Monday, June 4, 2018

SCBWI NJ Conference 2018 + Art Contest Image

Had my first NJ regional SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) event this weekend. Great time ... especially seeing old faces and meeting many new people.

My 11" by 17" entry image for the NJSCBWI "WONDER" art contest

The first thing I think of with the word "wonder" is outer space. Just staring at the stars creates a sense of wonder for me. So I knew I wanted that element in the image. I considered doing a closeup of a child's face inside a toy astronaut helmet, and in the helmet's reflection, the moon and other planets would be seen. But then I thought, instead of outside, have the moon appear inside floating over a child's bed.

The original pencil sketch concept for the SCBWI art contest

• I wanted the child dressed up in astronaut-like pajamas with a toy space helmet, but then realized there would be no personal interaction or expression without seeing the child's face.

• I wanted a question mark shape for the cat's tail in the lower right corner but I also wanted the cat to peer into the room, showing curiosity to what was happening. I had to compromise with limited spacing in that area.

• The lighting was another hurdle. Originally, I wanted a green glow, for a more mystical look. But knowing this would print out on my printer  -- green is a fickle color to control from monitor to paper. Then I re-considered, the moon usually gives off a blue light in night skies. So I saturated the coloring with blue, leaving only the reddish highlights to accent the bluish hues.

Color variation: The original base colors with white light highlights
To be honest, this image is not complete. I wanted to add more details to the room, such as a basketball, bookshelves, car toys and a ragdoll astronaut. The area above the moon was going to have a night sky filled with stars. But I was running out of time to print, cut and mount the image in time for the conference.

In this version, the foreground color was muted, white light highlights dropped, and the moon's size was increased.

RE: SCBWI Conferences 

I've gone to several SCBWI Winter NYC Conferences in the past, but I stopped going several years ago feeling it wasn't for me. The SCBWI Winter and Summer conferences are HUGE, with keynote speakers representing the top bestsellers in children's literature. It's entertaining and inspiring, but that atmosphere seems best for those already established in the market. The NJ conference is more personal and is a gathering of the people I see and know the most. Comparing the two, I feel that the NYC conferences are grander, but the NJ regional conference seemed more helpful. 

One problem I had at the conference was I could not find the rooms for the workshops in the hotel. The map provided did not help. I found just walking around reading every sign was the only way I could find the assigned rooms (of which two were relocated, which REALLY didn't help.) That never happened to me in NYC, which is about 5 times larger than the North Brunswick Hyatt hotel.