Monday, September 27, 2010

What's your "Blue Dog"

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the Louisiana artist George Rodrigue.
Here, this will help:

His iconic image of "Blue Dog" is one of those images that stays with you. It's haunting. It's compelling. It's intriguing. There is ONE blue dog, and he appears in every one of George Rodrigue's paintings.

I saw George speak a few years ago, and he talked about working as a painter for years before he painted this image. He had had some success as an artist, but it wasn't until that auspicious day, the day that "Blue Dog" emerged from somewhere deep within his consciousness, that he hit that next level. He became a very successful artist--one whose works sell for huge amounts of money and whose works hang in museums, galleries and collections around the world. The "Blue Dog" image has been compared to the Mona Lisa for having that unique quality that resonates with people. That je ne sais quas. Even George Rodrigue said that he doesn't quite understand why that one image hits an emotional chord with people. But it does.

Katie and I attended the MidSouth SCBWI Conference in Nashville over the weekend. It was a great conference, and we both left feeling energized and inspired. But, on the way home, we started talking about what it takes to make it in the publishing world. We were surrounded by so much incredible talent--both the illustration and writing talent. We heard some incredible first pages read and the illustrations exhibited were AMAZING. I was truly humbled.

But, talent aside, the reality is that many of the people in that room will never be published--that's just statistics! It can be disheartening when you really think about it--you're good enough, but you might not make it.

So what is it that brings a few people to the top? Hard work--yes. Tenacity--yes. Talent--yes. Fearlessly submitting--yes. Revising and rewriting--yes . . . .

But, I think that there has to be something else. A little bit of God, luck, or good karma.

That "Blue Dog" quality.

You have to have that little something extra, some little flair, that gives you that tiny edge. There must be something iconic in your work that sets you apart--whether it's a great character, hook, writing style, or voice. And, you have to be able to recognize those "Blue Dog" moments when you have them and exploit them for all they're worth. Okay--maybe exploit isn't the right word. But, you do have to latch on to those moments of brilliance (I believe EVERYONE has them at some point) and have the good sense to run with them.

So, everyone . . . what's your "Blue Dog"?



Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Mmm...excellent analogy. I just wish I knew. I like to think I have a blue dog, that little something that sets me apart. But I don't know. If I do, I don't know what it is. I mean, I can think of a number of things that make me "feel" different, but as to them being blue dogs, well, hmmm....

I guess only time will tell.

Glad you made it home safely, having taken something away from the conference :D

Stephanie Faris said...

Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. Isn't that how the saying goes? It's so true. Basically luck is just's about getting your work to the right person at the right time. It's all numbers. The longer and harder you work at it, the more likely you are to hit that right person at the right time. The hard part is sticking with it when year after year, your "luck" just doesn't seem to be paying off!

StableGranny said...

Enjoyed meeting y'all this weekend. My Granny always said, "Honey, luck is only an excuse to not try." Well, I'm not sure I agree but sometimes people only put half effort into a project and calls it bad luck when it does make it.

Little Ms J said...

I think I have a blue dog. I just have to buy it a collar and groom it a little. Nice analogy.

Lisa and Laura said...

LOVE this, SF and Katie. Such a cool post. Let's hope we all have that blue dog touch.

lotusgirl said...

I just went to the SCBWI conference in Charlotte. It was great. I wish I knew what my blue dog was. I'd be painting it everywhere.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

my fav blue dog painting is "Blue dog and the daisy" :)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

What an interesting idea, SF! I have no idea what my blue dog is, but I love the concept.

It actually might be easier for *other* people to tell us what our blue dog is. (What would you call mine after reading The Healing Spell? I'm really curious!)

HowLynnTime said...

Thanks for sharing, I love this story....For me I have blue apples. They are what I look for in all things. They are knowing what is important in all the events you witness, a moment where you grow, change or accept something you didn't think you could. They are something done uniquely or represent the hidden gift, the secret knowledge of joy, or the moment that teaches you things are never what they seem to be. Come visit sometime if you have a second.

Our Motto

Our Motto