Sketchbook Project 2012 Tour: Portland, Maine

Last Friday I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon at the Sketchbook Project tour stop in Portland, Maine. The exhibit was at Space Gallery, and they did a great job of making it a fun, welcoming, and very cool place to spend a few hours.

I went with Vita Mechachonis, so of course I checked her book out first. I love that she made a full-circle story with her theme of 'In 10 minutes'. The monkey and elephant characters are super-cute. I love how Vita splashed color throughout the book. Check her whole book out here.

My friend Jane Grant-Tentas' book was another example of storytelling. You can see more of her book on her amazing blog (Jane rarely misses an IF!)

James Cornell tweeted me about who to check out at the show. You did not disappoint, James. This book was captivating from start to finish. And well-drawn. And so unique. Don't miss it. See it HERE.

Fran Meneley's beautiful book was next to Vita's. On the Sketchbook tour, you get to check out the book next to the one you've selected as a bonus. Awesome, right?



Angel Szafranko's book had this gorgeous, fully painted cover. And her wolf was my favorite from the inside.

Julie Jurrjens' book was lovely. Her 'Hong Kong cigarette' portrait floored me.

You have to see Rosemary Hollings' dimensional sandwich book in person. Or digitized, here, if you can't make it to the tour. Beyond clever and fun.

Another one of my favorite books: Anne van den Berg

Bernadette Moke's take on 'Along the Line' was so beautifully rendered. And smart.

Such gorgeous brushwork from Iwona Suchanska-Himik

I totally lucked out by picking Miranda Pang's tour mail card. I did a few of my own. Maybe I'll share those another day. This is my longest post in ages. If you get the chance, definitely check out the show. And it's a lot more fun if you've done a book too. Go sign up for 2013 here.

p.s. I did my best to link back to the artists' Arthouse pages. Some people drew blanks. If you are one of them, leave a comment with any link to your art and I'll happily update.

NESCBWI 2012 Conference Recap


I know the NESCBWI conference was two weeks ago. I know you've read all about it on other blogs. But humor me.

It took me a full week to absorb and appreciate the experience. Friday was beyond exhausting. Kids, house, travel, keeping on schedule, parking garage malfunctions, and THEN having a critique I was really nervous about just did me in. Immediately after my critique (mid-day Friday) I was quite ready to throw in the towel with my whole career. Yup. It's not that it went so horribly. It's just that I was tapped out. I wanted to hear the impossible, and instead I got mostly good advice. By the time Monday morning rolled around I was desperate for time to work on my picture book dummy - even if it meant taking a red pen to every aspect of it. (see image above)

The highlights of the conference for me, were (in no specific order):

Dan Yaccarino's workshop: I enjoyed it enough at the time. But when the dust settled in my brain, he shone a light on my picture book dummy that I think was the key to making it infinitely better - publishable, even. One major thing, a few little things, plus a whole lot of inspiration.

Portfolio Showcase: Seeing my portfolio out there for the first time in four years was awesome. It's nearly ALL published work. And I like a lot of it. It sorely needs more cute animals, but that's an improvement I'm happy to work on. Giving just a few little feedback cards to others was greatly rewarding too. A little birdie said there was some good response to it - and that's all you can hope for in these situations. To plant seeds, then walk away and hope something grows.

Writing Camp: I was so sad that my critique chewed up a good 25 minutes of this workshop. It was hands-on and fun. If I hadn't been so nervous about the upcoming critique, then dumbstruck, this would have been outstanding for me. Thank you Jo Knowles and Cindy Faughnan!

Friends: It was so energizing and fun to see illustrator friends. I missed last year's conference so I hadn't seen so many warm faces in nearly two years. Others I hadn't seen since the NYSCBWI conference in 2008, and still others were first encounters with people I had only talked to online. Connecting with fellow illustrators in person is beyond rewarding. And my roommate and friend Jen was a great sport for putting up with all my mommy anxieties.

Submission Strategy Consultation: This was the yin to the dummy critique's yang. Lionel Bender gave me some excellent advice. I knew in an instant that I was sitting down with a professional - and my ears were wide open. Thank you.

Maybe the best part was seeing how well my children did without me, mostly thanks to their wonderful father - next year I'm planning on going for all three days.