Bathing Beauty ©carolynnanctildesign 2015
"Don't waste your time looking back, you're not going that way."
It can be way too easy to get mired in the day to day minutae of creating a life well lived and go years without lifting up one’s gaze to look around and take stock of where you are. The scenery will likely have changed while we were working on the business of dreamweaving, so I find it useful, sometimes amusing, and occasionally mortifying to take a look back and acknowledge how far I’ve come on the journey I set out on years before.
I was prompted to engage in a little reminiscing, while scrolling through photos on my phone, recently. I went way back and found myself confronted with a few of my very first attempts at watercolour illustration. They make me cringe now, but I was quite pleased with them, at the time. I was shy about sharing my artwork and it felt like a stretch to call myself an Artist. Each time I spoke it aloud, I grew a little more bold and I slowly began to believe the truth of it.
The image above of a bathing suit clad woman, wearing a bathing cap & holding an umbrella drink, while dipping her toe in a kiddie pool, was the first watercolour illustration I ever sold.
I remember the circumstances of that first sale, very well.
At the time, I was living with my husband in Saskatchewan, on the Canadian prairies. We were “not from around there”, as the saying goes, having only just left the big city and bought a house in a small rural community. In spite of, or perhaps because of the fact that we were obviously fish out of water, we were welcomed into a close knit community of farmers, most of whom lay claim to farming histories that span generations.
Once a month, those that could would all gather for a potluck feast at the house of one couple who hosted it. Sometimes there were so many people there would barely be room to move and, at other times, only one or two guests would be in attendance. Always, there was an abundance of tall tales, laughter, and good food.
On one such occasion, I was invited to share some of my artwork, as a fledgling artist still new to the group. I remember nervously passing a small selection of watercolour illustrations to those seated around the big farm table. Everyone was very kind and encouraging with their comments and the hostess graciously purchased the painting pictured above.
That simple act of generosity and support gave me the courage to continue.
Eight years later, I have a website, a regular newsletter, this blog (hello!), social media channels I maintain, and a loyal client base. I’ve gained experience and my skills have improved, but in no way do I feel I’ve arrived. With each new project, I find ways to push myself outside my comfort zone so, in many respects, I’m a perpetual newbie. There is still so much more for me to learn and as long as I continue to enjoy the process, I’ll keep facing the scary blank page and experimenting. The joy is in the journey and it can often feel like we’re not making any progress at all. It’s for this reason that I respectfully disagree with the quote I’ve shared at the start of this piece. There’s tremendous value to be found in looking back over the path we’ve travelled and acknowledging how far we’ve come.
All Rights Reserved ©Carolynn Anctil