Monday, November 09, 2009

Planning for a deadline

Since the art for Disappearing Desmond is due in a week (final stretch!), I thought I'd talk about how I pace myself with a picture book deadline. This book is 40 pages with self ends and has many, many illustrations in it... I laid it out with a lot of spots and vignettes and square-ups of all sizes. So to keep it all straight, as soon as the sketches got approved, I printed out thumbnails of all the pages that look like this:

I wrote the date I planned to do each painting above its thumbnail. I don't always follow this plan, but it helps to have an idea of how much I need to accomplish each week to make the deadline. Of course sometimes paintings take more or less time than expected... there are several with this book I've repainted entirely. But again having an overview helps make such an immense amount of painting seem less overwhelming.

So I go along, beginning each painting on the planned week. Once I've begun an image I put a check on top of its thumbnail. I say begun because I don't usually finish all the paintings til the very end. I'll usually go as far as I can until I reach a point where I am not sure what to do next. Usually at some point I will get stumped by which color or pattern to choose. So to keep myself from ruining or overworking the painting, I put it aside and move on to the next one. I like to hang these half finished paintings around my studio, so I can keep them on the creative back burner.

Then once all the paintings are on their way, I go back and finish them all off. This is where I am now, I've planned these last couple weeks to fill in all the details left in each piece. Finishing them all around the same time helps me be consistent; when I've worked in sequence sometimes by the end I end up with a style that has shifted somewhat. When a piece is finished I turn the check above each thumbnail into an x. I know, I'm ocd that way.

I'd be really curious to know how other people plan, or don't plan, this all out- how do YOU do it?


Libby Koponen said...


When I'm working on a deadline, as I always am for work-for-hire, I make a schedule, working backwards from the end date. It always includes when the rough draft has to be finished--and I always, always rough out the whole thing first and leave plenty of time for rewriting. Often I do a rough draft before an outline--it depends on the project.

And (in the past) I haven't been as schedule-driven when writing something for myself, but more on that topic in my next post.

I LOVED reading this post -- those little checkmarks and Xs are so Anna. And the paintings are beautiful. said...

Hey Anna- really interesting to see! Thanks for posting.

I am not so great at fitting art making into a plan, as much as I love to plan and organize, and I think I've just accepted that. Your little chart with dates gives me ideas though! yay!

I do something similar though, where I move on to a new spread if the art provides no more "clues" on where to go, or what color to use. I totally agree, it saves it from being overworked! For some reason, RIGHT before I wake up, the color answers usually come to me!

I spend TONS of time in the drawing stage, redrawing whole spreads, but the painting part is definitely the quickest for me, it only takes half as much time as the drawing, and comes at the very end.

No matter what, that last wrap up week when you are going back into all of them is always so crazyyy, but the whole book really comes to fruition then, it's such a good feeling, right?!

Good luck on Desmond- the paintings are lovely!

Dad said...

I fill up a wall in my studio with thumbnail sketches and finished art. I generally mark what needs to be done to each piece and then when I think I'll do it. I use the display to calculate percentages of how much I have left to do. I'm not sure why but I find percentages extremely motivating.

I used to lay it all out on the floor. But with two cats and a drooling toddler, I've found the wall is a lot better.

Meghan McCarthy said...

I print out the text and put little check marks next to the pages I've done. At least that's how I start out. I eventually panic and it all goes to hell.

Nishant said...
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