Thursday, September 29, 2011

Poppin' in to say hello! Warning...long post! Illos at the end..

Hope everyone's well out there..I just wrapped up a big project and I am hopeful to be able to share it with you all soon. : ) Whew!

Also, I wanted to send a big THANK YOU SO MUCH to dear Jane! I was the lucky winner in Jane's giveaway and received a beautiful (stunning) set of earrings she had handmade from alabaster beads she had bought in Volterra, Italy. Please see this post to view her jewelry, and this post about her visit to Italy (Tuscany)..oh how I love Jane's visits abroad as I get to vicariously enjoy them from afar. Thank you, Jane...I am truly enjoying them! Please visit Jane's Journal and view her fabulous card creations, her lovely garden and studio (I'm jealous!) and her great travel posts. She also decorates and bakes amazing cakes, too!

Recently, I went to a wonderful SCBWI event at the Fort Mason in San Francisco - it was an all day, Illustrator's Day and we had a great session listening to Linda Pratt of Wernick and Pratt Agency, Joann Hill, Art Director for Disney/Hyperion Books, and Illustrator/Author, Andrew Glass. We also had a great panel who reviewed our portfolios while we were enjoying the lectures..John Clapp, Assoc. Professor, SJSU; Abigail Samoun, Agent at Red Fox Literary; Dana Goldber; Editor at Children's Book Press; Kristine Brogno, Art Director at Chronicle Books; Renee Ting, Publisher at Shen's Books; and Deborah Norse-Lattimore, Author/Illustrator of 40 books, and teacher too. Some of the highlights for me were meeting up with fellow illustrators I've "met" via Twitter, Facebook and blogs: Juana Martinez-Neal, Tracy Bishop, Laura Zarrin, Joy Steuerwald.
It was fabulous to discuss illustration with these amazing ladies - and to see them in person and enjoy a delicious lunch together was super!!

Now for the lectures...these are quick highlights from some really fantastic lectures, and apologies in advance for errors/simplicity - they are definitely not intended!

Joann Hill: Traditional trade picture books - should have an emotional impact; pay attention to the color palette; people are looking in different places for ideas for picture books (i.e. YouTube's Pete the Cat). As an illustrator you must consider what compels you - add your personal expression to the piece. Who are you? A cat? A dog? What about a story from your childhood..and most importantly, draw what you love to draw! She mentions that it is a good idea to learn how to draw - take classes and life drawing courses. Revise, revise, revise, and draw children! As the illustrator of a picture book you are: A Film Director; A Casting Director; A Lighting Designer; Art Director (pay attention to whitespace); Set Director; Costume Designer; Cinematographer. Page turns are extremely important (and fun!) and can be used very effectively. Nothing should be too generic. NO visual cliches. No giant eyeballs. Don't make a book too "happy", draw the reader in. Her most important advice was to be able to say NO to distractions if illustration as a career is your goal. She ran the NYC marathon and was able to say no, and attained her goal. What a funny, engaging, and heartfelt lecture Joann gave. She was also the AD for a group of illustrators at the conference who were able to send sketches and roughs, and then final illustrations for book spreads for The Gingerbread Man.

Linda Pratt - Her lecture focused on assessing which creative approach you might find yourself in...traditional narrative work, public domain re-tellings, or a concept book. Lily's Purple Plastic Purse is a great example of a traditional narrative which starts with a main character, the character has a problem, there's tension, and then there's resolution. Public domain retellings such as fairy tales and nursery rhymes inately have a positive aspect because they are familiar stories. The challenge for illustrators is to make it fresh. Example: an upcoming book titled, "Maria Had a Little Llama."Concept books: she notes the book, Press Here and taking an ABC book and giving it a twist.

Andrew Glass - the key takeaway from this very talented author/illustrator was when he said that he receives a script in the mail, opens the packet, and leaves it on his desk and gives himself time to come back to the packet to really give it his full attention. The goal: "I want to be enchanted." - and he wanted to get an initial feeling from the story and capture that feeling with notes upon that first focused reading. If we can give the book this undivided attention and shoot for that goal during the whole process (which may take many months in the process), that ultimately will help in the end.

We had our portfolios in a separate room for all to view during the day, and the panel members all got a chance to sticky-note pages that might work for a mailer, and so that is always so very helpful to see at the end of the day. Being able to mingle and learn with peers at such a great event each year inspires me and recharges me in this awesome profession. There is so much to learn and so much to gain as we move into this crazy new world of electronic books and such. I almost missed this event and scrambled the week before the event to come up with an illustration project (optional) to show at the conference day. Here are the three images I showed in my was a blast to work on little Gingerbread boy. : )
 The Fox illo got a few sticky notes, so I'm pleased! : )
Hopefully I will get to show some of the awesome project I've been working on these past few months. And soon (on Oct. 1) there will be a post at our site with some freebies!

Hope you've all been well!! ~ Shirley


  1. Beautiful artwork, Shirley! That fox is stunning!

  2. Thanks so much for the recap Shirley. I wanted to go this year but was out of town! I learned a lot just by reading your entry and great work on the fox illo :)

  3. Thanks for checking in, Shirley!!! :) It's always so good to hear from you. Those are such lovely earrings - enjoy them! And I enjoyed seeing your Gingerbread Man art - I agree with Nina and Charlotte - the fox is beautiful!

  4. That fox is awesome! Nicely done, it's hard to believe that you were scrambling to get them done. I can't wait to see what you have been working on. HUGS :)

  5. The fox illo is just awesome Shirley! I've read on the conference experience on Tracy Bishops blog and saw her illos of gingerbred man and also of Juana' guys are awesome and it's so cool to see each of your's such a thrill to read about your experience at the conference!
    It's always great to visit your blog.

    Hope we'll soon get a chance to see some preview of the book you've been working on...I sure am curious :)
    Sending you (still) warm greetings from Adriatic :D

  6. Hi Shirley!

    The event you attended sounds wonderful - I always find it so interesting to hear about others' "occupations" and the processes and intricacies involved! I love your illustrations -as you know! The fox is fantastic :)

    Take care,

  7. Hi, Shirley! Wonderful post. Great to see you back here again. I agree, love the fox piece, the expression in his face is so intense.

  8. Ist of all Shirley thank you for mentioning my blog and I am SO glad you love your earrings, I was delighted that you won my giveaway. I have been on my travels again, Rhodes this time, pop by when you have a chance.
    Wow what a brilliant conference you attended, having peer reviews is so helpful. Working for the health service we do it regularly and it helps to keep us up to date and focussed.
    I just LOVED your gingerbread man, he is perfect and that naughty fox has a very sly face there.I think I see where he is going...!! You are so talented, you know how much I love your work and I can't wait to see your project. Take care my dear friend,
    Jane x

  9. Oh MAN, I would have put a whole STACK of sticky notes all over that fox! He is incredible, a surefire attention grabber. He deserves to be mailed all over the world!

    Can't wait to see more of your project, Shirley! I am SO VERY VERY VERY excited! Squeeeeeeee!!!

  10. They are too cute Shirley...Best of luck for ur book. And thats a nice pair of eardrops:)

    As everyone else waiting to see more of ur project:)

  11. Hi Shirley, It was nice to see you again! Your ginger bread boy is cute and the fox looks beautiful! Good luck with everything. Hope to see you soon!

  12. Hey Shirley trying to sneak one in eh? :) Nearly got away with it. Your sense of design is so dynamic, only equalled by your sense of feel good fun. Fun fun happiness cute. You know how that makes me grumpy! How can anyone being having as much fun as your characters? Hmmph!

    Looking forward to seeing what you have been working on. I'm sure it will be wonderous

  13. Your Artwork is amazing!! i love this set, it makes me want to do more drawings!! they are so magical! :)

  14. Shirley, the fox is just beautiful!

  15. Nawww! I love the bottom fox, he and the gingerbread man are gorgeous!

  16. Interesting stuff!! What a fabulous event, it must have been so fun! Can't wait to hear about your secret project!

  17. lovely illustration Shirely! your work is just Awesome! Thanks for sharing your experience!


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