Hollins U - Good-bye for now...

It's always hard to leave Hollins. Most people drag out their educations as long as possible, just to keep returning to this magical campus, where light seems to kiss the ground rather than simply illuminate it.
I so love the rolling hills and lush greenery...
The blue mountains in the distance...
The creeks and ponds...
The birds...
The deer...

It's truly a magical place and we are so lucky to get to experience it - our beautiful bubble where like minds come together to study topics we're passionate about. How lucky we are! So, until next time, dear Hollins... keep the campfires warm for us!

Hollins U - Certificate Graduation

Every summer at Hollins, we have an end-of-semester celebration for students graduating with a Certificate in Children's Book Illustration. It's a great opportunity for students throughout the program to show their work in the art show, while celebrating their friends' accomplishments. Ashley Wolff's doggie, Rufus, is the Commencement Speaker. (Kidding - it was Mary Jane Begin and Ashley!) Certificates are handed out individually (this is Beverly receiving hers)...
and this is the group of this year's recipients—Meg, Beverly, Claire, Donald, and Anna-Katherine:
The ceremony is a lovely, well-attended, laid back affair. Families come to help celebrate.
Partners come in for the last official night of the semester. Here's MJ with her beau, Andy.
Here's the whole group all together. (Including Greg Christie; Lisa Fraustino, Program Director; Yours Truly; and Rufus!)
I wasn't able to get a photo of everyone with their work, but I got several! Here are Tiffany and Teresa by their work.
Alison by hers...
Alixandra illustrated a lot of dragons this summer...
Anna-Katherine illustrated a lovely tale of mice and swans and rain...
Here is Claire with her work...
Hale was in my Goddess class too.
Here's Jocelyn (I couldn't get all her artwork into the photo)...
Lauren created some amazing images.
As did Melody (with hats!)...
Shivani's artwork will be on t-shirts and bags next summer!
and Susie was also in my Writing class...
I didn't get Meg, Donald, Gina, Molly, Beverly, and... who else am I missing?
     Suffice to say, it was an amazing show, with amazing talent. We're so proud of our graduates!

R. Gregory Christie's Surprise Party at Hollins U!

We were thrilled to have R. Gregory Christie (a.k.a. "Greg" or "Gregory") teach with us this summer. And lucky him - his birthday fell right in the middle of the semester. His wife Claudia decided to throw a surprise party for him. She told him they were going to dinner. So he got dressed up. But then a group of us showed up at the door with balloons and horns and food! We got him! He was surprised and thrilled! Claudia, who is from Columbia, even made him a piñata! Here is E.B., Claudia, Ruthie (Sarah Park Dahlen's daughter), and a happy Greg!
E.B. held it aloft while Greg gave it some good punches.
Claudia and I became walking buddies over the summer. Greg found a good one - she's lovely!
After we all ate and toasted and Greg opened his presents, we enjoyed an amazing sunset.
Ahhhhh, Hollins!

S'mores at Hollins U!

We started a new tradition this summer... we started a lovely fire in the outdoor fireplace by the gazebo and made s'mores! Ashley Wolff purchased a "Swedish Lantern" and it burned a lovely fire. (Is that the right name?)
Here are some of our students, Shivani, Teresa, and Gina making the perfect s'mores.
It was near the end of the semester, everyone was tired, and it was a wonderful chance to just relax and enjoy each other's company.
It had rained earlier, but that didn't stop us! Shower curtains made great barriers to the damp. Here is E.B. Lewis with his students.
None of us wanted to leave and we stayed long after the sun went down and the bats came out. (Couldn't take good photos then!) We all decided it was a wonderful thing to do and can't wait to do it again next summer!

GIANT ISLAND by Jane Yolen and Doug Keith

I'm thrilled to have both author Jane Yolen and illustrator Doug Keith here today to talk about their latest book from Flashlight Press, Giant Island! I hope you enjoy learning more about the process behind this magical book. Take it away Jane and Doug!
e: Jane, what inspired this story?
Jane: I think there are any number of ways into a piece of creative writing. A few are nature, politics, poetry, newspapers, overheard conversations, family history, dreams, fears, loves, questions about science, personal experiences, and sometimes an editor's suggesion. I have used all of those and more. But particularly that last one influenced the writing of Giant Island.
      An editor I did not know, from a publishing company I had never been aware of, contacted me to write the texts around some gorgeous paintings by an artist who's work I did not know. Talk about pressure!!!
      But in many ways that story was right in my wheelhouse. Lyrical/magical picture books are my sweet spot. Yes, I have written books of poetry, science, historical novels, fantasy, science fiction, craft books, verse novels, graphic novels, nonfiction, etc. But an island that is also a giant—right in my sweet spot. The prompts were the pictures of course. They already told the story. But I gave the words wings.
e: That sounds challenging! (Although, not for you - I know!) But how might someone else approach such a challenge?
Jane: When I teach wrting the picture book, I take my students outside. If it is my house, outside is a fourteen-acre farm and wildernerss where bears, and deer, and bobcats, and rabbits, and coyotes, foxes, opposum, and all kinds of birds roam. And I say to the students, "If you cannot come back after an hour with ten ideas for books—you aren't trying hard enough. Or you are not being open enough to what is suggested here." I give them a quick sample. "There is a lone dandelion. Where are all the others? There is a hawk circling above us. What is he lookong for? There is a river running by the edge of the property. What is swimming in it? Oh—there is a small group of female turkeys. Can you see the dinosaur in them?" And then I warn therm—you may come back with ten ideas, but that is only the beginnning.

e: What happens next?
Jane: Triage.
      You need to separate which ideas are viable, which ideas are shaky, which are DOA. Dead On Arrival. (But a hint...sometimes many years later, the dead idea, like a revenant, arises from its shallow grave.) How do I know this? Recently I have been going over old, discarded manuscripts and finding gems. Partly, I am better at writing than I was when I wrote the ideas so many years ago. Or the publishers have changed their want list. Or the editor who buys it wasn't born when I had that idea. Or....or....or...the world keeps turning and something that was not on anyone's radar, now is.

e: That's inspiring, Jane - good advice!
e:Keith, le'ts turn to the illustrations. What was your creative process/medium, can you walk us through it?
Keith: The medium I used for Giant Island is Gouache (watercolor) and colored pencil on illustration board. My first step is to create a storyboard, a series of panels that represent each page that I can use to sketch out rough ideas. It's a great tool to establish compositions, determine the pace of a story and plan text placement. Once a storyboard is approved I can begin the final art. I did the art for this 32-page book to size plus a little extra for bleed, it was digitally scanned and uploaded to the publisher for approval then on to the printer.
e: What was your path to publication?
Keith: Shari, my editor had seen a postcard I had done some years ago (attached).
I had always fantasized about creating a book around one of these images and thanks to Shari "Giant Island" was born! It started out as a wordless picture book but the publisher felt it needed some text so Shari brought Jane Yolen in. Normally as an illustrator, I would receive a story and create pictures based on the words. In this case, the pictures were done first, so the text was built around the pictures. Jane did a fabulous job!

e: I agree! What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again? I’m looking for your definition of “Heart Art.”
Keith: When someone sees my work and says, "That's exactly how I imagined it would look!" , then I know I've done my job! I also like to include details that aren't necessarily seen the first time around which makes it fun for kids (and adults) to come back again and again.
e: How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
Keith: Facebook, Instagram, and on my web site: dougkeithart.com it's relatively new and I haven't had time to work on it much!

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Keith:For me, taking the written word and making them come alive with pictures!

e: Both of you can answer this one if you like: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Keith:The Grandpa character "plays dumb" about the island, letting the kids discover for themselves what's really going. I hope this book might inspire the reader to look for their own "Giant Island"!

Jane: That we can all have magical adventures as long as we are open to surprise, delight, and using our imaginations. - JY aka Nana Jane

e: Thank you, both!

I am a Course Hero Grant Award Winner!

I'm thrilled to announce that I am one of 51 recipients of the first ever Course Hero Grant of $2,000 to go towards Digital Learning innovations in my classrooms. I'm teaching Animation this fall, so I'll be using the funds for software and/or VR equipment to help keep my students on the cutting edge.
Here is the official announcement:
We’re thrilled to see Dr. Elizabeth Dulemba receive a @CourseHero 2022 Teaching Grant for Digital Learning. Congratulations Professor Dulemba, we can’t wait to see your students bring this project to life!
(Click the image below to learn more!)
Here is just a little bit of the equipment I've been able to purchase as a result of these generous funds:
There's a Logitech camera and speaker stand to mount it for Live Streaming, tripods with smart-phone mounts for stop-motion animation, storyboarding books, and pegs for paper animation. The biggie that you can't see are the Toon Boom Harmony licenses I'll be getting for students to familiarize them with the most used program in the industry - huzzah!

ICON 2022

The 11th Illustrators' Conference, a.k.a. ICON 11, hasn't happened for four years because of Covid. Even during regular times, it's only a biannual event. But this was my first time to attend. Happily, Hollins University signed on as a sponsor, so M.J. Begin and I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri for the event. M.J. and I are good friends, so this was destined to be a party!!!
We roomed together in the wandering and enormous downtown Marriott. This was our view with our very own gargoyle looking over us.
I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by Kansas City—it is a very cool town! They have a free tram, adorable craftsman bungalows, boundaried bike lanes, it's very clean, filled with green hardwoods and rolling hills, and had fun entertainment in central areas downtown. If it was near an ocean, I'd be all over living there! As it was, we took advantage of the city's claim to fame: BBQ! Here I am with illustrators Armando Veve, MJ, (me), and Annalisa Oswald.
To represent Hollins, MJ and I set up two tables and two of the ICON venues. The first was at the Folly Theater, with banners that had both MJ's and my art,
and books by Hollins faculty members.
The second was a pop-up table during the Roadshow, an event where illustrators set up tables to sell their wares.
When we weren't manning our tables, we had fun at the parties.
And attending the fantastic talks that were hosted at both the Nelson Atkins Museum (which we spent more time seeing later in the trip),
and at the Folly Theater, which was gorgeous.
Being illustrators, the set up was cutting edge and great looking. Between speakers, a sort of animatied "stage-saver" ran—so cool:
We heard from greats like Adam J. Kurtz and Lisa Congdon.
There were workshops and sessions for educators—those were the ones I most enjoyed. And boy did I gain some great insights and exercises to use with my students! And there were also some great parties! I made so many new friends, but was also thrilled to see a few old friends, like Phil Scroggs, who I went to UGA with for my BFA; Joe Kulka, who I used to be in a critique group with and yet we'd never met in person; and Michael Austin, Atlanta buddy. Here I am with just one of the new friends I made, Annalisa.
We couldn't help but meet folks, there were so many parties and everyone was so thrilled to be in person, everyone was incredibly friendly! We took a bus back and forth to some of the parties.
The last party had a jazz band and mor eBBQ. Here's MJ with Mark Heflin, the man behind all the ICONs.
great activity of a wall of colored spots that all the illustrators drew charicatures onto.
Here is my self-caricature.
Here is MJ's:
There were so many people who made this amazing five-day event the success it was. Thanks to Mark and all! Here are some of them:
The only downside from the amazing trip, is that a lot of us went home with Covid, including me. Hence this late post. I'm better now, thank goodness; and I'm happy to be reflecting on what a wonderful event ICON was. I can't wait for it to come back around in two years - I'll be there!