Saturday, June 16, 2012

Easing into the Day

Sometimes I finally get around to buying something or other I need and it brings me an inordinate amount of pleasure. Take my new toaster for an example. I went toaster shopping with my teenager and she wanted one that was very sleek and stylish. It looked like this:

It was a good toaster but too Darth Vader for me. It made me remember how, when I had my first apartment in New York City all those years ago, I put in a black and white checked kitchen floor and wanted eveything to be either black, white or red. I was young and I liked the clean geometry and sharp colors.

We kept looking and I fell in love with this little baby:

Not nearly as impressive but I thought I could face it every morning while I eased into my day. It looked like a cloud to me. I'm not a big fan of anthropomorphic toasters in general but this one also reminded me of the Pillsbury doughboy or a tooth. Mostly a big fluffy cumulus cloud though.

I'm not exactly sure what all this means about the march of time (didn't want to say "getting older") but I can see that I've exchanged some of my hard edges for less exact boundaries. It's all good; we change and evolve continuously.

And to show you I haven't completely lost my edge, check out the racy kettle I just bought:

This color is called "cerise" which means cherry and the whistle on this baby could stop traffic.

Have you treated yourself to something simple lately that makes you inordinately happy? If not, do!

(Sketches are all done in acrylic except the two kettles left and center--pencil and marker.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Whole Story with SCBWI France

This is a flyer that I created for the SCBWI France Spring Atelier. As Assistant Regional Advisor of our chapter, I organized this event for our picture book writers and illustrators.

The Belgian publisher, Mijade was presented by its founder and editor, Michel Demeulenaere.  He was a bookseller specializing in comics and children's books before he followed his dream and created Mijade. Michel’s talk was so interesting because his point of view of children’s publishing is very personal. He owns the company and has his own idea of what this all means. He ran through submission guidelines as that information is on their website. For illustrators, they have very specific artwork requirements : an illustrator would probably have to create some pieces to satisfy them. Michel also talked about the books they publish and what kind of stories interest them (not message-driven and with some humor). Mijade prefers to work with illustrators and writers on a regular basis if possible— he is sincerely concerned with his collaborators’ ability to make a living at what they do. As part of his powerpoint presentation, he showed us actual earnings for the author/illustrators of certain books over time. Eye opening! Diane Meirlaen also of Mijade, added details about the sales aspect. And they brought a bunch of their books and let each attendee pick one out to take home. Wow!

Next up was Sue Porter a member of SCBWI France and an author/illustrator with a long experience in picture books. Sue is currently finishing up a book with Mijade: PAPA SE MET EN BOULE. Her segment began with a presentation of her and Michel’s collaboration on this project. She explained a bit about the process of taking an idea (that she had about 25 years ago) to words to pictures and a dummy book and then submitting it to Michel. This was still just the beginning. Several months and 22 pages of email later they are almost done. Another eye opening presentation for our members— the realities of bringing a picture book to the world. Later Sue gave the group an idea of her career: starting with beautiful early work and how it evolved as she grew as an author/illustrator thinking more and more about the child reading the book.

All this was followed up (after lunch) with a workshop on using photo references to grow ideas. Sue has inherited the picture archive compiled by Faith Jaques and first bequeathed to Janet Ahlberg. She brought us just a sliver of this huge collection to peruse while trying out an exercise on creating characters and getting to know everything about them.

The SCBWI France Spring Atelier was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday. The members who attended left buzzing with excitement and ideas (and a new Mijade picture book!). Big thanks to our extremely generous faculty, Michel, Diane, Sue;
and our Regional Advisor, Tioka Tokedira for all her help as well as The Marymount School for hosting us in their beautiful library.