Day twenty-three: We’re in the final push to the end of the class. This is the time to edit out entire paintings and clean the remaining essentials. I don’t particularly enjoy this phase. It feels rather cold-hearted to abandon something that I created from nothing. As I consider this sentiment, I feel like a true artist, suffering for my work.
I’ve started watching past seasons of “The Amazing Race” on a streaming service as I work on my final additions and edits. I feel like I’m in a similar race around the world to finish this book. I’ve never considered just how much work goes into illustration. It’s exhausting. But also, so incredibly fulfilling.
Day twenty-five: This is our last official day of class, even though the semester won’t end for a couple of weeks. We need to finalize the layouts and order our books by the end of the week, using a self-publishing website. I still need to take professional quality photos of my paintings. This may prove to be a difficult aspect of the assignment as I neither own the equipment nor the technical ability to take great photos of a piece of stained paper. I remember that one of my college roommates had a DSLR camera that I might be able to borrow. We’ve loosely stayed in touch since graduation despite the fact that we really weren’t friends by the time we graduated.
Day twenty-nine: The class is over. I used work as an excuse to not meet with the class last week for free coffee and a chat. Although I finally figured out how to be a kind, polite classmate, I never made a friend. My work schedule was plenty flexible enough to go get coffee, but I decided to let the kids be kids and enjoy the time to talk and dream and fully experience college life without my awkward non-student presence imposing.
Last week my book came in, which was a relief. Unwrapping the bound paperback version of my paintings was a bit surreal. Even though anyone can self-publish anything, it was very exciting to see my project completed. Disappointingly, the colors weren’t nearly as vibrant as my actual paintings and I quickly notice every mistake and inconsistency. I also decide that I do not like the overly-simplified format I chose. I’m proud of my paintings, but kind of embarrassed of the book. I have to remind myself that it was an academic project, not a professional prospectus. I immediately want to re-paint and re-format the entire thing. But I’m also a bit overwhelmed at the magnitude of such an undertaking.
Epilogue. Some years later:
– I meet a children’s book publisher and we chat about things that don’t have to do with children’s books. I have a copy of my book with me, but I take his card and don’t call because I wouldn’t know what to say. I’m not sure what to ask for.
– I run into one of the photography students at my biannual trip to the dentist. She’s now a radiology tech. Her life has not been affected in the least by the fact that she turned in every single watercolor project at least a week late. She seems genuinely happy and very content in her career. I make the connection (months later) that radiology is a form of photography. This full circle epiphany makes me smile for about a week straight.
– I give my artistically-gifted cousin a copy of my book. She is a stay-at-home mom to three of the cutest tiny humans known to earth. I figure at the very least, they can laugh at my illustrations and learn how to say hello in Chinese. She says they love it and read it frequently. I’m skeptical, but embrace the compliment.
– I very randomly paint a diptych of a human that looks like a human. There’s even a hand. I’m very proud of this accomplishment and spend weeks staring at the painting in my room. It seems quirky enough to be good, but there’s no purple. Also, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t turn out well, so I used one of my cheap canvases and old paint. I didn’t even prime the canvas with gesso. I’m still completely a novice and my lack in judgement on material quality probably means I shouldn’t try to sell this painting. I’m so proud of it though, I’m not sure I want to sell.