I am in the middle of illustrating a book. The finished illustrations are gathering on my wall like a huge storyboard, informing me of what comes next. Mine is a process of one step forward, two steps back. I have pink post-its on all of the "finished" paintings telling me of changes to make. The book itself feels like a huge sculpture slowly clarifying its true shape as I chip away at each detail, hoping it will work as a whole. This is the part of the process that both exhilarates and torments. A looming deadline plays dictator while the paint itself flirts and entices me to play and experiment.
It takes me a year to two years to complete a book. During this time all of my books uncannily begin to mirror my life in some way, which brings a deeper emotional connection to the story for me. In the book I am currently working on the main characters are two sisters. They are wrapped up in their imagined world of a being Princess and her Panther on a summer night. When growing up my older sister was always the princess and I always a role akin to the panther. I have photos from my childhood, but not many; mostly I pull from my memories. Since beginning this book, every book I read has two sisters as main characters. (This is completely accidental!) When I met the author at PLA last spring, we agreed that we must have been sisters in a past life by the end of our dinner together. And then tragically, three months ago, my sister was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease that is crippling her. Our lives are interweaving closer and closer again as I take on the duties of caregiver. When I look at the photos of my sister and me playing pretend all those years ago I want to cry for all that has been lost over those many years. And I am compelled to capture in the studio that young, yearning relationship of two sisters pretending in the night.