As I approached the Hindu Mandir that September morning, the sun’s rays burst forth from behind the minarets and flags punctuating the ornamental carvings and wide smooth steps. The word’s derivation, man (mind) and dir (still), was affirmed by the light as I noticed my mind become still in the beauty. This architectural treasure, just outside of Atlanta, is one of the many wonders in the world around me. To appreciate these wonders, I need to know about them. More importantly, I need to go to them because visiting their websites just doesn’t do them justice.
To immerse myself in the culture, the sights and sounds, the uniqueness of the place, is to be able to call upon its memory when I need it later. Whether illustrating or writing, my experiences and memories help me convey an immediacy of a location. I will remember, rather than imagine, the gentle ripples lapping the edges of the reflecting pond, the water splashing forth from the trunks of a row of bronze elephants. Sketchbook events provide me the opportunity to visit places I might not normally make the time to see.
The opportunities are out there. For most of us, it takes more than reading books and watching videos. So, get involved with other SCBWI writers and illustrators. Join planned events in your area or create your own. Go to the zoo, a local historical site, or the horse barn down the road. Just go. Your imagination will thank you for it later.
Kitty Klein is a technical writer during the day and dabbles in picture books and young adult novels by night. She attributes her perseverance to her ever-supportive critique group and also to her good friend and art instructor, Michael Wood.
Photos and sketches from the day: