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JULY 9, 2009
Red Riding Hood exploring (with a purpose) in the big forest!
(ink, charcoal, colored pencil)
Is exploration over-rated? Our muses and mothers tell us to stop and smell the roses, doodle and dabble. Explore. Express yourself. Poke and root around and see what beautiful things emerge. But in illustration and other creative endeavors, there is this pressure… go ahead, dabble, but get it right, take it to market and ride that pony till it's frothing and dead on its feet.

It occurred to me this morning that in the illustration world there is a preponderance of monkeys styling about. Why is this? I'm sure it's not just that so many artists these days make their livelihood aping others' styles and old trends. Maybe it's because monkeys are human enough but not so human to cause the poorer draftsmen among us a little pang. Maybe it's the comic potential that simians offer. God knows we always need to poke fun at ourselves, now more than ever. But back to dabbling and delving… and maybe slipping on a banana peel too.

My dabbling has lead me in the direction from editorial to children's book illustration with some decorative noodling thrown into the bargain. I'm still adding ingredients to the bowl and I wonder…! I wonder what will I finally take to market this Fall when I launch my new chariot. The pressure! How to explore and leave doors open so that the work is fresh and original yet somehow pays respect to the giants before and beside me? How to do it all and distill a style out of all my playful ramblings?

These concerns weigh on me today as I attempt to explain my absence of late from these pages. Drawger is a place where we wave our little triumphs because, face it, this is a tough business and even the most successful illustrator is only as good as her last job. There's always the downward pressure of the swarms of new talent and low fees for most. And the alphas on our little version of Survivor climbing higher wondering how it got so lonely up there. Success and failure are equally paradoxical. So I ask you, new and old alike, rich and poor, serf and lord: How's things? Growing webs or wings? Sharpening your dagger or hoeing your beans?
recent sketchbook entries: Red riding Hood, a witch, Thumbelina in her cradle doodle, angry Queen Sun, angry Old Winter, odds & ends.