Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lost Weekend 2012: A Kidlit Hobnob! - by Jen Betton

Hi everyone!

I've just returned from the Lost Weekend – a non-official event that SCBWI Mentor David Diaz hosts out of amazing generosity! This event is for the Kidlit artists – those chosen each year for the SCBWI Mentorship Program (you can read my earlier post about it here). David opens up his home for all of us to come and stay in Carlsbad, CA and talk art, meet agents and ask questions, show our process, ask David questions and basically enjoy the community of other illustrators, all while eating an incredible amount of incredible food!

Day 1: Friday
We all arrive, eat a sumptuous dinner, and David answers questions while we sit in front of the fire eating clementines and chocolate. This was the norm all weekend – everyone basks in the warmth of the fire while discussing illustration and eating all the wonderful food David prepared.

Day 2: Saturday
We have bacon-pancakes for breakfast (2 in 1 amazingness), popovers, and more Q & A from David, answering questions like "How do you keep your sketch fresh when you're redrawing it so many times" and "do you ever get bored and what do you do about it?" and "what was the most difficult assignment you've ever had?"

Debbie Ohi shares her thoughts on using social media, and we all scribble down her wisdom furiously! (Seriously, did you know she has 6 blogs? And I'm not sure how many Twitter accounts? She organizes it all beautifully, and I am in awe!)

In the afternoon Rubin Pfeffer from East West Literary Agency and Jen Rofé from Andrea Brown Literary Agency kindly answer all our questions about agents! It was sooo wonderful to have both of their perspectives and experience to draw from! Rubin also shares with us the backstory on working on Smoky Night with David, and winning the Caldecott Medal.

We also demo our process for the others, showing how we create our finished pieces. I was a little nervous, trying to keep it short, explain thoroughly, and not get any paint on David's table! The demos continue through Sunday, and we were all fascinated by each other's techniques; there was lots of note taking and questions!

Maple Lam 
Maple's lightbox technique 
Eliza Wheeler
Move away from the fire for demos? No way!

That evening there is more food, and a get-together of local friends and SCBWI peeps David knows.  A bunch of us camp out in the living room sleepover style, with the fireplace and Lily the wonderdog to keep us warm!

Lily warms her spot.

Day 3: Sunday
More amazing food, I start losing track of all the amazing stuff we've had but breakfast includes fresh popovers, which we consume piping hot with jam and honey. More demos, talking, and a trip to the beach! It is gloriously sunny and perfect, a great California getaway after it snowed this past week in Boston!

The sand shimmers gold with mica!

David brings out a sample of his promo piece for Me, Frida, and we talk about promotion. We get an assignment: create a promo that you can produce 100 pieces of for $500, averaging $5 per piece. The results of that assignment will be posted here. David also demos a couple of his own techniques for creating pieces, which was amazing. I always love the magic of understanding what went into a piece. The day goes so quickly, and people begin to leave.

David Diaz demo

Day 4: Monday
A few of us are left Monday morning (we got more popovers than anyone!), and we hike around the lagoon and talk about the SCBWI conferences, and when we all want to get together again – the consensus is very soon! Lisa, Maple and I hang out for the rest of the afternoon, walking around Balboa Park before saying goodbye. We're all excited to see one another in February for the conference, and I have lots of art to do!! I came away with so many ideas and plans! Everyone is so wonderful and talented, and I can't wait to hang out with them all again!

Me, Lisa and Maple

Lost Weekend Attendees: 

Mentees of 2009: 
Mentees of 2010:

Mentees of 2011:

Mentees of 2012:

Others invited by David:

Originally posted at
Jen Betton is a children's book illustrator and 2012 Kidlit artist! You can see her work at 


  1. Wow - you guys are lucky just to have been able to hang together and talk shop! Great post - grateful for the sharing, and all the links!