I just finished listening with such delight my daughter’s recent Nebraska SCBWI webinar ! She critiqued 15 brave artists’ work live … one of the best all over learning opportunities ever for everyone listening! I remember when (before internet etc.) I did one of the very first of these live with two AD’s at a SCBWI conference (NE perhaps?) so many years ago, with participants images projected up on a screen and having to immediately respond and critique them. What a challenge….and what a blast!
Christy’s webinar was an over two hour presentation! (we CAT’s can talk!) and just wonderful to listen to. It’s a closed paid-for crit event so we can’t share…but she’s done others like this, and I encourage artists to try and participate if the opportunity comes up. Just wonderful…..
I can share a couple snap shots of Christy however….. priceless!
After listening to her presentation, which was quite intensive and inclusive, I did think of a couple of areas that are due repeating here. One was the reminder to the artists about their choices of portfolio/website images … you want to SHOW not TELL what you can do, and how consistently you can do it! Christy consistently mentioned kids, of all ages and types and shapes, adults and animals all interacting IN A NARRATIVE, sequentially. Not just stand alones. SHOW a story with character development and changes of expressions and scenes and perspectives. She mentioned this oh so often! And if you want to get HIRED to do PICTURE BOOKS then you MUST show this!
One seemingly small tidbit I DID want to expand on is about LETTING THE VIEWER INTO YOUR IMAGE/NARRATIVE. Christy alluded to this a bit when talking about the occasional need to add a bit of background, or a bit more detail suggestion to better place the characters IN THEIR WORLD. I’d like suggest that artists make a point to actually INVITE the viewer into this world. Not to always ‘present’ a stage production, or a ‘snapshot’ to viewers, but to actually allow a way visually for the viewer (child, parent, agent, buyer) to enter into this world you are creating.
An artist does this inviting consciously and unconsciously by using the basic ELEMENTS of DRAWING/PAINTING: line, tone, shape, size, placement (composition) and color, contrast and texture (stroke). With these elements an artist brings to life a new, intact world of their own for the characters. To make a story more engaging and personal for the reader and viewer, we want them to actually visually enter this world. It can be as simple as changing the perspective of the image so the viewer is thrown out of ‘their seat.’ Make it from above, or below, or so close up the viewer IS on stage! Maybe so far back the viewer is part of the atmosphere of this world. Or open up a path into the image the way fine artists have always done ….using the space in a subtle triangle, or an actual ‘path’ or an ‘s’ curve, or a diagonal shape one’s eye has to follow. Using light sources dramatically can also pop a viewer into the focus of the image and then, once in, the eye can leisurely travel around taking in so much more. That doesn’t mean complicating the image. It can be done very very simply. I have often thought of these elements as the keys to the ‘Hidden Messages’ that each image can hold and bring strength to a story. These Hidden Messages, using these basic elements of art, create heighten action, emotions, energy, story flow itself….as the artist leads or directs the viewer in all these ways. This is a lasting sort of effect on the viewer too….hopefully inviting him to return to this story world! Revisits are an end prize we all wish for. A loved book/story revisited over and over. Go ahead….learn to invite them IN!