February is #sketchsquall month!

If you participated in Tara Lazar’s wonderful #Storystorm picture book idea challenge this year, Sue Macartney and I invite you to join us for the #sketchsquall challenge to create one sketch per day in February, based on your January #Storystorm ideas!

The aim is to invest some of that “new project” enthusiasm in one image for each idea. Think of it as your visual elevator pitch. It should, hopefully, evoke an emotional response while teasing the story, sort of like that one image you pick for your promo postcards

I found over the years that my usual picture book process of working out the text, then thumbnailing, then dummying, left me with little energy for the art. Putting the . . . er . . . art before the horse is an attempt to capture the spark that got me excited about the idea, RIGHT AWAY. After doing it this way for a couple of years, I also found that trying to get an image down first is a great way to vet which ideas are worth carrying to the next level. [Bonus tip from years of observation: one great image can sell a book! I’ve seen it happen!]

This is an exercise to help you winnow your #Storystorm ideas. It’s just for you. If you feel that posting an image gives too much of your idea away, then don’t! But if you are so inclined, you can post your daily sketch on the platform of your choice, using the #sketchsquall hashtag.

You can see mine here (and scroll down for past #sketchsquall posts), on Instagram (bonnie_adamson) and on Twitter (@BonnieAdamson).

Happy sketching!


Another fabulous #Storystorm is coming to a close. Last year, in an effort to get a fresh perspective, I decided to take my stash of 30 ideas and create a sketch every day in February, one for each Storystorm nugget (inspired by a #kidlitart sketch-a-day challenge going on at the same time).

I was looking for a quick way to vet some of the ideas, and also shake up my development process. A Famous Illustrator whose workshop I attended at an SCBWI LA conference said that he considered his projects to be wordless stories until the images were in place, THEN he wrote the text. That struck me as a great plan–I had been doing the opposite, figuring I had to have the story written and polished before embarking on the art . . . only to find that my enthusiasm had sometimes left me by the time it came to creating the art.

I think the 2019 experiment was successful–some of the ideas never made the leap from thought to image. Some landed neatly (TOO neatly?), and some took massive coaxing to find a foothold on the other side (scroll down to see the day-by-day efforts). Overall, around seven seemed to me to be worth pursuing.

I wrote about the experience in a post for Tara Lazar’s 2020 Storystorm challenge, and several fellow Storystormers expressed an interest in trying the same thing–Sue Macartney came up with the awesome hashtag: #sketchsquall. So, here we go! I’ll be posting my images here, and on Twitter (@BonnieAdamson) and Instagram (bonnie_adamson). Feel free to follow along–or, better yet, join us! You don’t need to have participated in #Storystorm–we all have snippets of ideas scribbled on post-its or frantically typed into phone apps in the middle of the night. Use what you have! Several non-illustrators have said they’ll be trying the image-before-words process, too. If you’re shy about sharing your work (I don’t encourage anyone to reveal images that might give away the particulars of a unique idea)–you can simply post insights and progress by adding the hashtag.

See you February 1!

In the meantime, here is a squirrel.