Sharing Play at Dumas Bay SCBWI Illustrators retreat

This past weekend, illustrators from around Washington and Oregon gathered to retreat, play, and learn on the water in Dumas Bay, Washington, and I was among them. We were honored and thrilled to have illustrators Christian Robinson and Catia Chien guide us in our play. What a line up!

Indulge me a minute while I express how giddy I personally was to sign up for this retreat. I am a huge, huge, dinosaur-sized, Christian Robinson Fan. When I pour over his collages I feel the same joy and wonder as I did when I was a child pouring over THE SNOWY DAY and other books by Ezra Jack Keats, my childhood favorite author. And at the same time Christian's work is fresh and modern in a way that offers me joy in the here and now too. Plus it doesn't hurt that LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET (illustrated by Christian and written by Matt de la Peña) is probably my son Lars's favorite book.

Lars, who is 3-years-old, takes the bus in the morning several times a week with Daddy. He is especially excited when his favorite bus, the purple one, is the one that picks him up at the curb. You should see the light in his eyes. But even when it's just the regular bus he loves to climb on and sit by the window and talk about all the noises and people and moments on the bus. LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET is called THE Bus Book in our house even though we have several other bus books. Lars likes to close his little eyes the same time the main character, CJ, does. He closes his eyes and listens to the music, wherever the music is in his heart.

So this past weekend I got to go to Dumas Bay and connect with the music in my own heart. And I got to share that experience with many other illustrators. And I also got to learn from Catia Chien, whose work I was less familiar with ahead of the retreat with but now am excited to love.

I gained insights about my own work and practices as I always do at SCBWI events but the thing that probably will stick with me most was just the realization that no matter what happens externally in the world or my own life, I am an artist and I will always make art. That is the music in my own heart. I don't mean to make it sound like a new commitment, rather a quiet acknowledgement of the obvious and what is already there at a time when so many things in the greater world feel uncertain.

We children's book creators will continue to do this thing because it's what we do. And we will do it with heart and passion and even when we take years to get published, or never are published at all, or are banned, or make mistakes, or whatever, we collectively will keep working to make the world brighter and better through books.

Many thanks to my local SCBWI chapter volunteers, especially Tina Hoggatt, for all the work you did putting this retreat together. And many thanks to Catia and Christian for sharing your light with the world and with us this past weekend.

From a walk I took in the garden at Dumas Bay

From a walk I took in the garden at Dumas Bay


It's an all caps kind of day here in Kjersten's studio —HIP HIP HOORAY!


Because my manuscript HOW TO BUILD A ROCKETSHIP IN 10 EASY STEPS is the official winner of the 2016 Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Most Promising Picture Book Award! HAPPY DANCE! HAPPY DANCE! Maybe just this once I can even get away with TOO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!

Attending SCBWI events over the many years I've been a member has been like unofficial graduate-level training, only with friends and sometimes cookies.

Thank you to the editor who nominated me and to all who were involved in choosing this piece for recognition. I'm honored and excited to receive this award and I can't wait to get going on the dummy for this piece. This boost means the world to me. Thank you for everything SCBWI!

Here's a screen shot from SCBWI's announcement:

Saving the screen shot for posterity.  Also so whenever I feel discouraged I can look back and take this as a nudge to keep going.

Saving the screen shot for posterity.  Also so whenever I feel discouraged I can look back and take this as a nudge to keep going.

My art at the convention center

On Saturday I finally got a chance to see Western Washington SCBWI's illustrator show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Here are a few pictures for show and tell.

I loved seeing my Alligator Brothers piece there.

Saturday was the day we gathered for the family Draw-Along, inviting the community to bring their kids and come make art with the illustrators.

I brought a cut-paper exercise that I've with my art students at the Montessori school where I've been teaching art. 

Here's a picture of the mess we made at my table. Fun day!

Meet the illustrators and come to our Family Draw-Along

If you are in Seattle this Saturday stop by the Washington State Convention Center anytime from 12:00 - 2:00 pm for a family Draw-Along with children's illustrators from Washington State. Bring the kids! (although you don't have to). Materials will be provided. It's the perfect time to check out the SCBWI Illustrator art show in the same space, up through Sept 29th (the poster says the 30th but that's wrong. It ends the 29th). I hope I see you there!

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.

Whew! A whirlwind month of new work

A couple months ago I set an ambitious goal to try to nearly remake my entire portfolio for the Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrator's conference here in Washington State.  (Which was last weekend; it was FANTASTIC as usual!)

The last few weeks I have been working all kinds of crazy hours to meet my personal goal (which is why I haven't posted in awhile).

And I'm proud to say...

I did it!

I'll try to post some fun process pictures in the upcoming few weeks.

Meanwhile you can check out my updated portfolio here on my website.

This week I'm taking a deep breath and catching up with regular life. But I'm looking forward to sorting out what my next big goal will be too.

Cheers to working hard and making fun new art!

Tom Sawyer

When I was in second grade (or so) my mom read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain to my sister and me. 
I remember thinking, "Wow! This has to be the funniest book ever written!" I LOVED it.

Every night I'd beg my mom to read "More! More!"
Meanwhile my sister would say "Enough! Enough!"

And that pretty much still sums up the difference between my sister and me when it comes to reading.

Anyway, here's an illustration I made for the annual SCBWI Tomie dePaola award competition. I'd been working at a few mid-grade illustrations to add to my portfolio anyway and when I saw the Tomie dePaola theme this year included Tom Sawyer, I couldn't resist.

Oh ya, also, if you happen to be in Missouri, do you know you can visit many of the real places from Mark Twain's books? Mom took me there as a kid, soon after we read Tom Sawyer, because I became such a fan. Those caves are awesome! And there really is a fence.

Some Nursery Rhyme Illustrations

Here are some new nursery rhyme illustrations (black and white!) I finished this last week just in time for the Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators conference in Los Angeles this coming weekend.

Can you figure out which three popular nursery rhymes I've drawn below? (Click on each image to see a larger version).

If you'll be in Los Angeles look out for me and say hi! I'd love to chat.

Also, for anyone who might be interested, I just updated my online portfolio. Take a peek. Feel free to send me feedback if something comes to mind.

I look forward to catching up with all the rest of my blogesphere friends when I return from L.A. I hope wherever you are you are having a great week!

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. 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!

SCBWI Malaysia

I finally connected with the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in Malaysia!
They put up a booth at the Kuala Lumpur Book Fair that I attended several weeks ago (I went knowing they would be there). The top photo is of the SCBWI booth, the next two are random pictures from the book fair.
I chatted for quite a while there with the wife of a renown Malaysian Illustrator, Yosof Gajah (fun fact: Gajah means elephant in Bahasa Malayu, the Malaysian language). Yosof's wife, Zakiah, is an artist in her own right and offers batik classes. It was lovely to chat with her. Hopefully I'll get to try one of her classes out while I live here.
Then, last Monday, the chapter had a special get-together (they are just starting to organize regular meetings and haven't officially started having them yet) to greet Steve Mooser, one of the co-founders of SCBWI!
It was a fun get together and I'm happy to have mingled with some other artists and writers from KL as well as Steve and Sally.
Thanks to Linda T. Lingard, the local Regional Advisor, for organizing.
Cheers to SCBWI!

The Wizard Of Oz, Kjersten-Style, From Sketch to Final Art: Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion

This past summer I took part in the Nevada SCBWI mentor program. My assignment for the program was to illustrate three scenes from The Wizard Of Oz, interpreting the story however I wished. The program finished with a fantastic retreat in Virginia City where I had the opportunity to share my final original art with my mentor and fellow mentees (I loved that I got to see my peers' work after they had gone through the same process -- so fun and interesting!). The following is an abbreviated walk-through of parts of my process as I presented it to them. 


The Text:
From Chapter VI of the Wizard of Oz: The Cowardly Lion :
"Don't you dare to bite Toto! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a big beast like you, to bite a poor little dog!"
"I didn't bite him," said the Lion, as he rubbed his nose where Dorothy had hit it.
"No, but you tried to," she retorted. "You are
nothing but a big coward."
This is a revised thumbnail I based the final drawing on:

The First Drawing:
To prevent my drawings from stiffening too much along the journey from drawing to cut-out collage I piece together my drawings in photoshop.
This allows me to use the freshest sketches I can as templates when I cut my final art. It allows me to size the characters and other elements of the drawing right without redrawing or tracing them a lot.
Often I'll draw the characters first, scan them into photoshop and re-size them so they are proportional to one another. Then I draw the background separately and piece it together in photoshop.
  • I changed the Scarecrow and tin-man's poses. While I liked their poses in my first draft, they kind of looked like they were watching a play or resting, rather than being scared of the lion or crumpled on the ground. Plus my third scene had them crumpled on the ground and I wanted variety. I decided to try more active poses. Here's a sketch of the scarecrow in a more active pose that I didn't use for the final drawing:
  • In the end I changed the poses but kept the focus of the action on the relationship between the lion and Dorothy. I thought if I got too dramatic with the tin-man and scarecrow, it would take focus away from the main characters in the scene.
The Final Drawing:
Making the Final Art:

On Risks and Revision in the final stages of work:
Notice how the greenery changes in the last couple of frames of this photo sequence. Occasionally when I "finish" a piece I decide something I did with the background (that's already glued down) needs to be changed. It can be tricky to peel up one paper in favor of a change --and scary --what if it doesn't work?

Defense one:
I've worked with paper enough making my handmade books over the course of the last decade that I generally can tell when I can get away with it or not. So knowing my medium is defense one.

And if it indeed hadn't worked?
Defense two:
Problem solving and brain-storming.
Being creative does not only mean drawing pretty pictures. It also means creatively solving problems.

It's exciting (and terrifying) to take a risk when a piece is almost finished. But my job is to make my illustrations the best that they can be. Sometimes to make things the best you have to take scary risks. You have to know your medium well enough (through lots of practice) to have a good idea of when those risks are worth it. Then you have to know your medium well enough to be able to problem-solve and brainstorm when a risk goes awry and new challenges presents themselves.

Final Collage:
I listened to the audio versions of The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins while I made this illustration. I can't look at that forest without thinking of those books. Do you ever listen to books on tape that influence your art?

P.S. I made two other Wizard of Oz illustration samples as part of the mentor program. Here are links to posts about the process for those scenes:
Scene I
Scene III


Another idea from the schmooze:* Goal Buddies.
  1. Pick a goal buddy. Preferably somebody with a spine or someone willing to be stern. Stiffen your own spine and be ready to be stern in response.
  2. Trade 1 to 3 goals each month.
  3. When picking goals -- it's fine to stay simple. Like "I'll make 1 hour for marketing each week" or "I'll keep my internet surfing to the lunch hour" or "I'll make it to one networking event this month." It's also fine to be sweeping and bold: "I'll finish an entire draft of my dummy next month." But do choose goals that align with your biggest priorities, career-wise.
  4. Hold one another accountable.
  5. Devise some reward/penalty system that's playful and fun.
In the interest of full disclosure, while I did find a friend who is willing to be my goal buddy. We have not yet followed through with our goal-buddy assignment of holding one another accountable. I still think it's a good idea worth sharing. Hope it works for you!

*About this series:
There’s the researcher hat, the networking hat, the business hat, the editor hat and the art-spectator or the reader hat – whew! With so much other “work” to do, it can be difficult to find the time to actually write or do your artwork. This series talks about priorities and goal setting. How do you juggle all the aspects of your writing and/or art career? Inspired by a SCBWI WWA Bellingham Network Schmooze that took place in Sept, 2009.

The Wizard Of Oz, Kjersten-Style, From Sketch to Final Art: Glinda and Dorothy

This past summer I took part in the Nevada SCBWI mentor program. My assignment for the program was to illustrate three scenes from The Wizard Of Oz, interpreting the story however I wished. The program finished with a fantastic retreat in Virginia City where I had the opportunity to share my final original art with my mentor and fellow mentees (I loved that I got to see my peers' work after they had gone through the same process -- so fun and interesting!). The following is an abbreviated walk-through of parts of my process as I presented it to them.


The Text:
From Chapter II of the Wizard of Oz: The Council With The Munchkins (edited slightly to be more picture-book friendly, or in other words, more concise)
Dorothy began to sob, at this, for she felt lonely among all these strange people. So Glinda took off her cap and balanced the point on the tip of her nose. She counted "one, two, three!" And the cap changed to a slate on which was written:
I drew many pages of thumbnails to get an idea of my composition. None of the thumbnails pictured here were ones I ended up using, but they show the process.
Detailed Roughs:
After drawing lots of thumbnails I chose two I liked best.
Both had Dorothy and Glinda in prominent places. Since they are the main characters in the scene I drew them more cleanly, scanned them into photoshop and made rough drawings based on the two thumbnails I liked to help me choose which composition I liked more.
I ended up choosing the second composition because I liked how it showed the promise of Oz in the background. I thought it captured the spirit of the moment better.

Scenes from my sketchbook:

First Full Drawing:Revisions:
  • Changed the munchkins to have more variety in their expressions. Even though the original text suggested the munchkins were all sad for Dorothy, they would react to what Glinda was doing, and I needed to show that.
  • Changed the background so it had more depth -- a foreshadowing of the journey Dorothy is about to embark on.
Final Drawing:
Notes of interest: I was at liberty to interpret the Wizard of Oz how I chose. In the book, L. Frank Baum never refers to the Witch of the North as "Glinda." But we all know her as Glinda from the movie, so I edited the text to include her name.

Making the Final Art:

Final Collage:
P.S. I made two other Wizard of Oz illustration samples as part of the mentor program. Here are links to posts about the process for those scenes:
Scene II
Scene III

KEEPING ALL HATS IN THE AIR FALL FRIDAY SERIES: Bloggers can help you get lots accomplished

In honor of Molly Blaisdell's upcoming 4th annual golden coffee cup challenge, I thank everyone who has summoned up the energy via their blogs to encourage others to put their nose to the grindstone and make progress with their own creative work.

I've taken part in two month-long internet goal-setting challenges. Both kicked my butt into serious gear. I can't tell you how grateful I am to Molly, Holly and Jolie for their internet challenges.

Need some moral support to reach a goal? Or an excuse to put your butt-in-chair and get to work? Sign up for Molly's challenge next month. Or put out your own challenge to yourself. There's something about putting your intentions out for all to see on the internet that makes you hold yourself accountable.

*About this series:
There’s the researcher hat, the networking hat, the business hat, the editor hat and the art-spectator or the reader hat – whew! With so much other “work” to do, it can be difficult to find the time to actually write or do your artwork. This series talks about priorities and goal setting. How do you juggle all the aspects of your writing and/or art career? Inspired by a SCBWI WWA Bellingham Network Schmooze that took place in Sept, 2009.