So what is musician-performer-dancer-composer Lindsey Stirlingdoing on this blog about children’s book illustration? She’s an artist but she works in a different medium. She hasn’t published a children’s picture book. (Not yet, anyway, but give her time.)
I’m sharing this video of her 2011 tune Shadows, because twenty-two million YouTube viewers are not wrong — it’s a great music video. It also helps me to make a point about something I see happening that I like to call:
Are you ready? (It’s a big phrase.) Ahem... The toppling of the hierarchy of learning.
Lindsey has studied classical violin since age six. Private teachers for 12 years.
But my question is…
Where did she learn to dance like this?
Answer: YouTube!She says so here on her website. She analysed music videos, studied the footwork of the dancers, put her own moves together and practiced in front of a mirror.
So my next question is:
If Lindsey can learn her choreography from the Internet, do you think you can you learn to design and improve your drawing and painting similarly?
I certainly think so! Good thing, too because in recent weeks four new art courses have launched online. Two of them, focusing on illustrating children’s books start next month (June, 2013)
Last week I interviewed these teachers to discover more. We decided to open up our discussions so that anyone watching could ask questions. You can catch the replay of our session with magical Mira hereor by clicking on the graphic below. (You’ll be asked for your e-mail address. It will be worth it.)
Mira Reisberg’s Picture Book Academy
Mira’s class promises a full-immersion experience into the world of children’s publishing, with her own video interviews with editors, art directors and author-illustrators. There will also be wide-ranging lessons on craft/technique and the business/career-building side of being a children’s book artist.
Will’s and Jake’s training will take you through design, draftsmanship, painting and building flowing storyboards and successful full-colored final art. They’ll cover how to prepare your art for a traditional print book, e-book, story app, help you to understand traditional vs digital illustration, file types, pagination, pacing, layouts — and how to build your online presence as an artist. The live interactive class is already full, but through July 15 you can still register for the lite version, to receive the recordings.
You can access our amazing two-hour session with Will and Jake hereor by clicking on the graphic below. Will and Jake each taught a very cool, generous lesson that you won’t want to miss.
Mark Mitchell, Will Terry and Jake Parker
Of the two classes, which one should you pick? It’s a no-brainer! Takeboth!
They’re by gifted people, professionally experienced artists who are also natural teachers (as you’ll see in the replays.) Their curriculums are different and as rich and rewarding as any you’d find at a brick and mortar campus. (This is not surprising, since Mira, Jake and Will all teach or have taught at brick and mortar campuses.)
And when you finish their classes, consider taking my Make Your Splashes; Make Your Marks! online course, too! It’s also about children’s book illustration. Online art classes like these rock! They’re fun. They’ll make you better. And they’re re not as difficult as teaching yourself to dance while playing the violin.
At author-illustrator Mary Sullivan’s launch party for her one word picture bookBall!(Houghton Mifflin) at The WritingBarn, in Austin Texas on May 4. Left to right Austin SCBWI Regional Advisor and author-illustrator Shelley Ann Jackson, Austin SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator Amy Farrier, author-illustrator Mary Sullivan, author-illustrator Mark Mitchell, author Julie Lake, author-illustrators Erik Kuntz and Jeff Crosby. Photo by author Bethany Hegedus.To see a recent post and video interview featuring Mary, go here.
A spread from Mary Sullivan’s new picture book Ball! published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
From Mary Sullivan’s new book Ball!
Julie Lake reads Ball! at The Writing Barn.
During Mary’s signing party at The Writing Barn, Austin SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator Amy Farrier, authors Greg Leitich Smith, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Bethany Hegedus, author-illustrators Jeff Crosby and Erik Kuntz and author Julie Lake review the early page proofs shared by Bethany from her upcoming picture book, Grandfather Gandhi, co-authored by Arun Gandhi and illustrated by Evan Turk. Due out in March, 2014.
Cover of the upcoming picture book, Grandfather Gandhi, co-authored by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk.
From the upcoming picture book, Grandfather Gandhi,co-authored by Bethany Hegedus and Arun Gandhi and illustrated by Evan Turk. Scheduled for publication 3/11/2014.
Illustration by Evan Turk from the upcoming picture book, Grandfather Gandhi by Bethany Hegedus and Arun Gandhi. Scheduled for publication 3/11/2014
Based on the ball chasing dog Mary never had, Ball uses only one word, repeatedly to tell of a dog who dreams of chasing a certain red ball.
The Junior Library Guild, a library collection development and review service used by school and public libraries across the U.S. has selected Ball for its Spring 2013 catalog. I predict more nods like this in the coming months because the book is a treasure — a wacky treasure in the Mary Sullivan drawn-style, which is to say that it’s universal and very funny.
Originally from San Antonio, Mary graduated with a B.F.A from the University of Texas. While raising her family in Austin she ran a personalized greeting card business that featured her original designs and “cartoons” (a word not really up to capturing her art that you can see in the videos above and on her blog, website and agent’s site.)
Drawing cards led to illustrating a story for Highlights for Children magazine, which led to more assignments from Highlights and book publishers such as Scholastic, Innovative Kids,School Zone, Oxford Press UK, Pearson and other educational and trade presses.
Most recently she’s completed a series of picture books for Zondervan (HarperCollins) by popular TV evangelist and author Joyce Meyer.
Below she talks about the challenge of keeping her drawings fresh as she moves them through the stages to final art.
Actually Mary did have a dog and Ball is dedicated to the memory of him. He was more interested in joining her for soulful walks in the woods than playing sports. He never played ball, but he kept Mary company while she worked long hours on deadlines.
She talked with me again recently — this time for students of the Make Your Splashes — Make Your Marks! online course. She showed F&Gs for Ball and gave us a glimpse into her illustration process that involves pulling her done-by-hand drawings into Photoshop and adding colors and shadows digitally. The videos here are a snippet from our recorded interview for the class.
A hands on Digital Symposium
Entrepreneurial artists and writers convened on the third floor of Fleck Hall at St. Edward’s University October 6 to learn about tools of the “new” publishing. Guest instructor, author and consultant Kirsten Cappy, with the digerati of Austin SCBWI introduced The Nuts and Bolts of Success with WordPress, Photoshop,Book Creator, iBooks Author, social media, making video book trailers for the web and more.
Austin SCBWI assistant regional adviser Carmen Oliver set up a conference blog on Blogger on the spot to electronically seize the day of discovery, helping, fun and friendship.
Illustrator E.B. Lewis heads up the Austin SCBWI 2013 conference, Kick It Up a Notch
A few years ago American Artist Watercolor magazine assigned me to interview E.B. Lewis for an article. His realist watercolors were so exquisitely sensitive yet seemed so effortless. I was just as struck by his passion for excellence in his work and teaching and inspiring)his fellow artists.
He insists on watercolor even when he’s painting for galleries and collectors. Watercolor is an anomaly in a market fixated on oil and acrylic creations. Except for the signature Earl B. Lewis that he uses for his fine art pictures, it’s hard to tell the difference between these and his children’s story illustrations that are among the “finest art” ever produced for book publishers.
Lewis will deliver the keynote address for the Austin Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) 2013 conference. Kick It Up a Notch, set for February 8-10 at St. Edward’s University will also feature Crystal Kite awardwinning illustrator Patrice Barton and author Shutta Crum, Caldecott Honor author Liz Garton Scanlon, author Cynthia Levinson, editors Neal Porter, Kathy Landwehr, and Tamra Tuller and literary agents John Cusik, Erzi Deak and Rubin Pfeffer. Learn more about the gang on the conference faculty sheet.
My friend Richard Johnson is on the home stretch of his Kickstarter campaign for his novel Saving the Farm — a fictional account of a marriage counseling workshop at a bed and breakfast in Maine and the documentary crew that comes to film it.
National SCBWI is now accepting applications for scholarships (for full-time college or graduate school students) to the 2013 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. For more information and instructions on how to apply, go here.
Entries now being accepted for the Tomie dePaola lllustrator Awards
December 14 is the deadline for the 2013Tomie dePaola Illustrators Awards 2013. It’s all about classic chapter books this year. Try a black and white scene from a novel by Louisa May Alcott, Tom Sawyer or Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Read the official guidelines and learn how to send your art to the contest’s “unofficial” online gallery established by SCBWI Houston Illustrator Coordinator Diandra Mae.
On October 3, illustrators and comic book creators in cities around the world hunkered down to produce original content.
It was Twenty Four Hour Comics Day— an annual happening launched last century by cartoonist and teacher Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics. (You can read the rules at that link.) Bawls, a company that produces caffeinated energy drinks sponsored this year’s event.
Erik's laptop with a panel from his new comic --work in progress.
In Austin the comic artists conclaved at a store, Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy, where lots of tables had been set up for them. There were all kinds of things going on in the store that rainy night — people were putting models together, browsing the shelves, visiting their friends.
I wasn’t a participant. Only a curious bystander with a camera. Plus a pal– cartoonist and writer Erik Kuntz, part of our enchanted SCBWI tribe —was doing the marathon again this year. Erik is the author-artist of Hex Libris, a witty, kid-friendly webcomic with wonderful characters.
(L. to R.) Bonn Adame, Erik Kuntz, Justin Rogers and Jeremy Guyton create at their table during 24 Hour Comics Day in Austin, Texas recently.
I don’t do comics much anymore but they were important to me growing up. I read them and drew them.
I acquired my own formidable classical education by reading Classics Illustrated Comic Books. Better than CliffsNotes.
A panel of sketches for "Action Packed Gorillas", a new web comic being developed by Erik Kuntz. The dialogue balloons always come first. (Note: The character featured here is a chimp, not a gorilla.)
Comics are not exactly children’s book illustration. An d yet…
Another SCBWI and Inklings Group pal, illustrator Martin Thomas is a professional colorist of comics.
Mary Sullivan, supremely talented illustrator for Highlights and other magazines and books and part of our Austin clan — has illustrated a beautiful and funny children’s comic book and she draws in comic panels for her own amusement.
Austin SCBWI illustration chair Christy Stallop does great black and white comic strip panel style illustrations
Kads and Matt (above) working on separate comics. By the way, Matt’s blog has a good recap of his experience of the 24 Hour Comics Day here.
My stepson Glenn remains a connoisseur- collector of graphic novels. School librarians are making more space for graphic novels on their shelves. Scholastic Books is whipping up its own graphic novel brand.
For years the “comic book look” has been finding its way into wildly popular “chapter books ” for upper elementary and middle grades. Dav Pilkey is one example. The Zack Proton series by Austin author Brian Anderson (of our SCBWI Mafia family) with illustrator Doug Holgate is another.
The Toon Books are comics for toddlers and children just begining to learn to read.
Disney bought Marvel.
Artist-writer Meghan Regis and technical consultant Jeremy Zunker (an engineering student.) Meghan is the creator of the comic series "Yours Truly" published in "The Paisano", the weekly newspaper of the University of Texas at San Antonio. The main main character in the strip is a young woman who lives on the moon. So seriously, that's why Meghan needs a technical consultant around her when she's working. "Because there are a lot of technical terms that are used in the dialogue," Zunker explained.So
And Yes. Women do participate in 24 Hour Comics Day. In addition to Meghan (above and below) there was Kad (who will let us know when she has her website up) and Melanie Moore working on her strip “Sacred Junk” with Amy Middleton (not shown.)
Meghan Regis with her panels.
The teamwork of Jason Poland and Austin Havican ( below) can be seen here and here.
Colored comic panels (watercolor washes) on the comic strip "The Ortolan" created by a collaborative team, Jason Poland, and Austin Havican, whose hands you see here. They described their work as deceptively simple child-like and simply but "definitely not child-friendly." See more of their work at http://www.robbieandbobby.com. S
Erik Kuntz laughs at one of his own digital cartoons as he draws on a Wacom tablet while Justin Rogers works with traditional comic artist materials -- paper, pencil, eraser, pen, triangle, T-square, etc. (In the background with beard is comics writer Tony Franklin. )
As you see, there were fun moments and lots of hard work– or should I say heart work? They go together — accomplished by a lot of people in that comic book store.
Erik is suggesting that we get together next year for something a little less intense than a They Shoot Horses Don’t They? draw-a-thon.
He’s calling it the “geriatric version of 24 Hour Comics Day.” I can’t say that I’m in favor of the name. It sounds, you know, a little ageist — and hits a little close. But the idea intrigues. Instead of laboring over pages of comic panels, we could be blitzing through picture book thumbnails and storyboards, or maybe even a dummy.
A children’s book illustrators lockdown. Check back with us in September next year to read our rules.
I should mention that I saw the movie Seraphine recently, about an early 20th century painter most of us have never heard of — Seraphine Louis or Seraphine de Senlis.
Click on the image here to see the larger more detailed view on YouTube.
Seraphine offers an unblinking look at the art vs. reality dilemma that confronts every artist sooner or later.
“Seraphine” tells us of a cleaning woman who painted “primitive” florals at night, with paints she ground herself from materials gathered on her woodland treks. It’s also about the kindly German art collector who discovered her. Billed as a fictionalized portrait, it’s still an honest movie — as unsensational as it is beautiful. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve seen it. Leave a comment.
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Mark Mitchell hosts the “How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator” blog.
A big welcome to talented illustratorsSusan Sorrell Hill , Tina Yao , Diandra Mae andVanessa Van Cleve Roeder who have joined our blog roll! * * * * * We are also delighted to welcome fine artist, illustrator, plein-air painter, teacher, writer and innovating creator of art instruction materialsCathy Johnson to the our links. You might recognize her work or “voice” from “The Artists Magazine”, where she’s been a contributing editor for years.
Here is her website where you can sign up for her free newsletter and e-mail art tips! I’ve been enjoying them for a long time. Here is her blog.