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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  1. It's funny until I met you, talked with you, and read your updates/posts, I never realized that artists "edit" much like writers do. I knew that painting/drawing/sculpting wasn't easy at all and that the art could take time until it reached what you wanted, but I don't think it occurred to me that you might go in and "change" something the way a writer goes in and changes a word. Interesting, interesting, they are very closely linked, aren't they?

  2. They are so closely related. I didn't realize how much at first either. It really dawned on me when I sat in on a talk Jane Yolen was giving about the writing process. Now, whenever I need a different perspective on the illustration process, I will go listen to a writer. It helps me "see" with fresh eyes.