It's been quite a while since I've posted here, the result of a full-time job and full-time graduate school (and I actually attempt to sleep sometimes). I've just finished my first semester at Simmons at the Eric Carle Museum where I'm getting a MFA in writing and illustration for children. This semester I took two picturebook classes. The first, an introduction to the picturebook, is taught by Megan Lambert. This class is not designed specifically for illustrators and explores form, history, and criticism of the picturebook. Michael Patrick Hearn gives a series of guest lectures during the class and these focus on the history of picturebook illustration.
The second class, Creating the Picturebook, is taught by Mordicai Gerstein (the Caldecott Award winning illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers). Creating the Picturebook is a studio-based class that culminates in the creation of a picturebook dummy, finished cover illustration, and two finished interiors. Building up to this we also did exercises story-boarding nursery rhymes with and without frames. It's amazing to watch someone like Mordicai look at a drawing, and then sketch the same drawing but with the character in a slightly different place. This simple change suddenly creates a much more dynamic composition. In my undergraduate thesis class, I found that Whitney Sherman could do the same thing with text and layout. A simple move and bang, the piece worked (in a seemingly miraculous way).
Over the course of the next week I hope to post some assignments from the semester, as well as give some information on the program at the Eric Carle museum (and my experience of it). While the MFA in illustration and writing was added this fall and is only available at the Eric Carle, there are also programs in creative writing and children's literature which are available at both the Carle and at Simmons College in Boston.