Monthly Archives: August 2011

So little time…

A couple weeks ago I attended the summer conference for the Ozark Writers and Illustrators for Children (OWAIC). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I walked away from the event with a lot of valuable information, advice and encouragement. The first evening I was privileged to schmooze over dinner with a table full of amazing writers and illustrators including Louise Jackson, Vicki Grove and Cheryl Harness. They were witty, powerful, and dripping with sarcasm. Having heard all of them speak before, I knew that I would be in for a treat the next day… and I wasn’t disappointed.

The conference itself was extremely motivating. The day was filled with casual discussion on current trends in publishing, unique approaches to marketing your work, and ways to refine your craft. Although a lot of the discussion was geared toward the writers in the room, I found that a lot of the information was still pertinent to my approach as an illustrator. In the end we are all telling a story… whether through words or through pictures.

During the event, I was able to show my portfolio to several interested attendees and received some great advice from several of the illustrators who were there. They had an art show in which the artists were allowed to show a few of their best pieces. Ultimately, my illustration for “Lessons” of the dancing Lion and Hippo was selected for their “Best of Show” award. I was honored and greatly encouraged by my work being chosen. I tend to be too hard on myself and it really gave me a boost of confidence to know that others see value in what I am doing. I can only hope that the Art Directors feel so positive about my work once I send out my initial portfolio samples!

I met so many talented women over those two days and I look forward to seeing all of them at future events. At one point, I was speaking with Cheryl, and she encouraged me to attend events in other states. Recharged by the event, I began searching through the SCBWI Regional Events listing when I got home… and decided to sign up for my first out-of-state conference. In three weeks I will be attending the Southern Breeze SCBWI Illustrator’s Day in Decautur, GA. I am SOOOO excited!

I originally signed up for the event just to have another conference to go to. Seeing the lineup of speakers, I knew they would be sharing some great information… and I hoped it would be one more way to get some advice about my portfolio and to make a few contacts. However, I signed up just in time to be able to participate in a mentorship with illustrator Michael Austin too. I will be working on some sketches to send to him as soon as I stop procrastinating tonight… and I look forward to the advice he will be able to offer on my process.

My wildly talented friend Jenny Cimino will also be attending the conference with me (she’s moving to Atlanta at the end of this month) and I am looking forward to spending some time with her. We were illustration majors at CMSU together and I unfortunately haven’t seen her in the 9 years since (despite periodic Facebook conversations). That weekend is also the Decautur Book Festival… and my birthday weekend. I can hardly wait!!!

I have plans to attend the Kansas and Missouri SCBWI conferences later this fall as well. Hopefully all this exposure will help me stay on track with my illustration “resolution”. I haven’t been making the progress that I originally intended. However, I feel like I’ve made more progress this year than I have in the past 10… that has to count for something… right?

Better get to sketching…

Coming back…

Two days after my most recent post, an EF5 tornado devastated our city of Joplin, MO.

Thankfully, my home and family were spared. However, many of our friends were left homeless and in shock. Since then I have spent many weeks grieving, supporting friends, volunteering and celebrating the resilient spirit of a city I am proud to call home.

For some reason, the event pulled me away from my illustration work. Looking back now, I find that a bit strange, since drawing has always been a wonderful solace for me during difficult times. I think I was just so overwhelmed by the emotions around me that I was unable to focus. If truth be told, I was also suffering from a bit of survivor’s guilt. I find so much joy in creating my illustrations… living out the experiences of my characters… knowing that they will be enjoyed by the people who see them. In some small way I think I may have been denying myself that experience and the happiness that process brings to my life.

Instead, I began making jewelry which I have been selling to raise money for relief efforts. Many of the pieces I created were made using debris from my friend’s homes. The process has really helped me in my own emotional recovery. It provided me with a way to give back to those who were in so much need. I raised a lot of money. I provided survivors, volunteers and generous people across the country with beautiful reminders of the devastation and the message of hope that followed. I had the privilege to meet and correspond with inspiring and courageous people. But most importantly, I was able to reflect on what is really important in my own life. The entire experience has changed me forever.

My friends have all found new homes now.
Each of them are putting the pieces of their lives back together.
I am deeply inspired by their strength.

And as each day goes by, I am beginning to feel like I can return to my own life again. I’m looking forward to what the next few weeks will bring…

All the proceeds from my jewelry sales go to the Joplin relief efforts. You can visit my Etsy store at