Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Olive and Max images, plus a featured blog post

Olive and Max

Happy in between the holidays!
Above are some images recently completed for a book series Olive and Max, (Olive: possum, Max: mole) part of the new digital classroom library to be launched by Schoolwide, Inc.

Blog post featured on KidLit411

Also, my recent blog post for the Writers' Rumpus about writing and illustrating picture books was featured on the KidLit411 website. Huzzah! Thanks WR/KidLit411 :)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

HoHoDooDa Challenge Sketch #3


Elves, elves, elves! For some reason, they are capturing my attention this holiday season.
I remember as a kid liking the weirdness and intrigue of mistletoe. It was like a game most kids didn't want to play, except if they could be running the show!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

HoHoDooDa Challenge Sketch #2

Here's my HoHoDooDa sketch #2! Another day, another elf! This time, bringing gifts to snoozing citizens of the underground.  Check out work by other HoHoDooDa sketch participants here!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ho Ho Doo Da Challenge Sketch #1

I'm getting a late start on Linda Silvestri's annual Holiday sketch challenge: Do a holiday themed sketch every day of December. I am starting on Day #8! "Rudolph and Edgar never got to go on rides together…until today!!"

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Illustration Friday: SLOW; and Finding Your Style

This week's Illustration Friday topic was SLOW!!  I was ironically (or appropriately) too slow in getting it done for Friday, but decided to morph it into a holiday card (which some of you will be seeing soon in your mailboxes). The original SLOW idea showed several other places at the table with already finished boats made by the other elves. And a clock on the wall saying it's close to midnight. But this little elf, Luna, is taking her time, with a sturdy helper, Sergio, to keep her company.

Also, here's a link to a recent guest post I wrote for the Writers' Rumpus blog on Finding (and Borrowing) Your Illustration Style.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Olive and Max, Kelly Light Interview, Art Show!

Here's a blog post mash-up of recent illustration happenings:

Olive and Max
Above are recent illustrations I completed for an ebook series about a possum/mole duo named Olive and Max. The books are for a new digital library soon to be released by Schoolwide, Inc. I'll be posting more pics of the small mammals over the next few months, as they explore and learn about their forest surroundings. And encounter bears!!

Kelly Light Interview
Also, I had the opportunity to write two guest blog posts for Writers Rumpus: a review of Kelly Light's fantastic new picture book, followed by an interview with book author/illustrator Kelly Light. Who also encounters bears! (no, not really, that's Olive and Max)

Art Show!
And finally, some of my illustrations are now on display through Nov. 30 at the Tyngsboro Public Library. It's a sweet little library, you can even get a cup of coffee while you peruse the art! Thanks to Rhonda Buck, curator, for inviting me to show my work. No bears were harmed.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Illustration Friday: NOVELTY

This week's Illustration Friday theme is: NOVELTY. This picture is dedicated to and *utterly* influenced by the Bird Banding Workshop I attended last weekend at the Plum Island Bird Banding Station near Newburyport, MA. At the station, temporarily captured birds each receive a sparkling metal band, an id bracelet that assists researchers in efforts to understand and help conserve wild bird populations.

I am pretty sure released birds are not showing off their novel new bling to their friends, but I wanted to "dovetail" this week's theme into recent experiences, and to create an image I could send to the Station.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blog Casserole: Dummies, Dr. Seuss and Secret Sketches

Book Dummy

A new, freshly printed picture book dummy is always exciting. After months of discovery, fun and hard work. I sent mine off for its first agent review last week! 

Song for Dr. Seuss

Here's my recent Writers Rumpus post / Neil Young tribute song about being a Dr. Seuss fan. Inspired by watching the Open Mic night event at the May NESCBWI conference. And the NYC Public Library exhibit on Why Children's Books Matter.

Secret Sketches

I'm working on new <secret> sketches for a <potential> new illustration assignment! More to come.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Guest Post: Battling Resistance in Illustration

Ready? Set? STOP!!!

This week's Writers Rumpus post is all about fighting the things that stop you from getting your work done. Check it out! (Thanks)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Marlo's Scissors: Spread #2

Spread #2 from Marlo's Scissors near the end of the story. Marlo has won over her Just-So neighbor and he's let her create an animal topiary in his backyard!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Marlo's Scissors

Here is a spread from a picture book dummy I am working on for the SCBWI Carolinas Dummy Challenge.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Illustration Friday: BEARD!

This week's Illustration Friday topic is BEARD. I've been listening to a fantastic audio book -- The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy. There is a powerful scene where the two young friends paint each other's faces with mud war paint. I adapted it here to use with this week's theme. An homage.

The book is about friendship, coming of age, and finding your own creative voice. It is beautifully and forcefully told, with imagery, metaphor and ideas that stay with you and inspire.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Illustration Friday: MASK!

Charlotte's friends had given her the most beautiful gift. Her costume was now perfect. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Illustration Friday: CONTRAPTION

This week's Illustration Friday challenge is CONTRAPTION!
Finally, one of Trudy's machines worked! And it was helping her friends. Best. Day. Ever.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Career Day at Wood Hill Middle School

Talking with 8th graders at Wood Hill Middle School. Screen shows a photo of the art teacher I had who inspired me to be an artist.
This past Friday, I had the opportunity to present at my niece's 8th grade Career Day at Wood Hill Middle School in Andover, MA. I presented to 3 groups of 13-14 year olds on the kinds of jobs you can have as an artist and the kinds of jobs I have as an artist.

I probably crazy over-prepared, practicing my presentation in the car and the shower and trying to pack my PowerPoint full of interesting visuals to help tell my story, but I was nervous! I don't quite remember a Career Day when I was in the 8th grade, but someone I know said that she became a graphic designer because of a presenter at Career Day. This seemed like high stakes!

I wanted to engage and inspire the kids -- any of them -- maybe especially a girl in the room who might want to be an artist but feel like drawing wasn't something she was good enough at -- to follow and find their dreams of being an artist. I presented not only on the jobs I have now as a designer and illustrator, but on what it was like to think about being an artist when I was in the 8th grade.

There are no presentation stats I can go check to see if anyone really got something from the presentation, no way of knowing if any of what I said or showed made any kind of impact, but I do know that it seemed like a good thing to have done. I now also have more of an appreciation for teachers who do this every day.

The presentation also marked a sort of place I am at in my own career. Having the opportunity to articulate and come up with a statement about my career forced me to admit I am HAVING a career and really be clear on what things I am doing, what I enjoy about it and why. It is a good exercise! I told my art story, starting when I was in the 8th grade and finished with what I do now and where I am headed. I told them that no one does art in exactly the same way that they will, and it is there for every one of them to find if they want to. (too sentimental? I hoped not)

I also got a chance to check out some student art on the walls, and inspiring meme-like postings up in the girls' bathroom. The Personal Coat of Arms assignment below was particularly cool. And the quote about doubt -- another one to tape to my drawing table.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Illustration Friday: TEMPTATION!

This week's Illustration Friday topic is TEMPTATION. After doing sketches of kids in candy stores, bears near forbidden pots of honey, this little sketch spoke to me most.  A drum setup! Elise couldn't wait to start smashing away!
(Not sure I did the idea justice, but, from looking at reference, I finally understand how a cymbal ends up so close to the drummer!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Writers' Rumpus Guest Post: Six Things Children's Book Illustrations Need

Check out my guest post this month for Writers' Rumpus! Wisdom stolen directly from motivational guru Anthony Robbins.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

NESCBWI 14: 3 Days in Carpeted, Windowless, Kidlit Heaven!

Peter Reynolds and me and NESCBWI 14

For me, the annual New England Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Conference has become synonymous with Spring. The forsythia blooms, and hundreds arrive in Springfield, MA hotels with manuscripts, portfolios and business cards; ready to network, get info, and get inspired.

The following is a list of my Top 10 Experiences from the 2014 NESCBWI Conference:

10. Had energizing conversations with complete strangers (or people I only know online)           
At this conference, you can walk up to almost anyone and start talking and end up in a fun and interesting place. Several people I met I found out I already knew online!  Illustrators Lisa M. Griffin and Greg Matusic and writers Hayley Barrett and Josh Funk were among the many people I connected with at the conference.

9. Attended a workshop about something that’s a little beyond where I am at.
When choosing workshops for the conference back in February, I threw in one about successful school visits with author/illustrator Marty Kelley. Have I published a book yet? No. But I plan on it! So why not sit in on a session that deals with issues beyond where I am currently at in the process? The session was full of great tips gleaned from Marty’s many attempts to corral, entertain and inform large groups of elementary school kids. (Marty's Tip: Showing an animation of a kid making arm farting noises help!)

8. Attended a workshop that’s exactly where I am at.
Workshop highights for me were a dummy workshop with R.W. Alley and a pacing workshop with Deborah Freedman and Frank Dormer. Both workshops addressed the topics I currently need to address: how to use the book format effectively to tell a story, create tension, and keep readers engaged and excited. (Deborah's Tips: USE THE GUTTER! USE THE PAGE TURN!)

7. Sat in on keynotes and panels with publishing industry rockstars

 Photo by Lindsay N. Currie   

Panels can be mini-reality checks for me. While the panelists are answering questions about the state of publishing or what kinds of projects they are likely to accept, I am flooded with the sense that THESE PEOPLE EXIST. Every day, they are looking at imagery and manuscripts from people like me. This awareness is like a ticker tape running along the bottom of the panel experience for me, giving me more information than just what is being said.

6. Took pictures with aforementioned industry rock stars (see photo of Peter Reynolds above)
5. Received portfolio feedback from art directors
This is the second year I have had my portfolio critiqued by art directors from Boston area publishers. Each time and each critique has brought great feedback that pushes me to do things that maybe I thought I should be doing anyway, but needed an extra outside push to do it. (ADD TEXTURE. LEAVE ROOM FOR TEXT. MORE VARIED POINTS OF VIEW. GIVE HIERARCHY TO YOUR LINEWORK.)

4. Received portfolio feedback from fellow illustrators
More feedback that helped focus me on the things I am doing right and the things I really do need to do. 

3. Got to chill with my local critique group peeps 

I spent some quality time (morning/noon/night) with people I usually only see once a month or once every 6 months at critique groups or book readings. Here is a group that had dinner Friday night. (From left: AJ Jerrett, Nancy Goulet, Kirsti Call, Carol Ekster, Paul Czajak, a person I didn't get to meet, and Carrie Charley Brown)

2. Shared my stapler with my workshop neighbor
In the dummy workshop with R.W. Alley, we worked on cutting/taping/sketching story text and drawings. I liked the challenge and push out of my comfort zone to be working alongside fellow author/illustrators, even for an hour or two, sharing ideas verbally and non-verbally about how we approach book-making. This kind of camaraderie felt valuable and energizing.

1. Felt a sense of belonging and purpose.

The conference always gives me a sensation that I am a part of something bigger, that there are lots of people in the same pursuit and struggle. This could, of course, make me feel like ugh, there are SO many great people who are pursuing this, why should I even try? But, at this stage in the process and hopefully forever, I feel inspired. The more I learn, the more I improve, the more I work. It feels like it’s all going someplace good. Back to work! (That's me on the far left by the water pitcher. My tip: Always sit in the front row.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Illustration Friday: VOYAGE!

This week's Illustration Friday topic is VOYAGE!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Illustration Friday: REVENGE!

This week's Illustration topic is REVENGE!! Just back from a children's book conference, I am trying out some advice (use different points of view! leave room for text!) and getting back into the swing of doing Illustration Friday.

The scene is perhaps every little sister's dream come true -- Chloe finally finds a way to outsmart her strategy-minded brother!