Thursday, May 31, 2012

Contest Prize Winners and a little more about mandalas and courage

Although I've won my share of prizes and awards, I always felt like a loser when I didn't so I created a contest where everyone was a winner and because some people had the courage to enter this contest and talk about things that were meaningful for them (fears or challenges around creativity), I made sure that they got even more bonuses. So, I sent hi res pics of some animal mandalas that were incredible fun to make along with instructions on how to make them using traditional materials as well as with Photoshop (more work putting that tutorial together than I expected). Here are some low res pics of some of their pressies/prizes. If you end up posting them please credit me and refer folks either to this blog or my FB page Mira Reisberg Art and Education : )
I love these weird funky peacocks and the negative spaces in between them.

This was a bonus worksheet from the Hero's Art Journey e-course teaching about symmetry and balance in composition (one of the foundational elements and principles of art taught in art school, or alternative art schools : ).

And my current favorite of abstracted flamingos that I created for the Photoshop tutorial today. As I wrote in the tutorial - it can be fun to really abstract things and see where they take your brain. This piece is called: "Dance of the Flamingos” or “Eight Birds Merge.”

And now onto the main contest winners. I used Rafflecopter for the first time and it wasn't as easy as I hoped it would be in selecting the winners. I think I confused it by giving everyone prizes. So I chose 2 of the big prizes randomly and 2 by comments.

Drum roll please .....

Julie Hedlund for the Hero's Art Journey e-course where she will learn to draw at last guided by lots of worksheets, video demos, me and the support of a small but super smart group of wonderful people.

Nicole Zoltack because I love her name and it sounds like a great fit for the journey (this is pretty random).

Skype Picture Book manuscript or art critiques:
Jennifer Young and Nadia Roldan - Hooray and congratulations to everyone who entered and still won something and Jennifer - thank you for your flexibility - it paid off.

In my next blog post, I'd like to address some of the really good comments that came up in response to the question about challenges in being creative. Right now I'm pooped and I have a movie to edit : )

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mondays with Mira: Teaching Picture Books Review - Elisa Kleven's Sun Bread

Major Blogger snafu, it didn't automatically post at midnight as scheduled or save and then Guy and I went out to see the Avengers in 3D (interesting mix of mythology and sci fi - but more and more I'm thinking all fiction is a form of myth telling). So anyway, here it is now - Mondays with Mira - First Seduction, then Deconstruction.

And today's picture book is the ever wonderful Elisa Kleven's Sun Bread. As you will see, this book is a type of myth making too and would be especially delightful to read to children on a cold wet day. Just a quick note that I didn't include in the video, although the rhymes are not perfect, the book pretty much is. The reason for this is that Elisa never loses the rhythm or flow in her language so that the words sail along like a good story should. I hope you enjoy. This book is one of my current faves.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cool Contest Where Everyone is a Winner

Everyone loves to be a winner, so I’m running a contest from now until May 29th only. Everyone who participates gets to be a winner! So act fast!

Here are the prizes:

1st prize (there are 2) - Free admission into the life-changing Hero’s Art Journey e-course where you learn to access or deepen your art and life skills starting June 4th. Value $198.00 each! (More about this later)

2nd prize (also 2 available) - 1 hr free art or picture book writing or illustration consultation via Skype where I get to work my magic as the Picture Book Whisperer!

And everyone receives a free art gift of a totemic animal mandala made by yours truly with instructions on how to make them yourself just for participating.

Here's a low res peek at the totem animal mandala that includes some of the animals that are especially potent for me right now - sea-horses for love and fidelity and their ability to swim in and out of small places, leopards for strength and beauty, kangaroos because my twin is coming from Australia and I love how kangaroos can jump/aim high and bound across open spaces and they have a built in belly pouch that doesn't make them look fat : ), flowers because of the beauty they bring and the whole composition is about play - something I strive to have as much of as possible. 

I teach animal drawing and mandalas as part of the course but you'll get a sneak peek for making mandalas with this prize. I'm keeping it as a coloring page for you or your kids to play with and embellish in any way that you like using pencils, paint, glitter, whatever and am not sure yet whether I will refine it or not (kinda liking the roughness) and may play with it some more (not sure yet). You will also get instructions on how to make mandalas yourself either using Photoshop or by hand.

We do mandalas because they are incredibly calming and centering to both look at and make. Super easy and lots of fun!

Here's the easy peasy contest widget : )
a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway Here's a little information about the course followed by a short sweet video.

The Hero's Art Journey is for Very Beginning to Advanced Artists, Children’s Picture Book Illustrators and Authors, Therapists, Mothers, and Teachers, and anyone interested in exploring or deepening their art and life skills. It starts June 4th and runs through July 16th with a week off beginning June 18th. It is hosted on a password protected blog and gallery with fresh content 5 days a week, gentle critiques that push you, and loving community interaction.

The course is inspired by Joseph Campbell's work on the hero's journey and Valerie Frankel's on the female counterpart, which provides a frame to really go on a journey together. The Hero's Art Journey is very much for progressive thinkers who would like to explore their creativity in meaningful ways while also accessing their intuitive sides.

During the hands-on 6-week e-course starting June 4, 2012, you will:
Explore how fine art, picture books and mythology connect
Discover how to work with a wide range of materials and techniques
Uncover your own style and symbol language
Adapt the projects for you own needs Create art suitable for exhibition, sales, or inclusion in your children’s book illustration portfolio
Learn about the narrative arc of most fiction in your own life!
Connect with supportive and like minded artists

You get to do as much as you like to discover your sweet spot with as many or as few of these materials and techniques as you like: acrylics, watercolors, Victorian silhouettes, mixed media, collage, mixed media, stamp making, transferring images, drawing people, gods, goddesses, guardian angels, animals dragons, monsters or landscapes. I'll be providing video and written demos along with worksheets and downloadable pdfs to help - you get to pick and choose what works for you. We also have fantastically helpful guest interviews and tons of other goodies. Visit for more information (and to read the inspiring testimonials) or contact me at : ) Good luck with the contest. It's a good one!

AND if you are not a contest person - You can still enroll now at half-off with this link

Monday, May 21, 2012

And now for the video!!!

Major blogger technical frustration in the post below this one - do read it if you are interested in hearing about our fabulous (but unnerving for me) Illustrators' Day.

If not just sit back and enjoy and watch our short and sweet Mondays with Mira teaching picture books video review. After filming it I realized I really  should have spoken a little about the bold shapes and colors which are very appealing for young kids and the ways different elements "point to each other" as well as how effective and artful the minimal use of text is in conveying this clever concept. I hope you enjoy : )

SCBWI conference and Mondays with Mira - First Seduction then Deconstruction - Dog Food

I'm thrilled to say I have a very short video today about idioms, vernacular language or sayings, dogs and playing with food. Short and sweet. But I have a rather longish post about something really exciting that I was involved with this weekend -

The SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) first ever Illustrator's Day conference for our region. I had the honor of helping to organize this with my illustrator co-coordinator Kris Aro McLeod and wonderful mentoring and assistance from our Northern California Central regional advisers Erin Dealey and Patricia Newman. We also had fantastic help from Catherine Felt (assistant RA) and Robin Howard and a great panel of published peeps including Lori Mortenson, Kim Zarins, Lea Lyon, Patti Newman, and Joy Allen. Super informative and very fun.

Because it's really hard in our area to get illustrators to show up we ended up broadening it to be for both authors and illustrators so each got to learn from the other. This created some challenges for our illustrious guests who really rose to the occasion.

We had Rotem Moscovitch from Disney Hyperion (who is one of the stellar editors from their award winning trade book (rather than mass market Disney characters) side of their publishing, literary agent Mary Kole of Moveable Type Management and and Ashley Wolff author illustrator of over 60 books. Wow! The talent was amazing. We also had great audience participation which also helped make it very successful.

Ashley is an old friend who recently returned from doing a school visit in India (way to go Ashley) and she brought me back a magical parasol from India.

Well it turns out I really needed that parasol. The night before I had terrible insomnia and when I did finally fall asleep in the wee hours had the worst nightmares that I've had in years. The conference room was tripple booked and I was trying to get football players and performing kids and 6'5" tall drag queens out the room so we could have the conference and I wasn't being prepared to introduce the guests and had flesh eating bacteria on my face and of course I ended up naked, except for a piece of foam in front of me, and really grungy underwear wherein I said "well the lesson in this is always wear your best underwear because you never know if you might end up like me." (How's that for a run on sentence? : )

I'm happy to say that none of this came true but when I introduced the faculty I used the magical parasol and it really gave me strength and confidence (thank you Ashley). Whenever I was flagging, I touched the parasol, getting energy and inspiration and remembered how lucky I am that I have so many fantastic friends and get to do meaningful work. I had to do a lot of thinking on my feet and had a few embarrassing moments but not too many. Cannot tell you how relieved I was when it was over.

And here I am with Ashley. This photo doesn't do her justice. She's an incredibly beautiful amazon.

For anyone interested in learning about picture books is a fantastic resource and I'm delighted to be part of this organization. I'm also delighted to be teaching in-person and online courses like the Hero's Art Journey which explores the classic narrative arc underlying most fiction and mythology in our own lives while teaching very beginning to professional artists and children's picture book people lots of art and life skills using fine art and you guessed it - picture books. It's totally unlike anything else out there and includes video interviews with Ashley and lots of other amazing folks. The journey starts in only 2 weeks on June 4th, visit for more information or if you are ready to sign up use this half off link for only 99.00 And if you have any questions feel free to email me at

Mondays with Mira: First Seduction then Deconstruction - Elisa Kleven's Sun Bread

I had some technical difficulties with this film but it ended up being fine. I hope you enjoy this 10 minute video of one of Elisa Kleven's picture books "Sun Bread." With thanks to Marge Kalhor for filming it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mondays with Mira - Teaching Picture Books Reviews - Bootsie Barker Bites

Each week as I make these videos, I think about what would be most helpful for people writing and illustrating picture books in terms of technique and what publishers are looking for these days. I think this book fits the bill even tho it was written in the 70s it would still in all likelihood be published today because it is still very relevant and both the writing and art hold up well. I imagine if it were published today, it would probably be designed differently with better quality paper (at least in my edition).

So without further ado, introducing today's video review featuring the delightful "Bootsie Barker Bites," written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann. It's a cleverly written story with a great plot that starts on the very first page with a major problem that our heroine has to overcome. The illustrations match and extend the text in fun ways as the author and illustrator deal with the timely topic of bullying. Wait for the twist at the end. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mondays with Mira: Pleasurable Picture Book Reviews - Our California

I'm so excited about this weeks review of the wonderful Pam Muñoz Ryan's Our California, beautifully illustrated with experimental acrylic techniques by Rafael Lopez.

This week you'll learn about rhyme, why editors hate it and one way to approach it, more about non-fiction and the experimental acrylic techniques that  Rafael uses in his illustrations and that I also teach in the Hero's Art Journey e-course starting June 2nd

I hope you enjoy. This one is shorter than last week's. Whew!

Also thanks to Gurpreet Singh from for showing me how to make share buttons for my blog at last, and Elizabeth Stevens Olmor for holding my hand while I actually did them.

I also have a really embarrassing confessional guest post for her picture book blog of banana peelin slips ups. Her blog is awesome!

So go forth, multiply and share : )