CCO Photo Attribution: Michael Gwyther-Jones
Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.
– Lovelle Drachman
Do some days stick out more so for you than other days?
We remember particular days and certain events for the way they made us feel about ourselves. This remains true today. Some days make us feel bigger than life itself while some are just plain forgettable.
When I was about five years old I remember so clearly the day I chose a picture out of my favourite colouring-in book to work on. I loved drawing as a child, making up stories and using my imagination. Oh, and I loved to chat to myself too. And people who know me well enough will know that nothing’s changed in that department; I still enjoy a chat.
The picture that captured my heart on this day was the drawing of a bird. My mum and dad kept an aviary up behind the garage and it was full of budgerigars and canaries that my parents had bred. I decided to colour my bird picture yellow, just like the canaries flying around in the aviary.
I spent time being careful to make sure I stayed within the lines and when I was done, I showed my handiwork to my mum and dad. Being the encouragers they were, they praised my efforts and made a fuss; so much so that they framed my picture and gave it a home in a prominent part of the lounge room, for everyone to see. I was like, wow! Their praise made me feel special. It was unexpected and importantly, I remember it all these decades later in a positive way.
Now we all know staying within the lines when colouring-in is not the be-all end-all of any art project, but it does have a place in helping develop a child’s healthy hand-eye coordination. People have debates all the time about staying within the lines vs busting out of the lines and these days, some colouring-in books teach us about colour theory, patterning and drop in a couple of quotes while they’re at it.
There was a time, a number of years ago, when colouring-in was replaced by computer games to help develop hand-eye coordination, but the good old colouring-in book has made a resurgence of its own and is now valued for other reasons like its meditative and calming qualities. Colouring-in books are a perfect example of reinventing oneself.
It also earned its place in this little snippet about myself, because the kind comments and praise from my parents helped me grow in confidence. Once I knew I could stay within the lines, I felt confident to try something outside of the lines and so I tried my hand at other projects and art mediums. For me, colouring-in was a seed sown.
Art lessons, when I went to school, were quite basic, methodical and not too adventurous. It wasn’t until I went to high school that I began to experiment and have fun. From my canary picture on, I have always dabbled in art and majored in it during my teaching studies. But my passion in children and sharing art and creative writing has been a meandering journey, which I am still on.
I guess I started writing ‘books’ when I was in Year 2. Mum would cut small exercise books in thirds for me to write in and illustrate. I was a happy camper using my imagination and creating my stories. Unfortunately, none of them survived. When my parents decided to buy a large caravan and travel Australia to live and work, most of our belongings were sold or disposed of.
I’d kept all of my schoolbooks and my storybooks, but in the end, they had to go; we just didn’t have the space to keep them. I would love to take a peek at them now and revisit my younger self.
I’ve always cared more about writing; both writing for myself and sharing my passion for books and creative writing with my students, than trying to get published myself. It has only been in recent times that I’ve entertained the idea of maybe some day. Who knows? But as I said earlier, I’m on a meandering journey and I don’t know where it will lead, but I’m excited.
Take out your journal and write about your earliest memory of being sent on your creative journey? Who was your cheer squad and sent you on your way or sowed a seed? Are you a happy camper, wherever or whatever your camp may be?
I’d love to hear about your experience. Please write and share it in the comments sections. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Until next time, be a happy camper and do something you enjoy,
Author: Debbie Smith
Debbie Smith is the author of a number of children’s short stories, poetry, picture books texts and is currently working on her first MG (middle-grade) novel, Hampton Common. She also writes for adults and has written the first draft of her adult outback novel, Lanolin on the Boards. Her debut children’s picture book, If You Meet an Elephant, is COMING SOON in 2019. Read about it here.
Debbie is the Founder and Creative Director of Shadytree Books. She tutors students in the Language Arts and Literacy areas, coordinates and runs Children’s Creative Writing and Art workshops for Shadytree Books’ StoryArts Holiday Program.
Debbie lives on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast near the lovely beaches of Noosa and it’s rich Hinterland life with her husband and gorgeous Cavoodle, Oscar. When Debbie takes time away from writing, she can be found at the farm riding her daughter’s Lippizaner horse, Obie, and handling and ground training her yearling Appaloosa foal, Joey.