Fall Sketch Book Event

Saturday, October 25, @ 10:00 AMAt the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Gardens1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, GA, 30309  http://atlantabotanicalgarden.org/

Scarecrows, ogres, giant cobras and monumental sculptures await you at the next Sketch-Book Event.  Nearly 100 scarecrows fill the Atlanta Botanical Garden, as well as the Imaginary Worlds Worlds mosaiculture show and The Four Seasons sculpture exhibition.  So, Join us as we find inspiration in the Atlanta Botanical Garden on Saturday, October 25th at 10:00 am. Authors, illustrators and photographers are welcome. 

And to set the tone for this visit, the theme book is THE SCARECROW’S DANCE by Jane Yolen and Bagram Ibatoulline. 
“Jane Yolen introduces us to the fickle scarecrow, who decides to leave his station and dance away the fall night. He leaps through the fields until he reaches the farmhouse, where he sees a small light in the window. Inside, a boy is saying his prayers, and he offers up a special prayer for the corn that will be harvested in the morning. Humbled, the scarecrow knows what he has to do: He returns to the field and watches over the corn as only he can.” (from Amazon.com)

As always, we have planned several optional challenges, which are designed to have you approach your sketches and stories from a new perspective.

There is an $18.95 admission fee to the garden and $4.00 parking fee. 
We also will be going for lunch afterwards.

Please RSVP at michael@austinillustration.com.


The Most Valuable Treasure of all

In 2011, after thirty years of design and illustration for agencies and corporate clients, my commercial art career was showing signs that it had reached its peak. I was feeling the crusty edges of creative burnout, and sorely ready for a change. By chance, I landed a gig illustrating a children's book—something completely fresh for me, and never on my radar before. Here at last, was a new path to explore and I ran towards it with both feet flying.

It wasn't long before I started finding references to something called SCBWI. I knew nothing about the organization, but I wanted to learn all I could about children's publishing, and the eighty-dollar membership fee seem like a good return on investment. Besides, freelancing can be a rather lonesome occupation, and I was starving for some community. I had my membership card by September.

I attended my first Southern Breeze event—Illustrator Day in 2012. I was so thrilled to be in a room full of other illustrators, I volunteered on the spot to help set up and break down the event.  Elizabeth Dulemba must have thought I was a little over the top in my enthusiasm. I felt like a kid at an all-you-can-eat pancake party. I was amazed by the depth and quality of the artwork I saw by fellow attendees. My own portfolio critique that day was deservingly brutal. It was the kick in the pants I needed.

The thing that impressed me most, and the thing that I continue to support and hold dear, is the sense of community that Elizabeth provided with every illustration event she helped organize. It open a world of ideas and opportunity that I would have only peeked at from the outside before. It held my head up so I wouldn't drowned in self-doubt. It gave me a safe place to play and be authentic without judgement, and it fostered professional and personal friendships I would not have had otherwise.

It is no small honor for me to step up to the position of Illustrator Coordinator held for six years by Elizabeth Dulemba. I owe a debt of gratitude to Elizabeth, and the community she fostered. I am certainly a richer person for it. I plan to continue what she established and build on it. She has done an outstanding job giving us a sense of place and purpose. She has given a bunch of sketchy illustrators community, and community is the most valuable treasure of all.

Prescott Hill
Illustrator Coordinator
SCBWI Southern Breeze


October in Birmingham with R. Gregory Christie

It isn’t often that one has a chance to play with paint, 
… along with fellow illustrators, 
… in a beautiful retreat setting, 
… led by an award-winning mentor, 
… willing to share his process and advice.
Just such an event is coming on Friday, October 10 in Birmingham, Alabama! SCBWI Southern Breeze presents R. Gregory Christie, the award winning illustrator of over 50 children’s books, to conduct an all-day intensive at the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve.
This event is designed for illustrators at any experience level to develop their craft and learn about the typically unspoken “rules” of building an illustration career. Illustrators are invited to bring the media that best suits their style and comfort level, though water-based paints and illustration board are preferred. Any artist who is serious about developing his art and career will benefit from Greg’s experience and success.
R. Gregory Christie is passionate about art and about sharing it with others. Along with an abundance of awards for his work, he is the owner of GAS-ART GIFTS in Decatur, Georgia. GAS ART serves as an instructional studio and bookstore where children of all ages have the opportunity to learn and grow as artists. He also lectures in schools and libraries, teaches in after school programs, and is a skilled bookbinder. Here are some of the accolades Greg has received:
  • Two-time recipient of the New York Times’ 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year Award
  • American Library Association’s Theodore Seuss Geisel Award in Illustration 
  • 2013 Ashley Bryan Illustrated Africana Children’s Literature Award
  • Three-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award in Illustration
The Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve provides the perfect setting for inspiration and collaboration. Attendees need not be a member of SCBWI Southern Breeze, however members do get a discount on tuition. 
While in Birmingham, take advantage of additional opportunities for growth on Saturday, and attend the SCBWI Southern Breeze Writing and Illustrating for Kids (WIK) conference at Spain Park High School in nearby Hoover. R. Gregory Christie will join other industry professionals as part of the WIK faculty. He joins Literary Agent Courtney Miller-Callihan, Ruta Rimas, Editor at Simon and Schuster, Jodell Sadler of Sadler Children’s Literary, author Candice Ransom, Bethany Strout, Associate Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and author Deborah Wiles.
Consider this an invitation to be a part of a truly special, creative opportunity. Registration is currently open to SCBWI members and is limited to the first 35 people. Non-member registration opens the middle of September.


2014 SCBWI Southern Breeze Gallery Show Wrap-Up!

It couldn't have gone better! That's the bottom line. This year our show was on the Decatur Arts Alliance map for opening night ArtWalk and the Decatur Arts Festival, and wow, did it show! We had a steady crowd of folks milling through the entire time.

I love the way this show works - each piece of framed artwork is accompanied by the book from which it came. So kids and adults read the books and look up to see the actual artwork hanging above.

But of course, it's really about the kids. THIS is what the show is all about:

Here's this year's gang of illustrators and folks who made it happen. From the left is Laura Freeman, Prescott Hill, Joe Davich (Georgia Center for the Book), Amy Schimler, Mark Braught, Lee Mayer - wife to Bill Mayer, Yours Truly, and Zach Steele (also of the GCB). And my hubbie, Stan, is behind the camera:

Illustrators who weren't able to join us were Jill Dubin, R. Gregory Christie, Susan Nees, Mike Lowery, Sarah Frances Hardy, and Lori Nichols. Although their work was greatly enjoyed, we missed partying with our buds. Because we had fun!

Especially when we headed out for our annual post gallery show meltdown (this year at Colbeh)...

The show will run for two weeks at the Decatur Library in Decatur, Georgia. I hope you get a chance to see it in person!


2014 SCBWI Southern Breeze Children's Book Illustrators' Show

Our annual SCBWI Southern Breeze Gallery Show will open this Friday, May 23rd, at 7:00pm at the Decatur Library (215 Sycamore St., Decatur, GA, 30030) as part of the Decatur ArtWalk - opening night for the Decatur Arts Festival, which lasts through the weekend. Galleries throughout Decatur stay open late to kick off the festivities and attendance is vigorous

Our show will be in the main lobby of the library for two weeks (through June 7th), which is a big hit with patrons. This year’s show will feature works by Yours Truly, Mark Braught, Jill Dubin, R. Gregory Christie, Prescott Hill, Susan Nees, Amy Schimler, Laura Freeman, Bill Mayer, Mike Lowery, Sarah Frances Hardy, and Lori Nichols. Each framed piece of art is accompanied by its currently available for purchase picture book - a great introduction to art for kids! Many illustrators will be on hand to sign your books if you bring them with you on opening night. (It’s a party!) All are welcome and I hope you can join us!


Sketch Book Event - TRAINS!

Perhaps cogs and gears set your artistic heart aflutter; maybe you’re on a quest for unique detail to incorporate into your steampunk vision; or you might just be looking for textures to challenge your creative mind. . . Then it’s all aboard for the next Sketch-Book Event at the Southeastern Railway Museum. Join us on Saturday, June 14th at 10:00 am as we explore more than 80 pieces of retired trains and railway equipment, including steam locomotives, uniforms, a ticket office and much more. Authors, illustrators and photographers are welcome.

And to set the tone for this visit, the theme book is HOW TO TRAIN A TRAIN by Jason Carter Eaton and John Rocco. As always, we have planned several optional challenges, which are designed to have you approach your sketches and stories from a new perspective.

There is an $8 admission fee to the museum grounds. We also will be going for lunch afterwards. Please RSVP at michael@austinillustration.com.

3595 Buford Hwy.
Duluth, GA


Illustrators' Day Wrap-Up from Scholarship-winning Connie Lynn Reilly

I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend Springmingle ’14 as the Liz Conrad Scholarship winner. The conference left an unforgettable impression on me.  
      Over the years, in addition to receiving formal training and mentoring from several renowned artists, I have made a point to educate myself in various forms of art. Fine art portraiture and figurative painting have been my major focus throughout my art career, but the last couple of years, I have been learning more about illustrating children's books. I've learned what I could from various books and other sources, but realized I still needed feedback on my illustration work. Therefore, in 2013, I did a mentorship with Michael A. Austin, which opened the door for me into the world of imagination and illustration.
      Receiving the scholarship has been so encouraging to me as an artist. Illustration is a new journey in my art career, and it was so helpful to hear confirmation from professional illustrators that I am on the right track.
     I was shopping at Dillards department store when I received a phone call. I did not recognize the phone number from the call and was listening carefully after I answered "Hello". The caller identified herself saying "Hello Connie, this is Elizabeth Delumba from SCBWI Southern Breeze" and it took me a second or two to understand who was calling me. I could not have been more thrilled when she said "You have won the Liz Conrad Scholarship". I could not believe my ears. The sales girl was smiling as she saw me jump up and down with excitement from the call. Wow! It made my day, made my week, made my month. Well, the feeling will last a very long time, maybe a lifetime!
     The conference faculty was superb. Everyone was extremely open and willing to share what had taken them a lifetime to learn. There was so much great information given, I felt like writing a book afterwards and it seemed as if I had attended a complete children's book illustration and writing course. I know I will be referring to my notes for a very long time.
      One last word of thanks, to Stephanie Moody, who took a portrait class from me several years ago and turned me on to SCBWI. Thanks, Steph!

      Connie Lynn Reilly is an international portrait and figurative artist including corporate, children, adults, business, family, animals, and historical art. She works in the mediums of oil, pastel, watercolor, and colored pencil. www.ConnieReilly.com See Connie's winning entries - CLICK HERE.


Rescheduled Sketch Book Event

If you've been lamenting missing out on the wonderful event planned by Michael Austin last weekend, cheer up! The trip to the North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm has been rescheduled for this Saturday, April 26th. (Fingers are crossed for beautiful weather this time.) Here's the plan:
  • RSVP to me, Kathleen Bradshaw, for head count and lunch plans at the vineyard. 
  • Meet at the Barnes and Noble in the Forum Shops, 5155 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross at 9:00 AM
  • Caravan up to the North Georgia Zoo via GA 400. (North Georgia folk can drive over and meet everyone at the park.)
  • Park opens at 10:00.
  • Prices are $8/adult, $6/child (2-11 years old)
  • Check out the zoo website for more information about specific attractions and tours.
Award winning illustrator and Southern Breezer Michael A. Austin has planned a great day, complete with prompts for writers and illustrators. So come one, come all! (Don't forget to give me the head's up.)

See you there.


Kathleen Bradshaw
Co Regional Advisor
SCBWI Southern Breeze


Sketch Book Event - Let's Go To The Zoo!

Mark your calendar! Our next Sketch Book Event will be Saturday, April 19th at the North Georgia Zoo! For those who don't live nearby, we will meet at 9:00 am at the Barnes & Noble at The Forum (5155 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross) and head up together from there. We'll spend a lovely day drawing fuzzy critters, then grab some lunch nearby. Afterwards, Paula Puckett has invited us to drop by her Alpaca farm where cookies and lemonade will be served. (She's just down the road.) Does this not sound like a wonderful way to spend the Saturday before Easter?

Writers - Michael A. Austin hosts and he gives out writing prompts as well as illustrator prompts, so you are welcome to come. We do need everybody to RSVP please to either michael@austinillustration.com or elizabethdulemba@mac.com.

I hope you can join us!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba
SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrator Coordinator


2014 Illustrators' Day Wrap-Up

by Illustrator Coordinator, Elizabeth O. Dulemba

*Whew!* The whirlwind is over, I had my annual coma/nap/collapse upon returning home. All said, our 2014 SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators' Day and Springmingle Conference were great successes! Since ID is my baby (I'm Illustrator Coordinator), I'll start with that one...
     Our speakers this year were spectacular and complimented each other beautifully: Ruth Sanderson (award-winning illustrator); Loraine Joyner (Art Director for Peachtree Publishing); Cheryl Willis Hudson (Just Us Books); and Lucy Ruth Cummins (Art Director for S&S/Paula Wiseman Books).

     Ruth talked about storyboarding, which was basically a walk-through of how to create a book - fantastic! Loraine mentored twelve of our attendees on a three-month long project building up to ID and she went way above and beyond what any of us expected. Here's the gang with their finished products (click to see it bigger in a new window):
Cheryl talked about diversity in children's books, which was timely and something we all need to be more aware of. Lucy Ruth was hilarious as she walked us through the design process and gave tips for how illustrators can be on ADs radar more. I also gave my 15-minute soap-box about working with self-publishers - what to expect and ask for. We had a panel with our speakers, and once again did our Quickfire portfolio reviews, in which the panel spends two minutes on each portfolio giving knee-jerk feedback - SO informative and educational for everybody!
     I've been going through the comments people wrote on their name tags (which they then turned in for the giveaway - a free copy of Ruth Sanderson's kickstarter anthology of her work - GOLDEN DREAMS - a real treasure), and the response has been just gushing about how much everybody enjoyed the day and really learned a ton, which is the whole point!

Photos by Prescott Hill, Asst. Illustrator Coordinator, used with permission.