the personality, which (unless you know the person) is difficult to grasp and (even if you do know them) is difficult to separate from.
One time, my daughter told me she wanted a “gown” to play dressup, so we got some pink thing (a dress? A nightgown?) at my friend’s vintage clothing sale for $3. At the time, her kid-drawings were nothing more than circles with faces, and lines for arms and legs. She called them “monsters,” so I recreated them in acrylic in the background.
When she saw the final piece, she looked for a minute with a critical eye and said, “…is that me?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Is that mine drawings?”
“Yes,” I said. “I put them on the painting. Do you like it?”
She paused for a long time. “I think it is beautiful.” She said.
And that’s pretty cool.