The Return Of The 100 Ladies Project…

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Painting “Lena” a computer programmer by day and Roller Derby Queen by night…

In the spring of 2013 I started drawing a series of ladies and writing their stories. I called it “The 100 Ladies Project” and my goal was to help women feel better about their own lives and value their own stories by reading about the ladies. The original ladies were all done in pastels and their stories were long. In February 2014 my house burned down and the ladies as well as the rest of my work went kaput. The ladies have struggled to come back in fits and starts but never quite made it, and they changed form along the way now done in black pen and watercolors. After a long dry spell I took up the “Inktober” challenge of drawing a little drawing every day in October when my friend Noreen told me about it, and after a bit of fumbling about the ladies and then their stories started to appear. I posted them on Facebook each day on my personal page and my art page on Facebook, Becoming An Artist At 60, I continued on for the month and the ladies really came alive with delightful stories that told about their colorful lives…

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“Lena is a computer programmer by day and a Roller Derby Queen by night. In her spare time she designs and makes her costumes for the derby, knitting extravagant leggings with beading and tiny bells and sparkles to wear over her skates. She is known for her costumes and has won awards for her skating fashion and is in such demand for her designs that she is thinking she will quit her day job and design full time. It’s a scary move but she told her Harlequin Great Dane Donovan that it’s what she has dreamed about doing for some time and she thinks she’s ready to make the leap. Tally HO! she called out merrily and Donovan wagged his tail so hard he knocked her coffee off her little sewing table. They have such fun together, the giant Dane and Lena the Roller Derby Queen.”

The thing about the ladies is that their stories are stories that might be you or I. An owner of a thrift shop, a florist and tea shop owner, a writer, an artist, a soccer mom, a woman who paints by day and works in a convenience store by night, and more. And I have had so much fun with no pressure to do anything other than for the joy of it, and it didn’t have to be perfect, they are charming in their imperfections, and they are all a little odd in their own way, or a little dreamy, or just things that I myself do or would love to do couched in a lady whose story is wildly different from my own. I have had so much fun.

Now the Inktober challenge is over, it is November, but people have enjoyed the ladies and begged me not to stop, and a great many people want me to do a book of the ladies and their stories, and while I can feel something happening with them I’m not yet sure what. I know they are meant to be here, they have a purpose, but I’m not yet sure what form they should take. I am going to continue on through November drawing the ladies and writing their stories and let them lead the way as they surely have right along. Recently it came to me to draw a woman who was an ex-cheerleader and soccer mom and I just fell in love with her. Here is her story…

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“Suzie came to me this afternoon because women like Suzie are so often misunderstood. Suzie was a cheerleader and popular girl in school and she was written off as one of the popular girls for whom everything came easy and she has a nice life today. She has six children and she’s a soccer mom but she’s also a dedicated volunteer at several charities, is active in all her kids school programs, and coaches the girls soccer. She is a “stay at home mom” and champions the rights of women who have dedicated their lives to raising their children while honoring the women who make other choices or have to work to put food on the table. She is a cheerful woman and kind to everyone and she is proud of her own daughter who is a cheerleader too. There’s room for everyone and we should all be proud of who we are.”

I laugh as I look at the little paintings now because they are full of imperfections. You can see the black speckles on her face which is bleed through from the drawing before. I draw with Ultra Fine Sharpies, I buy them by the box of 12 for $7 and they are my favorite pens to draw with, and I paint with kids watercolor sets and I have a ball doing it. I didn’t start with the ladies until I was 58 after a lifetime of being afraid to draw or paint even though I longed to because of a scarring incident in gradeschool when a nun took my little picture up to the front of the class and laughed at me and tore it up saying I would never be an artist because I had painted everything “wrong.” Pink trees with purple leaves and orange grass and a green sky, things like that. I was so crushed I can still feel the horror and the heartache and can tear up over it. How then to share my ladies with their imperfections when I draw and paint them with such joy and abandon, not for perfection which surely never comes, or not for most of us who are just people who love to create and let our hearts go wild with a pen or a paint brush in hand. But really, how can I share these ladies?

And how can I not share dear Lana?

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“Inktober * October 29, 2016 * “Lana”

“Lana works the late shift at a convenience store down the road from her studio apartment. She likes her job because it gives her her days free to paint and work on her art. She was firm about the fact that she needed a job to pay the bills and it didn’t need to be glamorous, but she dressed nice like she was going to an office job every night when she went into work. She said it was her only real place she went out and she liked to commune with the customers and treat them nice even if they were just coming in to pay for their gas. A person had to do something for a living and there was no shame in what she did. She saw her art, uncharacteristically, not as some magical thing but as something she did with another part of her day and it was all just part of her life. She felt the colorful characters she met at night taught her a lot about life and they liked Lana because she treated them with respect. When she had a show at the local gallery some of her regular customers came and cheered her on. Lana loved her life.”

I love these ladies, my heart is so full of tender feelings for them, and I don’t yet know what to do with them but I’ll tell you what, they do have a life and a purpose, I know this to be true. I don’t know how or when or why but they have got to have a purpose. I would love it if you would write in here to me in the comments with any thoughts or feelings that you have about this wobbly, cattywompus little group of ladies, and if you would like to see them as they appear in November you can follow me on Facebook or *Like* my art page linked above and follow me there. I’d love it if you would, it would help me grow an audience for the ladies and that would mean so much and would help me figure out which way to go with them.

Β For now I will just pull out my tiny 4″ x 6″ sketchbook and draw and paint them each day, write their little stories and share them on Facebook. As the ladies come to life so, too, will I find my way with them and I think a book will find it’s form. Why don’t you tell me what you think or what you would like to see? And is there a lady you would love to see me draw, a lady who has a particular profession? I will take your suggestions and run wild with them, as I do, and share them on Facebook. Who knows, they may end up in a book someday!

Until then, back to the sketchbook, a lady is waiting to be born…

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Comments

  1. oh i love your ladies too!! I am so glad they’ve come back. too good to file away in a drawer, maitri. tally ho! you are gifted!

    xo
    ka

  2. I’ve so enjoyed them — I welcome their return.

  3. Your blog is completely encouraging to someone who is also in a period of transition. What I like about Suzie’s imperfections are that she’s just like us…it’s a rare woman who has a perfect complexion.

    • Thank you Marge, I’m so happy that you find it encouraging, and yes, Suzie is just like us as they all are, a little cattywompus and lopsided to boot! None of us have a perfect anything, nor do the ladies. Blessings to you dear one…

  4. Your drawings are so wonderful! I love their bright colours and largesse. Absolutely beautiful tributes to these women.

    • Thank you so much! You have really given me a big smile on my face. You are very kind and the Ladies thank you too! πŸ˜€

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