I just recently attended a SCBWI conference in Austin. One of the assignments was to illustrate a double page spread from a manuscript that was sent to us. This was a little difficult for me because I don’t typically paint animals .. much less with human qualities. We submitted our work and then it was critiqued by art director, Laurent Linn. Of mine, he said first of all that my original rooster was too scary. hahaha. I was going for startled at being woke up .. but, yea, it is scary. hahaha Another thing that he said was that my barn and things were too generic. He talked about that alot. About things being too generic and to make them have a personality. I have to admit that I am struggling with that thought. And I have to admit that now it’s in my head every day … trying to work that out in my head.
I have a very realistic style and although I truly enjoyed the speakers at the conference, I did come away with the idea that maybe my work just did not belong in this area. I don’t have an issue with people critiquing my artwork. I kinda get off on that.. haha. It wasn’t that they didn’t like my ability … just that it wasn’t telling a story.
A few days after the conference, I went and sat most of the day at Barnes and Noble. Just sitting and looking at books, I studied the covers to see if my style of art was even there. One thing that I learned at the conference was that realism fits well in history, fantasy, adventure, biography, religion. I was also told that my work was “classic .. dated”. Hmm .. is that a bad thing ? I bought a book “Guide to Children’s books” and I put a sticky note on each picture that was realistic. There was a lot more than I thought. THIS gave me hope .. not to give up. THEN I did a google search of Caldecott and other award winning illustrations. I looked at the New York times best illustrated book list for the past ten years and I made a list of artist who had realistic style.
What I’m going to work on is this. I’m going to have my people with more dramatic expressions. And, I’m going to study backgrounds like crazy. I have never wanted to be THAT PERSON at the conferences who could not see past their work and get their little feelings hurt over things that were said… but that was me. ugh. I was in total despair the entire conference weekend but I am revived. I have ideas in my head of how to make things better. In a few months, I hope to have new and better stuff to send out. Maybe to even Mr. Linn and others who were on the critique panel. hmm.. now, that’s a thought.
But for now, the Rooster assignment is emailed to the person who will forward it to New York art director, Laurent Linn, who said that we could send a revision. I think he said that he will keep things on file. I don’t expect anything from this .. but the point is that I’M DOING !! I’m putting myself out there. That’s all I can do. right ? 🙂