I posted a quick video painting demo over on Simply Messing About, a group blog I am proud to be a member of! You can check it out here:
Hello! In case you haven't heard, I'm a participant in a new group blog called Simply Messing About with three other very talented illustrators: Laura Zarrin, Tracy Bishop and Renee Kurilla. We decided to create the blog to share the journeys along our paths of artistic exploration. For myself, I've started to feel a tad disenchanted with creating my illustrations 100% digitally. I'm ready to explore the spontaneity traditional media can bring to my work.
Today, I posted about my interest in writing AND illustrating picture books and the little gem of a book that is helping me along that path. Go check it out! There's tons of amazing information my friends are sharing!
I was recently tagged by the wonderful Courtney Pippin-Mathur to participated in a global book tour called The Next Big Thing. The idea originated in Australia and is basically a cool way for authors and/or illustrators to promote their next or latest book.
On to the questions!
1) What is the working title of your next book?
The title of the latest book I illustrated is "Goodnight Baseball" (Capstone Young Readers, March 2013).
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
"Goodnight Baseball" book was wonderfully written by Michael Dahl, but I can tell you some of the ideas that went into the illustrations! The book is written in a way that evokes childhood memories of a day at the ballpark, so the Art Director really wanted to incorporate an overall vintage look to the book while keeping it contemporary at the same time. One of the main ways we decided to do this, was to use a color palette similar to that of old baseball cards and other baseball ephemera.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
The book is definitely a picture book aimed at little ones aged 4-8. It's a perfect bedtime read!
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oooh! Such a great question! There's only two main characters: I think the dad would be played well by Adam Sandler (not in super-silly mode) and I'm sure there's no shortage of cute little boys out there who would be ideal to play the main character!
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
"Goodnight Baseball" is a warm and gentle book portraying the bond between a boy and his dad as they create life-long memories during a day at the ballpark.
6) Who is publishing your book?
Capstone Young Readers published the book in March of 2013.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
From the illustration end, this book was done on a pretty quick turnaround. It was somewhere in the region of three months from start to finish.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are a few books "Goodnight Baseball" would pair up with wonderfully. Obviously, "Goodnight Moon" is one and "Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site" is another. All great books for winding down the day.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As the illustrator, there were a few things that constantly played in my mind. One is the movie "A League of Their Own". The color palette of that movie screams "vintage baseball" to me and I used a lot of similar reds and greens from that movie in my illustrations. Another inspiration was the memories I have of spending time at Dodger Stadium with my family. Attending baseball games at dusk during an awesome summer evening in Los Angeles provides some serious inspiration!
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
The book really is designed amazingly well. The Art Director, Bob Lentz, really went to town adding really great details and touches to the covers, endpapers and title page. Also, the story is really so sweet, it's going to make the reader want to snuggle up to their nearest loved one!
A big "thank you!" to Courtney Pippin-Mathur for inviting me to participate! Check out her new book, "Maya was Grumpy" in stores now!
To keep the ball rolling here, I'm tagging my wonderful fellow SCBWI Mentees Eliza Wheeler and Andrea Offerman.
Eliza is very, very close to the birth of her book, "Miss Maple's Seeds" which she wrote and illustrated!
And Andrea recently illustrated "The Broken Lands", written by Kate Milford. Go check them out!
Lately, I've been creating art on my iPad using an app called ASKetch. I stumbled upon this drawing app one night and pretty much fell in love with it. It gives me the outcome I feel I'm missing in my regular work: spontaneity. Lately, I've been struggling with allowing "happy accidents" in my client work and fear that my illustrations are becoming stiff and overworked. This could be a result of becoming co-dependent on Photoshop and it's magical "Ctrl-Z" key combo. I'm know it's also a result of my artistic insecurities, as I spoke about in this recent blog post.
Using ASKetch completely takes me away from overdoing a drawing to the point of it being too slick and polished. For some, that's a great goal, but lately for me, experimentation and getting messy has been a real priority. It's time to branch out and let loose!
The result I get from using this app is a sketchy, charcoal-y piece of art that is a lot more free than my usual work...and I LOVE it! There's a vibrancy,movement and spontaneity that I can only otherwise find using real, tactile media.
My late-night iPad sketches are definitely helping me move in a new and exciting direction! Onward and upward!
Give ASKetch a try--it's fun!
I feel like I've hit a turning point in my illustration career. Up until now, I felt like my illustrations needed to prove to the viewer that I knew how to draw: is that shadow falling where is should be? Are there 35 spokes on that bike wheel? I was putting way too much emphasis on being technical and not enough emphasis on capturing feeling and emotion--the thing that makes readers want to turn the page and see what's going to happen next. During this summer's SCBWI conference, I had an epiphany: it's not necessarily about how "good" of an artist I am or how well I can draw a bike...it's about THE STORY and the FEELINGS one's artwork can relay. Of course I heard this a million times at past illustration conferences, but it never sank in. Why? Because I'd always been on a mission to prove to people that I. CAN. DRAW. And I was trying too hard to make pretty pictures. Pretty pictures that weren't much more than nice to look at.
It's time for me to let go of the technicalities, the insecurities. I've got to let myself be more free which also means letting more of ME show through in my art. This equals vulnerability. It unleashes my fears of being a fake, not good enough, an imposter in the illustration world. That's scary. But it I know I need to "let go" to take my art to the next level.
So, how will I do this exactly? Well, the next illustration that I'm working on is for a gallery show. And this particular piece of art looks NOTHING like the rest of my stuff. The lines aren't straight, the perspective isn't perfect, the bike doesn't have the same number of spokes as my reference picture. But I'm excited about it. I'm also going to listen to what many author/illustrators at this summer's SCBWI Conference said: write about what you know and who you are.
I attended a breakout session at this summer's conference by Dan Yaccarino in which he talked about k "All the Way to America"', a book based on his family's journey from Italy to the US. He explained that it was such a personal story that, at times, it was hard to share. Hard to reveal such personal things. But now I've come to realize that these personal stories and details are what helps the reader to relate to your art and writing. The fact that others might be able to relate to what you have to say. It's art at it's basic level: the human connection.
As scary as it is to set my creative self free, it's liberating. It's new and fresh. It feels more like me.
“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
― Madeleine L'Engle
Here's a TED Talk by Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability. A very interesting take on vulnerability and the human connection. Watch:
So, I just rebuilt my whole website in a new online program called Weebly. So far, I can't say enough good things about it! It was so SUPER easy to use--I don't think building a website from scratch can get any easier. I've tried many different platforms, and as a person who knows probably the equivalent of a kindergartener when it comes to website creation, I probably only spent about 8 hours building it. It's pretty much still in a pretty "barebones" state, as I don't have my banner up yet, but besides that its pretty much finished. I generally like my website to be on the simpler side to let the artwork take center stage.
It is beyond easy to update and add new portfolio pieces, pages, or other elements and that is so important to someone as HTML-impaired as I am.
For the past five years or so, I've used Blogger as my blogging platform and it works great, but I want to try Weebly's blogging service so that my blog and website can be seamlessly integrated. So far, I can't import my old Blogger archives into Weebly, which is a drawback, but maybe soon enough Weebly will come up with a patch for that.
Let's see how this experiment goes!
Over and out!
I am an illustrator for the children's market as well as a mother of two little ones. Sleep is for suckers!
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