Brian Pinkney comes from a family of children's author/illustrators. His parents are Jerry and Gloria Jean Pinkney, his wife Andrea is a writer/editor and his brother Myles and sister-in-law Sandra are involved in photography. Pinkney was born in Boston and grew up in upstate New York. He became involved in the picture book business when his father solicited his help in creating the image of a ghost--for which his father modeled. Brian frequently served as a model for many of this father's books.
One of Pinkney's art instructors introduced him to the scratchboard technique. Pinkney decided to take a chance to see if any publishers would like this style. He adds an oil pastel overlay to the engraving and gets a rich, luminous finished product. Apparently the publishers liked this style as many of Pinkney's books are created with this technique. The Mazza Museum is fortunate to have one of Pinkney's original scratchboard pieces on display in Gallery One.
Pinkney has won several Coretta Scott King Awards, as well as earning Caldecott Honors for two of his books. He considers his artwork "another gesture that's going to make another impression."
It was the good fortune of the Mazza Summer Conference to have Grace Lin as a speaker!
Lin also hails from upstate New York and shared with us that her family was the only Asian family in her hometown. Lin did not appreciate being singled out when the book Five Chinese Brothers was read to her class. She has since recreated and illustrated a Chinese folktale Seven Chinese Sisters.
When Lin was young, she dreamed of being an Olympic Gold Medalist ice skater. Her illustrations of this fantasy actually helped launch her career as a children's book author/artist.
In the sixth grade, Lin entered a contest in which the winning book would be published. Her "Dandelion Story" earned her a $1,000 scholarship. However, another well-known children's book illustrator won the contest with his rendition World War Won. After this, Lin decided to seriously pursue a career in illustration.
When a publisher contacted her to see whether she had a story to accompany one of the paintings in her portfolio, the book The Ugly Vegetables sprouted. Lin now embraces her Chinese heritage and many of her books enlighten us about her cultural background. Her young adult novel, When the Mountain Meets the Moon pays homage to European and Asian fairytales. Her travels to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are also reflected in much of her artwork.
Lin concluded by explaining the significance of the "swirls" in her artwork. These echo the celestial motion of the heavens, representing the endless circle of enlightenment, elegance and infinite wisdom. She attempts to always have her swirls turning to the right.
The conference concluded with the distribution of fortune cookies to all the participants. Each one contained the message "May you be fortunate enough to return to MAZZA again!" Lucky numbers: 7/12-16/2010.