(Continued from Part 1: Lost Weekend with David Diaz)
Another highlight from Lost Weekend: the conversations. They sprung up everywhere and without warning, while we were painting, sitting by the fire, helping David in the kitchen, over meals, while we were out walking.
Topics frequently revolved around children's book illustration but also writing, family, food, travel, other work…in other words, LIFE.
As the weekend progressed, it became clear to all of us that this was about so much more than just kidlit illustration info and new business contacts. It was also about mutual encouragement and sharing, bonding and appreciation.
And um, food. Lots and lots of good food. :-)
Each of us ended up taking away something different. One aspect I especially enjoyed: getting to spend more time with people I knew mainly online. It was fun rooming with Andrea Offermann, who had flown in from Germany. She had arrived the week before for an art show at ThinkSpace Gallery.
Some of the newer Mentees I had only been in contact with via Facebook and had only met briefly in person.
And it was such a treat to finally spend time with Bonnie Adamson, co-founder of Kidlitchat and founder of the KidLitArt chat on Twitter. We had run into each other at SCBWI conventions, but usually only had time to exchange a few words before hurrying off to the next workshop or keynote talk.
And that was another thing I LOOOVED about Lost Weekend. We had a chance to slow down and get to know each other in a much more casual environment than a convention. Although David had some activities planned for us, the schedule was flexible and adjusted to the group dynamic.
Another of many highlights: getting to know David's son, Ariel Diaz. Not only is Ariel a talented artist but his quirky humour and dry wit enhanced the weekend for all of us. You can see samples of his work at his site: turbogrease.tumblr.com.
I can't imagine what it must have been like, having a horde of women descend on your house for an entire weekend! Ariel handled it well. :-)
On the last evening, David hosted a party for not only our group but some of the local artists and industry people. We helped David with food prep but he did the bulk of the work. If it had been my house, I would have been super-stressed about all those people showing up for dinner but if David was, he sure didn't show it.
Great to see Erin O'Shea; Erin was one of the first Mentees in 2009 (in the red sweater below):
We had a table where some of our portfolios, postcards and business card were on display for people to peruse:
I was also happy to see Jen Rofé from Andrea Brown Literary Agency at the party; Jen had given my YA novel a great critique at the SCBWI Summer Conference in L.A. (and nominated it for the Sue Alexander Award!) and I loved her energy. She gave us all some excellent advice during the evening PLUS --not sure if it's public news yet so am not naming names yet-- is going to be representing one of the Mentees!
[Edited December 8, 2011: Yay, it's official. Eliza Wheeler has just signed with Jen Rofé. CONGRATS to both of you!!]
There was so much relaxing downtime and casual conversation that I didn't realize how much useful children's book illustration info I had absorbed during the event until I got home. I had learned something that could help me in my own craft from every Lost Weekend attendee, from new techniques to try, process tips, digital tech (I sooo want Christina Forshay's drawing tablet!!), attitude inspiration and encouragement, how-to advice and practical industry info.
We've been in touch since Lost Weekend, rehashing some of the memories from those magical few days, following up on tips and advice, exchanging recipes (ok, they've all been David's recipes…and they're making me hungry!!). Plus we Mentees are starting to gradually ramp up our website at:
Please do bookmark us; we'll be adding more Mentee bios and organizing our post schedule. Stay tuned for lots of great info and news for children's book illustrators! Plus you can find us on Twitter at @KidLitArtists; Juana Martinez-Neal has started to help with that account. And please do Like our KidLitArtists Facebook Page; you can find updates to most of our blogs as well as main blog.
And finally, a huge THANK YOU to David Diaz for inviting us to be part of this incredible Lost Weekend! As I mentioned before, this wasn't an officially sanctioned SCBWI event but rather something that David put together on his own, opening up his home and devoting a big chunk of time (including prep) for our group. We were all blown away by his generosity.
And thank you also to the SCBWI for bringing us all together in the first place! If you're interested in children's book writing and illustrating, you NEED to join this organization if you haven't already. More info: http://www.scbwi.org
Attendees of Lost Weekend 2011:
You can see my other photos from Lost Weekend in Flickr.
In case you missed it, here's the link to Part 1 of my Lost Weekend with David Diaz report.