Notes to a Student

Six years ago I opened Pandora’s paintbox when I started writing illustrated notes to all 30 of my fourth grade students. Little did I know that this would become a tradition and when I finished my last notecard this year it would be my 180th card that I had written and illustrated. My right hand grows sore just from thinking about it.

Starting the process often begins with many false starts and pauses, much questioning and reflecting. Each card waiting for the creative thermals to lift each paper bird into the air.

Every illustration and each word is personalized and is as individual as all of my students. Some lift off the ground with ease while others are in need of a breath of wind.

For me, creativity does not come on command. It can be a feral cat rather than an obedient dog. When it comes, it will come. When I have finished a few illustrations the process gains momentum and it becomes a joy to create. This artistic zone is what I strive for!

The key image of this post is a collection of this year’s illustrations. They range from Sasquatch as a sourdough miner to a Toco toucan, to my favorite baseball player when I was a fourth grader to a rabbit from Watership Down to a Fender Stratocaster to a narwhal.

All of these cards were a joy to create. And some were more of a challenge than others. But as our 4th grade Soughdough miners are taught to say to a challenge, “Bring It On!”

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