Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New England SCBWI!

...Rocked! I attended the conference this past weekend as a guest critiquer. So inspirational. And fun! The weekend started off with a dinner & cabaret on Friday night.

Quite obviously, I am about the worst photographer in the world. But, it just shows to go you, the frenetic energy of the room could not be captured on film!

Saturday was filled with one-on-one portfolio reviews, 15 minutes apiece. It's a funny thing, doing portfolio reviews- I mean really, who am I to say what someone should or should not be doing with their artwork? But, I tried to do the same things that I've found helpful when sitting on the other side of the table: pointing out which pieces I respond most strongly to; pieces I don't respond to; pieces that I could see fitting in with the Greenwillow list, etc. I don't think that one portfolio review should be the end all, be all in deciding which direction to take your work, by any means. It's definitely helped me to get as many people as possible to look at my portfolio. That way, I've learned which pieces in my portfolio are more universally appealing, what many publishers don't like (googly eyes), what they'd like to see more of. My advice? Get as many opinions on your portfolio as possible (and I'm not talking your friends or family here, because they'll always say everything's great!)

Sunday, I had the great fortune of being selected to help lead an "Illustrators Academy" workshop. My other co-leaders were Susan Sherman, Art Director at Charlesbridge; Brian Lies, author/illustrator of "Bats at the Beach" (among many others); and Lita Judge, author/illustrator of "One Thousand Tracings" (among many others).Who was the rookie of the group?? Me!! Me!! But all three of these people were so down-to-earth and downright nice that I wasn't even intimidated!

Until, of course, Lita and Brian did their slide presentation of their working process. My GOODNESS!
I (along with everyone else in the room) had to scoop their jaws off the floor. I had seen many of their books before, of course, but maybe it was seeing the paintings large-scale from the projector-- I don't know, but both of their work is simply breathtaking. And both have books coming out soon (by publishing standards), so keep an eye out!

The rest of the day (actually, it preceded the presentations) was spent mostly in a large group critique. Everyone brought in one piece of art, and the four of us spent 10-15 minutes talking in-depth about the piece, with all four of us adding our opinions. I found it fascinating, and I hope the attendees felt the same way. As a bonus, no one left the room crying, as was the case in many of the group crits I participated in at RISD!

To sum up: the conference was super-organized, I met a lot of great and talented people, and I came home invigorated & inspired. Besides rhythm and music (which, let's face it, I GOT), who could ask for anything more?


Al said...

That sounds like possibly the scariest thing ever! A giant critique! I haven't had to go through one of those since the horrific days of art school - explaining my landscape paintings and being ripped apart by the mighty force of abstract/installation contemporary artists.

You're incredibly brave even to be a part of that!

Bats on the beach looks ACE!

Vicki said...

Yeah, the painting department at my school seemed to be a little rough on my landscape-painting friends, too. Most of the painters who worked figuratively majored in illustration, not painting, which I think says something! So, hopefully this critique wasn't as horrific as those you remember...

Bats on the Beach is awesome, and Bats at the Library is in bookstores in the fall (I think)- and again, the paintings Brian showed at the conference were jaw-dropping.

Kristi Valiant said...

I remember group critiques from art school well. At first they were heart-racingly scary, then they helped me not to get defensive about my art but instead want honest feedback about what to change.

It's fun to hear you talk about portfolio reviews, because you might be reviewing my portfolio at the Midsouth SCBWI conference in September! At least I'm guessing they'll have portfolio reviews there - they usually do. I'm hoping to have my picture book dummy ready to show in my portfolio by that point.

Your spread from Bea Rocks the Flock on your website is super fun. I love the sheep hanging from the tree, looking like a cloud. So we have another whole year to wait before that book comes out?

My favorite piece in your portfolio is the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Love the cock of sheep's head as he scrutinizes the painting.

Vicki said...

Hi Kristi!

I'm looking forward to the Midsouth conference (yes, already!). I really like the work on your blog & website, so I hope I get to see more of it, and your dummy, in September. I think my favorite piece of YOURS is the black & white illustration for "Leap"- such a strong composition!

It's funny you should say you like the sheep in the museum the best-- That's one that I've always felt kind of "eh" about, but in almost every single portfolio review I've had, the reviewer picks that one out! So I've kept it in. And that's why I, at least, go through the semi-torture of having portfolio reviews- to hear how other people respond to the work I create in my own little cocoon.