Storystorm!

Sometimes I go to the bookstore having already spent my book budget for the month. I do this because I cannot resist bookstores. Whenever this happens I find myself wondering, why oh why am I doing this to myself? I know I'm going to buy a book—probably more than one. And perhaps even one of those books will NOT even be a picture book. And then not only am I being bad with my budget I'm also going to want to read that long non-picture-book book RIGHT NOW! Only inevitably I will already have a stack as big as my leg (or possibly larger) of non-picture-book books I want to read RIGHT NOW. Also, didn't I just do this, like last week? Yes, I have a problem. I can't help it. I LOVE BOOKS!

So what, you may be asking, does this have to do with the title of this post—Storystorm? Storystorm is this thing in picture book land where picture book writers gather (virtually) over on Tara Lazar's blog and support one another as we each come up with a picture book idea for every day during an entire month. I have no idea how many years I've participated in Storystorm (used to be called PIBOIDMO). I will not go back and look because that will make me feel like I am getting old too fast. Let's just say it's many. And the practice has not only helped me come up with many fun ideas during the month it takes place, it also has taught me to cultivate ideas all year long. And it has to do with my enormously large pile of to-read books because just like books, I have WAY TOO MANY IDEAS!

But joking aside, I actually like having too many books and too many ideas. The abundance of these things matters. I've heard it said that you only need one good idea. Sure. And I suppose I'm supposed to feel satisfied with one book too?

I make my best work when I throw my perfectionism out the window and aim for quantity over quality. Yes, I want quality—but I find that it comes only from vigorous practice. And that vigorous practice only comes from a spirit of quantity. Quantity helps me achieve quality.

This is true especially with ideas. The more ideas I come up with, the more I find the ideas to be interesting. It never fails.

So here's my annual cheers to another month of brainstorming ideas with Storystorm! And while I'm at it I'll raise my glass to brainstorming of all kinds—where quantity cultivates quality. And also I'll raise my glass to the giant mountains of books that are waiting to be read, in my house, in my library, and in my local bookstore. Is there anything better?

Cheers to abundant possibility!

storystorm18winner.jpg

Pictures from The Last Bookstore in LA

I had a FABULOUS time at the recent SCBWI conference in L.A. I loved the new location, I took away great thoughts for my work, I got to see muppets in action (!) and I was nominated for the Sue Alexander award.

I've been busy busy busy fixing some work. Sometimes I need a break from the Internet when I'm hard at work/play (am I the only one that feels like the Internet can be an echo chamber?). But I felt like it was long past time I at least posted these pics

Isn't this bookstore amazing? Their art section was my favorite. Although they had a stellar comics section too.

Cheers to a playful and promising summer's last few weeks.

Back on the bike!

I posted this on facebook but thought I'd post here too.

Starry Starry Ride...

This week I'm celebrating the magic of getting back in the saddle after a setback. I cut this collage out before

my bike crash

last summer. Needless to say, I had no desire to finish it after my crash.

But this past week I decided to follow through. I glued it to mark the week I finally got the courage to get back on my bike (a little over a week ago now).

Cheers to getting up and trying again after a crash.

Meditative drawing

I posted this on Facebook but thought it might be nice to post here too

:

A combination of too much chai yesterday afternoon paired with anxiety from reading way too much about the Paris attacks before bedtime left me wide awake in the middle of the night last night. 

Usually if this happens I get up and write in my journal or read a book or do some yoga and I can manage to go to sleep again. 

I don't often draw when I wake in the night because my inner critic rages at the midnight hour (unless I've stayed up in a manic obsession over a specific project). But I've been teaching art this fall and I showed the kids I teach how to draw Indian Rangolis a few weeks ago. Turns out Indian Rangolis are pretty therapeutic to draw when my brain is in overdrive. 

It felt like a quiet rebellion to use my anxiety as an excuse to focus on beauty for beauty's sake while I cozied up to the stove in my studio. Here are my prayers for Paris and the world, drawn mostly in the anxious hours of the early morning, myself like so many: striving in the face of fear to turn toward the light. 

I'l

l add that I've had a lot of requests for coloring sheets.

Good idea. The

se aren't great pictures because they are just s

napped with the scanner app on my phone but I'll put some up so

on for anyone i

nterested.

Wish granted: the story of a small curve-ball deadline and a custom order

Regular readers of my blog may remember a wish I asked of the universe a few weeks ago on my blog: "Someone throw a curve-ball deadline at me, will you?"
Well, one of my husband and I's longest-time friends from Bellingham answered that call...
At least in a small way.
This is that story.
*Cue dramatic music.* 
It was to be a weekend away from home without our kid (Thanks Mom!).
My husband and I headed over the mountains to Mazama, WA, where one of our best friends from Bellingham was getting married. I had never ridden the entire way over the pass on highway 20, through the North Cascades Park (I usually head that way in the winter, when the pass is closed). The drive was beautiful. I was in awe of my own home state and feeling very in love with being home.
The wedding was set on a ranch near where my husband and I like to go cross country skiing in the winter. I loved the rustic homey feel of our friends' wedding site. I loved the relaxed feel of everything. I loved the views!

As the sun went down on Friday before the wedding I took in a deep breath and felt happy to be outside without anything to do but breathe and talk with nice people and eat s'mores (lots of people at home have been complaining about our June-uary cold weather, but after living in Malaysia I'm still not over the fact that I can be outside and not break into a sweat when the sun is out, or for that matter when it's not out too).
Over the camp fire that night, the groom said something to me about how he wished he had gotten me to make their guest book, but they hadn't wanted to bug me as I was unpacking and settling back into being home. I asked if they had a guest book. He said no, they never got around to getting one...

Hmmm...

Curveball deadline (albeit small) wish granted?

I offered to make something the next morning.

"Really?" He said.

Why the heck not?
So the next morning my retreat to Mazama became: SURVIVOR CRAFT CHALLENGE! MAKE A BOOK IN 5 (ish)  HOURS OR LESS WITH ZERO SUPPLIES!
I loved all the ways my friends decorated for their wedding; isn't this sign great?
And I was all over it.
I felt like someone had gifted me with a surprise treasure hunt or something.

I had already noticed the sort of details and style of the wedding. Rustic. Lots of burlap. Some splashes of color.
And the wedding invitation had had a tandem bike on it.
Yep, this was the alter. So pretty!
I gave myself two hours the next morning to gather whatever I could find in the nearby small (very small) towns of Winthrop and Twisp.
One touristy tea-towel souvenir (with some bikes on it) later, and I had my idea. 
The bride said a lot of these ideas for decoration were from Pinterest. I heart Pinterest.
Using a sketchbook and razor I bought at the only kind-of art supply store around, twine from the general store, and a couple of pretties from the farmer's market (a hand-blown glass bead and a little paper flowerette), I cut, dissected, taped, sewed and put together this last minute guest book:
Here's the guest book I made!
Voila! Crafty challenge met! So fun! Thanks universe (and Stacy) for granting my wish for a curve-ball art deadline, even if it was small. Plus it was fun because I've been out of practice in making guestbooks since letting go of craft shows when my son was born.

Anyway universe, I'll take more challenges like that please. Small or large, whichever.
Because that was super FUN!
Plus it was a super fun wedding. I got to wear pink cowboy boots.
And see a snake eat a mouse (okay, that was kind of gross and I assure you it was not part of the planned activities).
Sigh. Weddings always make me happy.
And
there was a hoe-down in the barn with a real band and a full moon! Can't beat that.
Of course the drive home wasn't bad either.

My hubby enjoyed it in his way.
And I enjoyed it my way.
(If you've never turned the volume up full blast with one of your favorite bands — in my case this time it was The Wailin' Jennys — when driving through a beautiful mountain pass all by yourself and singing along no matter how much your voice sucks, well then, you should).

Yay for crafty retreats, weddings and the Pacific northwest! It's good to be home.

Weavers in Laos

In our last months living in Malaysia, my family and I squeezed in every second of travel we could possibly squeeze in. It all went by so fast and everything was so busy that sometimes I'd visit some amazing new place or country and not even make a peep about it here on my blog, or on facebook, or even to best friends. 

Now that I'm home and things are *starting* to feel a little more normal in life (what's normal? I'm kind of glad it escapes me), all our travels can seem like some sort of crazy dream. Like, wait, was I really in Laos just a few months ago?

Yes.

And maybe it's not too late to share some neglected cool stuff from there and elsewhere in my last few months of living abroad.

I wanted to go to Vientiane, Laos, because I had read about Laotian weaving...
I have a thing for weaving.
Maybe because my aunt is a textile designer and as a kid I always looked up to her (she was a real artist! Wow! Could I be like her someday?).
Or maybe because of the texture. Or the implicit warmth in the medium. Or maybe it's because textiles are just so beautiful.
Anyway, my work-in-progress novel has a grandmother character who is a weaver and who also spins thread so it was lucky serendipity that I got to watch some weavers in action while I was working on writing a book that included their craft.
The weaving studio I visited in Laos is owned by an American woman, Carol Cassidy, who hires local weavers and designs pieces for selling abroad and in her gallery. She is working to keep some of the more traditional methods of weaving and ikat alive.
Woman weaving an ikat piece.
What's ikat? AWESOME is what it is! It's a kind of weaving where the threads are tied in tight bunches before they are dyed. The dye doesn't color the parts of the threads that are tied so that after you remove the threads, whatever color was underneath remains the color it was. A beautiful pattern reveals itself when the threads are later woven into cloth.
Ikat thread bundles, tied and ready for dying
Ms. Cassidy, the owner of the studio, was there when we visited.
Ikat thread getting ready to go on a loom
She showed us around and said it was fine to take pictures and watch.
It was one of my favorite craft experiences I had while living in SE Asia.
Ms. Cassidy was a delightful host and her enthusiasm and passion for her studio and work brought a smile to my face.
Oh my gosh, COLOR!
Also, as a side note, if you ever get the chance to eat Laotian food, do! It's delicious.
Lucky for me, while I wanted to go to Laos to check out some weaving, my husband wanted to go for the food. He took a cooking class. Yum!
And our son? Well, there was good stuff for Oscar in Vientiane too.



Elephants on my mind

Sometimes I marvel at what experiences leave their mark enough in my mind so that ideas, or even art or story, are born from them. Many times it's small, seemingly insignificant parts of an experience that nag me to be turned into something or other in my art.

Other times it's big, obviously awesome, predictably crazy adventures that do indeed lead to big, awesome and crazy adventures in my art. 

And so it is this last week with elephants for me.

I've been obsessed with a new idea (one from my picture-book-idea-a-day journey) that all stemmed from my son and I taking elephant rides several times over the past year.

So I've dived into the idea, answered the muse and am LOVING the adventure. It's totally out of my comfort zone, but in just the right way. The way that makes me feel like I'm stretching my art muscles and pushing myself to my limits. All of which makes me feel totally alive and invigorated.

But at the same time. Gulp. If I think about it too much (as opposed to just going for it) makes me feel nervous.

When you leave the unknown and dive into adventure, you never know what you'll come up with. You may try a new restaurant that ends up being your absolute favorite noodle place in the entire hemisphere. Or you may wonder why you wasted your calorie intake on such slop. That's the way adventures go, you just don't know if you'll end up with shiny awesome experiences or if you'll end up with a whole lot of ugh. 

But you don't find anything new and exciting if you don't try new things. And even if you get the ughs instead of the ahas you still usually know how to better aim your trials next time. So, I'm in my creative realm. Letting go of my land legs. Riding Elephants, if you will.

What about you? Is there an idea that is just a bit more than you think you are capable of, but you really love it? Why not splurge and take an hour to give it a try. You may end up with a bunch of stuff to delete or crumple up, never to be shared with anyone. Or you might find a new way to stretch your muscles. Or! You might end up on a wild and crazy artistic adventure that fills you with delight, thrill, and a bunch of, "Ya, why not?" feelings.

I suppose, as you can tell, I root for the adventure.

A Picture Book Idea, every day in November

My muse thrives off of brainstorming. So it's with great enthusiasm that I'm jumping in to Tara Lazar's (now) annual November challenge: write down a picture book idea every day for the month of November.  It's a sort of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), for picture book writers with an equally silly name: PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month.

I participated last year and collected many usable snippets and ideas — one of which I've even written into a story I like and have even begin making into a dummy. Anyone else care to join?

It's very hard to share my ideas before they become real, solid, finished (or-nearly-finished) stories (it always feels a bit like squashing a firefly when I share an idea I haven't worked on yet), but I'm trying to figure out a way to share a bit more of what I come up with this year. Maybe I'll draw a few sketches from my ideas? We'll see. But I can promise you my new idea journal is about to gain lots of scribbles and scratches. And that makes me smile wide. Thanks for the challenge Tara!

Shearing Sheep

Sometimes, when I return to my blog after a good travel adventure, I feel overwhelmed. Too much I could share. What the heck do I choose? How do I put anything at all into a blog-sized bite. Other times I feel raring to go with lots of posts and only the question of how many is too many?
 My trip to Western Australia left me wondering how many posts are too many. So at the risk of over-sharing, here's another highlight from my trip: I visited a sheep shearing farm!
One of my favorite books as a kid was Tomie dePaola's Charlie Needs A Cloak, and I felt a bit like I was stepping into a small part of that book at the farm. After all, I saw sheep getting sheared! Just like in the story! (No weavers though).
Another cool part of the sheep shearing farm were the dogs.


 I had never heard of the sort of dog that runs on top of sheep! I think it's called a Kelpie.
 We even got to feed a baby lamb.

 
Baaaaa!

WHALES!

Fifteen minutes into our boat ride we saw...

 WHALES!

 Two of them!

Humpbacks.

 They were young whales, or so our guide told us.

So they were curious.

Which could explain why they hung out with our boat for 40-50 minutes,

popping their noses up,

 swimming back and forth under and around the boat,

and sometimes even waving their noses at us when we waved at them (it's true! the guide told us to try it, and it worked! Curious whales sometimes play with people like that, he said).

It was one of the most magical moments of my life.

My son loved it too.

 We also saw two Southern Right Whales involved in, ahem, courting.

They were a bit less interested in our boat though.

We even saw sea lions.

 It was a day I'm certain I'll never forget.

P.S. This was all while still in Western Australia, for those who didn't read my last couple of posts.

A moment of zen in the clouds

 Today is my birthday!
 I'm off to Western Australia this week to celebrate.
 Meanwhile I thought I'd give a little reverse birthday cheers to anyone out there reading this.
 Here's a few photos, a little moment of zen, from the flight I took last month from L.A. to Seattle.
 When the weather cooperates on that journey, you see mountain, after mountain, after mountain. And it's absolutely beautiful.
I wish for you a mountain-top moment or a head-in-the-clouds good-version-of-dreaminess today.
Cheers to a great day!

What I personally took away from the Illustrator Intensive in L.A.


Last week I posted some highlights from the amazing Illustrator Intensive at the 2011 SCBWI Conference in L.A. It's been a few weeks since the Intensive -- a good amount of time to offer a small bit of perspective on what I took away from the day, personally. SO...today I’m getting a bit more personal and reflecting on...

5-minute drawing.
Things I took away from the Illustrator Intensive in L.A. regarding my own work and art:

-WOW! (Did I say this already?)

-A feeling of needing to stay true to who I am, individually, as my own artist self. Insecurities are part of what make every artist grow, but so too are my own individual approaches to how I work. I feel proud and psyched for how I work and for my work in general; and I want to take better ownership in my individuality, while also always aiming towards growth and improvement in my work.
.
Imperfect daily play drawing.
- A feeling of excitement to come back to my studio and play. I'm the sort of person that thrives with semi-spiritual daily practices. I journal regularly (and write things I'm grateful for everyday), I do yoga daily, and of course I draw and make art regularly. I've tried before to start a DAILY drawing practice (quick 5 minute drawings), but haven't figured out a way to connect with the DAILY part of it on a level that made it sustainable. I've always been too critical of the outcomes. Or too serious about it or something. It seems rather obvious to say me now, but I think viewing the exercise as play, and well, not exercise, is the key I've been looking for (Isn't it funny how some AHA things are so obvious?). My art is often best when I don't take myself too seriously. A daily practice of drawing play  = very appealing and (at least so far) fulfilling.

-Listening to the artists share details about their tools and what they use to draw or paint inspired me to buy a few new drawing tools when I got home (art stores aren't quite the same in KL, which has added to the fun). We'll see how the play influences my art.

More daily play in drawing.
-Umm... Something I can let go of. YAY! I have been entirely too paranoid in the past that I work too slowly. I think this is a classic case of my inner critic going overboard. Sure my finished collages don't take 5 minutes, but I realize my habits are completely within the realm of normal after hearing the artists saying how long their finished pieces take them. I usually take 2-3 days with an average collage, with the rare detailed specimen taking a day or two extra or a day less. I thought that made me a slow-poke. I believe I thought that because I envied people who finished paintings in an hour. The thing I should always keep in mind when my inner critic blasts me for the time I spend on a piece: I NEVER EVER miss external deadlines (and only miss internal ones -- sometimes -- because I purposefully challenge myself to aim for the impossible). After the illustrator intensive in L.A., I've realized that being paranoid that I work too slowly is a paranoia I need to put to rest. (Now... under-submitting or being slow to submit my work because I'm a perfectionist -- that is something I aim at improving on. Because I am way too slow to submit my work… and I know it).

So far my daily play sketchbook features a lot of Oscar.
-There's a bit of a determined tigress in me when it comes to my art; and I repress her too often. I feel inspired to let her loose more. I think this is a good thing. I believe I rather look like and come across as a mild-mannered-but-quirky librarian, but that librarian within has also a fire in her belly, and I'd like it to show in my work more. I guess what I'm trying to say in an awkward sort of way is that the artists at the illustrator intensive have inspired me to be braver. To tap into my own emotions more when I make my art. To be brave enough to share more of those emotions in my work. Cheers to that!

I’d love to hear what others gained, personally, from the day, if there’s anyone out there who was there who is reading this. Please share in the comments!

L.A. SCBWI Conference Illustrator Intensive Highlights PART 2

CONTINUED from Monday...
This is a continuation of the last post I put up featuring highlights from the 2011 L.A. SCBWI Conference Illustrator Intensive. If you missed PART 1, please read that first. 
 The fourth presentation:
 -He said growing as an artist helps him grow spiritually. Without that, life feels kind of empty. He said art is a window to one's spirit -- the hope is that others will feel what he feels when he makes it.
 - If you put love into your art, love will come out of it.

- A good painting is feeling the spirit when you make it, a great painting is when you transfer that to the viewer.

-His talk inspired me on a spiritual level. After watching and listening to him I felt a little window open in my head for how I can be braver in my own work. Amen for that.
The fifth presentation:

-She did a demonstration of her pulp painting technique, which I was especially happy to see in person being that I'm a paper maker too (I don't do pulp painting, but I make a lot of the paper in my collages). For those interested, Denise has a detailed youtube video about how she works here (skip ahead to about the 10 minute mark to see her working in her studio).

-She uses a series of cut-out foam stencils that she fills with pulp using squeeze bottles.


-She buys ready-beaten pulp from twinrocker paper-making suppliers (I use the same company to buy my pigments but I beat my own pulp -- but not in the technically proper fashion as the twinrocker folks do. I use the low-tech approach: a kitchen blender, which has pluses and minuses I'm well aware of).

 - When she makes paper with kids in schools she uses embroidery hoops as the moulds and deckles and sometimes has them use cookie cutters for the stencils.

-Denise is a funny and spirited artist. I will forever be in the Denise Fleming fan club after she generously offered all-night critiques complete with loads of laughs and insight at the Weekend in The Woods Retreat in Washington State several years ago. So it was especially fun to get to see her creating her work in person at the illustrator intensive.
 The sixth presentation:

-One of my favorite things he said was: "The artist's duty is not to surprise the viewer but to surprise himself."

-David demonstrated drawing loosly and fast and encouraged artists to practice drawing fast and from life, often. Try 1 minute, 2 minute and 5 minute timed drawings, just like you may have done in art school -- only keep up the practice.

-He learned to keep things lively by copying famous works of people who he admires.
 -Many of the picture books he has illustrated are written by his wife, Sarah Stewart. He said his philosophy of life can be the opposite of Sarah's and there's something beautiful about melding the two opposite philosophies of life into the same works.

-Prefers drawing in a really classical sense. 

-Another favorite quote: "Drawing is like breathing."
 The seventh presentation:

-He draws from photos and keeps a large library of favorite nature pictures for reference.

-He said that if his personal life feels rocky, he sometimes uses the drawing as a security blanket and a place to go.
 -He never spends more than 3 days on an image (but it could be 10-hour-days if he's working really intensely).

-If he gets stuck he tries changing around his palette, changing around his subject, or sometimes it's a deadline that gets him unstuck.

-When he draws he doesn't worry about a light source, he just worries about where he wants your eye to go.

---

Yes! It was a day of WOW! I gained many personal insights that I started to write into this post but decided were better saved for their own post (maybe next week? Can I stretch things out that long?).

Thank you to all the illustrators and those who organized the event. It was a truly remarkable day.

If you're interested check back next week and I'll post my personal take-aways. Cheers!

L.A. SCBWI Conference Illustrator Intensive Highlights PART 1

My notes from the day: I remember stuff better when I take notes.
As I mentioned last week when I returned to Malaysia, the Illustrator Intensive at this year's L.A. SCBWI conference was an unforgettable experience.

It's always great to get a chance to hear artists talk about their work. But you're able to enter an entire other dimension when you get to see artists actually do their work. The day was bursting with interesting and delightful tidbits on how these legends of children's illustration do what they do.

I loved each and every presentation of the day and I loved seeing them all in a row too. No two people work exactly the same and it was fascinating to compare similarities and differences in such a short space of time.

I thought I'd share a few memorable moments from each presentation. And because the day was so rich, I think I'll stretch this into 2 blog posts. Stay tuned later in the week for PART 2.

The first presentation: 

-Paul shared many great details about how he works, the brushes he uses (cheap ones), the paints, how he does an under-painting, etc.

-My favorite thing he shared was during the Q & A at the end of the day though, when Paul answered a question about technique versus inspiration. He said artists often start detailed and tighter with their style and move toward a looser style as they mature, but he said that when he was younger he remembered looking at many artists' works who had done that and hoped that never happened to him. He never wanted to give up the more detailed fine work. Such an interesting insight behind his style.


The second presentation: 

 -To achieve the subtle and beautiful colors in her drawings she sometimes does dozens and dozens of washes with watercolor , building up colors really slowly.


-Often if something is wrong with a painting, she won't realize it's wrong until it's 100% finished. She will look at the piece and think, "Do I love it?" and if the answer is no, she then often starts over.

-She feels that it's essential to make the foundation of the book --the story, the drawings -- as best as they can be. The technique for painting doesn't matter if the foundation isn't strong.
 The third presentation:
- He uses many different types of media and loves to experiment. For the demonstration, he painted in egg tempura.

- He likes to play a lot with his work, he treats new projects like new adventures. He does small abstracts to practice and play. He finds that new mediums free him up. He said he has a throw-your-hat-over-the-fence attitude about new mediums. You just have to go for it, all in.

 - I was very inspired by his love of play in his work and how he tries new mediums. It reminded me of how I feel when I dive into a new travel adventure and learn a bit more about the world and life by letting go of the familiar.

- I also loved how he confessed that sometimes experiments are a total failure. But then he learns what doesn't work. That's how I feel about travel adventures too -- not every adventure turns out wonderfully, but you never get to reach beyond if you don't try. That's the way adventure works.


So you get a glimpse of the WOW I experienced during the illustrator intensive. And the highlights aren't even over yet!

Illustrator Intensive Highlights: TO BE CONTINUED (Probably Thursday)...


UPDATE (8/25/11): I added links to the artists' websites so anyone who is interested can easily check out their work or browse their books. Enjoy!

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!



More color in Penang, this time using the Hipstamatic

 I took these pictures in Penang, Malaysia, using the Hipstamatic photo app on my Iphone.
 Pretty cool for phone pictures.

 My sister's been using an app called Instamatic. Supposedly it lets you change your pictures retroactively for similar results. I'm very curious if I'll be able to use any texture photos taken this way for my illustrations.
Time will tell...