Having spent eons now on a (still unfinished) illustrated middle grade novel, I can attest to the absolute necessity of proper character development. Of course everyone knows how important unique characters are. And everyone who begins to write and/or illustrate thinks they're creating them. But, thinking and doing are not the same. Looking at some of my early work, what frustrates me most is the lack of depth and differentiation. The characters have a bit of spark, but they're not specific enough. They should have been pushed more. Lots more. So, I've set up an exercise for myself to paint at least two animal portraits a week. I've started with friends' and family's and may take on others as they come. Hopefully by the end of the project the specific will be so engrained in my work that I’ll never paint another generic dog again.
A few months ago my husband and I decided to take the plunge and buy a fixer. Our new house is in a great location, but it's small and it is, well, a fixer. To save money I've been working as the general, hiring subcontractors, pulling permits, designing, and supervising. We've removed the asbestos, put in new heating/air and ductwork, upgraded the electrical, redone the walls, floors and ceilings (the ceiling will need to be redon, thanks to the heating dudes), trenched the outdoor electrical, and put on a new roof. I've been painting and tiling and pulling out hair. Needless to say, although I've also been trying to write and illustrate, work has been a slow. As many freelancers know, sometimes life just gets in the way. But, happily this past weekend I was able to get my studio, not just up and running, (it's suposedly been up and running since week one) but also functioning. I've reorganized the area and now, at last, am ready to WORK. Yay!