Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shout Out!

This is a huge thank you to my dear friend Sue, who brought me two discarded books from her local library. And look! They're map books! The top one is called Decorative Maps, by Heather Child, published in 1956; and the one below is Picture Map Geography of South America, by Vernon Quinn, from way back in 1941. How very useful these will be!

And now for a visual treat, check out Sue's latest creative endeavor, her photography:


(I know she's my friend and all, but I think her work is spectacular.)

As if this isn't enough coolness for one day, take a look at what she and her husband do in Vermont:

Mystery on Main Street

Yes, they run a book store... an independent book store! (I'm so proud of them.) So if you're in the Brattleboro area, please check it out. Here's to brave folks who follow their creative hearts!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gratuitous Garden Post

Hard to believe tomorrow is December 1, and the garden is still going. I probably should have been decorating and shopping this past Sunday, but couldn't quite bring myself to get into holiday-insanity mode. Not with the sun shining and weeds to be pulled!

Here are our homemade hoop houses. (Gotta love duct tape.)

Below, from left to right, are kohlrabi, beets, pac choi (?) cabbage, and carrots.

And here's spinach, broccoli rabe, swiss chard and some sort of green whose name I forget. It's supposed to grow when it's 30 below. Or something like that.

And finally, the take from what's still hanging in under row covers: more chard, kale, and baby carrots. Sure am enjoying this year's grand garden experiment.

To me, gardening is a sort of moving meditation. It also gets the ideas flowing. I don't know why this is– I'm happy just to keep digging.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who-Owl Promo Card

Here's another promo card, from this sketch, way back when.

It always feels like a leap of faith to send these out into the world. (How do I know the post office guy isn't just snickering and shredding them in the back room? Mwahahahaha!) But I really have had people say they've kept a card for years until the right assignment came along. You just never know where things will lead.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Whispering Pines 2011

I've been invited to be the guest illustrator at the 2011 Whispering Pines Writer's Retreat from March 25-27, 2011! People have been telling me wonderful things about this weekend, and I am really excited to take part. Here are some past presenters, and here's registration information.

Something good to look forward to at the tail end of winter!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Take-Out Wisdom

"A truly creative person rids him or herself
of all self-imposed limitations."

(From Friday night Chinese food fortune cookie. Good point.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's On My Desk

This week I'm working on endpaper illustrations and a few other bits and pieces for Maggie and Oliver, a middle-grade novel by author Valerie Hobbs.

There's always a stage in the process where I think the art looks like blech. Most times I can work through it. (Figured this out after years of self-torture.)

Usually my desk looks something like below. My hairy little assistants are always ready to help. (Between nap breaks, that is.) Luckily I also have a standing desk. Keeps the ol' spine happy.

Here's another piece from the book:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rutgers One-on-One 2010

On Saturday I was thrilled to get up at the crack of dawn to attend the Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference for the second year in a row. (I really was thrilled. I'm a ridiculously early riser anyway, and besides, that's why coffee was invented.)

Last year was fabulous, and I expected this year to be the same. It was. For those who aren't familiar with the conference, attendees are paired with a mentor– an editor, agent, author or illustrator– who spends 45 minutes giving feedback on your work.

This year I met with a lovely author who offered many insightful suggestions for my picture book dummy... ones that I think will help take it to another level. Meeting her was just one of the delightful surprises of the day!

There was also a great panel of speakers– Deborah Sloan, Alvina Ling, and Katie Davis– who talked about the value of social networking and some of the ins and outs of Facebook and Twitter. Check out #rcclbuzz on Twitter if you want to learn more. (Dear Twitter, I do love you, but have a hard time keeping up!)

Oh! And I can't forget the 5-on-5 group, where groups of five mentees and mentors meet to discuss whatever burning questions about the industry anyone might have.

The grand finale of the day was keynote speaker, the awesome Deborah Heiligman. (She really is awesome, and not just because she handed out waterproof notebooks to everyone in the audience in case we find ideas in the shower! If you ever get a chance to hear her talk, do it.) Deborah was funny and inspiring. Instead of me trying to paraphrase what she said, here it is in her own words. And here's another take.

Good, good stuff. Heading off to my bubble now...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Love This...

...James McMullan's series in the New York Times about the basics of drawing; because there are so many different approaches to drawing and always something new to learn.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teeny-Tiny Sketches

These are two little sketches for part of the Maggie and Oliver endpapers. The editor and designer liked the one on the left. (Me, I couldn't decide! I'm bad like that.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Night Owl

Here's the finished piece. This was the sketch. I tweaked it around a bit in order to fit my postcard design.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thank You, Highlights!

This past weekend I went to my first Highlights Illustrators' Party at their company headquarters in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Wow, what a nice group of people– they sure know how to make you feel welcome! My buddy Julie and I drove out together, and one of the first things we commented on as we pulled into town were all the "Welcome Illustrators!" signs. Where else on earth would you ever see that? So cool!

People came to the party from all over the country, and Canada, too. One of the best surprises was meeting so many online folks in person– Susan Mitchell, Paula Becker, Jannie Ho– and a whole bunch of others. It was great to spend time talking face to face while we ate, listened to a presentation by the staff, ate, looked at each others artwork, ate, sat by the lake, ate, dressed up in costumes, ate, square danced (some of us!), and ate some more. (Did I mention that the food was delicious?)

Thanks, Highlights, for a wonderful time!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dept. of Good Stuff: Update!

I'm happy to be posting again about my Maggie and Oliver book illustration project, with an update! Things were put on hold this summer because my lovely & wonderful editor moved to another house. (It's publishing. It happens.) The book was reassigned to a new editor (just as lovely & wonderful)* and I'll be finishing up the cover and endpaper art in the next month or so. Look for a Fall '11 publication date! I still intend to blog about the whole process of working on the book– probably closer to the release.

Meanwhile, here's a sneak peek at one of the interior illos:

*(Just gotta say, I'm feeling really, really fortunate to have the chance to work with so many lovely & wonderful people!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Imagekind Updates

I've added a few new pieces to my Imagekind Gallery.

I also created a separate section for maps... most of the ones I work on are commissioned for a specific purpose, but these are a few that I thought may be more general interest. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Veggie Days

What? It's August, and I haven't blogged about my vegetable garden since March? Well, here we go then:

First, there were radishes and baby spinach.

Then, snap peas, snow peas, and parsley.

Mountains, and I do mean mountains, of zucchini.

Lettuce and Italian broad beans.

Pecks o' purple peppers!

Zucchini, a.k.a. "baseball bat."

A plethora; and attack of the killer tomatoes begins.

And more tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes...

Next up: Kale Invasion.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Thrilled to say I've been accepted to this year's Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference! Last year was my first time going, and it was a fantastic experience. I highly recommend applying to anyone who is serious about writing and illustrating for children. (I blogged about last year's conference here.) More notes to come...

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Watched old home movies last night. So many memories... I laughed and cried and laughed again. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3 O'Clock in the Morning...

...can be a very productive time for your brain. Even if you're tossing and turning and trying to sleep. The trick is to write it all down at 6 o'clock in the morning when you get up. With coffee, preferably.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Revision (Or, The Story of My Life!)

I'm working on yet more revisions for a picture book idea. So true what they say, the simpler the story, the more difficult it is to tell. One thing that tends to gunk it up for me is which part to tell with words and which with pictures. The joy comes in little moments of figuring it all out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Home Again, Home Again...

We're back from vacation. Does anyone else bring projects with them when they go away? Part of me feels like a loser for not being able to put things aside completely. But I've learned that if I do, it's painfully hard to pick up the thread again when I return. Besides, at the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, I love my work!

Since I'm an early riser anyway it was easy to get up and spend a few hours writing and drawing before the bustle of the day began. Sunrise, plus beach, plus coffee made for an inspiring time.

Here are a bunch of sunrises... it was fascinating, how the colors and light were constantly changing:

Oh, and I did spend a fair amount of time doing this:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good Eats in Charlotte

Here's a map for the July issue of Charlotte Magazine, for an article about restaurants on Central Avenue. (Not wise to work on this kind of map when I'm hungry.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Kid You Not

Saw three boys and their ducks sitting on the back steps of my local library last week. They said they were "taking them for a walk."

I love my library.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ripple Effect

My illustrator friend Kelly Light is causing a ripple. She decided to start creating sketchcards-- tiny 2-1/2" by 3-1/2" pieces of original art-- to sell for $10 each to benefit the animal life being devastated by the deluge of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. (Sorry, I just can't call it a "spill" anymore.)

She put out a call to others to see if they would contribute, and the result has been an outpouring of art from professional illustrators, designers, fine artists, kids, and anyone who wanted to help.

Sometimes we can only do small things and hope they make a difference.

Please visit ripplesketches.blogspot.com to see artwork created with love by people from all over the world. The cards are $10 apiece, and 100% of each purchase is being donated to The Institute of Marine Mammal Studies and the International Bird Rescue Research Center.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Catching Up (And Cat Non Sequitur)

I'm playing catch-up this week. Reflecting on projects completed and those to come. Thankful for old and new friends; bowled over by kind words.

Life is good.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Twelfth Annual Shoreline SCBWI Conference

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of speaking at the Twelfth Annual Shoreline SCBWI Conference in Madison, Connecticut. (We were supposed to be outside, in the apparently gorgeous gardens of organizer Doe Boyle, but ended up gathering at the Guilford Free Library due to the threat of thunderstorms. I'd love to see those gardens another time!)

The day's theme was Cross-Pollination in the Garden: The Hybridization of Fact and Fiction in Writing for Young People. Each of the invited authors spoke about their projects and writing processes in both fiction and non-fiction; and how they combine facts and imagination to create compelling works for children. It was fascinating. I spoke from the point of view of an illustrator, talking mostly about my book maps, and my process behind doing the artwork for Maggie and Oliver. (And yes, I'll admit I used more than a few bad gardening metaphors-- avid-- some say lunatic-- gardener that I am. Luckily the audience was forgiving.)

It was an honor to be included with these folks... Dana Meachen Rau, Page McBrier, Stacy DeKeyser, and Tony Abbott. Another bonus was being able to meet a whole bunch of wonderful people who I either knew of or had "met" online. Really fun day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Album of Gardens

I've posted an album of Garden Maps that I've done over the years here. (The fun thing is, I've usually worked on them in the depths of winter, when the most I can do is dream about my own garden. At least drawing them is an enjoyable substitute.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Almost Done!

I'm almost done with the Maggie & Oliver interior pieces! Here they are hanging on my wall, waiting for one more pass to make sure everything is consistent. (And yeah, those are big messy piles on my flat file waiting to be sorted. Sigh.)

And a few more pieces. You'll notice how I cropped the view into my family room. No need to show the perpetual mountain-of-laundry...

I probably shouldn't show any final close-ups until they're all approved, but here's another sketch. It's a smaller spot, one of my personal favorites.