Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for ?

Today is the final day of April, the end of National Poetry Month, the culmination of the A to Z Challenge.

Z is for?

I planned to do Zeal, but Ananya beat me to it.

I thought about Zeitgeist: a lovely word, but succinctly summed up by D Biswas.

I wish I had been clever enough to think of Z-end, like Alex.

Or as original as Tina's ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz.

As the theme for illustration Friday is "Vanity," I could probably pull off a sketch of Zeus, or a lovely zingaro (gypsy).

I've opted instead for a quote from the philosopher Theodore Zeldin. I don't know anything about him, but he sums up my experience as a first-time participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

 One of the great ambitions is to discover the diversity of the world, to discover who inhabits the world.

To discover some of those amazing inhabitants, go to the A to Z Challenge.

Thanks for your participation as a reader.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Paula Yoo and NaPiBoWriWee

Y is for Yoo*

Be prepared. National Picture Book Writing Week is nearly upon us, thanks to the talented Paula Yoo.

Are you ready for the week-long writing event?
There are still a few days to get organized.

Here are some ways make your week a success:

  • Pre-post a few key posts for your blog, or put aside your regular schedule and blog (briefly) about your progress. 
  • Buy lots of Hot Pockets and Ramen noodles.
  • Read picture books. Paula's fabulous Shining Star, the Anna May Wong Story or Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, the Sammy Lee Story are great books to start with. 

Illustrated by Lin Wang
Illustrated by Dom Lee

  • Find seven story seeds now. Grow those seeds into ideas May first through the seventh. This is the week to put in the sweat equity.  
  • Don't panic if you don't have fleshed-out ideas, pick great endings or great beginnings. Scour your PiBoIdMo Journal. Work toward that great beginning, or find a happy ending before the day is finished. 
  • Allow yourself a wretched first draft. That's all you are working toward each day.
  • Start early in the morning. Try to get a draft on paper. If it flows, great, if one or more parts are a little fuzzy, rewrite. If that does't bring a part into focus, do the dishes, bake cookies, or mow the lawn.
  • If all else fails, free write and see what happens.

As Paula would say,
"Write like you mean it!"

Here's a pudding cookie recipe from Chef in Training for you to try. I hope it gets the creative juices flowing.

If the Shabby Creek Cottage can make 30 freezer meals in one afternoon, you can make 7 to sustain your family while you write . . . just in case.

NaPiBoWriWee logo courtesy Sandy Tanaka

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Princess and the Stinky Cheese, by Lauri Meyers

Here's my entry for the Fractured Fairy Tale Contest. It was a difficult decision, but I chose Lauri Meyers's The Princess and the Stinky Cheese.

Thanks to Lauri for letting me illustrate her story!
Click to view the original sketch.
Lauri has put together all the contest illustrations for her story and the full text of  The Princess and the Stinky Cheese on her blog. Pop over and take a look!

X is for Xerxes

X is for Xerxes*
Celebrate National Poetry Month!

X was once a great king Xerxes,
Linxy Lurxy
Great King Xerxes!**

Art by Edward Lear
* Follow the link to the A to Z Challenge.
** The Nonsense Alphabet

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Work-In-Progress

Can you guess which fractured fairy tale I am illustrating for Susannah's art contest?

Pop over to her blog to review the other entrants or read the inspiring original stories. Coming soon . . . my finished contest entry!

W is for Work-in-Progress
Follow the A to Z Challenge

Friday, April 25, 2014

Very Hungry for 45 Years

Thanks to Erik for the heads up.
 Eric Carle's picture book masterpiece The Very Hungry Caterpillar turns 45 this year. 45 is SUCH a great number. I refuse to tell you why. Anyway, let's just say that this book ages more gracefully than . . . well, than some people do. The caterpillar and I have a lot in common. I've been hungry for 45 years too.

Check out Eric Carle's amazing collection of books.
Visit the Eric Carle Museum. Browse their exhibits or take a workshop.
Join the celebration with apps and gadgets at Penguin Books.
Find printables, snacks, party ideas, and much more at The World of Eric Carle on Pinterest.

V is for Very Hungry Caterpillar
Caterpillar bento box
Follow the A to Z Challenge.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Portfolio Advice: Unity / Variety

"It's a very ancient saying, but a true and honest thought . . ."

Your portfolio should show
Unity and Variety.

I've had this advice pinned to the wall above my desk, well, forever. I think I read it in an old PW newsletter.

So let's talk about injecting Unity into your portfolio. 
  • Unity of style
  • Unity of purpose
  • Unity in choice of media
  • Unity of  . . . OK, consistent quality.
Why is unity so important? Because, as I was reminded at the recent Write2Ignite Conference, your portfolio has to convince the art director they can trust you with an assignment.

Your portfolio has to scream, 
this is what you'll get when you hire me.

1. Unity of style.
Courtesy Diego Diaz
You don't have to have identical styles in all your pieces, but they should look like they are by the same person. Again, the AD wants to know what the finished artwork is going to look like. They want to know you can duplicate a look for their project.

But remember to add variety by showing a range of moods, age groups, and genres.

I think Diego Diaz does a great job of showing what he is capable of. You know he'll produce slick, high-quality work which leans toward the graphic novel / animation spectrum. He demonstrates he can work for a variety of age ranges, both comical or full of action.

2. Unity of Purpose
Courtesy Randy Wollenmann
Many talented illustrators submit to different markets. They have slightly different styles for each (think editorial vs. children's). Showcase your work in separate sections, making it easy for clients to find what they're looking for.

Within each of the markets, display work that shows your versatility (AKA variety.)
Randy Wollenmann super-organizes his art by genre, medium, and style. This is overkill for most of us, but with Randy's phenominal body of work and uber-talent, it's probably the best way for ADs to find what they're looking for.

3. Unity in Choice of Media
You don't have to use the same medium in each piece, but you have to show the AD what they'll be getting (sounding like a broken record?) If your work in oil is photo-realistic, but your work in watercolor is impressionistic, then make two separate mini-portfolios. But if you handle characters in a similar way with both oil and watercolor, then grouping them together is going to show your versatility.
Courtesy Susan Swan

A variety of media seems to work best for mixed media artists. Some projects are more, some less. Generally, there is no trouble identifying the artist and the end result the client can expect.

It's pretty obvious Susan Swan can deliver stunning illustration on a variety of subjects. Her portfolio is a mix of paint and paper, in ever-changing variety, but that doesn't stop her work from being completely unified. She demonstrates both comic and non-fiction applications of her talent.

4. Quality
Quality should unify your portfolio. Don't put samples in your portfolio which make you want to apologize. Less is more.

Courtesy Chris Oatley
Variety here means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. For example, you may not do bird's-eye-view as well as you do two-point, but if you can show a variety of  POV, then you've expressed your flexibility.

The amazing Chris Oatley has 5 common pitfalls to avoid when compiling your portfolio. His advice is geared toward concept artists as well as illustrators, but it's full of truth to pin on YOUR wall.

U is for Unity

What do you think of my observations? Was anything helpful? Have you heard all this before? Do you disagree?

Have you been challenged by one or more of the points above? How did you conquer your difficulty? I'd love to hear from you and share a link to your portfolio.

Follow the A to Z Challenge.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

They Draw and Cook

Let's face it, illustrators need stuff to illustrate. Last week, we listed some contest and challenge links. They Draw and Cook, presents another opportunity to get your art out there, and it can have financial rewards as well. TDAC sometimes pays for recipes, for print rights in their cookbooks, and royalties for sale of recipe prints. You can find out more about the sibling team behind TDAC at their day job, Studio SSS.

Antipasto Sandwich, by Erika Barriga from the They Draw and Cook cookbook

I found the site through fellow illustrators, Erika Barriga, Michelle Henninger, and Angela Sbandelli.

Orange Risotto, by Angela Sbandelli for They Draw and Cook

Cinnamon-Roasted Almonds, by Michelle Henninger, for They Draw and Cook.

It's a great place to discover new talent too.

Beetroot, Chili & Lime Pesto, by Holly Gardner for They Draw and Cook.
Carrot Cake, by Denisa Negrea for They Draw and Cook
T is for They Draw and Cook

Check out their sister site, They Draw and Travel for more artistic opportunities.

Have you illustrated a recipe for They Draw and Cook? Do you have a favorite recipe from their site? Do you know of another opportunity for illustrators? Leave a comment. I'd love to share your link.

Follow the A to Z Challenge.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seven Picture Books in Seven Days

It's that time of year! Spring has sprung and Paula Yoo's picture book writing frenzy is nine days away. Join us as we participate in National Picture Book Writing Week 2014, now in its sixth year.
Sign-up now!
Logo courtesy Sandy Tanaka

Have you participated in years past? Have you completed the challenge? Have any of your drafts from last year turned into worthwhile manuscripts? Share your thoughts and successes. I'd love to hear from you.

S is for Seven*

*Follow the A to Z Challenge

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rock

R is for Rock and Rockwell Kent**
Celebrate National Poetry Month!

This is my rock
And here I run
To steal the secret
Of the sun;

This is my rock
And here come I
Before the night has swept the sky;

This is my rock
This is the place
I meet the evening face to face.*

-David McCord

Rockwell Kent bookplate,
Courtesy BookplateInk

* This Is My Rock
** Follow the link to the A to Z Challenge.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

R is for Resurrection

Tomorrow is the scheduled day for "R" in the A to Z Challenge, but today is the day I celebrate the Resurrection of my Savior. Ask me about Him.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Illustration Sensation, Quentin Blake

Q is for Quentin Blake*

Sir Quentin Blake has been an illustrator for over sixty years. His art appears in magazines, books, galleries, and on postage stamps and hospital walls. In 1999, he became the first Children's Laureate. He was knighted by the Prince of Wales in 2013. He has received numerous awards including the Bologna Ragazzi prize, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Kate Greenaway Medal, and the Eleanor Farjeon Award.

He is perhaps best known for his illustrations of Roald Dahl characters.

Willy Wonka, Charlie, and Grandpa

The Big Friendly Giant

A Near Thing for
Captain Najork
, by Russell Hoban
Walker Books recently re-released three of Russell Hoban's classic books with the original Quentin Blake illustrations. ">Quentin Blake works loosely with pen and ink. 
To keep each illustration fresh, he works on a light box. The sketch shines through the paper, but not enough to copy it exactly. In this way, each drawing takes on new life of its own. He endeavors to create characters which are defined enough to tell a story, but not so defined that they interfere with the concept formed in the reader's imagination. Of artistic talent, he says, “Don’t worry about being a great artist … just draw until you find your style” 

I remember him best for his comic, Waldo Widdershin, which he produced for Cricket Magazine in the early 1980's.

More recently, Quentin Blake established the House of Illustration, the world's first non-profit dedicated to illustration as an art form. His work can be seen in various gallery shows, including Quentin Blake, Larger than Life, which showcases his mural work.

From the exhibition, Large As Life, at Hall Place & Gardens

You can read more about him in his books, Laureate's Progress, Beyond the PageWords and Pictures, or see his work in over 300 books.

*Follow the A to Z Challenge.

Friday, April 18, 2014

PPBF: Poetrees

J is for Jumbo*

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick helps celebrate National Poetry Month 
and Earth Day.

Poetrees, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian
Written and Illustrated by Douglas Florian
Beach Lane Books, 2010
non-fiction, grades 1-5

Poetry, Nature, Non-Fiction

This book is ripe with poetrees,
They're grown to educate and please.
You'll see a cedar.
Oak tree too.
Birch and banyan,
Pine and yew.
Palm and gum
And willow tree,
Plus more you'll love tree-mendously!

Bristlecone Pine
I've chosen the jacket flap copy instead of the first poem because, well, because the copy is a poem. It perfectly explains  what to expect in this marvelous collection of eighteen poems about trees. There are a variety of poetic forms included in this book, too. The back matter, or "Glossitree," gives a paragraph about each tree in factual form.

What I Love:
Doug Florian's poetry is addicting. His tree poems are clever, informative, and filled with puns. Each spread of this book opens long-ways to emphasize the height of the trees. Every inch of this book was well-designed, contributing to the theme. "Tree Rings" is my favorite poem.

 tutorial from Ikatbag
1. Follow Douglas's poetic journey on his blog, floriancafe.
2. For information on species and care of trees, visit the Arbor Day Foundation site. Order some trees and get planting!
3. I found paper trees and other Earth Day crafts on Charlotte's Fancy.
4. If you live in the northeast, visit the National Arboretum, the Hershey Gardens, the US Botanic Garden, the Arnold Arboretum, or Longwood Gardens.
5. Have kids experiment with different types of poems listed at YoungWriters.  Kathi Mitchell's site lists examples and links for student poets.
6. Play poetry games online at Poetry4Kids.
7. What would PPBF be without a themed snack? Try these trees made from fruit or vegetables.
8. Inspire your young poet at Poetry At Play, founded by leading poets for adults and kids.
9. Here are some other Perfect Picture Books you might enjoy.

Posted by Grade Onederful
Posted by Laura Renauld
Another Florian feast
Posted by Sandi at Rubber Boots

Posted by Beth Stillborn
Posted by  Patricia Tilton

Posted by Carrie at StoryPatch

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for April 18, 2014 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

*Follow the A to Z Challenge.