Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Marathon painting


I am a week short of a deadline and painting like a maniac. Recently a 9 to 5er pointed out that as freelancers we don't HAVE to do everything at the last minute... painting into the wee hours, and ignoring any and all other commitments to make a deadline. Its true and a really good point I think that many times there is an option, that a carefully planned out schedule could prevent the last minute crunch that often happens. Now granted there are times when a publisher will rush you, spend a long time with revisions and then expect that you can magically cut your work time in half to make the deadline. But that is not always the case.

Often times I think we illustrators (and writers perhaps too?) let this situation happen on purpose. There is something about the momentum of focusing ALL your time, energy and attention on one thing that is really gratifying. Its like a little break from your ordinary life where everything becomes really simple and your paintings become the only thing that is important. Even when you are doing other things... eating a meal, talking with a friend, making the occasional venture outside the house, your creative mind is still engaged. Sometimes in the middle of a conversation about, I don't know, the weather or something, I will bust out with "WAIT, thats what I need to do, a little more green!" Usually the comment is met with silence. Or if the person knows me, they'll just say "Go."

This kind of feast or famine intensity is something I've struggled with over the years. There is something satisfying about it, and yet as I get older, sometimes I don't want such an extreme lifestyle. Sometimes I want to be able to disengage and go to the movies, without obsessing about the project at hand. But its a tough balance to strike. Sometimes I just think this is the nature of the beast.

6 comments:

Bonnie said...

We all would like to have balance. I struggle with this, and also the isolation that comes with the deal of working at home for many many hours.


However, It's always nice to hear that others have similar experiences. Makes me feel not so crazy!!!

Libby Koponen said...

I never thought of it that way before, but I agree that there IS something really satisfying about those marathons....they've even done scans (or MRIs or whatever it's called when they measure the activity in different parts of the brain). And they've found that when you're really focused and working really hard on only one thing, your brain is actually QUIETER. All the activity stops except around one little area. Normally lots of areas are active at the same time, so no wonder focusing feels different -- it is different.

Anyway I enjoyed reading your take on this. Perceptive as usual.

alvina said...

Hey, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANNA!!! I hope you had lots of cupcakes.

2readornot said...

I recently queried an agent when I was only half-finished with a book. Now, I assumed she would ask for a partial (which I had) and by the time she wanted the full, I'd be done. Well, she asked for the full right off (about 60 seconds after I queried)...and I then spent the weekend finishing the book. And it truly was satisfying! (And stressful.)

Steph said...

I'm in that space right now...2 books due, one on the 25th, the other on the 27th. I've turned the ringers off of on my phones, I have an assortment of books on tape, the "this American Life" radio program bookmarked (lots of npr shows, actually). My attire is almost exclusively made up of pajamas- I've only been getting dressed for grocery store runs and going to the gym...Even though the hours are LONG and I'm up late and my neck is killing me, in an odd way- it's my time. I shut out the world for a little while and I get in my little zone with my colors and pencils...and as much as I may whine about it sometimes, I do love it...it's like a little vacation from distractions for awhile it's a valid excuse to say to friends, "no I can't, I have a deadline"...and then when it's over and everything is done, it's like spring after winter and I'm back out in the world bouncing around and being social and engaged in life beyond my studio walls...

Elaine M. said...

I know this is off the topic--but I just got my HORN BOOK GUIDE in the mail. And...and...I'm so happy. THE YEAR OF THE DOG was awarded a little black triangle and a rating of 2! A "2" rating = Superior, well above average!!!

You go, Pacy! Can't wait for THE YEAR OF THE RAT.