This is Emma.
She was my woods-romping, tug-of-war-playing, stick-her-head-out-the-car-window-and-eat-the-wind-until-she-broke-wind, ice-cream-eating, adorable-looking, snuggling best friend from 1998-2011.
She is also a famous children’s book character.
Tim Bowers, whose awesome illustrations you might recognize from over 35 picture books as well as widespread greeting cards, lives in my hometown of Granville, Ohio. His daughter graduated high school with me, and I remember when he visited our class and gave us a lesson in character drawing.
Shortly after, he needed some models for his own character drawing. Dog models. Since Emma clearly won the genetic lottery for cuteness, I auditioned her for the part. Although Emma was very modest, I was a proud mama when I learned that she had won the role of the title character’s mother in Laura Numeroff’s book, Sherman Crunchley.
Tim did not only capture Emma’s likeness, he managed to capture her entire personality from just a photo. Emma, who jumped in fright if she stepped on a stick and who barked nervously when a pumpkin appeared on the front porch, was perfect for the role of the sweet yet emotionally frail mother.
Although this post is mostly a chance to show off my cute pooch, I’m also sharing it as a reminder that we are surrounded by real-life resources to inspire our art and our writing.
Carry a sketch pad or notebook with you to capture them, use your friends, hold contests, and come up with other innovative ways to draw from the world around you. Not only is it a wealth of subject matter, engaging the community allows them to be a part of what you’re creating too!