“No,” she responded, after considering my using one of her photos as a “model” for a baby portrait idea and running it by the child’s parents. I wasn’t soliciting a commission, simply admiring the sweet snapshot for something I wanted to create… just for the joy of it… but it wasn’t to be.
I couldn’t help slumping shoulders a bit as I read the answering email, because I’d loved the unusual shape of the baby girl’s eyes, her cute and wobbly smile beneath the old-fashioned cream bonnet, and my fingers itched to draw them. I thought then of all my favorite artists of the vintage magazine era… all those charming, fresh-faced children they painted… and wondered if they, like Norman Rockwell, had simply invited their community of friends and acquaintances in to be models to their inspiration. And how many “no’s” might have been sprinkled in among the “sure‘s!” I thought I could see some of the same child subjects recurring in various scenes they’d painted, and for that, I love the people who said “yes,” intriguing the storyteller in me… and giving me the pleasure of so many of those favorite paintings!
“Ah well,” I thought – “Maybe I can find a similar style photo to work from…” I pondered. Until I’d spotted the one in question, I hadn’t been on the tack of adding to my baby portrait gallery, not having any such commissioned pieces at the moment, but now the anonymous little one in ruffles and bonnet had inspired me afresh…
Mm… sometimes God can use a “no” to lead us on to even more gems than we’d yet envisioned.
For if not for that “no,” I might not have searched further — or found such other lovelies I’d long to put into illustration…
Then as I looked… there it was – the photo that inspired this new bonneted lassie – and I was smitten all over again! Oh! That crisp white eyelet! I love this little girl’s unusual almond-shaped eyes – they even reminded me of the curve of lovely little birds as I drew them. And more than just a smile for the camera, I like the wondering look on her face, as someone caught her naturally. In her pretty white ruffles, she also reminds me of my mom creating spring dresses for my sister and I… and the familiar hum of her sewing machine in the background of so many of my childhood memories…
© Pam Depoyan
In My Eyelet Bonnet, little girl drawing above: mine. (Please do not copy without permission. See my copyright info button on the sidebar. )