Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tell the Story

Quick! Take a peek and tell this story:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An Idea that Works

So I did tons of sketching over the summer and had an epiphany to incorporate the sketches into something of my own. I usually sketch from good magazine and book photos - I'm always on the hunt for great photos where kids are in action, and from my own photo library. Next, I pick a sketch and brainstorm how to add to the fun. 

For example, I liked a sketch I had of a girl laying in the sand. I started drawing her with modifications (hair, dress, etc) in addition to some stylistic choices. I think the original photo had the girl smiling at the camera, but I chose to have her look at something and replaced her smile with a somewhat surprised face. I then asked what she might be looking at. I decided on a shore bird who looked just as surprised. The next step was to add props for depth, and to make the scene more alive and recognizable (umbrella, town, lotion, ball, the sun). Last of all, I brought it into Painter to add textures, patterns, and paint even though, yes, it is just black and white. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 RMC-SCBWI Conference

I loved attending last week's Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference. There was so much directive information! My favorite aspects include:

1. Having a one-on-one critique with agent, Deborah Warren (East West Literary Agency). She helped me rethink how to approach a book I've been stuck on (and it didn't hurt that she said the idea is "very marketable!" and that my illustrations are currently its strongest point).

By the way, Deborah is one of the kindest industry professionals I've met so far. Whenever I ran into her, she was smiling, she took time to thank participants individually, and she treated everyone respectfully - regardless of her standing in the market, and regardless of the person's level of expertise. That's not to say she applauded everything we created - she was plenty honest. But she did it in a way that inspired and encouraged. All of her information was so helpful and gave purposeful direction.

2.  Learning from Semadar Megged. She's an art director at Philomel and has worked with big names like David Small and David Elliot. Her most informative session (for me) was when she shared the process she goes through to select and then work with her illustrators. Her purpose is to achieve the right final product, however painful it may be. I was fascinated to see how she works with everyone - regardless of who they are and what they've done - by pushing them towards the best they can give for the book.

When it came to conference attendees, she pushed us the same way. It might have offended or hurt some (or more), but she was direct with the purpose of pushing us toward stronger, more emotional, more alive work. I appreciate and respect that. At one point she said to someone, "What? Do you want me to say that what you've created is nice? That you're a good artist? Okay, so it's nice and you're a good artist." But she continued by asking how that's going to help, that her intention is to push us to the best we are capable of. As for me, she thinks I can use more motion (suggesting to draw from real life, especially with regards to movement) and to be bolder with my use of color.

3. Listening to Dan Yaccarino. Not only is he entertaining, he's very astute in how he's dissected the picture book-making process. He highlighted the various formulas, story arc, and the use of protagonist/antagonists.

The conference once again gave illustrators the opportunity to decorate a chair. I forgot my camera, so I recreated my chair at home and took pictures. Here's my chair from a distance (I chose a party theme):

 Here are some party flags up close:

 And here's my background poster:
And if these look familiar, I recycled these flowers from last year's "town" box:

Monday, September 14, 2015

Adding texture

I've been sketching all summer and have had so much fun with it! And maybe a month ago I began including more patterns and texture in my work. I love the results and look forward to using them more regularly. This first illustration is an interpretation I made using a sketch from my sketchbook: 
I put the illustration into Painter and added patterns (their shirts) and textures (background and their papers) to add visual interest. My goal is to use digital tools without looking digital. How do you think I've done?