Write On!

Books, Creative Meet Ups, Illustration

I don’t know why I’m surprised it’s been nearly a month since my last post. It seems the time is getting away from everyone these days.I don’t feel like I’m doing that much more than I was doing a few years ago, in fact, I have more time to myself (when the boys are at school, I have just over six hours on my own)! Regardless, I feel like weeks are slipping by more like days and all the things I want to do are not getting done. But what am I actually filling my days with? That’s a good question. By the time I sat down to write this, it was well after 3pm…yesterday. I get up at 5ish in the am! So what am I doing?

I want to draw more. I want to write more. I want to take a class. Probably literature, but any class where I’m using some of my skills would be great for my psyche. This past Sunday, I went to the Chicago Lit Fest. I was so excited to finally get there, after 12 years of living here! My husband and our sons came too, and we met my friend Patty on the train on the way down and off we went on our adventure. It was so much fun, so much to experience, so much I wasn’t expecting. Lots of used books, but also a letterpress stall, tees that said “Get Lit” (couldn’t get a small btw), lots of presentations and performances! The great thing about being in a big city is, they have bookstores like you see in the movies. Sandmeyer’s is like that: going up a couple stairs to get in, creaking floors, musty smell, lots of people with glasses, and Django playing low in the background. Brilliant!


Unfortunately, in my being so overwhelmed, I missed, yes, missed, the SCBWI stall. I was so bummed, but there’s always next year! Now I know more what to expect.


While chit-chatting on the ride back, Patty had asked me if I wanted to illustrate picture books. In the beginning of my independent illustration career, I did not. I didn’t want to draw the same character over and over. That’s how I saw it, rather monotanous. After I had our boys though, I find I have things I want to tell them. Stories. Now, I really do want to, be a storyteller, with drawings. However, I want to be better than I am now. Actually, not better, but better, you know? I want to express the story. You have to want that part of it. You can’t just say “oooh, I’d love to illustrate picture books.” It’s not an errand or something on a bucket list, it’s within you. I think too, if I spend more time writing (and I used to be a pretty good at some writing, but that’s atrophied a bit), I’ll really improve my illustrations. For the record, I don’t consider myself a writer or a storyteller that way. I’ll leave that to my friends who can do that far better than I can! Don’t get me wrong, I think I draw well, but I want more vibrance, more animation. Even in an illustration you can experience movement. That’s what I need to confront. Reinvent myself a bit. I came away from the Lit Fest very inspired and enveloped within this whole “story place.” I’d found what I’d lost for a little while… This fall, I promise, I will attend the SCBWI-IL Illustration Meetings once a month like clockwork.


Which brings me to my next question (more from Work From Home Illustrative Parents): Why do we (or maybe it’s just me), as illustrators, feel some events and meetings are negotiable? That they’re “missable” if dinner has to get made or our child has a game? If my husband has a meeting at work, he stays at work. He can’t just leave and say “I’ve gotta make dinner.” Going to the Lit Fest sort of “lit” a fire under me, because I’ve let myself go dormant for so long with things I’ve needed to do that are vital to my career. And it IS a career, not a job. I’ve been considering the SCBWI conferences for a while now, and haven’t let myself go. I’ve used my younger son’s autism as an excuse for many years, that I couldn’t just leave for three days. But you know what? My husband can handle pretty much what I can, and if he had to travel, he would just go, and I would take care of our boys, He can do the same. But he also gives me the eyeroll, like somehow these conferences are more like glorified retreats. They are not, but in his defense, he can only take it as seriously as I do…Sooo, I’m going to prepare myself for the NESCBWI Conference. More intimate than LA from what I understand, but no less informative or important. Before that one, there’s one in Minnesota for a day. I think I would like to take in that one too (not to mention I’d get to see my Twitter friend Nina)!

I’ve also been getting my site organized (except I’ve got an assignment, and the boys are off from school, so it’s slow going at the moment). Here’s a sneak peek. I know, I know, the “home page” is going the way of the Triceratops and Pluto, but somehow I just feel there needs to be a transition. You don’t walk into a business and boom you’re in an office, there’s a lobby, a transition that kind of introduces you to where you are. I think a Home page does that, so I’m hanging onto that for now! ; )

Get it? I wear MANY hats! : D


I’ve actually decided to have two business cards. My illustrator one, and a Mom one. Seriously. I don’t want to give my illustrator cards to other moms, unless they’re illustrators too. I want to keep my boys separate from my work until they want to be involved with it. Is that selfish? I guess I just want them to come to it on their own terms. Our sons are always being compared to me (people don’t even know that they might get their talent from Kev, who paints too). I think I’ll do something with the background on this blog too. I think I’m going to finally stop fighting the FB Page as well. So maybe this weekend I’ll get to that. There’s always something! Looks like painting the studio will have to wait until at least August! Right now, I have to make dinner… ; ) Have a great weekend!

Stranger Tides…


I just got another “Art of” book, and I’m just not going to spoil anything for you. But go see the movie. As if you needed me to suggest it! ; ) And get this book, because looking at their process is fantastic!


Drumroll Please….

Books, Curiosities, Illustration

I don’t know how to type a drumroll, so imagine it in your head, then big finish with a cymbal! Tada! The winners are Gina and Eric! Yay!! Let me know if you’d like Fingerprint Fabulous, or Fashion Origami and I’ll get it out most quicklike…You can DM me through Twitter or email me your address…Btw, Friday I rec’d the latest book where my prints appear: Fabulous Flowers! It’s in stores and Amazon now, let me know if you see it! : )

This weekend was productive for me, I hope it was for you too! I emptied the top of my work table: so many magazines to tear apart, sort through and file references! I also added a few more reference bins to my widening array, Lifestyles (for various seasons) and Layout & Backgrounds. The latter came from the Natl Geo that was sitting on our table (and the book I just pre-ordered from Amazon last week). Backgrounds are always a challenge for me, and I think having a ref bin that I can just go to on any day when I want to doodle, and try my hand at differnent environments, would be a great exercise on a regular basis.

I also made a little room for a new acquisition: The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean~Stranger Tides…So excited!! These books have all materialized on this shelf since Christmas…I have a serious problem, and could never own a Kindle or Nook or iPad instead of all these. Of course I could “in addition to…”  ; )

So What Do Ya Think?

Books, Curiosities

Here’s my new blog: Bright, cheery and girlie! After I deactivated my Facebook page for a third time (and hopefully it’s a charm, as in, I keep it that way) I found I really did have a lot more time to focus on getting stuff done. Less talking, more doing. I’m finishing my site too, in between assignments, and that should be up soon, and will coordinate! : ) Next, new cards. Promo and business. Before that though, a promise is a promise, and I did say I would do a giveaway when I finished my blog, and got to 500 followers on Twitter. The two happened nearly simultaneously, so I’m going to draw 2 names at random on May 16th from comments left here. The caveats: Gotta be in the States, following me on Twitter, and not a spammer. The books are Fashion Origami and Fingerprint Fabulous (see right). I was the primary illustrator for both, and they’re my faves, so far! I have three new ones coming out in the Fall (I think), so I’ll let you know when they’re available! Thanks to all my friends, local and Twitterish, for alway being so full of support and suggestions! : ) Hope you all have a great day, and good luck! : )

You Can Judge A Book By Its Cover…

Books, Illustration

I haven’t really come up with a theme for this year, but I do have two main goals for 2011: improve my figure drawing, and improve my backgrounds. It’s not that I don’t like the way I illustrate. I just want to do more, really push myself. I do think I put a background in as an afterthought, when really, it’s just as important as the foreground.

People who know me know these two challenges have been on my mind for a long time. I’ve always believed that in any profession, you need to remember three things: you need to keep as current as possible; you can learn a lot from young people (I’ve learned plenty from people younger than me); and if you say you have nothing more to learn, then sit back and wait for your obsolescence. People with more drive will be happy to pass you up (and frankly, they’d deserve it, and, so might you).

For illustrators my age, what we learned 20 years ago is obviously not the same education that’s taught today. Now, I don’t have a degree. I went to college, and changed my major several times. At the end of three years, I was so tired of the rigid, cookie cutter way of teaching that I just stopped going. I think I’d robbed myself of the whole experience of experimenting, because I was so focused on just “getting through college” and I’d felt the lessons were so “assembly line.”

What I didn’t realize was that I would later take what I’d learned and really do something fantastic with it, having a career I enjoy. What if I’d stayed in college though, how much could I be doing if I’d followed through? I was watching my contemporaries pass me by, and I did deserve it. In 1991 I stumbled into my creative career by accident, I had a lot of drive and determination and (not wanting to repeat my college experience) taught myself (with some training from where I worked) Aldus Freehand, Monarch Weaving and Knitting Systems, Adobe Photoshop, and later on my own, Adobe Illustrator.

So now, rather than settle in and be complacent with a bunch of “what ifs” I’ve decided to take that determination into a new direction and add some new skills. Scary, just because I have a lot of experience, doesn’t mean I’m not insecure about some aspects of what I’m capable of! I’m now the proud owner of nine new books, one a gift, and the rest recommended to me, that will help me on my journey to achieving my main goals for the year. I know people love their iPads and Kindles and Nooks and I will be acquiring an iPad one of these days. I can’t imagine them replacing gorgeous books like these. The feeling you get when going through these pages just can’t be reproduced on a screen…I’d love to know, what did you all get for the Hols that is motivating you into high gear with your illustrations, did you make resolutions or goals?

Sketching People: Life Drawing Basics – Jeff Mellem
I rec’d this as a gift from my husband, he hears me talk about my “I’d love to…” or “I wish I could…” every day! This touches upon similar techniques as the Vilppu Manuals, but in one book I can carry around from coffeeshop to coffeeshop! ; )

Glenn Vilppu Drawing Manuals: Head and Face, Drapery, Hands and Feet, Drawing Manual – ©Glenn Vilppu. Recommended to me by Tracy Bishop, whose library must be completely amazing! I knew that these would help me tremendously ater reading the first paragraph of the Head Drawing Manual. Worth every penny…

The Art Of Ratatouille – ©Disney Pixar. I can’t even begin to describe the next four books, so please just go buy them for yourself or go to the library. They are stunning in color and texture. I just want to take a week off and totally look at nothing but these!

Dreamworks Artists After Dark

©Shannon Tindle   http://shannontindle.blogspot.com/

©Shannon Jeffries  http://artblocksghana.blogspot.com/2010/11/shannon-jeffries.html

©Lindsey Olivares  http://lindseyolivares.blogspot.com/

The Art of How To Train Your Dragon ©Dreamworks

The Disney Archives: Design ©Disney

I’d like to also add a couple of blogs/sites here too. I frequent them and I’m never disappointed!






In case you hadn’t noticed, another goal, but not a priority, is trying my hand at papercutting. We’ll see how that pans out! : )