Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Sweet

I was pleased as punch and snickerdoodles that my illustrated recipe, Rudolph's Cinnamon Mango Frappé, was included in Holiday Sweet, a new cookbook from They Draw & Cook.

Thanks Nate and Salli!

Holiday Sweet contains illustrated recipes from many of my favorite artists.

Art from Salli Swindell, Tamara Henderson, Laura Mayes, and Sarah Ward

A sweet gift for your foodie friends!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Special Announcement!

Mad Hatter from Laurent Linn's Character Workshop
I'm very excited to announce I am now represented by Marcia Wernick of Wernick & Pratt Literary Agency! This was the happy result of attending the SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest Conference, which for the first time, organized 5 chapters from 4 midwestern states. It was an event I couldn't pass up. Before heading to the conference, family and friends had wished for good things to happen, but I quickly told them I was going primarily for inspiration, and to learn more about writing for picture books. Little did I know it would be the best conference ever! I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to work with the fabulous Marcia Wernick, and I'm so grateful for all of her guidance in navigating through the children's book world. I'm looking forward to where this adventure might lead us.......

Monday, October 07, 2013

All things autumnal...

After my trusty Sony H10 died, I went looking for a smallish personal camera to carry along to take shots of reference and inspiration, and to capture the marvelous wonders of the world and stuff. After much research I decided on a Fujifilm F850EXR. On a beautiful warm October day, an orange mum and a little spotted bug inspired me to start testing it out. I'm quite happy with it.

See his quizzical antennae? After several shots he was beginning to wonder why I was going all paparazzi on him.

A waterfall of purple berries! Taste the wave!
Oh wait, don't. They might be poisonous.
2 busy bees on a passion flower..... Ooo la la!
Yes, I do believe I am quite happy with this camera. In an attempt to treat it better than the last one I bought it a SwissGear camera case, and an across body neck strap sling thingy, which isn't as nerdy as it sounds....ok, maybe it is, but it's handy and cool in my book. Now, I'm back in business! :D

Thursday, September 12, 2013

cake for Bee

8" x 8" acrylic painting on wood
I completed this piece earlier this year, but both the scanner and my camera weren't picking up the colors properly, so I was reluctant to post it. Last week, my 8 year old Sony Cybershot H10 died on me, so I picked up a new bridge camera for work. Cameras sure have come a long way in 8 years! The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is incredible, but it's going to take time to figure out all the settings.

Testing out the macro. It's crazy how close this camera can focus in Intelligent Auto mode. (hand held- no additional photoshop sharpening here)

Now to experiment with the Manual, Aperture, White Balance, Shutter Speeds, and all that other stuff.....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

End of summer wrap-up....

Wow, I can't believe summer is slipping away already. Even when it's a little too hot I still love this time of year when everything is all green and alive. It makes me feel more alive.

But on the bright side, September always feels like a time to begin anew. I guess I still get that new school year feeling, and it feels like a time to get back to business. For me, it feels like a much better time to set new goals than January, in the dead of winter.

So, to move on, here's some pics of the last few weeks. Above is a wrap-up of the 5 weeks of Lilla's Make Art That Sells e-course. I stumbled on week 4. I was originally excited about it since it was all about having fun, and following where the paint takes you. It sounded like a great idea, but my 'illustrate with a purpose' brain began to have a lot of anxiety over the loss of direction. So, after the course I picked up some books on intuitive painting, and did some experimenting. Well, that is, after I painted this old bookcase.

Since there was already tarp all over my living room, I turned the area into a temporary work space to help loosen me up. Big strokes need a big space, right? I had fun playing with some various materials.

Then I tried some smaller scale experiments...

In the meantime, my tiny garden filled in nicely this year....
and I had some nice visitors.

I hiked some woods, and found some inner peace and stuff. :)

After rearranging my studio, I discovered with the addition of some bamboo utensil holders, my old Ikea computer desk is a great place to store paints.

Now, I'm happy with my studio space again. :)

So, back to the sketchbooks........

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Make Art That Sells - Week 3: Children's Books

Week 3 - Children's Books Assignment

For Week 3 of Lilla Roger's class, Make Art That Sells, it was especially great to be focusing on picture books! On Monday, we received our mini-exercise, and I have to admit I was a bit thrown when our subject was snails. I explored some character options, mostly of the happy variety.

mini-exercise -snail character sketches
Then on Wednesday we received the details of the main assignment. We were to do a cover with hand drawn type, or a double page spread for the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Snail and the Rose Tree. It turns out the story was not happy at all. This snail is ornery, grumpy, and quite judgmental of the frilly rose. He says, “The world is nothing to me. What have I to do with the world? I have enough to do with myself, and enough in myself". The snail says he spits on the world, and future snails crept into their houses and spat at the world. This sounds like some slugs I have known, who invaded my home, and left slime trails on my shoes. I've had to put epson salt along the baseboards. I hadn't seen one inside for over a year. And then, I kid you not, the day I read the assignment, I see a slug halfway up my closet door! So, after that drama, back to the drawing board......

In my version, since this snail thinks he is above everyone, he wears a little crown, (although he has no royal blood). I call him Joffery.

I was determined to get back to my acrylics this week, and sketched this onto wood board. But, as I was still figuring out colors I knew there was no way I'd finish in time, so I scanned it in, and colored it digitally.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Make Art That Sells - Week 2: Home Decor

Week 1 - Home Decor Assignment
For week 2 of Lilla Roger's class, Make Art That Sells we were instructed to study seed pods and unique plants. As a gardener/nature lover I was in heaven! I stopped by my favorite garden nursery/gift shop, and hunted down and observed buds, seeds, and leaves. I took many, many photos.

I did some quick sketches in Illustrator, and played with my old Dr. Ph. Martin's inks, and later in the week sat out in my own tiny garden, and sketched my grape hyacinth and allium seed pods.

Our main assignment was to design dinner plates for stores such as Anthropologie and Crate and Barrel. With so much inspiration, my mind was going in a million directions for this one.

I was drawn to the combination of my navy scarf against the polka dot scarf, and when I found these hanging seed pods during my lunchtime walk at the park, a plate design idea began to take shape. They're so small that I almost missed them, but this week my eyes were trained on seeking out what is often overlooked.

Woad, Isatis tinctoria
I went back to the park after turning in our assignment, and found the name of this plant is Woad, Isatis tinctoria, and it has an interesting history as an ancient source of indigo dye. Maybe this is why I ended up with the blue in my color palette? I like when things all come together. :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Make Art That Sells - Week 1: Bolt Fabric

Wow, wow, wow! What an amazing first week of Lilla Roger's class, Make Art That Sells! This is my first time taking an online course, and I wondered if it would have the feel of those old college days, and the answer is YES! ......and so much more. The organization of the online class environment is excellent, and this community of artists taking the class is so supportive. There's so much sharing of information and resources. It's also quite motivating to see everyone posting up incredible work. I'll have to admit, I've had moments of feeling very intimated since many of the artists have been working in this market for years. Lilla has been tuned in to all our class facebook postings, and told us, "Yes, it's totally normal to get overwhelmed, but isn't that better than being underwhelmed?" That's so true! She understands our artistic natures so well. She 'gets' us.
On our first day we received a mini-exercise to sketch mushrooms and Pyrex casserole dishes. I had pages of pencil and pen drawings in my sketchbook, but then I wanted to try something different as Lilla encourages us to work in new media. I've been saving these colored pencil shavings on a piece of watercolor paper for months. I knew I wanted to do something with them, and here was my opportunity to play.

Week 1 - Bolt Fabric Assignment
Then, on Wednesday we received our main assignment to design a pattern with a vintage kitchen theme. We could also include some coordinating fabric patterns. We were shown so many unique inspiring styles throughout the week that I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to go. I ended up going back to my portfolio to ground myself in my own work. This gave me a strong urge to bring characters into it, and the bunnies were born. I found a color palette on Design Seeds, (adjusted it a bit), used some of my own painted textures, and then brought in the colored pencil shavings from the exercise. I had a blast creating this!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A gift for Baby Eva

acrylic on wood
This was a gift for my dear friend, Juana Martinez-Neal. As the days to Baby Eva's arrival drew near, I was hit with a burst of inspiration for this painting. It quickly became one of my most enjoyable pieces to paint ever!

The day before Juana was scheduled to deliver her little bundle of joy she was emailing me words of encouragement for my art career. That's the kind of amazing, always-thinking-of-others friend she is. I was very grateful, but of course, told her "go get some rest, girl! There's a baby on the way tomorrow!" I'm so glad our artistic life journeys have crossed paths via the internets. Everyday I'm reminded....follow your dreams, and you will meet the most extraordinary people.

Trying to decide on a composition was a bit of a challenge as I had a few different directions that I was equally interested in pursuing. In the end it was about choosing the elements that best fit together in this decorative piece.   

idea sketches
I always need printed references

work in progress

As another example of how Juana is always looking to help our illustration community, the last few weeks she posted an incredible blog series with numerous tips on how to put together a prize winning portfoilio.

I highly recommend stopping by her blog to read:
In other news, although the blog has been quiet, I've been busy. I attended the 1st ever, Wild Wild Midwest SCBWI Conference in Fort Wayne, IN. It was an amazing, inspiring event that brought the feel of the big LA conference to our humble midwest as 5 regions from 4 states hosted.
In other-other news, I'm back in school! I enrolled in Lilla Roger's online class, Make Art That Sells, which is a 10 week intensive course covering 10 major markets. I'll have more on this in the weeks to come. So far, it's day #3 of class, and we just received our first assignment, and we're all incredibly excited, and some of us might also be a bit nervous. *points to self* Already I'm so glad I've decided to invest in this course. It will be quite a challenge, and I look forward to pushing myself, and learning so much along the way. As an added bonus, I see many art friends are also in the class. So fun!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An October-like first day of spring

The cold blustery wind almost knocked me over today, and made me think of my October piece for our Storybook Brushes calendar. The original painting on wood panel is behind the printed calendar. You can see I worked a bit larger, and then scaled down to fit the 8.5″ x 5.5″ calendar page.

I worked on all 3 of my Snow Queen pieces simultaneously. (Oddly enough the Queen herself was not in any of these scenes.) This raven piece was my favorite as it was the most fun to paint. I especially had fun patterning the colors through the leaves.

Of course, the sketch stage was a bit tricky. Once I increased the size of Gerda, and turned the cat around it began to work better.

a close-up....
the final piece....

We had real sun yesterday! .......along with the killer wind.
It was lovely and warm through the window, so I grabbed a quick pic......

And there we have it. The final piece to the story of how 4 illustrators from around the world, Katriona Chapman, Juana Martinez-NealMaria Bogade, and myself, came together to create a calendar filled with 12 original pieces of art.

The calendar is for sale in my etsy shoppe here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Storybook February

Valentine's Day seems to be an appropriate day to post my February painting for our Storybook Brushes calendar.

This one was my biggest challenge as I worked to figure out what I wanted these characters from the Snow Queen to look like. Since I had February, I thought the rooftop garden scene with Kai and Gerda would fit nicely. But, exactly how to compose this scene with two buildings and an adjoining garden was the question. So, there were many, many sketches.......

Also, the gathering of references as an idea began to take shape......

I thought I had it with this sketch, but the critique group pointed out that the image was rather static. It needed more movement from left to right since we were designing these as picture book spreads.

I agreed, and knew I could do better, so I gave the scene some more depth. Here's a painting progress shot....

the final piece....

Last week I was very excited to finally receive my set of finished calendars! I'm very impressed with the printing quality. I love how the woodgrain is apparent, but subtle.

The pages are a nice weight with a beautiful matte finish.
Maria's, Katriona's, and Juana's pages looks gorgeous!

It was fun to package them up, and they've been making there way across the country.

I have some extras left, so if you would like one they're available in my Etsy shoppe.