Children's Book art at the Society of Illustrators

Illustrator Judith Moffatt and I traveled to New York to brunch with fellow illustrators and two Highlights for Children editors at the Society of Illustrators at 128 East 63rd Street in New York.


Founded in 1901, the Society's mission is to promote the art of illustration, to appreciate its history and evolving nature through exhibitions, lectures and education, and to contribute the service of its members to the welfare of the community in large.

photo from

Rose Mary Berlin arranged for a group to attend an elegant brunch buffet. My favorite part was the fellow who cooked a made-to-order omlette right at the buffet table. Of course, the buffet couldn't hold a candle to Highlights brunch!!

We then went to the "The Original Art" exhibit, which runs through December 21, 2013. It's an annual exhibit (founded by Dilys Evans in 1980)  celebrating the fine art of children's book illustration. (How appropriate!)

This years show features 125 books selected by a jury of illustrators, art directors, and editors.  This year’s Silver Medal winners are 

Jon Klassen for The Dark

(Hachette Book Group / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) and

Simona Mulazzani for I Wish I Had...

(Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). The Gold Medal winner is

Jennifer Yerkes

for A Funny Little Bird

(Sourcebooks / Jabberwocky).

Some of my favorite art was by Melissa Sweet, Molly Idle, Jill McElmurry, and Jason Chin.

I have a connection to Jason's family... one of those "red thread" stories, where you find yourself with ties to certain people throughout your life.

Jason's mother, Mary was a high-school friend in Delaware. His father, Ray was a grad student when I attended RISD, and taught one workshop in my illustration class. I've always credited Ray for teaching me how to do watercolor washes, and I use his lesson to this day to teach my students.

Ray and Mary's  younger son, Michael was born on the same day as my son, Phil. The Chins moved to Lyme, NH, where another friend of mine lived, as well as Trina Schart Hyman.

Jason went to Syracuse, and I've followed his soaring career ever since. His art from "Island: A Story of the Galapogos" is stunning.

It was exciting to pore over the art of display. From oils to watercolor, cut paper to digital, all of the work is beautifully designed.

PS. Thanks to Judith Moffatt for all of the group shots.

Building Photo - Today
Judith Moffatt at the Society of Illustrators

Judith Moffatt at the Society of Illustrators

Cheryl Kirk Noll, Sharon Vargo, Mary, Ellen Appleby

Cheryl Kirk Noll, Sharon Vargo, Mary, Ellen Appleby

Jennifer Yerkes

Upper: Peter Brown, Lower: Molly Idle

Upper: Peter Brown, Lower: Molly Idle

front, L to R: Kelley Cunningham, Judith Moffatt, Dolores Motichka  middle: Cheryl Kirk Noll, Mary Wilshire Magnusson, Barbara Lanza, Paige Billin-Frye,  back: Ellen Appleby, Rebecca Thornburgh, Mike Moran, Sharon Vargo, Rose Mary Berlin

front, L to R: Kelley Cunningham, Judith Moffatt, Dolores Motichka

middle: Cheryl Kirk Noll, Mary Wilshire Magnusson, Barbara Lanza, Paige Billin-Frye,

back: Ellen Appleby, Rebecca Thornburgh, Mike Moran, Sharon Vargo, Rose Mary Berlin

Highlights of Fall

What is it about fall that brings human beings back to life? Is it the cool weather? The fear of winter? Years of "back to school" conditioning?

At any rate, I've been wildly busy, and wanting to share some of it here. I want to post about an interesting historical structure I recently visited, and toot my own horn about being interviewed for Illustration Saturday, a feature on Kathy Teaman's blog, Writing and Illustrating.

The logo I created for "Brush Master"

But I'll begin with the Highlights for Children Illustrator's party.

I've had the honor of getting together with wildly talented and creative folks in the mountains of the Poconos for fifteen years now. Begun by Kent Brown, the party invites Highlights illustrators and their families to gather for a weekend of "Fun with a Purpose" each fall. We are feted with food, seminars, family activities, a square dance, a themed costume party, and more food. Every year we get to reconnect with old friends, and meet new illustrators. What a blast!

This year, the theme was "Superheros" and we were encouraged to dress as people who were heros to us (teacher, famous artist, dad, firefighters) or a Superhero with our own unique skills. I went as "Brush Master"!

My totally goofy Brush Master costume, and hubby as Clark Kent.

It's SO much fun to meet with these folks in such a great atmosphere. The staff is warm and welcoming. Highlights really is a family business, and they really do care about children.

The illustrators convene from far-flung places like Arizona, California, Texas, and more, and I go green with envy when we share our portfolios. 

I love all the events, but I'm always in awe at the costume ideas folks come up with.  

David Helton as Super Vincent, and Lyn Martin as Super Frida.

David Galchutt as... you guessed it! (thanks to a Facebook contributor for photo)

Robert and Jessica Squire... The Pink Pearl rubs out Evil Doers, and Duct Tape Girl saves citizens from Sticky Situations!

My friends Ruth Flanigan as "Pantonia" and Judith Moffatt as Frieda Khalo.

The Valiant family, of course, with Graphite Girl!

Three powerful SUPER women. Terry Taylor, Rebecca Thornburg and Sharon Vargo.

Super Girl, StarMan and Pantonia 

Don't know who. Justice, I guess. Isn't this a great costume?

Let's not forget Anni Matsick as "Wonder where-I-put-that? Woman" and her hubby as "Retired Super Hero". (thanks to Annie for the picture, and the one of PBAA below.)

Below is a very small sampling of the artists who attended. This group belongs to a listserve with about 150 members, all of whom have illustrated three of more children's books. It's called Picture Book Artists Association, and displays art of all it's members, which changes quarterly.

Back row, l-r: Anni Matsick, Jennifer Emery, 

Judith Moffatt

, Terry Taylor, Laura


, Cheryl Kirk Noll, Sharon Vargo.

Front row, l-r: Maggie Swanson, Sharon Holm, Sue Miller, Barry Gott, Laura Jacobsen, Sherry Neidigh, Layne Johnson, Paige Billin-Frye, Len Ebert.

The very Front:

Rebecca Thornburgh

 And here is the bucolic scene that awaited us each morning. Thanks to Highlights for Children, for caring about children, AND illustrators.