Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last Minute Gifts for Illustrators! Flattering on Any Illustrator!

Friends, if 2010 marks the third year in a row your significant other gave you Uri Shulevitz's WRITING WITH PICTURES, point them to this blog post.

I love me some Uri, but BELOW is a killer present you should give your favorite up-and-coming illustrator. All sizes still available!

It looks good on dudes

Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2011, SCBWI,

It looks good on ladies

Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2011, SCBWI,

Yes, the SCBWI International 
Winter Conference Lanyard!

The conference takes place January 28-29, 2012, and Early Bird Registration price breaks are available until December 31st!

To gift the conference, you can either sign your illustrator up via this link, or consider helping them cover the cost of registration—SCBWI Member registration is only $360.00 right now, Non-Member registration is $450.00.

Some of the great people they'll hear at the conference include: Agents! Editors that are acquiring picture books! HarperCollins Associate Creative Director Martha Rago! TWELVE, count them, TWELVE, of the Book Maker's Dozen!

What if your favorite illustrator is already planning on going to the New York Winter Conference? There's another, equally valuable, awesome lanyard-based present STILL AVAILABLE!

This optional, pre-conference mega-opportunity is $225.00, which includes the private portfolio showcase fee, here's a snapshot of the schedule:

Help your favorite illustrator get closer to making their dreams come true, 'tis the season!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Palette Hack!

I've been waiting since summer to see if this would spontaneously combust (or mold), but it hasn't yet, so let me share with you how to make a Picnic Paint Box.

You will need:
  • Tiffin lunch box with locking lid, or bento box with locking cover
  • Sta-Wet palette paper
  • Sta-Wet sponge
  • Pencil or pen
  • Scissors
  • Hot, hot, hot water
  • Clean casserole dish
  • Acrylics or Acryla-Gouache
  • The four illustrator food groups OR a sandwich
Target sold some very cute picnic/tiffin lunch boxes with locking lids this summer and I bet they will again soon. I got a snazzy yellow one: 

I've been using Sta-Wet palettes for my acrylics ever since the ethereal Yuyi Morales explained them at a SCBWI Conference a few years ago, thanks, Yuyi and SCBWI!

Using the lid or base of your box, trace its shape onto a piece of dry Sta-wet paper as well as the dry sponge. Cut inside your tracing line, about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch in, all around. The paper and sponge expand, and it's better to be slightly smaller than the box's interior than it is have your flat sta-wet palette not lay flat. You can try fitting the dry stuff into your box, if it's too big dry, keep trimming things down.

Follow the Sta-Wet directions for how to activate your palette paper and spongy bit (that's where the casserole dish and hot water come in.)Stick the palette paper and sponge in your box's bottom. Grab your paints. This tiffin box has kept my acryla-gouache happy for months:

Your box may have one or more levels. My box has two levels, bottom for a palette, and the top level splits into two.

I put my paint tubes in one of those compartments, but realized all of my brushes are too long to fit in the other compartment. I don't have one of those canvas rollup brush holders, but who needs one of THOSE when you have nostrils and ear holes? Natural brush holders!

So, what to do with your empty compartment? I recommend filling it with the Illustrator's Four Food Groups, the seasonal version of those being:

1. Eggnog (taffy or liquid form)
2. Peppermint (taffy, schnapps, or cane form)
3. Clementines
4. Gingersnaps (standalone or as a crust)

And now you, too, can have a cheery palette to keep you company.

 Which is better company than the company I normally keep, that of dead-eyed chair stealers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy belated birthday, Julia!

I meant to celebrate it with more gustatorial gusto. BUT there is still time to eat and drink well this weekend. And what a lovely note to receive—that Ewelia Child was featured in a Julia-inspired Etsy Treasury! I have my big eyeball on that butter and cream quote as well as that butter crock...

Thank you, Beth Mason/kasintehty!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sketching at the airport

Put some new sketches up on my Tumblr. Like this one from our pre-flight hours at LAX on Tuesday, this little boy was orbiting around his luggage. He got an enormous Gatorade, and then promptly crashed.

I love seeing other illustrators' airport sketches. Debbie Ohi uses her iPad at the airport, and Dan Santat has a lovely new Tumblr site!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: Richard Jesse Watson

The last of the SCBWI Summer Conference pre-interviews is with my favorite children's book family patriarch, none other than local hero Richard Jesse Watson. Richard is incredibly talented and JUST as kind as he is talented, which is pretty freaking amazing.

Here are his lovely book covers. You can't tell from the slideshow that he did the art for THE BOY WHO WENT APE on elephant poop paper, but HE DID. Read more about that and many other toothsome posts at Richard's blog.

Jaime: RICHARRRRRRD! What are you doing for the demo?

Richard: I will crack an egg and paint with it. In other words, demonstrating egg tempera in combination with mixed medium.   

Jaime: Delicious! Who is your favorite illustrator in history?

Richard: Some of my favorite illustrations are petroglyphs or other "primitive" imagery such as the Lascaux Cave paintings. These wordless pictures still speak volumes after thousands of years. 

Jaime: Maybe we could organize an SCBWI field trip to there. Favorite up and coming illustrator?

Richard: Renata Liwska, illustrator of The Quiet Book.

Jaime: Ooo, I love her! Your favorite working snack? There's been a lot of confusion in these past pre-interviews with the other illustrators' answers. I realized too late that professional illustrators speak in code. For example, if an illustrator says their favorite snack is nuts or legumes, that really translates to gummy bears and sour candies. Further, if someone says they like vegetables, they mean baked goods. Fruits are code for milkshakes and sundaes. So, Richard, what's your favorite working snack?

From Jay Asher's blog:
Richard: Radishes.

Jaime: Let me just look that one up... Ah, yes! Radishes = Donuts. Yum! What is your favorite tool? Again, there's been some confusion in the past. In this instance, Tool ≠ Dan Santat, but something like a paint brand or paper type.

Richard: #5 DaVinci Maestro Toblosky-Kolinsky watercolour brush.

Jaime: Ain't that a mouthful. Final question, (and thank you, Richard, I have never seen anybody paint with egg tempera and I can't wait to see your demo—so excited!) what do you do everyday that makes you a better artist?

Richard: On first waking up I visualize imagery and books that I want to make. Even if the images are soupy or primordial, the essence of them will eventually crawl out onto the shore to take on a life of their own. Every day I also jot down story ideas and sketch those "Help-me-Obi-Wan,-you're-my-only-hope" fleeting images. I also try to go for a walk to put everything in perspective.

Jaime: To jot down your story ideas do you use a pen that you keep in a jar-jar?

Richard: ...

Jaime: Sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned that. To end on a better note, LOCAL FOLKS of Washington, if you want to get some good schooling in the art of picture book writing, Richard is holding a weekend workshop! Any price would be reasonable, and the location is perfect, too.

Below are two shots of Richard's amazing studio:

SEE YOU ALL IN L.A., EVERYBODY! Head to the Official Conference Blog starting Friday. Between now and Friday, check out Alice, Lee, Suzanne, Martha, and Jolie's pre-conference interviews, too!






Alessandra Balzer:

Steven Malk:

Julie Strauss-Gabel






Laurie Halse Anderson:

Mary Pope Osbourne:

First-time attendees:



Monday, August 1, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG: Denise Fleming in Los Angeles! A mini-soap box moment!

Summer Conference Attendees, drink your electrolyte enhanced waters, please, because you are meeting Denise Fleming this week and she is a dynamo.

SCBWI Western Washington locals had the good fortune to meet Denise in 2007, she led a retreat weekend for us with the inimitable Darcy Pattison. I don't think Denise went to bed that entire weekend, she was up all day leading hands-on workshops, and up all night giving beyond-the-call-of-duty manuscript critiques and/or making fake boogers out of rubber cement.

Super Denise and SCBWI WWA ARA Kim Baker

I can count two of my daily illustration practices as directly inspired from Denise's critique of my work and her workshops, so I thank her for that everyday. AND for how to make rubber cement boogers, they stick so well to your nostrils!

At our retreat, Denise focused on picture book writing and illustrating for the very young, and I am thrilled to see she's covering those topics at the Summer Conference. BUT, don't be fooled. Her tips and techniques work if you are writing or illustrating picture books for the... very old young, too.

Most of you know Denise creates her art using a paper pulp painting method which usually needs a whole studio's worth of gear. I don't know if she'll be doing that for her demo, but whatever she does, I know it will be incredible.

Check out Denise's process-rich website and consider getting her super cool junior autobiography.

Like the Hyatt Hotel soaps soap-sized box.

There's nothing junior about the Meet The Author series, if you are a fan of any of the authors—Lois Ehlert! James Howe! Janet Wong! They are fine reference books for new writers. Denise's is very charming.

The MtA series is rivaled only by the out-of-print SELF-PORTRAIT series which I would pay a zillion dollars to see started up again. In fact, ALL of the illustrators doing demos next Monday would make great additions to the SELF-PORTRAIT series. I have Trina Schart Hyman, Erik Blegvad, and Margot Zemach's. They are small, fully illustrated picture book autobiographies. They are gorgeous and personal and perfect, and it's a dirty shame they aren't being made today. SHAME, I SAY!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: Kadir Nelson

All of the illustrators doing Monday demos at the SCBWI Int'l Summer Conference have made illustrations that stick in my heart. Kadir Nelson's work fills my left ventricle. Look at all these lovely covers (if you can still see the covers, what with all the medals on them.)

Not sure what Kadir will be demo-ing, but we know it will be awesome, right?

Jaime: Hi Kadir! Who's one of your most favorite illustrators in history?

Kadir: Dean Cornwell.

Jaime: Neat! I have never heard of Dean Cornwell! I love discovering new illustrators. It's like discovering a new kind of candy. Which reminds me, do you think Steven Malk eats too much candy?

Kadir: Don't know.

Jaime: I know you made him a bobblehead doll, a fairly well documented thing Steve likes, and I believe it is also fairly well documented that he is pro-dessert. Don't feel you need to shield him from the scrutiny of the children's book blog world.

Kadir: ...

Jaime: By not answering you are proving that you are a loyal and discrete client. Well done. What's your favorite working snack?

Kadir: Water.

Jaime: I'm sorry, I fainted. Water? Like frozen with sugar and flavors? As an ingredient in a baked good? Maybe you thought I was asking what your favorite tool was, like water for diluting paint. Did you mean water is your favorite working tool?

Kadir: My favorite tool is a sable flat brush.

Jaime: So water is really consumable on it's own and not just as a necessary evil in a Slurpee? This is news to me. Final question, besides drinking "water," what do you do everyday that makes you a better artist?

Kadir: I meditate and play the game of life. 

Jaime: Thanks, Kadir! I want to point out that Kadir did not capitalize "life" in the answer above, though he may play the game of Life on occasion.

Check out Kadir's lovely studio, an image swiped from his fantastic site. And look on the Events section, Kadir's WE ARE THE SHIP art is touring! It will be at the Carle Museum starting February 2012, but is out and about around America now.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: Paul Zelinsky

The goodness of the Illustrators' Intensive just keeps increasing exponentially. Paul Zelinsky wowed us with his magic camera contraption at the Winter Conference, and he's heading to LA to do a live demonstration. When I asked Paul for a hint of what he'd be sharing, he got downright poetical.

First, Paul's books, check out all those award-bedecked covers below. His pictures are as lovely in print as they are in person. If you have a chance to see Paul's work in a gallery, go for it! Some of his work came to my town: I saw pieces from AWFUL OGRE'S AWFUL DAY and am happy to say Paul Zelinsky's responsible for alerting me to the incredibleness of E. Nesbit after I heard him talk about the art he made for THE ENCHANTED CASTLE.

Jaime: Hiya, Paul, can you give us a hint of what you'll be demo-ing in LA?

Paul: The technique I'll be demonstrating in the Intensive will be linked to the topic of my talk during the regular conference

Or, as a haiku:

Intensive technique
using oils for fairy tales
very intensely 

Jaime: Super! What is your favorite non-Olympic sport? Your favorite smell? Your favorite bachelor on the current The Bachelorette? What is your favorite Cadbury product? What do you do every day that makes you a better artist?

Paul: I have to say that I have an aversion to, and a near-complete inability to respond to, questions about my favorite anything. Those are four really hard questions for me, and the fifth is even harder, because I not only don't have an answer to it, I have no faith that I wake up a better artist any day, much less every day. And I don't do anything to promote or demote myself. I suppose the mere act of waking up will make me a person with more life experience than the last time I've woken up, and perhaps that translates into being a better artist. I don't think so, though!

Jaime: Yes, yes, yes, I switched those first four questions! I asked Paul what I asked all the other live-demo illustrators and not having favorites is fine by me. And can't we agree that Paul's last non-answer is actually a wonderful answer? And though he may not have the faith he's waking up a better artist every day, we kidlit people have that faith for him in spades. Spades means up the wazoo, right?

Check out Paul's fabulous studio. If you follow him on Twitter, you'd see some fun photos of his studio view, which is of a street popular with movie makers...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: Jerry Pinkney

Hey #kidlitart fans. A reminder that for those attending the Illustrators Intensive at the SCBWI International Summer Conference, you'll see this guy do a painting demo: The Jerry Pinkney. Excited isn't the word.

Here's a quick slide show of Jerry's book covers. Though, while I was grabbing all these images, I had to take a break, my mouse died, so many good books!

I'm already planning a pilgrimage in 2012 to one of the galleries slated to exhibit Jerry's latest show, WITNESS. It was at the Norman Rockwell Museum until May—check out this incredible summary of the show I swiped from Jerry's site:

Witness presents an overview of fifty years of a varied career as a designer and illustrator. This retrospective consists of 150 watercolors, process drawings, dummy books, reference photographs, and also a museum provided video along with inter active displays. There is a companion eighty page catalog with essays by Leonard S. Marcus, Gerald L. Early, Ph.D., Steven Heller, as well as Stephanie, Joyce, and myself. My essay titled Call and Response offers up the building blocks of how I became the artist I am today. The exhibition will currently be traveling to the Flint Institute of Art, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Hudson River Museum, High Museum of Art and the African American Museum in Dallas. 

Some quick questions with Jerry to get us inspired:

Jaime: Hi Jerry! What's your favorite tool?

Jerry: 2B pencil

Jaime: Classic! (Editor's note: Though I will venture that Jerry's 2Bs are made of holly and have phoenix feather cores.) Favorite working snack?

Jerry: Walnuts and Almonds

Jaime: (Editor's note: I know, this is hard to understand. There are too few words above. I'm sure Jerry meant Walnut CAKE. And Almond BRITTLE. He's a busy guy, I'm happy to correct him.) Who is your favorite illustrator in history?

Jerry: Arthur Rackham

Jaime: Hooray! Arthur Rackham has 2,233 Likes on Facebook. Thank heavens you can't Poke someone on a Facebook Page because I can only imagine that poking the ghost of Arthur Rackham would make him angry. Though it might be nice to be haunted by the ghost of Rackham, he might hover over your shoulder and tell you if your sketch is off. Right?

Moving on.

Favorite up and coming illustrator?

Jerry: Kadir Nelson

Jaime: Up-and-coming! With at least two Caldecott Honors, and a Sibert, and a Coretta Scott King, and his art on US postage stamps I will agree, Kadir is up-and-coming, he's practically in the stratosphere. And Kadir'll be presenting a live demo at the Illustrators' Intensive, too!

Final question: What do you do every day that makes you a better artist?

Jerry: I have hundreds of publications on the art of illustrators, painters, printmakers, and photographers.  At some point in most working days you will find me scanning my bookshelves searching for that right book to set my creative juices flowing.

Jaime: Lovely. I am adding to my library of art books as I type. Thank you, Jerry! His website is a treasure trove of information, too. Please go wander around it. And check out Jerry's new-ish studio, beautiful:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: David Small

This February, Winter Conference-goers were saddened to hear that David Small wouldn't be able to attend. Being bold, I'll speak for SCBWI (and surely future Los Angeles attendees!) that we are thrilled he'll be coming to the Summer Conference. Plus, David speaking in LA means we'll get to see him in his jammies on Saturday.

Holy wow, look at this slideshow of books David has illustrated:

Not only those he's authored, like NBA finalist STITCHES, but those with the incredible Sarah Stewart. His co-creator list basically reads as a Who's Who of Children's Literature.

David was kind enough to answer a couple questions and send us a groovy photo of his studio (tell me that's not the best place to hang an NBA medal.)

Jaime: Hiya, David. Can you give potential Illustrator Intensive attendees a hint of what your live demo will be about?

David:  I'll be stressing what I think is most important: knowing anatomy, drawing with an expressive line, and drawing fast.

J: That sounds fantastic. On the topic of expressive line, who's your favorite illustrator in history?

D: In books, Ernest Shepard. In Editorial: Heinrich Kley.

J: Ernest Shepard is amazing. I've never heard of Heinrich Kley, so nice to meet a new (old) illustrator, and wildly interesting. Who is one of your favorite up-and-coming illustrators?

D: L’Uyen Pham.

J: My favorite of L'Uyen's might be GRACE FOR PRESIDENT, but I'm also excited by her work in graphic novels. Illustrators, be sure to check out her fun new site and blog. How about favorite art tool? Again, to be clear, not an art tool like Peter Brown, but a favorite brand of pencil, paper, etc.?

D: Pocket Brush Pen by Tombo.

J: Awesome! And correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you use that on some of your incredible travel sketches. Favorite working snack?

D: Tangerines.

J: Like chocolate oranges?

D: ...

J: Oh, REAL FRUIT? I will have to check these "tangerines" out. One last question, David, and thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to chat with us pre-conference. What's the one thing you do every day that makes you a better artist?

D: I try to complete at least one drawing (of anything) every day, to justify my existence on this earth.

Thank you, David!!! Friends, see David in action at the 40th Anniversary SCBWI Summer Conference. And illustrators, if you haven't signed up for the Intensive yet, you can and should.

Here's that studio pic:

Monday, June 13, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: Marla Frazee

It is 53 days until the 40th Annual SCBWI SUMMER CONFERENCE! And I have the crazy honor of doing some Q&A with a few of the faculty members.

Marla Frazee's class at Portland State's Haystack Conference changed my illustrating life. And I know I'm one of a bunch that can say that about her and her classes. Whether at Haystack, Art Center College of Design, or SCBWI shindigs, if you are lucky enough to get a critique from Marla, you should know you are going to get some terrifically good advice. Advice that will stick with you forever, and most likely move your career to a new level.

To repeat: (You + Marla) x (Time Together) = Awesome. And because SCBWI International has invited her to be one of the seven illustrators doing live demos at the Illustrators' Intensive (which you can still sign up for!), we can now make this equation:

(You + Marla x Time Together) x (Watching Marla Make An Illustration) = Awesome Infinity3

A few questions with Marla below:

Jaime: Hi Marla! Can you give us a hint of what you'll be doing for the demo?

Marla: I couldn't complete a finished illustration without the foundation this particular process provides, so here's what I'll be demonstrating – first, I do the drawing on paper. Then I soak the drawing and staple it to a board. When the drawing is dry, I build the color up with multiple washes – sometimes as many as 50 to 100, which takes forever. I'll have to do this in stages, otherwise it would take a week or more to show it in real time. And that would be extremely weird for anyone to watch.

J: WE WOULD TOTALLY WATCH. But we understand time constraints. And the perils of eating X Bar food for too long. Who is your favorite illustrator in history?

M: This changes for me constantly. But Robert McCloskey is always in the top five.

J: Oh, nice! Here is a link to an archive of Anita Silvey interviewing him for The Horn Book. How about favorite working snack? I know I've asked this before, and you said CHEEZ-ITS...

M: If I'm honest, it's coffee. As much as I like CHEEZ-ITS, they are pretty greasy and eating them while I'm working would seriously mess up the work.

J: Favorite tool? Not, like, Jon Scieszka, but, like, favorite brush or pencil brand?

M: I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't work on Strathmore 500 series hot press 2 ply paper.

J: Readers, don't forget to explore Marla's kickass site, full to the web gillls with fantastic info. Final question: Marla, what do you do every day that makes you a better artist?

M: Worry that I'm crap.

Oh, that Marla. I'll bet a studio under an avocado tree that she's the only one who worries she could be crap. And speaking of studios under avocado trees, check out Marla's fab studio:

THANK YOU, MARLA! See you in L.A.!

Friday, June 10, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: Details about the Illustrators' Intensive

 Hey friends,

Word on the street is you've never seen a live painting demo by a world-class illustrator. Or, maybe you've seen one, but have you seen SEVEN IN A ROW?

You will if you sign up for the Post-Conference Intensive for Illustrators at the 40th Anniversary SCBWI Summer Conference in LA this August.

And you still CAN sign up for this Intensive, but time is running out.

Some of the committee (L-R Priscilla Burris, Pat Cummings, and Cecilia Yung)
One thing I love about the SCBWI Int'l Illustrator Committee is that they are always having a ball. Always mixing it up—the Intensive this year is a new format. I asked Pat Cummings about the committee's decision to have seven of the world's best illustrators do live demos for attendees. And here's what the committee said:

The Illustration Committee of the Board usually begins planning programs no later than six months in advance. For this conference, we started even earlier.  We had gathered for the opening of The Golden Kite exhibit at the NCCIL Gallery in Texas last July and, surrounded by so much exquisite work, we all felt it would be fitting to have a wealth of top illustrators for the 40th Anniversary Conference.

The surveys we've collected after each Intensive repeatedly indicate a real curiosity about technique: How do the illustrators who present programs actually create the work they show?  So what better way, we thought, to celebrate SCBWI's 40th Anniversary than to invite top illustrators to demonstrate just that.  Show us how the magic happens.

Over the next few months we floated names, assessed techniques, refined our list, checked to see if speakers might fit into the larger schedule and by the Winter Conference, we were ready to begin inviting speakers.  Each illustrator invited is at the top of his/her game and each will present something dramatically different.  It will be an explosive, exciting, probably exhausting day but it will definitely be a memorable example of the scope of talent members will find at an SCBWI conference.
So hooray for this Intensive! The next few weeks I'll be posting some Q&As with a few of those demo-ers, I cannot wait for August.

But some good gnus

Don't think I blogged about it yet, but I have a kickass agent! His name is Stephen Barr. He's at Writers House. He has super powers, I'm not allowed to say what they are.

But truly: I hesitated to post about it a few months ago because Stephen is in the Witness Protection Program. Stephen is so smart and funny, he's being hunted by the world's best comedians—Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais. So the desire to share this good news has been tempered by the fact that I might be exposing him to a comic hit. And I want to keep Stephen around. So if you are friends with Jerry, etc., don't mention any of this, please.

I sent my signed agency agreement in this envelope:

And then he sent back a signed copy in this envelope:

So that's fun.