As a person who can barely draw a stick figure, I am in awe of illustrators with Heather’s talent, and I’ve learned so much about the art of illustrating picture books from her blog. I especially enjoy her Work in Progress Wednesdays, where she shows us the progression of her art from sketches to final pieces. I know much about the writer’s process but none about an illustrators, so it’s been quite illuminating. Please welcome Heather!
My life today doesn’t look the way I imagined it years ago. Whose does? When David and I started our family, we agreed I would stay home to take care of our boys with the understanding that I would actively pursue my career when the kids went to school and were older, more independent people. Fifteen years later, we choose to homeschool and have children who will need our support for the rest of their lives. A good life, but not exactly what I had planned. Last fall I determined it was finally time to see if I could find a balance between my kid’s needs and my own desire to write and illustrate. I had absolutely no idea where to start.
Enter the 12X12 Challenge. I heard about it from Loni Edwards, a fellow illustrator and writer, and thought it would be a good tool to get me motivated to create again. The challenge could offer a relaxed accountability, perhaps a bit of community throughout the year. It has turned out to be so much more than I ever expected!
The vast amount of information shared on participant blogs and the 12X12 facebook page has offered a quick education in all things involving the art and business of children’s book publishing. It’s a crash course in marketing, query letters, pitch writing, finding the right agent, social networking, the changing face of publishing, ebooks, editing and revising. Instead of floundering through the internet trying to figure out the best blogs and reference books with my limited time, my 12X12 peers offer excellent suggestions and recommendations on a daily basis.
I enjoy reading the blogs of our diverse group of participants. I may not comment often due to time restraints, but I am reading, laughing, commiserating and learning. This group offers a positive, friendly support network of published and unpublished writers. A community that shares a passion for children’s literature. People that are willing to help out with any question or project brought their way. I have found a wonderful critique group (#4!) through the 12X12 facebook page to thoughtfully help me hone my rusty writing skills. It mitigates the feeling of isolation that so often comes along with this profession.
Participating in this challenge with it’s gentle accountability has changed the way I approach my work, as well. Instead of treating it as some precious hothouse orchid needing a very narrow set of conditions to survive (a certain time of day, David being home, a quiet space that never materializes), I treat it like a dandelion that thrives anywhere it lands. The desk in the corner of our living room is my workspace and I write, draw and paint in between answering questions, fixing snacks, projects and listening to my boys talk about their interests. Art is now woven into my daily life. It needs to be or it will never have the opportunity to happen. My sons have picked up on my newly found joy and often draw and write alongside me. Of course, there are days when their needs fill all of my time and yes, it’s very discouraging when that happens for several days in a row, but this balancing act is my life for the indefinite future. I can choose to accept it and work with where I am or I can make myself unhappy fighting what cannot be changed. No one wants to live with a miserable person, so I choose acceptance.
The support and enthusiasm of the 12X12 participants makes that acceptance easier. Thank you all for sharing your passions and thank you, Julie, for starting something so wonderful.
Heather Newman has been drawing since she was big enough to hold a pencil and her prized possession as a young girl was a large box of blank essay books, perfect for writing and illustrating stories or drawing her own images for favorite stories. Creating art continues to bring her great joy over 30 years later and her favorite projects involve work for children. After spending a little over a year having many grand adventures traveling the country in an RV with her family, Heather found her dream home in the woods of Maine. She lives with her husband, three sons, two friendly mutts and a slightly grumpy, geriatric cat.
She can be found at http://www.heathernewman.net/ and http://hnewmanart.blogspot.com/ Her recent work has included illustrating both Cody Greene and the Rainbow Mystery by Linda Fields and The Howling Vowels by Leslie Schultz, from Do Life Right Publishing in 2011.
Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: 12 x 12 in 2012, Goals, Guest Blog, Heather Newman, Illustrator, Julie Hedlund, Picture Books, Tuesday 12 x 12, Writer