Sunday, July 31, 2005

Button Bracelet

Here's a button bracelet I made today. My Mom made one for me and it disappeared somehow, so I decided to make one for myself to wear.
Even though I created this before reading the Studio Friday theme of Playtime. This is my entry for that theme.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Picture Book You've Got to See

I just remembered about this book after reading an online post about it. I saw an original illustration by J. Kirk. Richards at the February NYC SCBWI conference. I was rooting for his illustration to win a big prize there....sadly it didn't, but I wouldn't be surprised if Richards got some good clients from it, or had offers to buy it.
If I had extra cash for art, I would have bid on it.
It has stuck in my mind ever since I saw it. I wish I had painted it.
Anyway, look at the book on his site. You can buy it.
(I need to buy it myself, but have to reread the info on buying it.)
His sense of humor, wonderful talent as an illustrator, and the quirky/mellowness of the story always hits me. If I was an editor, I'd snatch this one up, no questions asked.
Richard's work deserves to be seen and known more widely, and I imagine he has quite a following, but I decided to share this treasure here for those of you who may not have seen his work.
Check out the links, and his other pages too. The links are worth looking at.
His wife creates beautiful graphite portraits. (I found that out through the links)

Book Dummies

Here's some more info on the book dummy topic. You'll be blown away by this site. It features Mark Hiner, a paper engineer, and shows the process of his book dummies!
Here's a wonderful page from Ruth Sanderson's website, showing how she works on her books. I met her at a Mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference down in southern VA over a year ago, when she gave a session. Her work is stunning.
Here's a website showing the process of Scott Gibala-Broxholm's book dummies and production.
These websites are fascinating. Seeing the raw work in dummies is one of my favorite things. There's such power and intrigue in watching the process of something being formulated, sweated over, imagined, tweaked, and finalized. I think more than anything, I'd like to see an exhibit of picture book dummies of many picture book illustrators and authors.
I'll try to post more links later. The troops are restless.....
OK. I'm back now..the daily errands are done.
Here's a website that should be bookmarked by all serious childrens' book illustrators and writers. It's the Yellapalooza site. I'm blessed to know one of the women who works on the site. She's a gem. Here's the page about creating book dummies for picture books. It's full of great info.
This link to Robert Sabuda's website isn't exactly about book dummies, but it does have fascinating links and at least one pop up that can be printed out and made.
Here's an interview of Doug Cushman from the France SCBWI region. He discusses his process.
Finally I found a link about Eric Carle's book dummies. I wanted to find some images of his book dummies, in photographed format. I haven't found that, but this link is a good one.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Picture Book Dummy nearly done

I've got 5 more pages to go before my first draft of this Picture book dummy is done.
Anyone who thinks it's a breeze to write and illustrate a picture book has no idea how tough it is.
If you're like me, or countless other children's authors and illustrators, you've gotten that blank look from people when you tell them your dreams of writing &/or illustrating for children. At times it's a look of pity...the thoughts are nearly transparent as they consider "Poor delusional creature...nothing else to do with her time...." or maybe you've had people tell you they also have some good ideas for a children's story they plan to whip up someday and get published. (If only it was that easy)
I am careful who I tell my dreams to. Chances are, if the person has any love of the arts, they'll "get it", but it's still a risk.
There are the dream squashers, who tell you how very difficult/impossible it is.
Of course it's difficult, it's nearly impossible, but it can be done with a tremendous dose of determination, practice, stubborn application in every area, drawing, writing, searching, studying, submitting, failing, getting back up, submitting and reworking the art and manusript, taking critiques with an open and humble heart and mind.
I believe it is a dream that can be reached.
For now....just getting this first draft of the book dummy will be a major coup for me though.
After this, I plan to redo the whole thing.
Here is a link about creating a book dummy from Meghan McCarthy's site. She's got lots of experience at it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sketches from Maine

I'm going to post a few sketches from Maine.
There aren't many, and they are faint, since I used an H3 pencil most of the time, but here they are. I wish I had done more, so that the feel of the ocean and the people showed up better, seems that's always the way it goes. Between keeping my eyes on the kids out there and watching the tide come in, I didn't sketch as much as I wish. I don't know why the images are so blurry in the small version.

Today has been distracting. First there was a dental appointment, then the AC guy here to check our heater/air unit, later kids over visiting..I didn't get other things done today. Summer seems to be that way....There's a definite need for flexibility and grabbing the moments that come. It seems to have finally cooled down here in VA after some heavy-duty thunder storms. There was supposed to be dime size hail...luckily we didn't have any around us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Godspeed Discovery!

The Shuttle Discovery just lifted off. May the trip be blessed, and may they acheive their goals and return safely with no mishaps.
What a thrilling event to watch. My prayers and thoughts go with them all.
The captain, Eileen Collins comes from Elmira, NY, which is the town next to where I lived for my teen years. I'm so proud of her.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Website about keeping Conference Inspiration Alive

Here's a website called Kaz Delaney Writers, about keeping the inspiration alive after attending a writer's conference.
Check it out. Great advice.

Prize Possession-Studio Friday

Here's my entry for this past Studio Friday topic of "Prize Possession"
Can you see who's autograph it is? I'm so grateful to my Mom for getting me in the habit of collecting autographs back when I was young.
I don't collect autographs much anymore, but this one was worth it all.

Back From Maine

Well, we made it home from our week long trip up north to York Beach, Maine. If you've never spent time at the coast of Maine, you're missing something special.

As a child we vacationed on the rocky coast at Pemaquid Point. It was spectacular. Returning to Maine was like going home, especially since I'm a New England girl anyway. We took the Amtrack train from Virginia to Wells, Maine. What a relief not to have to drive it in the two days I originally planned. My husband had a biz trip overseas, which was how we decided it might work out for the kids and I to visit family up in Maine at the same time. Picture three kids, a Mom and an ungainly assortment of luggage dragging through rush hour on the 'T' (subway) in Boston while we changed trains on Amtrack. It was a sight to behold. Luckily I knew the Boston T well enough not to get intimidated, and the kids did well standing up with the luggage on the T without getting lost, falling or crushed by the rush hour mob. Of course...we ended up on the Amtrack QUIET CAR unknowingly (there was no sign or notice to alert the unsuspecting)....three active kids and me....for about 8 hours! Don't laugh.....The kids did amazingly well in the quiet car....

On the way home we were slowed down as the train approached Penn station, since Penn Station was evacuated to check for a bomb threat. Thankfully nothing was found.

York Maine is a beautiful area, and the beaches are gorgeous. There are parks, a small zoo, a gazebo with nightly open air concerts, a local trolley, which we rode, the Nubble Lighthouse, historical buildings, shops full of goodies, two separate beaches within walking distance, (I'm sure there are more, but we walked to these two daily.) and a horse drawn carriage, which we rode also.

The water was about 60 degrees the first day we entered it. It didn't stop the kids from spending 3 hours surfing the waves on their boogy boards. The water literally numbs your body. (Down here in VA people tremble and complain if the water isn't bathwater temp, which has always made me laugh). It warmed up the next few days..maybe to 65 degrees or so. We loved it. We came back as brown as nuts. I'll write more later and scan some faint sketches in.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Away for A Week

I won't be posting for a week or so, but I'll be back with sketches and details of what I've been up to.
Hopefully the weather will be good.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Studio Friday entry - Favorite Book(s)

Here's mine for the new topic of Favorite Book at Studio Friday .
I couldn't limit it to one favorite book, actually..I have many more than these, but here are some of the ones I could find to show you.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cool Event in NYC

I just had to put this in. It's about....
you guessed it....
Harry Potter, and the new book coming out.
I just got my Books of Wonder catalog in the mail. It seems they (Books of Wonder store) are going to have an event on the 15th at 11:00 pm at their store where Mary GrandPre is going to be signing books!
How I wish I could be there. I love her work. Check out the website for Books of Wonder if you live near NYC. It seems they have interesting events there all the time.

More Kid's Illo and writing resources

Here are some more things I've dug up at the library, online and in general.
There are some fascinating blogs I've added to my blog list there on the right. The new ones are at the bottom of the blog list.
One website that I've known of for awhile, but recently revisited is Phyllis Cahill's website listing children's illustrators and writer's resources. It's well worth bookmarking. Her illustrations are wonderful as well.
Another site is Moira Munroe's. She is a children's illustrator located in Scotland. Her comics are wonderful too. Check out her Super Tips page. Her links and tips cover both UK and US markets.
I've been working on my PB dummy. I've got 8 more pages to go of the illos. I plan to redo the whole thing when I've gotten this version done. Here's a rough draft of one I did yesterday.
My son convinced me to read Eoin Colfer's 'Artemis Fowl'. Fascinating book so far.
Have you ever looked at any of The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell? The pen and ink work of Chris Riddell is incredible. I'm jealous. His illustrations make me want to dig out my quill pens and use them again. He's a master at pen and ink with a quill pen, and his imagination (and Stewart's) is quirky. Check out this page of games for kids from The Edge Chronicles. (It takes awhile to download).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

planeta hilda

planeta hilda

Check out this wonderful website if you're in the mood for bright cheerful creations!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Studio Friday entry-Patterns

Here's the pattern for my Studio Friday entry this Friday. It's about Patterns found in our studio. I have these wonderful Bolivian "chullos". They fascinate me. I've collected at least 20 of them over the years, many of them are old. I'm fairly addicted to them.
There's also a cool feathered hat I found in one of my thrift store treasure hunts. I'm not sure whether you can see it in there, but the feathers are arranged in a circular format. I have all of these in my studio area.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Blogging goodies

I've found a few fun things to help with blogging, from marking favorite blogs and subscribing to them all in one place, to keeping track of visitors on blogs, and just searching new blogs.
I do wish that blogger had the friends option that others have, but other than that I like it here.
Check out Bloglines. There are lots of interesting options there.
Another one is Blogexplosion. Then of course This one works with websites as well and has a good free option, which works well for me. It's fun to check daily. I'm sure there are many more, but I'm fairly new to this, so I'm sharing as I go.

Changed Illustration Friday entry

I couldn't stand the other illustrationFriday entry I'd done, so I did a new one this morning. This one is more to my liking, although it's still rough.
Last night we watched the DVD "The Pacifier". If you haven't seen it yet, you've got to. It's hilarious and pretty family friendly all the way through.
Got to get back to work now.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 Painting newsletter

This newsletter is wonderful. I especially appreciated this one. It has wonderful tips about color mixing and palettes.
Another incredible resource is the website of my former teacher, Rob Howard. How I wish I could still be taking classes from him. He is incredibly talented, and generous in giving help, encouragement and tips, practical advice in art, and giving it all with his characteristic wit and humor.
He used to teach illustration classes in Boston, MA.
Now he is busy creating marvelous portraits and running an art business offline and online.
Here's a link to his website, Check out the forum there. You'll probably get addicted to it. The demonstrations and links are well worth checking out too.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Illustration for Illustration Friday

I finished a quick illustration for this week's Illustration Friday.
It's not exactly what I wanted, but I'm pushing myself to create without analyzing it too much.

Friday, July 08, 2005

'Knock Your Socks Off' Illustrators

Here are several sites you've got to see. The first three are illustrators I've met online and one I've had the pleasure of meeting in person.
Roz Fulcher's illustrations are a joy to behold. They are made of felt and done in a fabric collage style. They make me want to touch them!
I had the chance to meet her several times at SCBWI events before she moved from the area. Check out her blog
Here's the website of Elizabeth Dulemba, who helped me with my coloring pages (formatting them). Her illustrations are in a book due out soon. Her blog is lots of fun too.
Another illustrator who helped me with my coloring pages is Roberto Sabas.
The website that absolutely knocked my socks off today was Michael Halbert's Scratchboard illustrations! Wow. He has wonderful tutorials about using line art and photoshop.
Roberto pointed me to his site. I love scratchboard and plan to do more of it again.
My cat is scratching my jeans (back end) to get my attention at the moment...gotta SCat!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Free Coloring Page

I just loaded a free coloring page on my website for kids to print out and color. It's a line version of the Girl and llama below. I'm still tweaking the lines. It's hard to get the sharp lines to come out when it's printed off a jpg on the computer, but it's up if you want it.

A few Drawings

Here are two of the drawings I've been doing in a Bolivian theme. We lived in La Paz, Bolivia for nearly 5 years. I loved it.
The first one drawing is of a Bolivian girl knitting with a llama in the countryside. Young girls like this often tend sheep and llamas far out in the countryside (el campo). The other is a young Bolivian girl, (campesina, of a humble farming lifestyle, who continue to dress in the older traditional Aymaran fashion.) For some reasons the drawings are very blurry here. Sorry about that.
Children's illustrating can be a challenging field. It's not for the faint of heart. On several lists lately we've been discussing how difficult it can be to sharpen our skills, keep up with marketing and ask for appropriate pay for our work. I've been doing this for years now, and it doesn't seem any easier, but I love it.

Tempting Websites

Here are a few I've known of for awhile, and some I just found.
Warning, for those who easily empty the wallet to buy rare children's books, original children's collectable illustrations and books, this site may be dangerous.
It's called Books of Wonder. I heard the store owner speak at the Feb. SCBWI conference in NYC.
After getting back from NYC, I hurried to the site and bought an authographed poster by Leo and Diane Dillon . They are two of my all time favorite illustrators. If I lived in NYC I'd be hounding the store. It seems they have illustrator and author visits from time to time, and they are very selective about their books and items.
A website I just discovered this morning is Down Home Books. There are many interviews here with children's authors.
Another site for illustrators who want a weekly challenge is Illustration Friday. I just joined yesterday (as if I need another thing to do). Each week a topic is given, and the illustrations for the topic are posted online on Friday.

Thoughts and Prayers for Britain

Checking email on aol this morning brought the terrible news of the series of explosions at the London subway system due to terrorism.
My thoughts and prayers are with the British during this time. It's a cowardly act, and a terrifying situation.
God bless you all, and all those living in the U.S. (and worldwide) who are affected as well.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bolivian Cachibachi

Isn't this the coolest thing? My husband brought it back from Bolivia for me on his last trip there. It's an antique Bolivian pin. I'm not sure if it's silver or pewter, but I love the design. I would love to find out when it was made, and what the symbolism of the design means. Can you see the peacock on top? The fish is fashioned in a way that lets it move or wobble.
I believe it was probably worn by cholitas (the women who dress in the traditional manner with shawls and bowler type hats...and are considered indigenous.)
They probably pinned this to a shawl, and wore it on important occasions.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Celebrating Winners and Plugging Away

This morning the winners of the SmartWriters children's writing and illustrating contest were announced. Congratulations to each winner! I especially enjoy looking at the illustrations. Each one is distinct in style, and wonderful in it's own way. Check it out!
Now I've got to get plugging away at my own work again.
Here's another cachibachi for you. It's a fun website called The Book Hive which lists book choices for kids. Parents, kids and teachers can find out about books for children.
This morning I went to the library again, dumped off a huge load of books and picked up more to take their place. Two of my favorites are September Roses by Jeanette Winter, and Grape Thief by Kristine L. Franklin.
September Roses is a small picture book tenderly rendered, telling the factual tale of two African sisters who arrived with their roses on Sept. 11th. It's a wonderful book.
The other book, Grape Thief is fantastic so far. It's set in the 1920's in Roslyn, Washington, a mining town. The characters, action and humor in the 7th grade boys lives is realistic and captivating. I'm hooked.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Write On Right Now!- How to Write When Life Tries to Stop You, 1 Writer's Opinion

Write On Right Now!- How to Write When Life Tries to Stop You, 1 Writer's Opinion
Check out Susan Taylor Brown's blog. If you have time, stop to take a survey on What Reading Means to You, by Susan Taylor Brown.
She's writing a book about the value of reading and is receiving input from people of all ages.

Star Spangled Banter

Have a wonderful Fourth of July!
May God bless the United States and all who are serving our country now, at home and overseas. Celebrate safely, and enjoy the fireworks!

Check out the DMOZ open directory of Children's Illustrators . Children's illustrators can submit their sites here.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sketching Fears

I don't know how, but my last post got deleted. I'm rewriting it here.
I was rambling on about my new "Illustrating Children's Books-Creating Pictures for Publication by Martin Salisbury. It arrived in the mail three days ago. I highly recommend it for an children's book illustrators. I believe PB authors would appreciate it as well, and learn much from it about the process of creating the illos for a PB. In It, Salisbury covers such things as, A Brief History of PBs and the art in them. Drawing, Media Materials and Techniques, Character Development, The Picture Book, Illustration for Older Children, Non-fiction Illustration, Design and Typography, and Getting Published. The book is in full color and has wonderful samples of sketches, and art from various artists. It gave me the encouragement to get out of my "wimpy art fears" of sketching from life. Drawing from life has always been one of my favorite things to do, and yet I've held back from it due to fears of the outcome not being perfect.
I plan to do some sketching at the 4th of July event we'll attend.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Trip to the Zoo

We're back from the National Zoo in D.C....what a day. It was hot, but it could have been worse. We took the metro (which the kids prefer) and had a wonderful time.
We saw Bald Eagles, cheetahs, giraffes and elephants, pelicans and a sea lion sunning itself, giant bear sloths, free ranging Golden Lion Tamarins, which are beautiful golden orange monkeys. There were monkeys, a huge gorilla, (very serious face, which made me wonder who was watching who.) He looked out at us as though he scorned us. A new section called 'Amazonia' held an indoor 'Amazon', complete with water, huge fish, (piranhas too), stingrays and watersnakes, poison dart frogs, free-range monkeys and birds and huge trees with hanging vines and misty humitidy. Flitting colorful birds darted back and forth from branch to branch near our faces. It was incredible.
We didn't get in to see the pandas, which was the only thing I was disappointed about.
It's also fun to see the variety of people from all over the world at the zoo. I took lots of photos of the animals and plan to completely revise my latest PB dummy needs it.
It was a beautiful day and we're all ready for a good rest. I'm going to put those images down on paper as soon as possible.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Running to the Mailbox

I don't know about you, but I love getting the mail every day. You never know what fun surprises will be there...even if several days of opening the mailbox only yields bills and junk mail...before you know it a personal letter comes, or a glossy Spider Magazine, Chico's catalog, Mary Englebreit or Martha Stewart Kids Mag is there (Can you tell I'm a magazine addict as well as a bookaholic?) Imagine the piles of papers and books at my home. Of course all of these are vital research material for my illos and kid's writing. I really do use these magazines for reference material. Another one, my Favorite, is the Oilily catalog, which I think is discontinued....w-a-a-a-a-a-h! They seem to do the marketing mostly online now, not by catalog. If you've received it, you know why I love it. Talk about inspiring for kid's illos..I think they may have realized that people like me were ordering the catalog, and never buying the costly clothes...just drooling over the colorful images, and beautifully photographed kids.
Opening my email affects me much the same as going to the mailbox. Seeing familiar names from illustration and children's writing lists never fails to brighten my day.
I'm as compulsive about collecting email goodies as books and magazines. Some of my favorites are the Insight of the Day. It never fails to inspire me. I've printed countless of these quotes out and forwarded just as many. They keep me motivated to create and send work out. Publisher's Weekly provides a daily email update about what's happening in the publishing world. Another is the weekly news about children's books that I mentioned a few days ago. For sheer fun, there's always The Toymaker's Workshop by Marilyn Scott Waters. You've got to check hers, even if you don't check the others. She has printable toys created in a colorful, joyful style. There's also Jan Brett's kid friendly website which has terrific ideas, printable activities for kids, and is updated regularly.
With all of this, it's a wonder I get any art or writing done! I hope you enjoy some of it too!