This summer will be the last summer of my MFA program at Hollins University, which brings about mixed emotions. I am excited to take what I've learned and move forward, but I will be sad to miss out on the pure magic that is summertime Hollins. Thankfully I still have two weeks left of the summer!
My friend Rebekah Lowell and I have been walking the Hollins loop in the mornings and we've made some friends! Hollins has a big equestrian program; there is a barn and a few paddocks for the horses on campus. We fed them apples from the apple tree at my house. The apples were only being eaten by deer and ants, so I'm glad the horses got to enjoy them.
I have been mostly busy this summer writing, writing, and writing. I am taking a Picture Book Tutorial class with Ashley Wolff where we have had to come up with four brand new manuscripts and have workshopped them. I am also taking two English classes for fun: Magical Realism with Amanda Cockrell, where I have written the beginning of novel and am working on a short story, and Middle Grade Fiction with Candice Ransom, where we are completely workshopping a novel idea. Candice is taking us step by step through her process - the genesis of the idea, writing a scene, focusing on the setting, creating the characters, and also keeping ourselves organized with a three-ring binder. What about plot?! You ask. Plot is coming ... next week! I am excited to get started on thinking about that, but I am happy she had us start with characters and setting first.
While my workload is quite intense, I am completely in love with each assignment and so it doesn't feel too overwhelming.
One of my favorite conversations of the evening was with a young girl who asked for a drawing tip. I told her probably the one most important piece of art advice I've ever heard: find what it is you like drawing and practice it all the time!
I decided to draw what I thought would be the easiest thing for me to do during the time - birds. I was a bit ambitious in that I thought I'd have enough time to fully render the birds and the branches, but I quickly found out that an hour goes by a lot faster than I thought it did!
This past weekend was the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Conference in DC. It was my first conference ever! It was so much fun and it was great to see one of my professors and some of my friends from Hollins. I took tons of notes and doodled a whole bunch (the doodle above is of the keynote speakers Judith Viorst and Kwame Alexander - they were hilarious to listen to and so inspiring!). Of course, I now have a nice little list of things I need to draw to spruce up my portfolio, so I'll be a busy bee for the next couple of weeks.
It's hard to believe that those six weeks are already over. I learned so much from my professors and am already hard at work putting together my next postcard, reworking some of my illustrations, and revising some manuscripts. I can't wait to return next summer to such a magical place full of amazing friends and family.