This is what I did this morning.
I am going to take it into painter and color it.
This is Ryan O'Brian and his mom and dad from one of my 'manuscripts in the works'.
This July I thought I might start drawing again and if I make myself post something each day in August maybe I will keep at it. I have been all over the place with projects in July including editing and revising manuscripts for my picture books.
Also, I've been trying to put together a SkillShare class about animation and it is not going well. I am not sure I want to invest in a camera for this teaching project.
I've joined a creative group on Facebook with Terry Runyan a gifted illustrator who also has started a Youtube series about creativity. I am thinking this might get me back to drawing. This morning I created a family to fit a little story I just sent off to an agent who may or may get back to me eventually. As I had everything perfect and ready to mail I saw a couple of lines I could edit and so in the process, I made three stupid typos and spelling errors and I had been editing the thing for so long and for so many days I could not see them and I hit send. So I can hear the buzzer of the agent going in my head. BZZZZZ. This is an idiot! Get her out of here. Next.
The most wonderful thing happened to me in February. I was one of ten winners in Tara Lazar's Story Storm random first prize draw. My prize was a review of five of my picture book ideas from a very fine agent.
In spite of a nasty bout of flu, I worked my butt off over five days and I submitted. I decided that if the reviews were negative I would simply stop writing and just enjoy making visual art instead.
When I received feedback from the agent I felt as if I had been blessed by an angel. Her assessment of my ideas has made me feel affirmed, supported and inspired. She went through every one of the five with much thought and she made suggestions for how I might make each one work better to fit today's market for children's picture books.
Her clients are so lucky! She has skills and talents for taking things apart and making them sing while energizing a writer and encouraging them without any hint of negativity. What a gift she is! Maybe someday she will represent me if I can measure up. I can only dream.
Now I feel I must get on these stories and finish what I started.
When people are thoughtful and kind the world seems to become a better place.
On another note, spring is finally happening in Vancouver. Here are some photos I took with my iPad this week.
And here is a photo of Maggie at English Bay a week ago. Vancouver is in the background.
This morning Vancouver was covered in snow and of course, it was magical especially as we rarely experience sunshine with snow at the same time. I took my dog out for a walk and with my little camera, I tried to capture some of the beauty. Later I took them into my iPad and edited them with Photoshop Express and I adjusted some photos in Brushstroke APP.
Where did January go?
I've joined two different groups of 'writing for children' groups this year and also took part in Tara Lazar's Story Storm this month. Story Storm challenges children's writers to put down an idea on each day of January or 31 ideas for picture books. Just ideas. So I am almost up to the 31 and am frantically working on it tonight to complete it because they entice you with prizes like critiques and free books. And besides it gets story ideas started with a bang.
And yesterday I revised a new picture book of 500 words so that I can hold my breath and submit it to an agent in February through 12 X 12 writers group. 12 X 12 is a challenge to write one picture book for each month in 2018.
And I also belong to a course called Picture Book Blueprints where there are other picture book writers who critique each other's picture book manuscripts through their facebook group. And a link into possibility of another agent submission opportunity.
So even though my time is chock a block with my part time job and I get so tired some days...Thanks to Donna Barker's Book on Fire and Write Woman Write and her generosity of sharing and her wisdom, I am pretty sure my confidence is up just enough and I am really going to try this year to get a book published.
And it is really scary because I am always afraid my writing is crap even though I kind of like what I write and I work hard at revision and I dream. So this year I am a dreamer.
And I am still not sure about Cherry Pie Girl. But in the meantime I am pushing ahead with picture book writing and still revising CPG every once in a while.
And I think what my dream is...it is sitting with kindergartens to grade threes, reading my books to them and watching them light up with ideas and their own dreams of writing their own stories. Maybe that's all I want. I must sound so crazy. But it keeps my brain working and it keeps me from thinking about news and horrid politicians. And besides,I need to write and I need to draw. Whew. Now this is a post I did not expect to write! I think I am going to put this deluge of words on my blog.
I was looking back at posts from 2016 and I came across a video about bullying in school environments. Since I have a great new job as a playground supervisor I am posting it again. Every day I see kids being teased and bullied. Maybe we can be 'the ones' to help stop bullying using some of the techniques on this excellent anti-bullying resource website.
Check it out with it's catchy tune and neat images here. STOP BULLYING
I have been taking some neat courses with Skillshare and recently I followed along with an amazing American illustrator Jon Burgerman called
Digital Illustration: Doodles to Designs
to create this weird and flawed but fun doodle.
In a series of demonstration videos he shows digital illustrators how to create (with eyes closed) a large doodle that can be scanned by smart phone or tablet or scanner as a finished line drawing into Photoshop and Illustrator.
I only have Photoshop Elements and a PC so I used CorelDraw which seems to work in a similar way as Illustrator for vector art.
In any case, watching Jon Burgerman was fun and delightful. Just watching him is worth the time.
I learned some new techniques. It's all good.
Skillshare is free for a while and then you can sign up at extremely reasonable rates monthly or yearly. And there are so many other courses for artists to choose from.
2017 was for me a year of unexpected things that took me by surprise. My little dog Maggie almost died because of a bug that devastated her gut and the cost of vet bills became overwhelming. But she pulled up after six months of vet visits and many tests and a new diet of boiled chicken breast and kibbles has calmed her gut into normal function again. The only thing that came up in tests was something called Cryptosporidium and I have no idea how she got it.
Then my dentist announced I'd need dental work to save my health. So I went ahead with that.
I sent two manuscripts out to a publisher and an agent. I had no feedback from the agent which meant no interest in my Cherry Pie Girl manuscript at least from that particular house of agents. I was not crushed but I thought at least they might send me a note. But nothing means no so there it is.
Then I had a form letter back from a publisher for a picture book manuscript I sent in. A polite sorry but it is not a fit. I am not crushed. But I should be sending my stuff out to more people and maybe I will do this in 2018.
By the time I heard back / not heard back from these people, my life had moved into realizing that as a retired person with a small pension with benefits, I needed also to get a job to pay for having a dog as well as maintaining my teeth. So in August I put my energy into a job search.
To my surprise I got a lovely little part time job working with kids in a school and on the playground. I have now become a part of a community of teachers and children and other support staff. It is quite lovely to be with people and socializing every day in the real world. I know so far this choice is a good one for me at this time of my life. The kids are amazing and funny and wonderful to observe from a research point of view and I have been coming up with more ideas for picture books. It is such a privilege to be with them.
So in 2018 in January I am signed up for Tara Lazar's Story Storm, which is inspiring writers to gather up an idea a day for the month of January.
Last spring I must not forget that I worked with a grade four class creating animated videos with iPads. In the process I developed a detailed lesson plan and I found a great number of resources and I learned a great deal about building small sets and making characters out of plasticine, wood and fabric and also learned how to creat inexpensive sets with file folders and paper. I think my lesson plan might have some value for other teachers. So this is a positive thing and I might work on this in 2018.
In 2017 I wrote a number of picture book manuscripts while taking a course with Picture Book Blueprints. This is a great program and well worth the cost. I also have begun a Middle Grade Blueprint writing course.
So this year of 2017, for me, was full of unexpected surprises. And of course if one looks at the whole world politically and in general, it was filled with many unexpected and most not so welcome surprises. Now onward to 2018.
I have an iPad Mini and I kind of love it and I wish I could tell the world how much fun it is to play with. Recently I found an app that turns photos into beautiful oil paintings and it only takes seconds. I thought I'd post a few here in case there is anyone out there who might find this of interest.
The app is called Brushstroke and it has many variations. If you click on the images you can see them larger on your screen.
I recommend Future Learn online courses from the UK. They are free and every course so far has been chock a block full of information, with fabulous links to what is happening now around the world in the fields of your chosen topics.
The Enterprise Shed, Making Ideas Happen - Trinity College Dublin (I think this one is closed now so I don't have a link)
Digital Story Telling - University of Birmingham
Writing Fiction - The Open University UK
These are small characters of plasticine created for a project creating animated movies using iPads, iMotion App, and iMovie with grade fours at Lord Nelson Elementary School. I was able to share what I learned from Future Learn with the children. My lesson plan reads like a book now. Now there's another idea. I wonder if teachers would want a lesson plan for this topic?
Here is a post of a photo collage sample of bits from painting exercises completed while taking Artist Dreama Perry's wonderful online painting course.They are all small paintings about 10 inches by 8 inches. Each one took me a long time because life kept getting in the way and I kept putting the paints away in a box. I don't really feel as if these are mine since they were all class projects and everyone painted from the same reference photos selected by Dreama Perry.
The best part of her course, for me, was the weekly meditation modules and her informative sharing of her techniques using pure color. It was a wonderful experience for everyone who took the course I think. Her beautiful and thoughtful videos went on for weeks.
Making art seems to me at the moment to be the one thing I have some control over. While I draw I think. Maybe one can hope at least for a miracle that will turn things around and bring back justice and integrity and hope for the world.
Below, I cheated and painted over my photos in Corel Painter Lite. And there's no clean up!
Display at the Board Offices Lobby
Portraits From General Wolfe's Grade ones. I finally managed to get the VSB lobby display up of the beautiful self portraits from the Artist in residence project with the children and their teacher. From Spring 2016 and put up in September 2016.
Taking an Oil Painting Course
I have always wanted to learn how to paint with oils. Dreama Tolle Perry's dreamlovepaint.com oil painting course is everything anyone could ask for complete with wise advice videos, meditation videos, tips for painting videos and painting demonstration videos by a master painter.
The photos are from class work. It was really fun but I still have tons to learn and I think I kind of suck at this non digital activity so far!
Now I am wondering if I can actually paint something without Dreama's guidance in the use of oils. Somehow I think it is going to be really hard.
When I was preparing a proposal for using iPads, Stop Frame Animation and DoInk Green Screen I got a crazy idea for a way to make a project with flat paper. My little video above is silly and it goes on forever but at least it all worked as an easy fast exercise for kids to learn and have fun with. I thought the students might find this a stepping off point into making their own simple animations.
When it all came together we ended up making plasticine characters and 3D paper sets. The children created characters, wrote stories and worked in pairs of three with iPads. It became more than I had imagined because the children's creativity was amazing and so impressive. They seem to have a natural gift for visual story telling.
Because of privacy protection concerns I am unable to post their animated videos. But I can assure you they were all wonderful.
This is the week there's a plan for a display to go up at the VSB main offices entrance way profiling these K-1's self portraits from a project from last spring. Mrs. G handed out mirrors and pastels. I did a demo of a drawing to show them how I would make a self portrait. Then off they went with great enthusiasm to create their portraits. It's not up yet but here's a photo of the work laid down in a row in my apartment hallway. I invested about ten dollars on a package of coloured paper card stock to make a background which I hope shows the art off in a positive way.
Other projects we did:
Painted paper collage
Fairy Tale characters from the Three Little Pigs and Cinderella
Prints for Valentine cards using thin foam sheets
We had five 90 minute sessions to do all this and as I write this down I realize it was a lot!
I tried a watercolor yesterday but my ink line was not permanent and the color got muddy. My fault for not checking it out before I put the lines down.
I used Photoshop Express to adjust the color.
My reference for the scene is a photo I took last week which is much nicer than my painting.
I am really rusty. But it was fun to try.
I added 'Find Edges' in Photoshop Elements and I think it greatly improved it. The digital is better than the original.
just finished the Children's Picture Book Academy's Mastering Middle Grade
Novels course and I now have in my hands a Middle Grade novel of about 30,000 words. I've
been working on this book idea for sixteen years and finally, with the help of
the course I found my way through the process. I found an ending that actually made me feel
like dancing again. So
no matter what happens, the process was a good thing to do. Now what I must do is to start mailing it out and wait for the rejection slips.
Butt in the chair and my nose to the keyboard since the beginning of March.
Now I am coming out of this place and I am still feeling and thinking like a twelve year old.
I have almost 30,000 words and a story that works.
At least I think it does. I have no idea if it is any good, but it is done. Wooohoooo!
I need to celebrate at least for getting this far. To an ending.
At least for today.
Tomorrow or next week I will probably go back another ten times to edit and adjust and add to it.
Now I am going out to the library to get some exercise and clear my head.
I highly recommend the Children's Picture Book Academy courses. Mira Reisberg and Hillary Homzie have put together an incredible amount of information with an endless amount of generosity and sharing of great learning materials and resources.
Outside the streets are in bloom. Spring in Vancouver.