Planning for a deadline

Since the art for Disappearing Desmond is due in a week (final stretch!), I thought I'd talk about how I pace myself with a picture book deadline. This book is 40 pages with self ends and has many, many illustrations in it... I laid it out with a lot of spots and vignettes and square-ups of all sizes. So to keep it all straight, as soon as the sketches got approved, I printed out thumbnails of all the pages that look like this:

I wrote the date I planned to do each painting above its thumbnail. I don't always follow this plan, but it helps to have an idea of how much I need to accomplish each week to make the deadline. Of course sometimes paintings take more or less time than expected... there are several with this book I've repainted entirely. But again having an overview helps make such an immense amount of painting seem less overwhelming.

So I go along, beginning each painting on the planned week. Once I've begun an image I put a check on top of its thumbnail. I say begun because I don't usually finish all the paintings til the very end. I'll usually go as far as I can until I reach a point where I am not sure what to do next. Usually at some point I will get stumped by which color or pattern to choose. So to keep myself from ruining or overworking the painting, I put it aside and move on to the next one. I like to hang these half finished paintings around my studio, so I can keep them on the creative back burner.

Then once all the paintings are on their way, I go back and finish them all off. This is where I am now, I've planned these last couple weeks to fill in all the details left in each piece. Finishing them all around the same time helps me be consistent; when I've worked in sequence sometimes by the end I end up with a style that has shifted somewhat. When a piece is finished I turn the check above each thumbnail into an x. I know, I'm ocd that way.

I'd be really curious to know how other people plan, or don't plan, this all out- how do YOU do it?