Practice, practice, practice.
For our lesson today, let’s turn to page 45 of my book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam. Here is where I painted a glimpse of the tea-drinking corner of my sweet little kitchen back in the village of Pelham, New York on the Long Island Sound. Now remember, Wanderers was the first book I ever illustrated, so I was quite modest in what I attempted to portray (not wanting to exceed my meager painting abilities). So this is what I painted (approx. 3 1/2 inches square):
(That’s my cat Honey on the kitchen table.) At the time, this was the best that I could do.
However, it’s been five years since I painted this little pic and since then I’ve been practicing, practicing, practicing.
I have always longed to do a faithful portrait of my sweet little kitchen, which I left when I married Top Cat and moved to the other side of the Long Island Sound (see Epilogue in Wanderers). All my tea cups and stuff have been in storage in the basement for the past seven years.
Well. Lately I’ve started a new project (working title: The Damn Rain Book). And I’ve set myself the goal of painting all the best rooms in which I’ve ever enjoyed a rainy day (and a cup of tea, of course). So this past weekend I took another crack at my Pelham kitchen, of which I have a photo-collage to show you all what it actually looked like (sort of):
From these reference photos, I drew this:
I traced this drawing onto my favorite 90-lb Canson watercolor paper, I picked up a brand new brush, I took a deep breath, and I began to paint.
Five hours later, I had this:
This is an 8 x 10 inch portrait of my dear sweet tea drinking corner in my old Pelham kitchen. That’s my cat, Woody Robinson, on the table, who liked to sit there with his head under the lampshade.
As soon as time travel becomes available commercially I will invite all you dear readers over for a cup of tea in my sweet old Pelham kitchen. I know you’d enjoy meeting Woody Robinson – he was a very charismatic cat.
And speaking of charismatic cats, this is the Picture That Makes Us Happy today, courtesy of our fellow reader Janet who sent me this photo of her cats doing their synchronized snoozing routine:
You might have noticed lately that I’ve been cutting back my blogging to once a week, on Fridays. Back when I settled down and got serious about writing Wanderers, on March 17 2003, I had to give up martinis — I discovered that I didn’t have the energy to write a book and drink a martini every day. Or even every other day.
And now that I’m a full-time working writer, I’ve discovered that I don’t have the energy to work M-F 9-5 and write a book and blog twice a week. When people ask me about the writing process, I always tell them that if they are serious about getting work done, they have to be prepared to give up something in order to make the time to write. They have to give up watching TV at least one day a week, or give up letting family members suck up their free time, or give up shopping as a recreational activity, or give up their daily martini. They have to give up whatever it is that keeps them so “busy” that they don’t have the time to write.
And that’s what I have to do, now, if I want to get this Damn Rain Book done: I have to give up my Monday blogging. It makes me sad to do this, but with only weekends available to me to write and paint the way I love to write and paint (Two full days with nothing else to do but write and paint! Ah!) I have to give myself the Sunday afternoons and evenings it takes to do a decent Monday blog.
So from now on we’ll be meeting here on Fridays. And, in six months, we’ll meet in the pages of Le Road Trip. And, in another two or three years, if I can convince my publisher that this is the greatest idea for a book since Le Road Trip, we’ll meet in the pages of The Damn Rain Book and you’ll be glad that I took those blogging Mondays off so I could give you stories and pictures about my favorite rainy days around the world. Right?
Are you cool with that?