"All I hope to say in books, all I ever hope to say, is that I love the world."
Another SCBWI summer conference has come and gone, and once again I feel so grateful to be part of this community of writers and artists that care so much about making books for children. As Lin Oliver said so beautifully,
"There is no friend like a friend in ideas."
As someone who lives in a small town, far from the cities where so many book makers live, SCBWI has been my avenue for connecting with this community.
So it is with a heart full of gratitude that I say Thank You to SCBWI for the honor of being chosen for one of the Portfolio Showcase Awards. And a very big Congratulations to the other Portfolio Showcase Award Winners:
I really look forward to seeing everyone's work continue to grow.
sketchbook, SCBWI LA 2015
advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to
me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for
amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait
around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in
the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best
ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.
Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a
great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens.
But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something
else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you
in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow
deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get
down to work, and I find that's almost never the case."
My 5 year old reads books this way. After we read Float, within minutes she was making paper boats and floating them in a little pool. After reading Mrs. Maple's Seeds, she was Miss Maple, dressed in an apron, scattering seeds across the living room. We read Hogwash
and she was quickly drawing her own mud/paint/shower machines complete
with magnets, faucets, and piggies hanging up on a clothesline to dry.
After almost every story that she loves, she says 'Mama, I want to BE
that. How can I BE in Hogwash? How can I BE in Miss Rumphius, how can I BE in Virginia Wolf?
(Lots of paintbrushes and a big bow in her hair seem to be a good
starting place for the latter.) It's a question that I've learned not to
answer, as whatever she comes up with is always more surprising, more
interesting, more wonderful than anything I could have suggested. Of course when we draw together, she is also full
of ideas. Sometimes we trade our drawings back and forth, sometimes we
swap them right before adding color. We draw a lot of girls in flying
machines and long fancy dresses. But today I was drawing a creature in a
scarf which she thought looked like a bandage. Which seemed like a fun
idea, which led to these—
I love beginning a drawing without any idea of how it will
end. Usually, I start with a face, and from there the drawing takes on a
life of its own. Here are a few such drawings from the past few weeks...
I've been working on a few illustrations lately that have their share of knobby bits and gristle. I've also been thinking about the ways in which stories can surprise and leave questions unanswered even as they end. Most of my favorite books from childhood have quirks, and many of my favorite illustrators have a rough, loose, or odd quality to their work.
As I work on a story of my own, I've been visiting my local library and bringing home some tall stacks of books. Here are some shaggy stories that I've really enjoyed lately:
Also, Carter Higgins, creator of the wonderful blog Design of The Picture Book,
shares her thoughts on the dingiest rattiest books, stories that
matter, and honesty that makes you squirm (as well as a great list of of
books to check out) here.