I've always loved life drawing because of the timer. A figure drawing is a record of an experience. It is finished because the timer says so. It is what it is, imperfections and all, and everybody gets that. In my illustration work, though, I am the queen of the do-over, the endless tweaking, the "version 100", and my expectation is that this is part of the process. I plod along and keep on hitting it till it says "uncle". There's this magic moment where suddenly it's right. And until that point, it isn't. This means it takes me a crazy number of hours to finish anything. Or it did.
Now I'm a mom. And there aren't crazy numbers of hours. There are minutes. Pulling an all nighter means something different than it used to, cause instead of sleeping away the day after a deadline, I have to keep two tiny kids alive. Today I turned in a book cover image. It didn't get tweaked. It didn't get edited. It was option two of two. A last minute experiment that ended up being the one the author chose, so it went to press. There are about a million things I would have tweaked, a million other versions I would have tried given the chance. But the timer went off. Time to pick up the preschooler. So it's out in the world. This is how my work is going to be for at least the foreseeable future. Illustration Light.
And that's a good thing. What I had going on before was Illustration Heavy, which came with big pressure. Each new image had the potential to be a masterpiece, if I just hit it hard enough and long enough. This potential would keep me from making anything at all. I always loved figure drawing more than illustration work, because it was just about making an image, getting something down before the pose was gone. I'd have a stack of pictures at the end, some horrible, plus a few gems. Nowadays I have two choices: either I hang up illustration until the kids are older, or embrace the timer and just make a stack of pictures. Might be a few gems in there.
I put together a packet of images tonight to send to Cricket magazine. I feel reckless, slapping together a mailing, hurling my work out into the world. I feel none of that preciousness I used to feel about my work. I'm not thinking about career direction, portfolio building, or any of that. Just ready to make another picture cause somebody needs one. After I find out why the baby's awake again.