Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A few days of lazy

I'm in my last few days of summer freedom.  I've been trying to embrace laziness.  I haven't been very successful and just recently come to realize that I didn't delve into any books this summer.  This summer has seemed lazy to me, but it is probably because I didn't go exploring as much as I would have liked to.  I've been creating a lot of work this summer.  Between finishing my online art class with Mira Reisberg, getting ready for the SCBWI summer conference, then the RawArtist artist showcase, I have been in a constant state of creation.  Even now, when I desperately want to embrace the feeling of doing absolutely nothing, I can only continue creating.  So, I've decided to do a recap of this summer's work.

Hero's Art Journey with Mira Reisberg
This online course really helped me break out of a creative fog I was experiencing.  I was still being creative, but just didn't have any particular direction and needed something to push my boundaries in a different capacity.

 In the next piece I had originally had a little girl in the painting, but after attending an illustrator's portfolio workshop; it had been recommended that I change her to one of my Mizzle characters to keep the piece consistent with all of my other work.  The original is on the left and the altered piece is on the right.

For my portfolio, I also, finished a piece I had started working on earlier.

For the RawArtists artists' showcase, I made about 30 Mizzles.  You can find many of them on my Esty shop, Mizzle Adventures.  Here are a few of my favorites:

And as for the remainder of what should have been two weeks of a lazy summer, I continued to explore creating mixed media pieces.  Here is what I've created:

This first illustration I wanted to play with the idea of Tree Pose in yoga, and hiding amongst trees.  Here the Mizzles are playing hide and seek.  Stargazer is attempting to camoflage herself as a tree.

To continue with the tree theme, I thought it would be fun if the Mizzles went camping.

This last one is a work in progress.  I am introducing my newest Mizzle, Fawn.  She and Belinda are going to picnic amongst the peacocks.

Now, I'm starting a Picture Book Writing Course and have to push myself to work on my story. It's time to begin editing!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The mighty sketchbook

Every artist understands the importance of having a sketchbook.  It is important to carry around for moments of immediate inspirations, and to draw the world around you.  To become a better artist, one must be able to draw their immediate surroundings. I love to fill pages in my sketchbook with doodles.  It's like doing yoga for your brain.  You concentrate on the line and let go of every other thought.  Soon you are drawing in a zen-like trance lost in the lines. 

But, as a high school art teacher, I know that my understanding of the importance of sketchbooks is not necessarily understood by my students.  Students who have an interest in drawing and painting love the sketchbook.  Students who have an open mind about drawing and painting, but feel they can't do either get excited at having one, but use it for tagging, or passing notes, or hardly use it.  Students who have no interest in drawing and painting have no interest in using a sketchbook.  They just want to have one because everyone else has one. 

My biggest problem is finding a sketchbook that is the right size for my students.  In the past, I've ordered sketchbooks with 100 pages and end up using only 30 pages.  I've also ordered sketchbooks with 30 pages and end up needing more pages.  It is very difficult to predict how much the sketchbook will be used during the school year.  Then, there is the financial side of the sketchbook. They eat up a huge chunk of my budget, so I've made the decision to not buy them for this year.  A very risky move.

As a department, we have discussed for a few years about making sketchbooks.  The conversation became more and more serious until last year when we finally made the decision to make it a class assignment.  So, as a way to welcome our newest teacher to our group, and figure out what technique is going to work best for us, we had a artist play date. We sat in my parents' backyard in the shade and began practicing our construction of sketchbooks.

I used cardboard pieces for the cover.  I wanted to play with melting crayons as a possible decoration of the cover.  I, also, thought it would be great to use fabric, or old shirts for the cover.  For the paper, I used xerox paper to make the signatures (stacks of 8 sheets of paper folded in half). In one, I used string to attach the signatures to the cardboard.  For the other, I used pipe cleaners to bind everything.  

They were a lot of fun to make.  I'm hoping that by making the sketchbooks my students will develop a new appreciation for them.  Perhaps, inspiring those who fear drawing and painting to jump in and draw.

 I enjoyed making the sketchbooks so much that I decided to make another one last night.  This could possibly become a new obsession of mine.  My favorite part is using fabric, cardboard, crayons, yarn, and random things I can find in my apartment. 

I'm looking forward to the school year starting so I can make these with my students.  I can only hope my students will love making them and want to use them as much as I do!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Art Show: Radiate

This summer has been filled with some really great moments and a few really bad moments, but it is all part of life, right?  I have spent most of my summer vacation making art and getting ready for the SCBWI summer conference.  Then life threw in something unexpected and that was being part of a group art show. 

I have been fortunate to have grown up with an extremely supportive family; people who have supported and nurtured my artistic career; people who believe in my and my abilities.  But sometimes it is difficult to truly accept their opinions about my art and talents because they love me unconditionally.  I have always known what I am capable of, but it wasn't until the past few years that I believed I could do more...even create art professionally.  Within my pursuit of illustrating children's books, mostly my own, I have challenged myself and can see growth in my work.  I think if I was presented with the opportunity to show my work 4 years ago, I would have turned them down.  I wouldn't have believed I could truly be successful.

This summer has been about getting more exposure as an artist and networking.  When RAWartist approached me about being a part of their show, I, honestly, had some reservations about participating.  In the past, I have never pictured my artwork in a gallery setting.  But I believe that life presents us with opportunities that we are meant for us to experience, whether they are good or bad.  I decided to just go with it because in the end there is nothing to loose.  So, the past 2 weeks, I have been preparing for the show. I had to figure out lighting, how to display my art, and what to display.  Part of my art was my Mizzle dolls.  I went into intense Mizzle production only to break my sewing machine.  (I don't really have much experience with sewing machines and didn't know I needed to oil my machine after long bought of sewing.)  I managed to make 27 Mizzles in 4 days...not including the days my machine was out of commission.

I became extremely nervous the day before the show, beginning to fear that my work would look too crafty.  I began doubting what I really knew about presenting my artwork.  I think the real source of my fear came from not knowing where the show would lead me to.  I've allowed myself to accept and trust the journey that my art has taken me on.  I just wasn't quite sure how this art show was going to alter that journey.  Luckily, I am fortunate to have friends who are capable of talking me out of my mini freak outs. When I arrived to set up the show, there was no time for any freak outs. I immediately went into problem-solving mode and within an hour, I managed to organize and create a beautiful Mizzle Shrine!
The show was at the Avec Night Club in Huntington Beach.  I, along with everyone already familiar with me and the Mizzles, knew the place was going to be magical because when you first arrive you can't help but notice a huge tree in the middle of the bar.
And magical it was!  Friends and family came to show their support and share in the fun!  My friend, Victoria Burnett, a professional storyteller, was my biggest promoter of the night.  She was so proud of me that she talked me up to every person who would listen to her.  People were drawn to the Mizzles.  Everyone commented on their faces and the personalities they exuded.  Many were delightfully surprised to find that each doll was named.  They also loved my illustrations.

This illustration seemed to be everyone's favorite!

But the magical moment of the night was when I was talking to a woman about the Mizzles and my journey from doll making to my goal of writing and illustrating my story about them.  She asked what my story was about, then told me she worked for a very large children's book publishing company and that I should submit my manuscript to her when I finished it.  This just shows how important it is to network and to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you.  I had feared that being a part of this art show would take me away from my children's book journey, but it only encouraged me more.  I have never felt so confident about my abilities and my path. 

It seems like the planets are aligning just right.  Next week, I begin Mira Reisberg's Picture Book Academy, where I plan to work out the problems of my Mizzle story.  Then I'll have something to finally submit.  I can't wait to see what opportunities will arise next.  This art journey is becoming very exciting. 

Here is a link with photos of the show! http://encore.orangecounty.com/2012/08/19/slideshow-art-music-fashion-and-more-at-raw-orange-county/

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Save the Date! August 18, 2012

On Saturday, August 18, 2012, I will be participating in a group show.  I haven't been in a group show since college.  I used to be an active member of the La Habra Art Association and participate in their juried group shows.  But I eventually moved away and stopped.  Lately, I have been showing my illustration portfolio at children's book conferences.  That alone has been a bit nerve wrecking, but it is the closest thing to exhibiting my work.

Sometimes when you begin thinking about your future, what you want, and all of the possibilities, the thought alone is enough to make it all happen.  I had decided to rejoin the Art Association.  I thought it would be nice to begin showing my work again, even if it is in an itty bitty little place.  But what started it all was starting an ETSY account.  I have been playing various materials, making paintings, drawings, and collages and all of the art work had been piling up in my apartment.  Space was becoming scarce.  My idea was to just sell my work to get it out of my apartment.  It wasn't about money.  It was about the love of making my art.  To my surprise, I was contacted by RAWartists about the possibility of showing my work in a group show.  I find this whole scenario odd in an exciting way.  Usually artists have to go out in search of finding someone to show their work.

So, now is the dilemma of choosing what to put in the show.  I think I have it figured out. But changes could still occur.  I have no idea what to expect, or what could come of this.  But I feel that there is something serendipitous about this art show.  I've been painting and drawing these characters for so long now.  There is just something very special about how things seem to be coming more together as I continue on my journey and the artwork that drew attention to me were the very paintings and Mizzles that began it.

 If you get a chance, you should come out and join us!  It sounds like a fun event.  There will be art work displayed, a fashion show, and bands playing.  Tickets are $10 online and you can get them at http://www.rawartists.org/roldan.  (Please make sure that the artist listed says "Mizzle Adventures") Otherwise tickets are $15 at the door. 

I went to the walk through today to see the set up.  I think the fact that there is a huge tree in the middle of the bar is a really good sign. (I love trees!)  It sounds like it is an entertaining event.  There will be booths for the visual artists, but there is a fashion show and 2 bands playing.  If you get the opportunity to go, make sure you get there at 6pm when the doors open.  If not, you could miss out! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Inspiration from SCBWI 2012 conference

I am just beginning to recover from the crazy (as in an exceptional kind of crazy) 4 days of the SCBWI 2012 summer conference.  There is just so much to report, which will be done, but not all at once.  I'm still processing it all.  This was my second year attending this spectacular conference.  Last year, I was completely new to this world and didn't know anyone.  I had to jump in and make friends.  This year was different.  This year,  there were many faces I recognized and knew from my region's writer's and illustrator schmoozes.  But more on this feeling later.

I began looking through my many notes and decided to look for the inspirational quotes I wrote down.  They stay with me all year long.  Here is my recap from authors, illustrators, author/illlustrators, agents, editors, and art directors:

Tony DiTerlizzi  "looking backwards to go forwards"

E.B. Lewis  "If you don't have the love of what you are doing, then you don't belong here."

Patricia MacLachlan "Children learn to speak to tell us the stories that are already in their head."

Bryan Collier "Artists, the whole world has been waiting for you to dream."  (This was my absolute favorite quote!  He spoke with such passion about artists and the "seed" of creativity inside all of us.)

Karen Cushman "To attain your hearts desire you have to help someone else."

Clare Vanderpool quoted an Siberian Elder "If you don't know the trees, you'll be lost in the forest, but if you don't know the stories, you may be lost in life."

Jon Klassen "You can't worry about the stuff you can't control.  You have to keep working and creating."

Ruta Sepetys: "You can't break the broken, but it's when you glue the pieces together you become stronger."

Antoinette Portis "Tell kids the truth."

Gary Schmidt "Write stories to give the reader more to be a human being with."

I noticed a commonality amongst all of the speakers.  It seemed as though the following phrases were heard in every keynote speech and breakout rooms.

1. Be open to surprise
2. Tell the truth
3. Create what the child version of yourself has always wanted

These things might seem like common sense, but in a conversation with a few of my fellow illustrators, we discussed how you hear the same things at every conference, but depending on where you are on your journey some words resonate with you.  We hear what we need to hear.  Sometimes we need reaffirmation of our path.  Sometimes we need guidance on a new direction.  Sometimes we need encouragement.  We all leave with something different.

What did I leave with?

-A stronger sense of community and a new friend, Laura Hoffman.  We had met at a variety of illustrator schmoozes, but we never really knew each other.  We were roommates for the conference and became good friends.  She introduced me to people, and I connected all of her social media.  She is extremely talented!  Check out her blog at http://www.laurahoffmanart.blogspot.com/.

-More confidence in my illustrations.  People had such wonderful reactions to my postcards and business cards.  I'm exactly sure how I thought they would react, but it was always fun to see them smile.

-A better understanding of how to write.  I have been struggling with my original Mizzle story.  I have been over thinking and over writing.  It was helpful listening to all of the author/illustrators, but Antoinette Portis seemed to help me the most.  At one talk, she said: "If it can go into the picture, then it has to go." At the illustrator intensive she told us: "Take out all of the words that are already in the picture and say the words that need to be said."

But before I end my post for today, I thought I'd end with my doodles and drawings from the conference.  There were more as the day came to an end. Here they are! :)

I was exhausted the last day of the conference and could not stop thinking about being home in bed :)

more sleeping

I'm not sure where she came from, but I find her adorable.