#NESCBWI17

A couple weekends ago I was at the fun-filled, inspiration-filled annual NESCBWI conference in Springfield, MA. It was a great 3 days of seeing old friends, making new ones, learning, discussing and reveling in the art of children's literature. And staying up late, having a couple beers.

This year's theme spoke a lot about diversity, and featured Keynote presentations by Melissa Sweet and Jane Yolen (both such amazing women), and I took home nuggets of wisdom from both.... along with a few of their books. I couldn't resist these two by Melissa Sweet.... her art is simply amazing. Do you think she'd notice if I snuck into her studio and just lived there? I just finished "Some Writer" and loved it - I'll be starting it again immediately.

This time I took a few writing workshops - scary and fun! I had a fantastic Portfolio Critique with Lucy Ruth Cummins, Art Director from Simon & Schuster. She gave me very constructive feedback that I am excited to try to implement right away in my work. I exhibited my portfolio in the Portfolio Showcase on Friday night - it was so inspiring to see everyone's work...the New England area has many talented artists! And I took the Illustrator's Intensive on Sunday - an all-day workshop run by Giuseppe Castellano, the Executive Art Director of Penguin Random House.

He gave us a pre-conference homework assignment which was critiqued once at the pencil sketch stage (before the conference), and then again at the final art stage (at the conference.) Hello flashbacks to art school! Yours truly went first.... thanks to reverse-alphabetical-order-by-first-name. The assignment was to interpret in your own style, a character from a Beatrix Potter story. I chose the story "The Tale of Little Pig Robinson", and illustrated a line from the very end of the story, where the Cat and Owl come to visit Pig Robinson on his island.

Part of the feedback I got at the pencil sketch stage (shown below left), was that Giuseppe was unsure why the Owl was sweating, and seemed to be looking at the Pig.... in the story it was written that the Owl was uncomfortable by the heat of the island, so for the final I moved her closer to the fire. The final art (shown below right) was done in watercolor, with small final details tweaked digitally.

It was suggested at the final critique that I work a little more on the color - specifically color that the light from the campfire casts on the surrounding area. Giuseppe felt it should be a bit warmer. So I did.

All in all, it was a great weekend, and I'm happy to be home in my studio, ready to get back to work with fresh eyes and ideas.