100 mile club

So every once in a while, illustrators need to get off their butts or put down that brush and exercise or you just become stiff, arthritic, flabby, fat and lazy...believe me. I got a nike ipod chip to connect into my nano and started to run. It took me a while, but finally I hit the 100 mile mark. I don't absolutely HATE running anymore but I still don't like it. It shouldn't take me so long to hit 100 next time though.
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Conference update

So, I think I've recovered from the conference craziness (finally). I was on the huge planning committee for it, designed the brochures and the website for it, got the main guest for it, and hosted the main guest for it. Between delayed/late flight pickups, hotel back and forth runs, coffee runs, medication runs, workshops, and lunches and dinners, I wore myself out. But it was all worth it. Illustrator, David Small and his author wife, Sarah Stewart, were the perfect keynote guests and I had a great time hosting them. We also brought in author Kirby Larson and editor Alexandra Penfold (from Simon and Schuster)and they were awesome too. I didn't get to attend as many sessions as I had hoped to but I still felt like it was the best conference EVER and that even the professionals attending learned a lot. But it was some of the end of the day bonding that was the best. A bunch of illustrators went out to dinner with David one night and had a great time learning from such a great artist. Here are some pictures...

I was able to coerce author Brandon Mull to come give the luncheon speech. He did a GREAT job and everyone was impressed. Here he is with illustrator, Will Terry, at our lunch table.

Here is the editor, Alexandra Penfold, during her keynote. She was a young, friendly, refreshing addition to the conference and shared great information with the attendees. I was also able to spend a day with her and 15 other professionals in the industry doing critiques. But most fun was the dinner afterward spent with friends and the editor and her husband who came with her to Utah so he could ski.

Here are Sarah and David signing some of the millions of books people bought during the conference.

Here are Sarah and I in our hats before dinner one night...she had to have a picture. She is a wonderful person and I'm so glad she came with David. I had a great time hosting them.

Here are David and I at the dinner with the illustrators.
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Sketching at the Forum

I'm finally done with the Forum on Children's Literature (until planning starts for next year...in like a month). It was an amazing experience this year...better than ever before. David Small and his wife Sarah Stewart were perfect keynote guests and everyone learned from them and enjoyed their presentations. I'll get more into that in another post. But quickly, I just wanted to post a few sketches/notes I drew up during the conference. The Asian figure is from a figure drawing session we held during the conference this year. I could only stay for 5-10 minutes in between my running around. It was enough to tell me I need/want to spend more time drawing figures from life. Watch for more posts about the conference soon.
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When I near the end of illustrating a picture book, I'm done with it...I mean DONE! In the beginning it's exciting, it's fun, it's fresh, it gets your creative juices flowing. By the end you've thought about it, dreamed about it, spent hours creating it, and more hours changing it, and the ever-nearing deadline just looms over your head until you put on that last brush stroke. Then you have to send it off quickly before you start agonizing over whether or not you could have done ONE more thing. If you don't, you'll keep doing ONE more thing forever. It is fun to see the whole thing finished and imagine it in print...but until it actually IS in print, it's nice to have it out of your mind and off your plate. I don't usually work with an author too closely but this book was different. Luckily the author is wonderful and gave me complete creative freedom. It was nice to work that way for a change. If you want to pre-order the book, go to www.mightyauthors.com and click on CONTACT US and just call. It's fun to see Annie come to life again.

Here's one of my favorite illustrations in the book.
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Art Lessons

Someone asked me how to teach someone art lessons and whether or not they should do it. Here's what I told them.

I taught an 11 year old girl in my home for a year (before I moved to Michigan) and this is what I did.

I started with the basics. I taught her the elements of art (line, space, color, texture, shape, form, value, balance). I taught what each one was in different lessons and she did drawings to incorporate each element.

line- line drawings, how thick line comes forward, thin recedes. vertical line means firm and stable, horizontal means peace and rest and diagonal means movement.

space- foreground, middleground, background; perspective; tension points by objects too close, how to measure with the eye and a pencil an object you are drawing

color- color theory lessons, mixing color, colorwheel, monochromatic, polychromatic, achromatic

texture- show how to paint a texture or draw a texture...fuzzy towels, furry animal, smooth metal spoon etc. explain how texture becomes less in shadow and more in light

shape- positive and negative shape drawings, basic shape lessons

form- lighting lessons and shadow lessons, basic drawing an egg lesson, cast shadow, form shadow, reflected light

value- grayscale, tints, shades, monochromatic painting

balance- symmetrical, asymmetrical, positive space, negative space relationship

These lessons take a long time because you may spend more than one lesson on each element. I usually spent a months worth of lessons on an element. Then come up with an assignment where they incorporate a certain number of the elements of art in one work. Following all this, just begin on technique and practice and maybe human proportions etc. My student was a great girl and it was fun to watch her talent develop. I really liked teaching one on one rather than a gaggle of disinterested classmates. There were much better results.

So anyone thinking of teaching, go for it and good luck. It's fun to get back to the roots of art we take for granted. You really start to think about them in your own art again too. Just as Picasso, Monet, and Vangough, you have to learn the rules before you can break them. Only after a solid foundation can you truly express yourself well and show the emotion you desire in your work.
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I'm a freelance illustrator working in the children's book industry. I love kids and raising my own 4 children. They are the inspiration and the passion behind all I do in art and in life. See my website at JulieOlsonbooks.com

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