Giveaway and NESCBWI recap

With Father's Day around the corner, I thought it was a great time to have a book giveaway. I'm giving away one copy of IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by me. The giveaway ends May 30th and I will notify the winner promptly. Open to anyone 18+ years of age in US or Canada.

I promised a little NESCBWI Conference recap, so here are my top five takeaways:

1. Oh, hello! Taking a few years off of this conference was exactly what I needed in order to reboot my perspective. I really enjoyed meeting lots of new people and listening to where they are on their journey. We all know we are part of a tribe, but this tribe comes from a million unique and interesting places - and it was a blast getting to soak it all up. And I had the special privilege of meeting (IRL!) some of my newest tribe - Picture The Books 2017 We are a group of debut children's book authors and illustrators. Their collective talent is only surpassed by their kindness.

From left to right: Mike Malbrough, Emma Otheguy, Alison Goldberg, Heather Pruesser, Gina Perry, Vivian Kirkfield

2. Always take Sudipta's workshops. I've said this before on my blog. If you want to walk away from a writing workshop with tools to improve, look no further than Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Also, you will NEVER fall asleep in her presence. Even after you stayed up way too late both nights before...

3. Mr Schu is in the house. Pass the tissues. I was literally tearing up within 2 minutes of Mr. Schu's presentation. In a good way, of course. I am SO thankful to NESCBWI for snagging him for a moment of his busy year to remind us WHY we write for kids. I am so thrilled for all the kids around the country that will be infected with his sheer joy and love for books. His presentation wasn't all inspiration - I walked away with some really good tips about presenting my work online (BIG, clean book cover jpegs, ready for sharing!) and finding a larger tribe of librarian and teacher advocates. 

4. And the award goes to... Christina Rodriguez! Honestly, that was the most polished, entertaining presentation... not including all the illustrator antics on stage. Or the fabulous prizes! I hope Sketch Battle returns at every possible opportunity. Or you trademark it and make it a prime time show. Thanks for bringing the fun (and the chocolates), Christina!

5. Vita Lane: ready for takeoff! Is there nothing better than seeing a good friend succeed? Keep an eye on my very dear friend, Vita Lane. She has always inspired me in all her creative accomplishments. But her latest work is just blowing me away. It's so good I have to share... Go read her post about her latest project and drool over her beautiful watercolors. 

Be sure to enter the giveaway, it ends on May 30th (Psst. Starting on May 22nd, I'm also hosting a separate giveaway over on GoodReads)

NESCBWI 2013 Conference Recap

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You've just returned from a 3 day Children's Writers and Illustrators conference. Which character do you most relate to in the above sketch? Greedy fat cat? Astonished and hungry little sister? One of many mice in a box, clawing your way to be seen?

Maybe you're behind the pencil, like me. The artist in a workshop, doodling while absorbing. That's my favorite headspace. I might appear to be 'not paying attention' - but trust me, I'm in the zone.

I put it all out there for this year's NESCBWI Spring Conference and I think it paid off. I signed up for a critique of my latest dummy (it went really well!), tossed my hat in the ring for the poster contest (I placed 3rd for published!), put a book into the portfolio showcase (no one spilled wine on it!), and entered an 'anonymous image' for the First Look panel (positive but weird and helpful feedback?!). 

My favorite workshops were:

Sudipta Barhan-Quallen's Rhythm, Rhyme, and Repetition: A Picture Book Writer's 3 Rs

Carlyn Beccia's The Posthumous Adventures of a Digital Painting

Gaia Cornwall's 7 Animation Concepts Every Illustrator Should Steal

Lynda Mulally Hunt's Find-a-Fit: Researching Agents in Order to Find the Right Match for You

My favorite moments were:

Having the same table, waiter, meal and dining companion at Adolfo's as last year.

Uncontrollable junior-high laugh-fest with new and old friends at the end of the portfolio showcase. I'd share it, but it's TOTALLY inappropriate. Which is why it was so funny, right?

Winning the raffle in Lynda Mulally Hunt's workshop: a critique of a work by an agent at a top agency. I was so excited I did a Price-is-Right run for the podium before Lynda stopped me!!!

All the little moments with new illustrator friends, or people I only talk with online - in person! It's a really smart, funny, friendly group.

The three or more times I started tearing up at a keynote speaker or panelist.

And to be honest, I loved feeding and caring for just myself for a few days, but coming back to my happy little kids (and relieved husband!) at the front door on a sunny spring day was the perfect finale. 

NESCBWI 2013 Spring Conference: Elephant Poster

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I'm so happy to announce that my poster for the NESCBWI Spring Conference Poster contest won 3rd place (Published Category)! (click image for a larger version)

Many thanks go to all the amazing conference organizers, volunteers, and judges. I have been attending for many years, and I never walk away without profound moments, new friends, and reason to celebrate and come back again for more. I will post a full recap (as always!) later this week.

The poem by Jane Yolen for this year's contest instantly sparked a picture in my head. Big elephant thanks go to the brilliant author above all. I truly enjoyed every moment of making this poster and am proud of how it all came together.

Congratulations to all the other winners - it was a sea of beautiful work this weekend!

 

What I'm Working On: Elephants!

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I love how I keep this box of so many tubes of gouache, yet I find myself using the same 5 or 6 colors from project to project. I can't think of the last time I reached for permanent green deep...

I'm at the final steps in my painting for the NESCBWI Spring Conference poster contest. I'll be adding the finishing touches with pencil on a seperate layer, much like I did in my last blog post. These elephants really need that extra detail. I'll share another sneak peek of the final art - I was really inspired right off the bat with this year's 'theme'. I haven't entered a poster contest in probably 5 years - so that says it all. Happy Elephant painting to all my fellow poster entrants, too!

21 Day Intermission, but here's my postcard

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I'm taking a break from the 21 Day exercise to get ready for the NESCBWI conference. I'll have plenty of postcards to share if you bump into me! I'll be sending these out in the next week or two. If you hadn't guessed already, these guys are from my picture book dummy that I'll be showing at the conference. Good luck to everyone attending (and/or presenting - you know who you are!)

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Dummy, getting serious

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It might be hard to tell from that photo - but I've got myself a book dummy! I did finish it enough to send off for a critique at the NESCBWI Spring Conference. I feel like it's at the point of just polishing details and actually painting 2 final spreads.

This idea started in late 2009. I went through several drastically different drafts, many iterations of sketches, stops, starts, long breaks, etc. I'm very proud of having a little folded booklet to leaf through, but also that I have several other manuscripts in various stages of progress. I'm taking lots of time to write which is frightening but quite rewarding.

I loaned out my tablet so my color study progress hit a major roadblock. I used to 'mouse' quite well with my right hand but I've retrained myself to just draw left enough that I just couldn't be bothered until I can do it with a stylus in my southpaw. I'm not sure how much I'll be sharing here, but hopefully details of finished work if nothing else.

Who else is going to the NESCBWI conference? What are you most looking forward to? Will you be showing your portfolio? I skipped last year's conference for the first time in many years so I'm doubly excited for 2012. Can't you tell?