Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Nine Little Years - By Barbara DiLorenzo

Last Wednesday, I moved from an apartment to a house, eager to have more space for my children and room for my studio. I have shared common space for years, and though it's fun to be right where everyone else is, the distractions were starting to have a negative effect on my work. In my new home, the entire dining room is my art room. There is even one door to keep folks out! The other doorway has no door, but it's open to the kitchen. I'll accept visitors from the kitchen if they bring me snacks.

In the packing process, I came across my first real world art accolade–from the North Shore Arts Association. My painting won the Hazel Morey Memorial Award. I remember feeling so proud to get in as a member, to have my painting juried into the show, then finally, to win an award. As exhilarating as it was, it wasn't exactly what I wanted. All my life I had wanted to write and illustrate picture books, and I felt that I was simply spinning my wheels in that department.

"STARBUCKS" Plein Air Painting from the series, THE PLACES WE SHOP
Acrylic, 2008 by Barbara DiLorenzo
Winner of the Hazel Morey Memorial Award

Looking at the frame, I realized the date on the award. 2008. Nine years ago. So much has happened in those nine years. A mountain of rejections–both for fine art shows and for illustration. But also, so much has gone well. I'm writing and illustrating my own books at long last, with one out now and one coming out in the spring. I'm going on school visits to share the bookmaking adventure with young students. And I'm teaching art and illustration to all ages through the Arts Council of Princeton. In just nine little years. I thought it had been at least 25. It felt like it anyway.

LEFT: Art award from 2008
RIGHT: Book award from 2017
MIDDLE: Max, always causing mischief in the studio...

That helped me put into perspective all my current anxiety about how well my first book is doing, whether I'm doing everything I can to support it, whether anyone will ever let me make a book with them again. Believe it or not, these thoughts, and worse, run in a rotation through my head regularly. I had always believed anxiety would ebb with the first book. In some ways, yes. But a whole mess of new worries crop up to take the place of the old worries. But seeing this frame, marking the timeframe between the start of my career and today, I realized that if I'm lucky to be alive, the next nine years could be amazing. And of course, filled with a mountain of rejections. But also, hopefully, with more projects that go well.

by Barbara DiLorenzo
Now booking author visits for 2017-2018!

Barbara is represented by Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency.
Twitter: @wavepaint
Facebook: @BarbaraWillcoxDiLorenzo


  1. Your motto should be like Alfred E. Newman Mad Magazine's mascot..."Wot , me worry?"

    1. Ha ha! I love Mad Magazine. Was a devoted fan throughout my childhood. At my father's house, I'd read and reread them late into the night. I don't think I even slept under covers... just a sea of Mad Magazines.

  2. Barbara, this actually got me choked up. The accomplishments speak volumes as does the beauty of your work :)You know, just recently I saw a tweet Josh put up and I think I'm going to print it out to keep in view: