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Posts Tagged ‘keep breathing’

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday words of the last three weeks were hibernate, ferocious and mesmerizing.

Yep, I’ve been away from blogging for a bit. I needed a good-sized vacation from My Life, but perhaps I should have been more specific…

What I got was shingles–at least that’s my best educated guess. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, shingles is not a little town in north Nebraska or eastern Texas. It’s an excruciatingly painful nerve event, complete (in my case) with severe back and leg muscle aches, headache, cold-sensitivity, mild nausea, very disrupted mental faculties, no appetite, insomnia and a mysterious, mildly burning and sensitive rash on my left side. From the Google pictures I’ve seen, I seem to have had a mild case of the stuff. (Can’t even imagine what a worse case would be like…I might have been forced to break my no-painkillers rule.) Even reading, my usual sick-day refuge, was out of the question.

Usually I am able to use illness as sort of ‘step-back’ perspective opportunity on my life, contemplating what and how I’ve been doing things, choices I’ve made, and where I want to go next. Not so this time. This event plopped me right down, hard, in the middle of the present moment. Nothing I tried made the pain go away or lessen. Much later when I was able to contemplate, it was quite eye-opening to realize just how uncomfortable I was in the Present Moment. When all avenues of change, escape and distraction are closed, the present moment can get pretty raw. Try it sometime, if you don’t believe me…

Mostly I’m better now. The rash is gradually healing, mental faculties are back to about seventy-five percent, and my To Do list is back and leaning hard. I’m a wee bit wiser now for this ‘vacation,’ and I am not pushing myself or my brain quite as hard as I was before. Hope it lasts.

Note: From what I have read, shingles is caused primarily by stress…and although shingles (if that is indeed what it was) is absolutely *no* fun, I am not advocating the shingles vaccine that is being pushed by doctors right now. What I do recommend, in hindsight 20/20, is to reduce the stress in your life in any way you can. There is plenty of stress floating around in the Universe right now that is not personal, and for that all we can do is breathe and trust, but our personal stresses may be adjustable.

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This post will encompass three Illustration Friday words, two of which apply to a single image, and a bit of News as well: I’ve just posted my new Member page and mini-portfolio at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators site here.     

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“Bear” is the obvious choice for the Illustration Friday word of this week, hibernate. A most sensible and economical creature, bears lay low and avoid most of Winter’s assault in their cosy holes and caves. But if they are prematurely disturbed, or first thing in the Spring when they are absolutely famished (read: low blood-sugar crazies) from their Winter sleep, bears can be ferocious. Being a bear might be nice: imagine the carbohydrate binge that happens every fall…yum.

This particular bear was painted about fifteen years ago for a beautiful book dummy proposal, complete with fully finished preliminary drawing for every page, copies of five finished paintings (in oil), pasted-in text, and hand-stitching. It was an impressive presentation, especially for a novice. I had fallen in love with this particular tale when I first read it in a well-known storyteller-psychologist’s collection of re-told and analyzed stories. Being much younger and very naive to the ways of the world, I sent this beautiful book prototype to that author, inquiring politely and enthusiastically, if she’d like to collaborate on a children’s book version of her story. It was all above board and innocent…I still have the letter.

The response came quickly and was ferocious, (the second Illustration Friday word of the week). Threatening lawsuit, among other dire things, she burned my phone red-hot until, finally, I got a word in edgewise. Sobbing, I re-iterated that this was a proposal, not a rip-off event. It took a while for her to calm down. She gave me a her phone number (bogus, as it later turned out), and forwarded the dummy to her publisher. Four months later, with the return of my dummy, that publisher informed me via an anonymous form letter that no licensing rights were being sold.

It was a very long time before I myself calmed down from this series of events, and got back to being an artist and aspiring illustrator. A Cautionary Tale for aspiring illustrators: tread lightly, follow the rules (especially the unwritten ones)…

“Bear”   (oil on gessoed paper)

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The third Illustration Friday word of the week is mesmerizing. This is the drawing I made and inked, just before the shingles event. The watercolor had to wait until yesterday. Darn…I would love to have posted it that week.

Isn’t it fascinating how we thinking creatures can mesmerize ourselves into believing that we are something that we absolutely are not? Maybe it’s a mild form of schizophrenia? I bet you can think of lots of examples of this self-mesmerizing, without even trying…(about other people doing it, not us, of course!)

“Mesmerize”   (watercolor, pen & ink)

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