Sunday, 1 August 2010

To illustrate a point

One of my failings, if I am to be totally honest, is that I am not very good at seeing things through to completion.  By that I mean that I quite often get very fired up about a new hobby, idea, gym membership, gardening night class, whatever and throw myself into it wholeheartedly for at least five minutes before I either simply lose interest or get distracted by something shiny, a far fetched plotline in Home and Away or life in general.

A whole lot of years ago I was living and working in Tunisia as a holiday rep.  Even though my job had nothing to do with art, I still painted and drew when I got the chance - making the most of my hotel information boards with cartoons and illustrations, selling a watercolour to one of my holidaymakers once and even painting a Christmas scene on a hotel window one year.  At the time I was thinking about how I would love to illustrate story books for children and on a whim decided that if no one would employ me to do that (and why would they when I wasn't actually an illustrator) then I would just write my own story and illustrate that instead.  And so the characters Jodie and Jazz were born.

Around this time, my little cat, Jazz, met a horrible and untimely end at the bottom of a well in the orange grove that my apartment overlooked (I know that location sounds really picturesque and lovely but in reality, not so much!). Anyway, I missed him a lot and decided he should feature in my book.  Because I was living in an Arabic country at the time, the theme I chose to write about was, naturally enough, an Arabian adventure including the ubiquitous flying carpet.  The jist of the story was that Jodie travelled to far away places in her dreams, had amazing adventures with her cat by her side and on waking up would find something from the adventure in her bedroom so that she was never really sure if it was all just a dream (it appealed to my inner child!)  I got to writing and actually finished the story which I then set about illustrating.

Unfortunately, I never did get round to finishing the illustrations, which was quite ironic as they were the whole point of writing the story in the first place.  By that time, I had returned to Ireland and sent the story off to several publishers hoping they might be so bowled over with my illustrations and marvellous storytelling abilities that they would ignore their own rules and actually accept unsolicited work. Needless to say all my manuscript copies were returned with very polite 'thanks, but no thanks' letters attached!

I was looking through some of my very old artwork today, actually searching for something else entirely, when I came across the story (typed on an actual typewriter as well!) and the three illustrations which I did manage to complete.  Over the years I have often thought of Jodie and Jazz thinking that, even if it never sees the light of day as an actual children's book, I should still finish the illustrations just so I can say I did actually write and illustrate my very own book once.

This blog has, so far at least, helped me with completing things, because I know that art is what I love to do and what I have always come back to over the years so even if no one else were to read anything I write, just knowing I've said that I'm going to do something, out loud and into cyber space, sort of compels me to really do it.  So hopefully now that I have dug these old illustrations up again I might actually finish that book after all.


  1. Your art works is beautiful!and deserves a showing.You are very talented,stick with what you are good at,that is what I always say
    Jeanie x


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