Ridin’ down to the “Boots, Books and Buckskins” conference? Here’s your chance to win unbelievable contest give-aways for illustrators!

Hey,  illustrators and aspiring illustrators! Be the first kid on your block to win an in-person portfolio critique from Caldecott-Medal winning children’s book  illustrator David Diaz!  How?

Illustrator David Diaz

David Diaz draws a face for children at the Abilene, Texas public library.

It’s easy! First register for the Austin SCBWI 2011 Regional Conference  Boots, Books and Buckskins coming up February 18-19. You can do that right here and read all about the conference and the amazing faculty of  top authors, illustrators, children’s book publishers, editors — an agent and social media expert, too —  right in the packet  along with hotel information, campus map, schedule, break-out sessions,  author intensives and portfolio reviews and your EZ-peazy registration form.  Handy and amazing, right?

You don’t have to belong to the Austin SCBWI chapter to attend Boots, Books and Buckskins.  But you’ll  receive a discount for belonging to the National Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.)

St. Edwards

St. Edwards University, Austin Texas, home of the Austin SCBWI 2011 Regional Conference

Good so far? OK,  next step is to e-mail the Texas Sweethearts, let them know that you’ve registered. You’ll be automatically entered into the contest to win the free portfolio reviews.  Who are the Texas Sweethearts? A small  group of dynamite published Austin area  Y.A. , middle grade and children’s authors you’ll want to know about, anyway.  See their blog here.

What if you enter the contest and don’t win a portfolio review with David Diaz?  It’s OK. Because this  is a big contest with more than one prize!

You might win a portfolio review with author-illustrator Julian Hector, another presenter.

Gentleman Bug by Julian Hector

Or you might win a review with author-illustrator Frances Yansky.

Or manuscript critiques by authors Jessica Anderson,   Bethany HegedusKari Ann Holt P.J. HooverJeanette Larson or Brian Yansky.

I could go on a bit about these authors because I know  them.  Instead  I’ll focus in on the two illustrator stars of Boots, Books and Buckskins David and Julian.

(The lineup of non-illustrator stars includes National Book Award author Kimberly Willis Holt, Egmont USA, vice-president and publisher Elizabeth Law, Arthur Levine Books editorial director Arthur Levine, agent Emily van Beek and many other wonderful presenters.)

David Diaz talks to kids

Illustrator, Designer, Caledcott Medal winner David Diaz

David Diaz

David Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1995 for his work  in Smoky Night, about the L.A. riots, written by Eve Bunting.  His other award winning books include  Eve Bunting’s Going Home and Newbery Honor winner,The Wanderer by Sharon Creech.  Diaz’s colorful illustrations in Margaret Wise Brown’s The  Little Scarecrow Boy led to the book being named the New York Times “Best Illustrated Book” for 1998.

1995 Caldecott Medal winning "Smoky Night" by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz

Most Most recently  David has teamed up with renowned author Joyce Carol Thomas to create The Gospel Cinderella, a soulful retelling of the classic Cinderella story.  He’s on the advisory board for the SCBWI Nationa. He recently curated the national touring Golden Kite; Golden Dreams – an exhibit of original illustration art from SCBWI Golden Kite Award winning- books over the past 30 years.

Julian Hector

Julian Hector was born in Los Angeles, raised in rural Texas and received a BFA from Parsons the New School for Design, in New York City.  His clients include Disney-Hyperion, Scholastic, Harper Collins, and Simon and Schuster Julian Hector is represented by Rebecca Sherman of Writers House.  His books include Gentleman Bug (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) and The Little Matador (Disney-Hyperion).

The Little Matador by Julian Hector

The Little Matador by Julian Hector

So why,  you just might ask, are the Texas Sweethearts giving away the free portfolio critiques by David Diaz and Julian Hector — instead of — well for example,  let’s say an un-named children’s book illustration blog  by someone who just happens to share the same SCBWI chapter as them ?

Luck of the draw.  Ever-alert Sweethearts Jessica Lee Anderson and P.J.  Hoover won the portfolio critiques as door prizes at our recent Austin SCBWI Christmas Holiday party.  Since they’re not illustrators, they decided to exploit the windfall on their blog as a way to promote our regional conference.  Because everybody loves a contest!

So read PJ’s explanation to make sure you  understand the rules.  In a nutshell:

1.) Prepare yourself to come to Austin, Texas if you’re not already here. And Register for the conference here. (You’ll find the enrollment form to fill out and send in on the last page of the PDF.)

2.) E-mail the Texas Sweethearts to let them know you’re in.  Here’s the address:
texas_sweethearts@yahoo.com

Truly, these are your last chances for consultations with Diaz and Hector at the conference.
The paid portfolio sessions with them have all sold out!

Not to be eclipsed by the Sweethearts’ generous contest, I want to give away something too.

I’ll give away two front row seats to the two small group intensives that Diaz and Hector are individually doing on the afternoon of the conference.  Spots in these  “special sessions” are going fast for $20 apiece.

I’ll also give away one  portfolio review by me — since I can’t give away any by David Diaz or Julian Hector.  Since the Sweethearts are doing that.

To compete for my three prizes:

1.) Register for the Boots, Books and Buckskins Austin SCBWI Regional Conference before it sells completely out (seriously, it will.)

2.) Post a comment on this blog — or send me an e-mail — letting me know you’ve registered and which small group intensive session you’d like catch during the conference.  My e-mail address is: Mark@HowtoBeAChildrensBookIllustrator.com

I’ll pick three winners a week or two before the conference.  Note: You can  enter the Texas Sweethearts contest and mine at the same time to double your chances for a prize or prizesa! Try for everything!  You might win from me and the Sweethearts!

Now I have to show the Texas Sweethearts video.
Because I think you’ll see from this how it’s hard to stay peeved at them very long for winning  the Diaz-Hector portfolio critique doorprizes and making the most of their windfall with a blog contest.

Clearly these particular door prizes,  in a more perfect world,  should have been won (to be given away) by — let’s just say a more illustration-centered blog.  I won’t mention any in particular.  (In fairness to the Sweethearts, they recently expanded their ranks to include two author-illustrators Emma Virjan and Don Tate, along with authors K.A. Holt and Jeanette Larson. Now they go by the moniker Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels – because Don’s in there.)

Anyway the video with its honky tonk soundtrack by Sharif hits so many of the same color notes as Boots, Books and Buckskins that it could be the conference theme as well.

The Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels

Go here to Register for the Austin SCBWI 2011 Conference –  February  18 and 19,  2011.  Send the Texas Sweethearts and me your messages (details above.) Prepare yourself to possibly win one-on-one professional consults,  portfolio reviews, manuscript critiques and/or front row seats at exclusive small group intensives.
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Clint Young Interview on “Literary Asylum

Clint Youngs "Toast"

Wonderful interview with Austin SCBWI’s own superbly talented Clint Young on D.N. Cunningham’s Literary Asylum blog. Clint talks of how his daughter’s name for her pet stuffed pig  inspired the picture book Toast that was acquired by  Feiwel and Friends, of creating his own Photoshop brushes to paint, and his work for LucasArts as a Star Wars concept artist. Read it here.

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Hop on to Mark Mitchell’s Make Your Marks; Make Your Splashes online course — about drawing and painting good illustrations for books and other children’s media — before the price goes up in January!  Learn a great secret for better drawing here.

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Shelley Ann Jackson and Jeff Crosby share their art

Author-illustrators Shelley Ann Jackson and Jeff Crosby shared their work with the Inklings, a picture book critique group under the Austin SCBWI chapter Sunday.

Nick Alter and Jeff Crosby at the ” Inklings”  get together at the Green Muse Cafe.  The artwork being shown in this  binder is by Tiffanny Varga, an Inkling  illustrator and fine artist.
“Inklings” checking out the art of Jeff and Shelley.

Shelley Ann Jackson
Illustrator Shelley Ann Jackson shows off work done by her and her husband illustrator Jeff  Crosby for their book “Little Lions, Bull Baiters and Hunting Hounds: A History of Dog Breeds” (Tundra Publishing) and several other book.

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Art aloft: The ‘Golden Kite’ children’s book illustrations

It’s hard to explain the thrill of being inches away from an original watercolor by Uri Shulevitz, or Jerry Pinkney or the late Trina Schart Hyman.

"The Huntsman" from "Little Red Riding Hood"  by Trina Schart Hyman,

“The Huntsman” from “Little Red Riding Hood” by Trina Schart Hyman, 1984 Golden Kite Medal winner

You just have to be there.  The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) working with  The Society of Children’s Book Writers and  Illustrators (SCBWI) has now made that possible for  thousands of people  with a new exhibit, Golden Kite Golden Dreams that opened last Thursday at the Center in Abilene, Texas.

Located 180 miles west of Fort Worth,  the NCCIL (they pronounce their acronym nickel)  “enhances visual and verbal literacy by celebrating the best original art published in children’s literature” as their mission states.  Their previous shows have celebrated the  art of Mike Berenstain, Eric Carle, Kevin Henkes, William Joyce,  Robert Sabuda, Diane Stanley and N.C. Wyeth — to mention just a few. Golden Kite Golden Dreams, like  previous NCCIL exhibits will tour major cities around the country when its stay in the  rugged Texas hill country ends.

Richard Jesse Watson illustration
Closeup photo of “Tom Thumb is kidnapped” egg tempera painting for “Tom Thumb” by Richard Jesse Watson. 1990 Golden Kite Medal winner.

The SCBWI, which sponsors conferences, workshops and a wide variety of informational services to writers, illustrators and  others engaged with children’s publishing, awards the   Golden Kite Medals and Honors each year to the best books in four categories — fiction, nonfiction, picture book text and picture book illustration.

Golden Kite Golden Dreams pulls together original art from the winning books of the past 36 years.
Significant, I think that the first retrospective of Golden Kite Medal and Honor winners comes in the way of an art show. And this is a dazzling one:  75 pieces by 47 artists, curated by designer and children’s book illustrator (and SCBWI board member)  David Diaz.

David Diaz draws

Illustrator and SCBWI board member David Diaz draws for kids at the Abilene Public Library

Illustrator David Diaz

Here he talks to them about face proportions and facial feature relationships, while they sketch notes!

Tomie dePaola illustration

"What the Mailman Bought" illustration art by Tomie dePaola, 1988 Golden Kite Honor

Representatives from every Texas SCBWI chapter — Houston, North Central North East Texas (Fort Worth-Dallas) Austin and Southwest (San Antonio)  and Brazos Valley (College Station-Bryan) —  joined their fellow  illustrators, author-illustrators and SCBWI national board members and executive leaders for the opening  weekend activities, talks and workshops.

Illustrator Kristen Balouch

Kristen Balouch's digital illustration for the Golden Kite Honor book "The King and the Three Thieves" is featured in the exhibit. Here she makes a face.

Kristen and a young illustrator collaborate on the drawing

Larry Day illustration

Watercolor illustration by Larry Day for "Not Afraid of Dogs; Not Afraid of Dogs" -- Golden Kite Medal winner for 2007

Illustration byu Jerry Pinkney, pencil on watercolor paper for "Home Place", Golden Kite Medal Winner 1991

Richard Jessie Watson

Golden Kite Medal winning author-illustrator Richard Jesse Watson demonstrates painting in egg tempera

Fairy -- egg tempera demonstration by Richard Jesse Watson

Fairy -- egg tempera demo before the group by author-illustrator Richard Jesse Watson

Lin Oliver, executive director and Steve Mooser, president of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser

Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser created the SCBWI in 1971. The Society now has 22,000 members in more than 100 regions around the world.

In a Saturday presentation, SCBWI founders Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver told how they literally knocked on doors of top children’s authors to round up board members — and presenters for the first SCBWI conference (in 1971.)

For the organization’s first book award  in 1974 (for Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene)  “We picked the kite as our organization and contest logo,”  SCBWI executive director Lin Oliver said, “because [author and SCBWI board member] Jane Yolen’s father was an expert kite flier.”

Debra Lillick, exec director of the NCCIL

Debbie Lillick and Alexandra Howle of the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) Debbie is NCCIL executive director.

as SCBWI contingent and National Illustrator Coordinator Priscilla  Burris

Illustrator, designer and SCBWI National Illustrator Coordinator Priscilla Burris huddles with the SCBWI Texas contingent. Left to right: Millie Martin, Heather Powers, Priscilla Burris, Mark Mitchell. Carol Cooke Barrayre, Allan Stacy, Jacqueline Gramann, and Liz Mertz. The statue behind them is inspired by the William Joyce's picture book Santa Calls.

Kevin Hawkes illustration

Closeup of "By the light of the Halloween Moon. The Ghost Who Trips the Ghoul" acrylic illustration by Kevin Hawkes, 1994 Golden Kite Medal winner

“One of the things we want to show is how complex an art this is,” Oliver said, speaking of of the original watercolor, gouache, tempera, acrylic , papercut and inkworks on display and children’s  book illustration generally.

“For many, children’s books are the first exposure to literature and art and philosophy and what it is to be human,” SCBWI president Steve Mooser said.

National Center for Children's Illustrated LiteratureNCCIL in Abilene, Texas

Golden Kite Golden Dreams exhibit at the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) on quiet Cedar Street in Abilene, Texas

Also in attendance were author Illustrators Pat Cummings, Diane Stanley (a native of Abilene),    Priscilla Burris (SCBWI National Illustrator Coordinator),  Richard Jesse Watson, Larry Day, and Kristen Balouch Alan Stacy and Barbara McClintock and artist, art director and VP at Penguin Young Readers Group, Cecilia Yung.

Watson, Day, Balouch, McClintock and Stacy have work featured in the exhibit.

Burris, Cummings, Diaz and Yung  serve on the International SCBWI Board of Advisers.

The NCCIL show will attract some wonderful attention to children’s book art and artists as it starts to tour the country this fall.

SCBW Scroll of Scribbles

SCBWI scroll of scribbles featuring the improvised art of Heather Powers, Priscilla Burris, Allan Stacy, David Diaz, Lin Oliver and several others.

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Author-illustrator Mark Mitchell hosts How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator from his drawing table in Austin, Texas.

Paper Engineers!

Two members of our Inklings Picture Book critique group recently made a pilgrimage  to see the original pop-up art of Robert Sabuda and David Diaz in an exhibit “The Wizards of Pop-up.”  It was at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas.

Austin author-illustrators Christy Stallop and Erik Kuntz basically spent the day with Sabuda, Caldecott Medalist Diaz, museum executive director Debbie Lillick and the Illustration Chair of the National Society of Childrens Books Authors and Illustrators, Priscilla Burris. They had dinner with Diaz .

Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart are considered to be the  premier contemporary  pop-up book artists in the U.S.

Maurice Sendak tried his hand at 3-D moveable art with great results.  Mommy? released in 2006 by Michael di Capua Books/Scholastic was  a collaboration between him, author-playwright Arthur Yorinks and pop-up wizard Reinhart.

Erik and Christy’s field trip got me thinking how much I enjoyed pop-ups and  any kind of  “3-D” art as a kid.

Maybe because it broke the picture plane and added one more dimension of  “make believe.”

I once owned a reprint of a Turn of the Century pop-up book. It was  about  a Victorian family’s visit to a  zoo. I don’t   remember the title or the artist.

As you turned each page  you saw the same family and a different cage of animals come to life. The animals stayed behind the bars,  thank goodness.  The book gave you a charming experience of visiting a zoo.

One issue of “Jack and Jill” magazine, I remember ( I was a proud 10 year old subscriber), had a sort of 3-D assemble-it-yourself Dinosaur Diorama.

It featured Pteranadons, Brontosauruses and maybe a T-Rex.
You placed them into a primeval forest stage-set. Its curved backdrop gave depth to a world of  volcanoes, ferns, and Jurassic beasts.
(Of course the best dinosaur is a 3-D dinosaur.)

After doing my part in the assembly, I felt as if I’d done the whole mural myself.  It wasn’t like I’d painted the dinosaurs. I’d  just punched them out of cardstock and inserted them into their places in the scene.
But I’d helped to contribute to the 3-D effect!

Pop up books have been around since the Middle Ages — for kids books, since the 1800s. Here is Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart’s List of “Top 10 Pop-Up Books” , according to Amazon.com.

And speaking of 3-D papercraft, Kids Can Press has re-released the eminently kid-friendly The New Jumbo Book of Easy Crafts by Judy Ann Sadler. A redesign and smartly graphic illustrations by Caroline Price keep176 pages of step by step procedurals from feeling  burdensome.

The New Jumbo Book of Easy Crafts by Judy Ann Sadler and Caroline Price

 

Mark G. Mitchell hosts the How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator blog.