Hollins Portfolio Reviews and a Wrap-up

We squeeze one last event into our very tight summer at Hollins. Every year we invite an Art Director from a top publishing house to come down and do Portfolio Reviews for our finishing students. This year we invited Nicole de las Heras of Random House. She gave a talk on Thursday morning, in which she featured Ruth Sanderson's Horse Diaries. (Nicole was Ruth's Art Director on these books.)
She also did a 'first look' slideshow for our newer students. Ten anonymous illustrations were shown and she gave astute and valuable feedback about them. Afterwards, she did portfolio reviews for about ten of our students. I sit in and take detailed notes so that our students don't have to try to pay attention and take notes. Yes, we could record these. But I learn so much by sitting in. I sometimes gain objective insights and ideas on how we might help our students. Because over a semester, we can get so familiar with our students' works, an outsider's objectivity can help us too. But mostly, I hear the art director confirm and validate what we've been teaching our students, which is awesome!
     While we're doing reviews, others are packing up the computers, books, and classrooms, putting everything away until next year. Folks hit the road, scattering to all corners of the nation (and globe in some cases). It's always such a bittersweet time.
     Hollins really is a bubble of wonderfulness each summer. Nowhere else can people gather with others who speak the same language of children's books so immersively. Where you say some obscure name of a creator, book, or character and everyone nods, because they know what you are referring to. But primarily, it's a gathering of supportive friends who share similar passions.
     I stay in my wee flat in Barbee, where I can close the door for privacy, or open it to have insta-friends—gorgeous, inspiring, supportive friends who I value so much. It makes me want to stay. And yet, I can't, because it doesn't stay. This environment only happens for six weeks each summer and it is magic.
     Candice Ransom talked about it on her blog, "Joyful Writing Places," as did Claudia Mills in "Can the Joy of Time Away from Home Inspire Joy upon Returning?" I suggest you read them both.
     As for me - I look forward to next summer, when I visit that bubble of joy once again!

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