Sunday, November 13, 2011

A New Way

I went to the SCBWI Carolinas conference in Charlotte this September (fun!) and was very fortunate to meet the fabulous illustrator David Diaz. It's taken me awhile to process how seeing his portfolio influenced me. His work (which is not the kitten pictured here!) really blurs the line between illustration and fine art.

What line? some of you may be asking. I've heard the arguments before. But, in my mind, there's a huge difference between creating art based solely on having an artistic experience and creating art for a book. Even a beautiful picture book. I once met a painter at the Vermont Studio Center who said (paraphrasing) painting is like taking a walk in the woods. You know where you're starting, but you don't know where you'll end up.

When you're illustrating, you must have some idea of where you'll end up, right? If the text is about a group of penguins on a journey to Hawaii, you can't do a self-portrait. I mean, I'd like to see your self-portrait. But your art director probably would not.

David Diaz is an illustrator. But he showed us all kinds of art, which looked totally free.

And made me take a closer look at my portfolio. And about how I feel about my portfolio. I think there are some great pieces there. But I want to find a way to feel more free. Have more fun.

So I got out my acrylics and my big brushes. I've been saving them for the day I have time to go into my studio and create art for myself. Which may be a long way off, if I truly want to publish my middle grade novel and my picture books and illustrate. (and I do!)

I used my acrylics and big brushes to paint this kitten for a picture book I'm working on. He's getting ready to leave his basket for the first time. To journey forth to new adventures. And have fun.
Just like me.


  1. Constance: I think you do some of your best work when you are free, loose & spontaneous.
    You kitten reminds me of Puss in Boots when he puts on those sweet, irresistlble kitten eyes.
    I really have to get out my own watercolors and paint more!

  2. Constance-- I was just thinking about you yesterday and that I hadn't visited your blog in awhile--glad you sent the announcement out on the list serve. I love this illustration and hope that you'll be inspired to journey forth yourself. We all want to do just that! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Taking his intensive has made me rethink my work completely. It made me want to dust off my brushes too. Good for you for diving in! Also, can I take that wide-eyed kitten home with me?

  4. You guys are so on the money. Lots of new emotions were stirred up at the intensive. After some regrouping I feel you need to be allowed to really be true to your own personal style but that said, some personal styles may not be what the market wants right now.
    Did I mention, I LOVE YOUR KITTEN!

  5. Constance,
    Great post. I love your kitten. Very endearing, which is what one wants, and I LOVE comparing yourself with the kitten off on a new journey.
    Keep the great work coming. I'm enjoying it.
    Thank you.

  6. thanks, everyone. Interesting to hear that other illustrators were equally influenced by David Diaz- and I didn't even attend his intensive. Just meeting him and seeing his work was enough!

  7. What a sweet picture! I think being free to do what you want in your illustrating (and writing) is important.

    Thank you for commenting on my dd's art. She was suprised and happy! :)