The day was filled with creativity and inspiration. I went to see some plays put together by a bunch of talented film/theatre actors. Top-notch stuff, comedy sketches. So hysterically funny, I actually cried laughing. I have fallen in love with plays because of them—because they do it television sitcom style. I enjoy being around actors, I feed off their creativity and athleticism. I consider them to be athletes because they work very hard at what they do: to keep up with their craft, and also physical health and appearance, which require a great deal of self-discipline.
I know and admire the difficulty and sacrifices other artists go through: to live double lives—of working very hard to survive and then reserving the energy to give fully and creatively. That is a superhero thing to do; and athletes do the same thing too.
I sat down minutes before the play started to sketch some thumbnails for Juan to reference for the graphic novel. I find it embarrassing to draw in public because everyone watches you like you’re an expert artist. I used to know how to draw—but I don’t anymore. Like anything in life, you use it or lose it. I have to sketch out notes for Juan, otherwise, it’s impossible to describe. It saves me time to draw in-between activities because I’m too busy to sit down to do it. As result, I carry a sketchbook around and I feel so pretentious.
Even though I never intended this to be, my sketches are improving significantly as the muscle memory of drawing returns to me: but it is ever so humbling, because a great artist like Juan would turn around and hand over a masterpiece that render my crude sketches to be hideously amateur. I often sit around wondering how hard he’s going laugh when I send him off my sketches. I never ask him what his reaction is because I don’t want to know. It’s just a very naked process.
This is the scary truth: when I used to shop for illustrators, I see professional artists draw at the level of my crude sketches and calling themselves artists. Go figure! This explains why I am so picky. I need to always work with people who can do things that I CANNOT do. If I can do it, then why would I need them? I have to admire people who blow everything out of the water.
Juan, my illustrator, has caught the Beverly bug. And I hope the reader will too. It took him awhile to do her right, not because of his skills—but because he had not yet fallen in love with her—the way June has. All the artists I worked with before couldn’t draw Beverly—and this was a disaster for me. I believe the reason is because everyone has a secret hatred for perfect cheerleaders—so they draw them generically and subconsciously sabotage them.
No one has sympathies for cheerleaders—except me.
I don’t see them just for the strengths—but for their sacrifices and willingness to excel. They are good role models for endurance and seeing the best in everything. Perhaps that seems too surface oriented but it’s the superficial effort that makes them so vulnerable and fragile to me. When I see people working very hard or acting very strong—I know they have a very delicate center. I react to that center—and that’s the center I want the artist to illustrate. In my novel, I believe this comes across in the words. But in pictures, it is a lot harder.
I look at this picture Juan drew and I get dizzy…because it renders perfectly the feeling of gazing into a pair of eyes—and falling…in love. Yes, it is just a caricature. But it’s Mona Lisa to me: a gaze that takes you inward and makes you get lost in an irrepressible way.
P.S. a friend of mine wrote this song for Madonna