It was a year of extraordinary highs and dispiriting lows. For a month in July and August this past year, I took the longest vacation I’ve ever been on. Myself, my wife Terri, my sister Margo and her husband John took a trip to California to hike the John Muir Trail. While we didn’t complete as much of it as we initially planned, it was still an amazing adventure. 100 hiking miles up and down 6 mountains is something I’m not soon going to forget (and stay tuned, I’m thinking of doing a longer hike for my 60th birthday, coming up in a few years). The vacation took its toll on my earnings, however, as I logged my very first ‘zero’ for the month of August in 30 years of freelancing.
I also worked on what ended up being my single biggest illustration assignment of the past 30 years. Taking up nearly 3 solid months of the year (and another month in the preliminary layouts), the graphic novel adaptation of Dan Rather’s book “What Unites Us” was a huge challenge, and one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on. I’m pretty proud with how it turned out, and looking forward to promoting it heavily when it is released (hopefully this coming spring).
But in contrast, there were many dry patches in the year, with long stretches of no work coming in. Many of my former regular magazine and newspaper clients have fallen by the wayside, and I find myself working more and more with book publishers, with deadlines that stretch on for months. It is taking some getting used to.
However, during one slow period in the spring of the year, I found myself getting my oil paints out and doing some paintings (three of which got into a local art festival in the summer, the first time I’ve ever done this, despite having played music in the same festival for the past decade).
In personal news, we lost a dog to old age in the spring, and we adopted a dog near the end of the year as a replacement. My wife Terri continues to work at Witte Travel and volunteers as a programmer for a local community radio station. My son turned 30 years old this November and also celebrated his first year wedding anniversary. My band the “Jukejoint Handmedowns” played a few summer festivals this year, but otherwise it was a pretty slow year for them as well. We’ll be celebrating 10 years together in the coming year and plan on releasing a few new CDs.
Many of my favorite pieces this year have been unpublished works that I have done in the ‘valleys’, while a few pieces stem from a few major projects on the ‘mountain tops’ which kept my head above water at the tail end of this decade. That’s 30 years of freelancing in the books, folks. Here’s hoping I can keep it up until retirement.
Anyhow, here’s my favorite pieces of the past year: