Once upon a time, a 70plus-year-old woman (me) woke up with big thought. Before she even had a sip of coffee, she announced that thought to her partner and four dogs. “I am going to become a cartoonist,” she said.
This was a big thought because she had never done any drawing at all. Her partner responded with a solid, “Huh,” and went back to reading the paper. The dogs glanced up. Here is a photo of my eldest Border Collie’s response.
Then the whole pack tucked back in their beds since it was another half hour before breakfast.
Over the next few days, the big thought crystalized for the 70plus-year-old woman (still me). The cartoons would focus on a group of dogs that participate in dog sports and their people.
By then, the realization that she knew nothing of drawing and even less about how cartoons are put together had settled in. The idea teetered precariously.
But the woman had hurt her knee and had to take a year off from agility to recover, so she had a good deal of extra time and energy. She tackled the problem of drawing by watching several YouTube videos on cartooning. These were mostly intended for children who wanted to draw goofy characters and not very helpful to someone who wanted to draw dogs. Here is a sample.
Then she found an online school with a lot of drawing classes. She signed up for one and then another and another. These were real drawing classes. She settled into learning to draw circles and lines. Even when practicing these exercises, sketches of dogs began to turn up nestled between circles and oblongs.
And every day she practiced. Her first class culminated in drawing a bird. While it was far from perfect, it was satisfying for someone who had never drawn a bird.
Every day the lessons continued. Retirement is a wonderful thing… She produced drawings of vases and bananas and mountains.
Finally, the day came when it was time to get serious about drawing a dog.
Many of the dog drawings started out well, but when they were done the Labrador Retriever looked like a river otter. The Border Collie looked more like…something from outer space.
She struggled with those internal critics who want to snuff out creative ideas. They kept asking, who was she to try and publish cartoons? Those censors are vicious beasts. More about them in a future blog.
She fought back and drew and drew. Although she almost gave up the dream several times.
Then an unexpected and wonderful thing happened. Her good friend decided to draw too. Like our main character, she knows dogs and dog sports. Like her, the friend had never drawn. Our main character and her friend decided to take the journey together. They got together for all-day drawing sessions. They encouraged each other. They did not say, your Labrador looks like a river otter or your Border Collie looks like a space alien.
Until finally one day, they decided to launch a webpage and a Facebook page of their cartoons. They committed to one cartoon each per week. They told their friends about their work and their friends responded in the nicest ways.
And because of that, they kept drawing and sharing.
Until finally, there was nothing to say but: they are cartoonists. They continue to grow and learn. And they are loving it. They thank you so much for following along.
There is a moral to the story.
If you wake up and you want to do something crazy, just do it. Seriously.
Nothing to lose
Unless your dream is skydiving…