So Sunday at 7pm I found out about a contest on Lilla Rogers website Make Art That Sells…the deadline was midnight. The challenge? Create a children’s book cover for a story called “The Sugar Plum Fairy’s Adventure”. The prize? A free spot into an online class called “Illustrating Children’s Books”…a class which would be amazing for me since I’ve been asked to collaborate on a children’s book, and I have no idea what I’m doing. And a class that is out of my financial budget at the moment. I felt something in my body I can’t really explain. It was warm and tingly and full of energy, like I was going to burst if I didn’t get moving on it right away. I can do this! I was compelled to say good night to my boys (whom I usually lay down with until the youngest is sleeping) and I went to hide in the basement and create.
I read the instructions…3 times. I searched for 15 mins online for images of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I had an amazing idea…but no vision of a background…it would take me too long to draw up and then paint with the watercolours the way I wanted to. And it would be kind of flat. Another idea…no, that’s too much like someone else’s work from another online class I’m taking. Can’t do that.
And then, I was completely inspired by a previous painting of mine that I’ve been told looks like a children’s book illustration. But I didn’t want to alter it, so I remade it as best as I could in the time I had. Which was tricky considering the depth of layers in the background and the drying time of gesso and matte medium between my mixed media layers. But I did it. I came up with something that I am proud of. It may not be perfect, but it’s pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.
This challenge forced me to not be too picky or critical of my work…yes, I had to kick perfectionism to the curb. It challenged me to trust my instinct and intuition. It also forced me to get out of my head and just go for it…although there was one moment, about 2 hours before the deadline, that I thought I wasn’t going to make it and the to do list was too big. And that’s when I reached out to a couple of friends who set me straight, and I simplified. I thought of the book I just finished listening to by Samantha Bennett, “Get it Done: from procrastination to creative genius in 15 minutes a day”…she talks about aiming for the C, because I completed C is better than aiming for the A that doesn’t get completed and therefore not reached. And she reminded me that my C is another person’s A. And so, I did it. I entered an art contest, at the last minute. What a rush!
After, I checked instagram for the hashtag, and I found some tremendous illustrations that look like children’s book covers already, like they were done by professional illustrators. I was completely blown away with some of the art that was entered into this competition. I thought to myself, “wow, if I had looked at these before I submitted, I never would have even tried”…why? because I’m not good enough. No! Stop right there! And then I thought to myself “I am happy to be among them. I am happy with what I accomplished in just 4.5 hours. I am happy that I jumped at the challenge rather than wishing I had. And I’m happy I got over the things I wanted to keep working on in order to make the deadline.” Gratitude. I am thankful that I saw the contest when I did, and I am grateful to my family for supporting me and understanding it was something I needed to do. Liz Gilbert in her book “Big Magic” talks about putting your work out into the world, and collecting rejection letters, and then putting it out there again. That is what I am doing. I will not fear the rejection letter…I will start a collection, until I can start collecting letters of success!