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How I Stayed Organized While Illustrating My Book

Rebecca Chaperon Eerie Dearies


Last year I created 26 illustrations in the form of 8" x 10" acrylic paintings for my new book that is released fall 2013, called Eerie Dearies. In this volume, you will find an A to Z of 26 bizarre and darkly humorous ways to miss school. 


When faced with the daunting challenge of finding time to create these 26 images for the book I quickly ascertained that some serious organization was in demand.  Luckily I had discovered in a previous painting project  called Like A Great Black Fire that the best way for me to organize my projects is in the form of visual charts. This method helps me stay on target with my deadlines when things start to get a bit hairy. I'm ambitious and like to work on intense projects so finding my personal way to organize has been a bit of a godsend.


So I used a few sketchbooks to create a variety of types of charts to help me with different stages in the project. Here is my blue cloth/hardcover sketchbook to which I added a charming ghost with hat.

Drawing of a ghost with a hat on a book

Here is the stage one chart inside this sketchbook. Eerie Dearies is an alphabet book so you can see that each illustration is marked by a letter of the alphabet  and the word to be used. The coloured sticky tabs have a couple of words indicating each of the book covers that could be used for each illustration so that I could try to match them in theme. For example I had a book cover with the text  "Out of the Night" on it so I matched it with the illustration of the letter "i" for insomnia. Using the sticky tabs was great for this as I could continue to move them around until I had an arrangement that worked for me. Otherwise I would have been crossing things out and making a big confusing mess.

post-it notes on in a book


When I had completed more than half of the body of work in the Eerie Dearies series and was in the "home stretch" I made another chart to keep myself on track for my deadline. Being able to glance at this new chart helped me to see every single one of the tasks that needed to be executed which, in turn, helped to to manage my time with maximum efficiency. For example, if I was planning to head home from the studio in half an hour I could look at my chart and see which of the tasks I could complete before I left for the day. Also, if I was tired and overcaffeinated I could choose a task like preparing a surface with PVA size rather than choosing something that requires steady hands and focus.

four panels of eerie dearies paintings
Another added bonus of creating these charts is that it helps me to slow down at the beginning of my creative process instead of rushing into a project head first. While creating these charts I can take stock of materials, compare my available time with what I estimate will be required and plan out the details in a calm manner.


Perhaps charting my projects out is a little nerdy but I am not ashamed to say that it has become yet another ritual in my creative process and I love it!


About the author

Artist in residence Rebecca Chaperon

Rebecca Chaperon is our Artist-in-Residence

With a compulsion to create unique visual stories, her paintings often follow the thread of a heroine's misadventures through a surreal landscape.

She's had the pleasure of teaching at Langara College and given community workshops on painting techniques with an emphasis on watercolour, oil and acrylic. She is a board member at the Grunt gallery.

View her online portfolio

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