Lost and found and lost

Kate/ August 11, 2010/ blog

Injured female Scarlet Tanager, rescued and released last week.

I feel a bit scatterbrained. The feeling hasn’t ceased for three weeks. Scattered and incredibly focused at the same time. Yes I just contradicted myself. Kind of. Let’s try this again.

Since the New York trip my brain has swollen four times its usual size with information


I suppose I should have expected some topsy-turviness with all the meetings of important peoples, subjecting my art to them, receiving feedback, getting lost a few times in between. I don’t know. Yesterday, glutton for critiques that I apparently am, I followed a whim and showed my work to an admissions counselor at a prominent art school in Philadelphia, took a tour of the MFA studios.

The notion occurred to me last week that I need good, solid, clear, wise direction at this juncture right here, where I am stuck on a merry-go-round between technique and voice; genre and media. I realized it’s time I seek professional help. The mentoring kind. More than a portfolio review, more than a workshop. A deep soak in a lifetime of wisdom. Like—well, just like school.

So I began with the closest, most reasonable solution: to obtain an MFA in Philadelphia, in my own familiar backyard, the backdrop of my earliest experiences in art. It was a day of dejas-vous. My first extra-curricular art classes took place when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I took the train from the suburbs to Center City on Saturdays for “gifted” type classes at Hallahan High School. Yesterday I found myself re-familiarizing myself with the same train station route I took then, remembering my Dad showing me the ropes, purposely getting me lost at Suburban Station so that I would learn to find my way out by myself (under his watchful eye). I fell in love with Philadelphia back then.

But now—things feel different. Smaller. Darker. My world is worlds larger now that I’ve crossed the hemispheres, fallen into deep blue cenotes, scaled snowcapped mountains and slid back down them. My fears have lost significance, having lost what once seemed so significant. I am much, much bigger than I was at eleven.

If I had accidentally stumbled across my eleven-year-old, portfolio toting self in that train station yesterday, what would I have told her? How would she reply?

“The best way to find your way out is to get lost for a bit.”

About Kate

Kate Garchinsky illustrates and writes children’s books and educational media in her studio in the woodlands near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her debut picture book, The Secret Life of the Red Fox, written by acclaimed wildlife author, Laurence Pringle, received a starred review from School Library Journal. Kate Garchinsky received a grant from the Eckelberry Fellowship at the Academy of Natural Sciences, where she has been researching and illustrating extinction stories about North American birds such as the Passenger Pigeon and the Carolina Parakeet. Prior to creating children’s books, Kate designed lots of fun things like toys, birdbaths and trail maps. She lives with her husband Brian, Julia and Spencer the cats, and her one-eyed beagle, Maggie May. Kate recently signed on to illustrate two more “Secret Life” narrative non-fiction picture books with Boyds Mills Press—The Secret Life the Little Brown Bat (2018) and The Secret Life of the Skunk (2019). While drawing foxes and bats, Kate also began work on Belle’s Journey, a middle-grade non-fiction chapter book by ornithologist and osprey expert, Rob Bierregaard (Charlesbridge 2018). Get to know more about Kate Garchinsky at http://KateGarchinsky.com (aka PenguinArt.com).