It's January 9 . . . Do you know where your resolutions are?

We are just visiting the surface of this planet until we go back inside of it, but what can we see during our short time here?
R. Gregory Christie (illustrator)

I came across this quote recently in reading an R. Gregory Christie interview with Illustration Friday, and I liked it so much I jotted it down, intending to use it to write a Friday post about the translation of ideas into visual images.

In another part of the interview he said,

". . . It's all about the feeling 
and energy of a spot." 

One of the things I admire most about a good illustrator is the ability to take a word, an idea, an emotion or image and bring it to life in a way that captures it in totality --
1000 words in one picture, so to speak.

But Friday turned out to be quite busy and before I knew it,
it had slipped away and we were on to Saturday.

Which, as it turns out, is fine -- what I wanted to say initially about that quote has morphed a little in the meantime,
leading me to write this post instead.

My family was asked by a friend if we would provide a musical number at her mother's memorial service.  She passed away (in her mid 90's) sometime in December, but lived in Hawaii.

We had never met her, but we were happy to sing the song our friend requested and therefore spent Saturday morning listening to remembrances of a remarkable woman we ended up wishing we had known.

Among other things shared at the service was a letter she wrote to Steven Spielberg when she was in her 80's (dictated to a grandson who typed it faithfully) requesting that he come to her home so she could give him a copy of her latest screenplay and plan production details with him.  She assured Mr. Spielberg that they would both be Oscar recipients as a result of the collaboration.

Apparently she was never without a pet project
of one kind or another, including things like recruiting surfers off the Hawaiian beaches to teach swimming lessons to blind children, or writing musicals for the grandkids and their neighborhood friends to star in (one of the neighbor girls came to the service, to thank her for always believing that she could be the star of a production).

I suppose you could say
that this woman
was a "Life-Illustrator,"
putting her ideas
into action in ways
that made her energy

and enthusiasm accessible to everyone around her.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

But it made me re-think Mr. Christie's quote a little.  Because perhaps the more important question might be:

"We are just visiting the surface of this planet until we go back inside of it, but what can we DO during our short time here?"

I SEE plenty of things every day -- not often blind children, but plenty of bored neighborhood kids -- and most of the time I don't DO anything in response to what I see.

And even if we want to keep this discussion about art, I see plenty of inspiration around me for that as well -- but an illustrator takes that inspiration (often provided by an outside source) and then DOES something to enhance it and make it accessible to the rest of us.

If it is, " . . . all about the feeling and energy of a spot," shouldn't I be doing something to improve my own spot, and then broaden it to include the people I see around me?

Just a seed of an idea for a Saturday in January, seeing as I have neither started my New Year's diet nor done anything else (aside from cleaning my studio) that has made me a markedly better Susan in 2010 than I was in 2009.  And believe me, there's plenty of room for improvement.

I guess I'd better start looking around. 
(But then doing around, too.)


VO said...

Great post. The woman reminds me of my MIL. She always worked with children, in her spare time; helping them create crafty things (she was also an elementary school teacher) and feel personal satisfaction from their achievements.

She illustrated in word and deed what one person can do while on the surface of this planet.

susan m hinckley said...

I LOVE that description in your last line, VO -- a really nice summation of what we ought to be striving for, I think. It doesn't seem there's any higher praise you could give a person.

Allie said...

What a FABULOUS post. I wish I'd known her too.

VO said...


Now if I can live up to her legacy by even half!

Chelsea said...

a lovely post. and a lovely lady. it really was a wonderful way to spend the morning!

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