Double Self-Portrait

So this post requires a bit of pictorial explanation before I post the actual piece.

For those of you who I haven't seen in recent days, while I was out in Minneapolis visiting a friend, I chopped off all of my hair. (Do not despair, I donated it.)


I had a particularly inspired working day the other morning...
and yes, I work better in a silly hat

Gratuitous cat photo.

So pre-haircut, I had started a self-portrait project for a contest. The contest is being run by Tony DiTerlizzi's facebook fan page. The title is "Re-imagine Yourself", and the goal is to create a portrait of yourself within one of the many DiTerlizzi stories. There was no end to the possibilities, and the brainstorming itself was incredibly fun; I almost had too many choices.

In any case, I finally settled on a self-portrait as an imaginary monster in Tony's hilarious and ridiculous alphabet book, "G is for One Gzonk", using my crazy ginormous hair as a jumping off point. I created a monster not only entirely engulfed by the crazy ocean of red, but also whose hair becomes a character itself, creeping about and nabbing odds and ends and even other creatures from the original book.

But then I cut all of my hair off.

So I went back to the portrait, did a little revision, and voila double self-portrait, pre- and post-new-do.

The Rumprunkus
Double Self-Portrait
in the style of Tony DiTerlizzi's
"G is for One Gzonk: An Alpha-Number-Bet Book"

The rhyme in it's entirety:
The Rare and Red Rumprunkus
Is barely visible, you see.
Covered with a vibrant mane,
Her hair's as wild as can be.

That monstrous RED hides many things -
It hides baubles, bits, and bangles.
Even ribbons, rocks, and riches
Are caught up among the tangles.

But beware the creeping tendrils,
As they slither through the air.
With a strange life of their own,
They might drag you under there.

The Book Cover Club

Hallooo everyone,

Recently, a few friends from SVA started a new blog, The Book Cover Club. The premise - read a book, design a cover. In short, awesome. After I saw the first three posts, I knew that I wanted to get involved. So for the fourth book, the Club chose "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann. (For cliff notes.)

I've never designed a book cover before, so I took a stab. Not my favorite piece, but it was a good experience. I knew that I wanted something dark and moody - which hardly describes my usual work - so I decided to experiment a little with the medium. I actually rendered the art by entirely coating a piece of foam core with dark watercolor. Then using a paintbrush loaded with water, I began to slowly remove bits of the paint off of the board. It's a subtractive process, rather than additive, and allows you to start with a really dark background and get progressively lighter.

I'm okay with the final product; I like the overall image and the texture, but there are things I would reconsider, especially the type treatment (thanks ESup). It was my first attempt at a book cover, I'm glad I did it, and I will definitely try another. My cover is below, but you should absolutely click on over to the Book Cover blog and check out the amazing things the other SVA kids created.

SCBWI Thank You

Hey there blog-readers,

I just realized that I never posted this. I set up a post about the conference back in August, started writing, and never posted it. Oops.

I don't know I can really do the entire experience justice. It was jaw-dropping, exciting, exhausting, inspiring, overwhelming, refreshing, satisfying, hope-inducing, doubt-banishing, jam-packed with people I absolutely adore and admire... I could continue adding adjectives to that list, but I still don't know that it would adequately capture the amazingness of the weekend. It was a very reaffirming sort of experience. I cannot imagine spending my life doing anything but this. And part of my love of children's publishing is absolutely the other people in the field; I have never met a group of folks more passionate about what they do. Just one example of dozens from the weekend - I went to a break-out workshop on picture books (an amazing soup-to-nuts overview from first manuscript to printed page), and the art director running it stepped up to the podium. Before even beginning her talk, she stopped and took a look around the packed room (and I do mean packed... wall-to-wall artists, writers and publishers).

"Who here loves picture books?" she asked. And before waiting for an answer, she raised her hand, "I do!"

Everyone I met at the conference loves what they do, loves the field, and loves books. That in and of itself was incredibly inspiring.

I was so grateful for the experience that I threw together a little thank you card for the staff, art directors, and editors who I met. (You may recognize part of the image. There's a reason I carry a sketchbook.)

And now just a couple of photos from the Illustrator Intensive Day. After the main conference weekend, there was a full day intensive, during which seven working professionals did a live demonstration of how they work. It was incredible. All seven artists are amazing, and I would absolutely recommend checking out their books.

Paul Zelinsky - Underpainting techniques

Marla Frazee - Stretching paper and gouache paint

Kadir Nelson - Portraiture in oil
(Note: the gentleman in the chair is the inimitable Dan Santat, also of picture book fame)

Denise Flemming - Paper Pulp Painting (SO messy and fun!!)

Richard Jesse Watson - egg tempera and applying gold leaf

David Small - Drawing of all sorts

Jerry Pinkney - Watercolor

And two bonus photos -

Judy Blume!!! (a surprise guest)

Me and a new friend (Kathy Ellen) at the 40 Winks Pajama Gala