The SCBWI Midsouth Conference was last weekend and I had the best time! It was the largest SCBWI conference I have ever attended -- there were 18 states represented. There was a huge variety of break-out sessions, the speakers were fun and informative, and I met a ton of new writers and illustrators. This was actually the first conference I've attended that there were so many opportunities to interact with other illustrators. The art director who spoke was generous with her time and gave thoughtful answers to all the questions asked -- and there were many.
I took two huge steps outside my comfort zone. For the first, I signed up for a critique with the art director -- who just so happens to be from Scholastic and in charge of three of their imprints -- in front of a roomful of people. Not daunting at all -- HA! The second was signing up for an illustration contest based on a prompt. All illustrators who entered used the same prompt to create completely unique artwork. Both pieces were to be displayed in the lobby of the hotel for the entire weekend. At once both exciting and terrifying.
The critique pieces were based on our choice of three different picture book texts. We were to choose a passage and illustrate it. We submitted sketches, received feedback, then completed a finished piece to be critiqued. As my turn approached during the critique, I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. I'm not great with public speaking in the first place and not only did I have to actually speak, my artwork was being dissected in front of a bunch of other illustrators, many of whom have been published multiple times. As it turns out, it was a wonderful experience! The art director was considered in her opinions and offered suggestions for improvement. The other illustrators were supportive and positive. It is definitely something I would sign up for again.
For the contest, all the illustrators who entered turned in their piece on Friday and the winner was announced Saturday afternoon. It was so fun to see how each artist interpreted the prompt! As I said in the title, I didn't win, and that's okay. Every piece was unique and so inspiring.
As promised, I am posting both pieces along with some of my initial sketches. As you can see, I went through many changes before reaching the final art. I hope you enjoy the results!
Initial sketch to final contest piece
Character sketches and initial rough sketch submitted for suggested revisions
So many exciting changes since my last post! We have a new home in a new city in a new state AND a new furry family member. We have pared down the number of boxes to just a few and have most of the house in order. I still have much to do in my sewing room and studio, though that will come in time. Fear not, I'm not allowing a little bit of disorganization deter me from creating!
Another big change for me is yet another region for SCBWI. I am excited to now be a part of the Midsouth region and will attend my first conference in just a month from now. I have signed up for intensives, critiques, and contests, challenging myself to jump in the deep end of the pool. I have connected with some of the illustrators online and they have been a very warm and welcoming group. I can't wait to meet them in person!
The artwork I'm preparing for the conference is well into the planning stages. Now to focus on the final composition and start painting. I'll be posting the finished pieces here after the conference along with the insights I gain from the critiques. If this conference is anything like the ones I have attended in the past, I'm sure there will be plenty to share!
For now, I'll leave you with a picture of our new furbaby, Finn. Isn't he just beautiful?
We have arrived! Between getting our house in Virginia ready to sell, packing up all our worldly goods, house hunting, finding the perfect Kentucky home, and all the pre-closing necessities, we have been in a state of transition for nearly four months. That will all come to a grand and welcome conclusion next week when we sign the closing papers. We won't have furniture for another week as it travels from Virginia, but we will have a home! None of this would have been possible (at the very least I would not have remained sane) without the kindness and hospitality of our daughter and her husband. They have been AWESOME!!
All this time separated from the majority of my art supplies has been a real eye-opener. It has also shown me just how much I NEED to create. I'm not gonna lie, it's been a bit frustrating not being able to head to my workroom and find whatever I need, BUT it has also given me a new appreciation for that luxury. I cannot wait to set up my new space and get to work!
One of perks of this tether-free time was spending an evening with my daughter at something that was billed as "Paint and Sip." We joined a group of about 40 other women and a very patient teacher to create our own masterpieces in just a couple of hours. When I say that guy was patient, I'm not doing him justice. The only male in a sea of estrogen and some of those women took on the sipping part like it was their job. He took it all in stride and we really did end up with a beautiful piece of art. It was so much fun to see all the different results from a single example with identical instructions. No two were the same and all were wonderful.
I am so happy to be here and I'm so ready to settle into our new Kentucky life!
Our Paint and Sip masterpieces.
When did we stop revering our elders? Stop listening to their sage advice? I would imagine that the vast majority of us exhibited our share of eye rolls as teenagers, believing that our parents were about as smart as a box of rocks. However, most of us matured and realized that our parents and other adults might just have a bit more snap than the rocks -- or the box.
The challenge arises when we reach "a certain age." We tend to become invisible. Our knowledge and experience fade in the eyes of employers who are younger than we are. We may appear to be a liability or difficult to train. I think I liked it better when we accepted that our elders had knowledge we did not, that they had something to teach us.
As I am entering a new chapter of my life, I have moved halfway across the country and am considering a major career change. I look forward with excitement to the possibilities in front of me. While I'm not choosing a certain path, I have confidence that hard work and perseverance will clear my way. I look forward to learning new skills and honing ones previously acquired.
I can't be responsible for what others think, only how I choose to conduct myself. Some may think I'm winding down, just stand back and watch, I might just surprise you. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm just getting started! :)
All those photographs and you didn't see even ONE of them??? How could that be? Possibly because they never made it from my SD card to my computer. Or MAYbe it's because the vast majority never made it in front of the lens. . .
As has happened in the past, the best laid plans were derailed. HOWEVER, this time there was a really good reason.
Just a couple of days after that "Coming Soon" sign went in the yard, we had a signed contract on our home with a shortened closing date. The last two weeks have been a flurry of packing boxes, paper, and tape. Day jobs have ended, goodbyes have been said. We are about to be technically homeless -- at least until we can find something on the other end.
I've collected so many wonderful memories and forever friendships along the way and I am excited for the future. I won't say this is an ending, but a continuation of a grand adventure. I'm glad you're a part of it!!
I'm really enjoying this challenge! It has "forced" me to pick up my camera again, I hadn't realized how much I had missed it. I look at it every day. Some days it's a glance, a quick check-in to make sure it's still in its spot on my dresser. Other days it's a wistful longing, wishing I could pack a lunch, a spare battery, maybe a few blank SD cards, and just see where my camera leads me. At the end of this year, I'm sure I will have improved my knowledge and hopefully my ability -- a win-win!
My plan is to post each Saturday, so here are days three through six.
The gauntlet has been thrown, the challenge accepted! My lovely daughter has asked me (called me out?) to join her in a photography challenge. She has done all the planning and legwork, all I really have to do is follow the prompts, which she found and organized, take a picture each day for 365 days (beginning yesterday), and post the pictures here.
That doesn't sound too difficult, but truth be told, I have attempted this on my own a couple of times in the past. I believe this time will be different and I will complete the task at hand. I have never had prompts to follow before and that should really help. Also, I have my favorite creative partner to check in daily and keep me going. You can check out her progress here: https://runcrastinator.blogspot.com/2018/01/365-days-of-photos.html
We'd love to have you join the fun!
Day 1: Resolution
Day 2: Warm
What's that old maxim about the best laid plans of mice and men? Or my personal favorite often quoted by my adorable mother (no, seriously, she was adorable), the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I gathered all my materials, had a plan in place, even rendered a rough sketch . . . and then real life (aka a huge assignment from the day job) reared its ugly head. I spent all my waking hours away from work preparing that assignment, which left zero time for Slovember.
My plan is to complete the piece, just didn't make it in time. I will share it with you when it is completed. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my adorable mother (I know, right??). :)
Prompts: Found and Mask
WHEW!! Another challenge in the books! In some ways, I found this challenge easier than the last one. Not only because it lasted one mere month as opposed to 100 days, but because it was simply less involved.
I think that each challenge had the desired result: I was able to improve my skills. I still need a bunch of practice in both areas, but I do feel less reticent to dive right in and give it a go.
Next month is "Slowvember," and as I said before, it's difficult for me to pass up a challenge, so I will be joining in. Since the whole point of it is to slooooooow down and work on one piece for the whole month, I probably won't be posting artwork every day, but I will be letting you in on my progress all through the month. I already know what I'm doing, have a rough idea of the layout, but I'm undecided on the medium as yet. You'll know as soon as I figure it out!
Thanks for following along on my first Inktober adventure. I'd love it if you'd join in next year -- or better yet, Slovember starts tomorrow!! :)
Yesterday's Prompt: United
Yeah, yeah, I know I'm still a day behind. That just means I'll have to end tomorrow with a flourish! I may revisit this one when I have more time to devote to it, though it's nearly impossible to do these two justice. Their fur was like velvet and their personalities may be out of my grasp, but I couldn't think of a better subject for the prompt.
I promised to fill you in on my weekend, so here goes. I attended the SCBWI fall conference and it was pretty amazing. There was an intensive on Friday with Giuseppe Castellano (look him up, you won't be disappointed), which really opened my eyes to new and different ways to approach and improve my artwork. Following that, I had a portfolio critique, again with Mr. Castellano. Absolutely the best! He considered each piece, gave me concrete guidance on how to improve, liked a couple of my pieces, and generally gave me a roadmap on how to reach my artistic goals.
Saturday was filled with panel discussions, guest speakers, editors, agents, one of the best keynote speakers ever, and a critique of my picture book. Again, an awesome experience! I've only ever wanted someone to tell me, hey, your writing sucks, stick to your day job OR this has promise, needs work, and this is what you need to do. Well, to say this was the most constructive and helpful critique I've ever had would be an understatement! There were good bits and bits that need some work, but all in all, it didn't suck!
So the next step will be to study each critique and implement the suggested improvements. That will involve totally revamping my portfolio, improving some pieces, discarding others and going through my story line by line, pruning and shaping it into the best possible story it can be. Now that I have the roadmap, it should be a pretty enjoyable journey!