In my past life, before marriage and house and kids, I was a studio artist. I spent countless hours drawing self-portraits and still life, imaginative landscapes, and plans for paintings and sculptures. The language of creation came easy for me and I was fluent in explaining ideas and feelings through objects.
For artist Curtis Wiklund, sketching moments from his everyday life with wife Jordin and two kids Casen and Hayden in southeast Michigan has been an experience that has brought closure and understanding to some of their family’s hardest and also most heartening moments. Art, it seems, can be a language that transcends the written word, and that language for Wiklund has been transformed into a beautiful book called Us, which is available now.
“I first started drawing as a little kid,” Wiklund tells Babble. “I drew cartoons and characters, and eventually made a ‘big debut’ with childhood friends and teachers by drawing caricatures of my teachers in our middle school yearbook.”
Wiklund’s love of drawing grew from there, and especially when his wife, Jordin, started a “Photo 365” project in which she took pictures daily over the course of a year. She invited him to join in with daily sketches, and from that, an absolutely stunningly portrait of family life emerged.
“It woke something up in me but was very subconscious,” Wiklund shares with Babble. “I found myself continually going back to wanting to draw us. It moved me to see us documented this way, like my memories and feelings about her and us were being made into permanent visual memories.”
When the project ended, Wiklund found the perfect way to share it as a Valentine’s Day gift.
“I compiled all the drawings together into one post on a website, and those are what became a viral thing on the internet and published into our brand new book,” Wiklund explains to Babble. “It is very bizarre knowing that what feels like my very personal journal is in bookstores around the world right now!”
The drawings, which documented a year in their lives, present a fresh and honest portrayal of family life. From beautiful small moments, like a quick kiss while passing in the kitchen, to the devastating loss of a pregnancy, to those tender parenting moments with small children, Wiklund has captured the best parts of being in a family.
When Wiklund and his wife suffered their first of two miscarriages, art became the way to deal with the overwhelming and complex emotions.
Wiklund describes those tough moments to Babble.
“That moment started something new; I could process through art. My feelings were more tangible, and my art was feeling more accurate than my personhood in life. I’m a very emotionally neutral person in real life, but always positive and excitable. That’s very me. In that moment though, the drawing felt more real than what I was able to demonstrate in real life. I was just sad.”
The book has already tugged on hearts as evidenced by the glowing reviews on Amazon. Wiklund shares one particular review with Babble.
“I don’t know this couple at all, but seeing their young love portrayed here made me want to go do something fun with my wife, to give her kisses, or to snuggle on the couch.”
The review read:
Maybe it’s wrong to appreciate a book more for how it makes me feel than for the actual content. But I have a feeling Curtis, a wedding photographer, would not object to my saying ‘Us’ inspired me to love my wife of 25 years like a newlywed.
“He could not be more right,” says Wiklund. “If reading my book could actually cause someone to physically put my book down to possibly never pick it up again, and go recognize what is in the other room and love on their significant other, then I have done good in this world. I cried when I read that review. (And I do not cry very often … except for when I draw … I cry pretty regularly then).”
To get your copy of Us and see the heartwarming moments that create a marriage, click here.