by Kelly Light

I had written a completely different post here for PiBoIdMo. I attempted to compare the PiBoIdMo experience to my old Zenith console radio. All about tuning in to our own stations. I may yet throw it up on my own blog. I was about to start a drawing for it…
Then I went to The Eric Carle Museum and listened to the epic cartoonist Jules Feiffer talk about creating. After this weekend, it seems unfair to not let others in on his brilliant analogy for his own long career as an author and illustrator.

At the risk of likening myself to his 82 years of creating amazing words and picture; He and I had a moment. He doesn’t know we had a moment. But we had a Fred Astaire moment.

I was watching two squirrels earlier this Fall, as they romped through my yard. The way their feet barely touch the ground. The circled each other, intertwining their tails as they glided from grass, to rock, to tree limb. Their movements so smooth and elegant and effortless. They made me think of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers. So I sketched them.

Back to Jules;

Jules Feiffer grew up in the time when Fred and Ginger danced on the big screen. Just a young boy when the films were new in the cinema, the movies entered his consciousness in a very deep way. He relates those sublime sways and quick steps to his own career as a creative being.

“Fred Astaire made elegance look easy. He made it look easy because he worked at it constantly. He didn’t dance for the applause- he danced to dance. It was his work, it was what he did everyday, it was him. How long was he actually dancing for, four minutes? He put countless hours in for those four minutes on screen.”  ~ Jules Feiffer

When Mr. Feiffer sits down to draw, He pours himself a scotch, puts on a Fred Astaire movie—and the music swells… and he dances. Both he and his pen. We look at his drawings and marvel at how effortless they look.

If you are unfamiliar with his work, you can check out Mr. Jules Feiffer’s work here:

So I am putting on my top hat, tyin’ up my white tie… brushin’ off my tails for PiBoIdMo with this notion in my head—If you put in the hard work, it will look easy. But it takes that hard work—the hours and hours of continually doing it, backstage, to make it seem effortless, on stage. You have to rehearse, mess up, trip and fall on your face, over and over before you can have your stories go stepping’ out. So revel in the work!

Dance to dance. Draw to draw. Write to write.

Dance like Astaire—on paper.

I am thrilled to give away a print of the dancing squirrels to a dancin’ PiBoIdMo participant! Just leave a comment to enter and we’ll randomly draw a winner one week from today. (Tara’s note: click on the bottom image to see the entire illustration in full size—trust me, you want to do this!!!)

Thanks to Tara Lazar for the gift of PiBoIdMo. You’ve created the space for us to dance!

Kelly Light is a cartoonist, character artist and illustrator. Her clients include The Walt Disney Co.,Warner Bros., The Jim Henson Co. and many more. She ‘s bringing her own characters to life these days.You can find her online @ her blog and on Twitter @kellylight.