Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Yes, Yes, You Need a Nest!

Not one made of straw and scraps, Silly! You need a place to yourself, where you can write and create to your heart's content! A place that inspires you, gives you room to breathe, where you can close the door on the rest of the world for just a few more minutes...

How do I know this? Because the books told me.

But how do I really, truly know this? Because I can't get anything done!

I look at the kitchen table, (my current studio space), covered in my artsy mess, and can't bring myself to sit at it and work. I would tell myself things like:  "It's too messy. The kitchen needs cleaning first. I really should vacuum. The house needs dusting before I can play. There's a good show/movie/nothing on, I'll just sit here on the couch and watch instead."

And in the meantime, the deadlines I have so kindly made for my book dummy are whoooshing by, and I am totally losing faith in myself.  Will I actually be able to meet a deadline I have created?  Will I be able to freelance and work under my own regime? I've been thinking hard about this, and I came to the conclusion:

Having my kitchen table be my place for creativity isn't so bad.  Having my kitchen table be my place for creativity while it's still in the kitchen...yeah, that's bad.

So, to my husband's dismay, yesterday I moved everything out of my spare/craft/storage room, including the queen bed set, and I moved everything back in again, including the kitchen table. Yes, I swapped a bed for a table! But what a difference this has made!

It is still a MESS, I'll give you that much.  But give me a few days to really tidy up, and I'll have a wonderful, cozy little nest for myself where I can preen my artsy feathers and give a hoot when I want to! I have no tv to distract me, no computer screen to brainwash me, ample lighting and space, a door that shuts, and all of my supplies are right there when I need them.

The best part is that I can wake up, cross the hall, and step right into my own office, pajamas, messy hair, morning breath and all! I can't WAIT to get to work!

Oh, and if you're worried about how we manage without a kitchen know, patio tables work just as well for eating. Silly goose.

Time Flies When You're an Aspiring Children's Book Artist

I've been thinking a lot (I know, risky of me isn't it?) lately about how much I have changed, and my life's direction re-routed, over the past year. I think it is because it was around this time last summer when I had decided to really DO something with my life and my talent, and I still can't believe it is happening!

That lazy summer morning, when I was thinking about signing up for classes at RISD to achieve one of my life's dreams (which was becoming a RISD student), I said to myself, "What the hey, might as well check it out anyhow," who'd have thought that I would also find my life's calling?

And since that time, I have almost completed my RISD CE Certificate requirements, established myself as an online presence, made a TON of new friends, written a final and complete children's book manuscript (as well as many others that are not so complete), started a crit group, turned my spare room into a studio, became a member of SCBWI, read every book I can find on the topic, and I am still learning and loving it all!

*sigh* I am SO glad I finally decided to follow my dreams!  :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Goal Keeping: Time for a Six Month Checkup!

Well, vacation time is over, and now it's back to work for me!  The timing couldn't be better though, because it has been a good six months since I've last thought about my goals, and I'd like to stay on track.

Way back in January, I wrote up a little list of goals for myself, and the top ten were listed here.  I'm pretty proud to say that I'm able to check a few things off my goal list:

  • Create more illustrations to put into my portfolio. PERFECT MY CRAFT! (This is an ongoing operation for any artist, and Number One for all of us!)

  • Update and re-do website and business cards to make them more professional (oops... been too busy for that) 

  • Research possible publishing companies, reading their websites and catalogs (an ongoing task)

  • Make tear sheets and postcards to send to potential publishers. Use art work that really represents who I am as an artist and what talents I can offer them.  (still looking for my style... have you seen it anywhere?)

  • Get a subscription to the Horn Book magazine (known to be a top magazine for those wishing to become author/illustrators in the children’s book world, it contains invaluable tips and other information) Check!

  • Submit pieces for Cricket magazine and its affiliates. (I have one almost ready for submission... time to get cracking on that!)

  • Research and read new books in the market, books that have won awards, etc. (again, an ongoing thing...)

  • Do some social networking- become a member of SCBWI (check!),,,, and start a blog. (check!) Read other’s blogs to meet new people, go to conferences and lectures, and talk to those who are in my field. (ongoing part of my job now)

  • Learn more about other illustrator’s styles - what I like and what I don’t like. Practice mimicking their work as a personal exercise to find which mediums and processes work best for me. (Keep in mind these pieces should not be part of my portfolio if they are in any way replica-like.) (funny you say that, because I've been doing a bit of research and experimentation to find where my style has run off to... a work in progress!)

  • Join a critique group. I won’t be in school forever, and getting other artists’ input is a very valuable tool. This will help me to PERFECT MY CRAFT, my number one goal  (Check!)

    The interesting thing about reviewing my list of goals is that the majority of them are things I should be doing on a regular basis... an everyday part of my new career.  I didn't know this when I started, of course. I thought these things could be done, checked off the list, and committed to memory for future use.  Not so!  I must be reading, writing, drawing, reviewing, critiquing, and learning every single day! 

  • *gAsP!*

    That sounds pretty good to me! But I've been finding it hard to get anything done lately, with summer, Father's Day, vacations, birthdays, my day job, new babies in the family...with life itself! I find it extremely difficult to work on a drawing when right next to my "studio" (you know, that kitchen table I keep mentioning) is a pile of luggage that needs to be put away, and a sink full of dishes, and family stopping by to say hello.

    Sounds like I need to finally put together that real studio of mine, doesn't it?

    Oh, but there are so many things I should and could be doing right now! I have a book dummy to put together, and art I want to send to ripple to raise money for the oil spill, and two websites to work on, and Illustration Fridays and owls to draw...

    "Aw, stop making excuses and do it already!!!"

    And that's my number one goal for the summer.  Tied with that is my book dummy, which I can do while I'm at work. *wink wink* Time to stop blogging and time to start mooooooving!

    Oh, and P.S...
    I got my pelican art from Olivia Bouler the other day! Isn't it gorgeous??

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Field Trip: San Francisco!

    Hi there!

    It may seem I've gone missing the past few days, but really I've only gone on vacation! Hooray! There's nothing like the well-deserved break from the daily grind to bring one's spirits up. Hubby, family, and I have visited our usual haunts and foodie spots, but this time I had some new places to visit: Bookstores!

    I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some really old and rare children's books at The Children's Book Gallery at 49 Geary Street, off Union Square in Downtown San Francisco. The owners were away, but a kind man named Bryan was babysitting the place (also while manning the John Windle bookstore across the hall), and he allowed us to view some of their goodies. Of course, I'm not familiar with antique bookstore protocol, and naturally I was too shy (yes, I tend to clam up when I'm not on the home-front) to ask to see what was hiding in the many drawers and storage units, but it was a delight just the same! Here are some photos of what was on display; but you can check out their catalogue to see more:

    Original Watercolor art and text.

    Books by Walter Crane

    Book Displays!

    Pretty awesome, don't you think? Anyone interested in purchasing these gems can do so, if you are so inclined (and so lucky!).  Just be sure to visit their site for more information!

    I was also lucky enough to find Green Apple Books, a three-level book store that features both used and new books.  The children's section, though small, kept me occupied  for quite some time! I didn't get any shots of inside the shop, (perhaps I will have to go will probably need some more visuals... yes, must go back...) but I got one of the cute sign out front:

    Bookstores are dangerous places for people like me.  Not only do they give me that crazy-eye look (can't get enough...want to see more!), but they are also vortexes of time, and mysterious holes appear in my pockets and wallet when I walk through the door. Good thing hubby was there to restrain me a bit.  

    Good thing.