*Note- this blog title is fitting for my blog as well as my self… This is the first post in a series of lessons I’ll learn on my career path.  And since you can never stop learning and growing in this ever-changing field, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about! Man, I wish I’d thought of this sooner, but I’ll be humbly starting now, at this point in my story, which is still very much at the beginning.


We all have expectations for ourselves. I know I do, did, and will. When I graduated high school I thought I’d be at the top of my game by the time I turned 30. Now that I’m 30, I missed my mark. I’m definitely not where I thought I’d be. But it’s okay. I think I’m being taught about faith, patience, hard work, perseverance, priorities and joy. I believe with all my heart that my successes in the future will taste much sweeter after a courageous adventure!


It’s been months since the last SCBWI Southern Breeze conference I went to, but some things I heard there are still playing over and over in my head. Chad Beckerman is the creative director for Abrams Books. He’s a silly dude. I wasn’t sure if I learned much from him at the moment, but it’s his words that have stood out to me the most after leaving that weekend. He told me during my formal critique that I’ve almost got it, but not quite. In a nutshell, he preferred the work that took me the least amount of time to create. He told me to explore what was fun and immediate for me. Then, on the last day, he finished with a wonderful presentation about finding joy in creating. He disqualified the notion that artists must go through this crazy struggle to make great work. And he said (my paraphrase) that less is more when it comes to backgrounds; so don’t get too caught up in them if you don’t love making them. That’s great news! My writer friends were bored stiff, but all this seized me!


JOY in creating? Make what is immediate? Make what is EASY? To be honest, the pressure and expectations I have put on myself in recent years had taken a lot of joy from me. The instructions Chad left us with are just plain liberating! So, that’s what I’ve been focused on in my latest work, my character studies. I am finally having some fun focusing on characters. It might take me a month to struggle over one painting, but I did all my recent character drawings in 3 days! It felt so much more…. natural, immediate, easy, and fun—BINGO! I’m not saying these are perfect, but my metal detector is beeping if you get my corny drift :)

Sketches by Shanda McCloskey

Sketches by Shanda McCloskey

I am a beautiful work in progress, and the Bible tells me so!

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8


HJ drew a pear :)

HJ drew a pear :)

HJ traced my faded chicken drawing. She yold me she will help me draw silly chickens when she grows up!

HJ traced my faded chicken drawing. She told me she will help me draw silly chickens when she grows up!


She drew this while I wrote this blog post :)

These two recent posts from a mentor of mine that say what I’m trying to say much better! Check out:

Ira Glass On the Secret of Sucsess:
LATE BLOOMERS by Malcom Gladwell:

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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author