When my four year old woke with nightmares, I told him a story that became the book Atom's Monster. It's a bit of a twist on the old monsters under the bed theme.
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It took a few years to get from story to book. In the process I completed by B.A. at The Evergreen State College (finally, 20 years after I entered college the first time!). My sons, ages 3 and 5 by then, posed for my illustrations. This was before the age of print on demand, and I hadn't the courage or persistence to find a publisher, so I self-published it--2000 copies! I sold many over the years in spite of not being skilled at marketing, and many, many people told me they loved it and their children loved it. I still have some copies left, though. If you have a child or grandchild who struggles with fear--and who doesn't struggle with fear?--you can still get a copy on mySquareup website here.
I woke in the night not sure if sunrise would find us at war. My heart was breaking, knowing that my friend's newborn may not have milk because the bombing has scared the milk out of the mother. I worried my grand children will not have a green world to live in.
My creative juices felt dried up by these worries. With such horror happening all around, what place has my creativity? I slipped on my robe and tiptoed downstairs for prayer and journaling. This is what came to me:
When Monet was asked what he would do for the war effort in WW1, he answered, "I will paint." And he painted the serenity of his pond, the beauty of his garden.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy were Tolkein's way of transmuting the horrors of war.
When my friend Jamila is worried about her family in Syria, she makes beauty with what she has; she crochets over rocks.
Is there some way my stories, illustrations, and paintings can bring people calm, courage, and wisdom? Can my creations help people to live through these times and to hold onto that which is true, that which is good, that which is beautiful? Can stories and images of everyday love, like those of Puuung, help to restore our sanity?
Perhaps when the world is falling apart around us, it is more important than ever to tell stories and to make beauty, to honor everyday love, to give people's minds a place to go to nourish their souls.
Sunflowers sketch in watercolor
by Suzanna Leigh
Painting certainly nourishes MY soul!
Inspired by the places where land meets water, and by stories.