For Critique - Prescott Hill

Attached is a freshly finished independent illustration I have been working on in between the cracks of the past ten days. I'm presenting it to the blog for public ...(gulp) critique.

Illustrator Day has been a catalyst and a bit of a wake up call for me. Up to this point I have been happily producing my art in vector form, which has my medium of choice since 2002. However, the portfolio critique opened my eyes to the fact that if I truly want to full engage in literary illustration, I need to retool my skills away from my commercial illustration mode to something more organic. I also need to drop a lot of my portfolio pieces in favor of some fresh art focused on children's book illustration.

I've entitled the attached "The Maker Mouse," and it's the first of my fresh pieces. Wicked-pedia states: "Maker mice are the problem-solving geeks of the animal world. Unlike pious church mice, maker mice make their home in the attics or floor boards of schools and libraries. They believe it is possible to solve any problem with imagination, a piece of wire, and anything else at hand, (or paw). Lost a spare key, or an ear ring? Your broken iPod seemed to repair itself? You just might have been visited by a maker mouse."

It's been a very long while since I have done anything "painterly" so, this is an experiment to see if I still have the chops. It is also an exploration of using light to set the emotional tone and focus of a composition. The whole shebang was composed in Autodesk SketchBook Pro, (much better choice for this sort of thing than Photoshop), and built over a scanned pencil rough.

This is the first piece I've done using SketchBook Pro exclusively, and I like the results.
- Prescott Hill


Illustrators' Day Wrap-Up

by Kristen Applebee

     Illustrator’s Day is a real treat for the non-writing members of Southern Breeze, because it focuses entirely on the craft and career of illustrating, hence the name: Illustrator’s Day.
     The learning actually started weeks before the September 2nd meeting, with a mentor assignment by illustrator, Michael Allen Austin. Michael took on the role of art director, emailing ideas on how to add emotion, action, or connectivity to rough sketches. I found this process immensely helpful.
     Mike Lowery, SCAD professor and illustrator gave the following advise to those who wish to become professional illustrators. 1. Keep a sketchbook. 2. Promote self. 3. Don’t compare yourself with other illustrators. 4. Don’t talk about your projects. Just do them! He recently illustrated the book, THE GINGERBREAD MAN LOOSE IN THE SCHOOL, written by Laura Murray. She was there to discuss the process of illustration from the author’s point of view.
     Kristen Nobles, Art Director for Candlewick Press, taught that all children’s book illustrators should be professional, technically proficient, and do work appropriate for children. Besides having a unique style and an understanding of visual pacing, there must be an element of magic about the work, for publishing houses to really take notice.
     Robert Agis, Editor of Sterling Children’s Books, went through the basics of how work is acquired by a publishing house and the types of deals offered. He contrasted types of books from board books to interactive ebooks.
     Our speakers critiqued each attendee’s portfolio, which was very insightful. But the most gratifying part of the day for me was being with people who share my dream and love of children’s books.
The Portfolio Review with Kristen, Robert, Mike and Michael Austin...

Laura showing Mike's sketches, and Mike signing copies...

Kristen with some Candlewick titles, and Robert on stage...

Attendees listen intently to Robert's talk...

Robert with some attendees (including Kristen Applebee on the left - author of this article).

The mentor students with their projects. (Click to see larger.)
Your Illustrator Coordinators, Elizabeth and Kathleen...

Regional Advisor, Jo Kittinger, Kathleen, and Joe Davich of the Georgia Center for the Book (our tech hero)...

Our former Regional Advisor, Donna Bowman, and our current Regional Advisor, Claudia Pearson...