Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Illustration of the Week: Rainy Venice

This one's just for fun. It's based off of an image I liked from the LA Times about the rain storms in Venice, Italy some years back. Thought I'd give it a shot, since I usually avoid leaving so much "blank" space, since light backgrounds usually feel unfinished to me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Illustration of the Week: A Literary Giraffe

This little dude is slated to be copied onto bookplates for a donation program a friend of a friend is handling. I like to think Giraffy's reading up about knitting turtlenecks or something.
(click on the image to enlarge)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Illustration of the Week: Home, Tweet Home

Whipped this up yesterday as the front of a card for a housewarming party (we're going to one today). The inside of the card reads: "Home, Tweet Home"

It was made by dry-blending colored pencil on plain 8.5" x 11" sketch paper.

I just colored right on top of the original sketch, no transfer. If I had to do it again, there are a few changes I would make, other than the obvious of using real art paper and watercolor and more interesting background and lighting: I'd also make the birds larger, since their expressions are hard to see when the image size is reduced to fit the card. (Click on the image to see it larger)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

on vacation...

Sorry for the long delay since my last post. First I was preparing for the SCBWI National Conference, and then, just two days post-conference, we left town for a 10-day trip to the East Coast. No rest for the weary! hah.

As I type, I'm chilling in the "Chauffeur's Cottage" of a historic manor in Bar Harbor, Maine, (pronounced Bah-Hah-Bah), resting after a day of lobster eating and bald eagle spotting. I haven't had a moment still enough for sketching. But that means I'm on the move, filling up my mind to the brim full of ideas to take with me to the drawing table!

For example, who knew there was a nightly Lumberjack Show just outside of town? I sure didn't! Who knew lobsters could grow to be 6 feet long? Prehistoric, man! And I didn't know pitcher plants and cranberries grew side-by-side in bogs, either. And one more: seals take 10-15 second micro-naps by 'bottling' - just sticking their noses out of the water so they could breathe while catching a little shut eye - by bottling, Harbor Seals don't actually have to haul out to sleep (unclear on whether this is specific to this particular sub-species).

Those were just a few of the little factoids that keep me smiling. I'll be back in a week!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Children's Book Illustration Project for Pacific Northwest Children's Book Conference 2009

Those of us in the illustrator's track at the PNWCBC were given a scribbled prompt that an anonymous person in the writer's track had written earlier that day. We had to create a story around the prompt, and then tell the story visually.

My writing prompt:
"The red lady's hair perfectly matched her orange dress and she bobbled along like a giant pumpkin. 'Sweets for Sweetie,' she sang as she rolled into the bakery."

Our first assignment was to create a front and rear view of our character. Here's what I did:

Then we had to come up with a story using all of the narrative points in the prompt. For me, it all just happened organically. There was all this talk about "No Cutesy-Pie!" being Linda Zuckerman's hard and fast rule, and here I was drawing a big lady going to a bakery...well, I couldn't resist.

On the last day, the illustrators (there were 8 or 9 of us), had to go up in front of the whole conference group and explain our process. I had a pretty good 5-minute walk through of it, but I think it worked most of all because of presentation, not the bizarro interpretation of the prompt. The story, in short: Sweetie's the daughter of Cutesy, the big lady. Sweetie's sick and tired of Cutesy's pie. They've plumbed the depths of their individual psychoses. Sweetie fantasizes about the demise of her mother, ergo: "No More Cutesy-Pie!"

Everyone had a good laugh, and it felt pretty good!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tank Ewe

(click the image for a closer look)

In advance of the SCBWI Summer Conference, and in response to the Pacific NW Children's Book Conference from which I just returned, I'm planning on making a Thank You card by printing this image on the front, and then you flip it open to read "Tank Ewe."

Silly, but that's the way I like it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Illustration of the Week: sleeping cats

Ok, here's one before I leave for the conference...sorry it's not a funny one.

I had cats on the brain after doing a cat-related panel for a picture book I'm working on (can't post those), so this came out. It's probably not right for a kid's book, though with some writing in the blank spot, it could possibly be an example title page for my portfolio. Or maybe even a greeting card. Who knows...

So, I'll be gone until July 19th, visiting friends and attending this:

This means there will be no illustration next week - be strong!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bear Taxi

Here is this week's "Inspired by" illo, prompted by Justin uttering the phrase "Bear Taxi."

Click on the pic for a closer view...

I have no idea what Justin was referring to when he said it, except that it had something to do with this show about grizzly bears we watched on the National Geographic channel, which featured Brutus:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scuba Pickles.

My friend Laura had a dream that she and her pug, Pickles, were scuba-diving and came upon an underwater city. I thought I would try my hand at an interpretation.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Status Update

Progress Report:

MG Novel: 8075 words with full outline for the rest. I have to keep reminding myself of Anne Lamott's "Sh**ty First Draft" concept, and not get all freaked out over what I've written so far. I want to submit it for the MS review during the SCBWI Conference, and the deadline is June 11th. I'm afraid I won't make it in time. It's not that I don't have enough pages - I totally do, I just feel like it's all over the place, because each time I sit down to write, my style seems to have a mind of its own, and depending on my mood, it can be all psychological, or all dialogue, or all action, or all oblique references, or spoon-feeding, etc... This reminds me of my handwriting - always different, depending on any number of things. So, I'm a bit concerned that my writing isn't going to quietly settle down into a set style, and that these inconsistencies in voice are going to be a problem down the line.

Picture Book: MS complete, and is under 700 words. Storyboard complete. Preliminary sketches for dummy are about half-way done. And here's a cellphone pic (why do I hate scanning so much?) of a style trial starring everyone's favorite bactrian (two-humped) camel (not that you can tell)
It's hard to keep pushing ahead on this one, keeping the faith, because of all the bad news about the PB market. But push I must, and I need to keep reminding myself that even if it isn't going to go anywhere, at least I'll have it for my portfolio, and for experience from which to build.

Illustration Portfolio: I've got a good handful of sketches (see above for ex.), but nothing inked, nothing colored. I think I'm just scared. I'm not sure exactly why - probably afraid of the possibility of discovering that I'm not simply the BEST CHILDREN'S ILLUSTRATOR IN THE WORLD. I don't think of myself as a perfectionist, but...that's my hypothesis, and I'm stickin' to it.

Magazine Articles: I've submitted one to Faces, a children's magazine put out by Cobblestone Publishing. I won't hear anything until August about that one and I'm putting the general mag effort on the back burner until I finish up for all the deadlines for the other things.

Classes: I'm not taking any right now, but I've got two critique groups, and loads of SCBWI events that I keep signing up for like it's going out of style. Went to a Easy Reader Writing last weekend. I think I have at least one little something that can be modified a bit to fit the parameters. We'll see.

Painting: Also on the backburner, but I am slowly and sporadically getting to work on the HappyCat commission - luckily, I gave myself a GIANT lead time, so I'm not upsetting anyone by taking this long on it. Here's a sneak peak of the WIP (a closeup shot, and blurry b/c it's a cellphone pic)-- I am happy with the eyes, but the rest of the face is crooked and too smooshed. This may take a while...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm Alive, I Promise!

I'm writing and drawing and painting and and and...SO MANY deadlines, and SO soon! Will post more after June 14th, pinky swear!

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Latest Twitter Profile Pic

It being #followfriday on Twitter, I thought I'd let you know:
you can follow me @juliacollard

In Honor of National Poetry Month...

Here's an oldie but goodie I lifted from an ancient SCBWI Bulletin:

My New Spell Checker

Eye halve a spelling chequer.
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite.
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it.
I am shore your pleased two no.
Its letter perfect awl the weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew.

- Sauce unknown

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Since the last time I checked in...

On Saturday I received feedback from my best college buddy, who also happens to be a former editor at Scholastic. So, while she is intrinsically biased, I asked her to pretend my ms was straight from the slush pile. She had a few changes here and there, but nothing major. She said, "I would feel proud to read this to my children (if I had any)." Well, that sounds good to me!

In other news, as a result of the many hours I spent trawling the web in an effort to procrastinate, I made a few discoveries. One is that another college buddy (lost touch) is a literary agent and is active on blogs and at conferences. (UPDATE 6/09): met up with him when he was in town for an SCBWI event -- what fun!!)

I spent eight hours yesterday working on one illustration in Photoshop, and I got just part of it done. I imagine I'll get faster as I get used to this particular style I'm going for, but sheesh!

Everyone I've shown the illo to has appeared to be really impressed. Grain of salt, though. It's hard to get a real sense of the illo's worth because none of these people sit in a room reading slush dummies all day, and besides that, I'm standing right there, so it's hard to be critical. But I like seeing people smile, and this picture makes them do just that.

Did I mention I got a commission? I'm painting an 18"x24" portrait of "Happycat," the I Can Has Cheeseburger cat. After that, I've got a pretty good lead for another commission to paint a couple's dog. (No official agreement yet, but they've seen my portfolio, and want me to come in and meet the dog).

The copious amounts of money I'm going to be flush with will be used to defray the costs of my SCBWI membership and conference fees. Anything left over goes towards getting a new heating/cooling system for the house. By the way, that 'copious' comment...yeah, that was sarcasm. But I'm happy. Besides, in this economy, it's amazing that people want to buy work.

I went to my first SCBWI event tonight -- the Westside Schmooze. It was Picture Book Critique night. I knew three people there, all from various UCLA classes. So, not as scary as it could have been, even though I didn't get to sit with any of them. As my ms was read aloud, I held up the roughs for each page.

I asked for comments about length, as I am afraid it may be too long. I'm not sure if it was the power of suggestion, because although they nodded, they were unable to provide me with a good example of something that could be excised. I think that if it really needs to be fixed, it will require a reworking of the story, because all the lines they suggested where all part of the established repetition and would leave a gaping hole in their wake if they were removed.

One woman said she thought that I needed to take my story to a conference and have an editor look at it. She said it in a really nice way, so I'm taking it as a compliment.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Runcible Spoon

I’ve been reading tons of literary agents’ and editors’ blogs, trying to find out who is looking for what and what kind of query letter they prefer. Long or short? Funny or formal? Also, I’m starting to feel like all my sentences are still overly long and contain too many unnecessary transitions, conjunctions, etc…


Unfortunately, I’m also reading about how the number of query letters these people have been receiving has skyrocketed as of late. This makes me nervous. Even though I know my story is good, and I know my illustrations are good, are they good enough to negate the fact that I really have no 'real' published credits to my name?


Later –
So, I worked on my story again today, and I ended up adding words, something I’ve been telling myself not to do! I think I’m worrying too much about the story not flowing. So far, the only critique I’ve gotten is that it’s a little long. (So, I cut some, but now I’m almost back to where I started!)

But the majority of my day was spent reading blogs. All of which is turning from something that was maybe-sort-of productive to something that is really a ‘new and fascinating’ way to procrastinate.

Yesterday, I worked at the studio until the cold weather froze me out (it’s an uninsulated garage), so I was able to escape the evil yet tantalizing lure of the internet. And I got three SFD illustrations done. SFD, for those who haven’t read Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” stands for Shitty First Draft. Meant for writing, but I have appropriated it, because the concept has enabled me to get something, anything(!) down on paper.

Soooo…I have two, count ‘em TWO SFD illustrations left before I have completed the SFD of the dummy! So close! I will have to redo most of them, probably all of them, because now I have to work harder on consistency, meaning that my characters have to look like themselves throughout the story.

One more thing before I call it a night: So, I’ve been reading all about the things “Not To Do” in query letters, and I took them all out of my draft (yep, they were pretty much all in there, or at least it felt that way). However, I took all the stuff I didn’t even dare put in my query letter and put it in my JacketFlap profile. Now I’m worried that people won’t say, “Oh, that’s nice. I wanted to know a little more about her actual experience (or lack thereof) and that’s why I’m looking at her profile,” but instead will point their knifelike pointer fingers at me and hiss, “AMATEUR!”

All that to say, I know. I know! I know I’m not published in anything that counts to anyone in the children’s publishing world. But I had to put it somewhere. Otherwise, I would feel like I would be lying through omission. Please don’t sneer at me. At least not until I regrow a skin.

And by the way, I just want to put it out there that I got a letter in the mail two days ago from my UCLA Ext instructor saying, “…I know you will be published…I love your story.” Ahh, that's better. Nothing like a little bit o’ that to stroke my newbie ego.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Do Elephants Get Migraines?

So, my doctor says I'm too stressed out. Which I think is ridiculous. If I decided to venture off and do the thing I love, how can I be stressed? I know, I know, it's the nature of the beast (me), but I always assumed I was pretty laid back compared to all my friends working corporate jobs. After all, I get to doodle and write notes to myself all day, and I don't get in trouble for it anymore. I guess the 'problem,' if you want to call it such, is that I am taking the process too seriously. What, no more long nights researching rhinoceros feet? Pshaw.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hello World.

As much as I would like it to be, Tweeting just isn't the same as blogging. And also, as opposed to reporting on ALL my daily doings, this here blog will be strictly work-related. (Well, as strict as it can be, given the circumstances).

Here's (work-related) me, in case you don't know:


- BFA from NYU
- MBA from UCLA (studied painting there as well)
- Member of SCBWI

Facts Pertinent to the Setting, (yet unmentionable under any circumstances, b/c it screams "AMATEUR"):

- Writing since eight years old

- Illustrating since 10 (won some contests, submitted to Cricket Magazine, etc...)

- Wrote and illustrated first 'Children's Book' at 11 years old, "The Foot That Crunched LA" - (and it stays in the vault, thank you very much!)

- Wrote screenplays and storyboarded scenes before, during and after college.

- Wrote my first full-length book at 21. (And, oh, I thought I was so clever! Adverb this, and adjective that, blah, blah)

- Photoshopped out tourists and power lines from clients' vacation photos as a side gig until 2003.

- Learned the ins and outs of starting my own company in Business School.

- Post-B-School, endeavored to build fine art portfolio before undertaking the writing/illustrating. Some samples (not all pertain to children's book illustration, but you can get the idea):

- Currently, fulfilling commissions for paintings, and the rest of the time working on stories and dummies.