Illustrator Saturday – Lita Judge

•October 4, 2014 • Comments Off on Illustrator Saturday – Lita Judge

Lita Judge came to our region several years ago — she is a delight and has exceptional talent.

Writing and Illustrating

masthead_1119_me_and_crittersLita Judge is a writer and artist whose greatest passion is creating children’s books. She is the author/illustrator for over a dozen fiction and nonfiction picture books including Flight School (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Red Hat (S&S, 2013), Red Sled (S&S, 2011), Bird Talk (Roaring Brook, 2012), One Thousand Tracings, and Pennies for Elephants (Disney-Hyperion). Her background in geology, paleontology and biology inspires her nonfiction books. Lita spent several years working for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology before turning to writing about dinosaurs and other natural history subjects. But her background with animals also inspires her whimsical fictional tales filled with characters who forge big dreams.

Several of herbooks have been selected as Junior Library Guild picks and they have received numerous awards including the 2013 Sterling North Award, the Jane Addams Honor Book, ALA Notable Children’s Book, the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, Michigan Notable Book…

View original post 3,306 more words

Illustrator Saturday – Mehrdokht Amini

•September 13, 2014 • Comments Off on Illustrator Saturday – Mehrdokht Amini

Take a look at the beautiful work of this illustrator!

Writing and Illustrating

photoMehrdokht Amini has worked on many books for children. One of her latest picture book “Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns” in collaboration with” Hena Khan” has been highly praised and has been selected in the 2013 ALSC notable children’s booklist, which is a list of best of best in children’s book.

She lives in Surrey, England.

Below are her clients:

The British Museum Press,
Chronicle books
Random House
Stentor Publication
Harcourt Publishing
Overbrook Entertainment
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Here is Mehrdokht explaining her process:

This is the step-by-step process of one of the illustrations of the book that I have written myself. At the moment I am working on some samples of this book to take to the publishers. The book is called “The day I met Poppito.”

In this image, the main character of the book has come down for breakfast and sees that his parents are very annoyed by…

View original post 3,441 more words

11th Annual Winter Conference * January 29-31, 2010 * Hyatt Grand Central, New York City

•September 9, 2009 • Comments Off on 11th Annual Winter Conference * January 29-31, 2010 * Hyatt Grand Central, New York City

Set the dates on your calendar and watch the SCBWI home web site early in October to find the latest update on opportunities and prizes available to illustrators attending the Winter Conference, such as the Art Display Grand Prize, the Portfolio Award, the Tomie dePaola Award.

Lita Judge & the Importance of Creative Play–Summer Conference Breakout Session

•September 9, 2009 • Comments Off on Lita Judge & the Importance of Creative Play–Summer Conference Breakout Session

Author and Illustrator Lita Judge stressed the importance of “creative play” as it pertains to several stages in the written and visual development of a picture book.

Lita generously shared visual examples of her creative playing in preparation, exploration, research, composition, and color design in her books.  She mentioned that as her manuscript evolves, she’s always thinking of visual opportunities and pacing .  She often begins sketching realistic gesture drawings and then frees herself up to have fun with each subject, taking it as far as she wants to go in any direction.  The experimentation clarifies the boundaries of her scientific research and forces characters to become more anthropomorphic and thus, more expressive.

She suggested that play time is richer when she creates with no sense of whether anyone will ever see the work.  Just have fun! 

With her permission, I include three of her examples from a time when she spent three weeks drawing orangutans at the zoo and, even, had a chance to train them. 

The first is her photograph of her subject: yes, holding a book.

The first is her photograph of her subject: yes, holding a book.

The second is her sketch from the photograph.
The second is her sketch from the photograph.
The third is an expressive portrait that evolved from play.

The third is an expressive portrait that evolved from play.

 Some suggestions she had for acquiring the realistic research included “befriending archivists with cookies,” using fashion catalogues, work closely with archivists and librarians and use models dressed in appropriate costumes of the time period to sketch from live sittings.  She mentioned that she frees child models to act out a scene and, in their play, they often give her new insights, details, perspectives she hadn’t planned.  She suggested that images “can’t have too much detail,” even if not all of your images go into the book.

She said that she writes story lines across spreads before the art.  She also creates random compositions and paintings as studies without worrying about the final art.

In playful explorations, she creates thousands of very rough thumbnail sketches about 4″ x 6″.  In different stages she makes larger drawings, draws characters separately, scans them, and composes them together in Adobe Photoshop.    She prints the compositions out on watercolor paper and paints several color studies of each before selecting which one she prefers.  Then she makes a final draft painting before making the final painting.

She creates three books in a year.  Many of her books are purchased by school libraries.

Her art enraptured.  It was a blessing to view so many of her “play” pieces working out difficult decisions throughout the entire process.  Brava!

Karen Jo (Rockville, MD)

Interview with Patrick Collins at our Summer Conference

•September 8, 2009 • 1 Comment

P1010003Patrick Collins, the Creative Director at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers answered a few questions during a fruitful portfolio critique last summer.

What do you look for in a portfolio ?

“A portfolio should include about 10 pieces of your best work.  Be selective.  Don’t include more than 20 pieces.  At least 3 of the works should show characters, people or animals, in scenes or poses that tell a story.  The characters’ faces and body language should express emotion and attitudes in such a way that the image establishes a mood and tells the story.  Portraits, landscapes and florals don’t do the job in this business.” 

 What style of art do you seek to fill your studio needs?

“We purchase art for picture books in which the styles vary in any media:, middle grade books that includes color jackets and interior black and white images, and young adult book jackets that run from being realistic to decorative and symbolic.”

Do you like to receive postcards?

“Yes, I prefer postcards to unsolicited emails.  Send a card a couple of times a year.  Be selective.  Choose something that is absolutely great!  The best piece.  Don’t rush it.  It doesn’t have to be connected to any other images in a series.”

What do you look for in a new artist?

“The majority of our new artists have a fair amount of experience working for other publishers and are just new to our house.  Some are experienced artists new to children’s book publishing. 

May an artist schedule a portfolio review with you?

“Yes.  We have “Drop Off Portfolio Day” every Monday.  You don’t need to schedule an appointment for that.  You just stop by on a Monday and leave your portfolio.  Someone will review it when it’s convenient.  You pick it up later in the day.  You can also schedule a conference with me to review your portfolio.   Arrangements must be made in advance for that.  Also, I lead portfolio workshops at various conferences like this one.”

Karen Jo (Rockville, MD)


MD/DE/WV SCBWI summer conference

•July 27, 2009 • Comments Off on MD/DE/WV SCBWI summer conference

Thanks to all of you who joined me at this year’s MD/DE/WV SCBWI summer conference at McDaniel College in Westminster. It was a pleasure to be with you and share in the event this past weekend!

Patrick Collins 001_July-09Some of the highlights for illustrators: Patrick Collins, Creative Director at Henry Holt explained how a picture book is created, from sketches to dummy to finished pages. He showed us how multiple versions of a book jacket design are considered and revised before the final one is chosen, an exhaustive process, indeed!






Patrick also gave eleven critiques, and it was reported to me that they were very helpful, as was my own.Patrick Collins & Jeannie Wogoman




It was instructive to learn how Atheneum Executive Editor Namrata Tripathi and author/illustrator Lita Judge work together. Lita showed photos of her studio in Peterborough, NH and told us about the path she took to become a picture book illustrator. She also related the stories that inspired and the research she did for the books she’s written and illustrated, One Thousand Tracings and Pennies For Elephants.

At lunch on Saturday some of the illustrators attending sat with Patrick Collins, and he discussed some of the workshops he has participated in, giving me great ideas for future events.

I gave a breakout session presentation on Sunday about the process I went through in illustrating One Wolf Howls by Scotti Cohn, which was published by Sylvan Dell this past spring.

It was a surprise to me when our new MD/DE/WV SCBWI Regional Advisor, Edie Hemingway asked me to sit on the Q & A panel at the end of the conference — I am not one to be shy about my experiences or opinions, but I do feel like a relative novice in the publishing world. Lita Judge had to leave a bit early, and so I represented illustration.

I learn at each one of these conferences, and I always go away with a renewed desire to create! I sincerely appreciate the camaraderie and inclusiveness of the SCBWI; everyone is made to feel a sense of belonging, at whatever level of achievement.

Susan Detwiler Illustrator Coordinator MD/DE/WV SCBWI

Denee Barr exhibits in Artomatic DC 2009: A Multi-Media Extravaganza

•June 8, 2009 • Comments Off on Denee Barr exhibits in Artomatic DC 2009: A Multi-Media Extravaganza

Denee Barr exhibits 14 unique silver gelatin photos and mixed media works in her own Mini-Gallery at this year’s Artomatic DC Festival.  Denee’s space is located on the 5th floor Area 7 with a stunning, skyline view of the Capitol in Washington, DC 

Banana Shack, St. Vincent, West IndiesThis  is Banana Shack, St. Vincent West Indies 10″ x 8″
Medium:  Silver Gelatin Photo and Mixed Media on Photo Fiber Paper

Denee also has an Artist page on Artomatic

Artomatic is open May 29-July 5th:
55 M Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Denee wrote, “There are a lot of mini-galleries set up at Artomatic from graphic designers, and illustrators, and writers too as well as film, theatre, music, and  poetry readings.”


Artomatic is a month-long art festival in DC that is free to the general public celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Monument Realty and the Capitol Riverfront BID have provided a brand-new 275,000 square foot building to host Artomatic, right next to the Nationals Stadium. The event features nine floors of visual and installation art, theater performances, dance and comedy, three music stages, street performances such as fire dancing and drum troupes, and a film screening theater. Workshops and seminars are held all month long and special events such as the Washington Post’s Peeps diorama finalists, the Zombie Prom, Box Racing, body paint shows, and a no-holds-barred Art in Fashion Show.

With four stages, four bars and a lounge on each floor, the 10th Anniversary Artomatic is bigger than ever. 52,500 people attended Artomatic last year, and 70,000 are expected this year. Over 1,000 visual artists and 600 performing artists are exhibiting this year.

Metro Green Line: Navy Yard @ Nationals Ballpark exit

Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 12:00 noon-10:00 PM
Friday and Saturday 12:00 noon-1:00 AM
Monday and Tuesday (Closed)
On Friday, July 3rd from 2:00-3:00 PM, Fine Art Photographer and Mixed Media Artist Denee Barr will lead a tour through artist spaces on the 5th Floor and look at how artists define their creative process. What’s the artist telling us? Let’s chat about it.

Denee @ Mini-Gallery Artomatic 5th flr_Denee paints Artomatic Space 5th flr_ (Howard County Center for the Arts)

Call for Book Covers Correction!

•June 8, 2009 • Comments Off on Call for Book Covers Correction!

I apologize for misunderstanding Lois Szymanski’s message about the book cover calendar and misleading you!!!  She seeks book covers of any new books published by publishing houses that aren’t vanity presses or self-published presses  by either WRITERS or Illustrators from our region.  For instance, Edith Hemmingway’s new book that she wrote, Road to Tator Hill, by Delacorte Press debuts soon.  Thus, her beautifully designed book cover will be included in the calendar.  The calendar will NOT be exclusive to illustrators.

Karen Jo (Rockville, MD)

Call for book cover illustrations

•May 27, 2009 • Comments Off on Call for book cover illustrations

Our region will be creating and selling a 2010 calendar this year, to be ready
for sale at the July conference. We will feature book covers of artists and
illustrators from this region. If you are an author or illustrator in the
MD/DE/WV Region with a book out in 2008 or 2009 we invite you to send a high
resolution jpg of your book cover for inclusion in the calendar. There is no
payment, but your calendar will be seen by many, offering free advertising. Each
agent and editor attending our conferences throughout the year will be gifted a

Please send your jpgs via email to Lois Szymanski.  No vanity press or self-published books will be included.

Congratulations, Stephen!

•May 27, 2009 • Comments Off on Congratulations, Stephen!

Two works by Stephen H. were chosen as sole representations of his class in the Howard County Community College student art show!  Bravo!

Karen Jo (Rockville, MD)