YSYS Painting: Possum n Hippo / Relationship Pyramid

I'm very happy with this one.  I haven't shown it to my advisor Don yet so I'm sure he'll have a lot to say but so far I'm pretty happy!

Originally I designed this with green grass and more blue in the possum but Don pointed out as he looked at my tiny color composition that at sunset the colors lean far more towards purples and oranges.  So I threw a bunch of orange and purple all over, with pretty orange pink and yellow highlights.

Text will go above Hippo and some more below Possum.

So!  You likey too?  :)

The Sketch:

The painting:

Possible Touch ups to be made:

(if you want to believe this is a perfect painting, don't read on!)  Grass can be even more orange/pink/purples still, I want more dimension in Hippo's eyelid since right now it's paper thin, and Hippo's skin in the shadows is kinda boring right the way it is.  The twig's (upper right corner) edges are probably a little too hard, and I can probably make all the highlights even lighter and better.

The Possum:

Isn't he adorable?  He's my fav part of this peice.  By the way, did you know possum can be spelled "Possum" or "Opossum?"  Weird...


"Upside down is not for me,
and I don't like to climb you see.
Today I think that I would rather
swim and watch the fishes gather.

As I float on my backside
you're welcome to come catch a ride.
But I won't say 'You should you should!'
I'll let you choose it if you would."

This is the second to last page of the story, where Hippo takes those scary steps of assertiveness saying, "Thanks for suggesting I do that but actually I'm not comfortable and to be honest I'd rather not.  This other thing is what I really enjoy, and you're welcome to join me if you'd like.  If not, we can still be friends even though we are different."

Let me show you about the Relationship Pyramid my therapist taught me:

This applies to ALL relationships from neighbors to spouses to God.  100% Honesty AND 100% Commitment are the first foundational principles of a healthy relationship.  Next comes Trust.  Once both are established, Risk and Vulnerability happen, and the following effects are Emotional-Spiritual Intimacy where we Love and are Loved in return, finally eliciting Infinite Joy.

Now check this out.  If we are like Hippo starts out, committed but not honest (saying "sure I'll climb that tree, sounds great..." or "Uh yeah, I love this movie..."  "Um yeah of course I'm voting for him..."  "Sure, I have a great relationship with my family how about that weather!"  "I'm always happy and live a flawless life!!!")  We may be 100% committed (I'm here for you!) but if we're not 100% honest, the risk and vulnerability isn't happening, thus we don't get to find out we're loved for who we are; meanwhile, we're running ourselves thin in our commitment to others.  Therefore... a huge chunk of our joy is absent.

40% Honesty/Commitment = little red triangle of Joy and large empty space of Pain.

As most of you know, when joy is absent, there's that dark empty void.  And the void for us means pain.  So then what?  Our brain senses pain and quickly seeks to self-soothe/avoid, often without our awareness.  Addiction is the BEST way to self-soothe/avoid pain in this instance, which is why we have SOOO much addiction today.  Many of us have had a void since we were children.  We either never learned how to take risks and be vulnerable because our family systems didn't allow flawed imperfection - avoiding it when it was present, or some were simply abusive and taking risks wasn't safe. Or both.

There is "substance addiction," and there is also "process addiction," like:

Sexual addictions
Obsessing over OTHER people and THEIR lives in order to avoid our own...

Anything to fill the void right?  Usually if we cut one out, another will fill it's place.  The only way to actually heal the pain is to stop avoiding our demons, face them, feel our emotions, and take the time work and effort to resolve them with proper healthy tools (therapy, 12 Steps, connecting with Higher Power, journaling, confronting people, loving ourselves, ETC), and one of those tools AND glorious results is developing healthy relationships that involve 100% Commitment and 100% Honesty.  Aka: Infinite Joy.

Parents, children learn from you.  We can teach these great kiddo's by EXAMPLE that we can be vulnerable, admitting our actual feelings and imperfections, facing our demons and communicating our problems fears and weaknesses, and also teach children that they are allowed to make mistakes as well as express emotions (appropriately) and that we still love them for who they are.

Thought of the Day:

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

~Anais Nin


  1. Great painting! Also great insights on codependent recovery process. All around great!

  2. Thanks for getting those thoughts written out. I feel the same way. Learning to properly appreciate and tend to the wants of others without becoming dependent on them is a tough, tough challenge. God never ceases to love His children and He does feel sorrow when they choose poorly. But He also is a source of unendless living waters to those who seek Him.

    I'm noticing you like to talk to parents (which is great). But it makes me curious - do you have any thoughts on what makes a relationship start/work? A thoughtful girl's perspective would be a very good read.

    1. Well I am a children's book author... so I'm trying to apply anything I can to making kiddo's lives better.

      As for starting relationships... just remember it's all about give and take on both ends. Make efforts to give, expose some of yourself, take the risk and share who you are, and let nature take it's course from there. Once efforts have been made, if the ball isn't being passed back into your court, then it may be time to move on to another avenue/person. We can't force relationships. In dating, I think a smart guy would be asking a different girl out every weekend, making these efforts we've discussed, and if one of them makes consistent efforts in return, then if he likes her enough, he can try pursuing that relationship. The more exposure the better chances he is at finding someone he connects with who enjoys connecting with him in return.

      But that's just me... anyone else is welcome to comment.

  3. Love the painting, Ginney. What's the medium? Parts of it make me think it is watercolour, and other parts acrylic. Thanks too for passing on the relationship triangle - useful tool.

    1. They thanks!!! Yeah it is acrylic, I forgot to write that!! I used acrylic like watercolor (watered down washes) for the sky and river. Acrylic behaves a lot like watercolor if you get it good and wet. Glad you enjoyed by blurbs about relationships too. :)

  4. Oops...Ginny, not Ginney. Not sure how that happened.

  5. Love your illustrations, the colors are wonderful. I like seeing the process also.

    1. Thank you!! I appreciate your time coming to look, and also comment. Glad you like it!

  6. Dear Ginny,

    I like your sense of humor in these illustrations and your ability to take constructive criticism from Don. Your book is wonderful. I still think that you need to get Hippo and the main theme into the title. Otherwise, buyers may not understand what your book is about.

    Best wishes! Janet

    Author of the award-winning book for kids about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, hardback--2006, paperback--2007, e-book and Spanish edition--2008, 3rd paperback edition and iPad app--2012)
    Website is http://www.redroom.com/author/janet-ruth-heller

    1. Thanks Janet,

      I would be very unwise to ignore Don Seegmiller's criticism. I'm glad you like it. I've talked to a lot of people as I considered and reconsidered the title, including my publisher, and the final decision is the title will remain is it is. I truly appreciate your thoughts though. I can't remember, but you may have been the one that got me really asking people about the title some time earlier, and I'm very glad I went through that process.

      You're the best!


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