Sunday, November 29, 2015

Power to Persevere

Looking back at the year I've been thinking about the power of perseverance and it's importance in my own life. What mattered most in the story Margarita Engle wrote about Millo Castro Zaldarriga, was her determined courage to keep going. It's much easier to give up than persist through setback and disappointments. 

The volcanic color and expressions in the eyes were important. Her sisters emotions include deep sadness, shock and numbness. I wanted the ache in Millo's face to reveal a hint of fortitude in her eye.
This scene needed to communicate the injustice and intimidation Millo felt. The pain of her rebuke is contrasted
by the carefree expressions and movement of children free to drum.
Millo's dream to drum is above all else yet out of reach.
She feels anguish, bittersweet emotion and longing.

Millo has unstoppable determination to overcome the distance to her dream.

In early November, I made this drawing of Churchill. He had vision and leadership but his persistence is what really stands out for me.

BIG ideas from Sir Winston:

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no less enthusiasm. 
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Continuous effort-not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking your potential. 

He struggled with poor health, hives, boils, rashes, pneumonia, strokes, a lisp and was practically deserted by his parents. As a politician he was often disliked by his colleagues and like all of us had his faults. What made him remarkable is that each time he fell down he stood up again. He wasn't afraid to take an unpopular point of view and was known to cross the aisle if he believed in something. He pressed on and on to lead his country and the world.

Bessie Coleman from Wikipedia

BESSIE COLEMAN came from a family of sharecroppers and grew up in poverty. She walked four miles to school each day and excelled at Math. An avid reader, she was compelled to fly after reading about World War I pilots. As a black woman she would never be accepted to an American pilot school so she took a French-language class at the Berlitz School in Chicago and moved to France. Bessie simply refused to take no for an answer. Enrolling in flight school she eventually did exhibition flying as a barnstormer and gave lectures across the United States from 1922 to 1926. She turned down opportunities to perform unless audiences were desegregated and her career as the world's first African American pilot inspired those who would follow. Today there is a postal stamp in her honor, a library and middle school that bears her tenacious name.

JANE GOODALL the determined scientist and conservationist whose patience and persistence to understand animals contributed so much to the world.

MARIE CURIE whose admirable persistence in the face of many research obstacles made a difference. She used her amazing discoveries to help develop therapies for disease.

EINSTEIN took years to formulate his theories of relativity.  Despite learning disabilities he persevered transforming the way we look at the world. This amazing thinker said "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer".

Developing an attitude of persistence is vital to being an illustrator. I've learned that for every sketch that works, there are reams of ideas on tracing tissue that simply don't. I file them away in drawers and hold on to them just to remind myself to keep drawing. Sometimes an old sketch might spark an idea for a future project but often they sit there turning brown as the years go by. As a young artist I was intensely frustrated when things didn't come out just right. Over time I realized it's important to get over perfectionism and keep going. Procrastination takes over if you focus on your failures.

Now that I have a son I know it is most important to complement him on working really hard. I want to encourage him to choose more challenging tasks and know that in the marathon of life persistence counts. We all need to model persistence and teach kids it's good to make mistakes and fall short. Let them feel those big feelings when they fail, tell them to take breaks but most importantly keep going.When learning not to give up a child may hit the wall but you've got to aim their sights at the door and teach them how to find the opening.

I hope the story and images in Drum Dream Girl will encourage children to ask thoughtful questions and keep dreaming. To become problem solvers and never give up. Grow the determination needed to achieve their goals and keep practicing.

Saturday, November 14, 2015