Friday, February 26, 2010

It's All a Matter of Perspective

I saw this woman in the park this morning....I don't think she was too excited about the (awesome) snow day we got here, NYC side.

Friday, February 19, 2010

SCBWI - Paper Scribbles

I've christened this exercise 'Paper Scribbles'. Kevin Hawkes spent the second half of the lecture that we had with him coaching us through this imagination exercise and since I'm pro-imagination and want all my readers to use theirs more deliberately I decided this needed its own blog post.

If you are hard at work on this assignment you should look like this.

Kevin mosied in and out of the aisles giving critiques and chatting. He told me I have amazing color sense, so given that that comment was based on three random sheets of paper I happened to throw on a page, I'm going to hold onto it like it's iron clad truth. Haha.
  • You will need:
    Something to cut with: scissors or an Exacto
    Something to stick with: A glue stick, Rubber Cement, Elmer's
    A stack of colored paper
    A medium that takes you out of your comfort zone, I chose chalk pastels because I am dumb when it comes to using them. Find something that speaks to you like that.

  • Here's what you do:
    Pick three colors that are bright and happy from your bouquet of paper
    Cut and tear the paper into random shapes
    Glue them on the paper in a way that gets your creativity on the bus
    Using your new medium create a happy illustration incorporating your random shapes.

  • Try doing this with different papers that evoke different feelings. Use scary colors to make a nightmare of a picture, etc.

  • If you get a chance to do this exercise let me know about it in the comments on my blog! I'd love to see what you come up with.

    Start at the very beginning:
    3 colors. 3 shapes.
make them into something.
Draw on your idea a little more.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

SCBWI - Illustrator's Intensive: Kevin Hawkes

After the SCBWI Illustrator's Intensive morning with Lisa Desemini, we all broke for lunch. In niceties I'd stood up after the session and heard my name being called. I joined up with Polly Beam and Grace Co (friends I had in college who's work blows me away, but who I haven't seen in years) It was so extra sweet with a cherry on top to catch up with them. You should amble over and check out their work, cause they rock.

The three of us wandered over to Grand Central where we all bought sandwiches at the food court before sneaking back to the Hyatt. In a side note, I really have to say that SCBWI picked such a perfect venue for this convention. The room for the intensive was so well organized. We had long tables to work on and while there were well over a hundred or so people in the room it seemed intimate.

I was naive enough to think that people that we had in the illustrator's intensive were all we were going to have for the weekend and that it would just be a larger conference because we'd be with the people at the writer's intensive. HA! Saturday morning I arrived to a swimming hive of activity. Apparently tickets for the intensive sell out. Statistically speaking, not to say a children's illustrator or writer is ever a number ;), the weekend brought in
1,047 attendees, from 14 countries and 45 states.

I was shamed when they let us know that Hawaii was one of the five states not present. I wanted to raise my fist in my air ala my Mom at Falling Water (OMG funniest story ever) and shout that I was from HAWAII! I WAS FROM HAWAII!!! Alas, we all know that I am a Brooklynite to my core now. Did last week's random girl asking us what we put on our skin to get it so pale teach us nothing? Hawaii is my past, but Brooklyn must have been a past life and at any rate it is the present. I sat quietly on my hands while humming 'Little Brown Gal' under my breath.

OK in a round about way that brings us to Kevin Hawkes' presentation at the illustrator's intensive.
What? You couldn't tell that was exactly where we were going? For shame.
Here is a diagram: What could be simpler? I'd like you to keep up from here on out.

The main point I learned from Kevin Hawkes' lecture about his career is that I want Kevin Hawkes' career.

There was one thing that I was really hoping would be answered at this lecture and I would have loved to ask it, but I didn't know how to begin to pose the question without being rude.

I want to know how Kevin Hawkes propagates a career based on work that is soooooo wildly varied. My style always evolves - but when you look at my work I take pride in the fact that it usually looks like I did it. Kevin's work is always different, always flirting with new style, new medium, new approaches. How fun would it be to let yourself be that kind of wild and make a celebrated living doing it?

Here are three books by Kevin Hawkes that I scanned from my collection:

Here's 'Weslandia'
written by
Paul Fleischman
I don't know if you've had the pleasure of meeting Velma Gratch? Here she is with the way cool butterfly.
'Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly' is written by
Alan Madison
Here is my very very favorite Kevin Hawkes book of all time. This book is on my top 'twenty-children's-books-that-everyone-must-have-in-order-to-raise-well-rounded-children-who-love-books-and-people-and-who-would-never-kick-a-dog' list. It's something you should have sitting on your shelf.
'Library Lion' is written by
Michelle Knudsen
(read her blog it is funny and smart and it will make you giggle)
So here are three books that seem to be illustrated with three very different hands! I've always had my hand slapped whenever I veer away from my particular style. So how does he do it?!

Here's what he said that kind of started to answer that question for me:
  • You will be successful doing what inspires and comes easily to you.
  • Listen to the book. Draw in the style that makes sense for that book. Don't make the book fit your style, change your style to fit the book. (Personally I cannot imagine 'Library Lion' drawn in that bright high contrast style that makes 'Velma Gratch so exciting. So I started to see what he meant a bit more)
  • Be yourself. You don't have to try to be unique. You have to try NOT to be unique.

    So here's what I figured out about Kevin Hawke's wild styles of working. He picks books to illustrate that he knows are good. He picks books that he feels passionate about working on. He does art that speaks to those books and while the styles might be different, the illustrations are always honest and full of passion and concern for creating the best experience he can for his readers. AND SO...Kevin Hawke's work is sought out because it is good. His cohesive style of the way he draws takes a back burner to the fact that he won't rest until a book is "right". As a result he's always in demand because he illustrates books that sell because they are great.

    One of the many things I didn't really know about Kevin Hawkes before this lecture, and that I really respected after this portion of the day, was that he truly thinks about his readers - children. I LIVE for that perspective. I work in children's entertainment because I love kids. I find that often when it comes to the animation world children are not always the focus. I have worked with an abundance of animators and designers for animation who don't care about kids, they care about what they want to make and if the market is children so be it.

    I was tickled at the fact that everyone at SCBWI seemed to really care about a child's experience to their core. Kevin was my first real view into that shared passion and I think even if that is all you get from following next week's posts on the conference that you'll come away someone more in tune with their craft.

The art project that we did with Kevin was about unlocking illustrator's block by starting with something unique and modifying it to make something that speaks to you. I'll be back tomorrow to show you a video on how to do that the "Kevin Hawkes SCBWI" way. OOOOOOOOOHH WHAATT?! That's right. WITH VIDEO. Word up.
Word up, readers.

listening to right this second: "in and 0ut of love" -- bon jovi

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Society of Awesome

Two weeks ago I bit the bullet and went to the bi-annual international SCBWI Confernce at the Hyatt steps from Grand Central.

society banner artwork by David Ercolini
With the cost of the conference and the illustrator's intensive (which I also sprung for) the bill came to a whopping $500. I can usually justify things like this by negotiating the fact that I'm a Brooklynite and that unlike people who travel for this sort of thing I am without housing or travel cost. The commute took me 16 minutes longer than it usually takes me to get to work. HOWEVER, the second I pushed the "purchase" button on the site I had instant buyers remorse.



flash forward to the end of day two - where I realized that if Sunday's half day of lectures resulted in not one single nugget of knowledge that I would totally feel like I got my money's worth. Wild, huh?
So while this was my first conference it is most definitely not my last.

I'll be blogging about it over the next week or so, and while I realize I missed my FOB blogging experience, I needed time to process. I wanted to start at the very beginning:

The Illustrator's Intensive
I wish I could talk to you about the keynote on Friday morning. But I cannot. Why? Because it started at 8am. I am an artist, not a scientist, so I cannot tell you how it is scientifically possible to get into Manhattan prior to 8am. So with everything going on I only caught the tail end of the keynote. Everyone in the room seemed very fired up when I got there so I'magona assume it was great.
The day was broken into three main sections.

We started the morning off with a workshop given by Lisa Desimini.
I was really intrigued by Lisa's journey because she like most author/illustrators started as an illustrator and slowly transitioned into writing her own books. So big deal, right?

Well that's what you think until you read some of these books. My personal aesthetic is so very different from the style that Lisa uses in her work. At first, I didn't feel like I got so much from her discussion that focused heavily on her artistic process. During a break I found myself out in the 'SCBWI bookstore' where I picked up a few of her titles and wandered through them. Her writing blew me away. It is sensitive but honest and poetic but practical. I readjusted my attitude and eased back into the session.

Here are my main take aways from her lecture:
  • Always do personal work
  • When it comes to the way you work and what you do don't be afraid to break rules
  • Brainstorm with words
We were to bring a rough sketch of a birthday party for a character from snow white and the seven dwarfs.

During the second half of the workshop we showed our work and then brainstormed words. We made charts of descriptions that we associate with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We brainstormed about birthday parties too. It was an odd experience for me because I NEVER work that way.

Afterward, Lisa had us brainstorm words by ourselves about the Wicked Queen. Instead of sharing those words with the group, we were told to take 10 minutes to create a new illustration using our brainstorming to show what would happen if a party for one of the characters was crashed by Snow White's evil step mother.

Here's what I came up with:

The words I mind-stormed were:
Apples, Poison, Deceit, Mean, Hidden, Hide, Costumed, Mean, Selfish, Conniving.

The things I thought my blog readers would really appreciate that I heard during Lisa's discussion were:

  • Your style is like your handwriting, as long as you draw daily and work diligently, it'll present itself.
  • Ask yourself about your art. Wonder if it should be curved, on a diagonal, if the perspective should be extreme or if the book can best be served with a simplistic line.
  • Put yourself into a book as much as you can.
  • A manuscript is like going to a party, enhance it without hijacking it.
And then she said one of my favorite things I heard over the weekend.
"If you don't realize that every book needs a little bit of humor, you're kidding yourself."

By lunchtime my brain was swimming with inspiration and new ideas and now it's a bit too much to blog about the rest of the day. In true Scarlet O'Hara fashion, I'll think about that tomorrow. Check back to hear about Kevin Hawkes' perspective later this week.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Back to the Drawing Board!

So. Ok. I'm not exactly back to the drawing board.

I wish I knew how to quit you! It's disgusting how much I think about the fact I haven't blogged when I take an accidental hiatus. I worry about it way more than when I worry that I haven't showered recently enough.

Here's the skinny:
  • I played in a lot of snow this month. LOTS.
    And then a little bit of snow.
    Just a little bit.

  • I threw wax with my friends
This is my annual tradition and it's pretty dang important.
It is one of my favorite memories from my childhood and one I hold onto with an iron fist. If it is New Years Eve wax must be thrown.
Use a double boiler, melt paraffin and take turns tossing a cup of wax into freezing cold water one at a time. The wax makes sharp relief sculptures, predicting your future for the coming year.
Apparently my year will have something to do with a baby-bunting. Let's hope Jen gets bored with bebe and decides she'd rather I take care of him full-time while she pops in on weekends. Would I get maternity leave for adopting? Here at She Sure is Sketchy we never shy away from the important questions.
  • I brunched.
    I brunched a lot.
    (This brunch was my yummiest and one of the most fun. Of course it happened with JenMO and Bebe)
  • With the help two of my amazing besties Tess and JenMO I planned an adult/kid's birthday party of dreams
    Here was my invite:
    We ate PB&Js and drank fancy Shirley Temples and Capri Suns. Made Orange Smiles. We drew on the wall. We played Pick Up Sticks and watched Tail Spin.

    Ten minutes into the night my camera died. Other than that the night was perfect. We laughed until we cried.
    We sent Slinkys down my brownstone stairs and made up new games with retro toys and gigantic gumballs too big to chew. I was riffling through the freezer for more ice and Otterpops when the entire apartment went dark. It was so sudden and so unexpected that I had forgotten that that is what happens when it is your birthday and candles need to be blown out.

    We New Yorkers were SURE the power was out...the collective grown right before my lit cupcake made its way down the hallway to be wished upon made the novelty of candle bowing even better. And yes... that's a Barbie Girl tattoo on my chest.
The evening's perfect pink and violet cupcakes/wish makers were provided
by Rachel, my go to baking genius friend.
(They made the perfect morning after breakfast too)

Here she is with puppet master, Jill. And yessssssss they're both sporting Barbie Girl tattoos.
I told you we partied like it was 1990.
Everyone was rad and we played with vintage toys. My gifts included a Bedazzler for my purse and crayon candles and new sketch stuff and jewelry and a green house full of flowers and a hand drawn Twilight coloring book and beautiful bound version of The Secret Garden and tons and tons of other amazing things that I love and adore and now use all the time.
Since we're bullet-pointing our way thru January:
  • I had my birthday.
    It was most awesome. Seriously.
    Under the word 'awesome' in the Marion-Webster there is a reference to my 28th birthday party. It also met a 30x30 - it was a theme party and it was thrown.
  • Every evening at job-job I watched the Chrysler Building turn pink in the sunset outside my window.
    Yay for pink.
  • I spent three days with the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
    Consider my world rocked.
  • I am now totally Twitterpated - Check out that shiny new sidebar.
    You can follow me at

  • I finished a movie about 'Perimeters' at job-job.

  • I had a Crumbs Cupcake every week but the first during birthday month 2010
    28 is going to be just FINE.
  • I broke up with this really nice kid who loves reading the way I love sketching. The downside is that when I sketch I can still talk and when you read as voraciously as I draw you don't have time for a life. Also, they were boring books, mostly about Jewish politics. In the words of the Duchess of Justice - Good Riddance.
  • I took a three day Latin Dance Class - where it was further proved to me that I am maybe adopted.
  • I designed a new line for licensing -ohmigosh it might be my favorite line to date, it's a toss up between Baby Mermaids and this new line - It'll be unveiled in May.
  • I wrote a children's book about an Ostrich named Sid. - He's convinced he wants to be a reporter and his family would rather he keep his head in the sand. It's funny. I think it's funny. I'm pitching it as a good book to open up discussion about the world around us.
  • I got a two-hour long deep tissue massage at fancy-smancy spa as a gift from one of my clients. I didn't know clients could give gifts like that but I feel like you should know it, especially if you read this blog because you're one of my clients....
  • I babysat a cat. His name was Miles
  • I crafted
  • Oh and I totally watched Twilight.
    (maybe twice)
I wonder what birthday-month 2011 will bring!
Raise your glass, loves. Here's to another good year!Alright! I rub my hands together, slap myself in the face and finally, finally
So that's where I've been and now we're caught up.
It's onward from here my loves!

P.S. This birthday month catch-up was brought to you by the letter 'A'
for Awesome, Amazing, and All done


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