Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Note About the Future

I enjoy having plans. The latest plan I have hatched up is this: Soon, I am starting the paintings for my next picture book, Bea Rocks the Flock. I'd like to document my progress on this blog- from preparing my paper, (hopefully, tonight), to sending off the final pieces in June. I'd like to do this mostly because I am always starting & losing journals, and I'd like to have some sort of record of this time to look back on in my golden years. But I also really enjoy reading the blogs of other artists. Hearing about their process is really inspirational to me-- so I'd like to add my two cents to the artistic "Take a Penny" pot out there.

So, starting soon... the Life and Times of Bea Rocks the Flock!

All Together Now!

I've been a reader of the Blue Rose Girls blog for a while now, and I always really enjoy when member Anna Alter posts a collective photo of all of her paintings for a recently completed book (like this posting here). And I thought, By Golly, I'm going to do that when I am done with my book! And so I did.

It's so fun to see all of your work together! And rewarding. As someone who writes things on her to-do list that I've ALREADY DONE, just to have the satisfaction of crossing them off, seeing my work all together pleases me.

Someone who is NOT pleased, obviously, is Sharon. Look at that she-devil glow in her eye! Just because her own career as a concert pianist fizzled out (it's a long story), she is intent on sabotaging my career. Just how does she think I pay for her precious Kibbles?!?

My drawing table in its "haven't seen signs of a Windex bottle in months" state, to...

...shiny, clean, and ready to start the next project! And Sharon, apparently, is ready for her closeup.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Final Two!

Yes, I know that I said the last one was the final piece, but these really, really are the LAST paintings I had to do for this book! The nighttime scene is the first page of the book (title page). The daytime scene is the last page (copyright and dedication). My, such wild times must have taken place in the interim!

I finished up these paintings at about 4:30 in the afternoon yesterday, and let me tell you, I am NOT used to leisure time! I was going a little bonkers with nothing to do! What am I going to do when my next project is over?!?! If last night is any indication, I'll do a lot of puttering around the apartment & make lots of chocolate chip cookies.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Last Piece

This is the last spread for "Grandpa, What's That Sound in the Middle of the Night?". I put off doing this one until the end because frankly, the task of painting a scene of characters in a river at night was a little technically daunting! I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, though.

It's funny- although I'm pretty pleased with my work for this book, there are about a million things I would have done differently now! More white space and more character close-ups, for starters. I thought I knew my picture book stuff pretty well- what with designing them all day & whatnot- but I think there are some things you can only actually learn by DOING the illustrations.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My inner Beverly Cleary

I love, love, love Beverly Cleary. I re-read the Ramona books in the school library until the librarian told me I really should branch out and read other things. So it was with great pleasure that I recently read her autobiography. Many of the details from the Ramona books had links to Ms. Cleary's own life-- for example, I loved the detail that Ramona named her doll Chevrolet and was mocked for it- and this is something the author herself did as a child.

I re-read a few Ramona books several months ago, after a trip to Portland, Oregon (now I sound like a stalker, but I did NOT go to stake out Ms. Cleary's homestead!). And, as is my fashion, when reading something inspiring, I did a few sketches while reading. AND, (here's the crux of this post), months later, when I read the memoir, I realized that one of my Ramona skeches was eerily similar to a picture of the author as a young child!

The photo's a little small, but you get the idea.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tomek Bogacki

I belong to a great illustrator's group that meets every other month somewhere around the city (CBIG- you can see the website here). Actually, I am currently serving as co-prez, which tickles me, because the last time I held any sort of "office" was as Historian for the Keyette club in high school, a position I was quickly fired from. Not to worry, I do not see history repeating itself for this gig! The other co-prez is a fellow Bloomsbury author, Manya Tessler- her book Yuki's Ride Home released this past week! You can check out her adorable website here.

Anyway, so in these meetings, we usually have a guest speaker, usually an editor, art director, author, or illustrator. I cannot tell you how helpful these meetings have been for my career. I met my first Bloomsbury editor at one of the CBIG-sponsored portfolio reviews. I showed her my book dummy, and within a week or two, I received that wonderful call that they wanted to publish my book. I've met several great editors and art directors through this group, and while obviously not every single one wants to publish my work, I feel like I have an extra connection with a few people now, and I feel like making a one-on-one connection is so important in children's publishing. Not essential, but definitely helpful.

Tomek was really engaging, and it's always inspiring to see another illustrator's work processes. He began his career in Poland, which made my current work struggles seem a little insignificant (really, who knew children's books could be censored?!?!?) I think my favorite book of his is "I Hate You! I Like You!" It's very simple, yet touching and full of character. His work is beautiful, and taught me there's a lot I can simplify in my own work.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In with the old, Out with the old

The "in" with the old refers to me- I'm old today. The big 3-0!!

The "out" with the old refers to my first picture book! I am working on the very last spread- all those months of work are almost at an end. You know, I am a lot sadder than I thought I 'd be! I've spent so much time on it, it's like the passing of an era. Like my 20s.

At least I have a project all lined up and ready for me to work on next. More like, an all-encompassing project that will dominate my time for the next four months. The artwork for my book, Bea Rocks the Flock, is due in June!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Reviews and Whatnot!

I think I will become a real nutjob when my own books are sent out for reviews. I didn't think it would bother me- after all, I've sat through my share of scathing critiques at RISD. And yet, when I saw that a review of The Gollywhopper Games had come out, I got all sorts of jittery. Luckily, the review mentions my illustrations positively; the Booklist review says the book has "appealing pencil illustrations". !!! They are not really pencil, but hey, I will not complain! I'm very happy with my first official review. I have a few of the illustrations on my website, but here are 2 others that I didn't put up...

These are twin bullies, not a trippy "looking at oneself" illustration.

And cake, because I do love cake.

There was also a mention of a book jacket I designed in a review for Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra. The Book Review said, "The title and cover are fun; put the book on display and it's likely to circulate." Well, this review also made me feel better, as the jacket I designed was actually changed for the paperback. Here's the hardcover...

And here's the paperback. Also designed by me, actually. More girly, less math-y. And you'll notice that "Do the Math " has been removed from the front cover. Funny, the changes we are asked to make sometimes! By the way, I highly recommend this book, and its sequel, The Writing on the Wall. Really engaging, and a very likeable main character. Even for a math-a-phobe like myself.