Saturday, December 31, 2005

SurLaLune Fairytale Illustrators

The SurLaLune Fairytale Illustrators site has some gorgeous illustrations and interesting links for anyone intersted in children's book illustrations.

Have a WONDERFUL, safe, healthy, inspired, fruitful, blessed 2006!


Look at Dalton's work. (I'm on another character design and animator roll today..can you tell?) I'd love to watch these artists at work and learn from them.

Ben Balistreri

Ben Balistreri
Look at Balistreri's work. He does character design and storyboards for Nickeldeon. The links are also a treasure trove of talent.

Character Design

Character Design
What can I say..I love this blog. I've blogged it several times in the past few months.

Friday, December 30, 2005

NYTimes Article about Miffy and Children's Book Illustrators

Check out this article about Miffy, (a famous bunny character created by a Dutch artist, Dick Bruna. The article discusses Dutch children's illustrators, exhibits of their work at the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum in MA, and will later be at the USB Gallery in NYC.
You'll have to sign up to read the NYTimes online article, but it's free and worth it. The exhibit at the USB Museum is called:
"Dutch Treats: Contemporary Illustration From the Netherlands," an exhibition of about 80 works by 14 children's book illustrators whose forays into whimsy have beguiled readers of all ages for half a century.

IllustrationMundo-Another Illustrator's Forum

I just found Illustration Mundo this morning. It's an online forum for illustrators. (Just what I need...another online forum to be intrigued by.)

I'm starting an illustration for the NYC SCBWI conference in Feb. Hopefully I'll get it to work out the way I see it in my mind. Things always seem to glow in my mind..but getting them on paper is another thing. I've got to grab every moment I can to do the illustration. Things get hectic during Christmas/holiday break. Every time I think it's time to sit down and create, there's an appointment to go to, or friends and family visiting. These come first and I'm thrilled to have each friend and loved one here, but I've been fighting to get back on track. Time to get offline and get to the drawing board.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

P.J Lynch's Illustrations for The Bee Man of Orn

You've got to see this video clip of P.J. Lynch's illustration process for The Bee Man of Orn. It's a video clip on Candlewick's website.

Helpful info on Poetry

Here's a helpful place to learn about poetry, rhyming, and meter.

KidMag Writer online magazine article

There's a great article on the KidMag Writers website right now. Karen Lee talks about Tailoring your Portfolio to the Magazine Market. Karen's illustrations are wonderful. She obviously knows her stuff.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Some Fun Children's Books

At the library this morning I found some more great kid's books. One is called Toad Heaven by Morris Gleitzman, (an Aussie). It's very funny. I'd guess it's aimed at kids aged around 10 years old. Gleitzman has a quirky sense of humor that grabbed my attention.
I also borrowed Earl the Squirrel by Don Freeman. His scratchboard style was fresh and flowing, working perfectly with the humorous, yet tender story.

Arte Publico

Anyone interested in Latin American literature and publications should check out Arte Publico. They've got a wide range of publications for children and adults. There is also a strong push by them to recover the Hispanic Literary heritage.

Christmas Rainbow

We had a wonderful Christmas eve and Christmas day, celebrating with friends at church, family at home, and extended family later on in the day. It was a joy. Aside from the most important aspects of being together, opening gifts, eating and having fun, something special happened. Around mid-day during the rain, the sun came out. It shone for quite awhile. It was a dazzling bright sunshine, not just the kind that peeks out for a few seconds and retreats behind the clouds. I love it when this happens. I ran outside to look for a rainbow and saw a clear rainbow stretching across the horizon, behind our neighbor's trees. It lasted for over 5 minutes and was very bright. The grass was also misty due to snow melting in the rain, and the combination of the bright sunshine, light rain and mist rising with the rainbow was breathtaking.
I took it as a special gift. (I'm a great believer in taking note of signs in nature..whether it's a cardinal, or a sweet bird song, or a rainbow on Christmas day.)
It was a personal reminder of the day's true meaning and the Gift we celebrate on Christmas day.


Check out Hoku's cool artwork and blog.

Art Candy

Art Candy
I can't remember if I posted this blog before, but it deserves another mention anyway. It's Dan Santat's blog relating to children's books.


I just found Grace Lin's Blog. Check it out.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Amazon Book Rankings

Here's a website that explains how the book rankings work when a book is out. Once again, I got this info from the informative and lively SCBWI forum.
JungleScan is another one.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Antoine Antin's website

Check out aAntin's website. His animation and style is wonderful. Some of the video clips may take awhile to view. I couldn't view them on my dial-up connection (besides..I should not be blogging right now)
I justify it because.....I'm taking a break..I made fudge, got last minute groceries, watched my husband creating culinary wonders, and now need to go make some more goodies and get ready for a beautiful Christmas Eve service. Christmas Eve services are one of the highlights of the year for me...there's something extra special about taking time, finally, in the midst of the hectic season to pause, quiet down and listen to the message I need to sing age-old songs with dear friends and...being an the glow from the candles as they are lit, and the light spreads throughout the congregation. I can't wait.
For now..I'm off to make some yummy chili cheese dip. If it turns out as well as I remember it, I'll try to post the recipe after Christmas.

Character Design

Character Design

I know...I've posted this blog before..but I want to post it again. His work is fantastic, and there is a treasure trove of links here.

It's Christmas Eve!..Merry Christmas!

I can't believe Christmas Eve is upon us!. I'm actually nearly done with most things...still haven't mailed out many Christmas cards, but the other things are done. I also mailed my last pen and ink rendering out overnight express yesterday. (remind me next year not to do the 'artwork at the last minute' thing...I tried not to do it this year and ended up in the same situation as usual.)

If I don't write best wishes for a Merry Christmas to all of you..and a happy Hanukkah, as well as prayers and wishes for a safe, healthy, blessed 2006 in every way!

There's a new free online art newsletter due out in January. Here are some details:

It is a bi-weekly Artist's Newsletter called SELLING YOUR ART. The newsletter is free and will be distributed by email via Yahoo! Groups. The first issue will be released Friday, January 6, 2006. You can subscribe by going to

Friday, December 23, 2005

VLA-Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

The VLA or Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is an organization of volunteer lawyers with attourneys and representatives around the country. I don't know anything about them except that they were mentioned on the SCBWI forum. (there's always so much good info there)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Trans-Siberian Orchestra Cachibachi

Well..what are cachibachis but odds and ends and doodads..
I just found out that the drummer for the group TSO or Trans-Siberian Orchestra graduated from my high school around the same year as me, or the following year. His name is Jeff Plate, and he played on some sports teams with my brother.
I'm so proud of him! I didn't know him well, but it thrills me to know he succeed so fully in such a tough field.
What a small world. Congratulations Jeff!

Publishers Weekly list of Children's Book Links

PW has a great list of links on their website, as well as their Children's book online newsletter update once a week.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One Pen and Ink drawing...nearly finished

Here it is. I must be insane. I took this job on at the last minute before Christmas..not only that, but it's about 22"x14"..much larger than normal..making everything take longer due to the amount of detail and grass, buildings, etc. I pieced it together to copy it at Staples. It didn't fit on the copy machine, which explains the line down the middle..
Tomorrow I have to finish the next drawing...I am crazy.....

Actually...I've got to finish the bush on the right hand side of this...a bit more.
The client who ordered this has been a gem. Even though it was a tight push for Christmas, it was worth doing. You can't tell by this image, but the building on the far left is a horse barn..huge..with a gorgeous stone entrance..and houses an indoor ring.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bolivian Hat-III

I needed to add some color to the here's another of my Bolivian hats/chullos. It seems that people like viewing these hats, so I'm posting an unusual one. This one has ruffled border that is unusual. I'm not sure what the story is with the ruffle, but I love it. Notice the swan like birds in this design.
I'd love to interview some of the men who make these hats. They are incredibly talented.
The next time I visit Bolivia, I plan to try to meet someone who makes these and interview them.

I've heard good things about It's a self-publishing company that allows the client to publish as many or few books as they want. I haven't used their services yet, but consider it a great idea for book dummies. I heard from one woman on a children's writer's list that their products and services are very good. It's a great option for producing samples, book dummies or just personalized books. I also think it would be lots of fun for children to have their work made into books this way.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Holiday fun at The Toymaker

If you haven't visited The yet, and you enjoy fun online goodies, make sure to stop by. They always have adorable, whimsical creations that are printable. You can also sign up for their email updates.

The Association of Illustrators

The Association of Illustrators is based in the UK. I think it may be related to but I'm not sure. There are some great artists and links here. There are also articles on pricing, and although the prices relate to the European market, it's interesting to read about and get a sense of the market.

Interesting: Digital Stories

Just found that website. It's an interesting cachibachi.

American Studies Writing Resource

Here's a terrific resource for writers of all genres.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Oh Bother...some news about Pooh

I got this news from Alison, who always sends great links to us on one of our online author/illustrator groups. I've got to place her link back on my blog soon.

Wrestler Reveals Love of Reading

I hope you can read this link. You may have to enter three short lines of info to read it, but it's worth it if you are interested in literacy. A wrestler named Rey Mysterioso encourages kids to read. He is the literacy spokesman for the World Wrestling Entertainment. Just think about how many kids he reaches that may not be open to listening to others. What a cool guy.

International Trademark Association

The ITA is a wonderful resource for illustrators and artists to check when questioning registered or trademarked names and companies for use in their stories or illustrations.
I imagine it's also a great place to get ideas for other product names.
We have another snow day today..this one caused by frozen rain. "Frozen rain days" aren't much fun, but at least there's some white still showing..probably lethal to try to walk on. No sledding today I guess. At least the fort my kids built will be frozen and longer lasting.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Primitive Dollmaking: My Weblog: Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...

I couldn't resist sending this cachibachi to the blog. Look at all the cool of which is:
(I'm doing this the lazy way, since I've got my own kids plus 2 others here at the moment.)
I also finally put some lights outdoors decorating the bushes in the front of our house , and a 'faux' pine garland with lights on the deck. We also were finally able to decorate the tree after several setbacks..including burnt out tree lights, a cracked tree stand/leaking water...need to re-stand the tree, etc.
The Christmas tree is starting to shape up with decorations from years ago, as well as some hand-made ones that the kids created. We decorate the Christmas tree in the "down home style" (hodge-podge style..sort of a crazy-quilt approach to tree decorating) which is my favorite. I've got beautiful old decorations from my childhood and before. My Mom generously gave me many old favorites. Every time I hang them I'm reminded of the amazing times we had as kids.
Anyway..I also love tinsel and tiny real candycanes.

Women's Fiction with Attitude

Women's Fiction with Attitude
Here's Kathy's blog..which I lost the link to. I'm going to add it back on right now...after I eat another Christmas Candy Kiss...

Another Snow Day

Yippee! I love snow days..and this one comes with the added benefit of the snow and sleet not having fallen yet, which gives me time to get out to do some shopping this morning.
Last night we had the pleasure of attending our local middle school band concert. There's something special about watching and listening to middle school kids play holiday and Christmas music..squeaks, blunders and all...watching them blush in their Santa Claus hats, and seeing their earnest faces when the band director picks up her baton to start the music.
I nearly cried watching them all.
Kids these days are hardworking, fun-loving, creative and diligent. Anyone who doesn't believe it should go to a local middle-school or high-school concert and see for themselves.
I'll have some links up later on. I have to get to the store before the sleet hits.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

La Bloga: El pinatero/ The Pinata Maker

La Bloga: El pinatero/ The Pinata Maker

I found out about this today on the Chicken Spaghetti blog..(one of my favorites..listed on the few links left there on the right of my blog)
I'm going to add La Bloga to my link of "multicultural links" on my website.
(even though I use the term...I really dislike the term..multicultural..for some reason it sets things apart, as though different, when in reality are all multicultural....)

Thanks again Chicken Spaghetti for another terrific link.

I also received my book Magic Pencil-Children's Book Illustration Today in the mail the other day. It's an unusual book, put out by The British Council, and The British Library, and compiled/written by Quentin Blake. I can't wait to get into it. Many of the illustrations in it are wonderful.

Today I added just a few of the former links I had on the blog. I've got many more to add.

Monday, December 12, 2005

It's A Miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh My...I thought I had lost my whole blog....for some reason the whole template was gone...I just about gave up..then..somehow I changed the format and the posts still remained and popped back up. I thought I was going to have to start from scratch. I didn't even look to see if the links are here...I have this sinking feeling they are gone....
Yup..all gone.
If you had a link here and would like it restored..can you PLEASE give me your blog or website. I'm going to be adding links for a Lo-o-o-ng time now..I had some treasures here and it'll take awhile to redo that. What a pain....
but at least it didn't all disappear.
I have no idea how this happened. I didn't even mess around with my blog at all...very strange.

Blogging Blizzard

I hope this shows up. The last time I viewed my blog it was totally white...I'm not sure what happened, but I hope everything didn't disappear without my knowledge. I'm asking for help, but so far I haven't figured out what happened. I may have to start from scratch!!! ARGGGGGGG!!! All of those amazing links GONE?
I didn't delete anything, so I have no idea what's up with this. Stay tuned for more info. I may have to start a cachibachisII

Students for Literacy Ottawa

Students for Literacy Ottawa
Check out this literacy blog from Ottowa.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Shirley Hughes

I've always loved Shirley Hughes' illustrations. Here is a website that Janet sent in on an illustrator's list highlighting Shirley Hughes' work.
Just seeing her photo convinced me all the more what a kind, down to earth woman she must be.
Her illustrations are warm, spontaneous and full of the humor of children, and way they move and fill our lives.
There may be some more artists highlighted on the site. I haven't checked it out yet. It looks like a terrific place to find more interesting articles.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

National Children's Book And Literary Alliance

I just found out about this organization from the net today. It's the NCBLA. It looks like a great organization for children's book lovers, and those interested in children's literature. I'm going to go back later and read more about it. ****************Tangent********************

(I just got back from Christmas shopping..and on a Saturday no less..something I tried so hard not to do because of the crowds, but It was fun.)
I don't know why there isn't a store in a 20 mile radius that has any holiday type tops for girls...I looked in every type of store I could find, and found nothing. Finally I resorted to my favorite thrift store and found 3 gorgeous tops for less than the price of one at any other store...and then I got tempted to buy other things while there. I justify it all, knowing the prices are terrific.

**********back to children's writing topics now**********

Here's another website that is interesting, and has posts about children's lit too. It's called Original Content, and discusses children's books and writing.

Illustration Friday-Surprise

Here's my illustration for this week's topic Surprise. I did this ages ago. It's scratchboard. I've got to get back to using scratchboard. It's so much fun to work with.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow-Day and Oilily Find

It's another snow day! Yippeeee! The funny thing is that the forecast was for a blizzard and we ended up with one inch!
It did the trick though, giving the kids the day off. Hopefully we'll bake some Christmas cookies and fudge. I'm off to a slow start this year, just having bought the first gifts yesterday. I braved the mall. (I don't particularly enjoy malls at any time of year, but at Christmas-time it can be even tougher to deal with the sensory overload and all of the 'Stuff'.)
I found another treasure at the SA (Salvation Army). I've always wanted some clothes from Oilily, but can't justify paying their normal prices. I found a gorgeous sweater in the SA for $3.99!!!! (don't you just Love when that happens?)

I'll add some children's illustration info later that this isn't completely off-topic. Check out the Oilily site for some inspiration.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

New Christmas Coloring Page

I finished a Christmas coloring page to go along with the picture book I just illustrated. The book isn't out yet, but here's a page for kids to color. It's a Christmas tree's ornaments.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

LA Times Kid's Reading Room

Check out Maria Cisneros Toth's children's story Mooarachi. It's running in the LA times! (pretty impressive!)
The LA Times is printing it in installments. Maria is a wonderful writer who I met on our online group:
Latino/Hispanic Writers4Kids. Her warmth and sense of humor are magnetic. Read the story, and keep it marked to read more.

Snowdays, Gifts and Cachibachis

Today was a snowday here in Virginia. I love snowdays...snowcovered trees, permission to sleep later than 6:00 am, and just fun having the kids home, playing in the snow and drinking cocoa. It was perfect. Here in Virginia if there's more than 1/2 inch of snow on the ground schools are generally closed.
When we first moved here I found that astonishing. I grew up in the North, where people put chains on their tires, and brave feet of snow as though it's the most normal thing, gearing up for snow each year, ready to drive on snow covered roads, not just hide indoors when the snow hits. In driver's ed in NY state, we learned how to skid on snow and how to get out of a skid. Here in VA many folks panic when snow hits. Other more foolhardy drivers continue driving at 60mph trying to prove how cool they are.
The kids built funny snowmen, had snowball fights and used their sleds. When you live down here, you never know if you'll have a chance to use your sleds and snow equipment, so it makes it extra special.
Well..I've adapted to the Virginia style by looking forward to 1/2 inch of snow, knowing that most likely school will be closed and we'll all get to hang out at home for a day. It was a gift.

As for gifts, I was very touched yesterday to recieve an unexpected package on our front porch. A generous person I'd finished illustrations for, sent me an amazing gift box full of an assortment of delicious goodies! What a special surprise!
Gifts sometimes come when you least expect them, and this client/friend is a one in a million gift.

Here are some cachibachis for you. .....
Two of my all time favorite Christmas picture books are:
One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham Illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson (one of my all time favorite illustrators)
Both the story and the illustrations are rich and moving.
Another book that I loved so much I borrowed it from the library at least 15 times before I bought it. It's The Animals' Christmas Carol by Helen Ward. Her work is incredible. How I wish I could illustrate like she does.
My librarian friend recommends a book called Silver Packages. It wasn't there yesterday, and I'm not sure who wrote it, but she says that the message is timeless.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Place to Create Your Own Font

This is an incredible tool for illustrators to be able to use. It's a site called Fontifier where you can create your own font using your handwriting. It's been recommended on the Picture Book Dummy group by 3 people so far. I want to try it!

I got some marketing done today. It's about time. So far I have over 40 postcards addressed and ready to mail out. Only about 60 more to go now.....

It's actually lots of fun. I just need to do it more often, since the last time I mailed any illustration samples out was a year ago.

Northern Virginia Writing Project

Today I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with the Northern Virginia Writing Project. They have workshops for children who are interested in writing, or who excell at it.
Today's workshop offered another workshop for parents, which I attended while my child attended one.
All I can say is I wish I had had teachers like these when I was younger.
Their program is fascinating in that all of the teachers are also writers , practicing their craft while they teach teachers and kids.
We did several writing excersizes and learned a few techniques to beat writing blocks and bring inspiration.
The two teachers who taught the parent's workshop were Kathy Hailey and Cathy Turner ( I hope I spelled their names correctly). The title of the workshop was "The Gift of Words"
The Northern Virginia Writing Project is a part of The National Writing Project.
It was wonderfully run, and my child came out of it begging to go to the next workshop.

Friday, December 02, 2005

FInished the Drawing

Here's the pen and ink rendering that was due. The only thing that makes me sad is that in my rush to photocopy it and reach the PO in time, I didn't notice that the ceramic flower holders and bottom part of the stone paved driveway got cut off in the copy...oh least it's on it's way. It didn't fit all the way on the copier, but I thought all of the image made it...that's what I get for trying to make copies in a rush, while keeping an eye on my kids.

Multicultural Picture Book Library-list

I found out about this from a post on the Write4Kids forum. It's another good place to hang out online.
It's a list that someone compiled of multicultural kid's books. I know that there are many more than these, but it's just one place to find some.
I have a page of Multicultural children's links on my website if anyone is interested as well.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

December is HERE!

Yikes. Now the fun starts.
I love the Christmas and holiday season, but the pace can really be a challenge. The temperatures here in Virginia have made it feel like Spring, making it even harder to believe that Christmas, the New Year and holiday season are upon us.

I'm finishing a pen and ink rendering for a client. It's an amazing house (mansion) in California. I'll post it when I'm done.

Hopefully I'll find some fun links to add to the blog later on today.