November 29, 2012

Tomie dePaola Award

SCBWI's annual Tomie dePaola Award contest kicked off in October!
"Black and white is in again.  Brian Selznick’s beautiful illustrations for “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” the award-winning film “The Artist,” and Tim Burton’s new (based on his 1984 short film) “Frankenweenie” have all forgone color in favor of rich B & W.

This year, my Illustrator Award is doing the same – an illustration in black and white, including half-tones, from a classic.

Choose a passage, line or description from one of the following books:
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott 
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain         
“The Yearling” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Please submit your entry by Friday, December 14th, 2012 as a single PDF, titled with your name, in a spread format with the art on one side and text you are illustrating on the other by email to with the subject "Tomie".  I will select the winning entry by January 9th, 2013. 

I’ll repeat myself, again.  I want to be surprised, excited and – VERY jealous.

I want to see an image, a style, a vision that I’ve never seen before – all in glorious black and white!

Good luck and don’t forget, I’m on your side!

Submission Instructions

Read these instructions carefully! Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will be disqualified.
1. Illustrate your chosen text in one B&W image
2. Submit your artwork and its corresponding text as a PDF in spread format with the image on one side and text on the other
3. Title the PDF with YOUR name as it appears on your membership card
4. Submissions can be no more than 5MB 
5. No original artwork should be mailed. All submissions must be digital
6. 2013 entries are due by midnight Pacific time on December 14, 2012. No files received after that time will be considered
7. Tomie dePaola will announce the winner in early January 2013
8. The winner will receive a trip to the 2013 SCBWI  New York Conference at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan, where the award will be presented
9. You must be a current SCBWI member to win
10. Send submissions via email to

Do you want to be included in the "unofficial" gallery of submissions?

Last year, Diandra Mae, Illustrator Coordinator for the SCBWI Houston region started an "Unofficial Gallery" of submissions to the award. It was such a great success that this year we are making it more official and easier to enter.  Any SCBWI member who enters the award is eligible to be included in the gallery.

Here is last year's gallery: 

If you are interested in having your submission included please follow these guidelines: 
After you enter the contest, email your submission image to Gallery Coordinator Diandra Mae at 

1) The subject of your email should be "Tomie de Paola Award"
2) Your image should be saved as a web-ready jpeg (save it for 72 dpi).
3) Save your jpeg as your first and last name. Example: JaneDoe.jpeg
4) The passage you have chosen should be part of the jpeg
5) Include the following information in your email: 

First and Last Name
Medium the piece was done in
Your website or blog address
SCBWI member since_(fill in the year)_

Due to the volume of submissions, any submissions not following these guidelines will not be posted. 

SCBWI Houston's 2013 Conference

Registration has opened! Spots are filling quickly, so don't hesitate to join the fun here.

If you are wondering what's in it for you consider the following opportunities:
1. Networking with like-minded artists and industry professionals.
2. Gaining valuable insight into the children's publishing industry .
3. Earning the opportunity to submit to closed houses and agents.
4. Having your portfolio viewed by over a hundred people, including editors, agents, and an art director.
5. Critiques by a well-established and successful author-illustrator as well as an art director with a reputation of excellence.
6. Participating in a break-out session that will give you a taste of working with an art director. There will be a homework assignment, feedback, critique, and plenty of opportunities to ask questions.
7. Hearing editors explain what they are looking for when they work with an illustrator.
8. Opportunities to have books autographed by their creators.
9. A chance to meet new friends, gain insight into your own work, and project yourself towards success.

For more details on the many opportunities an illustrator can take advantage of at the SCBWI Houston regional conference, click here!

October 18, 2012

Sketchcrawl 2012

Downtown Houston skyline
This past Saturday was one of the best sketch days yet! The weather was great, the location was inspiring, and we were able to meet up with another sketch group. There was talk about technique, tools and travel. All in all, a wonderful day. We can't wait to repeat it again.

Discovery Green Sculpture

Hanging balloons for Bayou City Artfest

Here are a few pages from the day:

Daniela Weil's sketch of the George R Brown Convention Center
Daniela's sketch of a cathedral downtown.
Felicia Lilley's group sketch of us.

Felicia's observations

Felicia's sketched part of the group.

I sketched a tree and experimented with a brush pen while I did some gesture drawing of yoga participants. These dogs did not make good models-haha!
Hilton hotel with charcoal
Boat driver
 This is probably my favorite sketch of the day. There was a group of older model motor boat enthusiasts driving their sail bots, tug boats and other models all over the little lake at Discovery Green. They'd tease little kids and taunt dogs by getting close to "shore" before veering away. It was pretty funny. This guy cracked me up because he was making motor noises the whole time he pushed his controller around! "MrrrrrRRRRvvrrrrrooooom" hahaha!

 Eventually we all took a break so we could show what we'd done and swap sketchbooks. There was a lot of talk about paper, pens, brushes, paints, etc. Next time I'm going to be sure to bring my watercolor kit. Color makes the whole sketch experience much more lively!
More discussion

The few left by the end of the day. 
We started out the day with about five more people. It was a nice sized group, and definitely worth the trip into town. Sketching is more fun in a crowd!

Find out more about the Urban Sketchers group here.

October 2, 2012

The 37th Annual Worldwide SketchCrawl is around the corner!

October 13th, 2012

SCBWI illustrators will be meeting up with the Houston Urban Sketchers between nine and ten at the Lakehouse Cafe  at Discovery Green on Saturday morning. The event is free and open to everyone. There is no limit or requirement to how long you spend sketching with us. Feel free to come and go as your schedule permits. 

It's recommended you wear very good walking shoes as you there will be a lot of standing as well as walking, weather-appropriate attire, and bring your normal sketching supplies: sketchbook, pencils, pens, etc. You might also consider bringing bottled water and snacks as the opportunity to eat may not present itself until late in the day. 

Email Illustrator Coordinator Diandra Mae if you have any questions.

August 28, 2012

Helpful Links

A very informative pdf called HOW TO APPROACH THE PICTURE BOOK MARKET by Vicki Morgan and Gail Gaynin can be found here.

A mind-boggling array of helpful manuals can be found here. There's instruction on everything from anatomy and architecture to wood carving, line, perspective and lettering.

Five Ways to Create More Unique Work at Illustration Friday.

July 9, 2012

2012 Workshop

Illustrator 101 Workshop
Location: Tracy Gee Community Center
Instructor: Illustrator Coordinator, Diandra Mae
When: Saturday, August 18th
Time: 9:00 am- 3:00 pm
Suggested: Bring snacks, drinks, pens/pencils, notebooks/sketchbooks and any questions you have on what it means to be a children's illustrator today. 

Topics covered include Portfolio 101, Dummy Book 101 and Industry Basics. Homework: Bring in two picture books that inspire and move you. One from your childhood and a current favorite. If you can not find an old favorite, two contemporary titles will work.
Please RSVP, Diandra Mae at by August 11th.

January 29, 2012

SCBWI-Houston's 2012 Regional Conference

Saturday, March 31, 2012
8:00am until 6:00pm
The Merrell Center
6301 S. Stadium Lane Katy, Texas 77494

Join us for:

*Amazing speakers including editors, author-illustrator, art director, and agents
*One-on-one manuscript critique sessions with speakers and local authors
*Portfolio critiques and showcase
*Selection of Joan Lowery Nixon finalists (winner mentored by Newbery Honor
Winner, Kathi Appelt)
*Book signings
*Mexican dinner social
*Silent Auction & Silent Art Auction
*Door prizes
*Networking Opportunities

Guest Speakers:
Dan Yaccarino, Author-Illustrator
Jen RofĂ©, Literary Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. 
Susan Sherman, Art Director, Charlesbridge Publishing
Heather Alexander, Editor, Dial Books for Young Readers 
Susan Dobinick, Asst. Editor at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Kathleen Ortiz, Subsidiary Rights Director and Literary Agent Nancy Coffey Literary Agency & Media Representation
Connie Hsu, Editor, Little Brown Books for Young Readers 

There will also be two Intensives offered on Sunday, April 1st from 9:00am-12:00pm.
One will be led by editor Heather Alexander called "Voice Lessons: Making Your
Manuscript Sing." It will include exercises about the difference between
authentic and inauthentic sounding voice in both narration and dialogue.

The second Intensive will be with dynamic presenter and author-illustrator Dan

Yaccarino: "Inspiration to Publication: The Essentials of A Picture Book Dummy."
Attendees need to come prepared to work. Requirements: writing utensils (laptop
or paper/pen) and a picture book idea (full rough draft preferred). If
participants are an illustrator or author-illustrator they will need to bring
plenty of paper to draw on, rough sketches of their dummy and/or main character
as well as a story idea/ full rough draft.

Go here: <> for more
information and to see the conference packet.

January 6, 2012

Picture Book Dummy Challenge-2012

 Picture Book Dummy Challenge.
*Challenge is open to EVERYONE of all skill levels, and not just illustrators! 

*Challenge starts TODAY
*The goal is to complete a book ready for submission by July. 
*Participants will identify each other on Twitter and Facebook with a twibbon.
*There will be progress check-ins as well as support and resources through the #kidlitart blog.
*Conversations on Twitter about the PB Challenge should be marked with the hashtag of #PBdummy.

I was nominated last year to create the twibbon for this event. (And remember when you go to click the "Show My Support" button that you have used the slider directly below it to resize the twibbon, and place it where you would like on your avatar.  You don't HAVE to have it block out your image.)

The light bulb is a nod to Tara Lazar, because many of us wouldn't even have a dummy to create if it weren't for her PiBoIdMo Challenge, and the twibbon she created was a light bulb, the universal sign for an idea.  The pencil is to represent the act of writing or drawing the ideas down on paper. It's one thing to have an idea, another to put it down as words and pictures. The pencil-bulb is a nod to the dedication of all the participants.

Step One of the Challenge is here. For more information and FAQs on the Challenge, read this.

Join #kidlitart this Thursday (January 12) at 9 pm EST for this week’s #kidlitart chat on beginnings and thresholds: why is that pencil sometimes just too heavy to pick up?

#PBDummy is now on Facebook!

The Unofficial Gallery of the Tomie de Paola Award

Artwork by Diandra Mae
For the second year, SCBWI has announced the Tomie de Paola Award, an illustration contest that evolved from Tomie originally choosing promising artists from those showcasing at NYSCBWI. This year’s prompt was an excerpt from P.C. Asbjornsen’s version of “Chicken Little.
An unofficial gallery was created so participating illustrators could share and enjoy the variety of entries created by their peers. Click on the picture above to see over a hundred interpretations of Chicken Little. Information on the blog can be found here

UPDATE: 2011 Winner of the Tomie de Paola Award is here. Congratulation on the hard work, everyone!