Inspire Yourself!

I was at home yesterday, on St. Patrick’s Day, having taken the day off, as it’s my birthday. I had decided to spend the day doing a little spring cleaning. My thought was, I would prepare myself for the upcoming year, and (also) for the rest of my life. A lot of emotional pressure to put on to cleaning out a closet for sure, and I was getting stuck in the rubble of clothing discards. I was feeling very sad as well, missing my beautiful sister, who moved on to another (better) place without me this year. I didn’t understand how to celebrate my birthday without her. As I was sitting on the couch in a funk, I received a happy birthday text from a friend and fabulous artist, SiYeon Lee. She said that she and a few other friends were going to draw ‘my’ parade – the Patty’s Day parade, and that they had been inspired to do so by my reportage work, currently exhibited in the Artists for Art Gallery in Scranton. I thought, why aren’t I inspired by my work? And decided to go out and draw the parade a bit myself.

As soon as I got off the train on Fifth Avenue, the sounds of bagpipers hit me like a green wave. What a familiar sound! I came around the corner, and saw a cacophony (can you SEE a cacophony?) of Irish faces and blue eyes marching along. I love the eclectic feel of it, and it’s really funny, but the Patty’s Day parade for me is always about those faces…

st-patty's-parade-2-2015Smiling, winking, laughing, and feeling proud – those faces all feel so familiar. I am of 3/4 Irish descent, after all. I recognized the emotion – the twinkle in the eye no matter what – the sense of humor against all odds – such a singular Irish trait, and so very much like my sister. I smiled to myself, thinking that she would like it that I was there, and not moping at home on the couch. It was fun to draw these guys and see the American flag turned Irish for a few hours on Fifth Avenue in NYC. What a great way to get out of my own way for a little while.


st-patty's-parade-5-2015This parade is very much like a family party – as many people marching on Fifth Avenue as people watching them go by. It is not uncommon for parade spectators and parade participators to know each other, and it feels at times like a small community in the midst of a major metropolis. There isn’t a lot of spectacle in the way of floats or sparkles, just a lot of Irish New Yorkers saying, hey, we’re here and proud to be so! And why not? Irish immigrants built half of this city, after all.

st-patty's-parade-6-2015I love the Irish step-dancers, the young girls with their starched Celtic dresses and their starched pony tails. They remind me of my own 8th birthday party, when my friend Mary taught us all what she had learned of the Irish jig. What fun! The properness of it all mixed with the silliness, this crazy combination that is so familiar to me, (and what I am missing so much about my sister Patty), is here marching through the city. I’m so glad I’ve come.

st-patty's-parade-7-2015And the bagpipes keep coming! You can’t even begin to count them, more and more, so military – after all, the phrase ‘fighting Irish’ doesn’t come from nowhere – and so fantastic. I give up trying to identify them individually and just draw a bunch of pipes moving down the street as a unit. As a clan, if you will.


I work my way down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as it seems like this is the backdrop and the heart of the entire parade. The crowd is beginning to thin out a bit, and as it does, the packs of young drunken men are beginning to stand out. And I am also smelling something green that isn’t the grass of the Emerald Isle. Time to head home. But as I am about to turn the corner to go downstairs to the subway, I see him – a real live leprechaun! I can’t NOT draw this man, so proper and so full of joy. He seems to be twinkling with a little bit of Irish magic.


And so, another year of my life goes by, and once again I am reminded on my birthday of the importance of my heritage and the importance of my future. Inspire yourself towards the future, but bring the past along for ballast. And keep those close to you right by your side, always.

Great day, great lesson.


Comments (18)

  1. Audrey Hawkins

    I was so touched reading this, Ronnie! And a fantastic reportage to boot!

  2. Veronica

    Thank you Audrey! So glad you all inspired me to go out and draw yesterday. xo

  3. Leslie

    I’m another who feels consistently inspired by your work. Thanks for this post, and I’m glad your birthday got so much better!

  4. Veronica

    Thank you Leslie, me too!

  5. Evan Turk

    Thank you for posting, Ronnie, and keeping the circle of inspiration going! Beautiful.

  6. Susan Stillman

    Wonderful post, Ronnie! Your drawings and your words are equally inspiring. Happy Birthday 🎂

  7. Veronica

    Thank you Evan – I like that, the circle of inspiration! You, Audrey, and SiYeon definitely gave it to me yesterday. xo

  8. Veronica

    Thank you Susan!

  9. Orling

    what a lovely and heartfelt recount of your day, loved every line and …now I want to go out and draw. Thank you Ronnie! Happy b-day!

  10. Don McNulty

    Hi Veronica, the McNultys of the world are loving this, wonderful words and drawings.

  11. Kevin McCloskey

    Well said, and sorry for your loss.

  12. Veronica

    Thank you so much, Orling, Don, and Kevin. xo

  13. Rachel Kugelman

    Ronnie, I saw this link on Rudy’s facebook page and I’m so grateful because I’ve wanted to re-connect with you ever since graduating from Pratt. You taught me so much, your class was always a bright spot in any week for me. I’m so happy to have found your blog and SO glad to see your inspiring work, again. <3

  14. Veronica

    Thank you Rachel, that’s so nice of you to say. I looked you up and saw the Etsy page – glad to see you’re working at it! xo Ronnie

  15. Sue Pownall

    aww belated happy birthday and a big hug.

    I’m glad you went to the parade as this series of sketches is lovely. I especially like the latter ones of the parades.

  16. Jo Anne

    Hi, Veronica. I took a Sketchbook Skool class and have been following your blog since then. Thank you for this beautifully honest post with the beautiful reportage. Very inspiring, not just the technique, but the spirit and the magic of your art. Belated Happy Birthday. :)

  17. Veronica

    Thank you JoAnne, I appreciate that!

  18. Danielle

    I Love this Ron and I’m so glad you got inspired that day and went out to draw :) Great way to celebrate and I’m sure your sister would agree. Now I’m inspired by you once again as always. You always find a way to just do it no matter what. Love you.

    Thanks for sharing. xo Dan

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