Conference Notes

This weekend’s MD/DE/WV conference, “25 and Still We R(ev)use” was a success!

I’ll share the experience that I had as much as I can. I can’t share ALL my notes because, well, I encourage other writers/illustrators to go to these conferences and hear from agents, editors, speakers, other authors and illustrators for themselves.

At first I got lost in the building. I don’t really know why I got lost, the place wasn’t that big, but I still found myself wandering back and fourth to find the volunteer spot. Eventually I found it of course with the help from the staff and another lady who was ALSO lost and volunteering at the time, which I found out later that she will be the new illustrator coordinator for the MD/DE/WV SCBWI if I’m remembering correctly.

As kind of a side note I’ll say that volunteering is a great way to talk to people if you have social anxiety like I do. When you volunteer you act as a group working toward a similar, simple goal. Being put to use is also a plus.

Technical problems began the keynote speaker session. You know, mic and the slideshow clicker problems. Luckily James Ransome got past that pretty quickly and went on to tell a little about himself:

  • The quote he kept using was “I feel like a lucky so and so” when speaking about his journey to becoming a known illustrator. Quite the journey it was!
  • Has a drawing table from high school which was used a dining room table at some point. (My scribbled notes say “Damn! That must be a sturdy table to last this long!”)
  • He’s created all kinds of different artwork from sports illustrations to children’s books to christmas designs made into bags and cards to landscape paintings. Basically he just wants to create whatever he can in whatever medium he feels like it at the time, which is great in my opinion!
  • A lot of his art inspiration comes from fine artists like Degas, Matisse, Kerry James Marshall, Diebenkorn, and John Singer Sargent to name a few.
  • He loves football.

At this point I had my volunteering time as a walk in critique timer. I feel like this was one of those fated moments that could potentially further a career, but I’ll write about that later.

The “In the Trenches” talk was a good one, mostly for the quotes:

  • When dealing with an agent you don’t want anymore for whatever reason, “Don’t be afraid to leave” advice from Leah Henderson.
  • “Get agented with someone who matches your personality” and when dealing with rejection and stress “Drink wine, eat chocolate, and have a support group” from Courtney Pippi-Mathur.
  • Maria Gianferrari says to “Give yourself a day to wallow” after a rejection.
  • John Micklos Jr says to “develop thick skin” in this business.
  • From my personal notes I wrote that one needs to find an agent that’s more excited about your project than you are because you won’t be able to make a good relationship with your agent if they are not excited about your work (duh!)

I don’t want to spoil too much of Leah Henderson’s “What to Think About when Writing Cross Culturally” so I’ll just write the one thing that stood out to me. When asked about too much censorship, she said something along the lines of “it’s not about censorship. It’s about being aware of blind spots that make their way into the book.”

The best advice overall that the conference gave:

  • A good story brings out an emotional response, laughter, anger, sadness, hope.
  • A good story has STRONG CHARACTERS THE READER CAN RELATE TO.
  • When talking to an agent/editor/author/illustrator/basically anyone human with a different cultural background than you, please don’t “accidentally” be racist, like speaking Japanese or Chinese to an Asian American who doesn’t speak that language…
  • Write from the heart, don’t write fads. Fads go out of style.
  • Allow yourself to cry but don’t allow yourself to give up.

And that’s it folks! I think this conference was more successful to me personally than last years and I’ll soon write about that as well. Again, I suggest writer or illustrator to go out to conferences like this. 🙂

 

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The Push Pull

I’ve had several different painting professors in the past, all very different people with incredibly different styles and techniques. The one thing that they did have in common was the “push/pull” concept within a painting.

What the “push/pull” concept is is the use of color or texture, or perhaps how much paint painted in an area on the image’s surface, to “push” certain shapes of the composition to the back and “pull” the most important shapes to the front.

This idea is pretty darn basic, but it is this push/pull of abstract artists that I’m most inspired by and believe I’m beginning to think by this rule as I work on the creative surface.

Hans Hofmann is the first artist I think of that uses this technique very well and in fact does a trick on the eyes of constant push/pull movement throughout all his pieces. Marc Chagall is another artist, though different and not necessarily abstract, who used color and shape to move the eye and depended on these two elements to tell his strange, dreamlike stories.

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The illustrator of Firefly Mountain, Peter Sylvada, also does this with colors and shapes. This one in particular reminds me of Eyvind Earle.

 

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And this little gem, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach, also has a great push/pull abstraction with color, light, and shape that I’m inspired by. That bear is behind the bench, and the bench is clearly in front of the bear, however the two fight back and forth to see who can draw the eye the most and be priority of the composition. It’s wonderful.

Mike Mignola  is another favorite artist of mine who does this.

 

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Now I definitely do NOT have the skills of these artists, but I can’t help but notice and enjoy the push/pull the acrylic and digital paint provide. Sure I use color to push some shapes back and pull some shapes forward, but it’s the texture that I’m using with the push/pull in mind.

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Another push/pull I’m finding in my work is the almost sfumato style of making certain pieces of the image more focused, usually what is in the foreground for the viewer, and blurring the background. No, I don’t think I took this from Leonardo da Vinci, I simply can see better up close than far away. My daily vision is this kind of push/pull and I would not have noticed that without going back to the Stitching Butterflies pieces.

STORYSTORM 2017 Registration is Open!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

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Oh, Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…

That’s right, Picture Book Idea Month has been blown away by STORYSTORM! Need to know why? Check here.

STORYSTORM is month of brainstorming new story ideas. This event is open to any writer seeking inspiration, support and community.

How does STORYSTORM work? It’s simple…

  • Register here by signing your name ONCE in the comments below. Teachers participating with a class can register under the teacher’s name.
  • Follow this blog daily (taralazar.com) for inspirational essays by guest bloggers—professional authors, illustrators and experts in creativity…

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  • Jot down a daily story idea in a journal, computer, anywhere you like to write.
  • At the end of the month, if you have at least 30 ideas, sign the STORYSTORM pledge and qualify for prizes.
  • Prizes include professional consults, signed books, original art, writerly gadgets and gizmos.

Remember, do not share your ideas publicly. They are YOURS…

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Another Wish List! Rules of Summer kinda Rules

I love Shaun Tan. He meets my surrealist love expectations like a hybrid Dr. Seuss and Tanguy or Ernst or Chirico with the colors of Chagall and maybe a dash of steam punk. My boyfriend bought Tan’s work over vacation (also yay I managed to get three people to buy a children’s book that day, AWESOME) and was amazed at the illustrations as well as the cute story between, what I’m assuming, brothers.

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Sadly I didn’t get to the review I wanted to write for this piece, but that’s what the wish list is for right?

Add another to the list.

Part of the Wish List

This past Sunday I did my usual peruse around Barnes and Noble through the children’s section, you know, just to see what books are up front, what books seem to be grabbed up the most often, and making note of which books I would like to buy eventually.

I could go to my library to become closer to the books, but every time I go I get dirty looks like they don’t want me getting 20 PBs at once and I have a feeling that I lost a book and now I have to pay for it (I don’t wanna go back, the library lady turns me to stone with her glare…)

So I go to book stores, read PBs and take pictures of the ones that grab my attention.

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I’ll just go with this one today as If You Ever want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, DON’T  by Elise Parsley was one of the first that caught my attention. Maybe that’s because I liked If you Ever want to Bring Your Alligator to School, DON’T but it’s probably the obscure idea of a little girl wanting to bring a piano to the beach.

The image above is the reason why I added this one to the wish list. Obscure scenario that catches attention-check. Cute illustrations and MC-check. The repetition of this scribbled colored font that makes the words awesomely contrast the scene-CHECK! Love it.