I had a huge freelance project to finish. Illustrating a picture book for a sweet guy who wants to give wife a surprise gift, her story turned into a book. So when the first hour of Friday shows up I'm still printing it out onto special Kolo pages (with borderless printing turned on, edge to edge color thank you very much and thanks to Flash Rosenberg for showing me how to do this Kolo thang) and assembling it all into a presentation binder. 32 pages of last minute hysteria to finish. Hands hurting from so much digital painting. Jim cheering me on in an increasingly fainter voice. I finally wrapped the book at 3 am and fell asleep on Friday morning.
Woke at 6:30, not refreshed. Waited for employee of the man who wanted me to illustrate the book to drive by and pick it up. SUV pulls up to my building. I walk out with package. Guy in vehicle takes package and hands me an envelope containing my check. Very spy feeling. But he is nice, says the whole office has been enjoying my progress reports (I sent PDFs of work to date), and great that I made the characters look like real people, namely the boss and his family. Not feeling sleepy, yet, I clean up huge cyclone both on dining room table and in my mac. Stagger to bed at some point.
Woke at some hour in early afternoon. Am feeling it must be Sunday by now. But no, it is actually and really Friday. How can it still be f*gging Friday? I ask my dog. Silly question, for dogs, it is always Saturday. Check email. Client lets me know he is very happy with the book. Now hoping wife will like it. We both hope she will. Just before dinner I lay down for a nap...
And it is still Friday when I wake up. I stagger with arms out and gaze at hands that are not drawing.
And then, unbelievably, finally, I had only one Saturday and a singular Sunday.
On Saturday I went to the New York Public Library and heard a slide show and talk by William Low about becoming a digital illustrator after starting in oils and other traditional media. One of the many events that the lively, smart, and well-connected children's librarian Elizabeth Bird organizes for people who love children's books. I was familiar with Low's lovely, painterly, approach to illustration. It was great to see how he uses a Wacom digitizing tablet, photo reference, and his many years of training to create original art digitally. He told us that some of his students at FIT fail to transform the source material, they just apply an effect in photoshop and he can still see the copyright watermark on their bits and pieces. A real artist takes sources and reimagines them with the lighting, perspective, gesture, and mood that the illustration demands. Low has a Bronx accent mixed with Chinese. His parents ran a laundry. The drawings he did as a boy are astounding. Meticulously correct super heroes and space ships. At the same age I was still doing blob heads with stick arms and legs.
On Sunday I went to Books of Wonder, one of my favorite bookstores in the world, for a reading from the new fairy tale anthology for kids 8-12, Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales. Edited, natch, by Datlow and Windling. Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, and Holly Black read teasers from their stories. I bought a copy for my niece and two nephews. Planning, of course, to read it myself before sending it on. I am now more convinced than ever that I want to resume my efforts to write short fiction. There is something just so delightfully unfussy about a good short story. Concision. Brevitas. As Delia said, a 3,500 word story is a lot like writing a poem, every word has to count. They all read well, I just love that, authors reading to me, their own expressions given their signature phrasing. Then it was time to buy the book and get it signed. As I waited, lucky #13, as the line wound past the shelves of expensive "older" editions. It sort of horrified me how many of them I have read (almost all) and actually own (more than half). The man behind me on line, about my age, had the same thought at the same moment. He murmured that he'd recently realized you can't take the books with you. Yes, I replied, my father recently donated his collection of genetics books to the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory library. But who will want my collection of YA, picture books, poetry, and fairy tales? Hmmm.
I finally catch up on email and gossip. As I suspected, Neil Gaiman is dating Amanda Palmer. Despite the fact I've never met him socially and am older and, OK, I'm married, I just sort of had a baseless crush on him...and the horror is that at his book readings or signings I see all these other middle aged women who doubtless have that same wee crush. There must be millions of us. And now we can all take that big sigh. Ooooh ungh. He's with a sexy 33 year old punk rock experimental artist who used to be a living statue and likes to pull her clothing off as often as possible for Arts sake. I went to a Ramones concert in the 80s, I wore fish net stockings in the late 60s, I went skinny dipping--in darkest night--during college in the 70s...but no, not even close. Lets face it, I'm practically the face of October in the Upper Westside Mom calendar. Except I have cool glasses. Take that Amanda Palmer, I have very cool glasses.