Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Color in a bleak time

2 months after K-Fai Steele wrote her post and we’re still here; still neck-deep in a crisis. Things haven’t necessarily gotten better, but the initial panic--the gut reaction to hide, run, flee, hermit, turtle-up--has somewhat vanished and impatience, longing, and (most of all) boredom has set in. We’ve cooked all the things and we’re tired of doing dishes. We’ve tried sourdough and have discovered it’s a full time job. We’ve tried gardening or car washing or walking for hours on end. We’ve watched SO. MANY. SHOWS. Now what?

If you’re one of those people that has done nothing “productive” art or story-wise: this is OKAY. You have every right to feel this way and caring for your mental, physical and emotional health is incredibly important right now. Take care of yourself and your families as best as you are able. I repeat K-Fai’s thoughts, because this is important: you don’t have to do anything productive right now. Stories will keep. That drawing will be on your desk when you return to it. You do you.

If you have been cranking out work since the outside world has temporarily been removed as a distraction in your life, then I applaud you! Keep going and make the best of your time!

Me? I’m somewhere between these two. I have had incredibly productive days and incredibly unproductive days. Some days I'm cooking-productive, some days I’m cleaning-productive and some days I'm creatively-productive. Still others, I'm an unproductive couch (or hammock) potato. I’ve been making good progress on a couple of projects. I’ve also watched all my original travel plans for this year get cancelled one by one by one. X. X. X. X. I can’t visit my aging mother-in-law. I can’t visit friends. And THAT has been incredibly disheartening.

But one thing has helped brighten my spirits over the past two+ months as we take our daily walks: messages of love, hope, and positivity that have colored the sidewalks and streets in our neighborhood.

So I decided to respond in fashion with my own message:

And after that, I created this:

I drew a little every morning and evening, skipping mid-day, since summer is descending upon Southern California with a vengeance (and I burn very easily).

This little act improved my emotional well-being. It made me feel connected even when I am disconnected from the world. It made me smile. It made others smile. And that, right now, is enough.

I recommend anyone with a little bit of sidewalk (or fence or wall) space and some chalk to go out there and send a message out into the world. If you can’t draw, then write. If you don’t know what to write, then just add color in any shape and size. Things are bleak and dreary enough right now. Who better than the kidlit community to add a touch of magic back?

This can also be a fun project to do WITH kids!

If you look on Instagram, you can find more examples of these positive messages by searching the hashtags: #chalkart, #mural, or #drawthecurtains

Fellow Kidlit Artists' blogger Rob Sayegh has been knocking it out of the park (or over the bridge!) with his incredible daily window drawings:


P.S. May is Mental Health Month. Learn more at: 

Here's some statistics from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness):


© Cole Montgomery 
Gail Buschman is a graphic designer and children's book creator who loves to travel and explore new places.

More about Gail at her websiteinstagramtwitter, and facebook.

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