I'm enjoying my time off while illustrating book #3. I must say if you ever done any teaching especially with children it can be exciting, enjoyable, and exhausting all at the same time. Being an art educator has taught me how you can explore all kinds of avenues of art. I get to see every day how much the students love art. Especially the kinders. Can you remember that time when you valued your art so much that you wouldn't give it up, and you just purely enjoyed making any type of mark? I find that it's been a long journey back to that frame of mind. When you work so hard to succeed as an illustrator you forget at times the value of your own work and find time to just make art for oneself. I'd gotten so critical about everything I did or made. I've finally gotten to the point where I value the work that I make like my kinders and feel that i deserve to keep the rights and payment. I expect that now. I remember when I used to sell myself short.
I get the incorporate pictures books the most with kinders. They LOVE being read to and being asked to be illustrators. It's great that my kinders know what an illustrator is and what the pictures in the books are called. You can find a picture book that ties into any of the grade levels state standards. They value the work of these artist because for them it communicates so much more. Here's a list of some of the books I've read to my K-5:
Where The Wild Things Are
The Little Engine That Could
One Tiny Turtle
Mama Don't Allow
There are more but I can't remember their titles. I can't wait to read so many of the other books I have in store for the rest of the year.
Now that I've had some time away from teaching it's hard to get back into the mind set of illustrating. It's taken a week for me to get back into the swing of things. I'm looking forward to when I have more time off to work. I've been fortunate to work with an amazing publisher, Ambassador Books, and they've really worked with me on getting to a place where I could manage everything I've been doing lately. You often hear that everything is so commercial these days and publishers are all about numbers, etc. I find that with a publisher like Ambassador Books/Paulist Books that isn't the case. I would one day love to meet personally with these editors.
I'm going be having my first book signing next month. It took me 3 months of contacting stores to get it worked out. Even with having illustrated a quality picture book it still takes leg work to get things happening. I'm sure it's much different if you have a Caldecott next to the title. :)
With all that said I'm thankful for so much in my career. Also I've had the support of my family and friends to make all of this happen. Many of my friends and family have appeared as models for the characters in the books. My mother-in-law has been a tireless cheerleader in everything I've done. I get to share the end product with my own son. He's at that age that he wants to be read to every night. I'm more than happy to comply. :)