Kidlit Art Talk and Exhibit at the Art Museum of Los Gatos
Last night, I attended a children's book illustration panel discussion at the Art Museum of Los Gatos in the South Bay. Titled Children's Illustration A-Z, the event featured Susan Jaekel, a kidlit illustrator, Gennifer Choldenko, a Newbery-winning author, Summer Laurie, a former editor at Chronicle Books for Children, and Heidi Long, a librarian at the Los Gatos Library.
The hour flew by fast as the panelists
answered questions presented by both Heidi, who was the moderator, and audience members.
One of the questions: What's the best piece of advice you can
Summer talked about the
importance of having rhino-skin- and certainly, writers and artists need a
thick skin to survive the publishing industry. Gennifer mentioned the late Norma Fox Mazer for her philosophy of feeling one's way
through a project instead of thinking the way. Susan remembered an instructor
she had in college who encouraged her to just follow her passion.
Something Gennifer said
really resonated with me: "I'm never lonely when I write. I have my
characters with me." Sometimes when I'm writing late into the night, and
it seems like I'm all alone at my computer, my characters actually keep me entertained.
And I think Gennifer's statement speaks to a larger idea---we're
never alone as long as we have stories inside of ourselves to share.
The exhibition is pretty cool. And there's something unique that distinguishes how each of the featured artists show their interpretation of the universe. (I avoid using the word unique because it's so overused- like epic, for example- so I only use this word when I really mean it, and I do mean it here.)Susan Jaekel's animals with personality, Bob
Barner's edgy dinosaurs, Yuyi Morales' dreamy, rich brushwork, and Emma T.
Capps and Thi Bui's enlightening graphic novel excerpts are just a few of the many things I saw.
As a child, I loved drawing- I used to win all these random poster contests and hang my prize ribbons and certificates up on my wall. Back then, I'd even fancied being both a children's book author and illustrator someday. But as I got older, I got sidetracked with other stuff
and put my art on the back burner. When I heard about this art talk and exhibit, I attended with the
intention to learn a thing or two more about picture book writing. But
once I arrived at the museum and saw all the awesome children's book
illustrations on the walls, I thought to myself...maybe, just maybe, I can rekindle this old flame someday.
How do your characters keep you company when you write?
How many of you are both artists and writers? How do you balance the two things?
Artists of the images shown here, from top to bottom: Bob Barner, Susan Jaekel, Emma Capps, and Thi Bui
Cynthia is a writer, a kidlit connoisseur, and a member of SCBWI. Born and raised in San Francisco, she currently lives in the Bay Area with her dear husband and children. Cynthia has a background in teaching English, pouncing on unsuspecting dessert tables, and waiting in line for book releases at midnight.