The "Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators"
is the premiere organization for anyone seeking to
work in the area of children's publications... DUH!!
SCBWI-LA holds a 4 day summer extravaganza right here in Los Angeles.
The annual winter conference is in New York City. They are pricey!
But see it as a PhD in your Field of Dreams...
Here's a few tips I figured out years ago...
These are long info packed days.
Your brain might implode or explode,
both are equally nasty.
At some point, stake out some 'me time'
to process. Organize notes.
EAT and HYDRATE!
I picked a session with a well-known writer...
the amazing Leslea Newman. Since I write
AND illustrate, it was a good idea to
attend a workshop where we actually wrote
on the spot with Leslea's prompts.
Her detailed and thoughtful analysis of a host
of picture books was invaluable. The perspective
of time and place and space was brought to
light and I now understand how it contributes
to the quality of a story.
Two of my favorite books by Leslea Newman.
Artists Amy June Bates and Maria Mola
Take advantage of these
intimate sessions to talk privately
and snap a picture!
Lastly, have fun with your peeps!
If you are new to the scene, introduce yourself...
This is THE place where you will find your true partners-in-crime.
And soon they will be life-long friends... such as mine in the pic above!
Welcome to the GRAND OPENING
of our VIRTUAL ART SHOW!
Thursday, June 1 on INSTAGRAM!
818 CREATES is a group of 5 artist friends, obsessed with creating.
The 1st of every month, we will post new work for all to enjoy and purchase. New summer work is posted to INSTAGRAM
on June 1, July 1 and August 1.
All our work can be seen at #818Creates.
So, stop by our gallery and say hello...
A LIKE or COMMENT is welcome!
Remember, Remember, the 5th of November!
This is an illustration I painted for a Scholastic UK magazine ....
It framed a poem, "Reading a Bonfire, Top to Bottom."
And packed a punch as the oversized centerfold poster
stapled in the center.
Here it is again in honor of Guy Fawkes Day!
A commissioned painting for twin baby girls! YAY!
I always begin with a very detailed drawing. Good layout and composition is the foundation I need to begin any work. I can eventually stray from it but that is always where I begin. I find a good spread from the book that I can manipulate to accommodate our girls, playing and swinging with our wild things. Then it's time to add the details that I envision the twins will enjoy in the years to come... the dog, squirrel, cat bird and boat. I pump up the color to match the room, which is turquoise and yellow.
So there you have it!
"Addy and Eve Go Wild" With Congrats to the Lemmers!
A tribute to this 50 year old classic and a painting the girls will probably fight over when they go away to college! Maybe I shoulda split it down the middle... ?
Firefly July by Paul Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Thirty six very short poems introduce the seasons on a whole new level ... Meliisa Sweet's cool artwork... A charming combination of words and images treat the senses like a good poem should. Watercolor, gouache and mixed media keep the eye looking for more. What a great introduction to classic poetry.
A delightful presentation!
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
This book is of particular interest to many in my schmooze. Marla is a friend of many L.A. illustrators, teaching at Art Center and speaking at various local workshops and conferences. I actually had a portfolio review with her this summer. Having heard her speak about the origins of this story we all appreciate the love and thought she infuses in her books. This one is a winner!
I'm in the process of taking my October doodles to a new level!
My intention for this particular illustration is to take my sketch and colorize it while keeping the looseness and playfulness of the original.
I start by working with my acrylic paints. I happen to like the white of the page and want to leave as much as I can.
The black boots and clothing of Captain Hook is working well as a frame for our little pirate and guides the viewer's focus directly to him. I decide to use a limited palette for a clean but sketchy feel. So here is the finished piece that started as a doodle-a-day for my October project.
pssss....My little secret... I am so in love with King Kong!
He is so misunderstood...
'Adoption Month' theme... Doodle entry #7
Chillin' with my new penguin family!
Having fun matching up babies with their new adoptive families.
Today... Doesn't everyone dream of being adopted by a shark mama?
Conference Reflections Continued...
Part 2 The Editors' Panel
August 6, 2014
The Editors' Panel was of special interest to me as I am researching various publishing houses for the submission of my new picture book dummy. Always enjoy these panels! I like to hear actual voices and get a sense of these individuals as real people and the companies they represent.
Lin Oliver moderated this panel of of 7 with the topic "3 + 3: Three Things Your Book Should Include and Three Things your Book Should Avoid."
This is a smattering of the editors' words, phrases and comments...
DO be a smart storyteller. Books need a voice. Be fresh, unexpected, cause goosebumps. Have an original point of view. Is it a boy, girl, how old? Perhaps the beginning should contain seeds of the end, or one could start with dialogue instead of narration. Show, don't tell. Have an interesting structure, a hook, a good middle arc and don't forget the final page turn.
DON'T waste editor's time by sending submissions arbitrarily. All concurred...
There must be a 'fit' with the imprint or editor! Do your research. Page numbers, bottom right. Don't be weird with submission tricks. Don't be boring, non-engaging, voiceless and pedestrian with 10,000 words. Don't teach or be predictable, overwhelming, familiar or humorless.
General publishers advice...Good storytelling comes from personal places. Write your story. Don't trend. Listen to your inner ear. Know your audience. Publishers like authenticity, thoughtfulness, unique elements, competence and confidence. School yourself in children's books. Makes you a better editor of your own work before you send it to them!
Thanks to a great panel for their expert advice and reminders!
More conference reflections to come...
The result of all my hard work was phenomenal! Lots of interest and encouraging comments from the staff and attendees... with an upswing of visits to my website.
To be continued...
My website is designed with Weebly. It is easy to use for the beginner and flexible enough for the professional. Just dive in and it's intuitive nature will guide you. I am continuously fine-tuning with new ideas.
This method is an absolute winner for me. Set up your website goals as an outline that represents the best way to present your work.
Then start working on content... quality first, quantity will follow. This may look very different for every creative venture you may be pursuing. You need not 'publish' until you are ready but your website in any form will be saved.
Eventually you will see a pattern emerging as you upload your work. Perhaps a style is becoming apparent, color palette or subjects are repeating. Notice what works and what does not. You now have the opportunity to manipulate your online presence in a way that reflects you as an individual from that very first piece you have finished.
Try it! If you are a beginner, it will give you direction. If you are a lifer like me, and have the inevitable bumps in the road, it gets you focused and back on tract. The template and title outline is the key! Witness it up on your monitor. Fire and chill... knowing you have the freedom to create your heart out works best when you know where you are going... the structure keeps your goal right in front of you.
Let me know how this method works for you!
I'm back to work!!
July 2, 2014
"The War Of Art" by Steven Pressfield...
Rule of thumb, page 11
"The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we feel towards pursuing it."
I slept on this thought. I woke up a day older but a century wiser. My work is at that level of importance in my life that defines me. I am afraid that even with all the time in the world, I am not worthy. Fear and self-doubt is what Resistance feeds on. And the closer you are to the finish line, the stronger the Resistance.
So here I am on the longest work retreat I have ever had! I am here for the soul purpose of preparing for the conference. I have a ton of new work, a new dummy to shop, and an opportunity for a thousand people to see my portfolio. That's enough pressure to sabotage any one of us. What to do? That's the second half of Mr. Pressfield's book, Turning Pro! I will "apply self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification and hard work." I must stay mindful of that demon called Resistance.
It is always lurking....
I am determined to battle this The War of Art, I will out-smart Resistance with courage and conviction. This Hero's Journey will not defeat me. I have the focus to access the Power of Now. I will surrender to the Law of Intention and Desire. I breathe deeply and invoke my muse. Oh, Universe , conspire to assist me... for I am ready to rumble!
Oh, Drat! Oh, Drat!
July 1, 2014
One week has passed... and I am freaking out!
This is turning into a retreat from hell!
I cannot get a handle on my work. I am working day and night, but my direction feels askew and noncommittal... My 'to do' list is huge and I am not moving forward. Thought time was my friend. Now it is my enemy.
Only one month to go. I cannot breathe.
I have a sudden need to wash the kitchen floor and vacuum. The vacuum catches on the laptop wire, dumping the entire contents of my paint water on my work table, drenching my work and keyboard. The rest of the day is spent rescuing my laptop, and drying papers in the sun. No more cleaning.
I have been back and forth to the library, frantically checking out picture books. I have surrounded myself with my personal masters of inspiration, hoping this will do the trick. The work of Patricia Polacco, David Shannon, Mark Buehner and Michael Paraskevas all seem to give me that warm and fuzzy creative feeling. They are so masterful, brilliant, unique and sublime! And suddenly I am intimidated in their presence.... diminished by their genius...
When I am befuddled creatively... I also become an amnesiac. I must remind myself that creativity is a complicated 'affliction' that works in mysterious ways. But there are answers. Creatives are known for their 'blocks'... sometimes it's called procrastination, self sabotage, immobilization, etc... Steven Pressfield, in his book, "The War of Art" (the bible for the creative) calls it 'Resistance.' I know I must be facing some form of resistance even though I am working furiously. So I go through the ritual of exploring random pages of "The War of Art" to search for answers. ALAS! It is as if the universe empathizes with my plight, and almost immediately, these words pop off the page...
'The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we feel towards pursuing it."
I will sleep on this.
My pup Gracie, and grand-pup Monty, are sitting quietly scrutinizing my frantic antics in and out of the house. OMG! They need to fit in the car as well! I might as well stay home... BUT I have the grand-kitties, Ursa and Wally, anxiously awaiting my arrival at the town-house in Claremont, Ca .
I will leave the boxes of my precious inspirational picture books and go to a library there. And I will forgo some food and go to a supermarket there. I am not off to the amazon jungle. And who needs clothes anyway?
Hugs and kisses to Hubby and Schmuley the Wonder Cat, and I am on my way!
On the freeway with radio blasting...
wind blowing in my hair (from the A/C),
I am footloose and fancy-free!!!!!!
June 23, 2014
My 5 week retreat begins with the departure of the kids. I drive them to the Fly-A-Way bus that will take them to LAX airport. My youthful adventurers are backpacking through Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Too many of my hugs and kisses make them crazy, and I am hoping I will not have time to worry about them. After all, I will be on a journey of my own, venturing into the deep crevices of my complicated mind... there may be more danger there!
Oh, Joy! Oh, Rapture!
Early June, 2014
In all the years I have been consumed by writing and illustrating, I have never had an opportunity like this!
A FIVE WEEK ART RETREAT !
My daughter and son-in-law are trekking off to S.E. Asia.
Lucky them! Lucky me!
I will take on the awesome task of animal sitting 2 cats and 2 dogs in their town-house about an hour away from my Los Angeles home!
The timing is perfection personified... I will leave Hubby and household responsibilities for 5 glorious weeks ALONE (with tails and whiskers, of course) preparing for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Summer Conference! August 1st kicks off the conference weekend in Los Angeles where I will once again suck up massive knowledge and inspiration from masters in the field I love! But this time with a brand new picture book 'dummy' in tow. This is a serendipitous moment in time... the stars are in alignment. I must be destined to get my portfolio, website, and dummy ready for prime-time!
What do YOU do to kick-start YOUR creative day?
Artist & Writer
Suzy Engelman Block