Oct 25, 2012

An Original Art Kind of Night

I had a wonderful time at the very crowded and very inspired Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators. My piece hung just above the drink station. I thought it wonderfully appropriate. Tomie dePaola was the guest of honor, receiving a lifetime achievement award for his work. The granddaughter of the late Richard Scarry also accepted a posthumous award for his body of work.

The events, the names read, the honors brought to light all the esteemed illustrators whose works have graced the Society's walls and inspired generations of children and artists alike. I had to pinch myself, as my work was now recognized to be among them. What an honor indeed.

The show will be up until December 22. Too many wonderful pieces to mention. Go see it!

 The esteemed placement

The crowd

 The Tomie

 The piece

Oct 7, 2012

Original Art Show Official Mailer

I just received the general announcement for the opening of The Original Art Show for the Society of Illustrators in New York later this month. Did you? Here's a shot of it so maybe you might like to attend. Look for me and my piece from No Dogs Allowed! Hope to see you there!

2012 Highlights Illustrators' Party

After all the prep work of designing and making our Superhero costumes, updating my book, and illustrating the superhero page, I was ready to go to the Annual Highlights Illustrators' Party. Sort of. On the day of departure, my daughter was getting over a nasty bug, my sister was suffering from a nasty bug, and I was turning into a nasty bug after a good, long, 3.5 hour night sleep, and I saw that my lovely weekend was quickly fading into a lovely dream. My Plan B for help in the child-care department, my illustrator friend, and her husband, who was also to attend, was sick. 

So Plan C was in motion. Now post lunchtime, daughter was doing well, no symptoms, energized and playful. There was still hope. I called Highlights to find out what other options there might be for an attendee with a little one. "Why not bring her to the conference?" The idea seemed impossible to me, but it was like an official stamp of approval, and I thought, "What's the worse that could happen? If she decides to have a meltdown, I could just leave." I had nothing to lose. So I geared up.

Simultaneously, I put a call in to my friend, via voicemail, at the off-chance I might still get some help. I offered the opportunity for a getaway, but with a childcare clause in the deal. By some miracle, my friend called back just in time with an "OK!" That's when everything fell right into place. 

When I and the little one arrived in Honesdale, we headed straight to our assigned quarters: the cabins at Beach Lake. It was perfect—two bedrooms and a living room—home away from home. We had the trademark, homegrown, gourmet dinner at The Barn that evening, on the Boyds Mills farm. I caught up with an old friend and wonderful illustrator Laura Jacques, and headed back to the cabin to await my friend's arrival. Thanks to the separate rooms, the little one got to sleep while I waited to greet my friend. 
The farm excursion for the families (Photo: Courtesy of Heidi Ward)

At the conference in The Barn on Saturday, we were presented with the company's rich history as a family company, philosophy, and plans for growth by Editor-in-Chief, Chris Cully, and a few of Highlights' Editors and Art Directors. They proposed numerous opportunities for work and made us Illustrators feel pretty special. We did a bit of sketching for auction, portfolio sharing, greeted more familiar faces, all of us gushing over each others' work. The food was stellar as usual (truly one of the biggest selling points of the weekend, not that they really have to sell us on an all expenses weekend). 

Painted pumpkins by the Illustrators' Jrs (Photo: Courtesy of Heidi Ward)

The little one and my friend were off at a local farm enjoying chickens and songs and painting pumpkins. She was so exhausted by nap time, she didn't nap. So she burned that overtired energy as a superhero, having a blast kicking around in her boots, flapping her cape, and running every which way. The day was concluded by dinner and the traditional square dance. And dance we did.

Superhero Bash (Photo: Courtesy of Heidi Ward)

Saturday Night Dinner & Dance (Photo: Courtesy of Heidi Ward)

Sunday brought a horse-drawn carriage ride, another glorious meal, and more delightful conversations.  By the end of the weekend, the nasty bugs were history and I was motivated to work. We came away receiving a refreshing, optimistic message, from a company worth cheering for in a downturn economy. My friend was exhausted thanks to the little one, though she still enjoyed the time away. After years of enthusiastically cheering us on, we thank you, Highlights, Superhero of Illustrators and children everywhere! 

(Photo: Courtesy of Heidi Ward)

Oct 1, 2012

Superhero Prep Work: Highlights 2012

It is always a big treat to be a part of the Annual Highlights Illustrators' Party. Going requires a bit of prep work, like making costumes for the selected theme, and updating portfolios. This year the theme was Superheroes, and this time, Highlights decided to compile a sketchbook based on our chosen characters.
It meant a bit of drawing and conceptualizing our ideas on paper using a template they provided for us. I called my superhero Queen of Diamonds (impossible strength), my daughter was to be Queen of Hearts (power to melt hearts), and my sister, Queen of Clubs (luck was her power). Together we made "Three of a Kind!" Dah dum dum.
On paper, it was a challenge to do, especially because time was short and I happened to be swamped with regular deadlines, but the project was fun.  The compilation was an amusing look into the creative minds of other fellow Highlights Illustrators.