Children’s book illustrators,  like all artists, can reach their markets and audiences more easily than ever before, thanks to the Internet!

And I believe that WordPress, the open source content management system is one of the best ways to establish a presence on the web.

Erik Kuntz, designer, web consultant, instructor and web comic artist feels the same way I do about WordPress. Except he knows tons more about it than I do.  He consults with small businesses and big companies on this stuff.  (He’s also the intrepid webmaster of our Austin, Texas SCBWI chapter.)

Erik Kuntz with Austin illustrators

Erik (standing, right) is joined by Austin illustrators and writers and friends (left to right) Jeff and Libby Byington, Don Tate, Christy Stallop, Amy Farrier, Torran Anderson, Louise Shelby, Ross Carnes and Martin Thomas.

A couple of weeks ago he conducted a special online workshop session for my Make Your Marks; Make Your Splashes class.

He did a brilliant presentation, showing us different ways to put up our illustration galleries on our WordPress blogs.  By galleries  I mean the tiny thumbnail pictures you click on to see much larger higher res versions of them.  After showing us a trick for doing it on WordPress.com blogs, he showed us how to do it on our WordPress.org blogs using the free plug-in, NextGen Gallery.

Alas, things do not always work out perfectly.  The recording did not take.

We were all so counting on the replay.  Erik shared so much with us that it was hard to get it all down in our notes!  I did what I had to:  Asked him if he’d be willing to walk us through the workshop again.

He agreed to — characteristically, because he’s a helpful soul.

So we’re doing the same workshop again. This time we’re throwing the doors open a bit, broadcasting on UStream.

The recording will stay up on Erik’s UStream channel. This way students won’t miss a thing.

But it will also be available to anyone with an interest in WordPress galleries.  Marks and Splashes students will get the first crack at questions, though.

We’ve set Thursday, March 31 as our evening for the workshop.  If you’d like a reminder with details about how to find the broadcast, please sign our guest list.

What else would you like to know about using WordPress?

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Here are links for Erik’s webcomic, Erik and Monkey (talk about life) and blog and signing up for the broadcast reminder.

Photoshop Basics

A Bare Bones Intro to Photoshop is a video lesson by another talented teacher I know. 

Steve Connor (pictured left) teaches animation, film and design media software at ITT Technical Institute and the Art School of the Austin Museum of Art. He’s also enjoyed a career as an art director for firms in the San Francisco Bay area. He  also creates lyrical abstract art.

In the video he shows how to work with layers, the brush toolshapes and effects. His information applies to any edition of Photoshop you might have.

After seeing the lesson, if you feel so moved, please take Steve’s survey to help him determine what you’d most like to learn from a series of informal trainings — on Photoshop and other software thought of as OMG-This is too hard for me! Here’s the survey: Learning Digital Media. And the tutorial link again:  A Bare Bones Intro to Photoshop.

"Marks and Splashes" course author Mark Mitchell ( second from left) with the Inklings, an Austin SCBWI children's picture book critique group. To the left (of Mark) is writer-illustrator Martin Fry. Going around the table to the right (of Mark) are Amy Farrier, Andrea Weissenbuehler, Erik Kuntz, Martin Thomas, Robyn Honig and Margaret Jonon Buford. They're holding 150 million year old oyster fossils that Fry had brought to the coffee.

Marks and Splashes course

The Make Your Splashes; Make Your Marks course moves into a new phase of life next month, adding video interviews with working children’s book illustrators and more content and trainings. All current and past students will receive the new material as it rolls out.

But students who sign on after the new course “launch” date will pay a slightly higher tuition than present students did.

You can head that calamity off at the pass! Go here to get the new, bigger version at the old  price.  You’ll be glad you acted with alacrity.

Here’s the course info page link: Make Your Splashes; Make Your Marks

Houston SCBWI 2011 Conference set for April!

The Houston SCBWI 2011 regional conference The Art of Book Craft is set for Saturday April 9 at Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.  Get your details and registration form here.

Editors from Disney Hyperion and Scholastic and an art director fronm Simon and Schuster will present there, along with author-illustrator Ruth McNally Barshaw.  Simon and Schuster art director Laurent Linn will do a 90 minute breakout session with illustrators and portfolio reviews.