Lately, I’ve been thinking about role models and though I’ve no idea if frogs have them, they were our prompt for today. When I was growing up, I definitely saw my mother as a role model. She was always so smart and crafty, quite literally, as she could make anything on the planet out of cloth or yarn. I watched her create all sorts of things and I wanted to learn about all of it. I tried crochet, needlepoint, and sewing, to name a few, managing to make a few things that didn’t look completely awful, but I never quite had the talent for it. I think I only remember attempting to use the sewing machine once, but it sort of fascinated and terrified me at the same. Later, in school, I would discover drawing, and for the first time, I felt like it was something I both loved and could actually do properly. My continuous contour line drawing of a pair of sneakers won first place and was featured in the school art calendar. I then remember having dreams of becoming an illustrator one day, but that dream was mingled in with a long list of a million other things I wanted to do. I just had a deep desire to make things, thanks to my mother, who inspired me more than she ever knew.

As I grew up, my role models began to increase in number exponentially. There were writers I discovered that wooed me with each word they put to paper. Well, it was always paper back in those days, at least. I still remember reading Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto when it came out back in 2001, even though it wasn’t a book I would normally have chosen. As it turns out, despite a main plot that has terrorists invading a birthday party featuring an opera star, the book was really about love and friendship and the lyrical prose was like watching an actual opera. I remember being dumfounded that someone could make something like that. And I remember vowing to myself that I too would make a book one day. Though I knew it would not be in the soaring prose that once inspired me, I didn’t mind. That’s the beauty of role models, they are only meant to shape one’s intention, the rest is entirely up to the student. There were so many other writers who captured my attention, including the classic wit of Oscar Wilde, a fellow Irishman. Literally nothing I pen is remotely close to their genius, but they inspired me to pick up a pen in the first place.

And when it comes to art, I have so many role models it’s almost dizzying. My favorite illustrators are the ones from my favorite books from childhood. They include Quentin Blake, Peggy Fortnum, Beatrix PotterShel Silverstein, and Dr. Seuss. The latter three, of course, not only illustrated the books, but also penned them. These illustrators mostly produce illustrations that are slight and whimsical and really nothing like my own, but they are still my role models. An artist far closer to these would be the brilliant artist Luke Scriven who was featured here a couple of years ago. And even though this stylistic direction was my favorite, I discovered several hundred other approaches in the over 500 guest artists that have been featured here.  In short, I realize now that no matter the style, every one of these artists is one of my role models. That’s perfectly crazy, I know, but my own style is a strange amalgamation of everything they’ve taught me over these last few years. Just like when I was a kid, I watched and blended ideas that I saw pass by me. I didn’t mimic them exactly, I just loved them and let that love find it’s rightful place in my own style. It’s been a wonderful way to approach art and life, and I have my mother to thank for starting me down this path. It’s always a glorious thing to have someone to look up to.

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Two Frogs Watercolor - Doodlewash Sketchbook

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31 thoughts on “Someone To Look Up To

  1. Tree frogs! So cute. I had one jump on me in the shower at my Dad’s house one day. Scared the poop out of me. Which also made me think that my dad was my role model in sketching. He didn’t do it very often, but I was always amazed at his hidden talent. I wish he was still here to talk to him about it. I know I get all my crafting genes from my mom’s side. Lucky me, both sides of the family! PS – I sketched Kermit the frog. Hahaha!

    1. Thanks, Lori! 😃💕Eeeekk!! A tree frog jumping on me in the shower would scare the poop out of me as well, since we’re sharing. lol That’s such an awesome reflection of your dad. I feel the same about mine. He had lots of creativity, but it wasn’t on display as much as my mother. And yay to Kermit the frog! Love it! I do a great Kermit the frog impression by the way. 😉

  2. Your frogs would make awesome role models – much like the frogs from Wind in the Willows, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard‎, whose work, like John Tenniel’s was a big inspiration to me. Then in high school, Peter Max blew my mind and the artist of a strange promotional toothpaste calendar. Crest if I remember correctly. It had all these faceless little people running around carving up turkeys for Thanksgiving and such. I don’t know if the artist was even named, but I don’t remember it, and wish I did. That calendar was my go-to source of inspirtion for years! I’ve tried to find a reference of it, but had no luck. Still – it’s there forever in my brain. Leetle tiny people lurking in the folds, waiting to spring out and wreck havoc … er… inspire me to great art!

    1. Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕Happy you liked my little frogs! And I loved Wind in the Willows as well! Now I’m desperately wanting to get a peek of that Peter Max toothpaste calendar… it sounds amazing!!! I want to see the leetle tiny people! hehe

  3. I love looking at all the watercolor art on Pinterest. There are so many incredible artists out there. I too would never copy them, but I hope they influence my paintings in some unconscious way. Plus, they give me ideas of things to paint that I may have never thought of. Dead flowers? Yes! Asian influenced brush work? Absolutely! I also like to watch the free classes on Curious Mondo. So many things people create that I have no intention of ever doing, but I love to see and understand how things are done. Today I watched a class on soft foam ventriloquist puppet making. It was a revelation. That’s deep down probably why I became a librarian. I like to know stuff even if I will never use that information.

    1. I love that about you, Lisa! 😃💕 Not just because it’s just like me! hehe… I want to know it all as well. I’m not sure that any information is useless for an artist. I think each little bit makes it into the drawing or painting in some way. But, mostly, you’ve gone and made me want to search for soft foam ventriloquist puppet making!! Fun!

  4. I enjoyed your tribute to not only your Mom but to the creative influences in your life. I don’t think enough people give artists and creative people the acknowledgement that they deserve for enriching our lives. How dull it all would be without artists and writers sharing their craft.

  5. Great frog interpretation of the prompt! My mom was my creative inspiration, too. She could sew clothes without patterns, and she had me sewing by hand at an early age. By age 12, I was making all my own clothes using a machine. My mom loved all crafts, but in her nineties, she learned watercolor at her senior center. Her paintings were of birds and flowers – I treasure these as some of her last creative works.

  6. Charlie said, “I watched and blended ideas that I saw pass by me. I didn’t mimic them exactly, I just loved them and let that love find it’s rightful place in my own style”

    Those frogs capture me completely: the colors, the expressions, the personalities that light the page. Love them!

  7. I loved the book Bel Canto. It was one of the first books I read for our book club. When you said it came out in 2001 I was stunned to think I’ve been going to this book club for over 18 years. My mother too, inspired me in many ways. She taught me how to sew, knit and cook. I first learned to draw in school and loved it but I wanted to do everything. Unfortunately art was put on the shelf until I was almost 50. I started to take art classes in the evenings. I passed on what I learned to my grade five students and by the time I was 60 I became the school librarian and art teacher. In the last last five years of my career I had my dream job. Now I dream of writing and illustrating my own children’s book but again I want to do everything. Thanks for sharing your memories of your mother and all those who inspired you. It brought back memories for me as well.

    1. That’s so awesome, Carol! 😃💕 Thrilled you enjoyed Bel Canto as well. hehe… I had the same thought when I had to look up the year it came out! lol And thrilled this post brought back so many good memories. Mothers are the best! And you should definitely write and illustrate that children’s book! This from the guy who has that and million other things on the list. But, DO it!

      1. Thanks Charlie. I met a woman today who picked up the book Bel Canto off a shelf at the seniors centre where I was picking up my father. She didn’t like the book and didn’t bother to finish it. Maybe it’s a generational thing but she’s not much older than some of the ladies in my book club who loved the book. Go figure!

  8. You’ve been a gracious and encouraging host to many wonderful artists and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing their work and reading their stories. I also love Ann Patchett’s brilliant work. She’s a writer I much admire. As for the froggies – my daughter in law would love this painting. It’s loaded with charm and fun.

    1. Aww thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 hehe… she doesn’t… she gave the computer I bought her to my niece. lol But… I sent her a copy of my Sketching Stuff book, so she’s read a few more posts by now, though not nearly caught up. 😉

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