Children's Book Illustration School  Fall 2021

Discover a natural way to illustrate a children's book,
from your first thumbnails to the final art

Focus on Three Competencies

The live class component of Make Your Marks and Splashes! bears down on the skills children's book art directors and editors will look for in your portfolio (or illustrated book dummy): Drawing, Composition and Color. You'll see how to:

  • Draw with more confidence
  • Unlock beautiful color and design in your art
  • Know exactly how to proceed with your picture book dummy/proposal or children's story illustration assignment
Page proofs for

Austin SCBWI friends admire the early page proofs for the picture book Grandfather Gandhi, by Bethany Hegedus and Arun Gandhi, illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers.) Pictured are authors and/or illustrators Greg Leitich Smith, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Bethany Hegedus, Jeff Crosby, Erik Niells, Julie Lake and Amy Farrier.

Dauntless Drawing
and Design

The Drawing module packs the essential lessons for creating and composing your lines – the blueprint for your painted illustrations. You'll learn to

  • Delight and move your viewer's eye with strong design
  • Create strong, original visual characters and render them consistently from page to page
  • Fit your story's 360° big round world into your small picture space so viewers feel inside your scenes

Painting Pretty

The Painting module shares the secrets of handling traditional watercolor the easy (i.e. professional) way. Discover how to:

  • Master your 'watercolor grammar' with a few simple brush techniques
  • Paint with charm and assurance while retaining your personal style
  • Control your color so that every part of your picture sings
  • Never again feel bored, confused or limited by your illustration's palette choices

The Right Conversations

In addition to lessons on craft, the course provides a wealth of video encounters with illustrators and other children's publishing pros – 100 hours of shoptalk.

Immerse yourself in the decisions made behind the pictures in in-depth interviews,  presentations and group critiques – enough to fill five conferences. with author-illustrators, agents and art directors will help you banish marketplace naivete and challenge wrong assumptions.

Illustrator Laura Logan shares the adventure of her debut as an author-illustrator with her picture book little butterfly (HarperCollins.)

You don't have to do it alone

Some of the more than 50 creators you'll meet and learn from

Denise Fleming is the Caldecott Honor award-winning author-illustrator of many beloved picture books for the very young including, In the Tall, Tall Grass and In the Small, Small Pond (Henry Holt.)

Patrice Barton is the illustrator of the award-winning picture books MINE!
by Shutta Crum (Knopf, 2011) and The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Knopf, 2013) and Junior Library Guild selection chapter books.

Aiko Ikegami

Aiko Ikegami is the author-illustrator of Friends (Albert Whitman and Company); Seed Man (Sleeping Bear Press); Hello (Creston Books) and Why Worry? (West Margin Press), a reissue of the picture book by Eric Kimmel.

Larry Day

Larry Day is an award-winning illustrator of both fiction and non-fiction. His 2014 release: Lion Lion, by Miriam Busch (Balzer + Bray) was named to NPR’s Best Books For 2014, and a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Terry Widener has illustrated over 30 books. His first picture book, Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man by David A. Adler (Harcourt) was a Boston Globe – Horn Book Honor Book. Other books include The Streak by Barb Rosenstock, (Calkins Creek) and You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! by Jonah Winter (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)

Kelly Light

Kelly Light is the author-illustrator of the Louise series (Harper Collins). Louise Loves Bake Sales and Louise and The Class Pet are the first readers in Harpercollins’ I Can Read program.  Kelly has also illustrated Elvis and the Underdogs and other Elvis books by Jenny Lee (Balzer + Bray) and The Quirks series by Erin Soderberg (Bloomsbury).

Don Tate is the Ezra Jack Keats Award winning author and/or illustrator of more than fifty critically acclaimed books for youth. He's illustrated Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton (Charlesbridge, 2016); The Cart That Carried Martin by Eve Bunting, (Charlesbridge); Hope’s Gift by Kelly Sterling Lyons, (Penguin) and many others.

Janee Trasler

Janee Trasler has written and illustrated picture books and board books for HarperCollins, FSG, Scholastic, Sterling Publishing, Little Brown, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, Zonderkidz, and Highlights for Children. Recent series include Bedtime for Chickees (HarperCollins) and Caveman, A.B.C. Story (Sterling)

Carolyn Dee Flores illustrated Canta Rana Canta/Sing Froggy Sing, and wrote and illustrated The Amazing Watercolor Fish, A Surprise for Teresita and Dale Dale Dale, all published by Arte Publico/Piñata Books.

Laura Logan

Laura Logan is the author-illustrator of Little Butterfly (HarperCollins) and illustrated Two to Cuddle by Eileen Spinelli (Worthy Kids) and The Bill Martin Junior Big Book of Poetry (Simon & Schuster).

Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan is the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-winning author-illustrator of Ball, Frankie, Treat and Nobody's Duck, published by Houghton Mifflin and many other books.

Emma Virjan

Emma J. Virján is the author-illustrator of the popular Pig in a Wig picture book series, published by HarperCollins, and Nacho the Party Puppy, by Random House.

First impressions more than count...

The Find Your Fit module shows how to present yourself and your art to decision makers – and  network (sanely) in the community. In a bounty of workshop replays, seasoned children's book art directors and agents who represent illustrators share how they'll assess your art and advise how to work with them.

Abigail Samoun, children's book agent, co-founder of the Red Fox Literary Agency talks with students on a Marks & Splashes hangout.

See how these agents and art directors think about illustration...

Enroll NOW for these extra bonuses...

Bonus 1 The Going Pro with The Girllustrators video series

Bonus 2 – Drawing Basics Intensive workshop video series with Cindy Wider

Bonus 3 Julie's Story Town, a special module on picture book story craft 

Bonus 4 Artist Website Lab, a new course on how to set up and promote your online illustration portfolio by Elizabeth MacLean.

Drawing Basics Intensive

Cindy Wider, one of the Internet’s most capable art instructors, is the co-founder of and the Cindy Wider Method with her husband, fellow artist, Stuart Wider.
Dive into this eight hour series of video trainings Cindy did for us on Drawing, including with colored pencils, using her groundbreaking approach. (left) Color pencil art by Cindy.

Artist Website Lab

Build and launch your artist's website and online portfolio with Squarespace 7.1 in this new self-paced video course by digital media and marketing specialist, Dr. Elizabeth MacLean who works with artists, illustrators and designers.

You'll discover how to prepare images for online display, how to develop clarity around your intended audience, how to use SEO to get found online, how to set up an e-commerce store to sell your original art, and how to offer Giclee prints and other products featuring your art and illustrations on your website, by using the popular print on demand service Printful.

The course, valued at $197 includes step-by-step video lessons and tech tutorials, and you’ll have access for the lifetime of the course, including all future course updates.

Art for "Thumbelina" by Mark Mitchell


Six months of painting
Deep Dives

Six months of complimentary Deep Dives – monthly practice sessions in which we paint a scene together for a fairy or folk tale, nursery rhyme or fable. launch your artist's website and online portfolio with Squarespace in this new three day video course by digital media and marketing specialist, Dr. Elizabeth MacLean who works with artists on their communication.

I show you my painting steps, though it doesn't mean you must follow my demo. Your personal interpretations are encouraged, but you're welcomed to download my sketches, visual references and steps for creative prompting. [(right) "Mole and Thumbelina" art by Mark Mitchell]

14 Day, 100% Money Back Guarantee

If you're anything less than pleased with the course, e-mail me within 14 days of signing up. I'll refund you with no questions asked and no hassles. My reputation as a teacher is based on your complete satisfaction.                                                                    –Mark Mitchell

It's the course you've been looking for...

To help you over beginner's syndrome and to find your illustrator's 'voice.'


  • Q.What can I expect from the course?

    A.You’ll be able to satisfactorily complete the illustration project you’ve set for yourself, be it a picture book dummy, partial dummy or some strong painted samples for a mailing or your portfolio, using the lessons as your roadmap.

    You’ll come away with new strategies, skills and confidence in drawing, design, color and painting and a better understanding of the children’s publishing art market.

    You’ll have the steps for proceeding with just about any assignment, from thumbnails to full-color final art.

  • Q.I've studied art at the college level. Will this curriculum be 'old hat' for me?

    A.Many of our students have some college backgrounds in art or paint or have even worked in art-related fields. Some of the ideas taught here may be familiar to them. Many have reported that they appreciate the review and said that, though the course reintroduces some familiar essential concepts, it fills in important knowledge gaps.

    Make Your Splashes is designed to help artists at all levels meet the challenge of pictorial composition, and support all students on their paths to publication.

  • Q.Can this online course substitute for art school?

    A.Taking classes at an accredited college or professional art school is never to be discouraged. But if you can’t attend class ‘on the ground’, good online instruction offers a powerful and quick alternative to information, ideas, demos and people.

    You don’t need a degree in music to play the guitar, or write and record a song.
    The same goes for painting a picture. Plenty of artists have been ‘home schooled.’ This course falls in a time-honored tradition of individual home study, informal classes and periodic workshops with teachers to develop craft.

  • Q.How long does the course last?

    A.The course is self-paced. You have a lifetime to put the lessons to practice. Choosing the interactive version of the course includes ten weeks of live-streaming Homework Huddles with course creator Mark Mitchell.

  • Q.How much is it?

    A.Your tuition for lifetime access to the course and a semester of live huddles with course creator Mark Mitchell is $397.

  • Q.I've never taken an art class before and can't draw a straight line. Will I be out of my depth here?

    A.If you’ve never taken an art course, you’ll find this a most exciting, possibly life-changing introduction to drawing, painting and children’s book art.

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Student Testimonials...

I just had to let you be the first to know (well, after my husband)...I sold 5 illustrations!!!!  I've joined SCBWI and will be working on my artist page. Thanks again, Mark.  I'm off to do a happy dance.            Laura Miller

I wanted to share something that happened at the SCBWI Northern Ohio conference.
We were sitting in the ballroom on Friday evening for the opening remarks from the keynote speaker who was Loraine Joyner, senior art director at Peachtree Publishers. She was giving everyone tips and pointers for our hopeful careers in the children's book world. She recommended taking on-line classes to work on our craft, and then she paused and asked if anyone in the audience had heard of Mark G. Mitchell. I, of course, raised my hand. So she looked at me and asked if I had taken your class, and I said, "yes." She then asked if it was worth it, and I replied, "Absolutely. It was the best money I have ever spent!"
(Fortunately, I didn't have to think about it, because it's so true).             Tracy Molitors

Your videos are like gold treasures!  Honestly, I believe you are God-sent in my life.          Mary Martin

I must say that when I started your class I stepped into another world. I had taken a few art classes before but your lessons and all of the tremendous amount of information on illustrators, videos, interviews, critiques, techniques, ebooks etc. make me feel I've entered into a delightful world of interesting and gracious folks that do hard and worthwhile but also fun work.            Jean

I wish all textbook illustrators could just go through your course once!  Thank you for making color theory actually make sense!! I know I should be working on the assignments from the first few lessons first, but your course seems to read like a blockbuster that I just can't put down. So I peeked in to the other lessons and I was hooked on color theory!             Pooja Srinivas, Hyderabad, India

Your session is so much more than I thought.  I really love the spiritual aspect of your art lessons.  I am electrified. I am grateful that I am being able to take your course.  Just wanted to thank you.     Aiko Ikegami

I’m so grateful that you’ve made this course available to someone like me. I’m  really learning to pull my painting together with each lesson I do. I’ve been trying to incorporate each new exercise I learn into one painting, as you might tell from the photo I included in this email...   Thanks again for offering such a wonderful course.

– Nancy Kennedy (See the Little Red Riding Hood illustration on her blog.)

When I took Mark's class, I was at best a doodler with a desire to draw well but without the background or drive to work really hard towards my goal. The class environment was very supportive, with students taking their cues from Mark's way of finding the good in your work and his gentle way of helping you see where you could improve. I'm still in touch with some of those students, and we look back at how far we've come. But I remember that class as my first real step towards taking my art seriously.              Erik Niells, animator and web design consultant, Austin, TX

I'm contacted from time to time by illustrators who are starting out or need a jump start and want to know where to begin. If they are remotely local, I always highly recommend your AMOA class. I took it over 8 years ago (WOW) as my first introduction to children's book illustration and it's still the most helpful resource I've ever tried. I learned SO much. I have always felt like you taught me how to do a jigsaw puzzle--taking the mystery out of the pieces of the process and giving me the technical know-how so I could put it all together and focus on the creating.              Laura Logan, illustrator, Austin, TX

If there is anything you want to learn about illustrating children's books, Mark Mitchell is the teacher for you. I took his course at Laguna Gloria Art School in Austin and it was fantastic. He taught us everything: laying out the book, making the drawings, creating and using a color wheel based on a four-color process, using water color techniques, getting published, and marketing your book. Mark appears to be very laid back, but he has a real knack for organizing and presenting information, and he gives excellent feedback to help his students build their skills. I am so looking forward to his online class.          Linda Seder, artist, Austin, TX

In all of my research (on-line and in books) in the last several years, I have never come across a clearer, more work-able approach to color that can be applied practically to a painting...and I have looked far and wide for this information, recognizing that it was of major importance... The need for a sustainable, predictably successful approach to color, for illustration as well as fine art, became crystal clear to me when I switched from oil painting to watercolors...the old 'keep messing with it until it's right' approach just was NOT working with watercolor... (Is this the 'shadow' side of watercolor's wonderfulness...unforgiving??).  As you predicted, the results are immediately recognizable. I heave a huge sigh of relief!         Susan Sorrell Hill, Northern California

Mark Mitchell is a delightful teacher. Each class brings a wealth of practical information yet coupled with plenty of time for releasing your creativity to produce viable images. His sense of humor makes the time fly by and you quickly forget how bad your back hurts from sitting on those bar stools!          Diane Carr, counselor and life coach, Austin, TX

Your course has given me a new burst of energy and excitement. I feel like a child again playing with the paint and my own imagination, but with a much firmer foundation. I can now actually understand why a painting I gave up on didn't work. It's amazing.
It's a sense of freedom I've never known before.           Linda Bray

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