Review: Princesses Wear Pants

Sure, Princess Penelope Pineapple loves her closet full of tiaras and dazzling dresses but she has things to do! She can’t be bothered with beauty when planting her beats. Her lab coat suits her just fine for science fairs and she likes to unwind with comfy old jeans, the patched-up kind. And princesses certainly can’t save the day with frilly frills that get in the way! Guthrie and Oppenheim’s rhyming picture book for ages 4 to 8, along with Eva Bryne’s sparkling illustrations, says that girls can be fashionable and functional. 

Unfortunately this concept is pretty outdated. 

There are plenty of other “girl power” picture books out there. Ada Twist Scientist and Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts are just two books that immediately come to mind. Here you can find more girl empowering picture books and with just a quick google search you’ll find even more.

Guthrie and Oppenheim’s book is NOT recommended and here is why with the good/bad list:

  • Bad. Obviously a little behind the times. I shouldn’t have to say more…except maybe if it was a book about how boys can wear dresses it would be better.
  • Bad. Everything in the book is layered with PINK, a popular gendered color, not to mention Penelope’s brother is in BLUE, another popular gendered color.IMG_4313.jpg
  • Bad. The illustrations fall short due to the bad anatomy. Here are some examples…Unknown.jpeg
  • Bad. The main character’s alliteration name makes me cringe, probably makes Ann Whitford Paul, the author of Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide  from Story Creation to Publication, cringe as well.  
  • Only a little bad… Rhyming is only so-so.
  • Good. I like the styles of clothes in the book.

 

If your child likes sparkly glitter and fashionable clothes, then maybe Guthrie and Oppenheim’s work is for them. However I do not feel that this is an accurate “activistic” book that I think the authors are trying to go for. I didn’t buy Princesses Wears Pants personally, it was a gag gift.

And last, here is just a short list of picture books of mine and that I recommend over Princesses Wear pants:

  1. Ada Twist Scientist and Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts.
  2. Seeds of Change by Jen Johnson, illustrated by Sonia Sadler
  3. Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
  4. Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim, illustrated by Sophie Blackwell
  5. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddelley
  6. Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoet
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Portfolio Prep 2, Multiple Styles

Having multiple styles in a portfolio is a blessing and a curse.

Sure this can indicate that you are versatile with medium/material and yeah this also means that you can illustrate different genres too and that’s fun.

However most publishers/agents/whoever you are showing your portfolio to doesn’t want to see too many styles. They want to know what they’re paying for. Consistency and an organized portfolio is the key to multiple styles.

Consistency in multiple styles? What I mean is make sure you can pop out that particular style anytime. Eliza Wheeler had a similar problem but she ended up owning those styles with a beautiful, prize winning portfolio awhile back.

Here are a few styles that I’ll have in my portfolio:

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They are each pretty different huh?  The first piece is digital and I tend to work obsessively over details when I work digitally. The middle is watercolor with photo reference, with some composition and color changes, of my cat. The next one is in watercolor as well however it’s more from imagination. I tend to want LESS with watercolor.

 

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Even with my black and white I can still see that I apply a similar “paint” texture. And my shapes and drawing stays the same.

 

 

 

Ultimately I think it’s how you place each style next to each other that will make all the difference. Tell a story with your pieces. Use one piece to progress to another. Or if you are working to illustrate multiple genres split the styles completely in a creative way, that’s what one of my critique members did.

Just for laughs, here is one of my “older” styles…

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Yeah, I’ll be having that in a separate portfolio haha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portfolio Prep 1 (Mental Prep)

It’s that time again.

Time to have my work scrutinized and criticized until I feel like crying.

Just kidding! Portfolio critiques are extremely helpful if you know what to look for amongst the sometimes harsh reality check. And past mistakes can mean future successes… and sometimes realizing further mistakes you never knew existed.

Amongst the things to do and look for in a critique:

  • Wait, hold up, GET A CRITIQUE GROUP. Do it… okay now we can move on to the professional critiques…
  • If a problem is repeatedly mentioned. Everyone is going to have their own opinions, but if a similar opinion reoccurs it’s time to take advice. For example, I had two critiques last year. Both of the illustrators were quite different and gave me almost vastly different advice EXCEPT for two things, practice my line work and practice drawing. That’s what I did. I think my art is better for it too.

 

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then

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now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • If some advice REALLY doesn’t sit with you, listen but go with your gut. I know, this also seems pretty obvious, but I have to remind myself that the person critiquing me doesn’t know me or my work inside and out. They just met me! Therefore I’ll take all advice with a grain of salt. For example, last year both critiques told me to stop writing and focus on illustrating. I obviously didn’t take that advice because to draw I must write and to write I must draw. I DID however take down the claim that I’m an aspiring author/illustrator on all social media to erase further criticisms of this claim lol.
  • BE AS PROFESSIONAL AS POSSIBLE. Meaning…dress nicely, act nicely, have a clean presentation. It sounds silly and shouldn’t your work speak for itself? No. Someone is always a better artist than you are, so it’s time to not just rely on that. My first ever critique told me to throw my whole portfolio away because it looked bad. I took that advice, threw everything away and got a new portfolio. I had several compliments on my portfolio presentation. I also dressed a bit better than last time and actually had conversations with the illustrators. The whole experience went better than the first.
  • LOOK AT THE WORK OF THE OTHER ILLUSTRATOR. Seriously, get to know your critique, even if it’s just a quick google search. Half of the reason why I think I got such a bad critique the first time is because E.B. Lewis is a fantastic drawer/water colorist and he looked at my work like a child drew it. If you’re into color, try to get a critique from someone who does color. If you like digital, go for a digital artist that doesn’t have a prejudice against it. If you are a mixed media artist, then go for mixed media. Sometimes it’s good to have someone who does completely different art from you, but you might not get the advice you want from them. Fair warning.
  • Don’t cry. Don’t do it. DO. NOT. CRY. Unless you are by yourself in the shower. 
  • And last, just be happy that you have the nerve to show your work. If you’re someone like me who is very self critical and thinks you’ll never be good enough, this is an important thing to remember. At the end of the critique, no matter how good or bad, at least you got that far and now you can get better.

It’s difficult to present your work in confidence, but it must be done. There are tons of resources from the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) online about how to build a portfolio. Just takes some time and research.

From Dreaming to Doing 2017

From Dreaming to Doing. 

You know, that’s a perfect theme for a children’s book writing and illustrating conference. Writing and illustrating DOES begin with a dream, a passion to create this piece of work that dives into the heart of the reader. To make them FEEL what you are feeling, understand and connect. The doing part is what makes the dream come alive. 

Each panel reminded me that in order to make my dream a reality I must do the work and put myself and my work out there! I had so many notes from the panels that my notebook pages are currently kind of a mess.

Other than the panels, which I will post some of my notes in the near future, I had two extremely helpful and encouraging portfolio critiques from Calef Brown and Alyssa Nassner:

Brown:

  1. Practice varying my line work throughout a piece. Almost all of my images had the same kind line thickness and the idea is to thicken the lines of the objects up close and thin them out further away. Also vary the types of line, like I do a lot of swooping motion and curves. Need to change it up a bit.
  2. DRAW DRAW DRAW! He wanted me to practice drawing the figure and told me to take night classes. Unfortunately I don’t have the money to take night classes, but maybe I could save up or apply for scholarships.
  3. He liked my more detailed pieces, the small intricate details I had with some pieces.
  4. He liked my color, but gave me the idea to try to work with brighter colors.
  5. One of the mixed media pieces he thought wasn’t working due to the two mediums fighting for attention.

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     this is the piece with the two fighting mediums.

  6. . He said in some pieces I seemed hesitant. Fix that.
  7. And last he told me to work on INDIVIDUAL pieces instead of stories. And focus only on illustrating instead of writing.

Nassner:

  1. I got the same advice on varying line work.
  2. Bring more narrative into my pieces, though she thought I was good with the narrative with my last three images.
  3. Liked my color.
  4. Suggested that I look into illustrating for middle grade too. She made this suggestion when she saw the black and white piece show above.
  5. Work on drawing.
  6. With the mixed media pieces, some were too muddy. Fix that.
  7. Told me to get a domain name and website  (or URL) and basically said I was silly for not having one lol.
  8. She liked my digital pieces much more than the mixed media.

Both critiques told me I was not quite professional enough, however I was CLOSE. Both told me that my compositions are good, my light, color, and drawing are pretty good, I just need to get to that next level of professionalism and tighten up the craft. Both thought my style was consistent even with the two ways of working, which is GREAT.

Both liked the piece below the most.

 

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It was a great idea to have two critiques. I plan on going to the next conference!