Saturday, July 19, 2014

NESCBWI 2014 Recap

Award Winning Illustrators Kevin Barry and Marlo Garnsworthy

These past few months have been a whirlwind of excitement and change! One of my favorite events each year is the regional NESCBWI (New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference, which took place in May this year. It's a great event that brings children's book industry professionals (and those aspiring to get into the children's book industry) together to learn, grow, and forge new friendships.
As always, there were a lot of great workshops this year! A few that I really enjoyed included:

  • Facial Expression and Body Language for Characters in Children's Graphic Novels and Comics by Ed Briant - An eye opening workshop on the subtleties of various facial expressions, which was further reinforced when we illustrated our fellow partner's performance of different facial expressions. Talk about embarrassing pictures!
  • First Look: Your Single Best Piece Critiqued with Ruth Sanderson and Art Directors Diane Earley and Nicole De Las Heras - It's always valuable to hear feedback from industry professionals who you may potentially market your work to.
  • Got Rhythm? Pacing the Picture Book with Illustrators/Writers Deborah Freedman and Frank Dormer - These two were hilarious! Using Molly Bang's Picture This: How Pictures Work, they had us illustrate stories using construction paper, glue, and other physical materials. Deb and Frank did a great job of reinforcing how important basic shapes and colors are to creating a strong composition, regardless of how realistic the final illustration will be.
  • "What Makes a Bestselling Picture Book?" with AJ Smith and Susan Savory - This a very loaded question but AJ and Susan did a nice job of breaking down what makes the classics...classic!
  • Now Try It Like This: Tough Love for Illustrators with Deborah Freedman - Another excellent pacing class in which Deb made us look at different ways to compose a scene and move the story forward.
  • The Picture Book Dummy for Smart Illustrators And Authors with R.W. Alley - R.W. Alley did a wonderful job of describing the picture book process, from the hiccups along the way to the final printed version, while having us practice different ways of translating a manuscript into a picture book dummy.

The crew enjoying dinner at Theodore's
Every year, NESCBWI manages to bring in an excellent keynote speaker and this year was no exception! The very talented Peter H. Reynolds gave a wonderful speech on being an artist, writer, and about passionately following your dreams and honoring your talents.

One of my favorite parts about the conference, though, is seeing old friends and making new ones. These conferences bring together tremendous talent throughout the region (and in some cases throughout the country).  It's great to sit down with fellow writers and illustrators and chat it up!

I also want to give a BIG congratulations to my friends and fellow artists who won awards at the 2014 NESCBWI Conference:
Renee Kurilla's portraits of illustrators Greg Matusic and Kevin Barry
Congratulations for the awesome recognitions! The hard work pays off!

It's hard to believe that the conference has already come and gone! I'm already looking forward to what 2015 has in store!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy New Year!

I'm a little late in getting this post up but...Happy New Year! The start of a new year marks a time when we all reflect on our goals and plans for the coming months ahead. A new year imparts the feeling of a fresh start, where new opportunities abound. It's no accident that the New Year is announced around the world with tremendous fanfare (fireworks, the ball drop in New York City, and confetti included)! All of us rejoice at the chance of starting anew and exercising the exemplary potential that each and every one of us is capable of.

It's been some time since I've posted anything new online (my blog and website included)! That will change soon though! Like many people, I've taken some time to set my own goals for 2014. Some of which include:

  • A redesign and restructure of my website
  • Update my portfolio with new pieces
  • Work on a new picture book dummy
  • Maintain a sketchbook more regularly

While these are just a few goals that I've set for the new year, it's important for all of us to take this time to reflect on what we envision will foster happiness and success in our own personal lives.

2014 will be an exciting year! I'll be posting on my blog more frequently to share the latest news regarding The AP Sabourin Studio (and there will be a lot!). 

With the new year already well under way, make sure to take chances, push yourself to the limits, continue to pursue your dreams, and always take some time to appreciate what surrounds you. I hope that each and every one of us has a wonderful 2014!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Into the Arts Festival

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of visiting Juniper Park Elementary School in Westfield, MA. After teaching the students a little bit about illustration, children's books, and storytelling, I provided the start of a story, which the students completed with their own ideas and illustrations. This weekend, their artwork, along with many other young, talented artists in Westfield, will be on display at the 8th annual Into the Arts festival held at Westfield Vocational Technical High School. The event will take place on both Saturday and Sunday. Below are some details:

Westfield Vocational Technical High School
33 Smith Avenue
Westfield, MA

March 22nd
5:30 - 8:30 pm

March 23rd
10:00 am - 2:00 pm

If you can, stop by, partake in the festivities, and celebrate Westfield's artistic talents! I hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful New Year! Last year was an amazing journey! From attending the 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City in January to spending time at the NESCBWI regional conference in Springfield, MA, I had the opportunity to meet so many incredibly talented writers, illustrators, agents, editors, and art directors.
With 2013 already upon us, I have a lot of big changes and announcements in store. One of the biggest is the update of The AP Sabourin Studio website. With an expanding portfolio of work, the need to add some new features and sections to the site, and the importance of updating the design, coding, and responsiveness of the site, I've found it necessary to begin work on a new website.  As the new site develops, I'll post updates.
Last year, I began taking classes in web design. So, I'll also be putting up some more design related work as well.
May everyone have an exciting (and lucky) 2013!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Portrait of a Raphael's Angelo Doni, Complete!

As usual, it's been a busy past few months. Between web design classes, freelance work, and my own illustration projects, my creative plate has been quite full!
I'll be posting some of my web and graphic design work in the coming weeks. Because my portfolio is rapidly expanding and evolving, I'm also working on a major overhaul of my website. I'm hoping to add an online store to the new site as well, through which prints, posters, etc. of my illustrations can be purchased. I'll post updates as the site develops.
A few months back, I put up some process work behind one of my pen and ink illustrations, Portrait of a Raphael's Angelo Doni!, but never posted the finished version. Well, the wait is over! Here it is in all of its black & white glory!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Light that Still Shines Bright

Remembering Doug B. Horak

Life is an unpredictable thing.  Time, something that must always be valued and respected.  A few weeks ago, I learned just how true these statements are when I discovered that a very close friend had unexpectedly passed away.  While I and so many knew him as a friend, others called him brother or son.   Whether we would be at the cinemas, admiring the stunning animation of Pixar's latest film, or having a drink as we discussed the future of art, that stinging pain that comes with the realization that someone you have known for so many years will no longer be with you still burns.  It hurts even more to know that the world will never see the full potential of such a talented artist.
Not only did he have a kind heart, a distinct smile, and a genuine laugh, but he was supportive and proud of all of his friends and their endeavors.  Though his skills were impressive, notching up such recognitions as the Grand Prize for the 2011 Lucasfilm "Man versus Nature" Concept Art Award (which led to an internship at Lucasfilm Studios in California) and placing second in a competition sponsored by Animation Magazine for their poster pitch contest, he would always brag and swoon over the talent of others, most especially his friends.  His passion, motivation, and unconditional selflessness served as a source of inspiration for all who knew him.

I can't help but imagine that as I write this, Doug has his signature Bose headphones on, studying the composition and color palette for an upcoming painting.  He'll be planning it out much like he did with his other pieces, a few sketches and a study or two in preparation of the final painting.  While much of his work is done digitally, with this particular image he'll be working in a traditional fashion, with vibrant oil paints, a pockmarked palette of dried liquin and oil swatches (although there is an untouched spot left on the top, right corner from which to work).  In typical Doug fashion, the piece will be finished and ready to critique in only two days time.  And an intriguing one it is at that!  In the near distance, one can see a massive roller coaster, dwarfing the mightiest of skyscrapers.  Through the atmospheric haze of the sky stands a monument of tremendous cliffs guarding over the innocent, virgin blue lakes below them.  If you look close enough, you'll even notice a small, red tavern.  Although somewhat aged, it still has a warm, inviting appearance.  Perhaps here, you could rest a while, have a drink, and maybe even play a game or two of darts.  And yes, that glistening, winged silhouette in front of the blazing light of the daytime sun is a dragon.  The painting seems to almost resemble an amusement park, with all of these impressive landmarks being housed within splendidly intricate, golden gates.  To the trained eye, the influence of the gothic style, so prolific in the middle ages, adorns the surrounding, gated architectural perimeter of "the park."  Before turning away, you find it interesting to note that Doug painted a modest booth in front of this stunning display.  You might even chuckle in admiration as you realize there is a gray bearded, kindly old man in a long brown robe standing beside it.  At first, you think Doug injected a little bit of Star Wars humor, placing Obi Wan Kenobi as the gatekeeper of a theme park.  But then you notice this man has no mythical lightsaber adorning his attire.  All he has are a set of gold keys in his right had as he motions for you to enter this splendid place.  With this, you smile and begin to walk away, noting Doug's atypical choice for the painting's title, "Saint Peter's Gates, a Heavenly Park."

Rest in peace, my friend.  I, along with so many others, will carry your memory with me, striving to honor it every step of the way on my journey through life.  I hope that one day, you, I, and all of our friends and family will be able to share the fun that can be had at "Saint Peter's Gates."

Doug's impressive portfolio can be seen at  For a glimpse into his creative process, be sure to check out his blog.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Portrait of a Raphael's Angelo Doni!

I did several quick pen and ink studies for a spot illustration I worked on about a month ago.  Before posting up the finished piece, I thought it would be fun to show some of the process work behind it.  I always enjoy looking through other artists' sketchbooks.  There's something about the rawness and unedited qualities of a sketch that just can't be replaced.  
It's also fun to see who artists are studying and referencing as they create their artwork.  When I first got the idea for the spot, Raphael's Angelo Doni jumped right into my head as the portrait that I wanted to include in the illustration. Immediately after, I did some quick pen and ink studies of different types of dog heads to put onto the body.  In the final illustration, I chose the Afghan Hound because of his hair and elongated muzzle, both of which resemble Doni's hair and long nose.  Any time I have the opportunity to peruse my art books for an illustration project, I eagerly embrace it!