Saturday 28 March 2009

Springtime Soul searching

'Apple Blossom and Eggs'
ink and watercolour

This is the third illustration in the series (and it's actually the second version of this same painting - I couldn't bear the first one when it was finished, and it is consigned to the rubbish pile)
I have been busy this week, painting and making prints, which will be slowly added to my Etsy shop over the weekend, and have been ordering more cards. I love having a new card order arrive. They look so crisp and clean, and I enjoy folding them, and adding stickers and cello bags. The cards have been selling well in the Courtyard during my exhibition, and I have orders from a couple more venues, which is great. The exhibition has been a really positive experience. I've got some great feedback, from people whom I respect, which serves to make me feel good, even if it does nothing to help my bank balance!
I am always wary of showing locally, due to some (probably) twisted reasoning and confidence issues. I am fortunate enough to have grown up in this place, a beautiful and magical landscape, and the small town I live in is home to some of the best fantasy artists and illustrators of our time. When I was a child I looked up to these people in awe ( and still do), but it never fails to make me feel hopelessly out of my league, and fiercely aware that I must be different, or I shall be thought of as simply another imitator. A stubborn pride, and a hatred of sycophancy means that I plough on alone, determined to make it by myself. So I come across as pig-headed, when in actual fact it's just that fear of hearing that I might not be good enough. I bury my head, ostrich fashion, and think that if I just work for another year ( or 2 or 3) then I will be ready to stand up and be taken seriously in the town where I live. I think it would be easier to be an illustrator anywhere else but here!

Anyway, enough of that! Personal soul - searching quickly becomes boring to read!
I had better go and tend my greenhouse instead. There is nothing like planting seeds for soothing the soul!

And here is a picture of Red, who also needs his soul soothed. Marlene has been brought of the grass at night, and into his barn. Despite the fact that Red would hate to be shut in the barn himself, he likes to think he can walk through it whenever he wants, and obviously considers it very much his. Putting Marlene in the barn, and closing the gate has driven Red into a fury. I have never seen him look so angry about anything. If he doesn't get over it I shall have to rethink the arrangement


Sarah Sullivan said...

Despite what you may think - you are one of the best illustrators I have seen. Now this is saying alot - why... because I have taught preschool for 23 years and read hundreds of children's books. I consider myself an expert on the subject and will tell you - you are wonderful and have a style all your own!!! You are one of my favorites!!!
As for the pony - oooohh he is a bit bent!!! Sarah

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

You do live in a magical countryside and it shows in your wonderful work!! Don't doubt your ability! It is there!

Red does look pissed! Would make for a great portrait!

bethbbk said...

I think your work is wonderful!

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

You've been awarded the "Passion for Painting" award, stop by my blog and pick it up :-)

alison said...

What an incredible horse-face Red is making! As far as your own artwork, we are always our own harshest critics. I think your artwork is both lovely and unique, and am saving my pennies to hopefully eventually buy a bit for my own Acorn Cottage. (Though it will be hard to choose only one)

Jess said...

I know what you mean about being brave enough to show your work to people who know who you are but you have nothing to fear. Your work is more than good enough to stand up to any other artist. We are so critical of our own work because we know it so well. Go on, be brave and show them what you're made of!x

Coreopsis said...

Well...not being local or knowing who the illustrious folks are that live in your area, I can't imagine you not feeling completely on top of your game. I think you're a MARVELOUS illustrator. And you just continue doing your thing (as you're no doubt doing). It's a funny, thing, though. Just yesterday during lunch (I teach English and eat with a bunch of English teachers), one of my colleagues was talking about how he used to do gymnastics in high school, but there were a couple of guys who were just so much better than him that he quit. THe two guys went on to become Olympic medalists in gymnastics, so it wasn't like he was competing with "ordinary" high school gymnasts. I don't know why I said that; it's just that it's funny. My younger son (who's quite bright), is always talking about his "genius" older brother, and about what an idiot he is.

I guess it's just a matter of looking at the larger context.

I love looking at your stuff. I'm envious of your ability. And I too have read hundreds upon thousands of children's books to kids, and know that your work is about as good as it gets. I'm continually impressed.

Danielle Barlow said...

Thankyou for being so nice everyone! Coreopsis - I feel just like your gymnast colleague! The illustrators living in my small town/large village really are the 'olympic athletes' of their field - Alan Lee (, Brian Froud (, David Wyatt (, among others. It's impossible to feel anything other than inadequate against them!

Carol Buck & Dottie Martz said...

you been awarded a second passion for painting award!

Caroline said...

Well before I rush off and look at the 'others' in your village I just want to say that in my book you are a superb painter! I love looking at your work - it's very distinctive. Keep doing what you do Danielle and blow the rest!

Debra Keirce said...

You do wonderful work! And Red is lucky to have you looking after him!

A.Smith said...

Red can still my heart with that look, the rascal!

Danielle, the wonderful thing about having someone who we think is better at what we do than we are, is to know that whether or not that may be true it gives us some times the impetus we need to reach for the stars. I am sure you hold more than your share of stars among your pencils but since you are very talented you don't notice them.

Jennifer said...

That is beautiful. I love the green color in it. Your spotted horse is gorgeous, I always admire your pictures of him, even when he is grumpy looking! :)

Karen said...

We are definitely are own harshest critics.
I still sometimes even avoid saying what I do if I meet new people in social situations, just because I still have that doubt, and am a little embarassed to call myself 'artist'.

Everyone's work is unique and you have real talent Danielle!

By the way, your ginger boy in the greenhouse looks exactly like my ginger chap Jasper!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Interesting thoughts Danielle.. I do believe you work would stand against any... It is unique and beautifully done and detailed... truly beautiful!!!

Unknown said...

Danielle... my heart sank when i read this post... it reminded me of me! Determination and passion 100%, Self confidence 1%
I dont think you are alone though. I felt an utter fraud saying I was a shoemaker initially just because I wasnt taught or hadnt been to college or carried out an apprenticeship. How many pairs of shoes do you have to make before you can say, I am a shoemaker??? Likewise, how many paintings do you have to paint before you can say I am an artist??? ONE!!!!!
Mad arent we!! If people are buying what you produce then its got to be good!
Keep smiling, and dont search your soul too often, paint instead!!


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