Oh my, NESCBWI (Conference 2008)

This past weekend was the annual NESCBWI conference in Nashua, NH. It was a lovely cap on the end of a long stretch of work to finish a book (I finished on Friday, on deadline - woo hoo!)

Let me try to recap the event, pointing out my favorite things!

Illustrator Showcase: I did submit a poster, my piece from IF: Open worked with the theme of 'Take Flight' I had a sketch ready but no time to paint it! I'll share it, below:
This was such a great opportunity for artists and I hope they repeat this event, if not next year, at least on alternating years. It was so fun to see a variety of published and unpublished artist's work. A few of my favorites actually WON, the talented Brad Garman, Robert Squier, Kelly Light, and Frank Dormer amongst several others. I was also so proud to see most of the members of my critique group submit posters as well: Jane, Vita, Ann Marie, and Patty - good job ladies!!! Also, you should go check out Dani Jones' entry which, sadly, didn't make it in time due to some detours in the road (literally!)

The opening keynote from Laurie Halse Anderson was invigorating, humorous, and HELPFUL! She said she likes to make listeners work, and she did so by giving us some wonderful guidelines for achieving our dreams as authors and illustrators. One of her best points was about TIME. I'll be blogging about this later as it's something I'd like to include readers out there in on, a 21 day project requiring just 15 minutes of your precious time each day.

The first 2 workshops I attended were by Teri Weidner. The workshops were packed with great examples and references. It was very well organized and presented. The focus was book design from an illustrator's perspective - something I think we could all use a little reminder about!

The next 2 workshops were by the always-amazing Melissa Sweet! She's one of my favorite illustrators, and she also happens to put on wonderful and interactive workshops. She handed us little sketchbooks, pencils, etc and put us to work with some very simple but effective exercises. My big treat for the weekend was picking up her latest book, Tupelo Rides the Rails. Love it!

The day ended with a nice presentation from the talented Kevin Hawkes. It was great to see illustrators so well represented on all accounts.

In the midst of that I also met some great illustrators, was overjoyed when the organizers made me a gluten-free lunch (I asked for this on the registration - so surprised and happy to be accommodated at an event with 500+ people), had a helpful portfolio review, etc.

Sunday got off to a later start. Sleeping in had to take priority over the morning speaker since I'd been burning the candle at both ends for WEEKS before. I attended the Illustrator's Academy. This was a new workshop and while we deviated quite a bit from the plan, it was really a success. We had a fun icebreaker followed by a very long but wonderful group critique of a single piece from each illustrator. The critiquers were Lita Judge, Brian Lies, Susan Sherman, and Victoria Jamieson. There were also presentations by Brian and Lita, which I think left us all speechless. It was also a fun surprise that the talented Jennifer E. Morris was in the group as well!

I'm sure I left some big things out but it was overall a great weekend. I'm re-energized and inspired. Next year I might even attend Friday's more social events.

I want to thank everyone who helped make this such an amazing event. Particularly, the very hard working Anna Boll who made sure the illustrators were well represented.