Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Interview with new SCBWI Illustration Mentee, Brooke Boynton Hughes - by Jen Betton

Brooke Boynton Hughes was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2013 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Brooke to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.

Kidlit Artists: Getting such specific and direct feedback on your work, did you find the experience enlightening? Affirming? Confusing? Conflicting? Why?

Brooke: I found the feedback I received to be both enlightening and affirming.  All of the mentors zeroed in on two main weaknesses in my work, which made it very clear what I need to focus on moving forward.

Each of the mentors talked about my timidity with shadows and the need to improve my use of both light and shadow to ground my characters in their settings.  Everyone also talked about my character's faces being generic and interchangeable.  One mentor noted that if you removed the hair from my characters, many of them would more or less look the same, which I thought was a really helpful point.  Since the conference, I've been working on drawing more unique and interesting faces.

I also came away from the critiques knowing that I need to do more life drawing.  In grad school I spent two years drawing the figure from life, but somehow, once I was finished with school I fell out of the habit of life drawing.  I'm excited to start drawing from observation again.

One mentor remembered my work from last year's conference and noticed that I've been working on painting more loosely and that this has improved my work.

Kidlit Artists: What kind of projects are you working on now?

Brooke: Right now I'm working on my first two books, a middle grade book for Disney/Hyperion, called "Cupcake Cousins", written by Kate Hannigan and a picture book for Beach Lane Books, called "Baby Love", which is written by Angela DiTerlizzi.  Working on my first books has been really exciting!  Next year I'll be doing a picture book for Random House, written by Linda Ashman, called "MORE!".  The manuscript for this story is really lively and fun and I can't wait to get started. 

I'm also working on revisions to a picture book dummy, as well as working on manuscripts for two different picture book ideas.
Kidlit Artists: Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you've gotten since pursuing illustration? Any one piece of horrible advice?

Brooke: Several years ago at the SCBWI L.A. Summer Conference I received a portfolio critique from Marla Frazee.  This was the first time that I had my portfolio reviewed by a professional illustrator and Marla's advice was extraordinarily helpful.  The main thing that stuck with me was that she told my to keep going.  She said that I was on the right track and that I just needed to keep pushing ahead.  That piece of advice came at a time when I really needed to hear it and I feel so grateful to have had such a thoughtful and encouraging critique of my work.

Kidlit Artists: Last, please tell us where we can find you online.

Brooke: You can find me online at www.BrookeBoyntonHughes.com, where there is a link to my blog.  You can also find me on twitter, @BrookeBHughes.   

Kidlit Artists: Thank you Brooke!

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