Guest Post: Ruth de Vos on Celebrating Ordinary

Today we welcome, Ruth de Vos, illustrator of Shine, written by Danny Parker and how she embraced the ordinary, everyday moments when creating this divine work.

Shineis a love song between a parent and a child. It combines fun rhymes by Danny Parker with my entertaining illustrations of real-life home and family experiences. 

As a mother of six children, these illustrations needed no artistic licence at all, but are an accurate portrayal of our reality.

The moment I read Danny’s manuscript, I knew that I didn’t want to illustrate this in a sweet and sappy way. I’ll be the first to tell you that parenthood is an incredible privilege, but also to acknowledge that it is far less ‘sweet and sappy’ and far more ‘messy, noisy and stinky’ than some might lead you to believe. I’ll also be the first to insist that the beauty of family and parenthood and childhood is found in those ordinary, less glamorous moments and events.

I truly believe that it’s the ordinary, everyday moments that make a beautiful life. The few minutes of teasing while washing the family car together, siblings all wanting to read the same book at the same time (even though there are several hundred alternatives on the bookshelf), a glass of juice together while discussing (arguing?!) the finer details of the rules for a modified game of hide and seek (agreeing on the rules always takes far longer than the game itself!), refolding the washing that your toddler is ‘helping’ with, pulling together a somewhat healthy dinner with a toddler clinging to one leg and another  precariously perched on a stool nearby …

I’d love us all to celebrate those moments a little more. If the family photo albums or camera rolls are filled with first-day-of-school and birthday photos, maybe flesh them out with captured moments of family members engaging with each other. Let’s notice the ways in which we turn towards each other as parents and children and siblings, and maybe become more mindful about doing so more often.

A few years ago I took a photo of home life every single day for a year. While this obviously resulted in a fantastic collection of family memories, it also helped me to really notice and treasure the ordinary things we do at home, and the ways in which we connect with each other. Try it for yourself! It creates an intimate visual story that can be shared with one another and with future generations.

As we become more aware of the value of mindfulness in various areas of life, let’s also be mindful of the richness that our loved ones bring to our lives – whether through the mundane or the profound.

Ruth de Vos’s illustration work has grown out of a career as an internationally recognised textile artist. Ruth combines traditional (pencil, gouache, collage, screen-printing) and digital techniques to create fun scenes and worlds, and her passion lies in illustrating children’s books. As a mother of six young children, she is an avid and critical consumer of children’s literature, and she also has a ready source of drawing inspiration right in her home. Shine, her book with Danny Parker, is available in all good bookstores and online from Fremantle Press.

Please visit Ruth’s website for more information or follow her on instagram .

Read our KBR review of Shine by Shaye Wardrop.

July 30, 2021 at 12:34AM DimbutNice