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.


Russ Cox said...

Great post and sketches! Thanks for sharing.

melinda beavers said...

Tears in my eyes, Kelly - thanks for sharing!!

Hazel Mitchell said...

Kelly ... pleasure to meet you and share the same inspirations.

You are bang on ... create books, create images for books. I confess I did not enjoy the portfolio, not because I didn't ENJOY it, I just felt I spent a lot of time creating something, when I would have been better off working on stories and books and I took time away from that.

We only have so much time available and we have to be more proactive and not get carried away by what is expected ...

You are so right ... I had John on my list too.


Michelle Henninger said...

You nailed it Kel! Absolute bullseye. It's all about the drawing, and the love of it, isn't it? So, glad you had a great time! Hopefully, one day we'll be able to meet in real life! You are pretty darn amazing kid!

Christina Forshay said...

This is an awesome post, Kelly. You completely nailed it. I wish I could've hung out with you more. Your sense of style is uber-cool. Maybe if I got to hang with you more, some of that style would've rubbed off on me! Great post.

Amy said...

Kelly, I love the way you get to the heart of the matter in your conference thoughts! Missed watching your sketch-notes during workshops, but I'm glad this year was especially inspirational. The illustrator intensive sounds amazing. Can't wait to see what you produce in this quiet but busy time...

Kelly Light said...

Christina- Your pretty darn stylish already! That's why you got the mentee spot! If anyone's uber anything it's you!

Kelly Light said...

Amy- me too.

Kelly Light said...

Michelle- it is all about doing what you love. We'll meet... I know it

Kelly Light said...

Hazel- It was nice to say Hey! to you!

Kelly Light said...

Melinda- thanks babe

Kelly Light said...

Russ- ya got something in you hair..there...