Last week’s recent heavy snow across the UK caused transport systems and schools to close, forcing working parents to take time off. My daughter was off school virtually the whole of last week, but as I work at home now it’s been business as usual. I was illustrating to a soundtrack of children’s TV, punctuated with a steady stream of demands beginning with a full throated “DADDY!” and ending with “can I watch a DVD?” or “sweeties …… please?”. I’d much rather daughter did something more sustaining like read a book, but this is perhaps a little too much to expect of a 6-year old, such activities require my full participation.
Surprisingly, no amount of encouragement could persuade delicate little princess to step out to make a snowman in the park, the very thought of getting her toes and fingers freezing and wet in freshly fallen snow sent her into tantrums of terror. She only dared venture from the house when the heatless sun shone in a crisp blue sky after the snow had frozen overnight and made snowman-building impossible.
Daughter has a nonchalant attitude to my work. She shrugs when I show her new pictures, and sometimes gets annoyed when I drag her away from TV to ask her opinion on colour schemes (yes that’s right! I do ask my daughters advice on art, though I may ignore it). Her favorite book that I’ve illustrated is one of my skimpiest works, a very simple thing I did for an educational publisher in Japan a few years ago. However she tells everyone we meet that her daddy is “the best illustrator in the world”, so she’s my most loyal fan.
I’m often quite busy with Japanese commissions over the festive season, this year has been no exception, Christmas of course being just an ordinary working day in Tokyo. Frustratingly Japanese companies often commission in mid-December, expecting the work to be completed by the time they get back to the office in early January, which messes up my plans for the holiday, but these are churlish regrets, I’m grateful to be busy when many others are not. Balancing freelance work and child-care is an art I’ve yet to completely master, it’s more a question of switching from one to the other, but there could be worse jobs than sitting at home drawing pictures in the circumstances.