Writing is definitely easier than illustrating. No doubt about it! I don’t struggle with words the way I struggle with pencil and watercolour brushes. Even after all these many years of writing and illustrating books for children I am still intimidated by a blank piece of watercolour paper and terrified of making that first fateful pencil mark.
As I work on the finished illustrations for A BED FOR LITTLE CUB I keep telling myself two things: 1) if I make a mistake I can always start over (this never really seems to work to give me courage to plunge in and just start drawing) and 2) it’s only a 12″ x 12″ piece of paper that you have to make magic happen on!
12″ x 12″ can seem like a huge wall mural when you have to make every single stroke of the pencil or brush count. There is no room for error. And there’s plenty of room for mistakes. sigh…
Another trick I keep telling myself is: “Oh, just start drawing, have fun with it, it’s only a sketch.” This little mind trick is what I try when I’m actually working on a finished illustration. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There’s always that wretched little creature on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, Doubt.
I do gain comfort from one of my most favorite illustrator’s words, Margot Tomes: “Drawing isn’t at all easy or fun for me—it’s very difficult.”
MY feeling exactly! I love to draw, but there is something very intimidating about doing a drawing, making an illustration that is going to be published for all the world to see and make note of any missteps you make.
I have to get these seventeen illustrations finished and I feel like I’m slogging away through a tub of molasses and not making very much progress! I know what I want to draw and I wish I could draw faster and paint faster. But, it feels like an interminable painstaking process.
It’s not illustrator’s block (or is it). It’s simple avoidance. I force myself to sit at the drawing board in the studio willing “magic” to happen and not letting myself get out of my chair until it does.
It’s now 5:00 o’clock in the morning. Magic was very slow in coming tonight. I find myself mumbling to myself “After all, tomorrow’s another day.”