Sunday, March 28, 2010


It's amazing how quickly things can change. Last week I felt hopelessly buried under an ever growing to-do list. Now I'm caught up and have time for things I didn't think I'd be able to participate in this month, like the Nevada SCBWI Postcard Project. The idea of the project is to take on assignments that are presented and create children's illustrations that will serve as promotional postcards. Through each stage of the assignment, illustrators post their work online for critique and discussions. Cynthia Kremsner and Dinh Chau-Kieckhafer, illustrator coordinators for the Nevada SCBWI, have set up the project to mimic the Art Director/Illustrator relationship as closely as possible. They've done a great job.

The first assignment is Mother Goose's Hey Diddle Diddle. In keeping with the cultural themes of my work, my illustration will take place on a vast African Savanna. A young goge (African fiddle) player, has scampered up a tree to get away from the animals that have wreaked havoc on the picnic scene below. (His friends have run off and left their instruments behind.) Unfortunately his fiddle has become a chew toy for a leopard cub (the cat), that sent some other items down the river (like a dish and spoon from the picnic spread). A nearby hyena pup (little dog) thinks this is very entertaining and can't wait to join in. Off in the distance one can see an elephant (a cow because she is female) jumping over the moon.

Here are the rough preliminary sketches for the characters in my scene:

The cat (foreground)

The little dog (foreground)

The cow (less detail because she is off in the distance)

And our fiddle player (up in a tree)


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Friday, March 26, 2010


I've been away from this blog since Chinese New Year. For all of February at least one of us was sick at a time. It was like a fierce ping pong match without a winner and it felt as if the entire month was lost in an abyss. I've been trying to catch up ever since.

On the heels of being sick, I found a children's illustration workshop I couldn't pass up. Never mind that I only had a few days to prepare for the first class and I'd have to drive two hours each way every week to attend. It was with Mira Reisberg, a talented children's writer and illustrator who specializes in multi-cultural work. She also worked with Yuyi Morales and quite a few other very talented illustrators and writers who were later published. I signed up right away.

As I knew it would be, the workshop is fantastic. We are a small group of illustrators and writers with pretty decent critique skills. Lucky me, Mira is also working with me directly to assign relevant illustrations for me to do. My first assignment was this:

"Illustrate a two page spread for a picture book of an outside multi-cultural scene showing different relationships."

So what did I do? I designed a composition with a magic carpet flying over the Great Wall of China, picking up kids as it goes around the world on a sort of world peace expedition. The point of view is from up high looking down, so I'm working out some tricky angles in the final sketch stage. As with every challenging piece I do, I've hit several points so far where I think there's no way I can possibly do this illustration. It's too hard. But just like every other illustration, I sit down at the drawing board and chip away at it until I've pushed past the obstacles with my best work. Most of the time, when I put my sketches away after staring at them for too long, I return to discover that they aren't as bad as I thought.

So...time to get back to the drawing board and see if that's true this time. I'll let you know...


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