Category Archives: Blog Copy

SCBWI Missouri Fall Conference


SCBWI_MO_logo-11Just finished up two days of a fantastic SCBWI conference. If you’ve never been to one, you should go. If you missed this one, shame on you. There was an exciting mix of experienced authors and illustrators and beginners of all levels. Everyone was there to learn and meet other people who share the same interests. I was so tired and excited Saturday night after such a full day, I didn’t think I would ever settle down to fall asleep. Then bright and early Sunday morning I had a workshop on picture books with Jodell Sadler.

On Saturday I had critiques with Giuseppe Castellano, Jodell Sadler and a peer critique group headed by Jeannie Ransom at 8-9:30 pm that night. I thought these critiques would be high stress, but they were fun and enlightening. It really helps to have respected talent in your field critique your work. I learned so much. I was also able to attend keynote speeches by Giuseppe Castellano, Dan Yaccarino and Jodell Sadler. There was so much more I wanted to learn, but had to use my time wisely. It’s a shame, if you want to write and illustrate, you must miss speakers who are speaking concurrently. My workshop with Jodell Sadler on Sunday was very inspirational for me. She lives and breathes picture books. Since I want to illustrate and write my own picture books someday, her words really made an impression.

This is my third Missouri SCBWI conference. I enjoyed myself so much, I’m thinking of branching out to the big conferences in N.Y. and L.A. or even neighboring states next year. It won’t take much to convince me.

I would like to congratulate Wendy Martin for winning the banner contest for 2014. You can see her wonderful banner here. I would have liked to use her image to illustrate this blog post but didn’t think that was correct.

Please, if anyone has any notes to add to share. Use the comments below. Posting pictures of the events would be nice.


Mired in a dilemma of other’s indecision.

Picture book illustration page breakdown

Picture book iPad app, rough page breakdown

I’m having problems working with authors of self-published picture books taking too long to approve each stage of the illustration process. A book I estimate to take 3 months of work, ends up taking 8 months  because of the lag time between approvals on each illustration. My actual work time is the same, but I make very little money because I am tied up for so long waiting on one book. Maybe that’s why so many illustrators won’t work for self-publishing authors.

I’ve tried working on two or more picture books at once, but I tend to get confused with the 16 plus illustrations for each book and forget which author told me what. I wish I could find someone who really wants to move quickly and can make up their mind.

When I get a few more picture books under my belt, I will start to contact publishers directly. I really like meeting and working with the children’s book authors directly, it just seems like as a group, they have a problem making swift decisions at each step.

Please comment, all suggestions are welcome.

Does a Professional Illustrator Need a “Style”?


Something to think about over the Holidays.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately. I don’t feel like I have a “style” at this time,  yet customers say they come to me for my “style.”  Do they come to me for my lack of strong visual style? Do I have a style and not know it? Is my “style” not a technique, but a way of looking at the world.

When I start a project I usually read the book and listen to the author and plan my illustrations around their vision, not mine. Of course, I also add some of my vision to give their ideas uniqueness and vitality.  I don’t make their ideas fit into my fixed vision and style. Is this wrong?

I am working on all these issues in my head. I am not asking for personal advice on my work, just a general discussion on having a “style.” Is it necessary to have a “style”? What about the author’s (client’s) vision?   Is it important to have a “style” when pursuing  a career as a professional illustrator?

I found this blog by Nate Williams and  the discussion interesting.

Please add comments below to make this a real discussion for SCBWI so we can help each other with this issue.

Dayne Sislen:

Kansas SCBWI Conference


I dumped my notes about the SCBWI Conference onto my blog. Here’s the link, if you’re interested. 🙂

Kansas SCBWI Conference

New York SCBWI Conference


I’ve created a blog post about our trip to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. You can read it on my blog at

I can’t express how much I wish that ALL of you had been able to attend. I know that Katie, John and I all came away totally inspired and ready to get back to work. We will look forward to sharing more with those of you who can attend the next Picture Book Study Group in KC.

In the meantime, keep creating!