Lately I’ve been feeling kind of caged. I’m happy and things are good, but suddenly sketching for my supper stopped appealing to me. I just wanted to put the pencils down. With the exception of one week in college when I’d been drawing for about 3 weeks straight without sleep, this was a new sensation.

I stopped and wondered, was it coming all along, after a cumulative 20 some years of drawing here and drawing there, was there a wam-bam day coming where I just wasn’t going to want to anymore, and I never knew, and I never saw it coming?! Could I have been so blind?

I started wondering…. what would I do? How would I do it?

I decided to go to the Bahamas.

On day four one of my fellow vacationing city birds said,
‘Um. You haven’t been drawing. Is that weird?”
Apparently this transition wouldn’t be seamless…

On day five I accidentally broke my fast with some doodling.
‘Gah! No drawing!,’ I reminded myself.

I slammed the sketchbook shut.

Then I had to come home. I went to job-job. I drew some stuff, not in my style stuff, stuff that isn’t me. I came home and I read. I tossed and I turned. I itched, literally – that Bahama Sun is hot!’. I itched figuratively…. I grabbed a pencil. I started searching for my sketchbook. Casually at first, whatever – it’s just a sketchbook…. Then frantically. WHERE COULD IT BE!? I grabbed my face ala Macaulay Culkin. I tried to calm down. Seriously when have I ever had a better idea of where my keys are than my sketchbook? I crawled on my knees and found it peeking out from under the bed.

I opened it to a clean page. Then I saw these guys:

My Bahama-mama doodles.

The boys I idly sketched when i didn’t want to sketch no more. I wonder why elephants were the poison of choice during that week long lead-fast.

Is it because they swim and all my days were spent in the sand and surf?

Is it because they are wrinkly and spoke of my future-forced-ten-time daily application of lotion in attempt to preserve my little island-girl tan?

I thought of this story,
You know how if you cage an elephant when it is very young, you only need tie its leg with a heavy chain. It’ll try and try to break the chain, but it will be too little. When it grows and is strong and healthy it will have decided it can’t break that chain, after months of trying it just gives up. That is when it is weak. It could snap the chain in two by simply walking in a new direction, but it doesn’t. That is when it is truly caged.

So, I am taking heart and remembering this story, that my doodles helped me remember. I am walking in a new direction. Hopefully I’ll take another page out of the elephant’s book and remember my little drawing fast, because it’s silly to start to hate the thing you love best. After all, when you love something you should never forget that you do.

Categories: Animal, Storytime

7 replies »

  1. Doing art for a living can suck the joy out of the experience. Sometimes I have to take breaks, sometimes long breaks. I find that when I get back to it, the ideas and paintings start bursting out of me. You did a good thing to find your sketchbook. The elephants are adorable.

  2. K…I could go on for a LONG time on this one, but it is late. I think it is incredibly telling that you should draw elephants. Major symbolism here in SO many ways, deeply rooted cross culturally, feng shui, budhhism etc. etc. but in particular… “Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles”. Keep the ephantes coming since it is no doubt for the greater good.

  3. ooohhh…. elephants.
    Of course.
    This is awesome on too many levels.
    You really need to stop being so dang cool or my head may explode just thinking about you.

    I am SOOOO glad you got to soul-cleanse in the tropical sun with the ocean and everything. Am excited for Amber the artist and Amber the girl.

    Oh, and: in case you forget or need another reminder, your little purple elephant sketches ARE absolutely adorable.

  4. Ahhhh, the days of tying a cherry stem with my tongue are turned to dust following head/neck radiation, but I sure was proud of my talent for that!
    Hope you also stop by and follow the HIDE A HEART blog and leave a comment too right HERE

  5. The Little Prince is my favorite Elephant story. When I was a child I wanted an elephant as a pet until my father pointed out I would be responsible to picking up to doo! Yikes!!!

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