On Eyes, Portfolios and Postcards

Joy Chu:

On the eve of SCBWI-San Diego’s E.B. Lewis get-together, I thought it would be timely to re-post this tickler of tips. It’s dedicated to those of you who may be sharing portfolios there — or somewhere else out there! Cheers! — Joy

Originally posted on got story countdown:

Before I begin on the above-mentioned topic, I must share a forthcoming book that caught my eye on the ALA Exhibit floor.  It  made such an impression, I went back to savor the f & g’s(folded and gathered unbound page signatures, in publisher parlance), page-by-page, at three separate intervals.

It’s all in the eyes. They are wide-open and clearly shaped. And I love how those large eyes complement and balance the graphic shapes in all of  Christian Robinson‘s illustrations.

He makes his picture book debut in Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills  (October 2012 from Random House).

Florence Mills was a celebrated African-American jazz singer, dancer and comedian (1896-1927). A major figure of the Harlem Renaissance, she was known for her stage presence and wide-eyed beauty. Her  talents were immortalized via songs by Duke Ellington and Fats Waller. photo of Florence Mills, "the Queen of Happiness"

During…

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Start 2015 with Classes and Creatures!

Here’s two items to top your 2015 New Year’s Gift-to-Self List:

1. Take my on-line class Children’s Book Illustration: Thinking in Pictures, via UCSD Extension. You can take it as part of the newly-created Certificate Program in Children’s Book Illustration. Or as a self-development work-out. Or as a hands-on means to explore the world of children’s picture books. You’ll read 8 new books a week, and progressively create 8-page, 16-page, 24-page, and 32-page stories by the end of the course. And you’ll meet colleagues who love story, from all over the world.

Registration is open now!
Dates: January 7-March 15, 2015
Register here: UCSD Extension / Art 40634 – 3 credits

Here’s a video about the Certificate Program itself:

KCWbadge2.  Create a creature, and share it online during KidLit Creature Week. You’ll see many familiar names submitting theirs! Complete instructions can be found here.  I will be rolling up my sleeves to draw one up . . . and so will my students! Roar!

Here’s one from my pal, Debbie Tilley

Tilley-Saur

Going, Going, Gone…

. . . but it won’t be forgotten!

There’s so much to savor from The Original Art Exhibition: The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration, as it winds up its stay in Carlsbad, CA.

To recap, here are more trailers from the participating artists in the Show:








For me, the highlight was being able to hold up the actual book page, and compare it alongside its original. I will share some observations in future posts. Seeing them side-by-side provided meditations on the wide spectrum of art media possible, coupled with the reality of CMYK print — it’s all good stuff!

See more trailers here

Hurry and visit NOW, before the 23 of November!

The William Cannon Art Gallery is part of the Carlsbad City Library Complex. Its entrance is on the right side of the courtyard, beyond these archways.

That’s me, giving my UCSD students — past and present — a private tour of the Original Art Show at Cannon Art Gallery. I’m pointing out aspects of Carolyn Fisher’s illustration work from Weeds Find A Way by Cindy Jenson-Elliott. photo by Denise Harbison

Why? Because after November 23, 2014 , the traveling exhibit, The Original Art 2013 at the Cannon Art Gallery, in Carlsbad CA will close!

David Diaz checking out the artistry on display at The Original Art

David Diaz checking out the artistry on display at The Original Art
photo by Roxyanne Young

Don’t miss this exhibit! You’ll encounter 40 examples of the best-illustrated books of 2013, from the most talented in the field.

A highlight is the inclusion of published illustrators who happen to live in San Diego and Los Angeles, including Salina Yoon, Debbie Tilley, Andrea Zimmerman & David Clemesha, David Diaz, Janell Cannon, and Robin Preiss Glasser, to name just a few!

Salina Yoon beside her original work from Penguin and Pinecone and Found!  photo by Roxyanne Young

Salina Yoon beside her original work from Penguin and Pinecone and Found!
photo by Roxyanne Young

There’s a dedicated reading corner where you can sit and peruse the books each piece is culled from. Many of the originals include drawings, paintings, prints, etchings, and collagesa rare opportunity to fully appreciate the diversity of creativity applied to these works. Gallery curator Karen McGuire even adhered post-its to corresponding pages of each book, so that visitors can compare the printed result to its original, up-close!

Book trailers are played on a continual loop above the reading corner of the Gallery. photo by Joy Chu

There’s also a video featuring 19 trailers highlighting selected artists on display, broadcast throughout the duration of the exhibit. Don’t miss it — it’s at the reading corner! Here are just a few of the trailers you’d encounter.






IDEA: It’s not too early to order picture books for holiday gift giving! Give everyone you love a children’s picture book. It’s a bazillion times more enduring than a mere Christmas card! There’s something for everyone.

Like this one (below). Yes, Renata Liwska‘s original work is on display at The Cannon Art Gallery too!

Check out the work of Renata, and her multi-talented illustrator colleagues, at the Cannon Art Gallery, before it becomes yet another happy memory.

1775 Dove Lane
Carlsbad, CA 92011
(760) 602-202
Hours
Tuesday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
CLOSED MONDAYS

Illustration by Renata Lewiska; text by Nina Laden

On the Road to Creating Story!

What Makes Your Characters “Tick”?

Let’s look at the beginning of a picture book story.

The initial step is introducing your main character. Can you tell us what he/she is thinking?

What is their prime directive? What motivates them? What problem are they confronting in your story?

I love sharing this series of spreads created by  graphic design pioneer Bruno Munari — an Italian Paul Rand — who loved children’s picture books.  This is from his book The Elephant’s Wish.

Here’s Elephant, who wishes he could be as carefree as a bird…

munari-elephant

 

Bird wishes he could swim. Can you guess why?

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Snake wishes he could graze majestically like a bull . . .

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Bull wishes he could be like the elephant. Why? Then he could swish away those pesky flies! We come full circle by the end of the book.

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Artist Laurent Moreau contemplates himself!

 

 

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By Laurent Moreau. A girl dreams of being by the sea

Here’s the cover, which hints at the animals’ thoughts, while intriguing us with an unusual graphic.

 

 

 

 

Check out how Laurent Moreau lets us in on his characters’ thoughts:

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The cover from “What Are You Thinking?” by Laurent Moreau

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Ah, a play on line textures and far away thoughts by Laurent Moreau…

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This woman is full of jealous thoughts. By Laurent Moreau

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What a little girl in costume imagines, by Laurent Moreau

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Laurent-Moreau

What an absorbing story! Could she be lost into it? By Laurent Moreau

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Subconscious memories from a famous
folk tale, by Laurent Moreau

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What a boy thinks
by Laurent Moreau

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What one young woman
pines for, by Laurent Moreau

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It’s all math to some people!

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What a beautiful mind!

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A nature lover!

This is a fabulous way to explore your own story characters. Express what they are thinking, in collage! Check out these results.

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This one is by Marcia Sorini,
an elementary school teacher (see part 2, below)

 

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Check out what other students have created here!

 

 

Spelling and Counting in ASL…

Here’s Travis and Tian Brown, with their dad, sharing a counting moment…

Here’s a cross-reference guide, from The Gallaudet Children’s Dictionary of American Sign Language (click on either image to enlarge)

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DictionaryFM_2-column_18June2014_Page_12

Stop the Presses…and START HERE!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell "A B C"  in American Sign Language!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell “A B C” in American Sign Language! (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with unveiling the cover itself. It features a lenticular!

And it’s going on press this month! I’m so excited!

Why? Because it all began as a list of words on a spread sheet almost five years ago.

The dictionary began as a Word doc, which grew into an Excel spreadsheet. (right-click to enlarge)

Gallaudet University Press lined up a team of illustrators for their upcoming definitive American Sign Language reference (think Merriam-Webster, but for signing), aimed at the pre-school through grade 3 level. It had to be usable for hearing families as well as the deaf and hearing-impaired.

Page 1 from the Dictionary

Page 1 from the Dictionary (click on any image to enlarge)

One of the illustrators already on board was Debbie Tilley. When agent Richard Salzman discovered it was (a) Gallaudet first foray into children’s books and general trade; and (b) they expected Debbie to produce the layouts too, he recommended they contact me to pull it all together for them. It was a dream project for all of us!

Dictionary_p-105_Page_011   Dictionary_p-105_Page_008 Dictionary_p-105_Page_007

 392 pages of full color! It looks like a graphic comic, with over 1,000 word entries, fully illustrated. Plus it includes a DVD featuring a rainbow of children signing. There’s also a special feature on forming sentences.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll guide you on the process. It will be like a diary on the making of a children’s reference classic. . .

Spread from pages 238-239

Spread from pages 238-239 (click to enlarge)

You will witness exclusive behind-the-scenes book making. Stay tuned. That’s why I’ve been away for so long. Been dictionary-ing…

You can pre-order the Dictionary through these links:
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Shop Indie Bookstores

Asynchronicity!

Asynchronistic_DebbieTilley_SM

I received the following question recently: “I’m interested in your online CB illustrators course at UCSD, but can’t find the link. Can you please post it again? Also, I travel overseas a lot for work. Would that preclude me from taking the online course, i.e., are the classroom times synchronistic or can you work at your own pace? Many thanks!! [from Linda Benson]

Great question! You can take the class at your own pace. It’s a 9-week course, with a new exercise/assignment given at the start of each week. You post completed exercises online, to share with classmates, at the end of each week. And you can post questions at the Class Discussion Board anytime, too. It’s an asynchronous class

For more info, go here.
Register anytime, 24/7, here.

Drawing Warm-ups: I do it with Ed Emberley’s help!

Emberley-FROG

It’s about seeing common shapes differently. Like D.Frog

It's Sasquatch!

It’s Sasquatch!

Every new class I teach is like embarking upon a new adventure mind trip.

It’s good to re-visit familiar terrain from a wholly different angle. Here, I do it upside-down, sideways, anyway-but-regular. I see it as the ultimate brain synapse challenge. Like quickie sit-ups, with a lilt!

For instance, I love drawing from Emberley.  In each of the following, we start with the letter D, step-by-step. . . but holding the book itself upside down.

This is the way to see PURE SHAPE. Forget about the end result entirely.

Fact: Guess who has the hardest time doing the above — from all the people who’ve taken my illustration class — the artists, or the writers? The seasoned artists. Not all of them, but just a few. Why? It’s unfamiliar, not envisioning the end-result. These renegades then discover they are falling back into old patterns of drawing, unwilling to try something new. I remind them that this is the way to venture into new terrain. To discover new possibilities in drawing. How letting go of certain drawing habits will set them free. And when they allow it to happen, they smile. Inevitably.

Try any of the following. Bonus:  If you render these, purely as shape, you can do them in ANY size, from tiny to titanic — no sizing tools needed!


A turtle...

A turtle…

Then notice how these same shapes re-occur in everything around you. . . .

A mouse. . .

A mouse. . .

Or a porcupine

Or a porcupine



These images are progressive drawings from Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals, © 1970 by Edward R. Emberley, animated as .GIFs . This book is the required textbook at my UCSD Extension class, Illustrating Books for Children. I think everyone needs this book in their lives. Follow each step. Watch it change the way you see your world.

http://www.amazon.com/Ed-Emberleys-Drawing-Book-Animals/dp/0316789798/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388183051&sr=1-2&keywords=ed+emberley+drawing+books

Countdown to Highlights!

So excited. I’m taking part in the Ultimate Walden Pond Experience at the Advanced Illustrators Workshop at the Highlights Foundation, August 28-September 2nd.

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Been brainstorming with the amazing Cindy Smith on the illustration exercises (I call them Guerrilla Work-outs) I will lead on-site. I sent my proposal to Cindy, and within minutes, she shoots back “WONDERFUL.” She’s my soul sister.

I’m blessed. Look at the illustrators I’m accompanying: E.B. Lewis and Matt Tavares. . .

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Here’s Matt …

and E.B. in action…

and here I am.

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But before the immersion begins, conferees are treated to an insider peek at the inner workings of Highlights Magazine and Boyds Mills Press. Here’s editor Linda Rose, specifying what gets published in Highlights. She’s looking for full color visual ideas via their picture puzzler feature. Hey you editorial illustrators, here’s an opportunity! Every submission to this feature will be considered. Think visual witticism. Tell Linda you heard it here…

More tomorrow.

Linda_Highlights