Monday, March 29, 2010

Molly the Owl is Taking Over My Life

You must check this out. Molly the owl with her four newborn owlets on a live cam from CA. I just watched her ripping off bits of mouse flesh to feed her babies. It's amazing. She ruffles her feathers, fusses over the kids, sleeps alot, waits for her man (McGee) to bring more food. Owls are weirder than I even thought. She really does turn her head completely around sometimes. Because she can. She carefully nudges the tiny owlets with these razor sharp talons. She's got a huge head. Sometimes she does the tree pose.

So Madeline and I of course had to do some owl drawings. Here's what we came up with.
I know. My drawing is okay, but Madeline just totally caught the essential owlness of the owlet. If only I could draw like that! And I know I once did draw like that. I lost it. And I'm desperately trying to get it back.
Like that famous Picasso quote: It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
I just googled it, and I'm glad I did because I'd only heard the second part before. But this is much better. And it really is true.
You want proof? I got your proof at the top of this post.

So next time you hear someone say "My kid could've done that." say "Then this artist must be really something."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the Cover of the Pen and Palette!

Okay, it's not the cover of the Rollin' Stone, which I'm beginning to think I may never be on! But it is the SCBWI Carolinas wonderful newsletter, and I'm proud to be featured on the cover. Check it out if you are so inclined:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How To Keep It Going

Think of my title as a question--- How to keep it going? Despite an ever-thickening folder of rejection letters, lack of funds, no contract in sight, and continual reports on how nobody's buying picture books.
This print is based on some xeroxes I did of my face back when I worked as a secretary. Yes, more office art, and it suits my current mood. I xeroxed my face alot, I must admit, and could that explain my forgetfulness or tangentialness?
Do you hear birds chirping where you are, too? Have you been watching the live owl nest cam?
I didn't want to blog because I'm feeling down. Because how do I keep it going when I've written so many stories I believe in and worked on my art for so many years without getting much in the way of financial compensation, which is how we define success in this culture, like it or not. Plus a girl's gotta eat!
Well, one way is to remember Jay Asher's talk at last year's SCBWI NY conference, "How to Get Published in Twelve Years or Less." And now he's a NYTimes Bestselling Author.
Or my friend Beth Revis who, after writing and subbing for years, finally landed a three-book deal with Penguin (go, Beth!)
I like the way that sounds: a three-book deal with Penguin
Or seek out an inspirational quote, like:
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" Anais Nin (thank you, Andrea)
Or remember my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies Kirikou and The Sorceress. Kirikou has been digging and digging trying to find his way out of a tunnel. He falls asleep saying "in the morning I'll turn back." And the image is Kirikou asleep against a thin wall of dirt. He wakes up, digs a little more, and he's made it to the other side.
Last night before I went to sleep, I thought, 'what would I have been if I hadn't chosen to be a painter, illustrator, and writer?" And I realized there really never was a choice. This is who I am, and this is what I must do.
So maybe I'll get a few more rejection letters this week. Or maybe I'm just about to break through that wall.
Now how do you keep it going?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Locating Myself In Art History

Okay, these artists are all much better than me, but it's still fun to blogxhibit myself among the greats!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Self-Portraits, Then and Now

The first one is from 1996. The second one is from today. So what's changed since 1996?
I cut my hair (and dye it now.) I got married. My mother died (in 2000.) The twin towers. I had a baby (in 2003.)
I stopped drawing for awhile there, though I was doing some wild abstract paintings. A few months after Madeline was born, I wrote a picture book. A few years ago, I bought myself a new set of rapidographs. And a bunch of woodless pencils (my favorite kind of pencil!) and a few china markers (hard to unravel.) So I'm drawing again.

But what else is different? I feel like I hardly know that bold, confident young woman from 1996. Before all that crap happened. Before I spent so much time worrying about my parenting skills, or lack of. She looks so carefree.
I am not carefree. But I do have my set of rapidographs and a brand new bottle of ink.

And I've written a bunch more books. And I am more likely now to go to conferences and talk to people I don't know. I am more able now to send my stories and drawings out into the world and greet rejection letters with a 'that's okay; I'll just keep trying." I am more able to say "I'm an artist." Because I really am. So maybe this is the new, bolder Constance, after all. The one who is writing a blog in 2010. Which is something I never would have done (technology notwithstanding) in 1996!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Draw As You Go

This weekend I was at Spring Mingle, a fabulous SCBWI conference in Atlanta. I met and heard agent Josh Adams, literary legend Jane Yolen, and two amazing editors, Cheryl Klein and Meredith Mundy. I heard so much useful, helpful information on craft and on submitting. On the history and the current state of publishing. On persevering and persevering some more. I was surrounded by people who love kids books as much as I do, which is one of the best reasons to go to a conference!

And then there were the puns. My god, the puns. Come up with a kids-lit related pun and win a lunch date (kinda) with one of the presenters. I went to the conference (and roomed!) with two critique group buddies, and we were each successful punners,
with: When little rabbit's pjs fell down, old rabbit saw his goodnight moon. (or something)
and: Paddington tried to hibernate one winter, but he just couldn't bear it.
and: What happened when frog parked in the fire lane? He was towed.

So much happened in the course of three days, I've been thinking on how to blog about it and it's making my head hurt. BUT I can show you some sketches.

Because drawing is what I do.

Like this one I did in the Beauty Bar in Manhattan. Isn't she great?

In My Dinner with Andre, Andre says: I could always live in my art but never in my life. (or something)
I can live in my life sometimes. I just try to draw what I can. Like this rabbit in my yard.

Yes, I know I'm no Beatrix Potter. But we used to live in Brooklyn, so what d'ya want from me?

Mostly I'm drawing Madeline. And she's drawing me.

So what did you learn at your conference?
Oh, and thanks for the wine, Donna. And thanks for the chocolates, Ameliann. And thanks for saving me a seat at the agent's table, Andrea. I appreciate you guys!