A challenge of color

Last night I was involved in a #kidlitart chat on Twitter that was really inspiring to me. It was all about color! How do you come up with your palettes? What’s your favorite color to use? Do you plan ahead or just dive into a piece and figure it out as you go? (You can find a full transcript of the chat here.)

As someone who’s work lately has been 95% black and white, I felt a bit out of place to an extent. What is great about this conversation was that it got me thinking about color again! I love color! I just need to work more with it so that my color use can go from run-of-the-mill to radiant.

When I was a child, I wanted my drawings to look like what I thought was real. 3D people. Green leaves. Blue sky. Red apples. As I matured and learned to really see the world around me, I learned that leaves come in all sorts of shades and colors, skies can be literally almost any color of the rainbow and then some, and even apples come in varying shades and gradients. And the world is all the better for it!

The next step forward from where I am is trying to learn how to manipulate color and use it more deliberately. I have been saving pictures and possible color palettes to a board on Pinterest for a long time, but not doing anything with them. I’ve decided that I will start picking a palette I’ve saved and making a piece with those colors. I don’t have any certain time frame for them, since I’m working on a few other projects right now as well, but I figure I will use each piece as an experiment. I’ve already made my sketch for my first palette! I tried to pick something a little spring-y since Spring is finally here, at least according to the calendar.

Blythe posted this helpful example for me after I asked about what people meant when they talked about doing color comps for projects. I have never done one before, and I think it will be super helpful.

I’ll check back in with a finished piece after it’s done!

February Daily Drawings

For the month of February, the #kidlitart community ran a challenge called KidLitArt28. For each day in February, we were do a drawing. The theme this year was “Things you love,” and I am proud to say that I managed to keep up with the challenge! I liked the idea of having all of the pieces somewhere together, so I am posting them all here. Most of them were simply black and white, but I did venture into color for a few.

Overall, I was very pleased with the results. I had a lot of positive feedback from people, which was really encouraging. It was good to get back into the swing of things. I have a few commissioned pieces I will be working on for a bit, but stay tuned for more to come! I’ll plan to do another update before two months have passed next time. Boy, life is really moving this year!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I started a post on December 20th, and here I am finally getting something posted. The holidays are behind us, and although we had a good Christmas and New Year celebrations, it has also been a rough time as we dealt with an ongoing illness with my youngest son. Three trips to the doctor later, we were admitted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital with a diagnosis of pneumonia. We spent the weekend in the hospital watching him slowly improve and we got to come home for New Year’s Eve. He is definitely doing much better now!

As many people do, I have been looking to the new year and wondering what it will have in store, as well as reflecting on 2018. This past year was a great year of firsts for my illustration journey. I began this blog, I started my Instagram account, I got involved with SCBWI and the kidlitart chat community on Twitter, I even travelled to Los Angeles to the SCBWI summer conference! I produced dozens of illustrations throughout the year, made lots of new friends, and felt my confidence in my abilities increase.

In 2019, I plan to get back swing of doing colour collective illustrations at least 2x per month, as well as get a few sample pages for a book dummy complete. My biggest step forward that I’m going to work on is mailing out postcards. For real, guys, postcards are going out this year. With a less definite goal in mind, I’m also going to be giving some use to some Christmas gifts I received: some watercolors and a watercolor sketchbook! I have missed traditional media and look forward to getting familiar with a new medium.

What this means for me is compiling my mailing list! I am going to try to go back to what Giuseppe Castellano suggested: add three names to your list per week. We will see how many I can come up with.

The near year holds a lot of opportunities for us all! What are some attainable goals you have for yourself? Don’t be afraid to dream big!

The 2018 SCBWI Summer Conference

Now that it has been a full week, I finally have time to blog about what an amazing experience I had this past weekend!

Technology astounds me, sometimes.
The Atlanta airport had what appeared to be a crystal-covered fishing net. Very pretty!

I arrived in LA either very late or very early, depending on your frame of reference, and got to my hotel around 1:45am. My friend and roommate for the weekend, Cynara, was already in the room and was surprisingly still awake! So, naturally, we decided to stay up for 2 more hours talking and catching up.

The view from my hotel window!

Morning came soon, and we made it downstairs in time for coffee and registration. We went to the first workshop together, where we got to hear Brian Pinkney talk about his creative process. It involved a lot of naps. I wish my creative process involved naps.

I went to lunch with a group of people who were gathering from my region (and some people who came along because they like us). I got to meet my region’s illustrator coordinator for SCBWI and two of my Twitter #kidlitart chat friends!

The Illustrator’s social was Friday night, and I met many people and saw some beautiful portfolios. I was so caught up in everything, I missed dinner!

SCBWI Illustrator staff

So many business cards and postcards of talented people!

Author/illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi (on the left) and author and occasional illustrator Kathy Ellen Davis (on the right) were both super friendly and wonderful to meet.

Saturday was busy. I met lots more new people. Tried to find some familiar faces at each session. The portfolio showcase was beautiful, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures. My portfolio has a far way to go to be on par with some of those, but I am trying to not feel too down about it. It was my very first conference, after all. Baby steps!

The Artist and Writer’s Ball was Saturday night! What a blast. The theme was to dress up in homage to your favorite author or artist. I was inspired by Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art figures. It made me late to the party, but I felt pretty good about it! They had a variety of sliders, a taco bar, and free dessert trucks! The cupcakes were to die for. I can’t remember the name of the truck, but I do remember seeing something on it that said they had won some Food Network cupcake challenge thing, which won them points in my book! After eating, I proceeded to dance the night away with a new found friend. I hung out with another of my new friends, Guy Kopsombut of 4am Shower fame, and his regional buddies after the party was over. I managed to “catch” the mythical white stag (as seen in “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” and The Chronicles of Narnia). She granted several of us each a wish. I wished for diligence in improving my craft. She actually gave some very helpful advice!

My dancing buddy, Shawna.

White Stag!

Sunday came all too quickly. We got to have a “luncheon with Lois Lowry” (author of The Giver and so many many other things), and it was amazingly interesting! I added a few more books to my growing list of things I want to read. I am thinking of picking up audio books so I can “read” at work!

When it was all said and done, they had an autograph party where the faculty were set up to sign books they had for sale all weekend long. I spent more than I expected to on books, but I was so excited to bring them all home! My boys already love them all, and I’m loving the YA novel I bought as well! I caught up with a few friends as we were wrapping up and got to say goodbye. I even got to have one last dinner out with some friends before catching a Lyft to the airport,

Me with Guy Kopsombut, comic artist and aspiring illustrator
Chase Woolner, puppet artist extraordinaire and aspiring illustrator
Cynara, my friend and hopefully co-author before long! So excited for our project together!
Amy O’Hanlon, Sandra Salsbury, Rubin Pingk, and Guy at my last dinner in LA.

I wish I could have stayed for the illustration intensive course on Monday. Next time, I will. My main takeaway from this conference was KEEP WORKING, but don’t let it become work. If you don’t enjoy the process, your work will suffer for it. It has made me excited to get back to work!

This whole thing has been such a learning experience. I am already looking forward to the next time I can go!

Artist Postcards

Hello, friends! It’s been busy these past few weeks, and I finally have a moment to catch my breath. I just finished laying out a booklet celebrating the work of a Dayton, Ohio-area DJ who has now been in the radio business for 50 years! I volunteer design services for his current radio station on occasion, but this project was the most involved piece I have worked on for them. It is a relief to have it finished!

With my plate slightly more clear for the time being, I can turn my focus back to building my portfolio and preparing for the SCBWI Annual Summer Conference in August. My mini assignments from Guiseppe are coming along nicely. I have 6 art directors on my contact spreadsheet and I have begun to make more changes to the website, beginning with the actual web address. No longer am I encumbered by the WordPress branding! It feels more official this way.


I’ve been giving some thought to postcards lately. Illustrators generally send out postcards showcasing their work to publishers around May and September: the peak hiring times for the year. With the first big round of mailing coming up, my #kidlitart chat friends on Twitter spent last Thursday sharing postcard designs, postcards in process, and asking/answering questions about mailing them out.

I won’t be ready to send out cards in May, but I plan to design my postcards and have them printed by the end of July so I can take them with me to the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles this August. Having them there with me will allow me to hand them out to fellow illustrators with whom I want to keep in contact as well as potential agents, editors, and art directors. Also, since I will have them ready by then, I will plan to send my first mailing in September of this year!

A quick side note about #kidlitart chat: I am so glad to have found these people. The information I have gotten has been very helpful, and they really made me feel welcome from day one. I speak up more now than I did at first, but no one ever made me feel like an outsider. I’m looking forward to meeting some of them face-to-face at the SCBWI conference!

The Portfolio Review

If you’ve been here before, you may notice that I have made a few changes to the site since last time. This is part of an on-going project for myself to really flesh out the site, so expect to see a few changes here and there over the next few months. I actually wrote the bulk of this post a week ago, since my review was actually last Thursday, but here it is!

I finally got to do my portfolio review with Giuseppe Castellano last night! Quick shout out to my husband for getting my video chat area set up for me and taking over putting the kids to sleep so I could have my meeting in peace.

We started right on time with introductions, and I gave Giuseppe my background leading up to now. We discussed why I wanted to do illustration (combining my love of art with my love of entertainment and kids) and my long and short term goals. After he got a feel for where I was coming from, we dove into the actual review.

He had my work pulled up in Photoshop to screen share while we discussed it. The first part was the feel-good portion where he told me all of the positive things I had going on in my work. Overall, he said he was glad to see that it was apparent I was “tapped into” my own signature look in my work. That’s something many new artists struggle to find. I was glad to hear it was there, because I wasn’t sure if I had found it yet! Apparently it carried through, even though they were not all done in the same style. There were a few pieces he pointed out where he really loved my line work!

girlinreposeimg_4343

My frog from my Careless Magic piece was his favorite thing in my whole portfolio, he said. The lines that made him were “loose, but informative.” He also said I had really good shapes making up the frog. Another piece with good shape was my chubby mouse. I told him those two things were two of my favorites as well! We talked about how his pear-like shape was a “believable” one as opposed to “realistic.” Not all art needs to be realistic, but believability is important.

Chubby Mouse

There was a lot more to our conversation (we went 40 minutes over our scheduled hour), but my improvement areas came down to this:

  • Use reference more often (more like 60% of the time than 10%)
  • Draw instead of outline
  • Watch color value throughout a piece
  • Pay attention to texture

These are things that I know I can do, I just need to do them consistently.

Now what?

I want to go back into a few of my pieces and make the tweaks and changes we talked about to improve them, but he also gave me a couple of mini-assignments to help me reach my goals!

Mini assignment #1:

  • Make my portfolio site. This is going to involve making my landing page more portfolio based and fleshing out some more pages.
  • Continue working on portfolio.
  • Create postcard/physical card giveaway to have on hand at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. I told him I was attending. He encouraged me to put my portfolio in the portfolio showcase if I felt it was ready, saying it is really helpful because so many eyes see it!

DUE DATE: Before I leave for the conference at the beginning of August.

Mini assignment #2:

  • Create a spreadsheet of Art Directors and their information. Add 3 new Art Directors to the last every week for the rest of the year!
  • Have a fully functional, beautiful portfolio site that I keep updated with work.
  • Aim for one new illustration monthly. If I like it better than something on my site, switch it out. Keep site curated this way.
  • Send out postcards and emails to the AD’s on my list on a regular basis.

DUE DATE: End of the year.

I love having these tangible goals, and I am so grateful for Giuseppe and The Illustration Department for this opportunity!

Oh So Social!

Hello again, friends!

This past week has felt like a flurry of activity as I did the legwork to get my media presence started. I know I want to stay pretty active on my Instagram and Twitter feeds in order to give people a reason to want to follow me and see what I’ve got going on, so I have started to find some different things to participate in and get myself involved! Here is what I have found so far:

#kidlitart

This hashtag was one I had heard tell of on Shawna JC Tenney’s Stories Unbound podcast. It is used throughout the week on relevant posts by those involved in the children’s literature community: art directors, editors, illustrators, kid lit enthusiasts, etc. They hold a more “organized” discussion once a week on Thursdays at 9pm EST. They announce a general topic for the week’s discussion, but that’s about as organized as it gets.I attended part of the chat this past Thursday (I had a wakeful baby, so I missed part of it), and found that while it was a little challenging to follow the whole thing, there was a lot of useful information being given! I’ll definitely keep tuning in and maybe even say more than just one thing. We’ll see. I’m still just dipping my toe in there.

Even with my limited time in this community, I have already learned new things, found new people to follow, and even gained a couple of followers myself! I may not have as much experience as some of these people, but everyone has been very welcoming and I look forward to getting more deeply rooted here.

Colour Collective

colour collective eminence
My first entry was for last week’s color, “Eminence.” (It’s the purple of her dress.)

This is a weekly challenge I came across on Twitter. I noticed one of the posters in the #kidlitart chat had this hashtag recurring in many of her pieces she posted on her account, so I did some searching and found there was a twitter account with this name that asks you to create an art piece using their selected color of the week. They post the color for the coming week each Saturday and ask that you post your finished piece on Friday at 19:30 GMT (7:30pm EST, my time).

This week’s color is Laurel Green. I finished my piece already, so I’m wondering if I should put more detail into it or if I should try to crank out another piece for the week. Or do I just leave it alone and put my efforts towards the other challenge:

#BAPC18

I found this on the kidlitart blog, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Starting with this past February and running through July, they announce a prompt each month to create a piece to add to your illustration portfolio. It encourages you to get out of your comfort zones and push yourself. What excellent timing that I would find this just one month into the challenge as I’m trying to build my portfolio and I’m not sure what to make!

This month’s challenge is to draw a crowd scene showing a range of diverse characters, ages, and races. I didn’t vary the races as much as maybe some people will, but it made sense to do it that way for the scene I decided to make. I’m going to be starting to post some previews of the coming piece on Instagram and Twitter here soon. One may already be there by the time you see this!

What prompts do you follow to keep yourself creating? What communities are you a part of that help you grow and support you? I’d love to hear from you!