As many of you know I have written several manuscripts for children’s picture books. Illustrating is also one of my passions so they go hand in hand.
Having ridden horses for a large part of my life I have learned about the benefits they offer people with disabilities. As a young rider I watched a friend with Cerebral Palsy become the state champion. She and her big red horse were a perfect team with lots of blue ribbons and trophies.
More recently I volunteered at an equine therapy facility in Decatur, GA. I watched many people delight in the movement and connection with these big hairy beasts.
I have been working for several years on a picture book about the experience.
You may remember this illustration that won a first place in our local SCBWI competition.
This is exactly the way I would feel going into the field to catch a horse on the weekend mornings. A little love, a little treat, and a whole of lot of equine energy running around me. It was pure delight and a little terror.
My manuscript is mixing those feelings and some extra sensations to share the experience of being with these big hairy things.
Last weekend I attended a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Birmingham, Alabama. This meeting was designated as Writing and Illustrating for Kids (WIK).
As the event draws to a close the prompt for the following year’s competition is announced. In 2013 the illustrators received their information: “Look out P.J. it’s a……” The artist fills in the blank and completes an image to enter.
I thought that I would like to use a flying cat since I had 2 models sleeping in my studio. With the main character being a cat, the word feline seemed to be an appropriate part of the sentence. With dictionary open on my computer I began to look up science terms. Well, why not work with alliteration as one does in children’s literature. Back to the science terms under the letter F.
“Look out P.J. it’s a flyby feline fission flux.” These are all science terms that could pertain to space.
The Steampunk look was on my mind so off I went. Alli was on the floor stretching beside my chair.
Now who would P.J. be? Hmmm, who would be afraid of a flying Steampunk cat? Steampunk mice of course.
Some positioning thoughts.
One of my favorite tools is the white gel pen. Probably one of the simplest materials to use. It is basically a white ball point pen that is opaque enough to write on paint. On a blue background it would be fun to emulate a blueprint. What could be drawn? Buildings, machines? Oh, flying machines of course.
Everybody and everything is in its place. However, it is looking very flat. I took a photo of the art and opened it in Photoshop. This piece was going to be submitted on line and 8″ x 10″ prints were going to be mailed so the actual painting would never be seen. Now P.J. joins the ranks of digital art.
It neither won nor placed, but I am happy with the outcome. In my quirky art world cats fly, mice shriek in horror, and flying machines frequent the skies. I may be a little too edgy for children’s books. Part of my mission in attending the conference was to see if I could find the right fit for my artwork in the illustration business. I have not found it yet, but “this too will be revealed.”
It took a little inner strength to go to an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in Charlotte, N.C. alone. I would be attending an intensive class by myself. Bearing my portfolio and lots of postcards and business cards I went in. The illustrator of the American Harry Potter series was our first speaker, Mary Grand-Pre. The executive art director, Isabel Warren Lynch, from Random House Children’s Books concluded the intensive. So much inspiring art and experience was shared in those hours.
We had an assignment to prepare before the class. A sequence of 8 or more pages, maximum 3 colors and 20 words.
Stay tuned to see what happens to my little character.