Many years ago I attended a conference in Findlay, Ohio at the Mazza Museum on the lovely Findlay University college campus. This museum has the largest collection of original children’s illustration in theworld.
I have seen the elephant!
It is a phenomenal treat to walk into a space and see the original paintings or collages that are from your favorite children’s books. The friends you grew up with. I saw an original Beatrix Potter, Kate Greenaway, so so many treasures.
While there I listened with illustrators, librarians and educators from across the country for a week of stories and information from greats like Ed Emberley and the brilliant Pinkney family.
One night I joined a casual dinner at a local restaurant. There was one seat left. I knew not a soul at this event and to even attend alone was a stretch for me. As I sat down I looked around the table to find myself sitting next to Ed Emberly and across from one of the speakers. I was panicked. What was I doing here? I was a librarian from a small school in Florida who had painted for years. No credentials that made me a brilliant dinner companion.
All of my worries instantly dissolved. I had found “my tribe”! There was not an unkind word spoken. These creative gentlemen were just that.
Creative and kind.
A eureka moment!
It has taken years to wind through jobs and obligations to be full time at my drafting table and computer creating my own illustrations and books.
A month ago I sent an illustration to a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) competition. It was to illustrate a poem called The Sneeze by Tomie Depaola. He would judge the entries. I did not win, but I put my pen to paper and created this.
Another competition sponsored by SCBWI in our Southern Breeze region I did actually win. If you are a long time reader you have seen this one.
Last year I was part of a mentorship program overseen by the brilliant Mark Braught. The assignment was a self portrait using visuals from different times, places and adding some interesting animals.
This year as the Spring Mingle conference approaches I am participating in a mentorship with the wonderfully generous Loraine Joyner from Peachtree Publishers. I am learning so much from this experience. It has been filled with experiments, research for facts and images, and putting self in chair and pencil in hand and drawing scenes from a pre-Civil War era. It is a dark time in our history, as far from my dear Melvin Fine Mouse as is possible. A stretch and a challenge I am enjoying every day.
Thank you SCBWI and the wonderful world of children’s illustration for another transformative experience.
We meet once a month at Beth’s lovely home (though we’ve promised her we’ll start spreading the hosting love). We eat, sip coffee, nibble some more, and encourage one another as we share whatever is going on in our artistic lives. It’s not all social – each month we share whatever we’ve been working on for feedback. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned and how much I appreciate their keen insights! I’m beyond thankful that I stumbled into the fold of this group as it was forming last spring. It’s made a huge difference in my creative life and has been very instrumental in my getting artsyletters off the ground.
Oh, and we sometimes take field trips, too. Of course, we can all be found at SCBWI Southern Breeze events, but we like our own side trips as well.
Here we are shopping researching markets and digging up inspiration and treasures at the Flowery Branch (Georgia) Antique market.
And Beth and I are shopping researching and gathering art-making supplies yet again this past weekend in Buford, Ga., at the Revival Antique show.
We call ourselves “Harold’s Friends” after Beth’s cat, who usually deigns to supervise each meeting at some point. I’m thankful for these friends and wish, for everyone who creates, a talented, honest little band of folks who speak the same language and encourage them on the journey.
Thank you Robyn for allowing me to reprint your Artsyletters post. To see more from poet, author, artist, Robyn Hood Black you can go to her website at robynhoodblack.com
My friend Robyn Hood Black posted the kindest things on her blog, Artsyletters, yesterday. She is a generous person in writing, in art and in person.
Last weekend the announcement was made that I had won a first prize in the SCBWI Southern Breeze 2012 illustration contest. (SCBWI is the abbreviation for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.) Robyn very kindly wrote about the event and my process.
Please take a minute to check out her blog, this is after all the mutual admiration society, and let her know you dropped by.