February and March 2019 recap including lessons learned, kaizen, and some rainbow eats!Read More
How did I end up here? I’m still somewhat dizzy from this whirlwind few months! I have a minute to find my feet, take a breath, and catch you all up with the latest happenings…
Let’s begin with a tidy summary of last year.
2018 Biz Year in Review
Jan- opened my Etsy shop
Feb- ran a half marathon, completed @kristenbalouch illustration course, began Writing with the Stars mentorship with @briannehfarley
Mar- 1st dummy attempts, building portfolio with Brianne
Apr- Exhibited at the Green Circle Gallery
May- began querying agents, Blueprint Show with Finch & Foxglove in NYC (@blueprintshows)
June- SCBWI Orlando, Highlights: Getting to Know Your Picture Book (online portion)
July- painted Art bench (Cocoa Village, FL)
Aug- Mermaid painting workshop with Patti Ballard (@pbsartstudio) in Orlando
Sep- Highlights Course Retreat (@highlightsfound) Getting to Know Your Picture Book artists/authors retreat and in-person workshop with @inkygirl and @heidieys among other wonderfully talented folks I greatly admire.
Oct- Work was exhibited with Finch & Foxglove in San Francisco, Literacy event with SCBWI, won auction review with Stefanie von Borstel (Full Circle Literary), began exhibiting with Gallery Pizza (Viera, FL)
Nov- WNDB Walter Dean Myers Grant contacted, agent responded
Dec-WNDB Walter Dean Myers Grant winners announced
Etsy Sales: 33
Instagram followers: 1497
Time to look ahead of course! This year, I started off by being picked up by a literary agent which is a very good start! I have several manuscripts of my own that are in revision mode, and I’m signed on to do an indie kid’s book that’s in progress.
I hope to keep painting. Add to that maybe spring quilting? I have two quilt tops and a half-quilted quilt!
This past summer I received a grant to paint a bench on the Cocoa Village riverfront as part of the Art Beatz Community Art Project. Here is my step-by-step process.
0) my design proposal & the unpainted bench
1) sand and prime the bench
Try to sand the wood to a smooth surface, remove debris, and as much rust as possible before priming. Prime with an exterior primer. I used Kilz Exterior white primer. As you can see in the next step, I also used a canvas drop-cloth. It's handy for keeping the cement clean and catching drips.
For this step, I used a mix of primer again with the real paint for the wood portion. I wanted to be sure the paint would adhere. For the metal parts of the bench, I lightly sanded the primer coat and painted directly onto the armrests and metal support bar underneath using Behr exterior paint.
3) background color and elements
I painted a thorough coat of the background color at full strength. I added the contrasting background elements (the green tufts of grass).
The green paint was not opaque so it took several coats to get full coverage over the yellow base coat.
Every one of these coats of paint took at least a day to do! I suggest whatever paint you decide to use if you're doing a bench, to make sure it can withstand some rain just in case you have to pack up quickly. The summer weather in Florida varies from 90F+ heat to tropical storm... so the amount of progress on each day varied with the weather.
4) Transfer the concept onto the bench. I used black chalk because I knew it would wash off. If I had had charcoal, I would have used that instead. After sketching on the basic forms and overall placement, I added the bigger inner shapes. I do the details in paint.
Despite the heat and rain, I was really charmed by my view. What a beautiful view of the Indian River!
5) After finalizing the shapes, I added details and painted multiple coats on any parts that were not looking opaque. The orange paint, for example, was not opaque. Between every coat and step, I would re-use the caution tape to warn visitors that there was wet paint. If you paint a public bench, I urge you to let people know by using cones or some kind of caution tape. Note: make sure the printed side of the tape is not touching your paint. It will transfer the black ink onto your surface. The heat is that strong!
The final step is to seal the deal. Literally. Seal the bench using your most trusted clear non-yellowing spray. I used two coats of varnish (Minwax Helmsman Spar Varnish spray) and roughly 2-3 coats of the clear coat provided by the Art Beatz committee (Rustoleum Automotive Enamel in clear). The spray takes a bit to dry and it's tricky to stop people from sitting. I only taped the center of the bench so I would spray the center first, then do the sides so the center would be dry enough by the time I was ready to go.
Image gallery above.
And that's it! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and you find it helpful. If you have had great success with a different clear coat, we'd love to hear about it! If you'd like to sponsor an art bench, let the Cocoa Village Art Beatz committee know. Any business can sponsor a bench, and they're always looking for local businesses to sponsor them.
Are you working on any public art projects? I'd love to hear about them!
Juicy June Update
We're more than halfway through Juicy June, an effort started by Este MacLeod to brighten up our Instagram feeds with art in every color of the rainbow. And as you can see, I've been painting right along on some miniature canvases! I've painted little suns, and mini-pineapples, a peace dove, fast food items, a sweet pale pink flamingo, and a somewhat boastful giraffe. And now these little visual delights are in the shop.
I'm trying to clear a bit of room in my studio, raising funds for the next workshop, so I'm offering them up for sale first to you all, dear readers, before they go in the local gallery. They'll be hanging up at the Green Circle Art Gallery in Cocoa Village at month's end.
SCBWI - Kid's Books Illustration Goal Update
Last week, I went to my first SCBWI conference, and it went really well. The one I attended was the mid-year Florida regional conference in Orlando so it wasn't too far away. I took the Illustrator Intensive track and also chose to add on a 1:1 portfolio review with the Art Director from Viking Press! I'm so glad I did that. And, I'm also so very glad I brought my commercial portfolio. My reviewer loved it!
The Illustrator Intensive was taught half by Viking Art Director, Nancy Brennan, and half by Floyd Cooper, illustrator extraordinaire. Seriously, check out his work, he's amazing. Classmates from the class were ranging in experience from 'newly minted' illustrator to veteran, lifetime illustrators with many titles under their belts. The course covered how art directors look at illustrators work, how they are commissioned to a picture book, and the process by which the team publishes a book. It was extremely informative to me, a relative newcomer to the industry.
I shared my homework for the intensive which was to retell a nursery rhyme in a new way. I chose Twinkle, Twinkle... I did this piece in less than a week! I wasn't sure until after Blueprint show in May whether I'd be able to swing the conference, so I didn't want to commit unless I was sure I could deliver, you know? But, it all worked out. Here's my homework:
I received lots of really positive feedback on my work and my portfolio, and I picked up a few tricks from my classmates and teachers at the conference. I also really enjoyed networking in this environment and displaying my portfolio by itself. I may add a feedback box next time. :) I want to know what people thought!
As for specific feedback on my homework assignment... I've got lots to refine, but first I'm in the 2nd week of my Highlights workshop to revise my manuscript. This is the workshop I mentioned in the newsletter that culminates in an in-person retreat in Pennsylvania in September. I'd like to have a mock-up of the picture book to show prospective agents, publishers, and art directors.
Have a great summer!
It's a real treat to see work made into something beautiful. Today, I'd like to share how a series of sketches for my son became gift wrap.
It all started out last year with a family visit. Someone mentioned that my brother-in-law was a whiz kid at memory when he was a tot. So, the thought of a memory game was planted. My son is very much interested in all things mechanical and vehicular, so I went ahead and sketched out some of his favorite vehicles.
Then, I chose a set of colors that were modern, eye-catching, and child-friendly. I used the primary colors red, yellow, and blue, plus the complementary color lime green and the neutral grey.
I then used a DIY printer (Shutterfly) to produce a set of memory cards. He promptly learned to play and they are much loved and scuffed and full of crayon dust.
Later that year, I took the images to a tradeshow as a last-minute addition to my portfolio. This was where the art was spotted by the art buyers from a wonderful gift-wrap company in California.
They produced the wrap using a beautiful shimmery silver in place of the neutral grey. At an angle you can see the shimmer. I'm so pleased to have my work out in the world, and I hope you'll let me know if you see the gift wrap wherever you are!