I was able to attend the Austin chapter's conference yesterday. I had a great time, mostly because Courtney and Heather were there. :) I really enjoyed being able to hang out with the two of them. I was also able to meet a few other illustrators: Regan Johnson, author/illustrator of this book; Gene B. and of course, the personable and very talented Don Tate.
I watched an animated and inspiring Bruce Coville speak about fantasy writing, and listened to an associate editor from Clarion advise us on how to avoid the slush pile. Finally, the illustrator's had their break-out session with Don giving an entertaining presentation on how his career developed; sharing the pitfalls that any illustrator can encounter in the course of developing their styles and careers. I only wish it could have lasted a little longer. (We also had a session with Suzanne Cruise and learned all about licensing. There's a lot to learn, but it's something I am definitely intriqued by. )
Finally, I had my portfolio review courtesy of Don. It was probably the easiest review I will ever have in my entire life, and I am grateful that Don made it so painless. He pointed out a few weaknesses, (a little composition work and some character development will help) and kindly complimented me on my favorite parts of illustration: line work, color use and the texture I've been experimenting with. He also told me something that I've known in the back of my mind, but needed someone to tell me out loud: If I'm uncomfortable with illustrating people, then stop doing them. Don pointed out that if I don't have fun doing it, then it shouldn't be in my portfolio, because what if I get asked to do a job with people as the focus? I'd be miserable. After he told me that, I felt like a small weight had been lifted. I now have a more positive outlook towards adding to my portfolio.
I'm going to try and create an I-Fri piece this week, but other than that, I'm going to take a small break from illustration and focus on some personal pieces that have been swimming around in my head for a few months. Hope everyone's enjoying the beautiful weather we're experiencing and having a great weekend.