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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Abigail Halpin's - FINDING WILD

I rarely feature a book twice, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share Abigail Halpin's post about her method in creating FINDING WILD. So please give her a warm welcome...

Creating FINDING WILD
by Abigail Halpin

     The very first thing that struck me about the manuscript for Finding Wild was just how wild it in fact was. The story felt immediate, spontaneous and organic, and going into the artwork, I knew I wanted to capture those qualities.
      For the book's artwork, I worked in a combination of watercolor, graphite and colored pencil, with some digital finishing. Watercolor can be delightfully unpredictable (just like nature), so it felt right for the story. I added in colored pencils to give some texture and roughness, to balance out the softness of the watercolors. And I finished each spread with some digital tweaking, a chance to nudge colors and values in the right direction. Stylistically, I like to create work that feels like a controlled chaos. I like pairing splotchy, paint bits with carefully rendered elements. I think life is a push and pull between the carefully orchestrated and the wild and free – something I try to bring to my art.
      I worked on the illustrations for FINDING WILD during the winter of 2015, one of the snowiest years on record in the northeast. Feeling color-starved and cold, the artwork allowed me to slip away into a green and growing world. It was very much “heart art” – which for me, is work that bubbles up from the very core of my being.
     I believe that work which pulls deeply from an illustrator's experiences and emotions has an authenticity that readers respond to. In keeping with that, I mined so many of my own memories and joys while illustrating FINDING WILD (and it's to Megan's credit that her story triggered so many wonderful recollections while reading). I drew scenes inspired by childhood camping trips up in the northern Maine woods and the cacti that grow near family in Texas. The city illustration near the end of the book is inspired by my first trip to New York City and walking the Brooklyn Bridge with my sister.

     In short, I tried to bring to the artwork the wonder and happiness that nature has brought me, in the many ways I've experienced it.
Watch a video on Abigail's method on YouTube (click the image):

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pop-up Library at Hollins University

Yes, we have a gorgeous library here at Hollins University with a lovely children's section in it. That's it to the right...
However, each summer in the Visual Arts Building we create a pop-up children's library consisting of picture books from our own faculty collections.
     The returns pile alone is like my favorite candy store. (We have student workers who refile these by theme.)
      I even have my orange book shelf here, covered with some of my personal faves.
But what I was most excited about returning to this year were our new books.
     We have a new, well-funded award hosted through Hollins University this year - the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children's Literature. To submit books to the prize, publishers have to send four copies of their books to be considered to Hollins. Most go to the judges, but one lovely copy goes to our children's book collection here at Hollins.
     OMG - can you say droooooool? So, each year, the best and top picture books from the publishing houses will be making their way to our campus, where me and my students will be glued to the pages as we flip through them all with glee. It's a lot of books to go through, but I've already begun. Can you say HEAVEN?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Coloring Page Tuesday - Queen Bee

     Bzzzzz. My Queen Bee is very concerned about proper "Beetiquette." HA!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Welcome back to Roanoke!

Returning to Hollins University was like coming home. The MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating program takes four years to complete, so students and faculty become like family. And it was like no time had passed since I last saw everybody (even though, it's been a very big year)!
     Our first week back was chocked full of getting studios prepared, supplies in place, books in order, groceries purchased, orientations, meet and greets, and of course, classes! Crazy, I tell you!
     But in getting John Rocco back to the airport on time on Saturday, we also got to see Roanoke again. We took him for BBQ and the downtown farmers market which happens every Saturday.
With a few minutes to kill, we wound up a curvy road to a small park at the top of Mill Mountain and the Star Park. I do love this adorable little Appalachian town. For one thing, it is positively BEAUTIFUL here.

This is the view from the lookout set below the Roanoke Star.
It's an enormous star that lights up every night and the city is known for it. At its base is a lovely little park. I can't believe Stan and I didn't find this in all our bimbling here last summer. There a mini-trail to hike, with lush green, cooler temperatures, and a welcoming woodsy smell.
And it took so little time to wind up the mountain to see it. Gotta come back here! Ahhhhh!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

John Rocco at Hollins!

Wowsa - we hit the ground running at Hollins University this year! We had our main speaker come in the first weekend. I was thrilled to have John Rocco here as he's been one of my illustrative heroes for years. And he's a darned nice guy.
     John has a plethora of books like these three and one of my faves, WOLF! WOLF! which I use in my Picture Book Design class.
Although, the ones you are probably most familiar with are the Rick Riordan books - PERCY JACKSON AND THE LIGHTNING THIEF. (And all the sequels and accompanying titles.)
John spoke two times. The first was to a general audience in the theater, where he shared his history as a clam fisherman (seriously) and his path into children's books.
     The next day he did a talk and a workshop in the studio with our students.
He was as enlightening as I'd hoped he'd be. I know our MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating and Certificate in Children's Book Illustration students learned a ton - I certainly did! He was so kind and entertaining as well - a big hit with everybody! Faculty (this is Dennis Nolan and Lauren Mills)
and students alike! (Click the image below to see it larger in a new window.)
Me, Ashley Wolff and Ruth Sanderson took John out for BBQ before we had to send him back to California. Wish we could have kept him around - what a nice and talented guy! Get back to work, John - we want to see more from you!

VIDEO: Friends on Kidlit TV!

Julie Hedlund and Susan Eaddy were recently featured on Kidlit TV with Rocco Staino for their book My Love For You is the Sun. How exciting! (Click the image to watch on the Kidlit TV channel.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Carmen Oliver's BEARS MAKE THE BEST READING BUDDIES


A BIG HEART = AUTHOR SUCCESS
written by Carmen Oliver
illustrations by Jean Claude

Elizabeth talks about “Heart Art,” the part that makes the illustration magical. For a writer. For me, “Heart Art” or “Heart Story” is author intention. My heart is in everything I write. I believe it’s in every author’s work.
      Embedded. Woven. Waiting to be discovered.
      The real reason behind why the author wrote the book. And when a writer tells a story with their heart stitched into the fabric of a manuscript well, then, success. Magic. Bliss.
      Donald Mass in his novel The Breakout Novelist said, “Success as an author requires…a big heart.” I agree.
      I think it takes a big heart to come back to the page, time and time again when things aren’t working. When you’re frustrated. When the doubts creep in. I think a big heart encourages the writer. Trust yourself. Begin again. You can do this. Go on, we’re in this together. A big heart can’t give up. It cares too deeply. About the story. About the characters. But most of all, about the readers. About delivering a story that matters to them. And yes, to you too.
      A big heart reaches out and extends a hand to fellow writers. Knowing helping them achieve success is a reward unto its own. By serving them, you receive something too. A big heart knows there’s room for everyone.
      I also believe a successful author is one that measures all the achievements, big or small. A page written today. A chapter finished. A novel outlined. It’s not always a book sold. #1 in sales. An award in your back pocket. Success comes from working day in and day out. Slow and steady. Writing when you don’t want to.
      A big heart is open to all possibilities. Knowing that there is more than one way to get to the destination. Knowing that failure is needed to get to success. Knowing that humility and humbleness make us do our jobs better. A big heart knows anything is possible. And we don’t have to step on people to get there.
      In my heart, I know there are no coincidences in life. That if you allow your heart to be open, big and wide, well there’s nothing you can’t do. So let the people in. Learn from whoever is willing to teach you. Love the work. Lift others.
      Don’t worry about success. It’ll find you. All you need is a big heart.
      If you’re in Austin, TX this summer, Carmen is teaching Perfecting the Picture Book I at The Writing Barn and later this September at Highlights with Don Tate’s workshop The Journey: Your Path to Publication with special guests, Alison Green Myers, and Kathleen Hayes.
Carmen's fave writing spot at a lake house...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Coloring Page Tuesday - Millipede Read!

     I like to think that this millipede is reading "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. Terwilliker." Do you remember that one by Dr. Seuss?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Monday, June 20, 2016

CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway!

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards were announced today from an impressive shortlist:
And the winners are:
CILIP Carnegie for an outstanding book written in English: ONE by Sarah Crossan
Kate Greenaway for best illustrated book: THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDEL illustrated by Chris Riddel, written by Neil Gaimen.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the awards.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

VIDEO: Grace Lin's TED Talk

Author/Illustrator Grace Lin gave a fabulous and important TED Talk which is worth your time. Click to have a watch on YouTube.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Back to Virginia

As you read this, I will be on a plane heading back to the states to teach Picture Book Design and a Computer Workshop at Hollins University in the MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating and Certificate in Children's Book Illustration programs. I'll be going from 50/60 degree weather to 90. From sweaters to tank tops. Culture shock? A bit. And yet, Virginia is beautiful too.
     So, join me for the next six weeks while I shift gears from Scotland and head to Appalachia!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Going Away/Birthday Party

We have made so many good friends since arriving in Edinburgh (a year ago come August). I wanted the chance to spend time with every single one of them before I leave for the states for six weeks (to teach Picture Book Design at Hollins University). I didn't have enough time, of course, so the only solution was to have a party!
     Behind the camera is eight-year-old Pedro on his first photography gig. I think he did a pretty great job! Of course, I love seeing things through his eyes - which hit slightly above belly button level.

Here was the spread - at the bar, being enjoyed by Karin...

the salmon...
And the coffee table with its new glass top after the Donna Summer incident.
I was tickled by the friends who came, like Penelope and her husband Robert, Connie, Dick and those not pictured - Rosie, Jo, Catherine, and Pedro of course.

Shona and Marta

Mel and her boyfriend Eddie (not pictured)

C, Pedro's dad Ash, and Amandine
Stan got a chance to relax despite all his cooking. (He made vegan chili and Jamie Oliver's goulash - YUM!) Here he is with Paul.
And if there is any doubt to the budding skills of this young photographer - he got a photo of me which may become my new avatar. I look so happy! And I was, indeed. All my favorite people were in the same room together. They got to know each other's wonderful selves, to find out why I love them all so. What a fabulous send-off! See you all when I get back!

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