Thursday, August 11, 2011

Forgotten Conference Moments

Sitting here this morning.. I remembered the other things I was supposed to post about the conference.

First: To the lady, seated in the row in front of me who, just before David Small was going to speak - stood up and said "The next person is just an illustrator- so I'm gonna go."

You win the "Loser of the conference Award."

Second: Sometimes, in Thunder Dome... one's eyes drift over to see what action one's portfolio is getting. Mine eyes did just that. There stood a man, elegant, salt and pepper hair and beard.. smiling ear to ear. That made me happy. Then I realized it was author Bruce Coville - that made me spankin' happy. I'd love to have more authors show up to support the illustrators.

Mr. Coville wins the "Elegant Author with wonderful taste Award."

Kid Lit Drink Night happened across the street at the Century City Mall @ the inappropriately named , "Pink Taco". Really. I had to tell my husband , "We went out last night. I ate at the Pink Taco." - C'Mon! 

Pink Taco, You win the ,"Only in L.A.  Award"

At The Pink Taco, Agent Mary Kole was holding a 30 second "Pitch Slam".  We watched the mele. We chatted with an Austrailian Illustrator named Leslie Vamos. I am 40- I am a Mom. I looked at this petite young, little (I can say that- I'm 5' 2"), talented , cute, spit fire of a fantastic drawer and immediately felt maternal. She signed up to do a pitch. She was about to get slammed and she was so confident. I couldn't be afraid to do something that this whipper snapper seemed perfectly cool doing -  like it was as easy as ordering a non-fat, decaf - no whip, caramel macchiatto...

Leslie wins the  "I'm the shit and I know it" Award

I had met Mary Kole a few weeks back in NYC @ the NJ SCBWI networking dinner. Here I was standing 3 feet away - wanting the chance to say, "Hi" - and with the aid of 2 Mojitos and Leslie's bravado, Jim Hill's and Diandre Mae's and Angela Matteson's quick help throwing together my idea.... I signed up and pitched a picture book story. I have never done this before. It was not a pleasant experience. 30 SECONDS GO! I rambled and all I heard was "WHY? WHY SHOULD I CARE? SOUNDS KINDA PREACHY! MAYBE WITH CUTE ART IT COULD WORK! YOU SHOULD TALK TO KELLY LIGHT! (I still don't get that last part- last time I checked, I was Kelly Light)
I was a deer in the headlights that were Mary Kole's eyeballs and she has eyebrows that are extremely expressive... expressing "I will squash you like a tiny illustrator bug". 
But I was able to laugh at it- laugh at her and laugh at myself. Now, at least I've done it. Next time won't be so bad.

I win the "I grew a Ball" Award

I did. Illustrator ball number one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"post conference post" - or "What really matters , like spazzy kids who sing "I like Potatoes""

There's a Beatles song
that goes:
 "It's all too much for me to take
The love that's shining all around here
All the world is birthday cake,
So take a piece
but not too much"

The SCBWI L.A. conference was great. Overwhelmingly great.

It really is almost too much to bear. Like birthday cake- so delicious, so - good...
and always better in small slices.  I'm not gonna do a mega post and go through all of the days in great detail- cause you and I both will get a tummy ache.

I'll give you a taste- of what were my favorite bites.

Truly the best part is seeing friends. Mostly friends that I have online who I have met at other conferences. Three fifths of THE SKETCHABLES were present. Priscilla Burris, Diandre Mae and I. Priscilla did an amazing job of organizing the Illustrators weekend. She is a generous and supportive  and encouraging  spirit. AND she deserves a vacation.

My roommate - my com padre, my conscience, my sister from another mister , Kathy Blackmore and I had a blast.

Everyone else - I loved seeing all of you and await a time I can see you and speak the same language with you again.

The speeches are inspirational. 
Some of the things that hit me square between the eyes, I jot down- in my messy , soundbite filled sketchbook. (if your looking for good notes- you ain't gonna find them on this blog)

Jerry Pinkney:

"My Grandfather worked in a pencil factory"
"I am a drawer at heart"

"I had a friend who was a grown man who got up everyday and made images"

Katie Davis:

"Be Diabolical in your ways to conquer the world"
Gary Paulsen:

"My name on a library card made me "somebody" 

(my beloved)
David Small:
(quoting Phillip Larkin)
"Life is a shit storm and when it rains the only umbrella we have is art."

"I started drawing the way I wanted to draw at 40"
"Make your line breathe"

Kadir Nelson:

"I owe a lot to my wife, she is an OVERTIME Mom"

Oh - and he mentioned Jeremy Lipking painting tutorial videos -who I had as a college prof for watercolors. The man was brilliant and kind.

Richard Jesse Watson:
(quoting Maurice Sendak)
"My art is shit"

"Remember how to play as a kid"
"Do a Q & A with your characters"

Judy Blume:

"The intimacy is in the pencil, not on the screen"

Marla Frazee:
"I get 100% done and think- Oh God, this isn't right"
"Characters, scale and color move the story"

Denise Fleming:
She did Care Bears licensed books before making paper. She said it was all wrong for her because
"I'm not sweet- and I'm not neat"

There's so much more- but you can find so much online about the amazing Richard Peck's speech and Laurie Halse Anderson- go to the SCBWI blog and soak it up - it's wonderful.

What resounded in my soul was the emphasis on drawing. Like Jerry Pinkney- I too am a drawer at heart. David Small did live life drawing. He rattled off more drawing knowledge and displayed more drawing chops than every other artist in that building. Kadir Nelson spoke of painting more from life for more subtletly and nuance.  Get thee to a life drawing class- or get thee to a crowded place- sketch book in hand and draw peeps! Draw!

When I walked up into my studio today- I walked into a room filled with cut paper on the floor and scattered bad prints and the general disheveled pre-conference state that my mind was in. I don't want that anymore.  The freak out is no longer welcome in this studio. I walked Thunder Dome - I saw my work out there, I got an unprecedented amount of good feedback. I did not win anything and that's ok this time. The folks that did deserved it.  I can say publicly now that I predicted a win from John Deininger.- He worked his tucchus off this year- and I love his work to itsy bitsy pieces. I couldn't be happier to have been right!

The time of me fretting over a portfolio is over. No more worrying about creating images from book ideas. It's time for me to create books.This blog may suffer a bit. I hope you'll still be around if I don't post as often. Gotta get quiet for awhile. Quiet in the head and heart so I can hear that inner voice.

The Illustrator Intensive was the singular best day as an SCBWI member that I have ever had. I do hope that they continue along these lines. I also hope that they bring back the Master Class. Now that Tomie DePaola is retired- I nominate Richard Jesse Watson to take the role of teacher. He's pretty damn awesome at being infectious about experimentation and play and open to sharing with other illustrators.

So many people clambered for magic secrets at the Illustrator Intensive. 
"What kind of paper is that? "Where can I get that pen?" 
It made me think that they thought there was a magic pill one can swallow to create at the level we were watching.

Those artists could do beautiful work with a stick in the dirt. 
They do beautiful work, they are successful because they have put in the time. They have done the work. They have done the hard, painful- work to get to where they are today. 

Pencil in hand... or stick in the dirt, I want to get there too.

All in all- the conference gives you the kick in the arse to keep going for another year. This year the goal is to do that real, hard, painful work.

I was sitting at the gate in the airport to come home and the flight was delayed for over an hour. People were miserable. A little clear voice rang out... singing.....

"I like potatoes...I like potatoes...."

She was a spaz. She took over her row of seats and turned it into a stage and put Liza Minnelli to shame in her showmanship. I had to draw her- as fast as I could and scribble down every last word of her song.

Messy - not great drawing. But I captured her spirit. I thought about her on the flight home. She must have fallen asleep because there was no in flight entertainment. So I drew her again...

 It's all about life drawing. I've spent my life drawing. 
Thanks for the 
the reminder SCBWI..
to keep doing it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

David Small - in L.A.

Here in L.A.- it's an inspiration overload. It's hard after 3 days to tell which ways is up or down or out or in. All you  know is what floor you go to next and do I have time to pee and will I cry for the 25th time today?

I enjoyed so many of the talks and I saw Judy Blume with my own eyes and I have so many good books to read when I get home ..... but....

Then there was Small.

When I was a first year illustration major- we were told to go to the store, pick up a kid's book that you really liked- and come to class ready to explain why you like it. And then- try to "emulate" that illustrator's style in an illustration. I picked up "The King has horse's ears"- by David Small. I still have that book and I still have my pretty good David Small impersonation art. I have bought his books over the years - cracked open the cover and felt exactly like I did at 18 looking at his work for the first time. How does he do that? How is he so loose and so good at the same time? How does he flow with that brush and ink? How does it flow across the page and thru the story? I have loved his line- I have worshiped his watercolor - low these many, many years. I was strung out for days after reading "Stitches". I was and still am floored that a person who had such an awful childhood creates such beauty for children.

His is a Transcendent life.

HE is my conference take away.  His line. His watercolor. His spirit. His example.

I have that spot, above my studio door. You know, where I hang the pics of people who inspire me? You can find them in the back catalog of the blog.  I have had an empty spot for 6 years... waiting for someone. I know who is going there when I get home. David Small.

Monday, August 1, 2011

it's almost done. It may look dark- but now it needs to get distressed and put on old postcard paper- and creased.   I have to go to the store!

It's not your eyes- it's intentionally blurry... it's an old photograph...  or maybe it's me.