Tuesday, December 17, 2013

 Caitlin B. Alexander

I work mostly at my two facing desks, one with a computer space (not pictured- too messy!) and the other for painting and drawing. I have a lot of beautiful natural light coming through my window, which helps my work immensely.

Across from my desks, and against the opposite wall, are my flat files. These are probably my most prized studio possession, having found them for a steal in San Antonio! Atop sits my scanner (prized possession number two) and a nice space for paper cutting or even just to stand and work

Caitlin B. Alexander is an illustrator based in Austin, Texas with a particular love for dry-brush gouache painting. Both her life and work are heavily influenced by the 1940s, '50s and '60s, along with her compassion for animals, and pure joy derived from the childlike.  Her relationship with her own illustration is much like the message she attempts to convey through it: relish the small moments, savor the silly, and find comfort in living your life. 

Find her on Tumblr!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I met Hazel through Facebook.  I was drawn to her beautiful characters and sketches that she was always posting.  Since then, she has really become an inspiration to me.  Some of her books have won awards.  

Hazel's book publishers include Charlesbridge/Makinac Island Press, Highlights, ABDO/Magic Wagon, Kane and Miller, Freespirit, Beacon Publishing, Reading A-Z and SCBWI.  and I wanted to let everyone know about her new book, 

 "One Word Pearl" 

Written by  Nicole Groeneweg   
Illustrated by: Hazel Mitchell 

1,) Describe yourself in five words:
Average Height, Blonde, bubbly.

2.) Tell me something about the place where you were born ?
I was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK. It’s a beautiful and typically English seaside town with a castle on the headland, a lighthouse and fishing harbor. It was a great place to grow up and I spent a lot of my time outdoors on the beach, walking and riding.

Hazel riding on the beach in Yorkshire (Filey)

3.)Did you have a favorite book as a child ?
I loved anything by Enid Blyton. Also Alan Garner, especially Elidor. Chronicles of Narnia. ANY PONY BOOK.

4.) Did you like to draw as a child ? Where you encouraged ?
It was a great escape. I was just left to get on with it really. If I could include drawing in anything I did, I drew.

5.) What is your earliest memory of making art? I don’t have a specific memory. I was just always making things, or drawing or doodling. It just seemed to be natural.

6.) What pictures influenced you as a child ?
I don’t remember many picture books as a child. The Cat in the Hat, Pooh, and classic illustrations in novels. I did love going to the (very small) local art gallery and was mesmerized by the huge painting of Charles 1st on a big grey horse, which was possible a Van Dyck. I collected pictures of horses and covered my bedroom walls with them.
7.) Where you the class artist ? 
At times, yes. I remember being extremely frustrated when I was about 7 and 2 other members of the class where chosen to do a wall mural. I was mad. I think it was the first time I realized there was competition. But if there was art to be done, I was always there. In secondary school we had ‘art’ but it was more kind of here’s some paint and paper, off you go, and nothing structured. So I did my own thing, and it became obvious this was what I was good at and so I was the ‘top artist’. It came as a bit of a shock when I got to Sixth Form (16-18) and found that there were a heck of a lot of good artists around! But it was inspiring and I think I learned an awful lot at that age.

8.) Did your parents draw ?
My mother used to draw little doodles for me. Rabbits and crinoline ladies (like Scarlett O’Hara). Looking back I think she had talent, but in those days, unless you came from an arty family (and not a Northern working class one like me!) you weren’t really encouraged. My Dad thought it was all a waste of time. My brother is a talented artist, but I do not remember him drawing as a child.

9.) Did you go to the public library as a child ?
I LOVED my library. The library in Scarborough was fabulous. In an old sandstone building. I always felt like I was entering hallowed ground. The children’s library had a magical mural of Alice in Wonderland, which, alas, has disappeared now. It was like another world, the smell of the tickets for the books, the echoing quiet, the click of librarian’s heels. A door from the children’s library to the adult library was forbidden, but I used to peer through sometimes. It seemed HUGE, shelves and shelves and shelves of books. When I was old enough to get an adult ticket, it was like I’d come of age. I spent hours there. On my return to my hometown this year I revisited. Oh how SMALL it seems now!

10.)  Did you have books at home as a child?
Unfortunately, not many. My mother used to reminisce about reading Dickens to my brother and sister, but I can’t remember her reading to me, which is sad. Apart from magazines and Reader’s Digest and a few trashy novels, that was it. So the library was my sanctuary. My sister read a lot, but she was much older than me, so I didn’t get the benefit of her books.

11.) Did you have a teacher who influenced or inspired you?
The teacher who inspired me most was my art teacher from 16 to 18 years, David Fulford. I adored him (yeah Art Teacher Crush). He saw potential in my work and made art fun while imparting a lot of knowledge. Plus he painted. He was the first artist I knew. He was responsible for pushing me to pursue a career in art (although it has been somewhat wandering!) I was all for going to work with horses and not go to college, but he rang my mum up and told her I HAD to apply for art college. I guess he was right, because I doubt I would be here illustrating books, now. I would still be mucking out stables ;-). So thanks David!

12.) What did you do BEFORE you got started with children’s book illustrations?
Oh my. Here’s the thing, I dropped out of art college after 2 years. I don’t think I was ready for it. Looking back I had minimal career guidance. It’s so obvious to me now that my work was illustrative, but illustration courses were not available then. I lost interest. Anyway, after a stint working with horses, I joined the Royal Navy and worked as a graphic artist and it was like an apprenticeship! After I left I ran a print and design business and then moved to USA and painted fine art and taught kids for a while.

13.) When did you realize you were interested in illustrating for children?
Now I realize it was when I was about 7. But then later, when I was about 17 I began to think about it, but had no idea how to do it and got lost in doing other things for A LONG TIME.

14.) When did you become an illustrator ?
I have always illustrated. I don’t think you become, I think you just do. I might not have been illustrating children’s books, but I was illustrating. From technical drawing, to wedding stationery to commercial work. And all the little doodles I did in my own time.

15.) How did you get started in picture book illustration?
So, in about 2002 (2 years after I came to America) I started feeling the desire that I had to give it a go. I was too scared to stand in Barnes and Noble’s kids book department, I was so intimidated. But the internet was on the rise. I started getting small jobs with mainly self-publishers and yes, most of the books were awful, but I learned a lot. Then I joined the SCBWI.org, went to conferences, began to understand and educate myself on the process and craft of children’s books and the industry. I could even stay in Barnes and Noble for more than 10 minutes. I built a better portfolio and website and began to mail out to editors and art directors. In 2010 I got my first trade book.

16.) What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given as an illustrator?

17.) Of the six fundamentals of 2D design (line, shape, volume, perspective,shading, and color):
            a. Which is your greatest strength? LINE.
            b. Which poses your greatest challenge? PERSPECTIVE

18.) Tell us about your new book ?

One Word Pearl is illustrated by me and written by Nicole Groeneweg from Charlesbridge Publishing. It’s the story of a little girl who loves words and collecting words. But one day, most of Pearl’s words are blown away, leaving her only a few which she keeps safely in her treasure chest. After that day, she uses each word carefully—one at a time, until she has no words left. When her teacher asks her questions at school, she doesn’t answer. When her friend wants to know what she has for lunch, she can’t respond. What will Pearl do without her precious words? Will she ever find them?

One Word Pearl explores the power of words to transform, inspire, and cultivate imagination and is the winner of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Children’s Book Competition in the Picture Book category.

19.) What inspired you to illustrate this story ?  
This book was a great opportunity for me to do something different with my illustration, and I used a lot of texture and collage in the spreads.

20.) Did you self publish or go through the other publishing routes ?
It’s a trade book.

21.) Is your book available for purchase?

22.) Describe a typical day in your life
I rise between 6.30 and 7am. My studio is right next to my bedroom (not always a good thing as sometimes one forgets to get dressed!). I check email and online stuff, get tea, feed the dog, cat and horses and then usually settle in to whatever is on the agenda. If I have a book on, I will be straight into that. I am not very good at splitting my day up, so if I am working on something that’s the main focus. I’ll try to go out sometime in the day, for a swim or a walk, but that doesn’t always happen. I am trying to get better at having breaks! I will stop for lunch and probably watch a bit of tv (BBC). Then it’s back to work until hubby comes home about 6pm and then it’s dinner. If I am on a tight deadline I will work in the evening. As deadlines get closer I get up earlier and bed later!
 In the Studio

23.) When you are creating, what music is playing ?
I listen to BBC radio most of the time … check out their iplayer!
I also listen to Spotify or books downloaded from the library. When I am illustrating I prefer the spoken word.

24.) If you had to describe your work in terms of your artistic influences, you would say it is...
Victorian/early 20th century art and illustration.

25.) Who are your favorite artists ? Illustrators ? Authors ?
Atkinson Grimshaw, Van Dyck, Van Gogh, E H Shepherd, Edward Ardizzone, Quentin Blake, Pauline Baynes, John Tenniel, David Small, Matt Phelan, Tolkein, Daphne Du Maurier, C S Lewis, Brontes, Austen, Phillip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo, Alan Garner to name but a few.

26.) What new projects have you got coming down the pike? 
I am working on illustrating a new book for Charlesbridge/Mackinac Island called ‘Imani’s Moon’ by JaNay Brown Wood that is a legend about a Maasai girl. Release Fall 2014.

I am also working on a graphic novel that is very much a WIP and not under contract (yet).

(click on the link above.  then click on each book to see more about that book including book trailors)

Imani's Moon (by JaNay Brown-Wood)                         Charlesbridge Publishing 2014

One Word Pearl (by Nicole Groeneweg)                         Charlesbridge Publishing 2013

1,2,3 by the Sea (by Dianne Moritz)                               Kane Miller Publishing 2013

Double Crossed at Cactus Flats (by Rich Williams)          ABDO 2013

Hidden New Jersey (by Linda Barth)                             Charlesbridge Publishing 2012
All Star Cheerleader Books 1-4 (by Anastasia Suen)        Kane Miller 2012
How to Talk to an Autistic Kid (by Daniel Stefanski)       Free Spirit 2011

To enjoy more of a good thing you can visit...  

Twitter @thewackybrit

contact information


Sunday, June 9, 2013


1,) Describe yourself in five words:
INTJ, tall, slim, graying brunette
(Police describe the suspect as) Medium height, boxy head, effusive.

2.) Tell me something about the place where you were born?
I was born in Hoopa, a town located within the Hoopa Valley Reservation, the ancestral lands of the Hupa people. I moved to Burnt Ranch when I was eight. These lands along the Trinity River are a part of my being. I am not a city-girl.

3.) What pictures influenced you as a child?
I was more influenced by colors and textures of nature. I really liked the patterns in the native baskets and nothing thrilled me more than the color of a storm-laden sky from the branches of a tree.

4.) Did you have a favorite book as a child ?
What I liked most about books was reading them to other kids, especially when I started school. They were always so thrilled to have another kid read. As much as I liked reading books to my classmates, I never really developed a favorite.

5.) Did you like to draw as a child ? Where you encouraged ?
I loved to draw as a child and my Grandpa was very encouraging. I started hiding my drawings after a gifted program teacher told me I was not good at art and that I should focus on math and science. I carried that teacher’s words for decades. Had I shared them with Grandpa or my regular curriculum teacher, either would have set me straight.

6.) What is your earliest memory of making art?
I remember drawing with Grandpa before I started school. Some of my earliest memories are of Grandpa drawing for me. We took envelopes apart and drew on the blank inside with pencils he whittled to a point with his pocketknife. My aunt was close to my age and she used to have me draw outlines of dresses for her to cut out for her homemade paper dolls. It was probably her way of keeping me occupied and out of her things, but I enjoyed it.
I also liked designing roads and towns in the dirt for our matchbox cars. Road patterns from above still fascinate me.

7.) Where you the class artist ?
When no one was looking, I would sneak art in. I tried not to get noticed. Drawing became my secret world and a side I kept hidden. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have heard, “You illustrated this? Really?” Even when one of my liturgical designs graced a magazine cover, my friends and family were not as surprised as they were when they saw No Place for UGLY Birds or Percy Learns to Fly.
The winning comment from family has to be, “Wow, you did this? It’s actually good.” He may as well have said it doesn’t totally suck.

8.) Did your parents draw ?
My maternal grandfather did wonderful pencil sketches. I do not recall anyone else in the family drawing.

9.) Did you go to the public library as a child ?
The closest thing available was a school library.

When I became a mom, I took my sons to the library regularly. We bought lots of books and have shelves of them here at home.

10.)  Did you have books at home as a child?
I read the pages ragged of the few we had. I would memorize books at school so I could relive them in my mind. Someone gave us some recorded Disney stories. I had those memorized in no time. Sometimes there would be a book giveaway at school. You know the kind where people donate old books for kids in underprivileged communities. I treasured those days and gleaned what I could of the old discarded books. Then I would climb my favorite tree and run my fingers across the pages as I read them. I felt connected to feel the tree beneath my bare toes and the paper under my fingertips.
I overindulged our children with books, same with our grandkids. Our home has an abundant stock of books and art supplies.

11.) Did you have a teacher who influenced or inspired you?
Yes, Phyllis Stockel was my teacher in 4th and 5th grades. I cross-aged-tutored in her class while in  6th-8th grades. I worked for her after school grading papers and designing bulletin boards. Her influence is still with me today. Exceptional woman.

12.) What did you do BEFORE you got started with children’s book illustrations?  
Camera store manager, professional photographer, writer, publishing project manager, liturgical designer, Mom, Grandma, community volunteer… I have worn a lot of hats.

13.) When did you realize you were interested in illustrating for children?
When I was in first grade, I recall sitting on the grass while upper-grade kids read stories from books they wrote and illustrated. I was so impressed. I thought I could do it too. I later tried the illustration part, keeping that desire to myself. I think the only person not surprised when I expressed an interest to illustrate was my husband.

14.) When did you become an illustrator ?
If I look at it honestly, I have always been sneaking illustrating in. I drew art for my high school newspaper, I designed liturgical environments, I have contributed illustrations to a few cookbooks and educational books over the years. As an event and wedding photographer, I told the story life in photographs. For years, the camera was my medium for illustrating. I just did not recognize these activities as illustrating until recently. When I started to illustrate children’s books, all of the experience I snuck in over the years came in handy.

I decided I was going to illustrate No Place for UGLY Birds in November of 2011. I signed the contract for Percy Learns to Fly (ABTA Products and Publications) in September 2012. Both titles became available 2013.

15.) How did you get started in picture book illustration?
I hired an illustrator who had a nice portfolio, references and an art degree to illustrate No Place for UGLY Birds. The work was late and not quality. The artist agreed it was not good enough, but did not “feel” like fixing it. My contract was not tight enough and I lost a lot of money. After a lot of swearing and a good cry, I decided to do it myself. After struggling for a few months, in April of 2012 I signed up for Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! a wonderful online course and community by Mark Mitchell. I highly recommend it. 

Hindsight - hiring the other artist was the best bad decision I ever made.

16.) What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given as an illustrator?
Wow, it is all so new and all so relevant. I am still learning what to keep and what to let go. For me, it is important to be willing to massage and tweak a piece. I have so much to learn.

17.) Of the six fundamentals of 2D design (line, shape, volume, perspective, shading, and color):
               a. Which is your greatest strength?
color, the images first come to me in colors, and limited color palettes make sense to me. I love mixing colors more than colors right out of the tube.
b. Which poses your greatest challenge? shading, specifically value, I have a tendency to hesitate on the darker values, I think it is a matter of building confidence. One of the first comments I tend to receive in a critique is, “Push the darks.”

18.) Tell us about the book that you have written ?
No Place for UGLY Birds is a rhyming picture book about turkey vultures. Yes, I said turkey vultures.

19.) What inspired you to write this story ?
I posted a picture of a juvenile turkey vulture to my personal Facebook. Some friends had all kinds of comments about how ugly the poor creature was. I just imagined what it would be like without them (the turkey vultures, not my friends) and the story evolved from there.

20.) Did you self publish or go through the other publishing routes ?
My book is published by a local company, Red Tail Publishing. Full disclosure, I have a financial interest in the company and was one of its founders.

21.) Is your book available for purchase?
 yes, currently it is in hard and soft cover editions. A digital version is in the works. Both versions are available from the publisher, some independent booksellers and on Amazon later in the summer.

22.) Describe a typical day in your life
I typically awake before the alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m.
Tim and I enjoy a cup of coffee. He always brings me a cup in the morning.
Then we spend time visiting with each other, it is good to be married to my best friend.
I go into the office at 8:00, but much earlier if I am under a time crunch or have a crisis.
A typical day at work may include any or all of the following:
Email correspondence
Blog updates.
Returning phone calls.
Twitter (rarely)
Viewing post from the Marks and Splashes community, commenting if the time allows.
Downloading orders.
Filling orders.
Managing book production to replenish stock.
Design and book layout for customers.
Manufacturing for customers.
Swag for events and shows
A few calls on the home line from family and friends.
Sneak a few photos of wild flowers or wildlife.
Edit web sites if needed.
Replenish paper and other manufacturing supplies
Check on the status of ongoing RTP projects – specifically conversion of all titles to digital form.
Check on the status of my personal projects, I have three new titles to illustrate.
A video chat with my grandkids, including a story and drawing pictures together.
I try to finish work before Tim gets home.
(He is now rolling on the floor gripping his face in a contorted laugh of disbelief.)
I close the office doors and turn off the phone. (Gasp from Tim.)
Okay, lately, I have not been successful at closing the shop, but my rules of separating home and office go out the window when there is overload at the office it flows into home.
Lately, overflow is more like a tsunami.

23.) When you are creating, what music is playing ?
Music distracts me, I get lost in it. I listened to music when I worked in my darkroom, but not while I paint or draw.
When I imagine a piece of art, the colors and line permeate my senses the same way music does. When I create, I like to allow the creation to be the music. I like to repeat the words I am illustrating, like a mantra. I started this with liturgical design. I repeated the scriptures over and over in my head and heart until it began to breathe to life on the page. I know, it sounds weird, but I can’t just create out of thin air. I must transform and get into the piece. This has carried over while illustrating. I know I am in the zone when I make faces and mutter to myself.

24.) If you had to describe your work in terms of your artistic influences, you would say it is
I am so “young” in my life as an illustrator, I believe I am very subject to influence.  I am still forming as an artist. I hope to always be growing, but for now I still feel like I am finding my artist’s legs, or is that brushes?

25.) Who are your favorite artists ? Illustrators ? Authors ?
       I enjoy a wide variety, I really don’t think in terms of ‘favorite.’

26.) What new projects have you got coming down the pike? 
I wrote a fun story with wildlife biologist, Amanda Shufelberger. It is an imagined story about California’s lone wolverine. Buddy, the Wayward Wolverine is illustrated by my husband, Tim.
I am also in the process of converting all of Red Tail Publishing’s titles to digital.
I am committed to illustrate two new books, and Tim and I are teaming up on an illustration project.
I have also signed up for a course with Mira Reisberg at Picture Book Academy 
I am always looking for ways to improve and I have so much room to grow.

27.) To enjoy more of a good thing you can visit... 

Red Tail Publishing http://redtail.com

AND finally, your contact information

SCBWI profile and gallery http://www.scbwi.org/MemberProfile.aspx?u=3008365309093430

Monday, May 20, 2013

Last week, I took a week long watercolor workshop.  And I have signed up to take Will Terry's online illustrator workshop.  I just got my first assignment.  exciting.

I've been trying to take into consideration what I have learned at the conferences.  One thing is to post to my blog more of what I'm doing.  The art director that I met said that publishers, agents etc like to see that stuff.  I have been posting to my FB things that I'm working on, you may have missed it ... which is why I'm trying to start posting to my blog.  I just take the pictures on my phone and can post to FB from my phone.  Having difficulties posting to my blog from my phone.

I have been studying other people's websites to see if I want to move mine because the renewal is coming up in June.  The Art Director that I met was telling about what they look for in a website.

I am trying to get my portfolio reworked because at the conferences, I was encouraged to go with my realistic style because that is who I am.  I had been trying to do a more "cartoony" look with my Grumpy Girl story.  SO, I've put that story on the back burner for now.

I was also encouraged to draw from models.  SO, I have found a few friends online that have volunteered their children.  haha.  and I am about to take an add out in my local paper in search of models.  Going to take advantage of the kids being off in the summer and maybe build my files of children photos.

Once I get 10 - 15 new illustrations of children done, I will update my website and then start sending queries to book publishers, agents, children's magazines etc.  I want to tell them that I will work on assignment instead of just saying that I want to write and illustrate my OWN book.

I am also working on a different picture book idea.  I drive an hour and a half on Mondays to paint with a group of ladies where I work on this particular project.  This is something that I may either self publish or send to Christian publishers.

So, that is what I'm doing these days !!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Going through the watercolors that I have on my palette. Printed a chart to show transparent and opaque colors. Figuring out WHY I have these colors and if I need to continue with them. That's my self imposed assignment today.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I've been taking a watercolor workshop this week from Cindy Brabec King who is an amazing artist.


Some of you know that I have been having issues with my eyesight.  Well, I to share something very exciting for me.

During the class, I said to Cindy "I can't see the detail".  She told me "You don't have to see it."  I have always painted detail.  I've been told that I am meticulous when I paint.  SO, the problems that I've been having with my eye sight has been so upsetting.  To think that I can't paint or participate in my life that way is just overwelming.  If you look at her paintings, you will see such detail.

So, this class has given me new hope to "see" again.

In a world where God is forgotten, I have to truly give God the glory for this.  Recently, a friend of mine asked if he could pray for my eyes and he did.  He prayed for my eyes, my sight and my artwork.  My eyes may not get better, but my sight surely has !!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Started this MANY years ago.  The original is oil pastel on cold press illustration board.  Over the years, it got a severe scratch through it.  SO, I scanned it.  Printed it on bristol paper and added color with prismacolor pencils and prisma markers.  The oil pastels just didn't grab the way that I wanted.  I haven't worked in these media in a very long time.  I just have been meaning to get it finished.  Figured Mother's day and my brother dying was the push that I needed.  IF I had started it today, I would have developed his body more.  Maybe researched more..  maybe had models so that I could see body better.  BUT, it is what it is !!  AND what it is .. is finished !!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Austin SCBWI conference

So, I figure that it's about time that I update my blog. I have had a few people ask me about my experience at the Austin SCBWI so I thought that I would share that with you today.

Austin is about 5 hours from where I live. My husband decided to go with me so that we could make a nice weekend get away out of it. I didn't attend the Friday night events due to the long drive and getting into Austin at around 5pm. We were just wiped out.

The next morning, he dropped me off at St. Edward's University then  I registered and got my packet.  I had met someone online who was from the Houston SCBWI, named Joel Cook.  Through out the day, he and I got to talk about our critiques and everything that was going on.  It was great to have a familiar face around because I was so nervous !!  haha

I had signed up for the portfolio showcase for a small fee. Your portfolio was displayed along with others on tables in a large room.  People were able to walk around and look through your portfolio.  There was a comment card available if someone wanted to leave you a comment.  I got a lot of feedback about my pen & ink work !!

It was here that I saw Don Tate's work !!  He had a display with some of his original artwork.  He and I struck up a conversation.  He was so friendly and I could have talked to him all day.  I found him very inspiring.     Don Tate

I also met Christopher Jennings.  He talked to me a lot about the conference and told me about the different ones that he had been to.  He was very informative and encouraging.  I think he could tell that I was nervous but he was very reassuring and friendly.  http://csjennings.com/ 

After morning beverages, everyone gathered and listened to the announcements.  When that was done, we were honored by having E. B. Lewis speak.  He talked about how he studied movie stills. The lighting, angels, and other things from movies. SO, that is one of the things that I am going to start studying. I just have to figure out what to search online. !!!! I can not even begin to do him justice by telling about him.  So, here are some links that I would like to share with you.

Wikipedia - E. B. Lewis (illustrator)

I wasn't able to listen to him for long because I had to leave for my portfolio critique with Rubin Pfeffer.  He is with East West Literary Agency.  He has been in this business for many years.  I had brought another portfolio that I had with me and put it with my purse and coat.  I brought this only to show Mark Mitchell some things that I had been working on through his online class.  Mr. Pfeffer asked to see it even though I explained that I had the portfolio that I brought for the conference.  He told me to pull some of the things from the portfolio that I wasn't going to show him and told me to include them with the conference portfolio.  We discussed my portfolio and I felt very encouraged by the things that he said to me. 

After that, I made my way back to the main hall to hear a presentation by Shutta Crum and Patrice Barton.  They wrote and illustrated the book "Mine".  The presentation led us through their creative process and their interactions with the editors.  That really was a highlight for me to see Mrs. Barton's sketches and the process that she went through with her illustrations. She won the Crystal Kite award. 

* The Crystal Kite Awards (also known as 'Crystal Kite Members Choice Awards) are given by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) each year to recognize great books from the 70 SCBWI regions around the world. Along with the SCBWI Golden Kite Awards, the Crystal Kite Awards are chosen by other children’s book writers and illustrators, making them the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers.
Each SCBWI member votes for their favorite book from a nominated author in their region that was published in the previous calendar year.  * info taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Kite_Awards

 After this wonderful presentation, we went to lunch !!  BUT, I stopped by the book sale and bought some books of some of the wonderful people that I met. 

After lunch, there was an awards presentation.  Mark Mitchell left the position of Illustrator Coordinator of the Austin SCBWI after three years.

 Mark and I had been "online" friends for over a year because I took his online class,  "How to be a children's book illustrator. "  How to be a children's book illustrator - Online Course

Then we got to hear editor Neal Porter discuss the process that he goes through when working with authors and illustrators.
Wikipedia - Neal Porter

For a small fee, I was able to sit in on "a casual conversation with the agents" --  Rubin Pfeffer, Erszi Deak, & John Cusick.  People that participated in this was able to submit questions that were then asked of the panel.  My question got asked.  :)

Then at the end of the day, one of my illustrations was projected onto a huge wall and was critiqued by a panel of editors, agents and authors.  This was called The First Impressions panel with Tamra Tuller, E.B. Lewis, Erzsi Deak, Rubin Pfeffer, John Cusick and Kathy Landwehr.
                                                           Photo byCythia Leitich Smith

I found out later, that not a lot of people do that because they really are hard on your work.  BUT, I personally feel that you have to remove yourself from your artwork and not take it personally.  These people have "made it" and if I want to make it as an illustrator, I have to listen to what people say.

When I first began the children's illustration course over a year ago, I thought that I had to change my style. I felt that I needed to make my artwork less realistic.  I just didn't think that "realistic" fit into children's books.  SO, I changed the way I painted and drew.  One of the things that I was told in this critique was that I was "on the fence" of being realistic or stylized.  AND that I needed to be one or the other.  SO, I didn't take that as a negative thing.  Instead, I took that as encouragement to paint the way I have always done. There were things said about my anatomy as well.  BUT, the thing is ..  I can see what they meant.  Mark saw me later at the reception and seemed concerned about how I took the critiques because he said that they sounded "harsh".

I've been told recently that a lot of people give up after receiving hard criticisms.  Or they give up after presenting their book once.  Rejection is a part of life.  I know that I can not please everyone because everyone has different opinions of how things need to be done.  BUT, I can listen objectively.  See if I get a lot of the same responses about something needing to be changed ..  if so, then I probably need to change something.  This is not an easy adventure that I'm taking.  I may not succeed.  But, one thing is for sure ... doing this is a full time job.  It is something that requires dedication.  I have to perfect my craft and then who knows ...  maybe you will see my book at one of these big time book stores !!!