Have you drawn in your sketchbook today? It’s a question that humbles every aspiring children’s book illustrator.
The Willie Lisa (art by Maury Tieman)
But in our “high touch era” where the handcrafts site Etsy numbers near the top of online marketplaces and scrapbooking became so cool that it inspired the social media phenomenon known as Pinterest, sketchbooks and the art of filling them are no longer restricted to fine artists and commercial artists and hobby painters.
It’s a more general cause celebre and maybe even a craze, if popular blog groups like SketchCrawl, Urban Sketchers, and Everyday Matters are an indication. Since 2009 the Brooklyn Art-House Co-Op has been gathering up sketchbooks and sending them on a national tour in a traveling library. This year the effort extended across the Atlantic to include London. Hence the name, 2012 Sketchbook Project World Tour.
“The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project where participants from all walks of life are sent a sketchbook and have until January 15th to fill the pages and return it for inclusion in a traveling exhibition and permanent collection at The Brooklyn Art Library,” the co-op’s website says.
Our children’s picture book critique group under the Austin (Texas) Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Inklings decided to take part in this year’s tour with a group sketchbook mosaic.
It’s all explained (twice) in this riveting cinéma vérité documentary. Notice how the camera is not only hand-held in the respected auteur tradition, but often entirely neglected as the chronicler starts talking with his subjects and the lens tips to study T-shirts and shoes, picnic tables, and dirt on the ground…
Austin (September 12-16) was the last North American stop before the books moved on to London. Starting from Brooklyn they’d already traveled to Chicago, Portland, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Oakland, Lynn, Portland (Maine), Toronto, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Orlando.
Co-Lab Project Space on Allen Street in East Austin was converted into a library replete with signage, computers, workers, loaded bookshelves, and waiting lines. According to the Brooklyn ArtHouse archive, 2,435 books were checked out and viewed during those four days in Austin and 300 new Sketchbook Project library cards were issued.
The sketchbooks, new ones will be back in Austin next year — at Co-Labs again and at the SXSW Festival scene on March 15-17 for the 2013 World Tour.
The biggest news of recent weeks? No, it wasn’t the U.S. presidential election. It was Disney buying LucasFilm/LucasArts and all Star Wars rights for $4 billion. Here’s a Forbes take on the purchase and more particulars and videos from Mashable. It means more Star Wars movies to come, a re-thinking and possible scrapping of Star Wars games currently on the boards, and a new (apparently long overdue) Disney line for boys.
No, Star Wars didn’t start off as a children’s book, but it could have. The Disney purchase evidences the staggering value of an intellectual asset and of what sometimes can happen when a story with good characters ascends to the status of a meme. This was not a freak occurrence, either. In 2009 Disney paid $4 billion for Marvel Comics.
The other news of course is the publishing merger. Two of the “Big Six”, Random House, owned by the conglomerate Bertelsmann and Penguin, owned by publishing giant Pearson announced joining forces in a deal expected to close sometime next year (to counter the threat of Amazon, some industry watchers suggest.) Combined companies will have a fourth of the English-language consumer book sales, asserts the Publishers Weekly story on the announcement,
The merger takes the “Big Six” down to five: Random House Penguin, Hachette, Holtzbrinck/Macmillan, HarperCollins, which is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the CBS owned Simon & Schuster — with those pesky 21st-century publishing upstarts Amazon, Apple and Microsoft nipping at their heels.
November is Picture Book Month and author Dianne de Las Casas with co-founding author-illustrators Elizabeth Dulemba, Katie Davis, Tara Lazar, and Wendy Martin has assembled this delightful blog where author-illustrators guest post and the joys and significance of this peculiarly demanding literary art form.
November is also Picture Book Idea Month if you didn’t know. It’s what PiBoIdMo stands for, writes children’s author Tara Lazar. “Tired of novelists having all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]? That’s why I created PiBoIdMo, as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers,” she says. “The concept is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes).” The PiBoiMo part of Tara’s blog is loaded full with super “process posts” and tips from practitioners, along with some great author-illustrator “war stories” that will move and inspire you.
On the storm front, Chronicle Books editor Melissa Manlove is offering what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an aspiring picture book author — a FREE PASS to one of her company’s editorial meetings, along with a private critique before your story goes to the meeting. It’s one of many neat auction items touted for KidLit Cares, a Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Read all about it on organizer and children’s book author Kate Messer’s blog.
E.B. Lewis to headline Austin SCBWI conference
Caldecott honor-winning illustrator E.B. Lewis will keynote the conference, Kick It Up a Notch as well as conduct a special illustrators’ intensive on Sunday after Saturday’s main event.
In the video below Lewis speaks compassionately on his painting exhibit Lotto Icons, which began as scribbled ideas in his (what else?) sketchbook.
Drawing in Photoshop
Steve Connor is an abstract fine arts painter, former art director, Adobe CS-6 certified instructor, and CEO of Deep4D Digital Media & Training. He demystifies the PS tools and the different modes of drawing and painting with them in this free 90-minute workshop, Vector and Paint: An Intro to Photoshop.
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Award-winning author-illustrator Mark Mitchell wrote this post. Get on the blog mailing list and see some short videos on “the best secret” to a good drawing.