The story below demonstrates one of my favorite purposes of keeping an illustrated journal, drawing funny moments in my life. Although it’s been two years since I created it, the pages still make me smile.
It’s a Happy Thanksgiving salute to my American friends, who celebrate the day on November 26th. In Canada, we feasted over a month ago, on October 12th. It was a warm 14°C, requiring us to open the windows to release the steamy heat from the turkey filled oven.
The writing isn’t edited, and the sketches were done in haste but I wanted to get the story on paper before I got swamped with the happenings of the next day, so I squeezed the drawing into an already busy schedule. Unlike my usual style of drawing, where I draw what is in front of me, I drew this entry from my imagination and memory, referring to a photo of kale to help me remember its shape and color.
A chronological layout
A chronological layout works well when telling a story. The one above has the events labeled one to five. Paying attention to layout by creating thumbnail sketches on the back of a page before starting to draw, helps with sequencing memories and choosing the parts of the story to include.
When I have more time to sketch, I also jot down notes to describe what a drawing can’t, such as sounds and aromas. I take a minute to sniff the ocean, to feel the cool breeze, to listen to the rain on the roof of the car and write down words that detail the experience. When I actually do start writing in my journal, I have a list of words to include in the entry and can quickly add more sensory input.
Listening to the wrong stories
I love stories and try to find them daily. Sometimes in the quiet and peace of observing shapes, lines and colors and attempting to put them on paper, I notice new narratives popping up in my mind, ones that create worry or fear. If I’m paying attention, I stop and listen and ask myself, is this true? Why am I choosing to run this show over and over in my mind, resulting in feelings of powerlessness?
If I listen to these peace stealing tales, to what they are really telling me, it’s usually to do with control, or my lack of being able to control some aspect of my world. So I return to trust, acceptance and the present.
The entry in the page above not only reminded me that I’d had a rough week, but how the actions of noticing and recording, generally brings me back to thankfulness and appreciation.
I’ll finish with an applaud to another of my favourite children’s book illustrators, Margaret Bloy Graham.