Posts tagged ‘getting serious’

Hello All!

It has been awhile since I posted here, or on social media at all. I have been super busy. However, I wasn’t busy with anything I could actually show you so that meant radio silence on my end. I need to work on working on both my projects I can’t share, and things I can share at the same time so you all don’t think I’ve forgotten about you!

So what have I been up to? I have been reading ALOT of books. . . picture books! I took part in a challenge called ReFoReMo, or Reading for Research Month. The idea of the month is to actually research picture books: how they are written, what the balance between text and illustration is, what kinds of books are out there, what formats are they written in etc. Each day, someone in the industry would write briefly about one aspect of writing for children, and then share some books that they thought would be good mentor texts to illustrate their point. I have learned a lot about picture books; both what I like and what I don’t like. I also have two new manuscript ideas from reading the selected books. It’s been a great month! I still have to read some of the selections, but it has been really a great experience. There is a new post every week during the year with useful knowledge, and if you want to participate next year, check out the website!

I’ve also been working on a project I really can’t show you because it is a present for someone. Eventually I will post it here!

I have been working on writing several manuscripts for children’s books.

I also have been cleaning out my art room which is a slow but necessary process. Today, I got to clean out a closet that had all my old sketchbooks in it. Then, I was inspired. Every Thursday, for throwback Thursday, I will post something from an old sketchbook for you all to see! Going through them today, I realize I used to have a lot of fun in sketchbooks. I have no idea what happened, probably life, but I don’t spend the same amount of time in sketchbooks as I used to, or as I should. I am hoping this experiment will be fun for you, and reinvigorating for me.

I definitely have posted this on an old blog, but I thought I would start with my first special sketchbook. I have sketchbooks from when I was 7 or 10, but this was the first sketchbook that really meant something to me. It was also the start of me beginning to realize I loved art.

The First "Real" Sketchbook I owned

The First “Real” Sketchbook I owned

I was 12 and I had just won a 20 dollar gift card to Barnes and Noble from the Book-a-Thon at school. I was rich. I could buy two books with a 20 dollar gift card. (If only that were still true!) I didn’t know what I would get, but I knew it would be the best book the store had to offer. Then I walked passed the journal section and this caught my eye. Something about the fake wood I thought was beautiful. I picked it up and flipped through the blank pages, feeling excited. I put it down. I wasn’t an artist. And if I bought this, I may have money for a book, but I may not. I left and came back. Picked it up again. In my memory, this indecisiveness lasted a long time. I can’t imagine how annoying this must have been for my dad who had brought me and my sister shopping. Finally I decided to just go for it. I bought it and brought it home.

This was the perfect sketchbook. It had to be filled with the perfect drawings I decided. So I sat with it, started drawing, didn’t like it, ripped it out…this happened several times. Then finally I just drew.

The "perfect" drawing. Note the ripped edges of the pages I deemed imperfect

The “perfect” drawing. Note the ripped edges of the pages I deemed imperfect

It took forever, but I finally decided I was satisfied. Then, being the truly focused 12 year old I was, I left it on the couch in order to go outside with my sister and friends.

I came back in to find my dad looking at the drawing I had done. I was mortified. No one was supposed to see it! I felt like I was pretending to be something I was not. Then my dad looked at me and said, “Anne, this is really good!” While still embarrassed, now it was for a different reason. I was proud and so happy my dad had thought I could draw. I probably mumbled a thank you and grabbed the sketchbook. I don’t remember that part. I do remember that after that I really thought about creating art more often.

The funny thing is, that is the only drawing in that sketchbook. Even though I went on to fill more sketchbooks, take art lessons, experiment with media, I never came back to this sketchbook. Thinking about this sketchbook, I also realize all the earlier times I had filled sketchbooks, illustrated stories me and my sisters wrote, made pretend boardgames all should have been clues to how I really had always loved art. I guess I was pretty clueless. This drawing was really the beginning of my awareness of the importance of art to me.

This is my first throwback sketchbook post. Tune in next week for the next installment!

Also, if you haven’t already, check out my contact page! I am all sorts of social media (facebook, twitter, instagram, instagram again). Follow me on the platform you are on most often! You will definitely get to see more of my art as I work on it

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Hello all!

It’s time for my last post about the conference that happened this past weekend (I know you are all excited about that.) Sunday was the shortest day of the conference, but I got there the earliest so I could grab some books from the bookstore to get signed at the autograph party later. They started the day with announcements about who won various awards (unfortunately, my tired brain did not think to write them down), and then went straight into the first keynote. The speakers for the day were Rita Williams-Garcia, Jacquelyn Mitchard, a panel of publishers and agents, and last, but certainly not least, Gary Schmidt.

Rita Williams Garcia – I have to say, Rita was a fabulous speaker. Her talk was humorous and she had so much wisdom to share! She gave us a list of Don’ts for our careers: Don’t isolate yourself, find your community, Don’t fear Doubt, Don’t not hear criticism, Don’t stay with an uncontracted project too long, Do learn who you are in the marketplace but don’t be afraid to evolve, Don’t drop the ball, Don’t know it all, Don’t stop writing, Do What you’re doing, you’re here, Live in the Plan, Do Live with Gratitude, Be all about the Do!
I really really enjoyed hearing about her journey and especially her “Live the plan” advice: how what you are doing should be working towards your plan.

Jacquelyn Mitchard – Jacquelyn was a great speaker and definitely  very engaging. I didn’t take many notes on her talk though, as it was all about writing good endings, and seemed more applicable to longer books and not picture books. However she had very good advice about different kinds of endings. One of the things I did find as food for thought: Your ending should take the reader slightly by surprise. That could definitely make picture book writing very interesting!

Panel: The last panel in the conference was about the acquisitions process in some publishing houses. This was very involved information, and sometimes varied by person. Some things that I found helpful: if an editor brings your manuscript to the acquisitions team, it is no longer about the quality of your work and rather is a business decision (it means they already like it), sometimes you have to be flexible or change direction, It is a serious endeavor, love what you do, pick an agent who will be an advocate for you.

Gary Schmidt – Gary was the last speaker of the conference and wow. What a way to end a conference! He was so inspiring. He talked about writing, but I believe all of what he said was also applicable for artists. Some key thoughts I wrote down: We all have the same mission, we all do our best work for kids; express powerful and real empathy, express a connection between two souls, story insists that though we want things simple it insists on human complexity and multidimensionality, show children that even though this world is broken it is still beautiful, everything matters. The line that I thought summed it up for me? “We write [draw] to express empathy in a broken world.”
I have to say, Gary Schmidt was my favorite speaker of the conference. He talked so beautifully and so sincerely about craft, and why we do this. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, GO!

After the conference there was a book signing, and I got a LOT of books signed. Thus I got to “meet” (as much as getting a book signed and saying omg I love your work counts as meeting): Paul Zelinsky, Mike Curato, Rita Williams-Garcia, Gary Schmidt, Matt de la Pena (didn’t speak at the conference, but he won the Newbery this year for his book Last Stop on Market Street, which is a big deal since it is a picture book and only the second time in the award’s history a picture book has won! but I digress), Sophie Blackall, and William Joyce. Thus I got my second picture (yeah I only took two pictures at this conference):

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Paul O. Zelinsky and I at the book signing

The conference was so much fun and so exhausting. I cannot wait to get back to writing and illustrating, having learned what I have learned.

My big takeaways? Love what you do, draw what you are passionate about, express empathy in a broken world.

Hope to see you all there next year!

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Hello again! As promised, I will continue my overview of the SCBWI conference this weekend.

Saturday was a great day and I learned sooooooo much. I didn’t want the day to end! The day was a mix of speakers, panels, and breakout sessions. The speakers were William Joyce, Rainbow Rowell (interviewed by Lin Oliver), Linda Urban and Kate Messner. The two breakout sessions I attended were Picture Book Art with creative director Patrick Collins, and the Ten Mistakes Illustrators Make with senior art director Giuseppe Castellano.

William Joyce – If you read my post yesterday, you know William Joyce also spoke on Friday. On Saturday, he did talk about a lot of the same things, but also his road to the Oscars, and what he is doing now. The title of the talk was Books are Like the Ice Cream Sandwich: How New Technology Doesn’t Change Much of Anything but it’s all Kinda Cool, so he talked about how the story is always the bottom line, but if you use technology, make it special and different from the print book so that it furthers your story. He then showed how he had done this with different apps for his books. Not just Kinda Cool, so cool!

Then there was a panel about the current state of publishing and the future of children’s publishing. All of the people on the panel were presidents or vice presidents in their respective publishing houses. Some notes: Children’s books have gone from being the step-child to being the golden child in publishing; they are leaders in diversity; everyone aims to make good books; the current publishing climate is good for children’s books right now, but it is very competitive; expect working with an author/illustrator to be a collaboration, you are part of a team.

After the panel, we all split up into various breakout sessions. The one I went to was with Patrick Collins about picture book art. He went over the key elements of picture book art and what to think about when creating illustrations for books. Notes: Character – needs to be appealing, personality is important, helps tell the story, body language is important, a lot can be said through facial expressions and body language; Setting – think about how you are going to include setting so it does its part of the job, helps create mood, think about scale to give importance or drama; Action – creates excitement and interest, moves you across the page; Color – use it to your advantage, sometimes you need to use color sparingly and sometimes you have to be bold, doesn’t have to be the same throughout the book; Simplicity – paring things down to the necessary elements, a lot of power in simplicity; Humor – can be subtle, sometimes it just doesn’t work. Variety is important!
This breakout session was so helpful to me. I know some of this seems like common sense, but now I have an actual list to think about when I approach my books. That is priceless! I can’t wait to go back to the book dummies I have been working on and apply these thoughts and see how I can make them better.

After a quick lunch break, we all went to our next breakout sessions. I picked The Ten Mistakes Illustrators Make by Giuseppe Castellano. Instead of giving you the mistakes, here is the link to his blog post the session was based on. Wow did I learn a lot at this session! Every thing he went through I went through in my head: do I do that? Need to fix that portfolio piece! etc. Seriously I am so inspired to redo my entire portfolio. AND I am actually excited to do it! It is going to require a lot of thought, but I am happy I went to this break out session.

After this, Lin Oliver interviewed Rainbow Rowell. They talked about her work, her process, how she came to write, etc. This was a good interview. Lin really listened to Rainbow, and had great questions! I liked hearing them talk to each other, but since it was mostly about Rainbow’s career, I didn’t take many notes but just enjoyed the interview.

Kate Messner and Linda Urban followed with a very quick inspirational talk about what they do to find inspiration when they are uninspired. For each of them it was something different: for Kate it was climbing mountains, for Linda, learning to play the Ukulele. They were fun to listen to, and the message was very clear: get out of your chair once in awhile!

After this, was the Art Browse. This was a lot of fun, as any illustrator who was there got to put out a portfolio of work and then you could just walk around and look at everyone’s art! It was fantastic. The amount of talent in that room was a little overwhelming, but also inspiring. I picked up a lot of postcards and business cards, and I can’t wait to contact people and tell them how much I admired their art. I am very glad this is a part of the conference, otherwise, we might not get to see what everyone else is doing!

Then came the gala. The gala is a fun way to meet people from your own area and network. There was some delicious food and drink, and adorable mini cupcakes. They had the area divided by region, so all you had to do was find the tables marked as your region. I got to meet some great people from New Jersey, and reconnect with some I had met at NJ SCBWI events. I can’t wait to see some of them again at the NJ SCBWI conference this summer!

To end the night, there were several different socials. I went to the illustrator social so I could meet some fellow illustrators. I got to speak to Giuseppe to thank him for a great break out session. I also ran into a professor from art school which was fun! He didn’t remember me, but I didn’t expect him to. He did remember one of my pieces which was kind of cool. I spoke to several other people from the NY area, found out I am allowed to go to NY SCBWI events which I didn’t know, and generally had a good time.

I was pretty wiped out by the end of Saturday, but it was so good. I can’t wait to apply the things I have learned. Tune in tomorrow for a recap of Sunday!

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Hello Everyone!

Apparently I am terrible at blogging. It’s just so much more fun to paint and stuff! I have been keeping very busy, so I thought I would give you a recap of everything I have been doing in January. Since January is almost over, it seemed like a good time!

I have decided that 2016 is going to be the year “Anne Get’s Serious About Her Children’s Book Career”. What does that mean? Well, first I joined a challenge called the 12×12 challenge. This is a challenge where you write 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months. There are webinars with people already published or in the industry, the chance to join critique groups, and to get your work critiqued by the group at large. It’s awesome! I also joined the illustrator portion of the group which gives the opportunity to have your work critiqued by others and share resources. We’ve already done a critique of websites which was great. (If you have visited my website before, you’ll notice the art has gotten bigger. That was a direct result of joining this group.) I think you can still register if you are interested. It’s definitely worth thinking about if you want to get some feedback for your work and “meet” great people!
Through this group, I have also joined a challenge to read 1,000 picture books in 2016. A big goal I know! However, it is extremely important to know your field, and what is getting published. Plus, it’s a great excuse to go to the library. I am already making a list and plan to visit my local library tomorrow to get started!
I’ve also joined a challenge to create a picture book dummy and submit it in six months through kidlitart. It starts now and goes through July. I am really excited and nervous about this one. I have created dummies before, but there has never been a schedule for it, it’s been more of a haphazard process. This will help keep me focused and create more work.
The final challenge I have joined is one my sister organized. The challenge is to read 40 books in 2016, however, they have to fulfill certain criteria. Some of the categories are “a book based on a fairy tale” or “a book written by a celebrity.” This is a fun challenge because I will definitely be reading books I may not have read otherwise.
As you can see, I have gone a little crazy with the challenges in January! However, one of the things I have learned the more I do this, is that accountability is everything. It is way to easy to keep putting things off or let fear keep you from continuing when you don’t have accountability. I’ll keep you posted on all these challenges as the year goes on. Right now I am really excited about all of them. We shall see if that excitement carries me through the year!

The other thing that has been keeping me busy is the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators conference that is happening in 2 weeks. The event takes place in Manhattan and I’ve been prepping for it since Jan. 1st. This involves creating more portfolio pieces, getting a new portfolio to keep these pieces in, getting new promotional materials printed, and researching the people who are going to be there. I have been doing a lot of work for this. I went to the conference last year and it was amazing, but I didn’t feel prepared. Probably because I decided to go at the last minute. This year, I registered as soon as registration was open. I am also participating in their Illustrator Intensive this year. Last year, because I signed up so late, it was already full. I am excited and nervous for this. The conference is going to be amazing again. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Now, what would be a post without any art? Here are the new pieces I have created in 2016 so far:

Queen Bee

Queen Bee

The inspiration for this piece came to me as I was inventorying periodicals at my day job. I have no idea how I thought of it, or why it came to me, but I am glad it did! I hadn’t painted in so long it was great to pick up the paintbrushes again. This is currently my favorite piece in my portfolio. I call it queen bee. You never know where your inspiration is going to come from! This was painted with gouache.

Whoever said penguins couldn't be airborne, had never met a penguin as resourceful as Sammi

Whoever said penguins couldn’t be airborne, had never met a penguin as resourceful as Sammi

This second piece was from a drawing I did last fall as part of a drawing challenge I created for myself (Again with the challenges!). I made a list of words, and had my facebook followers pick a number. Then I had to do a drawing for each of those words. I did it as a way to inspire myself again and it worked. Everyone had fun with the challenge, and now I have several drawings that I could make into portfolio pieces (like this). If I wanted to. This was finished today! It was also painted with gouache.

Going forward from today, I am going to continue prepping for my conference. There are more things to be drawn, more things to get ready. It’s nice to take a break to write, but now it’s time to get back to the painting and stuff 🙂 Be sure to check out my new page: New Work. Here is where I’ll be posting pieces as I finish them going forward. I will keep you posted about how the year of “Anne Get’s Serious About Her Children’s Book Career” is going!

Happy January!

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