Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hitting the wall

Ever since I started working as an illustrator I have struggled with work. Often the problem was that it was difficult to transfer the immediacy of the sketch through to the finished work. Sometimes it is very hard to come up with an idea. Always there is a sense of disappointment when something is finished, though when I first started this was a disappointment like rage. Now I see that it it something many artists suffer from.
When a book works really well it looks so easy. And so many people say how lovely it must be to have my job, working with children's books, what could be better.
Always it is difficult to start, but this one is just so much more difficult than others have been, or seems so at this point in time.
This week I decided after many false starts that I would give up, wash my hands of the whole project, walk away, paint what I wanted to, not worry about it, try not to feel like a failure, delete the blog, go! I emailed James and Barefoot and told them I was sorry, but I couldn't do it. James was wonderful, very supportive, told me how he had thrown yellow paint around his studio and screamed when doing Ella Bella as he felt the same. And that was on a good day!
It felt better to have freed myself from the book, though I was so disappointed with myself, and scared. But I told James that whatever I did I just couldn't seem to make it shine. It wasn't the text, the words are lovely, too good to walk away from, it was me. Somehow I had completely blocked myself. Painted myself into a corner.
So I went to bed with an uneasy sense of freedom. Now I only had Ice Bear, which is going ok, to work on, aswell as a few texts lurking and ideas for books and too many exhibitions.

Four o'clock in the morning, voices singing starlight songs woke me from my peaceful haven and back into the text. Pictures formed and ideas and thoughts and what I had been missing and they started to sparkle. I fetched my sketchbook, pencil and tea, cwtched up with the puppy and started to draw wandered the net, looking at images, made paper boats from pieces of paper, folding and folding until the room seemed full of boats made of paper, came up with some roughs and emailed James and Barefoot saying "Scratch the last few emails. One more chance." If it didn't work this time then I would walk away.

Two days later, email sent to James and Tessa with the picture attached. At first I thought it was working, had some magic. Now I don't know. Waiting. At least if I have to walk away I don't think I could have done better. So, click on the image to see it bigger, and if you come back to the blog this time next week and find the whole thing deleted then you know I have moved on to something else.


Dragonlady said...

Hm, I would have a lot to say about this. Mostly that I totally understand you.

I wonder why I am even trying to become an illustrator, you never get payed and people always make a fuss and ask impossible things of you. :)

But I can't bear the thought of being stuck in this little dark office for another 25 years. So I try to do what I can to get away.

I hope you can find a way, either to travel the story as you wish, or find another path to tread.

lynx said...

keep going as you have so much magic in you, it is too late to stop now. I have so many unfinished stories - it does drag you down I know but we strive for perfection which is hard. You will find your Starlight it is out there.

Buskitten said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Buskitten said...

Wow Jac, that is quite a post to read. it's actually really brilliant, as you express so well what you are feeling and going through. I do hope that the magic will come, as you have invested so much in to this project....
Your words about about the dynamic of the sketchbook / rough rang many bells for me.... Some (very many!) years ago, I had opportunities with MacMillan, The Arum Press and Laura Ashley - and I blew every single one of them! Hence, I ended up as a Community Worker, I guess! I just couldn't seem to transfer the same energy into 'finished' artwork. Eventually, the publishers, and me, gave up....
Soooo, I do hope Starlight will come good for you - but if not, maybe you will come back to it, as maybe the time is just not right.
Huge Hugs from Scotland,

cassia said...

I hope you don't leave the project. I've been really touched by the work that's gone up here for it. It's wonderfully sensitive. I understand exactly how you feel though and (I know this isn't a particularly nice thing to admit) but I'm really glad that it's not just me that sometimes feels this way about my work. I guess it's simply a relationship though, between an illustrator and a story/characters. As much as we want it to work, it's an odd unfathomable equation that sometimes means that no matter how much we work on it, it's just not meant to be; the same as any other relationship.

Whatever you decide, the work you've produced is, without a doubt, absolutely gorgeous. It does shine for me.