I’ve been feeling glum about Carrot Condo, unable to find time, energy, motivation, inspiration to create. On Wednesday, while on a walk, I considered dropping the whole thing. I could just cook and clean and tend our kiddo while getting my resume in shape for a “real job.”
But then something amazing happened.
I had walked to a post office I never go to because it was closer than my usual place. I’ve been sick and felt puny. On my way out, I decided to get a cup of coffee and followed a vague memory of a little cafe I hadn’t been to in nearly a decade. I managed to meander right to it.
Before I could order my drink, however, I saw some coloring books on display. But not just any coloring books–the very first coloring book for adults I’d ever seen. It was three years ago at Crafty Wonderland–before I left my job, before I became a mom, and before even a hint of the coloring-book craze had begun.
I recognized the art instantly and remembered seeing the artist sitting behind a folding table against the back wall of the cavernous hall Crafty Wonderland fills with hundreds of artisans, craftspeople, and shoppers. Her single book, simple display, relaxed demeanor, and clean black-and-white art felt refreshing amid the chaos.
In that instant at the coffee shop counter recognizing her coloring book, I remembered what I’d originally wanted to create: black and white illustrations to color that include words (stories and poems). This is exactly what she does. I remembered looking at her in awe but also with the realization that I could do this too.
“Do you know the person who makes these coloring books?” I asked the barista, kind of stunned that the books still exist in spite of the elaborate fantasy-floral-puppy-dog designs that dominate shelves today.
“I make them,” she said.
“Seriously?!?” It was so unlikely that I’d be here, at this particular cafe, at this particular time, just when I’m feeling most low about my own art to bump into the artist who inspired me in the first place. Now she’s inspired me twice.
This is Dawn Furstenberg, she has three coloring books as well as cards*, sells her work in a few shops, works two jobs, is thinking of returning to school to become a teacher, and is working on her fourth book (mandalas).
She said her third book “Seas the Day” is her most personal and sometimes hard to share publicly. So, of course, that’s the one I chose to read. It’s exactly what I want more of in this world–bold, clear, black and white illustrations and an honest, personal, thoughtful story of a woman healing herself and finding her joy again. (How Stella Got Her Groove Back gone nautical and punk.)
When I was 18, I made a high school graduation gift for my friends. I silk screened a poster that was supposed to say “Seize the day.” Unfortunately, I failed to notice that I’d written “cease.” Only one friend pointed it out, and I was mortified. But, it’s apt here. I have been “ceasing” the day, managing to turn fun into obligation and labor. Not sure how I do this, but running into Dawn, seeing her work, and reading “Seas the Day” has buoyed my spirits and lifted me back to the surface of my own self-imposed aquarium.
*Cards!! I know!! Some of you know that I’m most passionate about my Cards You Can Color, even though books seem to be what’s more popular. I’d not seen any other cards to color, and I wanted to go back and ask her a dozen questions about printing and paper and ink. But for now, I’m going to get back to working on my next cards. Two are nearly ready to print.