InsideOut with The Forward

Hey there blog readers,

It's been a while. Apologies for the hiatus. Since returning from the conference, August has been an incredibly busy month. Ages ago, I hinted at a new project that I can finally talk about. I just started working with the Forward (or פֿאָרווערטס) on a new, bimonthly column called InsideOut. Penned by Judy Brown, the essays are wonderfully written pieces about life as a Hasidic woman and about Judy's very personal process of leaving the community. My work will appear alongside her pieces every two weeks - each month, one article in print and a second online.

The first piece appears in print this week, and I wanted to share a bit about my process. As with the last piece I did with the Forward, the medium and process are different from my children's work.

My favorite part of the process is the initial brainstorming. After reading the article, I sat down and worked my way through a stack of computer paper trying out ideas. Here are a handful that I sent in:

Each sketch dealt with similar ideas - being/looking/feeling different from or at odds with the surrounding crowd - but each had a slightly different emphasis. And, yes, I did send in that last "sketch" (I do use the term veeery loosely), but rest assured, I also sent in notes with those indecipherable chicken-scratch pencil lines.

After some discussion with the folks at the Forward, we agreed that the image that worked best was the  woman in front of the pantyhose display.

Once we settled on an image, I blew the rough sketch up to about 11x17, firmed up the sketch directly onto my good paper, and taped it to my board.

Final sketch

And then it was time to start adding ink...

Beginning ink


Until I had something that I was satisfied with.

Once I was happy with the ink, I pulled the image off the board and scanned it into the computer. For this piece, I cheated a little bit... rather than handletter the packaging, writing "Beige" 64 times, I did it once and then copy and pasted it.
 Thank you Photoshop!

Next step, color! The most important color for this piece was clearly the beige of the stockings. It took me a while to find a tone that I liked, but after that, the rest was easy. 

Ta da!
The final piece

You can check out the article and the final illustration in this week's daily Forward or online here.

Many thanks to Naomi and Dan and all the excellent folks at the Forward and of course to Judy for such wonderfully written essays.

LA SCBWI Conference

Halloo blog readers,

Where to begin?

Four days, thirty-six pages of notes, a heap of new friends... The conference was a roaring whirlwind of a weekend that left my head spinning and sparks shooting out of my ears and fingertips. (This was very dangerous for my sketchbooks, but worry not, there was no lasting damage.)

Like last year, there were an astounding series of workshops and keynotes, from the heartfelt to the irreverent:

The amazing, Arthur Levine

The inimitable, Tony DiTerlizzi

Patricia MacLachlan
(you might remember this book of hers, Sarah Plain and Tall...

Melissa Sweet giving a painting demonstration

Jon Klassen (illustration crush!) talking about Harold and the Purple Crayon

Like last year, I attended the illustrator intensive:

Tony showing original work
(photo courtesy of Debbie Ohi)

Final panel (L-R, Tony DiTerlizzi, Melissa Sweet, Laura Godwin, Eugene Yelchin, Jon Klassen, Cecilia Yung, Rubin Pfeffer, and Antoinette Portis)
(photo courtesy of Debbie Ohi)

Like last year, I submitted my portfolio into the annual Portfolio Showcase, and just like last year there were over 160 incredible portfolios laid out on the tables.

At the showcase 
(photo courtesy of Debbie Ohi)

But entirely new this year, my portfolio won an award... !!!!! I was completely stunned. You can't tell from the above photo, but many of the portfolios on those tables were nothing short of breathtaking. I feel so incredibly honored to have been selected for the Illustration Mentorship program. A gigundo thank you to David, Pat, Cecilia, Laura, and Priscilla. The five members of the Illustration Board, each choose one portfolio, so I have four co-mentees who are all super talented: Jen Betton, Maple Lam, Karyn Raz, and Brian Won. I'm so excited to work with them this year!

With fellow mentees
(L-R, Jen, Karyn, Maple, & paper-Brian)

And then, you know the saying... all work and no play... this year's gala theme was the "Hippie Hop", 60s attire, tie-dye, gigantic afros, and flower tattoos encouraged:
Hippie Hop
(photo courtesy of Debbie Ohi)

At the party with two of my fave conference buddies,
Kathy-Ellen & Ashlyn

I know I keep using words like incredible and amazing and mind-blowing and head-spinning... but it really was. The conference is an extraordinary event with some of the most creative, encouraging, and kind people I've ever met. If you want to read more, there's some pretty good coverage of the conference here. (Not to mention, the two gals pictured above and I are featured in one of the photos.)

Talk about talented, hanging out with awesome, creative-types
(L-R, Christina Forshay, Maple Lam, David Diaz, me!, and Juana Martinez-Neal) 
(photo courtesy of Debbie Ohi)

Finally, I'll leave you with some work. Here's what my sketchbook/journal looked like.
Three of those thirty-six pages:

Conference high


Morning blog-readers,
It's just about 6:30 on the west coast, and I'm about ready to head off to Century City for a weekend of workshops, key-notes, doodles, intensives, illustration fun, writers, editors, and a crazy, amazing, positively stupendous herd of picture book folks running around the Century Plaza. And I just might be ready. (I might also be carrying twenty pounds worth of postcards, promotional pieces, portfolios, business cards, and book dummies with me all day, but that's another story...)

But back to the business at hand... Conference! And illustration! I'm hoping to find a wee bit of time to post throughout the weekend, but to give you an idea of the schedule, today I'm going from 8-8:30 - and I do mean 8am until 8:30pm. Whew. 

But if I don't, I did want to leave you with a piece of art before the rush begins.

I finished this piece not long before I left NY...