A ‘Writing Process’ post

My friend, San Antonio SCBWI Illustrators Coordinator Akiko White recently tagged me to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour. It was fun because it got me thinking about how the kind of online journalism I’ve been doing lately is much like the writing I’ve always done as an author-illustrator of three books for upper elementary grades, a free-lance writer and small town newspaper reporter.

Seeing Stars

“Seeing Stars: McDonald Observatory and its Astronomers” written and illustrate by Mark Mitchell (Eakin Press)

The questions are the same for everyone, so I’ll get right into them.

1.) What are you working on?

I’m writing educational content to stitch together the more than 100 videos I’ve made for my online course on illustrating children’s books, Make Your Marks and Splashes.

It feels like writing copy for a very large magazine article — or a big nonfiction book, requiring that same organization and the continual effort of trying to say more with less, which is the writer’s burden and bliss.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’d like to answer this from the perspective of someone who has written nonfiction books for children. In researching and reporting my subjects, I try to create a vivid sensory experience and a feeling of place to try to put the reader inside the situations I’m writing about.

I also like to have a a storyline — if I can find it in the material.

"Raising La Belle" cover

“Raising ‘La Belle’: the Story of the ‘La Salle Shipwreck'” written and illustrated by Mark Mitchell (Eakin Press)

3.) Why do I write what I do?

My reporting experienced has influenced how I write.

I try to follow the rules of journalism while also remembering that I want to incite the reader to keep reading, to go on to that second paragraph.

So I think that curiosity and suspense are ways to hold a reader (of any age) and also a way to set fire to a reader’s imagination, which helps the reader to identify with a story.

In a creative nonfiction story those suspense-creating elements must arise from a foundation of solid reporting.

As children’s nonfiction author Russell Friedman has said, “A nonfiction writer is a storyteller who has sworn an oath to tell the truth.”

4.) How does my writing process work?

First research and making notes, then interviews, followed by lots of personal observation of locales, if possible and making more notes. Then a few thumbnail outlines, trying to tease out the ‘plot points’ ‘dark moments’ and the climax, if I can find them in the material.

Next a rough draft, ‘the sloppy copy’ as they say in elementary school, typed in an inspired burst or a series of inspired bursts over many months.

Then editing, untangling all those knots of bad prose fishing line. Simplifying, smoothing out and lots of cutting, until the language feels alive and like it has found its voice for the story.

* * * * *

Next up on the tour, author-illustrator and watercolor fine artist Rob Smith who will post next Monday April 7 on his own writing process — writing in words and pictures. Rob is the author-illustrator of the Kindle e-book, Undead Ted as well as the author of the self-paced video course, Buildling EZ Picture Books for Kindle.

And author-illustrator Laurie Edwards whose first-in-a-series new YA book, Grace and the Guiltess (Curious Fox – UK) under her nom de plume Erin Johnson has just been published. Three other books in the WANTED series will be coming out in May, August, and December, Laurie says. Laurie’s in the middle of edits on her NA/adult nonfiction book, Cyber Self-Defense, written with cybercrime expert Alexis Moore, which is set to release in October from Globe Pequot.

Stay tuned for more details/authors on the Writing Process Blog Tour.

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Making it up as we go along…

Author-Illustrator Jeff Crosby

Children’s book author-illustrator Jeff Crosby (Wiener WolfDisney-Hyperion) was talking with young students of the Austin Independent School District the other day — and he let them tell him a story, while he illustrated their scenes.

A bit of a high wire act, yes but he pulled it off with his usual calm and cleverness.

You can see the story somewhere in the following slide show.

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The slides include some of Jeff’s original sketches and paintings from Wiener Wolf as well as for Little Lions, Bull  Baiters  & Hunting Hounds (Tundra Books)  that he wrote and illustrated with his wife, author-illustrator Shelley Ann Jackson.

The event was for a birthday bash of sorts, 100 Years of School Libraries in Austin.

Illustrators recognized as the 2012 SCBWI Summer Conference wraps up

Congratulations to Melissa Sweet — winner of the 2012 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration,  for Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of the Macy’s Parade (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), a picture book biography that was five years in the making and has won several other awards.

And congratulations to Juana Martinez Neal, Grand Prize winner, and Mary Jo Scott, Nancy Armo and  Mary Lundquist,  honor winners in the Summer Conference Portfolio Contest.  

The awards were presented at the conference Sunday luncheon in Los Angeles.

Painted motion on glass

Alexander Petrov's "the Old Man and the Sea"

Does the Russian animator Alexander Petrov know a thing or two about using thumbnail sketches to build his stories and move them forward? Of course he does! Read about this and see his complete Academy Award – winning animated film, The Old Man and the Sea (20 minutes), based on Ernest Hemingway’s short novel here on the Illustration Course blog.

On your mouse, get set…go!

Austin SCBWI’s Digital Symposium II: Nuts and Bolts of Success is a hands-on technology workshop for illustrators and authors of all techie levels. Be it blogging or beveling, tweeting or technique sharing, hyperlinking or hashtagging, the intention of this symposium set for October 6 at St. Edward’s University is for the participants to leave with new skills to add their technological tool belts. You can download the full packet here, which includes conference info and an off-line registration sheet.

Parlay your ideas into children’s book art

"Make Your Splashes - Make Your Marks!" online course

“Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks!” online course

Learn drawing and painting the fun way this summer. Take Mark Mitchell’s self-paced, online course Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! 

It teaches a dynamic approach to illustrating children’s books using traditional painting mediums.

Discover a great secret about drawing (four videos) and find more details about the course here.

The miracle month

You might have noticed that the blog has been left with the lights still on, but untended lately.  Not a lot of discussion about illustration, drawing or painting has been going on here.  I’ve been distracted by worry — not an uncommon ailment in families.  Yes, I’m going off the topic of children’s book art — just for today. Because  I want to explain whats been happening and ask your indulgence in my failures to post this first quarter of the year.

My stepson Glenn had been taking an intravenous drug to keep his multiple sclerosis in check. It was a true wonder drug, brand name, Tysabri that had allowed him to remain at work in a demanding telecommuting job and stay highly engaged as a wonderful parent, with his wife, of two small children.

family photo

Perhaps the drug worked too well. It completely suppressed his immune system, leaving him vulnerable to an intruder, a strange little virus carried by most of the  human population – the John Cunningham (JC) virus.

Glenn’s first symptoms were failing vision, weakness, blurred speech and a loss of balance. Just after New Year’s Day he was diagnosed with progressive multifocal leukoencephalitis,  a rare, often fatal viral disease (called PML for short, mercifully.)

The virus, which most of us catch in early childhood, never troubles us much — unless our central nervous system immune barrier stops working. Then it can pass from the blood into the brain and trigger the condition of PML.

PML attacks the myelin sheathing of our nerves. Myelin is the white tissue of the brain, an electrically insulating material that wraps our nerve fibers and actually speeds the transmission of electrical signals.

In fact the auto-immune disorder MS acts the same way as PML, chewing up these insulated nerve pathways and leaving scars that block the nerve signals. But PML is more aggressive and there’s no medicine or cure for it except the body’s  natural immune defense system.

Tysabri molecules were removed from Glenn’s plasma in an emergency series of blood transfusions.

But it didn’t slow the progression of symptoms.  Over the next few weeks we watched in helpless terror as he lost his vision, his abilities to speak clearly and remember what had been said to him just  moments before.

His brain stopped communicating with the left side of his body. He could no longer walk, sit or hold up his head (although he still had use of his right hand and  right leg. )

myelin sheath diagram

A watch and wait vigil began. Glenn’s own immune system (suppressed since 2006 by the the Tysabri) would have to wake up and confront the virus.

But that first month, his body did not want to engage the enemy.

He was moved from the hospital into a skilled care nursing facility.

No one knew where this was going — not even his doctor, a highly regarded MS specialist.  Glenn was his first case of  PML induced by Tysabri.

A new threat appeared, even more life-threatening than PML.

Glenn was now joining the battle. But sometimes when a CNS immune system awakens to danger, it over-reacts. The result is the brain swelling, like you see in severe head injuries.

Steroid drugs were administered to counter the  inflammation. Doctors wanted Glenn to fight — but not overly hard. They wanted to manage the immune reaction like a controlled burn — and wait for the forest fire (the PML) to rage itself out.

There was nothing for us to do but hope and say our prayers. There was nothing for Glenn to do but try to survive

He turned the corner ten days ago. His sentences became longer and his speech, more coherent. (I should say that a therapist at the center had been working with him every morning on these abilities.

For the first time in nearly four months, he moved his left foot.  The next day Glenn was  lifting his left leg off the bed, demonstrating for anyone on the floor who could stop and watch.

One evening while he sat propped up in bed, visiting, his left arm moved on its own. It straightened out a little at the elbow, almost as if by accident. Glenn paused mid-sentence. He looked at his arm and started to cry.

“I don’t want you to think I’m crying because of pain or sadness,” he told us. “These are tears of joy.”

Last night I saw Glenn stand by himself — and my eyes had difficulty believing the sight. His nursing attendant Blanca was helping him from his wheel chair to his bed. But she didn’t pull or lift him this time. She just stood close for support. “Okay you can do it, Glenn,” she said.

He raised up somehow on both legs, holding on to her shoulder for balance. He turned a quarter of a circle and sat himself on the bed.

He has a long road ahead and he knows it.  He’s still blind. Yet his vision, or much of it could return.

He’s still quite weak — his muscles have atrophied after four months in bed. But the therapy will be stepped up and expectations are for him to be able to walk again.

His MS has not gone away — and Tysabri is no longer an option to help him. But we’ll take — and celebrate  — this day and future days as they come.

His physician, therapists and caregivers have been superb and kind.  Glenn has shown uncommon bravery, toughness, patience and wisdom (typical for him, really) — as has his family.

The most devastating thing I’ve ever seen has turned into the most extraordinary thing. We’ve seen enough miracles unfold in the past few days to last a lifetime. Or maybe I should say, we’ve seen enough miracles now to know that life teems with them.

So, if you’ve seen me not “showing up” lately here’s my why —  my “dog ate my homework” story.

To my friends: if I’ve seemed distracted while dealing with you since the first of the year or rude in the way I’ve not responded to invitations or replied to e-mails or phone calls, please excuse, understand and forgive me.

Now that things actually might be returning to normal, I’ll take my cue from Glenn — and strive for improvement.

Portfolio Room

Portfolio room at the Austin SCBWI 2012 Regional Conference, “Something for Everybody” at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas

And you thought this was a blog about children’s book art crafting…

Oh, it still is. I have photos of the Houston and Austin SCBWI 2012 regional conferences and from Dan Yaccarino‘s Picture Book workshop and  some interviews from the 2012 Digital Heroes Tour to share with you in the coming days.

There’s a one- question trivia contest newly up on the other blog.

We’ll select a winner Wednesday so there’s still time for you to enter.  The winner will receive a link to Dauntless Design, a lesson from the Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! online course.

I have a guest post up on the KidlitArt blog — part of their Picture Book Dummy Challenge series. The topic is how to turn a thumbnail scribble into a full-sized finished sketch. I think you’ll enjoy checking out the entire series of guest posts on the blog there and reading the chat transcripts for the KidLitArt Twitter sessions on Thursday nights that you’ll find there.

“Little toddler feet and hands all over my wall…”

Children’s book illustrator Patrice Barton begins a picture book with a spiral ruled notebook that she soon fills with ideas, tactics and to-do checklists related to the project.

It’s almost as if the words come first. The drawings, which for her are a series of tireless explorations only a tiny fraction of which make it to the book, spring forth after she’s worked out the notions, notations and marching orders for herself.

In the previous post she told how she assembled her scraps of sketches on tracing paper to develop finals for Sweet Moon Baby by Karen Henry Clark (Knopf Books for Young Readers.) This time she reveals the earliest stages of her artwork for the picture book Mine! by well-known children’s author Shutta Crum.

Released in June, Mine! is Patty’s second book for Knopf.  Patty’s work for Mine! is being included in the Society of Illustrators Original Art Exhibit, 2011!

At the end of our video interview minutes before class time at the Art School of the Austin Museum of Art Patty walked through the F&G’s for her third Knopf title, Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine by Knopf editor Allison Wortche — due for publication in December. Here are sophisticated first graders, not babies or toddlers. With their glances, gestures and placements on the pages, Patty orchestrates a very funny elementary school drama of evil plans, remorse and redemption.

Watching her interpret Wortche’s scenes as text gives us insight into how she thinks about her characters and re-constructs a story in its most telling images.

SCBWI happenings for your calendar

Southern Breeze Illustrators Day poster

Southern Breeze Society of Children’s BookWriters and Illustrators Illustrators Day   – Friday, September 2 on the lower floor of the DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, Georgia.

Kristen Nobles, art director for Candlewick Press will give the keynote, Thinking Visually: The Illustrator as IlluminatorKristen Nobles

Michael Austiin will mentor 12 illustrators (first come, first serve) with an assigned project before the workshop. Also featured will be Robert Agis, Editor from Sterling Children’s Books, Illustrator Mike Lowery  speaking on Self Promotion and Sketchbook  and picture book author Laura Murray. There will also be a portfolio review.

The Annual SCBWI Eastern PA Illustrator Day, Saturday, September 24 is a one day intensive at the University of Pennsylvania Golkin Room,  at the Perelman Quadrangle featuring Clarion Books senior designer Kerry Martin. Kerry’s workshop involves an exciting pre-workshop home assignment. You’ll receive the assignment when you register. He and illustrators agent Kirsten Hall with The Bright Agency will be doing portfolio reviews.

Storytelling in the Digital Age – Embrace the Change  – Saturday, October 8 at St. Edward’s University, Austin Texas. Austin SCBWI symposium on the fast-evolving  e-publishing scene features presentations by professionals who are doing it in the Austin area and the key address, via Skype by SCBWI Executive Director Lin OliverSCBWI  and Digital Storytelling.

St. Edwards University, Austin Texas

St. Edwards University, Austin Texas hosts “Storytelling in the Digital Age”

Other scheduled sessions:

Creating and Maintaining Your Web Persona by Erik Kuntz,

Standing Out in the E-book Crowd: Storybook Apps, Enhanced Content, and Digital Marketing Extras by Deanna Roy

Your Story as Electrons: Breathing Life into Words in the Digital Age by PJ Hoover

There’s an App for That by the illustrator and art director of  Spider, the Secret of Bryce Manor  Amanda Williams

Spider - the Secret of Bryce Manor

“Spider – the Secret of Bryce Manor” game app

How Do They Do That? Creating Digital Books by Meridith Blank Taylor

From Oop to App: The Transformation of Picture Books to Apps by Lindsey Lane

Paper to Pixels: The Art of the Digital Paintbrush presented by Clint Young

Extranormal: The Storyteller’s Dream Software
 by Zack Gonzales

YouTube and the Science Behind Visual Learning by Joel Hickerson

Storytelling in the Digital Age: Imagine by InteractBooks’ Ezra Weinstein

Children’s Book Illustrators and Technology by the Girllustrators

Social Media 101 by Nick Alter

Getting Discovered: Why You Should ABSOLUTELY Give Your Stories Away for Free by Bear James

Traditions and Technology: The Transformation of Children’s Publishing  is the theme of this year’s North Central/North Texas SCBWI regional conference, October 7-8 at the Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. The Saturday event features Simon and Schuster art director Laurent Linn, a line up of editors from Scholastic and Random House, an agent from Andrea Brown and authors Bruce Coville and Tammi Sauer.

More fine notes

Illustrator Amy Farrier’s blog Three Ravens Press has a great interview with talented illustrator and Etsy artist Audrey Lopata. Audrey meanwhile, interviews illustrator Dallion McGregor on her blog  with fun results. (Dallion was recently interviewed here about his winning logo design for the Storytelling in the Digital Age Symposium.)

Hugo Cabret

School Library Journal asks Brian Selznick about many things, including his new illustrated children’s novel Wonderstruck  (Scholastic) and the Martin Scorcese movie adaptation of his Caldecott Medal-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Read the story here.

An online course on illustrating children’s books, Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! shows you how to draw nearly anything, unlock beautiful design and color in your art and what to do, step by step when you land that assignment to illustrate a story for a book, magazine or digital product. You can read more about the course here. 


Patrice Barton's "Rosie Sprout"

“I just drew baby after baby after baby…”

It was a treat, as always to visit with children’s book illustrator Patrice Barton.  

In these two videos Patty tells us a little about her artwork for the picture book Sweet Moon Baby written by Karen Henry Clark (Knopf Books for Young Readers.)

Patty graduated with a B.F.A in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a graphic designer for the Texas Department of Public Safety and a freelance commercial artist before she decided to focus on children’s book illustration, the art specialty she loved most.

She began with assignments from children’s magazines and educational presses. Gradually her client list grew to include major children’s trade publishers — Farrar,  Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers and Scholastic Book Club, in addition to Knopf.

Children's book artist Patrice Barton talks to students

Children's book artist Patrice Barton talks to students at the Austin Museum of Art Art School

Here are some of the takeaways  from our discussion last month.

She says “yes” to the manuscripts that pull her in emotionally. She passes on assignments where the writing does not affect her.

When illustrating a book, she plows into sketches, often working on tracing paper to discover her characters.

She’ll place tracing paper over her drawings and sketch on it to build her compositions and scene interactions.  Much of this work she’ll throw away. The “keepers” she’ll puzzle out out how to fit into her scene composites.

Her process  involves trial and error and a lot of drawing before she comes up with the images that (she feels) will do the best job of bringing the page to life.

Patty likes to show her editors black and white value studies of her sketches (painted on the computer in Corel Painter) before she works out the story’s visual flow, pace and page turns in a series of experimental dummies of various sizes.

When everyone has signed off on her monochromatic sketches she brings her line drawings (that she had scanned into Photoshop into Corel Painter and paints them in color.

 "Sweet Moon Baby" double spread

Double page spread from "Sweet Moon Baby" by Karen Henry Clark, illustrated by Patrice Barton (Knopf)

And she endures with good cheer and good faith the numerous requests from her editors for changes and redo’s that are a fact of life for a professional book illustrator — even one as highly talented and diligent as Patty.

The two videos are from a 90 minute recorded interview Patty did for students of my Marks and Splashes online course on illustrating children’s books. (We’re incorporating monthly interviews with children’s book illustrators into the lessons.)

Next time on the blog, Patty will walk us through her process of creating the art for the well-reviewed picture book Mine!  by Shutta Crum (Knopf) and give us a sneak peek at Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine by Allison Wortche, which Knopf plans to bring out in December.

In more children’s book art news…

The InteractBuilder contest deadline for creating your own interactive touch screen e-book for Interact Books has been extended to October 15.

Version 2.5 of the free software will be released by the end of August or early September, the developers say.

“There are a A TON of new and exciting features that will allow you to create even more compelling interactive books,” this week’s announcement from InteractBuilder added.  “And do not worry, any book you are working on will convert automatically, there will be no extra work needed unless you want to take advantage of one of the new features.”

conference logo

The Austin SCBWI symposium Storytelling in the Digital Age: Embrace the Change  set for  Saturday, October 8 has opened registration.  Among the workshop and panels on the program:  Creating and Maintaining Your Web Persona presented by Erik KuntzThere’s an App for That presented by Amanda Williams,  Paper to Pixels: The Art of the Digital Paintbrush presented by Clint Young,  Storytelling in the Digital Age: Imagine presented by Ezra Weinstein and  Children’s Book Illustrators and Technology presented by the Girllustrators — and really so much more.

SCBWI Executive director Lin Oliver will deliver the keynote from California via SKYPE. Her topic: The SCBWI’s recommendations to illustrators and authors on how to evaluate publishers in the digital marketplace.

The ground-breaking event at St. Edward’s University will be the place to learn about e-books, interactive books for touch screen devices, iPhone game apps from Austin, Texas developers — as well as to meet and network with them. Registration is only $75 for SCBWI members.  You can read more about the symposum here. 

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Mark Mitchell teaches an online course on illustrating children’s books, “Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks!” 

Check out the course Facebook pageFacebook group and companion blog.
Please “like” or join them if you’re so inclined to do so. 🙂

Discover a “big secret” of making better drawings. 

English illustrator Sarah Wade shows us how to “colour” with a digital brush

Children’s book illustrator and surface pattern designer Sarah Wade of Design House Studios in Ipswich,  England has put together a short Photoshop tutorial for us. We’ll get right to work with it in a minute.
But first let’s meet the two characters she’ll feature in her tutorial.

Hey Pretty Kitty from Sarah Wade on Vimeo.

A Short Photoshop Tutorial:  Colouring up
line art

Pictures and text by Sarah Wade

1.) Create your line art and scan at 300 dpi. I tend to use fine liners on layout paper to create my illustrations. Layout paper allows you to trace up consistent elements within a series of illustrations. This works really well if you are animating characters.

English Illustrator Sarah Wade Photoshop turorial

2.) Import the scanned image into Photoshop. Make sure that the image is CMYK.  Image > Mode> CMYK

Adjust the contrast and brightness of your image to ensure that you have a crisp white background and solid black line work – this will make it easier for you to select areas when colouring up.
Image > Adjustments > Brightness / Contrast
Also remove any marks and blemishes that might have appeared during the scanning process. You will need to select the Eraser Tool to do this.

English Illustrator Sarah Wade Photoshop turorial
3.) Using the Magic Wand tool, select the area that you would like to colour first. You can hold down the shift key to select multiple areas. Adjusting the tolerance settings at the top of the tool bar will allow you to determine how much of an area you select. As we are working with black and white imagery a high tolerance of about 90 will be most suitable.

When the area has been selected use the Colour Picker to choose the colour you would like to use.

English Illustrator Sarah Wade Photoshop turorial
4.) Now you can select your brush. Choose the Brush tool from the tools panel – this will automatically open the Brush Palette. Here you can adjust the size of your brush and it’s softness. Have a play around with different types of brushes to find one that suits your illustration.

English Illustrator Sarah Wade Photoshop turorial (4)
5.) Once your brush is selected you can start to colour. The brush will only effect the area which you have selected with the Magic Wand tool. To deselect an area use Select > Deselect from the menu. Work your way around the image until all areas are coloured. Adjusting the brush opacity in the header bar will help you to create a layered, painterly style.

English Illustrator Sarah Wade Photoshop turorial
6.) Once your image is coloured up in full , use a smaller brush to make slight adjustments.

English Illustrator Sarah Wade Photoshop turorial 6 or 7

And there you have it! OK, now you can watch the video again!

Sarah studied Graphic Design at Northampton University,  specializing in Illustration.
She graduated in 2004.  ” I went on to work within two large  studios that produced designs for giftware and children’s book publishing.” she says.

“I decided to go freelance in 2006 and have been working from my studio based in Ipswich for the past 4 years. I now produce surface patterns for a variety of applications including textiles, wall coverings, jewellery, fashion, shop interiors, ceramics and  advertising campaigns.  “I also illustrate children’s books and have almost 20 titles in publication.”

You can see some of her images and book covers, and read Sarah’s and  Lloyds blogs at their website, Design House Studio. (Lloyd Evans is her design studio business partner, and as of about a week ago, her husband.)  Here’s the URL:  www.designhousestudios.co.uk

Sarah’s blog has been added to our blogroll and here’s the URL: http://sarahwadedesign.blogspot.com/

Sarah’s gracious guest post demonstrates that children’s book artists on the other side of the Atlantic are just as fun, creative, charming  and nice as…well, we are.   We’re speaking in generalities, of course.

Sarah and I discovered we had one more connecting point besides our involvement with kid lit art: We’re both students of Salsa dance. And it just so happens that my Rueda Salsa instructor, Esther Weekes is from Ipswich, England.  Esther and Sarah do not know each other, but perhaps someday they will. The world does seem to get smaller every day.

Now,  I’m not sure when Sarah will begin teaching us computer animation classes 🙂
But she tells us, “It is just something that I have been experimenting with at the moment, but I love how it gives characters a whole other dimension!

“The sound effects were fun to work on too, although I’m concerned that our neighbors might think we mistreat our cat! It took a few attempt to get that recording right …..it’s Lloyd’s voice —  not our cat!”

Thank you, Sarah! It’s been a total treat. Btw, your video makes my day each time I look at it and I look forward to seeing more!

www.designhousestudios.co.uk

http://sarahwadedesign.blogspot.com/

And here are some Austin salsa links for you:
Street Salsa.com

Meneo Space

* * * * *

Austin SCBWI – Picture Perfect!

A “spit-polish picture book workshop” featuring author Lisa Wheeler and illustrators Don Tate and Laura Jennings

St. Edwards University campus in Austin, TexasSt. Edward’s University, Austin Texas — home of upcoming Austin SCBWI workshops

Will you be anywhere near Austin, Texas around Saturday, October 9th?
All right, then. Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 9th when the Austin SCBWI chapter will meet at beautiful St. Edwards University to enjoy an intensive one-day  workshop for author-illustrators, Picture Perfect!

This professional workshop (we did say spit and polish, remember) will help hone your children’s picture book manuscripts and illustrations to radiant perfection.

Author Lisa Wheeler will present the keynote and other author-illustrators will offer presentations and critiques. Here’s the complete faculty lineup.

  • Lisa Wheeler has written 17 books for children. Her most recent picture book for Atheneum is the hilarious Castaway Cats, illustrated by Ponder Gombel. Learn more about Lisa on her website at www.lisawheelerbooks.com.
  • Sarah Sullivan who has written three picture books. Her latest, Passing Music Down, published by Candlewick is forthcoming very soon. Learn more about Sarah on her website at www.sarahsullivanbooks.com.
  • Stephanie Greene  is a master of the series chapter book. Stephanie has written the Moose and Hildy and Owen Foote series, several middle-grade novels, has earned Horn Book’s coveted starred review for her latest…Happy Birthday Sophie Hartley. Learn more about Stephanie at www.stephaniegreenebooks.com.
  • Don Tate who is an illustrator of children’s books and educational products. His background includes illustration as well as graphic design in the areas of advertising, educational publishing, and visual journalism. Learn more about Don at www.dontate.com.
  • Laura Jennings who is a freelance illustrator living in Austin, Texas.

Download the full brochure with the registration form and all details about fees, , schedule of events, and portfolio review information here. You can also get it from the Austin SCBWI website.

Notice #1 : You don’t have to be an SCBWI member to enroll in the workshop. It’s just a little cheaper if you are, and you can do that when you enroll. 🙂

Notice # 2: Manuscript critique slots are filled — but there are still some portfolio review slots left, illustrators!

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Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators features Carus senior art director Karen Kohn

PSIcon is set for September 25, 2010 at Pittsburgh Technical Institute, Oakdale, PA. Keynote speaker is Karen Kohn, Senior Art Director at Carus Publishing Company, publishers of Cricket, Ask and Ladybug. Karen will speak about the various types of illustration styles their publications look for as well as new developed apps soon to be released. Karen often finds new illustration talent to use throughout the publications from speaking engagements. She’ll be reviewing portfolios as well. Six additional industry-wide speakers are planned.

The one day conference is 8 am – 6 pm. It will be valuable to all levels of experience. Seasoned professionals and young talent alike will benefit. Light breakfast and lunch included.

Continue to check for updates on PSI’s website at: http://www.pittsburghillustrators.org/

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Author-illustrator Mark Mitchell of Austin, Texas hosts this blog. Check out his online course on drawing and painting for chillren’s book illustration.

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Susan’s remarkable field trip

Talented California artist and illustrator Susan Sorrell Hill reports to us today about a recent pilgrimage she made across the country to meet an artist she admires very much. When she learned that Austrian children’s book illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger would be at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Ma. for the opening of a retrospective of her work, she knew she’d  have to go. It was as simple as that.

Lisbeth Zwerger's cover for "The Nutcracker"

Susan agreed even before she made the trip  to cover the event for us.  After you read her account,  I’m sure you’ll want to visit her own rich blog and see her paintings on her online gallery.

We’ve  been hitting the children’s book art illustration museums pretty hard, lately.  In the last post (scroll down) we featured the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature and the gorgeous SCBWI “Golden Kite Golden Dreams” show.  Both  facilities perform an outstanding service in their celebration and exploration of children’s book illustration as fine art.

Enjoy her report on meeting one of the world’s beloved illustrators — and spending those couple of magical days at the extraordinary Eric Carle Museum.


Last week I wrote about my impending trip to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for the Lisbeth Zwerger exhibition. This 40,000 square-foot museum “is the first full-scale museum in this country devoted to national and international picture book art, conceived and built with the aim of celebrating the art that we are first exposed to as children.” Now that I am on the other side of my four-day, whirlwind cross-country visit, I can hardly believe it happened… Like a dream, it was wonderful and over all-too-soon…


Lisbeth signs my books.

The Museum sits in the middle of the lush New England countryside, quietly echoing large traditional barns and silos with its contemporary architecture which is also reminiscent of Eric Carle’s illustration… bold, balanced, inviting, simple yet monumental. Beautiful stone paving leads to heavy plate-glass doors opening onto the wide, light and airy Great Hall from which the large Auditorium, Art Studio, Shop, Library, Cafe and three galleries branch off. During the Members event on opening night, a grand piano in the Great Hall entertained browsing guests who sipped wine and nibbled appetizers. The Hall is also where a very long line of admirers stood patiently waiting to have their books signed by Lisbeth.


The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

It would be hard to say too many nice things about the Museum… it is an inspired, well-planned  and holistic peek into the world of the picture book. From the extensive library where children of all ages can browse published books in a cosy setting… to the well-stocked Shop which specializes in award-winning picture books, as well as cards and wonderful gift items… to the Cafe with its healthy snacks (Animal Crackers!!) and friendly welcome to guests who bring their own picnics… to the Auditorium which hosts prominent guest speakers, films, and performances of various sorts all related to the picture book… and finally to the three gorgeous galleries themselves.


The Art Studio

The galleries are surely the heart of the Eric Carle Museum… one could easily imagine oneself to be in a wing of the Metropolitan. The work is beautifully matted, framed and hung, the lights are kept low to protect the longevity of the artwork, and there is plenty of information given about each illustration, including copies of the artists’ published books to browse through. The three galleries rotate shows featuring the Museum’s own collection of Eric Carle’s prolific and endearing work, as well as the works of other notable artists (Leo Leoni‘s illustration for his book, Geraldine, the Music Mouse is on view in The Central Gallery.). An Exquisite Vision: the Art of Lisbeth Zwerger will be showing in The East Gallery until September 26th. Photographs are not allowed within the galleries to protect the illustrations, but below is a view from the lobby looking through glass doors to the gallery entrances and a view of the West Gallery from the Museum’s website.


Entrance to the gallery wings.

The West Gallery

Viewing Lisbeth’s exhibition, I was reminded of another artist’s comment recalling the first time she saw Lisbeth’s illustration years ago: “I think I stopped breathing for a moment.” It was much the same experience, walking into a gallery where approximately eighty-five original watercolor paintings hung one after another in their overwhelming, delicate and masterful glory. The paintings themselves spanned the full range of Lisbeth’s illustration career… from early, unpublished work to several from her newest book, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, (available in English from Amazon.com in October, unless you happened to be one of the lucky few who got one this last weekend at the exhibit). The paintings selected by Lisbeth and the Museum’s Curator represent virtually all of her thirty-plus books in print, and although there has been a definite shift in style, Lisbeth’s brilliant illustrative approach and virtuoso technique is consistently apparent throughout. It is hard not to be slack-jawed with awe.


The Museum’s Curator, Lisbeth Zwerger and her publisher, Michael Neugebauer… Arthur Rackham on the screen.

But Lisbeth herself, who was applauded with great admiration before and after speaking at length both days about her illustration and career,  is warm and down-to-earth. She is clearly very serious about her work, but has a sense of humor, sophistication and wit in person that echos her  approach to illustration.

While I am on the subject of friendly, I would like to say that all of the folks from The Eric Carle Museum that I have had the pleasure to interact with have been so very nice, really far beyond a basic good public interaction… Sandy, Jenny, Rebecca, Motoko, Nick… you know who you are…

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the surprise announcement made by Zwerger’s publisher, Michael Neugebauer (Minedition). Keeping just a few favorites, he will donate his large personal collection of Lisbeth Zwerger originals to the Museum. Having just flown in from the printer in China with a suitcase full of hot-off-the-press exhibition catalogs and Pied Pipers, he looked tired but pleased to be offering his magnanimous gift.

Several hundred people came Saturday evening and again on Sunday to hear Lisbeth speak.The Member’s evening was also attended by a number of well-known names in the children’s literature world… among them were Etienne Delessert (who will have an exhibition at the Museum next year, February 8 – June 5, 2011), Leonard S. Marcus, Maria Tatar, and Jerry Pinkney. On Sunday, I also had the pleasure of meeting illustrator Barbara Lehman.

Reading the new exhibition catalog, “Lisbeth Zwerger: The World of Imagination,” which has many more words about Lisbeth’s long career than did the first catalog, The Art of Lisbeth Zwerger, it would be tempting to think that her steady rise to fame has been all luck and synchronicity. But seeing so many of her beautiful originals, and being a watercolor painter myself, I know that the work of any illustrator always comes back to the moment-by-moment dance and hard work between the artist, the story, the materials and the artist’s vision. When all of this is done well, anything else is just well-deserved gravy over the artist’s simple desire to do her personal best… and “to please herself,” as Lisbeth says. Lisbeth, my dear, I am passing you the gravy boat…


Me & Lisbeth at the Eric Carle Museum

All in all, I am so happy (and fortunate) to have traveled from California to Massachusetts for this exhibition. I came home very full. Every time I think of the beautiful, lush New England countryside and Lisbeth’s exceptional art, I will remember (with a smile) Lisbeth’s note in The Wizard of Oz, “…green is my favorite color…”

It’s time for the quiz!

Question: Where can you see a bunny hopping by green, green hedges next to a world-class contemporary art museum, make some fun art, purchase award-winning picture books, get a tatoo of The Hungry Caterpillar, eat Animal Crackers, meet well-known illustrators and see beautiful, delightful and memorable original children’s book illustration… all in one day?

Answer: The Eric Carle Museum Picture Book of Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. For a wonderful Virtual Tour of the Museum, click here.

Lisbeth Zwerger

Famous photo of Lisbeth Zwerger

Read a brief discussion of  Zwerger’s work and a few reviews of her books  from the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database.

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SCBWI Summer Conference

Portfolio Showcase 2009 - SCBWI International Summer Conference - photo courtesy of Priscilla Burris

SCBWI International Summer Conference, LA  — up to the minute coverage you don’t want to miss:

Austin SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor Carmen Oliver’s delightful daily coverage in her blog, Following My Dreams One Word at a Time

Update stream direct from the tweets of all those members attending the conference!

The Official SCBWI Conference Blog (team blog coverage from the floor, led by Alice Pope)

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August 14-15 weekend  watercolor workshop

Mark Mitchell is scheduled to teach a weekend workshop on drawing and painting for Children’s Book Illustration at the Art School of the Austin Museum of Art in Austin, Texas August 14-15.

Painting and color use is an important skill set to demonstrate if you want an art director or editor to consider using your story illustrations. This class is an introduction to watercolor painting techniques – as applied to different kinds of illustrations for children. On Sunday, students will work on bringing their own original illustrations to full color finish.  Saturday Aug. 14, 9 to 4  and Sunday Aug 15,  1 to 4.  For details or to register call the Art School at (512) 323-638o or e-mail artschoo@amoa.org

The Art School is located at the AMOA Laguna Gloria campus at 3809 West 35th Street
Austin, Texas  78703.

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Art Director/Editor Day – Sept. 25th in Arlington!

Check out this all-star cast! Scholastic art director Elizabeth Parisi, author/illustrator Dan Yaccarino, Scholastic assistant editor Mallory Kass, and illustrator/author Priscilla Burris will be presenting, manuscript critiquing, and portfolio reviewing. The conference fee for this North Texas SCBWI chapter one day event  is a mere $65.00. Incredible! And, amazingly, there are several spaces available! Unbelievable!!

For more information contact RA George Hellstren at hellstgf@yahoo.com. Don’t miss this opportunity to have your fine work considered by some of the best publishing professionals in the country!

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Austin SCBWI – Picture Perfect! A spit-polish picture book workshop featuring author Lisa Wheeler and illustrators Don Tate and Laura Jennings

Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 9th when our Chapter will meet at beautiful St. Edwards University’s Fleck Hall in rooms 305, 306, and 307 to enjoy an incredible day at the page. The focus of this one-day workshop is to hone the skills required to spit-polish your fine manuscripts and illustrations to radiant perfection. We have gathered a fabulous team of highly successful illustrators and authors who, through presentations and/or valuable one-on-one critiques or portfolio reviews, will generously share their tips for publishing success!

The Presentation/Review Team includes:

  • Lisa Wheeler has written 17 books for children. Her most recent picture book for Atheneum is the hilarious Castaway Cats, illustrated by Ponder Gombel. Learn more about Lisa on her website at www.lisawheelerbooks.com.
  • Sarah Sullivan who has written three picture books. Her latest, Passing Music Down, published by Candlewick is forthcoming very soon. Learn more about Sarah on her website at www.sarahsullivanbooks.com.
  • Stephanie Greene  is a master of the series chapter book. Stephanie has written the Moose and Hildy and Owen Foote series, several middle-grade novels, has earned Horn Book’s coveted starred review for her latest…Happy Birthday Sophie Hartley. Learn more about Stephanie at www.stephaniegreenebooks.com.
  • Don Tate who is an illustrator of children’s books and educational products. His background includes illustration as well as graphic design in the areas of advertising, educational publishing, and visual journalism. Learn more about Don at www.dontate.com.
  • Laura Jennings who is a freelance illustrator living in Austin, Texas.

Download the promotional brochure listing affordable fee scale, schedule of events, and portfolio and manuscript review information. Click here for the Picture Perfect Workshop brochure.

Note that reservation spaces for one-on-one manuscript and portfolio reviews are limited. Sign up right away to assure a spot!

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Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators features Carus senior art director Karen Kohn

PSIcon is set for September 25, 2010 at Pittsburgh Technical Institute, Oakdale, PA. Keynote speaker is Karen Kohn, Senior Art Director at Carus Publishing Company, publishers of Cricket, Ask and Ladybug. Karen will speak about the various types of illustration styles their publications look for as well as new developed apps soon to be released. Karen often finds new illustration talent to use throughout the publications from speaking engagements. She’ll be reviewing portfolios as well. Six additional industry-wide speakers are planned.

The one day conference is 8 am – 6 pm. It will be valuable to all levels of experience. Seasoned professionals and young talent alike will benefit. Light breakfast and lunch included.

Continue to check for updates on PSI’s website at: http://www.pittsburghillustrators.org/

Facebookers can “like” the PSIcon page and follow updates at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/…ence/145248678824986

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Presenting Power Color

We’ve added Power Color: Creating Perfect Palettes for your Pictures to our catalog. Don’t be afraid of  ‘mud’ anymore in your paintings. —  Mark Mitchell

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