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  • Writer's picturecheryl mendenhall

Leap Year Thoughts

My illustration professor at Art Center College of Design once described the creative life as a sequence of plateaus punctuated by breakthrough leaps. My corollary to this image: as viewed from the bottom, the next breakthrough often looks like a wall. A daunting, seemingly insurmountable wall. A wall that would stop my craft and career from ever rising to a new level.

Each time the wall appeared I resisted the urge to hang up my pencil. I took classes. Sent out samples. Upgraded my portfolio. Honed old skills and acquired new ones. Sought the encouragement and support of fellow creative types. And, often to my astonishment, the breakthroughs happened. The graphic design work I did fresh out of college was slowly replaced by illustration jobs. I acquired first local and then national clients, found an artists rep, branched into new markets. And along the way my life has been enriched by many artist and writer friends.

2015 felt like a wall year. With paying work slow I used the time to settle in to a new home and new SCBWI community in Maryland. Finally finished and sent out the YA novel that had won a WIP award but stalled in revisions. Joined a critique group. Ventured into the wilds of social media.

2016 is well underway. New illustration goals: polish my picture book dummy. Work up some black and white samples. Investigate teaching opportunities. Join a local illustrators critique group. Try using Photoshop artboards to create thumb nails. Who knows? Maybe this will be my year for the next breakthrough leap. But whatever happens, I look forward to plenty of surprises along the way.

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