Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Zero2Illo Challenge Week #4

I've been following along with the Zero2Illo 12 week challenge.  This week's task is to complete two pieces for our portfolio. 

Here are some character sketches for a dummy book I'm working on for a story that I wrote.  Finally some beads, I know right!!  I'm counting the dummy book as one of the finished portfolio pieces, because as a children's book illustrator the dummy is essential if you are going to submit a manuscript that you wrote and want to illustrate. 

So the completed dummy and one sample piece are my goals for the rest of the week.  The dummy has already been laid out in storyboard/thumbnail form.  Can't wait to draw more beads, fun stuff!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Just for Fun

Hmm, my life often resembles a circus. 

This was a fun piece to whip up over the weekend. A little looser and primitive in style than I usually do, but whimsical and aimed at a younger crowd.

What else did I do this weekend?  Why I updated my portfolio:

What do you think of the hand-lettering.  I worry, are there rules to hand-lettering that I'm not following?  Is there some secret designer font rules I'm breaking?  Or is it just a free-for-all-do-whatever-the-heck-you-want kind of deal?  I suppose I could plead ignorance and then we can call it outsider art.  Oh wait, that trusty art degree negates that.  I better do my research on the matter then...

Friday, April 23, 2010

A few of my favorite things...

Here are a few tools in my studio that I can't live without:

My new favorite tools!  I bought these a few years ago, but never really tried them out until recently.  I was using my trusty speedball lino cutters.  If you are into printing, I recommend picking up a set.  The fine tipped tool allows for great detail and the other tools help me carve my blocks lickety-split!  They are called Palm-Grip Carvers and they are saving my poor old hands.

My box of Sennelier pastels isn't looking quite like this picture anymore.  They are now well loved nubbins!  I need to order some replacements, stat.  They are so rich and creamy, they are like the chocolate truffles of oil pastels.  Yum!

While I have several different types of colored pencils, these are by far my favorites.  Lyra Rembrandt Oil-based Colored Pencils are wonderful, no waxy build-up and the colors are so beautiful. And on the sketch pencil front, I'm strictly a 2-B and above gal.  Sure the others are nice, but I need some heft to my lines.

This is Blick Wonder-Cut Linoleum and it's probably not the highest quality stuff to print on and if I were doing large print editions I'd have to rethink what I use.  But it carves so fast!  I like to call this stuff Wonderflonium.  (And if you don't know what that is, watch Dr. Horrible right this minute!)

And finally I couldn't do my job without my trusty Speedball Water-Based Inks.  I've been enjoying experimenting more with mixing my own colors and printing in multiple colors.  They dry fast, so I must work fast.  But they clean up with water and I'm all for using less chemicals in the studio.

So there you have it, my art making essentials! 

All photos from the Dick Blick website, where i buy most of my supplies.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Dreaming of summer nights at dusk, chasing fireflies and the joy of carefree days. 

I had to lay out the color in photoshop to wrap my brain around this mutli-color printing.

The final print - but now that I see it in digital form, I think I may reprint it in a lighter teal and there are a few parts that need to be cleaned up.  I used to make changes in photoshop, but lately I'm a purist and insist the print itself looks great, not just the digital image.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SCBWI Summer Conference

Hey, want a crash course in writing and illustrating for the children's market?  Then make your plans now to attend the SCBWI summer conference.  I'll be there!

Illustrators - you can hear from E.B. Lewis, Ashley Bryan and Loren Long.  Take workshops with Priscilla Burris and David Dias and get tips for portfolios and promotion with Pat Cummings and art director Cecilia Yung.  Or you can take one of the advanced tracks.  There are two for illustrators this year, one on graphic novels and one on digital illustration.  Not to mention all the authors, editors, agents and art directors who will be there.

Registration opens today, check it out at the SCBWI website.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Spots

Some tiny spots that I used to update my website banner.  I thought the candy corn and leaves were probably giving it away that my website was in need of an update.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Foxy New Work

I had it in mind since August to play around with printing in two colors for a bit of a retro feel to my work.  I finally sat myself down to experiment this weekend.  Here is my first go at it and I'm pretty excited.  I carved two plates for this illo, one that I printed in green and other the brown line work.

I added in a few touches of color after the image was printed with my trusty oil pastels.  I have to say, I'm quite smitten with foxes at the moment.  Now to work up a few more samples in this style.

Here is the sketch, in case you like to see the process. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The best part of conferences and book events is seeing your old SCBWI peeps and meeting new ones!
In this photo: Austin illustrator Mark Mitchell, check out his awesome online color class.  Author Peni Griffin, a homegrown SA talent whose titles include the The Switching Well and 11,000 Years Lost.  Illustrator Layne Johnson, went all founding fathers on us for TLA to celebrate his latest book The Declaration of Independence from A to Z.  And hardworking RA from Brazos Valley, Liz Mertz.

In this photo: Janet Fox, her upcoming book is Faithful.  Another Austin member, Virian Johnson has a new YA book, Saving Maddie and dear Kelly Bennet, who has 15 books published.  (Kelly helped organize the first Texas SCBWI Writer & Illustrators cruise!  We should do another one!!!)

And look, how lucky!  We were right across from the Bloomsbury booth and enjoyed visiting with illustrator and author, Ruth McNally Barshaw.  She was busy signing her latest Ellie McDoodle book and sketching away at the conference.  Ruth is an SCBWI member from Michigan and has done some wonderful sketch-blogging of the national SCBWI conferences over the years.

The SCBWI is all about it's volunteers.  Without them we wouldn't be the thriving, resourceful and encouraging organization that we are!  My deepest heartfelt thanks goes to Catherine Stier, our coordinator for the TLA booth.  What a hard worker and an amazing talent. Next year TLA will be in Austin.  Deborah Gonzales, the new Austin RA,  and Carmen Oliver, her Assistant RA helped us set up our booth earlier this week, pictured here with Catherine.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I have been enjoying the last two days at TLA, the Texas Library Association's exhibit. Our Texas SCBWI chapters have once again banded together to promote our organization as 'the' go to source for finding children's book authors and illustrators.  The response has been great.  We've had librarians searching us out to get a hold of their copy of our speakers' source book.  We've also been hearing stories from librarians of how they used the book last year to book speakers, so good to know it's working!

A gaggle full of RA's at our booth!  Liz Mertz, RA for Brazos Valley, Janet Fox, former Brazos Valley RA, Ellen Hopkins (YA rock star) and current co-RA for Nevada and me, RA for Southwest Texas.  (What's an RA? A regional advisor for the local SCBWI chapters.  We organize the local events and cheer on our members!)

Some of our books on display - Texas is filled with talent!  We are raffling off signed copies of books from our members, giving out our speakers book to librarians and I do believe there is chocolate involved.  I heard chocolate and good books are two things to have on hand when dealing with librarians.

Books on display. 

We have been rotating the books on our main table so everyone has a chance to shine!  The green booklet are the speakers source book.  Our designer, Jennifer Murrillo, did an awesome job using old school library icons like the card catalog and check-out cards for the theme.  So taking our cue from her booklet we designed the booth to have an old world library feel.  I'll post more tomorrow on some friendly faces I've run into in the exhibit hall.