Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sam and Papa

This is a small piece from Sam Bennett's New Shoes. Sam and Papa finally free the wagon from the spring-time mud, while Molly the pup watches.

(Personally, I'm looking forward to that spring-time mud!)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Another sketch for a new piece.

Now that I'm eye-to-chin with my oldest it seems like oh so long ago that my kids were this small. (And when are boys supposed to start shaving, by the way??)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Children, Play & Things That Get Me Thinking

Remember being a kid and getting so excited when your parents said you could have that giant empty box that packaged some newly-arrived-on-your-doorstep appliance-or-such? It's a fort! It's an elf castle! It's a giant dollhouse! It's a... whatever you could imagine it to be.

Take a listen to this, from last week on NPR: Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills.

Turns out you didn't need the latest and greatest toy after all. And with all that unstructured play time you were learning, too. Who knew?

Along similar lines-- an excellent commentary over at Finding Wonderland, for those of us that are tired of the endless marketing of "stuff" to children (and everyone, for that matter...)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Map: Marshfield Dreams

This map was for a book called Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid by Ralph Fletcher. (Click on the map to see a larger version.) It's a beautifully written memoir of the author's life as a child growing up in Massachusetts, with many poignant and funny moments. I enjoyed doing this piece because, first of all, I loved reading the story-- and second of all, when the editor sent me the manuscript she basically said, "Have fun!"

I love it when that happens!

Among other genres Fletcher has written many books about writing craft for young people. I have a few and I'll attest-- his books are helpful for all ages.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Field Trip!

The kids are off from school this week, so yesterday we drove down to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I really love New York! Probably because if you've ever felt quirky or different, you'll fit in there somehow, someway. There's room for everyone.

I decided to take pictures since the kids, being kids, rushed from one thing to the next. A whirlwind tour! (Ahh, to be back in art school, with time to linger, sketching at a museum...) There's so much to see at the Met-- it's an amazing place.

Rather than make my hair hurt by trying to format words and pictures together in Blogger, I thought I'd just show a few of my favorite things:

(And if you're looking for knights in shining armor, this is the place.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More Good Reading About Children's Books...

The Horn Book will be offering a free monthly newsletter starting in March:

Each monthly issue features interviews with leading writers and illustrators, brief recommendations of noteworthy titles, and the latest news from the children's book world.

Click here to sign up!

(The magazine is well worth the price, too... judging by the issues that float around my house for years...)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Summer-Night Joy

We must have had close to 40 kids at one time on the cul-de-sac where I grew up. Our great joy was playing flashlight tag on hot summer nights.

I've been drawing like a madwoman lately, updating pieces in my portfolio. It's the part that falls through the cracks when the map work is busy, or when I'm working on a book idea, or a promotional mailing... probably every self-employed artist is trying to keep the same boat afloat! One goal for this year was to make just sketching a regular habit. Another internal deadline-- so far I'm keeping up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Running Lady

Here's the finished art for a sketch from a while ago.

I'm actually rather pleased with how this turned out, which is saying a lot, because I'm usually ridiculously hard on myself (just ask my very patient family...)

One thing I did differently was to splurge and use 300lb. watercolor paper instead of 140lb. That's it-- I'm a convert! The extra pennies (okay, dollars) are so worth not battling with the paper (not to mention my psyche...) Funny how a slight change of material can make such a big change in my world...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Map: Rock the Casbah

This is a little map of Morocco from a few years ago. Another place to visit someday...

Here are some interesting photographs of Marrakech-- the colors and patterns and designs warm my winter-weary heart! (I just noticed "Marrakech" is spelled two different ways-- "ech" or "esh"-- I wonder why...)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Waiting for Godot, Feline Edition

Yep... kind of what publishing feels like some days, too....

Here's an excellent post about writing and waiting over at Kristi Holl's blog that helps put it in perspective. I might have to wallpaper my studio with this...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Share the Love (and Pass the Chocolate)

Um... would it be breaking any blog rules to re-post a piece of art that I had posted early on in my blogging endeavor? (It was only my fourth post, ever...) I just thought it was appropriate for today. Peace, love and chocolate to all!

(And here's a handy guide to choosing just the right kind-- scroll down to see my favorite-- the two poet truffles... "With every batch of six truffles, you also get a homemade poem.")

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow Dogs Redux

Am I doomed to battle with my scanner for the rest of my life? It never quite gets the colors right. If it looks close to the original on-screen, it's too washed out in a print. If it's good in a print, it's garish on-screen. Sigh... technology... I love it! I hate it! I love it...

Here was the sketch for this piece. We're actually expecting snow this afternoon... time to light a fire and make cookies!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday Map: North Carolina Cat Story

My very first cat came from North Carolina. Years ago, fresh out of art school, I worked in the art department of a golf trade magazine. One nice perk was that I was able to assist on a golf fashion photo shoot at Pinehurst Resort. (Talk about luxurious... too bad I don't golf!)

We were shooting in the stables one day, where a barn cat had recently had kittens. The hair and makeup woman fell in love! She managed to bring a kitten home in an open box on the plane. (Can you imagine that happening now?) But after about a week back in Connecticut she decided she couldn't handle him any more-- so I took him. His name was Bandit, he was shiny and black, and he was one of the sweetest cats I've ever known.

(*Note: Pinehurst isn't located in Carrboro. Actually, Carrboro has nothing to do with this story, apart from the fact that it is in North Carolina. A tenuous connection, but, hey-- it's Monday.)

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Poet Laureate Says...

As the poet laureate of the United States, what are you doing to increase the public’s interest in poetry at a time when cultural alarmists insist that reading is on its way out? Poetry doesn’t need much promotion. It is doing quite well in this country. I gave a reading the other night in Concord, N.H., with two former poet laureates — Donald Hall and Maxine Kumin —and 740 people came. That’s a lot of people!
(read more here...)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Full Moon

It was a full moon around here a few weeks ago. This was what it looked like from my front door-- eerie and beautiful at the same time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mon Nouveau Film Favori

I confess that I barely watch TV anymore. (Unlike as a kid, when I was even a card-carrying member of the Keith Partridge fan club. How could you not love Keith?) I do, however, adore movies.

To me, films are like picture books in the sense that the director has to balance the verbal and the visual parts of a story. And then there is the way scenes are designed-- the crop, the angle, the pacing. There's so much to learn.

This past weekend, out of the 218 movies currently on my Netflix queue, we watched Paris Je T'aime. (Yes, Paris! So I, of course, am enthralled!) Without spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it-- it's a collection of 18 different shorts of 5 minutes apiece by 18 different directors. (All in Paris!) Some are better than others. I laughed at some, cried at some, and was aching to know more about some. Some had fascinating twists. Some were "arty" and I didn't quite get them. Some were more slice-of-life, and some felt like a nugget of tiny, perfect little story. So much to absorb! So much to think about! So much I can apply to my own work. This one I must own.

Oh, and did I mention that they all take place in... sigh... Paris!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Love a Good Mystery?

It was a dark and stormy night when... two very good old friends of mine decided to chuck it all and move to Vermont. To do what, you inquire? Why, no mystery here-- to open a new bookstore. Yes, a new independent bookstore! (Oh, how much fun to write that!)

So if mysteries make your blood curdle, check it out-- it's called Mystery on Main Street, and it's located at 119 Main Street in Brattleboro. They've started a blog, too.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Monday Map: Cowgirl Country

This is a map I did about 5 years ago for a book called Holding the Reins: A Ride Through Cowgirl Life, by Marc Talbert and Barbara Van Cleve. (Apologies for the grainy scan!) Sadly, the book appears to be out of print, but it was an interesting story about four different girls growing up and working on ranches in Utah and Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico.

Lately I've been reading more and more books thinking-- I wish there was a map in the frontispiece. Flipping back and forth between a story and a map, imagining where a character is when I'm reading-- makes me slow down and savor the story even more.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday Find

I was cleaning out my tiny studio/room last week and came across this old watercolour paint box perched high on a shelf. I'd saved it from my grandmother's house about 15 years ago, and forgotten all about it. (Guess I'm not the greatest housekeeper!) I've never actually used it and don't know who did last-- it had been in her basement for who knows how many years. (I wonder if the paint is still good?) But I had always loved the retro picture on the tin. It's stamped on the back- "Page" and "London." So, because all items of even passing curiosity in our house get plugged into Google- I came up with this.

Eureka, we're in the money!