SCBWI L.A. Conference Highlights

After spending a delightful and whirlwind couple of weeks back in the U.S.A., both for a visit home to Bellingham, Washington, and for the SCBWI international conference in L.A., I'm now back "home" to my studio in Malaysia, feeling energized and ready to get back to my art. But I've also got some things to share here, starting with...

No, I'm not 40, but SCBWI is.
...Kjersten's highlights from the SCBWI 40th Anniversary conference in Los Angeles:
(PLEASE NOTE: Last week I was invited to put up an illustrator guest post on the YA Muses blog. Some of the highlights I posted there are repeated here. I point this out only for clarity sake and also to invite any Y.A. writer friends to check out the YA Muses blog as it's a good one.) 

1. The Portfolio Show:
It seems like it would be impossible to be a children's book illustrator or aspiring illustrator and not be in awe of the work and heart  poured into the nearly 190 portfolios that were on display during Saturday night's portfolio show. It was a joy to participate in and a joy to have a chance to browse through so many of my peers' works.

2. Salley Mavor's workshop, The Joys and Challenges of Dimensional Illustration:

It was great to meet you, Salley Mavor!
While I don't work in three-dimensional art (I work in collage), I'm fascinated by Salley's embroidered fabric relief technique. Seeing the slides and videos of her craftsmanship at work was a rare and special treat. Her workshop resonated with me, maybe because of the heart she showed, maybe because of the crafty side of her medium or maybe because I saw a bit of my own journey in how she has told stories through an unusual art medium that feels close to her heart. I also loved Salley's Golden Kite acceptance speech. Her book A Pocketful of Posies is a true masterpiece, please check it out if you haven't already.

3. The keynote interview with Judy Blume:
A scrappy doodle of Judy Blume I made during the conference.
There was a surprise at the conference. A huge surprise. Lin Oliver, Executive Director of SCBWI International, interviewed JUDY BLUME! One of my favorite things Judy said was, "It's determination as well as any kind of talent that's going to get you there." Also I loved her closing answer to a question about what she'd like her legacy to be. She said she can't think too much about legacy as she writes but she thinks that perhaps on her tombstone she'd like the words, "Are you there God? It's me Judy." 

Gary Paulsen giving his keynote address.
4. Gary Paulsen's Keynote:
I could listen to that man tell stories all day. He told of a librarian that introduced him to books as a child, he told hair-raising stories of life-or-death wilderness situations from the tundras of Alaska and from the woods of Northern Minnesota. He spoke in a voice authentic and true to who he is. It's hard to imagine that he could have been holding back in that talk; his voice was his and his alone, raw and real and I'm grateful he shared it and his stories with us.

4. The Illustrator Intensive:
Denise Fleming making a pulp painting.
Monday was an entire day of WOW. It was a day I think few illustrators who were present will ever forget. We watched legends of our field, Paul O. Zelinsky, Marla Frazee, Richard Jesse Watson, Kadir Nelson, Denise Fleming, David Small and Jerry Pinkney, demonstrate their craft. They shared bits of their inspirations, their hearts,their joys and their weaknesses. It was the rarest of amazing moments -- to be present while artists were at work and to have a peek-a-boo view into genius.

I'll post more pictures from the Illustrator Intensive along with a few tidbits that have resonated with me from that particular day in another post next week.

Thanks to all the great folks who put on the conference and contributed in a myriad of ways to make the weekend so fabulous for all of us attendees. It was also great to see so many of my fellow writers and illustrators there and I look forward to when our paths cross again!