**Alt text included for all photos.
|Me at about 9 years old, proudly|
holding the trophy I got for
singing in the school chorus.
As anyone who’s ever been in a vehicle with me can attest—I love to sing, loudly and unabashedly. From as far back as I can remember, singing has brought me immense joy. But here’s the thing: my singing voice is merely blissfully mediocre. I have zero aspirations or potential as a vocalist beyond making myself happy. Ah—SUCH freedom!
Like a lot of kids, art was a big part of my grade school experience, but after sixth grade, I put my paints and markers and crayons away because, well, I can’t draw.
Flash way…WAY…forward to 2020. I was wading through the early days of the pandemic, as we all were, trying to stay safe, combat boredom and keep my spirits up. Jenn Reese, an author/illustrator I follow on Facebook, was doing weekend creative challenges, poems or stories on Saturdays and illustration prompts on Sundays. I was having tremendous fun with the Saturday challenges but skipping Sundays, obviously, because…I can’t draw.
My first art challenge attempt.
(I was so nervous, I spelled
I honestly don’t remember why, one Sunday, I spontaneously decided to try the drawing challenge. Boredom maybe? The result was…pretty dreadful.
But something shifted or got cleared away or opened up or…something. I kept doing the art challenges. Occasionally I’d come up with a rather nice drawing, only to be followed by chicken scratch the next week. But I was having FUN and, I truly believe, growing as an artist.
When October rolled around, I did my own version of Inktober (a global art challenge that many illustrators participate in annually). I called it “K-Inktober” and mostly drew “fan art” from my own work, including my published novel, Cursed, and several other
manuscripts and WIPs.
|A selection of my favorite drawings from #K-Inktober.|
Again, the results were mixed, but at the end of the month, I had done 31 drawings!
When October 2021 rolled around…I did it again. Jenn Reese and another artist sponsored the #AutumWoods2021 challenge. I had a blast—not only doing the drawings, but sharing them on social media and being a part of the community doing the challenge.
|A selection of my favorite #AutumnWoods2021 drawings.|
Jenn and two additional artists created a shorter challenge for December, #WinterLights2021. Naturally, badly drawn wild horses couldn’t keep from participating. Since it was only seven drawings this time, I challenged myself to include text with each one. (After all, I’m supposed to be a writer.) That resulted in a couple poems, a scene of dialog between a tree and a wishing star and my first ever attempt at a comic strip!
Turns out—I can draw. I will never rise to a professional level, will never illustrate my own picture book, and no one will ever pay me for my artwork. And that’s absolutely fine.
Just as I sing for my own pleasure, I’m now drawing for fun and to open myself up as a creative artist and as a human being.
|My final #WinterLights2021 drawing.|
Many friends commented on my posts during these art challenges, loving what I was doing but lamenting that they, themselves, can’t draw. So let me pass on to you what I said to them—try it!
At the very least, you’ll have fun. At most, you might bring about an incredible shift in your artistic life.
Three cheers for blissful mediocrity!
KAROL RUTH SILVERSTEIN (she/her/disabled) is a screenwriter and writer of various genres of children’s books. Originally from Philadelphia, Karol now lives in West Hollywood with her incredibly fluffy cats, Ninja and Boo.
For interviews, author videos, disability-related articles, upcoming events, etc. go to www.karolruthsilverstein.com