13 Weeks: Finding My Way Back To Creativity, And The Heart of My Daughter


The only surviving remnant of my artwork.

Growing up in California just minutes away from Disneyland left an indelible mark on my life.

Each week Walt Disney himself sat in our living room, on primetime television, introducing us to The Wonderful World of Disney. He always captivated me. Then of course there was the Mickey Mouse Club, to which, in my imagination–I belonged. To this day what strikes me so deeply, is not the Disney empire itself, but the creativity that oozes out of every crevasse and permeates the air. It made me long to be a creator.

Although I was born with a pencil in my hand, it was Disney that made me want to be an artist–their artist.

That’s it. That is all I ever wanted to be while growing up. I had little use for anything that did not further that ambition (such as math or spelling). My parents fed that monster by using me for party entertainment. They would have me sit and draw a characterization of their guests, just like the street artists in Disneyland.

Becoming a Disney cartoonist faded long ago with my childhood.

Then once again in the early eighties I found my creativity. Photorealism portraits in graphite and charcoal rekindled my desire to create. Who needs Disney now? I had beautiful children to draw.

My first (and last) art show was in 1983. That date is etched in my memory because of two significant events that came to light during that show.

First, there was the brief encounter with a woman that set the bar for what I wanted my art to achieve. This unnamed woman, meticulously groomed and tailored, with a briefcase in one hand and a clipboard in the other, whisked by me and my display. Her stride was long and as swift as her spike heals would allow. It took her about two extra steps past me before she could come to a complete stop. Then she pivoted, took those two steps back and stopped. For just one moment she gazed at one of my drawings. Her face softened as a quiet “Awe” slipped out. Then off again she went.

It didn’t matter that she didn’t buy my work. What she gave me for it was priceless; the highest compliment I could receive as an artist–it stopped her in her tracks. The demands of the day bowed for just a few seconds to enjoy a moment–it touched her.

From that day forward, I wanted to give all of my art that same “Awe” quality.

The second thing that came out of that art show ended my art career, and set a new course for my life.


Throughout that entire show I was sick. Waves of nausea often overcame me. It was everything I could do to keep from falling asleep in the middle of a bustling crowd.

A simple test revealed that my illness would last approximately nine months. It couldn’t tell me  what would follow: one very high-needs infant. She was born at 11:30 pm. By 2:00am, she began to cry. She didn’t stop crying for 10 months straight. She finally quieted down right around the time we were surprised with the news we were expecting our fourth child. The rest is history.

A quarter of a century later, I have two daughters that are gifted artists. Both hold more talent and promise than I have ever had. None of us have ever gone to school for art or had lessons, at least not yet. My youngest daughter, now a Junior in High School and our last child at home, has picked her own dream of becoming a computer animator. However, her creative muse is Pixar.

For Christmas, she bought me art supplies and tucked in this note.

Draw with me Mama

One of the most precious gifts I have ever received and I’m terrified I’m going to blow it.

So here’s the plan, and I need your help…


Emily is a talented artist in her own right. Now, if I can just get her to finish a drawing…

I stumbled on this book called “The Artist’s Way” in the accompanying workbook, there is a contract requesting a promise to yourself  that you will follow through on an encounter with your own creativity.

The days my daughter and I have to draw together are dwindling fast. The business of life and the call of deadlines threaten those fleeting moments, and have the capability of stealing the remaining time we have together.

So here it goes. I’ll take “The Artist’s Way” pledge.

I, Rhonda Robinson, understand that I am undertaking an intensive guided encounter with my own creativity. I commit myself to the twelve-week duration of the course.

I, Rhonda Robinson, commit to weekly reading, daily morning pages, a weekly artist’s date, and the fulfillment of each week’s tasks.

I, Rhonda Robinson, further understand that this course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with.

I, Rhonda Robinson, commit myself to excellent self-care– adequate sleep, diet, exercise and pampering–for the duration of the course.

The stakes are high, so let’s kick it up a notch.

I’ll bring you along for accountability. Each week, I’ll post what Emily and I have learned and (oh this is a hard one to promise…) my work in progress. Ouch. That hurt just to write. (I’m so rusty, I can hardly write my name.)

Also, I want to invite you too, not to read about my progress, but to join me. Each week you can share your progress in the comments as well.

So how about it?

Will you take the next few weeks and pull back the curtain that suffocates your creativity? It’s time to let that book, painting or picture out. 

Put your pledge in the comments. We can do this together.

Order your starter kit here.