Dorothia Rohner was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2014 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Dorothia to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.
Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?
Each mentor confirmed to me that the strongest, most successful portfolio pieces were the ones that were created from a place of joy, without over-thinking the process or outcome.
Their specific input on composition, focus, developing characters, body language, emotion, motion and narrative storytelling helped me to see my work in a different light. I am so grateful to have this information to integrate into my new illustrations and stories. I feel that I have a clearer idea on what is working and what needs to change. A huge thank you to all the mentors!
Currently I am working on picture book illustrations. After returning from such an inspiring experience, I feel that I have a new vision of where I need to go with my work. Besides that, I am writing stories, painting, drawing and sketching every day. I browse my old sketchbooks hoping to see if anything might jump out and grab my attention.
Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?
In the past, I’ve done many types of illustration including; scientific, computer games, licensing, educational, graphic design and technical drafting. However, I have always had a burning desire to do children’s stories. Life is short and I plan to spend my time doing what I love—reading and creating illustrations for children's books.
Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration? Any one piece of bad advice?
I’m fortunate to have been blessed with many supportive people in my life that have encouraged me in my art. My husband told me years ago. “Each painting you do is a stepping stone. Where you are tomorrow will not be where you are today.” That always helped me when I wasn’t completely satisfied with my work.
The worst piece of advice on illustration I received was, “Chase the trends.”
What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?
It’s so hard to pick just one. Here are a few favorites that I jotted down.
“Find the story no one else can tell.”
“The most powerful tool you have is your unconscious mind.” ~Meg Rossoff
“Live in the world of memory and imagination.” ~Megan McDonald
“Being an artist is always a way to live your life. Everywhere must have beauty.” ~Tomie Depaola
“Do not let anyone discourage you—if they do, get angry, not depressed.”~ Judy Blume
Last but not least, Judy Schrachner’s talk on how to get to know your character by creating a character bible. From knowing her characters so well, the plot unfolds.
What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?
My favorite childhood memories of books were fairytales. I really liked Rumpelstiltskin and always felt sorry for him. I spent a lot of time looking at the illustrations and re-reading the poems in the big orange Child Craft books. I loved the old favorites: Are You My Mother? Go, Dog, Go, Sam & the Firefly, (any PD Eastman or Beatrix Potter Books), Make Way for Ducklings, Frog & Toad, A Kiss for Little Bear, Trumpet of the Swan, The Secret Garden, Mouse and the Motorcycle. When our boys were young, I read them many books and discovered Graeme Base, Kit Williams, William Joyce and so many more.
Where can we find you online?
You can find me online in the following locations:
Blog: dorothiasketchblog.wordpress.comTwitter: @dorothiar
Thank you, Dorothia!