Thursday, May 29, 2008

If You Wish to be a Writer, Write

I went to Butler Middle School to watch my son sing with 'The Nerds and The Chosen One' in his Ninth Grade assembly this morning. It was awesome. The drummer totally rocked and the guitar solo was screamin'. They sang Don't Stop Believing which is Brighton High's theme song this year. They did a great job.
Okay, enough rambling about my darling son. By the way he is my third oldest, but my first born (figure that one out).
In the last blog I talked about illustrating, so this time I'll focus a bit on writing. One of my favorite quotes is "If you wish to be a writer, write." I guess I like it because it's a good reminder for me. It's a bit of a kick in the behind because I get so busy doing other things that writing often falls on the very end of my list a lot of days. It is one of those things that if you are going to perfect, you have to prioritize.
I have a friend who gets up early, before her husband and kids, just to write. Now that's dedication. Many conferences I have been to have all said the same thing, make a goal and write it down. Whether it's fifteen minutes a day, half a page or five hundred words, give yourself something to work toward and then do your best to achieve it. Make short term and long term goals and reward yourself when you accomplish something relevant, like actually submitting an article, poem, short story, etc.
There are contests that you can flex your writing muscles on and they are great for receiveing critique feedback even if you don't get any kind of an award. Hearing how you can improve your writing still makes you come out a winner. The League of Utah Writers has a great contest with many categories that runs every year. Other contests such as the Writer's Digest writing contest can be found on the web. The Science Fiction and Fantasy website -swfa, has a warning and caution page that talks about contests and vanity anthologies that ask you to pay them for further editing and publishing help. Improve your writing, but don't get scammed in the process.
Now get out there, make a few goals, and write!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Photoshop aargh!

The first time that I tried to shrink an illustration and send it to a magazine, I could not get photoshop to cooperate. I felt like a total idiot. I thought mabey it was all the brain cells I'd been doling out every time another adorable child came along. My illustration editor had previously told me that if I used the cropping tool I could plug in the pixel width, length and the right resolution and then the cropping tool would automatically give me the results I wanted. It took me forever to realize that the width and length were set at centimeters and inches and that is why the computer refused to respond to the settings I was trying to establish. Finally I tried putting in a setting of 600px (px refering to pixels) and it worked! Yeehaw! I'm not a cowgirl, but I play one on my blog.
The next issue I had was trying to send my editor the resized illustration. You're probably thinking, duh. I was thinking, huh. After many failed attempts, I finally found that with a right click on my mouse, the option of e-mailing directly out of photoshop came up and I was able to send the illustration straight to me editor.
The Illustration of the boy holding the owl is the one that I recently sent. It is a compilation of several photos. I went to the internet to find a good photo of a great horned owl. I went to our local elementary school to have a boy pose for me in front of a black board, and I used my son's face, although it didn't really turn out that way. I used watercolor and prismacolor pencil. I have found that when I scan pictures, I really have to go back and darken up light areas such as faces because they come across very dimly.
I had to blog this in hopes that it will help someone who has issues with photoshop, but mostly so that next month when I have to send in an illustration again I can look at my blog and see how I did it. Oh how soon we forget. Happy painting and or writing.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What can I say?

Hello and welcome to day one, eh. My boys would appreciate that, being as we started out in the great white north. I chose the name Story Painter for my blog because I am an author and an illustrator. I can't write a story without seeing pictures running through my brain and I can't paint a picture without a story forming in my mind. Kind of schizophrenic in a way. I'm a bit new to the illustration part. I did have formal art foundations at BYU way back when, but I'm just starting to blow the dust off my brushes and try to remember how light and shadow can affect depth and all that technical stuff.

The best part about all of this is that I have two things that I absolutely love to do, and writing for children often brings them both together for me. I think there must be others out there who are wanting to write and illustrate, and I'd like to use this blog as a way to help them out as I learn things about illustration and writing.

Stick with me, I'll try to post at least weekly and do a little research along the way that might be of help to any newbies out there who are dying to learn how to write and paint for kids.