NOTES from October 2017 meeting; SPEAKER Sue Todd

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 6:58 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

NOTES from October 11 meeting SPEAKER: Sue Todd


President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone and introduced some attending CANSCAIP volunteers and staff: Rita Bailey, Patricia Storms, Michele Nidenoff, Holly Main, Rob Morphy, Theo Heras, Anne Laurel Carter, Bev Katz Rosenbaum and Helena Aalto

Sharon thanked Barbara Greenwood for another outstanding issue of CANSCAIP News and noted that attendee Jo Ellen Bogart did a great job on the Jean Little profile. 


Three people, attending for the first time, introduced themselves. 


Celebrate with author Sylvia McNicoll as she launches The Artsy Mistake Mystery at the Art Gallery of Burlington on Sunday, November 5 from 2:00 - 3:30. 

Melanie Fishbane has several events promoting Maud

  • Saturday, October 14 at 6:30: Book signing at Chapters in Peterborough
  • Sunday, October 22 at 11:00: Books and Brunch with three other authors, presented by Blue Heron Books and held at Wooden Sticks in Uxbridge. Tickets are 25.00 and include food.
  • Saturday, November 11: Melanie is on the Breaking In panel at our Packaging Your Imagination conference. 


Picture book author Lana Button is CANSCAIP’s new liaison with IBBY - International Board on Books for Young People. IBBY’s Canadian branch was founded in 1980 with a mandate to introduce Canadian children’s literature to the world as well as bring international works to Canada’s attention. IBBY Canada gives out awards and grants and also nominates Canadians for prestigious international awards. Their Children in Crisis fund offers bibliotherapy and helps replace libraries that are destroyed due to war or natural disasters. This year, IBBY has nominated Kenneth Oppel and Isabelle Arsenault for the prestigious international Hans Christian Anderson Award (the little Nobel). Lana urged CANSCAIP members to get more involved with IBBY by volunteering. 

Sharon passed on message from Teresa Toten about BookShout, on Sunday, October 22 from 1:30 to 6:00 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bluma Appel Salon. This is the TPL’s inaugural festival of reading for young adults. The afternoon will feature some of YA’s current stars, including S.K. Ali, Kelley Armstrong, Elly Blake, Vicki Grant, Melanie Florence, Lesley Livingston, Richard Scrimger, and Teresa. There will be presentations, questions, and signings. This event is free but you have to register. 


CANSCAIP’s Administrative Director Helena Aalto noted that our Packaging Your Imagination conference will be on Saturday, November 11. This year, you will be able to buy an audio recording of any additional sessions for an extra $25. Virtual PYI will be offered once again. 

Our September 20 webinar on grants, given by Heather O’Connor, was very successful. Forty-two people registered. Anyone who missed it can still buy/watch the video recording. 

Helena noted that at our September meeting she had forgotten to thank Melanie Fishbane for her two years of overseeing CANSCAIP’s social media presence. 


Sharon relayed the message sent by Eric Walters: Sue Todd’s illustrations on their latest picture book collaboration, Wild Beasts, are “quite frankly, simply brilliant.” 

Patricia Storms (programming committee) introduced Sue Todd.  A graduate of OCA (now OCADU), she was initially a freelance designer who took up lino carving in her spare time. She has created art for advertising, editorial, and publishing (first for educational books and now trade). She has also created book covers, posters and tee shirts. Her work can be found in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. She has recently taken up portrait painting and is also working on her first graphic novel. In addition to making art, Sue enjoys opera, yoga, and cycling. 

Sue said she came late to the lino cutting technique, (using ordinary linoleum flooring), but now she has been doing it for twenty years, and the technique provided her with a second career. 

She began with a slide show on the different tracks her career has taken. She pointed out that it’s useful for artists to make and see their mistakes and failures along the way. She reminded us it’s a journey and that artists are always learning. She did a ton of advertising illustrations for about ten years. These jobs were challenging because the deadlines were incredibly tight.  She did a lot of work for business and legal magazines, until stock images took over from illustrations.  She never tried licensing (wants to) but her work has wound up on products, including Walmart shopping bags. 

Sue reminded us it’s never too late to bloom. She came very late to children’s trade publishing. She got her first two trade book commissions only in the last couple of years, for books by Tomson Highway and Eric Walters. 

A highlight of the evening was Sue’s demonstration of her lino cutting technique, pointing out that whatever you carve is a reverse image; it is the space around the line that gets inked. She brought all her tools, and showed us how to carve – always away from the body! Once the linoleum is clamped down and carved, Sue spreads ink evenly on a platen. She uses a tabletop printmaking press for small works, but does larger pieces by hand. Sue mentioned that she likes every stage of this process—thinking of the image, carving it, printing it, and coloring it (computer or analogue). 

Next, Sue puts printmaking paper on the plate and presses on it to make her print. Her initial thumbnails, only two inches, usually end up being remarkably similar to the final product. She refines and colors the illustrations in Photoshop and likes to use textured backgrounds.  She scans in Kraft paper and colorizes/darkens. 

Her second trade book was with Orca. She’d mailed them postcards for years and they finally wrote back saying they had a project for her – An African Alphabet, written by Eric Walters. She talked with the editor about how the animals were to be presented (friendly but not anthropomorphic), and she did her sketches after reading about the animals’ habits and habitats. 

Sue mentioned she had signed a boilerplate contract for her first book, but on An African Alphabet, she hired Sally Keefe Cohen (met through CANSCAIP), who negotiated contract changes for her. 

She also noted the importance of not putting all your eggs in one basket. She buys mailing lists, sends postcards and bulk emailers, and also has a presence on several websites. 

She quoted Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: ‘In the realm of ideas, everything depends on the real world, all rests on perseverance.’ 

She cited as creative inspirations, among others: Barbara Klunder, PeeWee’s Playhouse, Edward Gorey, Tim Burton, mythology, Jim Flora, and George Walker. Sue ended by inviting us to try printmaking with the equipment and linos she brought with her. 

Sharon thanked Sue for her generosity in sharing her experiences.