m wood pen

freelance illustrator: have pen, will travel

m wood shakespeare and company

there are a handful of phrases that ring comfort to me. of course most of them are from the movies. which is, ask anyone who knows me, part of my life. i’ve never been willing to draw the line, set up the boundaries and separate the chaff from the wheat when it comes to “real” life and the one conjured up by technicolor, mgm, warner brothers, action, cut, and wrap.

digressing as usual.

my daughter asked me yesterday if i was excited about my first illustrated book coming out. excited about my first illustrated book, period. my first book.

as she was strolling along a city stretch during the pregnant pause which followed her query during our phone chat, she shrieked, “mom! your blueprint is in crate & barrel.”

where there are no eyes, there can be great confusion. first i thought: honey, sweet, um, that’s old news, that was in 2010 or was it 2011? it’s there no longer, i thought we were talking about the book.

yes, that was a lot of thinking in about 4 seconds!

backtracking, she explained that she was passing by the c&b outlet and spotted one of the old framed cocktail blueprints that i had been commissioned to draft/draw/illustrate a few years ago, propped up in the window.  dashing in, she reported that it was a bit damaged, greatly reduced, and the last of the showroom samples to be sold.

it was an odd sort of synchronicity, that.

and it helped me to form my answer.

yes, i told her, i am excited. but, and maybe this is just what artists, creators, people ‘behind the curtain’ experience all the time: in one way, it’s like a great barge floating down the river nile, river seine, river arno, carrying the past beyond your view.

how do i feel?

dialing further back in time, many cool things have come my way. but the odd bit is that my selective and kookie brain system links to other memories as strong, if not stronger.

case in point: little notecard biz selected to be one of oprah’s favorite things. what was that like? how exciting to meet oprah! was the show crazy?

brain kicks out: stringing up birthday crepe for tot as call comes in from harpo studios. i tell them i have to call back.  taping interferes with my youngest’s preschool thanksgiving feast. the producer asks me what time the feast is? can i make the taping and the feast?

next case in point: cityscapes architectural sketches are heading to the big deal in crate&barrel! what a dream come true! my favorite store! how does that feel?

brain kicks out: a last-minute bit of editing before the illustrations go to print. no supplies, off on crazy east coast road trip with daughters. in woodstock, new york, after a particularly enjoyable bagel and the day after witnessing the sunday night hippie drum circle, we dash into an arts supply shop. i then sketch iconic americana architecture from a friends’ apartment in the bronx on a particularly tepid summer day. some question over the legality of shortening the golden gate bridge launches by our generous hostess.

next case in point: cocktail blueprint print given the red light by crate&barrel. again: dream come true! love that store! how cool is that? how do you feel?

brain kicks out: one month straight of bending over my old design school drafting board, now set up on my huge kitchen island. three nearly grown children and a collection of their high school and college pals pass by during summer days. my kids doing the cooking, making me coffee, kids applauding the endeavor. my back hurts. deadline loomed and we had to nix a family bonding weekend trip to see taylor swift in concert, the gift for my daughter’s 15th birthday. yes, the same tot whose thanksgiving feast i missed because of oprah.

i guess, here’s my answer. for me, it’s the work that i do that impresses itself most in my mind, and forges the strongest memory. after all, it’s my life. i work within, around, behind, embraced within my life, and so scattered bits of these days, when added up, sometimes culminate in the creation of something really amazing, really cool, and really public.

my dad once said that when i set my mind to something, i make it happen.

while flattering, it’s not entirely true because i still do not own a brand new land rover.

but in other ways, it does describe my creative dream list side. i’ve always wanted to design something that lands in crate&barrel; garnet hill; trader joe’s; recycled greetings; on and on. check.

and i’ve always wanted to be a book illustrator.

so, check. again.

big check.

i guess that’s how it feels. satisfying. like i’m doing what i’m supposed to do because i get to check one more dream off of my list.

i’m not so into the public part.  i’m shy. i know it goes with the turf, and heaven knows the big fat wide internet keeps me chatting about these little endeavors! i appreciate beyond words the cheers and praise from my people and anyone who comes across something i’ve sketched, and the day that i actually go into a bookstore, turn a corner and see that blue book that i know so well sitting among the stacks of the “real books”, well, then you’ll probably see a great big smile.

so fly on the wall and behind the curtain are my comfort zones, but i will continue to send more goodies out there to the universe.

what’s next? well, i’m swimming in illustrations for my next three books, so something tells me this dream is going to last for a good long while.

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