Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Great Interview!

Just in case you missed it, I had the opportunity to chat with Fran Lewis and Marsha Cook on their book discussion radio show on Blogtalk Radio this past Tuesday.  Besides myself, there were four other guest children's and young adult authors on the show (Barbara Enhrentreu, Cheryl Brown Avery, Daniel Brian Ferry, and Concetta Payne).  It was really great to hear other authors talk about their own writing and the creative process that they go through.  We also talked a bit about how we market our books and try to get our work known in a business drowning in books.

To listen, please visit  I was the second author interviewed on the show.  I would love to hear any of your thoughts or comments!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Flat Stanley Comes for a Visit!

A few weeks ago, I got a suprise visit from the one-and-only Flat Stanley. Now if you're not familiar with Stanley's story, let me fill you in. Stanley is a character from the series of children's chapter books called Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown (there is also a picture book version). In the book, Stanley gets flattened like a piece of paper and mailed all over the world by his family.

Schools have picked up on this idea as a great way for their students to connect and write to people in faraway places. So the students create their own Flat Stanley and then mail him to family, friends, celebrities, or even a little-known children's book authors and illustrators. Stanley is then to follow that person around and spend time doing the things that person normally does. When his visit is over, Stanley is shipped back home with a letter describing his visit and some photos of the places that he went.

Here is the letter I received along with Stanley:

Now who could resist a letter like that!? So Stanley and I started out on our mini-adventure. Below is the typed version of the letter that I sent back (it would be too much work for you to read my handwriting!):

Dear ______,

Thank you so much for sending Stanley to visit me! We had a great time together! Stanley and I had a pretty busy week. We were going to start our adventures by going to my sons' soccer games, but we ended up leaving Stanley at home. It was so windy we were afraid he would would end up in Oklahoma!

Since he missed out on the games, I decided to bring Stanley with me to school where I teach art. He had a great time meeting my students and being creative. A lot of my kids wanted to make their own Stanleys from clay!

After school, Stanley went with me to the main library in downtown Fort Worth. The Elementary Art Show is coming, and I needed Stanley's help getting it ready. He helped me pick the best art and made sure I got it displayed nicely.

The next day, Stanley worked with me in my studio. I am illustrating a new book called There's a Gator Under My Bed! by Amanda M. Thrasher, and I needed Stanley's help with some of the pictures. I made him his own pencil so that he could help me out. Stanley found it very interesting that I use actual photographs of my son as reference when I draw. I use photographs because it is much easier to draw realistically if you have something to look at while you draw. (That's a good tip for anyone who wants to be an artist!)

Finally, just before bed, Stanley asked if we could read my book, Just Line Around. So Stanley and my two sons sat down together on the couch and had a bed-time story. We got a little worried afterward because we couldn't find Stanley anywhere! We looked high and low until we realized that my 4-year-old had used him as a bookmark!! Stanley wasn't hurt, though, and we all had a good laugh once we knew he was safe.

Thanks again for sending Stanley to visit! I really did enjoy it. Tell your classmates and teacher "Hi!" for me and have a GREAT rest of the school year!


Kinsy McVay

If you would like to see more pictures of Stanley's visit, click here. If you feel that you have a career or hobby that children might find interesting, please reach out to your local schools and let them know you would be open to a visit from Stanley!! Who knows, maybe you could inspire child with just a few minutes of your time.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Dellani's Tea Time with Kinsy McVay and Russ Cox| Blog Talk Radio

I had a great time today talking with Dellani Oakes, the host of "Dellani's Tea Time" on Fellow illustrator, Russ Cox, and I talked about our careers as illustrators, the types of pictures we like to draw, our inspiration, and our works-in-progress. Have a listen below. I'd love to hear what you think!


Listen to internet radio with Red River Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Dose of My Own Medicine...

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to say something than to do something? For example, I am continually telling my two boys to clean their rooms, but if you were to see my classroom, you would know immediately that I was not following my own advice!

I realized this past Friday, that I have been doing a similar thing as an art teacher and author. I am continually trying to encourage creativity in my students and in my readers, but do I really practice what I preach? Sure, I do a lot when it comes to planning lessons or marketing my book, but that is not the same as taking time for myself to be creative. I'm talking about doing something spontanious, fun, and exciting. I found out just how much I had been missing this quite by accident...

On Friday, I still hadn't decided exactly what I wanted to do for my wife for Valentine's day. I knew that I wanted to make something for her, but what should I do? Should I settle for another flower/heart painting? There's no doubt that she would love it, if for no other reason than that I had made it for her myself. But would it be something she could cherish and display proudly, or would it end up in a stack somewhere collecting dust?

I chose to take the road less traveled. For one, I didn't want to do another heart painting (where's the originality in that?), and two, I wanted my wife to be suprised by the fact that I had made something for her and by the image, itself.

Now, I will be the first to admit that the image that I chose was not terribly original, but I knew it was something that my wife would love. I decided to do a black and white charcoal drawing of praying hands. Once I had decided what to do, I started to get really excited. I would get to draw hands (which I love to do), break out my charcoal (which hadn't seen the light of day since college), and I'd get to do it all in my newly setup "studio area" in my garage (that's a story for another day). At this point, I began to question who I was really doing this for... :)

Now that I knew what I was going to do, I had to decide how I was going to do it. Just for fun, I decided to do the drawing in reverse. Typically, artists will start a painting/drawing with a basic line drawing or value sketch. Then he/she will work from the darkest areas to the lightest.

What I did, instead, was tone the entire drawing area grey with the charcoal and then use an eraser to draw the lightest areas of the drawing. (This was a drawing technique we were taught in school to help train our eyes to look for differences in light and dark.)
Do you know what I realized as I was drawing? I had completely forgotten how much I loved to draw! I let life get so busy that there was never time to be creative just for the heck of it! I didn't even realize how much I missed it until I started the drawing. I got totally engrossed in what I was doing, and I hated to have to stop when I knew my wife was coming home (it was a suprise, after all). It was great!!

So what's my point? The point is to make sure that you are giving yourself time to explore that creative side of you and to let it bloom. Take a little time once in a while at creating something, and remember that creativity is not the sole property of the artist. We all use it (or should, anyway) every day. It could be something as simple as working in your flowerbed, as complex as inventing the fuel source for the next century, or anything in between. Maybe you could make up a new board game to play with your kids. The key is that you are doing it because you want to, not because you have to. Maybe you just need a space to do what you love. I found that after I created my own little studio space in the garage to paint and draw that I am much more motivated to paint and draw (shocking!).

I posted some pictures of the drawing in its various stages above, and below are the basic steps to creating a charcoal drawing of your own. Underneath that is where I want you to post a comment on something creative that you love to do or are going to do. How did it turn out? Did you have fun? Send me some pics of what you created. I'd love to post them!!

Charcoal Drawing from Light to Dark
1. Using a medium-toned charcoal (vine charcoal or something similar), tone the entire drawing area. The color does not have to be uniform. Add some darker areas and some lighter areas. This will add interest and variety to your drawing.
2. Look closely at the item you are drawing (either an actual object or photo reference), paying particular attention to the size and shape of the brightest areas on the object.
3. Use a kneaded eraser to begin "drawing" these highlighted areas on your paper.
4. Now that you have drawn out the highlights, you can go back in with the charcoal and begin added your shadows and contour lines.
5. Don't be afraid to mess up! That's the beauty of charcoal. It can be blended, erased, drawn, erased again, blended some more... You should have some really dirty hands by the time your are done.

Tip: Anytime you do something familiar in an unusual way (like drawing with an eraser), it forces you to concentrate more and you will be more likely to learn more from the experience, even if it's something you normally do all of the time. For other great drawing ideas, check out the New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

Wow! That was a long post! I hope you made it all of the way through. :) Remember to send me some pics of your next creative adventure and be sure to leave your comments below.

'Til next time!
P.S. My wife loved the drawing!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Win a Free Children's Book: Just Line Around

Don't miss out! Visit this blog and leave a comment for your chance to win a free copy of my children's book, Just Line Around. Hurry! The contest is only good through Sunday!!!

Not sure what my book is about? You can read the entire book for FREE here.

Best of luck on the contest!!!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Literacy in America... Scary!

Read this short article from RIF (Reading is Fundamental) about the effects of literacy, or lack thereof, in our country. It is truly scary to see what lifelong roadblocks form when a child never learns to love reading... Encourage reading with every child you meet!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Win A Newbery Award-Winning Book!

The Children's Book Review is giving away copies of Rebecca Stead's Newbery Award-winning book, When You Reach Me. Leave a comment on the contest blog here and you're entered! Best of luck!!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Read My Children's Book For Free

For a limited time, you can now read my entire children's book, Just Line Around, for free online. If you've been looking for a book to encourage creativity and positive self-esteem in your children, this may just be the book for you. So take a look before you buy and let me know what you think.


-Kinsy McVay

Free Author Visit Program

My Free School Visit Program

As a parent and teacher, I understand the vital importance of encouraging reading and creativity in children, and a visiting author can be a great way to add excitement to your literacy program. An author visited my school at the beginning of this school year, and I still hear the kids talking about it!

If you or someone you know may be interested in scheduling a FREE visit to your school, please contact me or visit my website for more information. You can see an online version of my children's book, Just Line Around, by clicking here.

I look forward to hearing from you.