“What are you doing?” asked Gracie.
It was an unexpectedly warm spring evening, and I was enjoying being outside with my chickens.
“I’m reworking some of the drawings I made of you.”
“That’s odd. Why would you do that? Why not just work on something new?”
“I need to redraw them so they can print better. The ones I’ve been making will print too fuzzy, and you aren’t a fuzzy chicken.”
Gracie tilted her head, trying to figure out what a fuzzy chicken might look like. She didn’t understand digital graphics and the printing process, and I don’t understand it all either.
“Can I see?” she asked.
“Sure. What do you think?” I held up my iPad and she studied my drawings carefully.
“Is that supposed to be me?” she asked. “And is that supposed to be Bessie?”
“Yes. Don’t you like the drawings?”
“Well, I guess they are okay. If that’s what you’re going for. I like it better when you draw on paper with a pencil.”
“What’s the difference?”
“You’ve got everything in there and it doesn’t fit together. Too many big colors. Too many little shapes. Too many of everything! People aren’t going to be able to find us.”
“You’re sure? I took art classes, a lot of art classes.”
Gracie shook her head sadly. My drawings just weren’t going to receive her approval. But I did trust what she had to say. I wanted her to be pleased with my drawings, even if no one else was. These were drawings of her and for her.
“So what do you suggest?” I asked.
“Well, the colors are the main thing. You’re picking colors you like, not colors we like.”
“I see. So what colors do you like?”
“Colors that go with our feathers. Colors that go with our eggs. Soft colors. Hen colors, not rooster colors.”
“I think I see what you mean.”
“So why is it important that they print better?”
I was hoping she would have forgotten that part, but she is a very curious chicken.
“It’s a surprise, Gracie.”
“Yes, it’s a surprise for everyone who knows us really, but it is especially a surprise for you and Bessie. Your Hatchday, the day you and Bessie hatched out of your eggs, is next month.”
“Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but these drawings need to be good, and not just good for printing.”
“What makes a good drawing?”
“A good drawing makes people feel something when they look at it. A good drawing of chickens has to make people feel something good when they look at it.”
“What makes you feel good, Gracie?”
“Like with you and Bessie?”
“Yes, exactly. Draw Bessie and me and our friendship. Use colors that go with our feathers and go with our eggs. People will like those drawings.”
“It would be nice if there were little flowers sometimes. We are girls, and girls like flowers. Girls especially like flowers we can eat.”
“That’s all. Just draw friendship. Chickens know a lot about friendship…and nice colors.”
Gracie had said all she wanted to say and went off nonchalantly to find something to eat before going up for the night.
I knew she was eager to see the new drawings I would make following her advice. She just wouldn’t let on about how eager she really was.
As I was securing the coop for the night, I asked, “Are you sure you didn’t take art classes, Gracie?”
She chuckled. “You’re being silly again!”
“You’re right. I just got carried away with adding more and more because…well, because so many good things come into my heart when I am drawing you. I didn’t realize all I needed to do was simply to draw friendship.”
“And I’m not going to tell you what your Hatchday surprise is!”
Then it was my turn to walk away nonchalantly.
My life with Gracie taught me girls like flowers and especially little flowers they can eat. (I just would NOT recommend following this advice when choosing a gift unless it’s a gift for a chicken.)
You will notice a few subtle differences in today’s illustration. Perhaps the greatest is the use of highlights in their eyes which give the drawing an extra bit of “life” not possible with the crayon tool I was using before. Gracie has seen and approved today’s drawing. (Deep sigh of relief!)
Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!