Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Inktober to me, by Mike Ciccotello

What's Inktober? (from Jake Parker's site)
Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. I created InkTober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits.
–Jake Parker
This year, at the end of September, I posted on my Facebook and Instagram account about the tools I’d be using for Inktober, 2016. I wanted to show you a little more about my process and what Inktober is to me. 

Last year, I invested a lot of time each day, coming up with an idea, sketching said idea, and finally, completing an inked illustration. I like to be efficient with my available time. We all have busy schedules, family obligations, child care, a full-time job, or even looming deadlines. Everyone's schedule is different, but what time do these busy schedules leave for an art challenge like Inktober?
Here's one way to go about it, and it very well may give you some good ideas for other projects.
I decided to spread out the work. One night in early September, I took 31 sheets of Strathmore Mixed Media 400 series 14x11” paper and drew an 8x10” outline centered on every sheet. This would be the paper for the final inked illustration.
8x10" pencil outline on 14x11" Strathmore 400 series Mixed Media Paper


Another night that week, I paged through 642 things to Draw (Chronicle) and picked from their prompts. I wound up swapping out a few to form my final list.
Next, I started creating rough digital illustrations on my iPad Pro of each prompt. This took some time, but I broke it up over a few weeks, leading up to October. There is nothing wrong with being prepared.
Catalogue of digital illustrations to be used for Inktober
Catalogue of digital illustrations created on the iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil in Procreate

Finally, I printed out all of my illustrations and I was ready to begin. I have a slim LED light board that I use to ink on. I tape the digital illustration on the light board with the 14x11” paper on top, and then start inking. I usually ink at night during the week and whenever I have chunks of time on the weekend. 
Printouts of digital illustrations
Printouts of digital illustrations

Overall, I don’t look at this challenge as creating an ink drawing every night as stated by Jake Parker. As I said before, I need to be efficient. I am about a week ahead of schedule. In order for me to succeed, I need to utilize whatever time I have and keep working. By working that far ahead, I can prep for other things I have going on, RUCCL (RUTGERS UNIVERSITY COUNCIL ON CHILDREN'S LITERATURE) on October 15th, and I can finish up two picture book dummies for agency submission shortly after the Rutgers conference. 
Illustrations for Inktober by Mike Ciccotello
Final inked illustrations
Like last year, I will pull from these Inktober illustrations to create new portfolio work. I'm planning a solo exhibit with my best work from Inktober 2015 and 2016. And best of all, I'll be using the 2016 Inktober illustrations as story prompts for creating new picture book ideas.
To me, it’s not just about keeping up with a 31day challenge, it’s about nurturing those ideas into something bigger and making the most out of the body of work. If you ever thought about participating in Inktober, I highly recommend it. It's worth the effort. If you want to follow along with my progress find me on Facebook and Instagram. Check out my tool list below.
Tools for Inktober
Some of the tools I use to ink

Here are a list of tools I've be playing around with this year. These aren't absolutes when you pick tools, just items that I like using. Every artist has their preference. This might provide some guidance, if you want to try some pens out, but don't know where to begin. By using different tools multiple times, you learn what is comfortable, what needs work, and what you absolutely despise. 

Twitter: @ciccotello 
Instagram: @ciccotello 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Halloween Haunting by Patricia Keeler

I'm not haunted by ghosts, or scared of spiders or the dark. 
But one thing keeps me up at night in fear . . .
                                                                                                                                            © Patricia Keeler
 no, not rabbits!  it's beginning the illustrations for a new picture book. 
All that white. 
All those empty pages. 
All the UNdrawn.

© J Byron Schachner

At Eastern PA SCBWI, I heard a great presentation by J Byron Schachner—Judy to her friends. (She's one of those people who is so friendly that you think you are 'instantly' her friend.) So going on that assumption, Judy has a method for climbing into those scary white pages. It's a Character Bible.

In one of Judy's Character Bibles the pants came first. Judy found a picture of pants drying on a clothes line. She thought it was a great shot of pants. Maybe put a raccoon in them? Hello, Dewey Bob! Later, she found a photograph of a raccoon in a pair of pants.

Permission given by J Byron Schachner to publish images from her Character Bible on Drawn To Picture Books.
© J Byron Schachner
 Judy can spend a year or more creating a Character Bible before beginning to write and illustrate.  

I'm developing a story about a Halloween witch, and am creating my own Halloween Character Bible. I'm learning;

1. By collecting images of witches and cats, I'm finding what feet, noses, hats, etc., I like, and those that don't work for me.

2. I can sketch my characters in various guises, not worrying about the final look of the characters yet. Here they can grow and develop.

Building my Halloween Witch Character Bible         © Patricia Keeler
3. There are the common Halloween images like bats and spiders, but I'm finding pictures of objects I hadn't thought of, like brown moths and pumpkins wrapped in black lace.

4. While looking for witches and cats in shops, magazines, and online, I'm discovering new Halloween fonts and graphics.

5. I'm discovering new Halloween colors. Who knew pea green would be a scary color?

6. And surprising locations. The circus definitely works for Halloween images! Eeek!

© Patricia Keeler
Making a Halloween Character Bible feels like preparing the earth for planting. No wonder it is so hard for me to get anything growing. I've had little to grow new images from.

Here's my first sketch of a Halloween witch
 and I don't even have a headache!

Thank-you Judy for your enchanting stories, shiny characters, and kaleidoscopic art.
And for showing me a way in!

Judy Schacher signing DEWEY BOB, Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
Facebook:  PatriciaKeelerBooks
Twitter: @patriciakeeler
Instagram: @patriciakeeler

represented by Liza Royce Agency

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Picture Books and the 2016 Election - By Barbara DiLorenzo

This election has made everyone feel a little crazy. We all are suffering campaign fatigue at this point.  So why do I need to rope in the shenanigans of our politicians on a picture book blog post? Well, like I mentioned in my previous post, we are a bit of a tribe. (An all-inclusive one that accepts any creative person.) And as an inclusive tribe that celebrates all backgrounds and faiths, it's my opinion that we should stand up against people who prefer to spread bigotry, fear and hate. I have no concern about left, right, up or down leanings. I just care that the dialog in this country has somehow permitted open hatred of those who are different. Our children hear these harsh words. Young children are designed to mimic. That's how they learn. They practice from the examples set by their elders. So if adults openly speak about racist, classist, sexist or homophobic themes, our children believe this is correct. And then they repeat the same words.
Thankfully, we have books. We have authors and illustrators that uphold hope, that challenge oppressive belief systems, that find beauty in the odd or rare soul. If children can read about this, they can take a step toward that unfamiliar person, and maybe reach out with a friendly smile. If a girl whose family is from Turkey mentions she is Muslim during a class discussion, how wonderful if her classmates respond, "Hmm... What is that like?" That may seem far-fetched, but that is exactly what happened in one of the art classes I taught over the summer. My class had an entire discussion on an upcoming holiday, and what the Muslim food traditions were. Granted, the kids were teenagers, and not necessarily from fear-based families. But I was proud of them for being inquisitive and respectful, comparing their own food traditions with hers. Maybe because the girl was already a beloved member of the class, no one judged her. But that's kind of the point too... The kids knew her and weren't scared of the unknown. They regarded her as one of the most skillful artists in the class.
I also have been teaching a weekly class made up of a population of economically challenged kids, whose backgrounds range from Southern and Latin American countries, to African American and Caucasian backgrounds. But in my class, they are artists first. Some struggle to find their voice artistically, and some precocious young folks already know exactly what they want to say and how to express it visually. We all know each other better and better each week-seeing less of the physical person, and more of the complex artist inside. At this point, when I hear a derogatory remark about an entire swath of geography and the people who belong to it, I just can't understand. It feels like a caveman has been thawed out and given a microphone. The fear-based, quick judgements that ensured survival in those days are no longer a functional way to view today's world and her people.
So what is the modern way forward? At the risk of sounding like a hippie, my feeling is that encouraging children to have compassion, to dig deeper to understand the unfamiliar, will yield a generation of the respectfully inquisitive. That is a far better than grooming a generation of the fearfully hateful. As makers of books for children, we have the ability to build this hopeful world in their imaginations. Which of course, can then become reality.
Let's collectively take the microphone away from the caveman, and maybe even ask compassionately why he is the way he is. After all, he's unfamiliar and different to me.

Written by Barbara DiLorenzo
(On her iPhone because every computer in the house is broken right now-please forgive misspellings!)
Twitter: @wavepaint

Author & Illustrator of RENATO & THE LION
Viking, Summer 2017