This past spring, I had the lovely good fortune to fall into a wonderful artists’ critique group. We met through our amazing SCBWI Southern Breeze region. I’ll share more about our small band in future posts (Beth Rommel, Kathleen Bradshaw, Prescott Hill, Paula Puckett, and yours truly).
Beth came to see me at Mule Camp!
TODAY, I want to celebrate our “fearless leader” – or, at least, the one of us brave enough to host us in her home each month and keep our calendar on track. Why are we celebrating? Because BETH ROMMEL just won first place in the SCBWI Southern Breeze 2012 illustration contest, as announced this past weekend at our fall conference in Birmingham! Woo-hoooo!!!!! The contest was judged by Debra Kaplan, Vice President and Executive Art Director at Penguin Young Readers. (Yes, you should be impressed!)
Beth came to the Atlanta area in June 2011. She grew up in Louisiana, and her work has been widely exhibited in Texas and the Southwest, and in Florida, where she later lived. Her work experience includes graphic design, editorial, production, public relations, and education. Now you can find Beth and her wonderful paintings here in Georgia!
The prompt for this year’s contest (coordinated by our own Kathleen Bradshaw, by the way) was: “PJ tried and tried…”
Wouldn’t you know it, Beth was not able to attend this weekend because she was the special guest at another art event in Atlanta featuring her oil paintings. So I snapped a quick picture on my iPhone of her work up on the BIG screen:
image ©Beth Rommel. All rights reserved.
Here’s a better picture of her painting:
“PJ tried and tried to make friends with the horses.” ©Beth Rommel. All rights reserved.
Beth kindly offers this peek into how she created her winning picture:
I am so surprised to have won this because as a painter my style is very different from traditional children’s book illustration, which I really admire.
In coming up with a way to complete the prompt “P.J. tried and tried” I spoke with fellow artist Prescott Hill who said he was trying to remember things he had done as a child. I was always doing something with horses in my childhood, riding them, showing them, trying to catch them in a field, make them my friends (carrots and apples always helped that process).
Because of that constant contact their form is intuitive. It is well embedded in my Visual Catalogue, a term I coined recently. (I define it as a registry of the images kept in one’s mind. The images are derived from experiences of all descriptions.) I wanted to convey the feeling of being in a field surrounded by horses, some are friends, some are a little wild, some threatening, and others completely ignore you. This whole cast of characters I knew as a child. Wearing mismatched clothes was not an issue in the country early in the morning when all I wanted to do was get outside and get on a horse. In my dad’s big jackets or a flannel shirt I would walk the wet fields in Louisiana trying to track down these creatures and hope they wouldn’t run away before I could catch one for the ride home.
I used a palette of mixed media: acrylic paint, white ink, collage papers on coldpress 140 lb. watercolor paper. The original is proportionally twice the size as the final printed piece as I work better in a large format. I have tried to imagine what it would have been like to see my horses on a large screen at the conference! I sure wish I had been there; thank you again for sending me the photo. I am walking on air.
Thanks so much for this behind-the-scenes look, Beth!
Here is a taste of some more of Beth’s vibrant works. These are all oil paintings.
portraits: Co-Directors of the World Shakespeare Project. ©Beth Rommel. All rights reserved.
Admired Woman. ©Beth Rommel. All rights reserved.
Nancy and Andy. ©Beth Rommel. All rights reserved.
The Big Chicken was Back Again. ©Beth Rommel. All rights reserved.
Can’t wait to see what else Beth has in store. You can keep up with Beth at her new art blog, bethrommel.com.
What feelings does Beth’s artwork evoke in YOU? Let her know in your congratulations in the comments!