Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hairy Little Assistants

Above is my newly-promoted early-morning Hairy Little Assistant, seeing as how the girls (below) have taken to napping on the job. This one has tons of energy. (Not shown: Coffee.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It All Begins Here...

... with really rough thumbnail sketches.*

These are for a new book. I love the unlimited possibilities at this stage.

(*Actually, it really all begins in my head. Kind of awkward to photograph, though.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Map ~ Skiing in Vermont

Whoa, how did it get to be mid-December already? I was laid low last week with the cold-sinus-bronchitis thing that's been going around here, and am emerging from the fog. Still managed to make progress on artwork, thankfully. (One nice thing about working for yourself is you can nap if you really, really need to. At your desk! Shhh... don't tell anyone.)

Here's a new map for an upcoming issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens magazine. This one put me in a festive, wintery mood!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

PiBoIdMo... Done!

I finished November's PiBoIdMo challenge with 37 new ideas... from pretty well fleshed-out to just a word or two. What a great exercise for my usual early morning routine. Especially given that life is very busy lately and the days fill up before I know what's happened.

I gathered the ideas in a new notebook...

...with a pretty cover...

...much different than the utilitarian grocery store cheapo one I usually use. Plus now it will be easier to find them.

And now, there's this! I'm really liking these deadliney-writing challenges.

And this quote, recently discovered:

"Miles, if I just change the way I look at things, I'll never run out of ideas," said Hugo.
 – from Hugo and Miles In I've Painted Everything! by Scott Magoon (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2007)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On The Desk & In The Queue

I'm working away on final art for the Sled Ride book and thinking (again!) about how to decide when a piece is finished. It's one of those questions you have to figure out over and over...

And, two more exciting book projects are lined up in the queue! (Yay!) I'll post more about them in the coming months...

(Also, fortunately, my drawing arm was not strained by the amount of pie it shoveled into my mouth this past weekend...)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! And a Worthy Cause.

Islandport Press is teaming with the Maine Credit Union League for their first ever Online Literary Auction, starting November 28th, to raise money to fight hunger. Authors, illustrators, and artists from around the New England area have contributed works, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to this worthy cause. Please take a look...

And, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This year, I'm thankful to have enough. (Family, friends, work, food... and so on. Enough is good.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I See, You See

What you see: Two adorable kitties.

What I see: Eight little paws just waiting to pitter-patter across the art on my drawing table.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Yesterday's Field Trip...

... was to the Big Apple, to see the Society of Illustrators Original Art show. Wow. It's just plain inspiring to see works of art up close and personal. The variety is wonderful– traditional, digital, a mix of both... there's room for everything. Here are some of my favorites:

(And this is Grand Central Station. I have a thing for the architecture. It's spectacular.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Painting, Happily.

(And, we finally got our power back! After eight days without. 7 days of no electricity because of Irene + 8 days due to Alfred = way too many days without electricity! I'll spare you my rant.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Whohoo, Reviews!

So, we are powerless yet again, after Saturday's Epic October Snowstorm. I'm posting from my town's municipal center. (Free wifi and Starbucks, yay!) No worries. Other than the heartbreak of seeing so many beautiful old trees destroyed, none landed on our house, fortunately. And, we have a generator and wood stove. Water and heat rock! (We also managed to polish off all the Halloween candy ourselves, since they cancelled trick or treating. Well-deserved chocolate, I say!)

I'm thrilled to be posting a few lovely reviews for Maggie & Oliver. One from last week's Shelf Awareness, (scroll down), and one in the November/December issue of The Horn Book Magazine! Here's a snippet:

"This is Victoriana with no steampunk shenanigans and no tongues in cheeks, just well-orchestrated, straightforward storytelling for newish readers– with a bonus of warm pencil drawings reminiscent of Lois Lenski."

Wow. (Lois Lenski!) Just wow. Thank you, Shelf Awareness and Horn Book!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hey! It's a Giveaway!

To celebrate the  release of Maggie & Oliver, I'm giving away two copies signed by me, the illustrator! Click on the link below to enter. The winners will be chosen on November 22nd.


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        Maggie and Oliver or A Bone of One's Own by Valerie Hobbs



          Maggie and Oliver or A Bone of One's Own


          by Valerie Hobbs


            Giveaway ends November 22, 2011.

            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.




      Enter to win

(I'd pick the names out of a hat myself, but can't trust that my pup wouldn't eat them first. And who knows what the cats would do! Ahh... life with animals.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Box O' New Books!

Look what Mr. UPS guy delivered yesterday! Hardcover copies of Maggie and Oliver, or A Bone of One's Own! The official release date is in less than three weeks, on October 25!

Such fun to page through it...

The book is printed in a nice brownish ink, which fits the time period well, I think! Here are a few interior spreads...

While working on the endpapers, my editor and designer came up with the brilliant idea of having Maggie and Oliver separate on the front end... (See the girl and the dog close to the gutter?)

... and coming together on the back end, as they do in the story.

And it was a lovely surprise to see that they had taken one of interior spots...

... and embossed it on the hardcover of the book. Sweet detail!

I'll post more in the coming weeks, but for now, time for a great big Happy Dance!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I'm working on final art for the Sled book. This may be my favorite spread. (I reserve the right to change my mind!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Books With Maps!

This is a map I worked on over the summer for a book called Something to Hold, by Katherine Schlick Noe. It's the story of a young girl who goes to live on an Indian Reservation with her family in the 1960's. The book will be released by Clarion Books this coming December!

In this instance I wasn't able to read the manuscript beforehand, but was given enough key points to be able to tie in the map with the feel of the story. Really looking forward to reading this one!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Transferring a sketch for a map assignment on my old-fashioned light box during the week without power.

I'm thinking of calling last week "The Lost Week," or "The Powerless Week," and I'd like to hit the reset button for the month of September, please! Like thousands of other folks across the Northeast, our power went "poof!" last Sunday morning due to Hurricane Irene, and we didn't get it back until seven days later. (Seven long, cold-showering days!)

We were fortunate to have use of a generator, without which there's no water from the well; and we have a gas stove, so we were able to cook. The husband even managed to hook up a TV and the wifi box halfway through the week, though the fishtank mysteriously kept blowing the fuse. It could have been so much worse– I can only imagine how devastating it must be for those who lose their homes to flooding and fires– so we can't complain too much. But still, the week left us feeling generally discombobulated. Glad to be moving forward now!

Below is a sneak peek of part of a sketch from this project (which I'm casually calling the "Sled" book.) I'm starting final art now. Yay!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Favorite Tools

Pencil, tracing paper, and kneaded eraser: priceless for revising and tweaking.  Photoshop, too. But sometimes the old-fashioned way is easiest.

I should be able to show some of the sketches from this project, soon!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fall 2011 Children's Announcements!

Maggie and Oliver or a Bone of One’s Own by Valerie Hobbs, illus. by Jennifer Thermes (Oct; $15.99; ISBN 978-0-8050-9294-3) relays the adventures of an orphan girl and an orphaned dog in turn-of-the-century Boston. Ages 8 to 12.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vintagy (Is that a word?) Map

Here's a new map for an upcoming issue of Adirondack Life magazine. This one was a lot of fun to do, because the Art Director wanted a sort of 1940's-vintage-linen postcard feel to the map. (Try looking those up on ebay... way to want to start collecting 'em!) This will run on a tilt across a spread, so I had to design it to keep the lettering out of the gutter– thus the blankish area toward the right. (That sneaky little gutter... always good for a challenge!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back from the Beach!

We spent a lovely vacation at the shore. Somebody loved the water...

... and returned home to Squashapalooza.

So far I've come up with 14 ways to cook zucchini.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Today will reach close to 100 degrees. And it's humid. 
And I'm drawing kids in snow gear.

I love my job! (No irony intended!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Pole and bush beans
Swiss Chard
Too many varieties of squash to name
(Butternut, Acorn... you get the idea.)
Snap Peas
Broccoli (Though it always breaks my heart.)

Now if I could only find a way to grow ice cream...