SCBWI Big Five Oh Conference Sketches

There is so much to be gained from sketching speakers at conferences, and while I enjoy being there in person the virtual sessions allow a much better closeup for features. I enjoyed myself immensely this year!

Peter Brown, TeMika Grooms, Saho Fujii
Cecilia Yung, Barbara Marcus, Sophie Blackall
Laurent Linn, Ann Whitford Paul, Mike Curato
Don Tate, Linda Sue Park, Paul O. Zelinsky




I think I have posted and tagged the entry everywhere else, so why not here too! It’s my entry for this month’s #scbwidrawthis art prompt. Members have the opportunity each month to show their artwork in the online gallery and two pieces will be featured in the SCBWI INSIGHT e-mail. Entries can be added to the online gallery open to public viewing, so agents, art directors and editors have yet another way of finding illustrators. Each month two winners will have their art displayed on the home page and publicized through SCBWI social media channels. So if you are also interested in participating, you have to be an SCBWI member and follow the guidelines HERE. Good luck!

Friends and Benefits: SCBWI Workshops and Schmoozes

scbwi-loveThanks to the RMCSCBWI illustration coordinators, Bobbi Collier-Moralles and Karen Windness, regional illustrators had the opportunity to take an Illustrators Intensive with Will Terry (yes, the REAL WILL TERRY!) this past weekend on the RMCAD campus – and the price was right! I missed the opening talk, also open to RMCAD students for free on Friday evening, but was there bright and early Saturday to catch every word and catch up with illustrators I had met at previous regional conferences. (any text in red – click for more info!)

My favorite roomie – Stacy

We spent the first part of the day learning about the importance of good composition. Simple but important takeaways: start with very small thumbnails and use the 33 rule – the thumbnail should have an interesting composition at a distance of 3′ and 30′, as should the finished piece. Next, through Photoshop, Will demonstrated the use of underpainting, the importance of emphasizing points of interest, and multiple techniques to achieve a captivating piece – including creating texture brushes. After lunch, Will’s son Aaron gave us the 411 on creating apps: he was very frank about the ‘dark side of digital’ and the  learning curve, but also inspiring. Believe me, we were at the edge of our seats! Aaron encouraged us to create products that people will want to turn around share.

Had to get a picture with ‘der Meister’ – Will Terry!

Participants could put forward up to two of our own illustrations for an anonymous review, (no, Will did not wear a mask for this, silly!) which was a great method of reinforcing all we had heard earlier in the day. The workshop was invigorating! I just wanted to rush home and work – and that after a full day in a dark room!

On Monday evening I was back with my local SCBWI Schmooze group for a 2hr session on social media and online marketing with Mary Walewski (, a former librarian turned marketing consultant. Our Schmooze coordinator, Teresa Funke ( works hard to bring us great presenters for our bi-monthly meetings. Quick takeaways: Make a plan! Social media profiles are the center of an author/illustrators online marketing strategy, and the proper maintenance of a blog is the best way to get information to your audience. Don’t just make goals, check your progress! ‘Insights’ on facebook pages, your status data on your blogs should help you to determine where you can maximize your efforts.

Tonight, Tuesday, I will meet with my local picture-book writer’s critique group. We all  met through a Schmooze or a regional conference organized through – you guessed it – SCBWI!

Before signing off, here is a logo I recently designed for our Schmooze group… “Let’s go fly a kite!”



2013 scbwi TdP-Award – process and entry

Entries had to be submitted by midnight Friday. I’ll admit I found this year’s prompt tough, a bit abstract: illustrate the given poem prompt, geared towards the very young, newborn to 2yrs. I pondered. I made sketches…


…and goofed around in Illustrator


…and made more sketches, until, having 24 hours left to submit I finally settled!

TdP 1

I tried watercolor, and soon realized it just wasn’t going to happen that day (Friday, the 13th – hmmm…). So I grabbed my colored pencils and the fat graphite pencil, the one my friend Carsten gave me so many years ago. “Just keep it loose,” I repeated.

Copy 3

Finally some type, though the addition was optional.


The unofficial gallery of contest particpant entries, run by Diandra Mae (Illustrator Coordinator for the SCBWI Houston region), to whom we are all very grateful, won’t go live until January 10th, when a winner has been chosen by Tomie de Paola himself.

Valentine: Bee Mine

Last Friday night, I attended an interesting talk on design approach by Tim Prestero, CEO of Design That Matters. Their project: Firefly. Yes, my town is hot: the local uni biz department invited me (and the rest of the community) to yet another cool event. The co-sponsors have such neat logos I have to include them.


Then I indulged in a Co-Pilot tray at O’Dells (gift idea for Valentine’s: Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout) and managed the table-top ring-toss three times! Skills, I tell ya!


THEN I went home and made this for my scbwi regional chapter’s illustrator meet-up: Valentine Bee Mine. I had to create something three dimensional. And yes, I made up the weird name too.


Looking for Tom: My Illustration Entry for the 2013 scbwi-TdP-Award

The Rules: an illustration in black and white, including half-tones, from a classic. Choose a passage, line or description from one of the following books: “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, or “The Yearling” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

The Advice from Tomie de Paola: “I want to be surprised, excited and – VERY jealous. I want to see an image, a style, a vision that I’ve never seen before – all in glorious black and white!”

I read. Tom Sawyer sparked the most interest while reading the book again, but there were passages in Little Women that intrigued me, esp. those showing Jo’s dark side. So I started sketching…1Tom









And a couple from Little Women, in particular the scene where Jo decides Amy can take care of herself…



But my attention kept coming back to this scene, of Tom in church with his Aunt, because the writing transported me.


I then experimented with watercolor


And finally decided to go with a digital version because of the fun I’ve been having of late, playing with transparency and shapes, presented here with the text. Do read it, it’s wonderful!