NESCBWI 2013 Conference Recap

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


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!


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!

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.

21 Intermission, continued (with random sketches!)

While I took a longer break from the 21 day exercise, I certainly had been working - and even sketching.

I've included a bunch of drawing to busy the blog until I can get back to posting regularly - hopefully tomorrow. My kids did awesome while I was away at the NESCBWI conference (Thanks to my husband and babysitter) - but I'm paying it back big time with my 3yo so there has been zero work-time. Anyone else have 'payback' issues with their kids after they return from a trip? Wow.

I'll do a more thorough recap of the conference this week too. Also, if you use Instagram, follow me there (@ginapineapple) for more frequent sketch postings!

21 Day Intermission, but here's my postcard

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!)


Dummy, getting serious

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?

Back to the dummy...

I'm taking a little break from the Sketchbook Project - not long since it's due by the 31st of January. Yikes! I'm trying to get my long-suffering picture book dummy ready to send off for a critique at the NESCBWI conference. I've shared this with lots of fellow illustrators, but never had an editor, agent, or AD look at it. It's really about time. And with that, I'm off to sketch, revise, and sketch some more!