Today is my half-birthday, a day I've always noted, for some reason or another, as a very merry unbirthday to me. And yet, today, as I get older by this silly milestone, I feel older. My shoulders hurt from drawing. My hips hurt from standing all day in unsupportive rain boots on an uneven surface at a stormy, outdoor show.
I realize it's been two months since I've posted here. Those two months have been both empty and full.
I traveled to Maryland to see my family for Easter, bringing my husband and my dog with me. I had spent the last several months drawing nearly non-stop, except for class prep, grading, and work on an invited lecture I had at Middlebury College in Vermont. More on that later. I was tired as I reached my weird Spring Break that came three weeks into my semester. I attended my second SCBWI conference in Maryland, and left feeling really inspired. I had learned a lot, had met some great people, had done some good work on the manuscript I am writing with my brother, and had had a tough but good critique with a Caldecott medal winner. And I stopped drawing.
My visit a week later to Middlebury was wonderful. I was treated like a serious professional and an intellectual for the first time in four years. It was like balm on a wounded spirit. No longer was I merely an adjunct. I was an expert in my field again. The town was beautiful, the waterfall, the mountains and the lake restorative. And I still did not draw.
I returned to NYC. I began to teach again. I worked on my shop, I prepped for shows, I shipped orders. And I still did not draw, even in the face of a commission.
Little doodles were hard won, not from my mind, which felt fertile, but from my hand, which was spent. I deduced that my artist's block, therefore, was located somewhere in my arm.
There are many reasons I stopped drawing. I was tired. I was unsure after my critique. There was some grief, as well, that had to work its way out of my body. I had to feel confident again.
Through sheer force of will I dissolved that blockage in my arm, and I made myself draw again. Here's my work-in-progress, for a friend. More on that, soon. And hopefully...more, much more. A mountain full of more.
Hans-My-Hedgehog Illustrations is the name of Jessica Boehman's blog and illustration shop. It is named after her favorite fairy tale about a hedgehog boy who becomes king of the forest. All other pages redirect to: