Patreon is a simple way for you to contribute to my goal of becoming a self-supporting author and illustrator and for you to receive great rewards in return! Find out more at www.Patreon.com/Yvonne
Here is some of what you can expect, from my Patreon page:
Here I am. Looking for patrons, how old-fashioned.
But what else is a grown woman to do when she has resigned her job (other than hawk her body, which admittedly is a teensy bit past its prime.)
Here I am, because I have found my passion. How lucky I am. Right?
Let’s try that again:
Here I am, because I have found my passion, in my late thirties, around the same time that I popped out my last child. Still lucky, but not as convenient.
‘Ooh, that is going to need stitches!’
‘I want to write and illustrate children’s books!’
Well, it went something like that.
Inconvenient, because my passion is not accounting, or engineering, or real estate.
My passion is in the arts, literary and visual and with a fetish for picture books. If I was in my twenties, sharing my house with some kooky housemates with no responsibilities other than to prove myself artistically, things may be different.
But, my kooky housemates are my three sons, my husband, our dog, our run-away cat and our 30 or so tadpoles. And we have bills to pay. And an artistic passion to follow. Dose of guilt anyone?
So here I am, trying to entice those quirky philanthropic billionaires to share some of their wealth so I can continue to follow my dream. If that doesn’t work, I am happy to accept patronage from anyone who would like to support the arts. Unless you are a struggling student in the creative arts. Then you need your vitamins, go and buy a bag of apples instead.
So what can I entice you with?
How about I share my experiences as a struggling self-employed author/ illustrator. I’ll try not to make it depressing and share my thoughts EXCLUSIVELY (imagine that word on a sign surrounded by flashing lights, ooh, and perhaps a touch of smoke machine for that magic touch) with my patrons.
Or, if you would just like to follow me, without the patronage, go ahead, I’ll share some of my illustrations and general going-ons on a regular basis, but without the soul-searching-midlife-crises-esque-slap-stick thoughts. The boring version so to speak. With pretty pictures. So pretty good, really.
I've also thrown in some behind the scenes-looks and opportunities with special rewards and discounts. I'd love get an idea of what other rewards you are interested in, so please let me know.
That’s it. That is all the enticing that I’ve got in me.
Want to ask me a question? I am sure you can do that somewhere on this page. And I’ll answer.
After I pick the kids up from school.
What a thrill and an honour to have my artwork displayed next to so many glorious 52-Week Illustrations.
52 shortlists were made up of selected works from each week's theme with the final artworks revealed on opening night on Monday.
The first week in the Challenge was 'Eggs' and that week I just happened to have bought myself some Copic Markers to experiment with and fell in love with the idea of a little family of speckled eggs tucked away in a cosy nest.
Those speckled eggs from a year ago turned out to be a finalist in the 52-Week Illustration Exhibition at Arts Brookfield in Perth last week.
Back then the Challenge had just started and no one knew what spectacular opportunities it would create for so many artists.
Tania McCartney, children's author and illustrator, and founder of the 52-week Illustration Challenge was surprised when the challenge she had started to fire up her own creativity took off like a rocket, with members now exceeding 3000!
Tania recently handed the reins over to children's author/ illustrator Nicky Johnston who is supported by a group of admin made up of Challenge members.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tania and Nicky at the Sydney SCBWI Conference last year, these ladies are not only hardworking and talented but also very supportive of other authors and illustrators. The Challenge attracted many opportunities for members, Jess Racklyeft was chosen by a publisher to illustrate Tania McCartney's upcoming picture book, and I had my book mark selected to feature as part of International Book Giving Day.
The exhibition is on until the 20th of March at Arts Brookfield in Perth.
For more information on the opening night: Opening Night Wrap-Up
Admire the 52 artworks on display: Exhibition Finalists
Nicky Johnston and Tania McCartney at the 52-Week Illustration Challenge at Arts Brookfield in Perth. All photos in this post are courtesy of Nicky and Tania.
I met Benjamin Johnston this year at the Sydney SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference and at the Queensland launch for Engibear’s Bridge in Brisbane during the QLD Children’s Book Council Australia Book Dinner.
I'd looked forward to meeting Ben ever since I had read Engibear’s Dream (written by Andrew King) as I was impressed with his detailed, lively and precise illustrations.
During the launch Ben talked about his process of creating the new female character and Chief Engineer, Engilina. He talked about how he was able to work with anthropomorphic characters in an engineering and construction setting while keeping topics such as safety, care for the environment and a realistic construction site including real engineering principles and processes in mind.
Read on for an interview with Ben and take a step by step look at his illustrative process resulting in a double spread for Engibear's Bridge.
What is your background?
I am a trained architect and continue to work full time as an architect, but my interests have always been in the wider realm of drawing and illustrating.
I studied life-drawing and etching for a year prior to starting uni at Julian Ashton Art School, a wonderfully "old school" (literally and figuratively) art college in the Rocks, Sydney. It was a brilliant grounding in what I love to do.
How did you get into illustrating picture books?
Architecture, while a creative profession, isn't necessarily as creative as I might wish it to be. I felt that there was much more I could achieve and I looked for other outlets, initially I undertook a Commercial Illustration course and then a USYD adult education course on Children's Book Illustration, run by Donna Rawlins and Wayne Harris. This became the catapult to a new career (well OK….semi-career....well OK...let's call it a glorified hobby).
And then there were my children. Having children was a fantastic excuse for burying myself in kids books once again, via a weekly trip to the local library.
What is it that you love about illustration and what keeps you going?
Illustration has by nature a necessity of achievement. It is not enough just to paint or draw your own desires. In children's book illustration you are aiming to encompass the author's desires as well as the reader's delight. You have to strive to achieve that. It is a challenge and I love the challenge.
And then there is the feedback. Feedback is really important, especially if it is positive. I love to hear that the work I have done has meant something to a child and that they will pick it up over and over again. Goosebumps of satisfaction!
What is your favourite art medium?
I really haven't had a chance to apply my favorite medium to children's book illustration but I know what it is. I love the beauty of etching. Hard-ground, soft-ground, aquatint..... But it's not the easiest medium to whip something up.
I really hope one day I have a chance to create a whole story in etchings.
Conversely I also do a lot of my work digitally and still haven't had much of a chance to get to grips with Corel Painter...which is a fantastic program. Time, time....when will I ever have enough?
A whole story in etchings! I do hope some clever publisher will take you up on that idea.
What is it that keeps you inspired creatively?
Good projects and good briefs. I haven't had many bad projects but it is noticeable what they do to your motivation levels.
Who are some authors and/ or illustrators you admire?
How long a list would you like?
One of my favourite illustrators is Chris Riddle, a cartoonist for the Guardian in the UK but also a brilliant ink-scribe. His detailed and chiseled figures and faces are just perfect - full of expression and precise. Also in the UK you can't go past Oliver Jeffers...such a brilliant simple style that I so wish I could copy except for the fact that it would look obvious that I had. In the US there are some amazing illustrators like Adam Rex, James Jean and Brett Helquist.
Back home, I am constantly inspired by the likes of Shaun Tan, Bruce Whatley, Stephen Michael King, Freya Blackwood, Chris Nixon and Gus Gordon. While not an illustrator per se, possibly the most influential person for me has always been the late and great Jeffery Smart.
What does your dream project look like?
I probably will never do my dream project, but it is in fact the one that I began as part of the illustration course. I have always loved the musical story "Peter and the wolf". I envisaged that there could be a place for an Australian version of It...not a kangaroos and koalas "How-are-ya mate" Australia but a 1930's Great Depression in Australia version. All dusty faded colours.
Ah, what a wonderful dream, I do hope you can make it a reality one day.
It is not usual for authors and illustrators to work together on a book or even meet. However, I know you and author Andrew King get along really well and have a great working relationship. How did that evolve?
It's funny, but my experience seems to have been the complete opposite of most people and yet I never realised it. I had always assumed that the author and illustrator exchanged notes and worked together.
With the first two books I did - Angry Mangry by Barton Williams and Engibear's Dream by Andrew King - I immediately saw myself as part of the team working beside the author to achieve what they wanted for the book. I don't have what I would call a set style, so I'm always looking for feedback to determine which of the early options I'm exploring works best.
Andrew and I email or talk daily or weekly at least, throwing around ideas and options. I send regular updates from sketch through to the finished work. And Andrew, for his part (and very relevant for the type of books we are working on) gets feedback and advice from various experts - such as getting actual bridge engineers to check the structural capacity of my designs. Yes…we are a little crazy but it makes the process both fun and professional and the result is highly collaborative work that we are proud of. Andrew is an Engineer and I'm an Architect - so it make for a good relationship and we have a similar mindset.
Have you got any more books coming out soon, or other projects you would like to share?
Andrew and I are releasing book No. 2 of the Engibear series - Engibear's Bridge. But we have already begun working on book No.3 as - Engibear's Train which compares and contrasts old and new train technology in the Munnagong/Engibear world. It is going to be great.
I am sure it will be, I can think of several children looking forward to that one!
I am pleased to include a series of images with this interview for the "August" page that shows the progression from the first Storyboard to the finished image.
One of the key elements in the story is obviously the bridge and it had to be right in each image. I had a friend, Scott Findlay, build me a 3D computer model that meant I could spin it around to any view I wanted in order to draw over.
This gave me confidence in drawing the final black and white image and that assisted with the speed of each drawing. Without the computer model I would have had to set up the perspective manually.
After the black and white illustrations were complete, all colour was done digitally, in either Corel Painter or Adobe Photoshop. Adjustment to the lifework was also able to be done this way. Layering of the image meant I could place information and scale it to get it just right. As the end result is digital, it meant I was also able to undertake the text placement as well. This resulted in almost no post-production being required by the publisher.
Thank you for answering my questions, Ben and for giving us a fascinating insight into your illustrative process. I am looking forward to seeing more of your work in print and I hope one of your dream project will one day become a reality.
Andrew King and Benjamin Johnston are launching Engibear's Bridge on Thursday the 30th of October, 2014 at Strathfield North Public School at 9am.
Bio - Benjamin Johnston
Benjamin works full-time as a registered architect, however drawing and illustrating for children have always been his passion. .
Benjamin has illustrated the first books in the “Skool Rox” series, written by Barton Williams and the “Engibear” series, written by Engineer and Author Andrew King.
Benjamin is a regular illustrator for the “Little Rockets” series of early readers, published by New Frontier Publishing. “Ferret on the loose” has been released, and “Mike the Spike” will be following shortly.
Benjamin is a member of SCBWI (Society of children’s books writers and illustrators) and has had his work showcased in the Bologna Illustrators Gallery 2014.
Tania McCartney started the 52-Week Illustration challenge this year to reconnect with art. She asked people to join her and close to a 1000 people have signed up to participate.
''Professional or no, there is something truly wonderful about creating works of art. They don't have to be complicated or even mind blowing. They just have to be yours. When it comes to art, there is no such thing as right or wrong. Free yourself and get creative ... ''(Taken from the 52 week challenge blog).
Tania created a separate March challenge where she asks Australian members to illustrate a snippet of text for her upcoming picture book. Together with her publisher she hopes to find a new or existing talent to illustrate her new book. The challenge is ongoing till the end of March!
Here is the choice of text written by Tania McCartney:
Sometimes––a lot of sometimes––I want to smile. It could be … a spinning round-and-round smile.
Sometimes––just sometimes––I want to cry. It might be … an ice cream plopping-down cry.
I hope you were able to figure out which image went with the right bit of text.
There is amazing talent at the 52 week challenge and whether I have a chance or not to get noticed by her Publisher during the challenge doesn't really matter as it has been enjoyable just to create, learn and be part of such a supportive community.
Creating the Image
I always love seeing the work process of artists and illustrators, so as part of the challenge I thought I'd document and share my work process for the 'spinning round-and-round smile' image.
I start with sketches, working out ideas, just playing, doodling and having fun.
Then I used a black Copic Sketch marker to go over my pencil marks, and used the levels settings in Photoshop to create a nice clean image. I don't worry about using the eraser. I like the pencil marks coming through.
I scan these images into Photoshop.
In Photoshop I created separate layers for each chicken and separate layers for the background.
The chickens each get a 'line' layer, a 'white' (underpaint) layer and a 'colour' layer. For this image they all shared a 'shadow layer' and a 'detail' layer.
I give each layer a name in order to keep track of them, if not, chaos erupts!
I use level and hue saturation in a non destructive way to tweak the image here and there.
Lastly I added a stroke layer to emphasize the movement that wasn't coming up as well in the scan using the pen tool and stroking these.
To create the background, I used the pen tool to create the shapes.
I had previously made several watercolour and texture grounds and scanned them in to be used as 'textures'.
I love this feature as it allows you to 'paint' with texture and you can adjust the brush settings as usual in Photoshop.
Here is a screenshot of the final image with the layers. I also used Kuler (A Photoshop extension) as you can see on the image. This is a cool way to put together your colour palette.
I hope you enjoyed that, let me know if you have any questions!
For more illustrations I made for the 52 Week Illustration challenge, check out my Illustration page.
Tania also has a blog specifically about the challenge and features her artwork, processes and favourite images of the week.
Meet Tracey Lennon: Brisbane writer, illustrator and visual artist.
Late last year Tracey latest children's book, The True Book of Gnomes, was launched at Avid Reader in Brisbane. I was proud to be there supporting this local and talented author/ illustrator.
The True Book of Gnomes is written for young independent readers from 7 years and up. The story is written from 11 year old Sam’s perspective. Tracey really gets the voice right and the humour is sustained throughout. The story starts off with an exciting chase scene which plunges the reader into a tale of gnome kidnapping by terrible gnomers. After the gnomes, Tomte and his brother Binky, find safety with Sam and his family the story turns into an informative text with delicious titbits of knowledge about the lives of Gnomes.
The book can be read as a whole, or dipped in and out of. There is information on what to feed your gnome, the magic power of gnomes, runes, a short history of gnomes and includes jokes, riddles, quizzes, recipes and even music through the clever use of a QR code.
Though this book will be enjoyed by confident readers, it would also be a great asset to school libraries and specifically for reluctant readers, dyslexic readers and ESL students.
I was so fascinated by this book that I really wanted to learn a little more about Tracey and her background in writing and illustrating. So I went ahead and asked her some questions:
Your new book The True Book of Gnomes launched late last year.
What is your background? How did you become a children’s writer.
I never set out to be a children’s writer, or a writer at all. I’ve always been a compulsive reader and drawer and I studied an Arts degree and design when I left school. I also studied set design and illustration but I didn’t begin writing until I enrolled in a course at the College of Adult Education in Melbourne in 2000. I had a fantastic mentor and teacher called Rachel Flynn who inspired me. I wrote 4 educational fiction books for a local publishers in Melbourne and poems and plays for Australian school magazines.
But what I really want to know is, how did you become such a Gnome expert?
I read the Book of Gnomes by Rien Poortvliet when I was 15 and became fascinated with this world and all the different creatures and fairies in the fantasy realm. I was amazed at the variety and wealth of magic creatures in every culture and I wondered how they would fit into Australian life. I began noticing articles in the local paper about gnome owners and kidnapped gnomes. When I researched the topic on the Internet I discovered a number of organisations that “relocated” gnomes. As I wrote the book a number of gnomes found their way into my garden and my life and it was through them I became an “expert.”
There are quite a few facts within your story, I loved how you entwined Gnome and Human history and even made up your own language. Did you base much of the language of Runes on fact?
Yes. I researched the first types of writing and discovered they were called glyphs which means symbols. Then I found the Nordic runes from The Elder Futhark. I was amazed they were so similar to some English letters but I also thought it was wonderful that each rune has it’s own ancient story and meaning. The meaning of runes are open to interpretation and I was intrigued by the warning, “ Don’t use runes for magical spells until you are completely sure of what it is you’re doing and what (the runes) mean”! Perfect for a gnome’s secret language and spells.
How does your book assist children that find reading more challenging, such as reluctant readers or ESL students?
It’s written with a lower reading age and a high interest level. It has diagrams and pictures to help the reader understand the words. It is a ‘handbook” so it can be read in small sections to avoid reading fatigue. The font is larger and the pages have coloured backgrounds to help dyslexic readers.
What age group would your book appeal to?
7-12 and some adults.
Could you describe your writing process?
Pretty chaotic. I began writing this book on an envelope. Then in a notebook. As I started to write the book I began to do drawings with it - probably like a picture book. I had a specific goal which was to use the pictures to create meaning for the words. I wrote the book over two years but I had the gnome story for ages and I’d written lots of different versions of it. I decided on the chapters, did the research and then cut and pasted all the info into groups/chapters. Most of my writing is like collage- bits of info put together. Then I wove all the info into a story and joined the chapters with a narrative thread. I had a publishing contract on the book at that time so I was working with an editor to bash it into shape. I rewrote it many times. When I got the rights to the book back- I changed it again- included many more illustrations and redesigned it for my audience- dyslexic kids.
You did the illustrations yourself as well. Can you share a little more about your process as an illustrator?
I developed a series of gnome characters and then I went through the book and decided on the number and type of illustrations. I did them in black and white. For every illustration I’d do some sketches and when I was happy I’d use a light box to trace them onto watercolour paper. I used an old fashioned quill pen and ink because it kept the drawings loose- inkblots remind you not to get too uptight! and I like the effect of soft ink wash. I used a program called Comic Life to do the comics and collage for the chapter title pages. I’m dodgy with computers so I like to stick to pen, paint and paper and use computers to clean up the pictures. I got a graphic designer to help me put colour and labels on the drawings and design the book.
Do you consider yourself an author or illustrator first?
Not sure- probably a writer- I started writing and was published as a writer first. I guess that gives you a “professional” title. I’ve had two books published with my illustrations but mostly I just feel like someone who loves writing and drawing.
What advice would you give to yourself when you first started writing and/ or illustrating (imagine you have a time machine).
Warning : Don’t read this if you are easily scared. (I wouldn’t read it.)
Advice to myself: Try not to write everything on little bits of paper, Tracey, because you always lose them. Try to start with a plot and a narrative thread. Try not to have too many ideas. Punctuation and editing are good tools for writers like you to use. This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done and will take an insane number of rewrites and redesigns to produce a book. Writing the book was the easy part- selling it is the hard part.
Which writer(s) inspires you?
Roald Dahl, Hilaire Belloc, Ogden Nash, Isabelle Carmody, Susan Cooper , Tolkien, C. S Lewis, Catherine Jinks.
Which illustrator(s) do you admire?
Quentin Blake, Ronald Searle, Lizbeth Zwerger, Oliver Jeffers, Julia Friese (Schnipselgestrüpp).
What writing resources do you recommend?
Writing Hannah by Libby Gleeson. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. Screenplay by Syd Field. The Writing Book by Kate Grenville. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. The Poet’s Manual and Rhyming Dictionary by Frances Stillman. And online www.kidlit411.com.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
A series of three chapter books. They are narratives based on the “handbook” of gnomes. Written for 8-12 year olds and at 18, 000 words. I’d like my reluctant readers to have a go at reading shorter chapter books.
Where can people buy The True Book of Gnomes?
You can buy my book via my website, www.traceylennon.com, at Amazon or Booktopia and from local bookshops in Australia including : Avid Reader. Riverbend Books, Speld QLD.
TRACEY LENNON is a writer, designer, illustrator and tutor.
She has completed a Bachelor of Arts (UQ), Bachelor of Applied Science Interior Design (QUT), Cert IV Professional Writing and Editing (CAE Melb) and Cert IV TESOL (BNIT TAFE) and studied illustration and literacy. Her articles have been published in local and regional newspapers : Indian Link, trade magazine Multihull World and kid’s magazine, Scientriffic. She worked in communications at RMIT and is currently tutoring in English Grades K-12. She has had 4 novels for children published, Bad Hair Days, Fish Tales, The Fish Files and The Great Island Adventure. Her poems for children: Glimmer, P’s and Q’s and The Need for Speed, articles: King of the World, Freaky Creatures, Pirates at School and play The Secret Club have been published in The NSW School Magazine and Pearson School magazines.
In 2013 she participated in Two Locals, Brisbane Grammar and Clayfield College Art Shows. The True Book of Gnomes for middle readers was launched in December 2013.
Who knew I was doing a series! This post marks the last in a series of three posts featuring the most amazing critique partners a children's writer could have!
Today I am featuring Sylvia Liu, writer, illustrator and winner of the Lee & Low New Voices Award 2013.
I was lucky enough to meet up with Sylvia a year ago through Julie Hedlund's 12x12. We share a lot of the same passions and interests and I was very impressed with her knowledge of illustration and her willingness to share her experience with everyone. I am now honored to call Sylvia a friend and am excited to follow her journey towards the publication of her first picture book, A Morning with Gong Gong.
What is the New Voices Award?
Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. The Award winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and a standard publication contract, including the basic advance and royalties for a first time author with Lee & Low.
The Winning Story:
A Morning with Gong Gong portrays an energetic young girl named Mei Mei, as she spends time with her grandfather. When Mei Mei sees her grandfather, Gong Gong, practicing t’ai chi in the garden, she is eager to join in. He tries to teach her the slow and graceful moves, and Mei Mei, in turn, tries to teach Gong Gong some of the yoga poses she has learned in school. Although they both struggle with these new activities, Mei Mei and Gong Gong realize that it’s the time they spend together that is important. (From the Lee & Low website)
Please paint a picture, what was your reaction when you found out you had won the Award? I know you had to sit on the good news for a while before you were able to share it, it must have been sweet suspense.
When I got The Call, it was actually Call Waiting, because I was on the phone with my husband. I saw a New York number on caller ID. Not recognizing it, but not thinking much about it, I took the call. It was my editor, who introduced herself as being from Lee and Low. At that moment, my heart began to beat double time. My immediate thought was that I was one of the finalists, but then she told me that I had won. I am sure she thought I was a blithering idiot. After the call, I did a happy dance and called my husband. I did some more happy dances with my girls when they came home from school.
I heard on December 20, so it was a wonderful Christmas present. Lee and Low asked me not to share the news with anyone except close family until they officially announced the award in mid-January. I was dying to tell my critique members and other close friends, but I kept mum. The three and half weeks until the January 15 announcement were torture, but I learned that I can keep a secret.
Roughly how long did it take you to write A Morning with Gong Gong from idea to submission?
It was very short compared to most my stories, which go through months of resting and revisions. I came up with the idea in June 2013, wrote my first draft in July, and went through a couple rounds with my critique group in August and September. I had a professional critique done in mid-September and snail mailed the story to meet the contest deadline of September 30.
I know that you do not practice t’ai chi yourself, what inspired you to write this story?
My dad has practiced t’ai chi since I was a teenager. In the last decade or so, he has moved on to a different Chinese mind-body practice, qi gong. I wrote the story when I was on a family vacation in Vermont with my parents. Watching my dad practice qi gong and seeing my him interact with my girls and my sister’s three kids inspired the story. The story originally included qi gong as well, but I ended up paring it down.
Is there an underlying theme or an overarching philosophy that runs through your writing?
I guess my stories reflect a curiosity about the world. I try to remember what it’s like to be a child where everything is new and strange and mysterious. Some of my stories have environmental themes, a leftover from my years as a marine conservation attorney. Others are more idiosyncratic.
Can you describe your writing process?
I’m a pantser when it comes to picture book stories, and an outliner for my middle grade work. I usually have an idea of a character or a story in mind, and I start writing and see what develops. The problem is that my resulting story often lacks an important element, like a narrative arc or a motivation for the main character. That’s where my awesome critique group comes in and points out that I need to include a plot or an ending. It usually works itself out after a few rounds of critiquing, which is why I am such a fan of critique groups in general and my critique group specifically.
If you are a children’s writer or illustrator, Kidlit411.com is one of the best resources on the web and it is totally free!
Kidlit411.com was launched recently and I had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of the site, Elaine Kiely Kearns. Luckily she was able to snatch away a few precious minutes from her hectic schedule, because not only is she a children’s writer, but she is also a teacher, married (to a fireman no less) with two beautiful daughters.
I ‘met’ Elaine last year through Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 picture book writing challenge. When a call came up for people wanting to join an online critique group we both accepted the challenge. It has been amazing year of writing, creativity and friendship.
Here is the interview:
Who is Kidlit411 for?
KIDLIT411 is for everyone who is trying to write a children's book, whether they are just starting out on the journey or are already published. It is a place for everyone!
The site has topics from Challenges, Contests & Awards, to Diversity in Kidlit, Query Letters and Social Media. This is only a short list, you really need to have a look at yourself to get an idea of the scope of the site. The topics link you to the latest, quality and useful websites and resources.
How did you come up with the idea for Kidlit411?
KidLit411 came about from my need to pool resources from the internet. There are so many great sites out there and the kid lit community LOVES to share information! The amount of resources shared in Julie Hedlund's 12x12 was so fantastic that I couldn't keep up and needed a place to put it. So, I started making a list of the sites that I loved the most and would return to again and again to share with my online critique group. Then I started thinking that perhaps other friends would enjoy the information too , and eventually the idea just morphed into an entire online site.
Some of my critique partners, Teresa Robeson, Yvonne Mes, and Alayne Kay Christian also work on the KidLit411 site, Sarah Maynard updates the site regularly with the latest contest dates. Sylvia Liu is also my partner, keeping the site running, adding links, and overseeing the illustrations.
What are some of Kidlit411 features?
KL411 features a weekly ILLUSTRATORS SPOTLIGHT, where Sylvia Liu, interviews an illustrator about their craft and showcases their art and a weekly AUTHOR'S SPOTLIGHT where I interview an author and find out what helps them be successful in the industry.
We also send a WEEKLY 411 email (sign up here! http://www.kidlit411.com )where you get a condensed version of all of the new links and information that has been posted for that week. This is also the ONLY place where we include 'NEW AGENT information, so be sure to sign up!
How is Kidlit411 different from other websites for children’s writers and illustrators?
KL411 is different because it is more of an online link library than a blog. We aren't talking about kid lit or the industry, but rather we are a hub, a gathering place for all the really great online information that we find.
We've weeded out the bad stuff, and only left you with the best. You can pretty much bet that if it's listed on our site, it's worth a look.
How can people get involved with Kidlit411?
We welcome suggestions for quality links that are relevant to children's writing and illustrating, you can email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in being featured in any of our main pages or would like to be featured in the Illustrator or Author Spotlights you can email the above address as well.
To the right is a screen shot taken from Kidlit411, I love how all the topics are grouped and displayed. Each topic features art from children's illustrators and are changed on a weekly basis to showcase as many illustrators as possible.
If you are an illustrator you can send your own art in for consideration.
Not only is Kidlit411 an amazing resources it also supports upcoming and established writers and illustrators.
What is next for Kidlit411?
We have so many awesome ideas for KIDLIT411! Time will bring more great things to the site, that's for sure. Stay tuned!
(As I write this, Elaine has just added a classified/ wanted topic where writers and illustrators can look for critique partners, illustrators etc.)
Who do you look for for inspiration?
That is a really hard question to answer, I try to surround myself with people who inspire me! I guess those that I admire the most are all of those who don't give up or give in, those who are kind and helpful, those who help, even when the "helping" is hard. True people with a good heart and soul. Oh, and anyone who makes me laugh. I love to laugh. (But not in a creepy unnatural way) :-)
And one final question:
Which children's writer, past and/or present do you admire?
I have way to many favorites to choose just one!
Elaine Kiely Kearns is a picture book writer from NY, a second grade elementary school teacher and a mother of two, who lives on coffee, chocolate and humor.
You can find out more about Elaine, by checking out her website.
A box of Faber-Castell watercolour pencils combined with a Doodle Day challenge made for a fun December.
The Doodle Day challenge this month was to come up with anything that begins with the letters A to Z and is related to water, underwater, ocean, etc.
To this I added my own challenge – To use water colour pencils for each doodle, and become more comfortable with their use throughout the month.
I used better quality paper to what I usually would, Arches Hot Press Smooth 185gr and Aristico Cold Press 200gr. I tore them into rough squares and rectangles, with the idea that it would free me up, not taking the precious new paper too seriously.
Throughout the month I used other media in addition to the Faber-Castell water colour pencils, I really liked the use of India ink, using a nib for outlines or sketching. All doodles evolved from a rough sketch.
My selection of fish, animal, people etc. was very random and depended a lot on my mood, I wanted to try a range of different things and I quickly grew bored with fish. Other Doodlers had a completely different approach for example my friends Teresa Robeson focused on pencil drawn birds for a whole month and Sylvia Liu created a whole range of Pentel Brush markers and digital art Cephalopods. I am sure they will be blogging about this soon.
About a quarter of a way through I created a colour chart. The colours from the Faber-Castell pencils did not exactly match what I saw on the paper, and I wanted to see at a glance the dry colour direct from the pencil and the gradation of the wash as it was thinned with water.
Some of the pigments were more vivid or dissolved easier, I found the gold and copper don’t work very well at all, the silver was slightly better.
I spent roughly half an hour on each doodle, this included looking at picture references, sketching, inking and colouring.
I was quite pleased with a few of them and not happy with some of them, but all gave me more ease with using the water colour pencils. And I fell in love with the Arches paper and will be experimenting with a heavier paper next.
I had shied away from watercolour for a long time, and hoped that using a watercolour pencil was a way of easing me back in. I found it versatile, fun and easy to use, and the colours were vibrant. It is a great medium and I am less scared of watercolour and even ordered myself some actual tubes of watercolour paints to combine with the pencils in the future.
I'd like to thank all my fellow doodlers who commented on my doodles, offered encouragement, shared a technique, exchanged thoughts on media, pencils, ink etc, the Doodle Day community is awesome.
A little more about Doodle Day, which was started and envisioned by the multi talented Alison Kipnis Hertz can be found at the end of the post.
Now without further ado, here is my Aquatic Alphabet.
Feel free to leave a comment letting me know which letter is your favourite.
A is for Anamone.
And I was immediately in love with the range of colours.
B is for Barracuda ... AND ...
I used a black marker pen for the outline.
B is for Bottlenose Dolphins.
C is for Chilli Fish.
With their fiery temper they breathe chilli flakes.
D is for Diving Mask.
E and F are for Ebb and Flood.
G is for Grouper (a Coral Grouper).
H is for Hulk.
I is for Isolated Danger Beacon.
I have a husband who volunteers with Marine Rescue, he came up with this interesting idea for my alphabet.
J is for Jellyfish.
K is for Kelp.
L is for fish Lips.
Being silly and having fun. Mwah!
M is for Mermaid.
AND a bit of cheat. I was running low on time, frantically trying to get organised for Christmas. This is a sketch and digital colour for a story I have been working on.
N is for New Zealand Seal.
O is for Octopus.
I started experimenting with a simpler, minimal style. I liked this and might keep playing with this some more in the future.
P is for Penguin.
I used India Ink and one watercolour pencil.
I also adjusted this image and used it as our Christmas card.
Q and R are for Queen of the Red Coral.
I used an ancient tube of watercolour to create the splash. It is not as easy to create a puddle with a watercolour pencil. I actually 'shot' the paint at the paper with a syringe.
S is for Seahorse.
Some more splatters with the syringe.
T is for Textile Cone.
Some experimentation with charcoal, but wasn't quite fond of what I did with it.
U is for Utatsusaurus.
The earliest-known form of an ichthyopterygian, which lived in the early Triassic period (c. 245-250 millions years ago) AKA Fish Lizard.
Here I experimented with Isopropryl Alcohol (disinfectant solution), dapping it on the wet paint with a cotton tip. However as the paint was very wet, it bled out beyond the ink marks. I cut out the shape and pasted it on crumpled black paper.
V is for Viking.
His motto: "Braiding not Raiding!"
W is for Whirlpool and Wheels.
X is for Xiphosura Mesolimulinae fossil (Lower Triassic to Cretaceous.)
Y is for Yacumama.
In the mythology of the indigenous people of South America, the yacu-mama is a sea monster, fifty paces long, believed to inhabit the mouth of the Amazon River and the nearby lagoons. According to the legend, the yacu-mama would suck up any living thing that passed within 100 paces of it (Wikipedia).
Z is for Zebra Shark pup.
This last one is mainly India ink watered down and a single watercolour pencil.
About Doodle Day:
This is a doodling challenge for artists, writers, teachers, parents, children of all ages, friends, and friends of friends. for those who stare at a blank page and have a panic attack or those who just want to try something new. A doodle can take 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes or even up to an hour but seriously, if you are spending an hour or more - it is not a doodle, it is a masterpiece and you are overthinking it or trying too hard. Put your pencil to the paper and see where your arm goes - this is a stress free doodle zone. (Taken from the Facebook group)
First the important things:
Brisbane City Council Library, George Street
November and December, 2013
I have been a silent member of the BIG (Brisbane Illustrators Group) online page for a couple of months. I have mostly lurked fascinated and faintly intimidated by the talented illustrators roaming the online group. But when I needed some help with one of my illustrations when applying for an ASA mentorship, the support was immediate and valuable. One of these days I might get up to courage to attend one of their meetings.
The exhibition launched Friday, the 8th of November at the Brisbane City Library and was opened by Peter Allert. The exhibition includes established and upcoming Brisbane illustrators. A diverse range of styles and media such as Photoshop, watercolour, calligraphy, and combinations of these are on display. All the art is beautifully presented in glass display cabinets with more illustrations displayed on the walls.
Above: Anil Tortop and two young audience members are put on the spot by Peter Allert for a game of 'Finish that Squiggle".
Here is a visual taste of what you can discover at the Brisbane State Library this November and December:
Above left and right: Tanya Hempson and her aliens on vacation.
Above left and right: Peter Taylor and a selection of his work on display, a range of breathtaking calligraphy and artist books.
Above left and right: A selection of work by Lucia Masciullo (Queen Alice's Palaces).
Above left and right: Anil Tortop and some of her illustrations.
Above left: Artwork by Katherine May bove right: Peter Allert and one of his illustrations using watercolour pencils.
And I will finish with a 'selfie' of me and my Kidlit buddy Rebecca Sheraton at the end of an evening enjoying Brisbane's finest illustrations.
Children's Writer and Illustrator