The Roots of the Bear and Ivory Picturebook
Updated: Mar 15
In this post, explore the building blocks that set the stage for Nikolai Deleff's Picturebook.
Nikolai Deleff - Stanton Territorial Hospital, Yellowknife, NT. Jan 2022
One of the most intense and stressful times of my life (being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC)) had forced me to turn to one of my greatest strengths: Art. And out of it came my greatest masterpiece.
Beginning in February, I spent countless days, weeks, and several months, working on the creation of my very first picture book. These days were filled with drive and purpose, yet it would not have been possible had I not been hospitalized three months prior. Let me explain.
I spent in total, a month in the hospital, and while the cool liquid of the IV slithered through my veins, I felt that I had developed a deeper sense of gratitude, and warmth for all the kindness and love which surrounded me. Friends, and family most especially. You realize how incredible it is to have those relationships in your life that help you and nurture you in times of hardship.
I kept a small notebook with me at the hospital and jotted down any ideas I had. I had a lot of time to stare at ceilings. Then something unexpected happened. I received a gift bag, and out of it I pulled a small sketchbook. I was ecstatic, because although I loved to draw, I had not done so for ever. Looking back now, I see it as one of the lights in a dark place, that made me realize my strengths as an artist. Thankfully someone had sent me that sketchbook because, each day I drew and drew, each time taking my mind into a better place.
I realized that when any hardship had struck in my life, it was art that I turned to. Whenever I had arguments as a kid with my family or siblings, my mother would send me to my room. And I would draw.
In the hospital, many nurses complimented my drawing, but it wasn't until one who said I should make a picture book that I started to really think about it.
Cover of the Bear and Ivory Picturebook © Nikolai Deleff 2022