Richard Wagamese has passed away. He was a wonderful and talented Indigenous writer whose books were the recipients of many awards. He was also one of those few authors whose books both my parents and I really liked. I remember reading A Quality of Light as a teenager and just being completely blown away. To this day, it is one of my favourite books. I never met Richard—I only knew him from Facebook and Twitter, but he was always kind in his posts, open about his struggles and his dedication to writing and to helping other writers. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
After a week where I did little else but read article after article for my dissertation, his passing reminded me of how wonderful art is and how important it is to take the time to make it. To hone your skills and share what you love and are passionate about with others.
In December of last year, I met a lady from my community who was trying to find a printer for a book she had written. It was a memoir. I shared the name of my printer with her and asked her about her work. My baby was coming down with a cold though, so I became distracted and had to leave the event early. I found out later that the lady had passed away at the start of the year. It made me feel so sad. Sad that her book didn’t become a book, even though I know that she was loved and appreciated and will be remembered fondly by many. Still, I've continued to think about her and her story. And to think about other people I know who have creative inclinations and are gearing up to write or to paint or make something. Thinking about what I can do to encourage them or to be more helpful when people are looking for help. I have some plans in mind. Some things I am going to try. This post is one small way of sending a big burst of encouragement to you all. To write your story. To make your art. To start today. And to those of you who have already started—to encourage you to keep going.
As you may have noticed from my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages—I’ve been doing a lot of art lately. I’ve also been reading and writing and practicing the piano a lot more. I’ve been doing all of these things because there are projects I want to do in each of these mediums. This has come as something of a surprise to me. I've always known I wanted to be a writer and a storyteller, but I didn’t know I wanted to be an illustrator or to tell stories through music. I probably should have known. There were all kinds of signs. (I used to have art shows in our living room when I was a little girl, displaying my work for my parents to come and purchase. My most expensively priced piece was $1. And guess where I displayed them? My old upright piano).
Anyways—it’s wonderful that these things have come back to me as an adult and I am so thankful I’m in a space to pursue these dreams. I’m also grateful they’re the kinds of pursuits I can include my daughters in. My toddler loves to paint and is already playing very cool little songs on the piano that she sings along to. My baby has also taken a special liking to toy instruments. They both love books.
So I’m happy to be able to share my art here. To share about my learning process and the steps I’m taking toward becoming an illustrator, similar to the way I’ve shared my writing journey over the last few years. Especially because I know there is so much learning to come—I’m definitely one of those people who embraces the notion that learning is a lifelong process. Case in point—I’ve learned more about writing in the last five years than in the fifteen preceding them and it seems like the things there are to learn next only multiply. But best of all—it’s fun. The things I’ve learned, I’ve learned by writing. By editing. By re-writing. By reading. I’ve learned by finishing one story and starting the next. By focussing on the work.
I’m trying to take some of these same principles and apply it to my art. To learn by creating things often and regularly. To take online classes (I’ll blog more about those in the future). To play with filters to learn what colour palettes I like and to give me ideas about what I can try next time. All in all, it has been awesome to be able to share the work I’ve finished with my family and friends. Indeed, every single piece of art I’ve made this year has taught me something different. But the biggest thing they’ve taught me is how important it is to just create. To practice. To try new things. To finish what I start.
Hearing about Richard’s passing was a reminder that we never know how long we have and that it's so important to make the most of each moment. To make the art that only we can make. So in honour of that, I thought I would share a few pieces I’ve worked on lately. There's even more on my Art page.
Happy creating everyone! And if you haven’t started yet—then consider this your personal message to get going! The world is waiting for your art. So am I :).