“Life’s so short, why live only one?”
My goal this month was simply; to complete the month. Making a commitment to work on something religiously for 30 days is a tough commitment. This is my third year participating. The first year I did everything wrong. That was back in 2010. I had just read some books about painters and I wanted to “be” a painter in the late 19th century but I fizzled out by April 13th. I missed a few years and then my friend, Joan, told me she was participating and I was startled because I didn’t know she even knew about it. So last year she reminded me and I signed up. I completed the whole month. I didn’t know I was supposed to do a wrap up, oops!
This year, April 1-3 fell on the days we were packing up to leave Florida. Which I was pretty disgruntled about because it was nice and warm in Jensen Beach and freaking cold on Long Island. I was not looking forward to that drive home. To add insult to injury, John and I were also getting over some nasty virus. It’s May 1 as I write this and we are just starting to feel normal again.
I drew nothing on April 1 because, quite frankly, I was lucky I even had a second to write it down. On the 1st, while cleaning the house, doing laundry and packing, I scribbled the beginnings of a journal.
April 2 was written in the car, but there are constant distractions when you are the co-pilot and everyone and their mother decided to drive North that weekend so 95 was insane. We were constantly getting off and following alternate routes around accidents on 95. I wrote April 2 in the middle of all that and the reason why Sarah wrote her story in the teal pen was because I had so much stuff on top of my sketch bag, I could only find my teal ink filled pen.
April 3, we got home early enough where we unpacked the car, sorted everything out and by evening I was able to go Prom dress shopping.
The only way I could remember to do my pages was to put an annoying reminder on my IPhone. It worked.
HOW STORIES ARE BORN
A few things….Faux pas…I missed where I was supposed to put the time of day….I didn’t put the year because I was assuming the current time.
I never went to my prom. No, I didn’t write this because I regret that decision in any way. In a way, I was a lot like Sarah. Walking around with ink stains on my hands from Mrs. Bloch’s etching class was a badge of honor for me. I sometimes rode my bike to school instead of the bus from Bridesburg to Broad & Olney simply because I could. If you look on a map, my high school was on the opposite side of Philadelphia.
Cinderella has been on my “to do” list for a while. It literally was a line item on a to do list of ideas that I roll from week to week. An idea was never quite there, it nagged like firewood that wouldn’t burn…..then, right before April, inspiration hit and I was like “what if Cinderella was a real person who had descendants?” I know some people were thinking “Princess Diaries.” Wrong, I was thinking France = possible birth place of the Cinderella story = holy grail = sang rèal and the hypothesis that Jesus was married and had many children.
So based on that thought pattern, this story was born. What if Cinderella was a real person? What if she had kids and the family still existed? What if the shoes were real? How would a kid of the age of technology feel about something like wearing real glass slippers? These are questions that needed further scrutiny AND I didn’t want a princess fairy tale, I wanted a real kid who played sports and liked Ben & Jerry’s or Kilwin’s and ate handburgers at Five Guys and went to Wawa for hoagies.
Then, being a stepmother myself, I felt it was time to remove that “evil” label. So the story had a cool stepfather and Sarah had relatives she could have lived with but she chose the last person her mother loved. And the evil stepsisters weren’t evil at all, just mourning a mother who abandoned them and a second mother that died. And what tragedy could be more prevented this day and age then the stupidity of texting and driving?
I have three daughters so telling the story from their point of view was easy. I just came home from my in-laws house in Florida where we spent 4 weeks this year, so the location was also easy. I spoke of a place I knew well, so I could easily slip in and out of the character without much research. I never actually said WHERE she lived, but you could get sense of approximately where she lived because I just returned from there and vaguely mentioned places where she went. Much of the sketches came from actual sketches I did when I was in Florida. The carriage was from Cape May. I took a photo of it last year and it came in handy. I knew it would. Yes, we did see a real live manatee and yes, those sand hill cranes do look in the front door of the house in Florida. I chased those colorful lizards all over the place so I could get good photos and sketches of those little dweebs. I miss Florida because I was entertained by the wildlife. John and I may have been sick but we did get to South Beach and I did see the “club” where “Birdcage” was filmed.
PROCESS AND MATERIALS
I made a 6×6 sketchbook. I had no clue what to put on the cover because I made the sketchbook before I came up with the story. I loved this one color pink that I had so I guess it was another segue to this story. I used hot press Fabriano Artistico 140 lb watercolor paper. Which was a fail because I had a lot of issues with the ink not drying on it.
The two writing pens I used were Pilot Metropolitan Fountain pens. A superb pen for the money. I used kosumosu (pink) and ku-jaku (teal) Iroshizuku ink by Pilot.
The black drawing ink was mostly Noodler’s Bullet Proof ink, except when I needed really fine details, then I used the Uniball Vision Elite pens that I have that have a really fine tip and non fading document ink in them. I used a Lamy Safari.
I also used watercolor and colored pencils.
The one thing I wished I had done more of was writing out the story before handwriting it in the book so the story had better continuity. I did print out a calendar and when I thought of an idea I jotted it down. I had, sort of, an outline.
The exciting part is I got to do virtual “shopping” for the perfect prom dress. What color should I choose, what sort of gown should she wear? I chose something tasteful and I chose gold for the royal part of her heritage. I didn’t want the Princess Diaries, I wanted a branch of a family in America, that was distantly related to aristocrats. I have relatives in the UK, my husband has relatives in Italy. That’s real and American.
The shoes, well if her family was from France, and the Cinderella story was 17 th century aka 1600’s, then I needed a believable shoe style from that time period. I researched styles and made up a pair of glass slippers.
The necklace is the one I wore to my daughters’ weddings so I just sketched them but made them gold instead of silver.
The sea horse was inspired by the pink horse I put on the cover of my sketchbook.
My husband and I watch Game of Thrones and I picked the Stark family coat of arms and slogan”Winter is Coming” as a joke because Sarah lived in Florida.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF
This was for fun. Plus it was like living my life over through my character. This character was an alter ego that I put on like a sweater. I lived it and that was really cool. However, in doing this, I learned some things about myself that I didn’t know, that I couldn’t put a finger on, but by reliving 18 again, I saw something I missed. It was always there, and my subconscious was constantly flagging it, but I missed it until these past few days. I also saw mistakes other people are making that I don’t want to repeat, plus I need to ride alone on my creativity, like I did on that bike to high school. It wasn’t just Sarah growing up, it was me needing to step away from shackles holding me back.
I hope you enjoyed the journal entries as much as I enjoyed writing them.