Continued from this post.
Fast-forward to 2010. Suddenly everything was coming together more rapid than eagles: First, last fall I jumped on a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to study figure painting with world-renowned watercolorist Charles Reid. Miraculously my schedule was open and (for once) the money was there. So I took a road trip to Jackson Hole to paint with the master himself. We painted from live models all day every day, and I learned so much...including not to doubt my own abilities. I was able to overcome my skittishness about painting people, and Charles actually told me I should become a figure painter! Huge progress.
Next, there was Peter, the printer I had worked with for 17 years in Los Angeles, but with whom I had since lost contact. He was this amazing printer who helped me start my design business back in the early 90s with three great referrals...including the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But we hadn't spoken since I moved, six or seven years ago. I thought he’d sold his business. A previous project (also a book design) prompted me to try and reconnect, so I emailed his wife. :) [Vee haff oudr vays...mwah-ha-haha!]
Like a Christmas card from a long-lost friend, suddenly we were back in touch. It turns out that Peter is still in the printing business, but his focus has shifted slightly--and he now specializes in (of all things) printing fine art books! Astounded at the synchronicity, I asked him about the process. He told me he had personally calibrated a press in Korea. He did all the proofing in Los Angeles, and could virtually guarantee that the book would match the proofs and be delivered right to our doorstep from clear around the world in about six weeks. Amazing. (And affordable.) Almost as good as Santa Claus!
Close to the same time, a great friend from Pasadena (who I hadn't seen for 4-5 years) emailed me out of the blue saying her daughter, Katie, who was majoring in design and illustration at BYU, would like to intern in my studio. I hadn’t had an intern for years. What was I supposed to have her do? Straighten the studio? Catalog paintings in the computer? But I said yes, mostly as a favor to my friend. And then I remembered Ester's book. (I'm a little slow sometimes.) Katie could help with that! She could be the support staff I needed to actually get it done! When Katie brought me her portfolio, I knew it was a good fit. She showed some maturity in her concepts, some sensitivity in her drawings and paintings, and an eagerness to learn.
I approached Ester and told her I had an intern and a printer lined up, and I thought we could have a book ready by this Christmas. She was elated. We drafted an agreement, and suddenly, almost overnight, I was immersed in Christmas!
I put Katie straight to work. We played Christmas music the entire time, to keep us in harmony with the theme of the book, even though it was 90 degrees outside! We sat side by side at my kitchen table (and later the countertop in the downstairs studio) three days a week, munching on peanut m&ms as we pored over the manuscript, envisioning how best to bring each of the thoughts to life. My goal was to help the reader actually FEEL what the author was saying.
We broke it down, page by page, sketched out thumbnails, and discovered a powerful dark-to-light motif that we wanted to capture in the design of the pages. I also noticed a visual theme of repeating circles which felt significant, and certain segments that begged for a punch of vibrant color. Together we researched images, shot photographs, made preliminary drawings. Working in tandem was more comfortable than I thought it would be, and yielded good results. Katie was a godsend.
Ester was also a joy to work with -- she loved every idea, every little sketch we presented to her, saw the depth and detail of symbolism we were incorporating, and delighted in the whole process.
We were really on a roll! I was feeling great about what we'd accomplished — 32 pages plus the cover — all designed, laid out, sketches prepared and ready to create final artwork, in just six weeks. Now I had two full months left to finish the twenty paintings. It would be tight, but doable...
--And then the deadline changed. (da-da-da-DUM!)
To be continued...Part 3 is here.