Tag Archives: drawing

From the Dreaded One’s Desk: The Evils of Illustration

ardythava“Erm,  your dreadfulness?” the Art Minion asked.

“What?” The Most Evil Dreaded Author bared fangs while trying to carefully ink the lines of her picture over the make-shift light table.

“I think the cat’s head is crooked… maybe you should start this one over.”

“And maybe I should boil you in oil,” grumbled the Dreaded One.

The Art Minion shut up.

The Editorial Minion sidled up for a closer look. “I think that arm is the wrong angle, and why does that dress have pointing lace on one side and rounded lace on the other?”

“Lest me show you why.” The Dreaded One flashed fangs and bonked the minion on the nose with the pen.

“Ow. No need to get so prickly,” the Editorial Minion muttered and slunk off.

“I demand silence! The next minion who speaks before I do gets toilet scrubbing duty!” The Dreaded One glared, mollified a little by the minions’ cowering. Trying to ignore her increasing frustration at trying to draw, she could fully recall why she didn’t do it often. Seconds later, the ink pen  lingered over the paper a fraction of a second too long, leaving a blotch of ink.

“Arg! I hate this,” the Dreaded One roared, throwing her pen across the room.

The Production Minion decided this was the moment for a status update. “It’s looking very good, your evilness,” he said, bowing, and ignoring the tantrum. “But you must finish by tonight if you are to make your Dreaded Deadline.”

“I’m the Dreaded Author!” snarled the Dreaded One. “Author. Not Illustrator! What is this nonsense? Get someone else to do it!”

“Your awfulness,” interjected the Budgeting Minion, “We don’t have the funds at this point to hire an artist.”

“Besides,” added the Art Minion, “All your family and friends agreed you were the perfect artist for this project. Your personal evil style is exactly what it needs.”

With a roar the Dreaded Author snatched up the Production Minion and threw him into the others. “I don’t care! I’m an author! Not an illustrator! Out!”

They scurried through the door, while the Dreaded One sat back with a sigh and a grumble. The half-finished cat drawing eyed her back. It had a decidedly smug look on its face.

“No you don’t,” muttered the Dreaded One. “I don’t care about you. Not at all! No!”

The drawn cat smirked. “I’m just too much a challenge for the likes of you,” it whispered, blotchy whiskers and all.

With a snarl, the Dreaded One grabbed a fresh sheet of paper. “Oh, I’ll wipe the smile right off your face! On this next drawing. With you drowning in the ocean. I’ll lock you up in prison next, and then get you skewered with a sword.”

The cat at least looked properly miserable in the next few versions.

“Not bad,” the Dreaded One growled, looking them over. “But I still think I’ll stick to writing next time.”

Sasha behind bars 001

The Blank Page

Calico PatrickI recall sometime in grade school, the local children’s author Eloise McGraw came to our school for a reading. To encourage reading, the librarian put all the library’s full collection of her books on a month-long display. Interested by the presentation, I tried not her award winning Egypt book, but a different one that caught my eye “Master Cornhill.” It was a rather involved English historical fiction novel about an orphan finding his place in society in the framework of one of the great London fires. An unlikely read for a girl of ten or eleven, but I enjoyed in none-the-less.

An unlikely image from late in the book has stayed with me my whole life. The boy finds an unlikely friend and master in a Dutch mapmaker, who at one point the book hands the MC a paintbrush and pot of blue pain and points to the map he’s about to start and suggests the MC makes the first stroke. Faced with the beautiful blank page, the MC is suddenly terrified. What if his stroke is wrong? What if he ruins the either piece of precious (and expensive paper)? And yet, there is the master, watching, waiting, and he also dares not disobey and so conquers his fear and makes lone long blue stroke across the page.

Good, the master tells him, I did not know until this moment if you had in you what it takes to become an artist. It takes making that first stroke. And if I had ruined the page, asks the boy. Then you would have ruined it, but that’s a risk that has to be taken, because if the page remains blank, you will never be artist… so something like that.

I don’t own the book, shockingly. I have only my memory, the quiet English room on the bridge of London, the white-haired Dutch master, the blond haired young boy, the white of the paper, and that one lone blue stroke. As if I was standing there myself. I suppose considering the vividness of the image I don’t really need McGraw’s book after all, do I?

It’s easy to forget now that I’m a published author that I started out as a visual artist as a child. I’ve long overcome the fear of the word processor page, dingier than a piece of art paper as my laptop screen is smudged and dusty, only hastily wiped off as I focus on churning out the words. It’s easy to forget that just because I have conquered this page does not mean that piece of paper waiting for me will easy to face.

For the past three months I’ve officially been planning to illustrate one of my own books. But the blank page has been winning. I haven’t drawn in I don’t know how long and somewhere in those years, the terror has returned. And so, when I sit down to write and think of the illustration project yet again, I take a deep breath and call to mind that English room, the London bridge, the white-haired map maker.

“Here,” he says, offering me a pencil, freshly sharpened. “You make the first line.”

The infinite white page spreads out and my small hands shake, the world spins, but then rights itself as I reach out and draw a long confident line across the page. This time I will not forget—I am an artist.