Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Big Sneeze

A birthday party with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs... this was the theme that was assigned for a workshop at the SCBWI conference in New York City this coming Friday. Each illustrator was asked to decide who the party would be for (Sleepy, Grumpy, Bashful, etc.) and our illustrations would all have a different emotional tone, depending on the character we chose.

I wanted it to be an original idea and present it in a unique way, and I wanted it to be... extremely impressive! But my mind was a blank. Luckily I had about four days of being snowed in during the Christmas Blizzard 09' to think about it- and since one of my gifts was a new sketchbook, I put it to use right away jotting down any ideas that came to mind.

I went through each character and imagined what their party would look like, and wanted to choose the one that I thought had the most interesting scenario. I knew that I also wanted my illustration to have action (the words from Walt Stanchfield's book Drawn to Life were ringing in my ears- "Draw Verbs".) I landed on Sneezy, and once the little light bulb popped on over my head and I had my idea, I grabbed my sketchbook and jotted it down as quickly as I could. This is what it looked like... I don't know if anybody else would be able to make this out, but I knew exactly what it was and I guess that's the important part!

I'm looking forward to the conference and to see what my fellow children's illustrators have dreamed up!

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Drawning" Babies

About a month ago I began reading Drawn to Life volumes I and II, which are collections of amazing notes that Walt Stanchfield gave to his animation students over the several years he was with the Walt Disney company. These books are all about giving life to your subject- movement, action, gesture... anything but stiff and posed. He talks a lot about capturing the essence of that person, a maximum amount of gesture with a minimum amount of lines. It also talks about feeling that gesture that you are drawing and understanding why your subject is feeling that way. Even though these notes were intended for animators, they work wonderfully for me because as a children's book illustrator my subjects (the actors in my story) need to appear to be in movement, full of life, and even the quietest of gestures needs to be relatable to the child reading the book.

It inspired me to get back in the habit of sticking my sketchbook and pencils in my bag everyday, and making a conscious effort to use them whenever I have the chance. I nanny a few days a week for a family with a nine month old baby and two year old- both girls, so it gives me perfect sketching subjects to start with. The two year old has proved a little difficult to sketch because every time she sees me pull out my drawing pad and pencil, she drops whatever toy she is playing with and practically comes up and sits on top of my paper. "What are you drawning? What are you drawning? Can you draw my band-aid? Can you draw Dora? Can you draw my room?.... " And so begin the questions. The baby is much easier- as long as she does not need fed, changed, or comforted, she cares not that I am observing her every move. Besides that, she is a new crawler so her movements are interesting to draw and all the chubbiness is fun, too. Not that she's easier in the sense that she stays in one place for more than a second- I am training my brain to capture and feel the gesture, and then move on to the next one.

This is just first week observation... stay tuned!