We’ve all heard that warning: Be careful what you wish for… you might get it. I think maybe it’s more a reflection on what wishing is all about than guidance for choosing a course in life. What I mean is that — for me, at least — those things I wish for are usually unrealistic, the sort of things that don’t have a chance of ever happening. So, when I wish for something, I’m probably not too serious about it. No way it’s ever going to happen no matter how much I might wish it would.
Case in point. Me. Drawing.
As a child, I wished over and over again that I could draw. I couldn’t. I tried. It was just never going to happen. But then, one day about 5-1/2 years ago, my wishing turned to a more determined desire. “I’m going to learn to draw,” I said. Well, full disclosure here, I actually prefaced it with a “Well, I guess…” At that point though, my wish became a definite plan of action, and even though I didn’t think it was possible, I did go on to learn the basic elements of drawing. If you’re new to this blog and want to know more about what prompted my decision, you’ll find the story here.
As a child, yes, I wished I could draw, and one of the reasons was because I wanted to be, or at least wished I could be, a fashion designer. I loved colors. I loved textures. I loved fabrics. I loved designing my own clothes.
Does anyone here remember Katy Keene? Known as “The Queen of Pin-Ups and Fashion”, she was an icon in the comic-book world back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. She’s been revived a few times since, I hear, and I understand that Katy was even brought to the screen in a short-lived television series. I’m sorry I missed out on that. I loved Katy Keene! She was an aspiring fashion designer, and readers were invited to send drawings of fashions for Katy. Oh, how I wished I could! I sometimes went to sleep at night dreaming of fashions for her to wear, but there was that persistent problem — I could not draw. Bummer.
As I grew older, I designed complete fashion collections “in my head” as I pored over issues of Glamour and Vogue. Oh, if only I could draw! Then, I could go to a fashion institute and learn how to bring my creations to life. I could make a name for myself among the great designers! Wishful thinking at its finest.
Although the desire to be a fashion designer persisted well into my teen years, it was never a serious course of action for me. I could not draw. Going to any sort of art school would have been laughable!
Even now, of course, I watch every episode of Project Runway and yearn — wistfully — to be a student at Parson’s School of Design. I sigh with envy as the show’s talented designers make beautiful sketches of their fashions, and I think, “Oh, I wish I could do that.”
But then, occasionally, there’s a designer on the show who really doesn’t draw — at least, not very well. Even so, they have visions and voice, and they go right on to make them real. At those times I think, “Hmmm, maybe I could have been a designer.”
In truth, although fashion design was a strong interest for me, it was never a career choice I seriously hoped to pursue. Had it been, I would have found a way. I would have been more determined. I would have at least tried.
Instead, fashion design remained one of my “wishes”. I contented myself with picking fabrics and colors and doing a lot of sewing. Gradually, I put that aside as well. Occasionally I’ll sew something for myself — an apron, a pair of lounge pants — but I no longer think of taking the world of fashion and design by storm.
Still, wouldn’t it be a fun thing to do? Drawing fashions, that is. Wouldn’t it be fun to take all the designs in my head and at least illustrate them? I can thank Lovie Price from Wake Up: Operation Get a Life for putting a little bug in my ear recently when we chatted and she mentioned a book in her collection, Fashion Illustration – Inspiration and Technique by Anna Kiper. I wanted that book. And I found it. Cheap. Of course I ordered it.
And then along came Sketchbook Revival and a workshop with Noopur Thakur, an artist who illustrates a lot of children’s books. Her presentation was about designing clothes and how to create believable fabric textures — fur, netting, gingham. Oh, what joy! Now, at long last, I could learn a little about fashion design, I could study illustration, I could go back and re-capture some of that excitement and enthusiasm I felt as a young girl.
That’s when those oft-spoken words came back to bite me. Be careful what you wish you. You might get it. And you might not like it.
I struggled through the workshop, creating a half-dozen different fabric “swatches”, none of which bore any real resemblance to the fabric designs Ms. Thakur did. I won’t even show mine, but suffice it to say, I totally messed up my gingham; my quilted fabric wasn’t much better; as for net… seriously? I did come up with a fairly good swatch for a plaid fabric, my twill was acceptable, and my fur was, shall we say, adequate, at best. But who wears fur these days?
Next we followed her instructions to sketch a simple “puffy jacket” and a girl’s “party dress.” No design required here. We were just following her directions. I ended up with a very misshapen jacket. My party dress was better, but not much to brag about.
This was near the end of the session, my mind was wandering a bit with thoughts of lunch and other things to do. And, truthfully, at this point I was feeling a little discouraged. It was time to face the facts. I could never have been a fashion designer even if I’d really, really tried.
After I’d put my watercolor pencils away — that was the medium we were using for the workshop — I started to think more about fashion illustration. This was when I realized how much I did enjoy the Sketchbook Revival workshop. It was fun to draw different fabrics. And, yes, how much fun it was to sketch a simple party dress!
And, oh, how much fun it would be to really know how to draw fashion models, those sleek, elongated female forms that make all clothing look sensational. At once I was off to Amazon again, searching for books on fashion illustration. I found a good assortment, including one available through the Kindle Unlimited program: Master Fashion Sketches in 9 Days. Okay. Nice thought, but that’s not going to happen. I’ll have a lot of fun playing over the next 9 days though.
As a young girl, I didn’t have the skills to pursue a career in fashion design, and now as an old great-grandmother, I don’t really have the skills to pursue fashion illustration, but what does that matter? Better late than never, you know, and I’m already hooked. That’s the thing about getting what you wish for… you might get it, you might get bit by it, and you might find yourself hooked.