Archives: illustration

2014 SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC

This is my experience of the 2014 Winter Conference in New York City

It all started with this one image, this cakelustration was the winner of the 2014 Tomie dePaola competition. As my award, the SCBWI gave me an all expense paid trip to the 2014 SCBWI Winter conference in NYC! And the best part, lunch date with Tomie himself!  I am still in awe of my experience!!! I want to share with you my full experience with the talented and generous Tomie dePaola, but that will have to be in another post. So for now I will talk to you about the amazing weekend experience with my new and old friends.

When I arrived, I immediately had to attend the Regional Team meeting where we spoke about what would transpire over the weekend. It was interesting to find out that there were over 1,080 members in attendance this year. I met other Illustrator Coordinators and Regional Advisers, from all over the nation, even from the UK and Australia.

They went to dinner and a show, but I spent time with my cousin and children in the city. We had some delicious New York Pizza!

–––––––––––––––––––Friday Illustrator Intensive–––––––––––––––––

The intensive started off with a bang with Mr. Tomie dePaola himself! Cecilia Yung, Art Director and Vice President, G.P. Putnum’s Sons and Nancy Paulson Books prepared a Q & A about Tomie’s journey as an children’s book illustrator and how he uses the picture book as theater.

Tomie dePaola is an award winning author and illustrator who has won several awards for his works.

“Every book is like a child, you never know what will happen along the way. Once the baby is out, you don’t feel the pain, only JOY!” -Tomie dePaola

Brett Helquist illustrator/author spoke on casting and character development. He said, “you should always Practice, Practice, Practice….”

Paul O. Zelinsky spoke of illustrators on set design -staging.  “Don’t line up things, be aware of the elements, characters, and backgrounds and how they relate to each other.”

Did I mention I had a stow away? A little rabbit named Magic, found his way into my suitcase and traveled with me to NYC.

Remember the Rabbit cupcake topper that I made for Richard Jesse Watson? It met an untimely death with a wild studio cat, so I made a non-edible replacement out of Sculpey. Magic will make a new home in Richard’s studio soon.

He went with me to drop off my portfolio for the Portfolio Showcase. This is a showcase of over 200 illustrator portfolios of conference attendees. They are viewed by several industry professionals during the showcase that happened the evening after the intensives.

At the Illustrator Intensive,

Magic was making friends every where we went.

Sarah Baker and Pricilla Burris

Cecila Yung and Pat Cummings

David Diaz and Lin Oliver

Paul Zelinsky was showing us his process, then of course Magic had to get in on the action.

There were these really delicious candies strategically placed all over the hotel during the conference! As you can see Magic enjoyed them too!

–––––––––––––––––Saturday Conference Day–––––––––––––––

Lin Oliver started the conference with a few statistics and  a short powerful speech from Kristen Fulton. She was a veterinarian who became a writer soon after a life changing event happened to her.

Our first keynote was author Jack Gantos. He stated, “characters can carry a weak plot, but a weak plot cannot carry a character.”

I went to Laurent Linn’s break out session and he talked about how illustrators need to be socially connected through, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and websites. Also illustrators should be using Postcards as a marketing tool. Maybe send out 3 or 4 a year to a selective mailing list.

“Then it was off to lunch with Tomie dePaola!”

I’ll write about this in my next post 🙂

The rest of my day was spent with Tomie and then some time in my room absorbing all that had transgressed throughout the day. Soon it was time to get ready for the evening party! I was the only Texan Regional team advisor for our Texas/Oklahoma table. Pretty surprising, but I guess we do have to travel pretty far to get to NYC.

David Diaz’s daughter, Tina WissnerDavid Diaz, Kary LeeChristine Brallier, and Me

Afterwards we had an after party with Illustrators. Tomie dePaola brought the cake I gave him to share with everyone. It looks a bit deflated. Oh well, it still tasted good.

David Diaz, Priscilla Burris, E.B. Lewis, & Cecilia Yung

David Diaz, Tomie dePaola, Pat Cummings, Paul O. Zellinsky, & Sarah Baker

Tomie and I cutting the cake

Tasting the cake. 🙂

Paul and I cowboying it up!

––––––––––––––––Sunday Conference Day––––––––––––––

Lin, Tomie and I getting ready for the morning announcements.

And drum roll please….

And the winner is Akiko White with her illustration made with cake.

So nice to have my cheerleaders in the crowd.

My daughter and I  – me and my writer friend Tina Wissner

We had a few more speakers before the day was over.

Kate Messner was our next keynote speaker. She was amazing! She spoke on the power of failure. Kate had an opportunity to speak at TED Talks in 2012. She left most of us laughing and crying at the same time. “Failure teaches us to celebrate the dance” –Laura Hamor

Keynote panel on the art of the picture book with Peter BrownRaul ColonMarla FrazeeOliver JeffersShadra Strickland moderated by Arthur Levine.

Autograph Party

Paul O. Zelinsky                                  Oliver Jeffers

Jane Yolen and daughter Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Tomie dePaola

Peter Brown

Tomie dePaola, me, and Lin Oliver

And here are some of the books that I acquired while I was at the conference.

I Won the Tomie dePaola Award!

I am so ecstatic that my Cakelustration won the 2014 SCBWI Tomie dePaola Children’s book Illustration competition! Tomie dePaola is an award winning Illustrator.

From the SCBWI Website:

Tomie has been a long time member of the Board of Advisors (he is now emeritus), was instrumental in changing the name of the original organization to include illustrators, founded the Illustrator’s Committee of the SCBWI board which produces events especially for illustrators, taught the first master class at an SCBWI conference, and is featured on the DVD Master Class produced and distributed by the SCBWI. He has made a singularly important contribution to the growth and mission of the SCBWI.

Tomie generously financed the Tomie dePaola award until 2011 when the SCBWI chose to fund it as a permanent award in recognition of Tomie’s outstanding contribution to the SCBWI, and especially to our illustrator members.

I can’t believe it! This is an amazing accomplishment for me and I want to thank everyone that gave me inspiration. Especially SCBWI-SWTX Regional Advisor Shannon Morgan and Pal’s Coordinator Carolyn Flores, who by the way, gave me the suggestion to illustrate with cake. I also want to thank all my SCBWI friends who have been my cheerleaders along the way. Last but not least I want to thank Tomie for thinking my illustration was worthy of such an honor. I took a chance at trying an illustration in cake medium and it has really paid off. It is a fun medium to work with, and I get to lick my fingers as I work, “wouldn’t you?”

I have been busy making cakes for friends and family, but never thought of illustrating with the medium. There are many talented cake artist who put characters on cakes, but there are very few who make the character or character’s out of cake. Who doesn’t like cake? And especially children! I’m not sure why there has not been a children’s book illustrated by cake and sugar art, but I am hoping that I can change that. It maybe challenging, but I am always up for a challenge!

I’m looking forward to having lunch with Tomie dePaola in New York City!

I’ll post my cakelustration process soon!

I have been preoccupied with little goatlings lately, but I wanted to thank Helen Juhasz for nominating me a liebster blog award. She is a fellow illustrator. Check out her blog.

“The Liebster Award is given to loveable blogs with less than 200 followers to recognize worthiness and drive more readers to them…. and hopefully generate higher follower numbers.

I am super-grateful for this nomination and for anyone who appreciates my work! I met Helen through the 21-day Comment Challenge this past January, which was put on by Lee Wind, MotherReader and SCBWI. It has been exciting to communicate with other writers and illustrators.

As a recipient I need to share 5 “things” about myself. Hmm…
1. I live each day to the fullest and try to remind others to do the same!
2. I love drawing, painting and writing
3. Observing my children is a daily occupation…who knows a book may come out of it!
4. I milk Goats.
5. I’m a half Japanese/half German American with a Texas accent.

So here’s how it works:

“Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. As with any award, there is a bit of ceremony involved. In order to accept the award, we must do the following:

*  Copy and paste the award on our blog.
*  Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
*  Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
*  Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.”

Now, the fun part! I get to pass on this honor to the following 5 nominees:

1. Medea – Check out her blog! She is a Canadian mom raising bilingual children in Japan! She has some great information on literature. She also reviews kit lit that is related to Canada and Japan.

2. Diandra Mae – Is a friend, the IC for Houston SCBWI , and a wonderful Illustrator, blogger and busy mom! She shares and amazing amount of children lit information!

3. Lisa Medway – A fellow professor, friend and writer. Lisa and I met at the SCBWI Conference in LA 2011. She is such a delight!

4. Jerry Bennett – is a friend, the IC for Oklahoma SCBWI and amazing graphic novelist/illustrator. We met through the SCBWI conference in LA 2011. He is so fun to be around. Jerry recently won an award for Oklahoma Comic Creators event.

5. Larry Felder – is a fellow artist and friend who recently moved to Costa Rica. Larry shares how he paints any thing related to the beautiful surroundings he is living in. He also has Felder Gallery in Port Aransas, Texas where you can purchase his original artwork.

Thanks Ya’ll! Have a great Day!

Tomie dePaola Entry Process of Art

A wonderful person, Diandra May, Illustrator Coordinator for the Houston area SCBWI has made a blog with many of the art that was entered into the Tomie dePaola illustrator’s competition. There are many talented people in this group. Please have a look.

Here is my entry, imagery straight from my own farm! With a little exaggeration.
Below is a little bit about how this image came about.
Photo I used for reference. This is exactly what I saw out my window as I painted the Chicken Licken. I could just see the chickens and ducks all getting together and squawking about the sky falling on them.

Using my own ducky lucky as reference. I couldn’t get her to do what I wanted so I helped her out a little by holding out her wings. Ducks are so funny looking!

Just had to add this one because I think ducks look so odd when you look at them face on!
Here is the sketch that I drew before adding her to the final image.
The original sketch.
I changed the direction of the duck after seeing the placement of the other animals. Also notice that I moved the dog house over a bit in photoshop before I transferred it to the canvas. I had originally thought it would be fun to have a remote control helicopter be the acorn that hits Chicken Licken in the image,  but as an image with out more story, it didn’t make sense. This idea come from my son who had recently flown his helicopter into one of our oak trees. I think it may have gone through a few rainstorms before they were able to take it down.
I love my farm. 

Tomie dePaola Entry


I’ve been busy painting an image for the Tomie dePaola Illustration Competition through the SCBWI. He picks an excerpt from a children’s book story and illustrators from all over the world submit their entry. There will be a blog set up soon to view all the beautiful artwork. I will post it as soon as it is available to view.

Here is the excerpt:

So they went along and went along until they met Turkey Lurkey.
“Good morning, Goosey Loosey, Ducky Daddles, Cocky Locky, Henny Penny,
and Chicken Licken,” said Turkey Lurkey, “Where are you going?”
“Oh, Turkey Lurkey, the sky is falling and we are going to tell the King!”
“How do you know the sky is falling?” asked Turkey Lurkey.
“Ducky Daddles told me,” said Goosey Loosey.
“Cocky Locky told me,” said Ducky Daddles.
“Henny Penny told me,” said Cocky Locky.
“Chicken Licken told me,” said Henny Penny
“I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it with my own ears,
and a piece of it fell on my tail!” said Chicken Licken.
“Then I will go with you,” said Turkey Lurkey, “and we will tell the King!”