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Friday, August 24, 2012


About.com lists the average height of a woman in the US as 5’ 3.8”.  Maybe I could achieve average if I cut off my head?  The average man is 5’ 9.2”.  With my head still attached, I can look the average man in the eye.  When I was little, I envied my petite, blonde girlfriend and her nicely plumped out curves.  I liked her blue eyes, and I liked other people’s brown eyes.  What I didn’t like was my own undecided hazel eyes.  I wished for curls in my hair.  I wanted more pigment in my skin.  What I mostly wanted was to be like everybody else. 

It seems like we’re always wishing to be something we’re not.  Everybody seems to be looking at others for the stuff they themselves lack, and this is all incredibly stupid of all of us because we can’t change our genetics.  All we’re doing is making ourselves miserable, and the advertising industry is intent on keeping us miserable so we’ll keep buying miracle products. 

I wish I could have back all the time I wasted on wanting things I can’t have.  Think of the things I could’ve accomplished!  Or maybe I wouldn’t have accomplished anything at all because I would’ve been so content with everything just as it was.  Maybe we have to be a little miserable to motivate us into actually doing stuff?

When I was in college, I bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have a distinctive style.  I kept looking at my classmates’ work and only seeing the best.  The people who weren’t doing as well as me didn’t factor into my thoughts.  All I knew was that I wasn’t the best and I wanted to be.  As a result, I kept making art into defective imitations of other people’s work based on my warped perceptions.  It wasn’t until I was in my junior year when I turned in an uncharacteristically hurried homework assignment when I was illuminated by the fact that my style was what came easily to me.  My class and teacher loved my homework assignment.  By doing it quickly, I was forced to resort to my own personal style that I had been unconsciously trying to suffocate throughout my college career.  Copying someone else’s inspirational work was never going to show “my” style because they aren’t me.  If something comes easily to me, then that’s coming from my core and should be easy.

That doesn’t mean everyone should quit trying to polish their skills and just do schlop.  Try, practice, work at what you want to achieve.  Wish for the right things.  Instead of bemoaning eye color or how tall we are, let’s wish to achieve our highest potential.  Not compared to someone else’s potential or achievements, but to our own abilities and successes.

Last week’s cucumber was a realistic watercolor.  As I said then, I wanted to go make pickles, so I wasn’t taking time to paint.  I did it with a scrubby ½” brush that happened to be lying on my desk.  This week I was going to sketch my gangly younger self towering over my classmates, but somehow I ended up with towering construction paper flower instead.  Both styles are me.  Graphic, over decorated paper flowers are just as much a part of me as realistic cucumbers painted with the wrong brush, and I’m happy that they’re both part of me.  To be perfectly honest, the flowers took a lot more time than the cucumber.  Maybe I’m still hiding my wild side?


  1. With my head not attached I'd be shorter than you. lol Love the illustration as usual. I have to go back to wishing for things I can't have now... :)

  2. Nice flowers! Kinda hippie style :) I'd like to try tall on for a while. Oh well...

  3. What a thoughtful post. Keep working and always do your best in your genuine way :)

  4. It IS an effort to be who we are, isn't it?

    Though, on second thought, some of us CAN stand to try to be like others... but that's a different post.

    It's a waste of time and energy to wish for things that are just not going to happen, as you've pointed out well in this post. We all need to hear it over and over. :)

    I love your flowers... the precision and the contrast of bright colors.

    ps. I'm almost eye level with you.

    I had the tall skinny girl complex as a teen, but got over it in my twenties when my co-workers marveled at how I ate subs and french fries for lunch and stayed the same size.

    Oh how I wish for that now. I think I've shrank down to 5'7" or maybe 5'7 1/2 and no way I can maintain my weight without some serious exercise. lol

  5. Yes, we all want what we don't have, it's human nature I guess because it seems to start very young. My girls always wanted each others hair, polar opposites, one fair haired with blue eyes the other jet black hair, dark skin and green eyes. They both wanted my curls ;) Silly...
    By the way, thanks for making me rethink my process. I really appreciate it. I'm trying to let my inner, natural style evolve. It's difficult to let go. It's funny to think that I might have been stifling myself all the while that I was trying to "find" my style... I think my "style" was just habit, that and the voice of Mrs. Delaprere, standing over my shoulder for four years, asking "why are you painting a tree(a cloud, a vase...) like that? Here's a National Geographic for reference, do it again" ;)

  6. A very thoughtful post, Linda. Yes, don't we all wish for everything, but what we have or are. At least at a younger age. By growing older I think we slowly start to accept things (that we cannot change) as they are - and hopefully even start to appreciate them. And with age we also start to get more confident (because I think that's what it all comes down to) so that we don't have to copy others, but find consolation in our own way of seeing things or being. Style only becomes real when you are honest with yourself. Great post. And I love the more elaborated flowers - as well as the cucumber painted with the wrong brush.

  7. *smile*

    I'm short and was always kinda glad - taller girls had trouble finding a partner when they put on their pointe shoes. On the other hand, I had short legs, when ballet demands long. Well, snap. Too bad. I had a career! My motto was always "a swan at heart." I knew my style even if I wasn't gifted with the physical attributes.

    Great post. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. I missed that cucumber but it was really beautifully painted! Let's see, you may be taller than me but I can probably commiserate on shoe size... 11! Ugh!

    The advertising is just going to continue to be worse and even more intrusive. And it's hard to convince another person that they are just fine the way they are. But I think if we're lucky, we finally come to realize it after we've been around a few decades. :)

    Neat effect with the flowers!

  9. I prefer men with their heads still on Rand, and especially like it when I'm not the tallest one around :)

  10. I think I've shrunk a little too Anita, and I kind of wish I was still skinny since I'm not any more :)

    I'm mentally kicking all the Mrs. Delapreres in the world Karen. I may have to write about them some day too.

    I love all your comments. Thanks everybody!

    1. yes, thank you Linda, I think she meant well, she just liked forcing her likes and style onto her students ;)

  11. Interesting Linda, how you describe that being hurried left you no time to make something else but your own style. Maybe the same works for going on holiday. I can impossibly bring all my stuff, so right from the start I work with a limited amount of tools, colours and paper. It turns out both the inspiration to be from home as well as having a limited toolbox and palette works very well for me. Maybe also for you?
    But you are multi-stylish: you have flower-power and you are as cool as a cucumber ;-) You shouldn't limit yourself at all.
    Have a lovely work week.

  12. I just made 2 more jars of pickles. I like your realistic pickle! It is so nice to be older and wiser now. And happy with ourselves. Or maybe we're just too tired to care anymore. Who knows.

  13. Linda, fun post as usual. I had some heavy hitter illustrators in all of my illustration classes, so being the best in that situation was out of the question. What was really good was that the bar was set really high. I learned from having them there. I really like pushing myself beyond my comfort zone with work and hope that it makes me a better illustrator.
    I like your solution for the topic. Nice.

  14. I often work with a limited palette Paula, and though I usually don't think about it, maybe that simplicity is a way for me to keep to my own style? Or as Sharon says, I'm too old to care about anything except being happy with myself?

    I do think the competition in college was good for my artistic growth Patti. Of course it was also giving me a lot of stomach aches at that time, but it was an experience I'm so grateful I got to have.

    Thanks for the comments!!

  15. My wife is 5' 11".

    Beautiful flowers, Linda.

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