Friday, April 30, 2010

Since She Asked About Inspiration

Since it's Friday, I was looking through old work with the "flashback Friday" theme in mind. I thought about Nicole's post from Monday about inspiration. I commented on her post that dreams are sometimes a source of inspiration for me and I thought I'd share an example.

The above is a segment of some sequential art I had done based on a dream I had. The art took the form of a graphic novel page.

It was a pretty scary and unsettling dream. It involved a lot of stairs and a lot of gray.
Here is a sketch for another panel:

It seems that painting my dreams helps me come to new levels of awareness about what is going on with me at a given time. Another part of myself me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Favorite books...

I thought I'd share with everyone one of my first books I received - Mother Goose Book of Rhymes, illustrated by Janet & Anne Grahame Johnstone, 1977 edition. I have no idea when it was originally published, or how old the illustrations actually are. (Note my name that I wrote on the cover when I was little.) I love the illustrations in this book - yes, they're a bit dated in some ways, but the colors and the style are still so beautiful. Some of the old men figures and weird animals are creepy, but there is a certain charm to them. This book is how I learned many of Mother Goose's nursery rhymes and is one of those books that I'll keep forever.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Other Sources of Inspiration

I took last night off from working on my final projects to go see a performance by Richie Havens at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry.
To be honest, I had mixed feelings about doing so...since I'm in the midst of final projects right now with two weeks left of this semester to go. I have a TON of work to get done, and not much time left in which to do it. Every minute is valuable right now. But my husband and I bought tickets ages ago, so I went.
To my surprise, it was actually a benefit to my work that I took time away from my Mac. I've been stuck for ideas on one of my projects for the past week. Sitting there in the dark letting the music flow around me (and not thinking about anything) somehow loosened up my brain. By the time we left, I had a few new ideas for layouts.
Music has always been an inspiration to me, but so has diving into all kinds of books and reading. What I'd like to know is what types of non-visual arts inspire your artwork? Obviously as artists we are inspired by other illustrators and painters, but there is so much else out there in the world to move you. I'd like to hear what gets the creative juices of other artists flowing. Please share! (o:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Preparing for the Illustrator's Academy

With about three weeks left, I've been working hard on my homework assignment for the Illustrator's Academy. The assignment is to create three consecutive pages from an illustrated story - it can be an original story or an interpretation of an existing story.

I'm using an original story idea I've been thinking about for sometime. It's been fun, and challenging. I feel as if I'm creating a book from scratch and I have three weeks to do it. Every free moment I have, I've been working on it. At this stage, I roughed out several sketches, although I'm only posting a few here because the others still need some more work. I've even managed to write the text for the first several pages.

In a week or so, I hope I will have inked, and begun the painting process.

So, what do you think? Does the main character look consistent in each illustration? What about compositions?

This is such a wonderful opportunity because Illustrator Matt Phelan, and Art Director (Candlewick), and Illustrator David Costello and Editor (Charlesbridge) Yolanda LeRoy will be on the committee and will discuss the homework during the workshop. Will they like it? Am I showing what I am truly capable of? Could this possibly lead to future opportunities? Hmmm... oh the possibilities!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Overdone theme(s)?

I don't keep up with many blogs but came upon one from a literary agent saying why they don't like to work with picture book writers. The gist was that there is not much money in it for anyone and everyone is always trying to do the same old thing over again.

My thought is that the same themes come up not because people think it is an easy sell but because there is a demand. Princesses, trucks, pirate, dinosaurs, and space are themes that have been around for a very long time, the trick is to do it different. My son asked me a question based on a picture he saw of a rocket and it generated some research on books about space for the youngest of readers. Harry and Horsie and Spaceboy are two of our favorites, I love the illustrations in both and the stories are fun too. I was really surprised to see that Jan Brett had sent hedgie into space. I know people in the industry may be uttering the words "if I see one more submission about... I am going to scream" but as a parent of two children who love picture books and are always on the lookout for something new, I say keep 'em coming.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I was inspired to create this piece because I am actually traveling myself this week. I'll be attending the National Art Educators Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. Looking forward to networking with other art teachers from all over the country, attending workshops, and visiting art museums and other attractions in the area. Just hope I can fit everything in my suitcase!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Favorite Picture Book Spread

The above is a spread from the Gyo Fujikawa book of my youth "Jennie and Jupie". I adore this book of a little girl's rainy day adventure with a fun little elf-alien.

This spread is so memorable to me, something about the lovely blue gradient and the feeling of a big adventure about to happen. I really enjoy Twitter, and @laurelsnyder asked about memorable spreads many weeks ago. I wondered if this spread influence my future artist. Do you have a favorite spread? How many of us bring our childhood favorites into our present day work? Should you revisit yours and see what it sparks in you?

And I can't help but suggest you check out Twitter if you haven't already. Depending on how you use it, it can be yet another social-media time waster, or an amazing way to network and get top-notch information from your peers in children's books! Check out this blog, KidLitArt to see what you're missing out on - transcripts of the weekly topical chats on twitter.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lilla Rogers

On Saturday, I attended a workshop at Lilla Rogers studio with my Smells Like Crayons crew and two other SCBWI illustrator groups.

Beautiful melon orange and lemon-lime hues greeted me along with the charming, and engaging Lilla.

There were paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling and samples of products fit neatly into racks. On an orange swivel chair was a pillow that had work on it by one of her artists. Fellow illustrator, Reine described the artist agent's studio as "her website in 3D." Yes! Lilla's space is one with the work she represents: bold, retro yet fresh, and joyful.

One of the topics Lilla covered was Tips for Success.

Her first tip was to have fun with art. She pointed to a rack containing product samples with her artists' work. "Does anybody look as if they were suffering?" she asked. "People want to buy art that is joyful."

She stressed, however, that much time needs to be allocated for making art as the market is highly competitive. Setting goals and timelines is imperative.

Rather than staying stuck by spreading ourselves too thin, Lilla advised us to instead focus energy on what matters. Our careers will be determined by where we put our energy. What do we spend our time doing? What would we rather do? What tasks do we procrastinate? Lilla suggested we make lists and have others do the things we'd rather not do or feel we are not good at. "Get a cleaning person" was one of her tips for success. When her children were babies and Lilla was starting out in the licensing business, she hired someone to help with her little ones. It's obvious that her planfulness and focus has paid off. She runs a highly successful agency and is sought out by 1000 artists per year.

To understand what qualities buyers tend toward in the licensing market, Lilla recommends watching trends. Keep your eye on retail catalogs. Ask yourself, "Can an in-house artist do this? Is it special enough that someone will pay for it?" Bright and bold work shows up well on screen and in catalogs and she told us "that's what's happening."

How does Lilla choose her artists? First of all, she must be excited about the art. She also wants to see trend savvy and marketability. Professionalism is important, too. The artist needs to communicate clearly and concisely via e-mail and should have a fast, fun website. The artist must be prolific. Lilla wants evidence that they will have the ability to evolve since a style trend will last only about 10 years.

Lilla is a role model and inspiration for creative women. She is a compelling presence in the industry. I find myself wanting to keep on paying attention.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What I'm working on....

The recent Easter holiday has inspired me to create a new Easter-themed collection for licensing, and this is what I've been working on lately. I'm almost done... I just need to finish up some chicks, and a basket or two, and I think I just might have something here. The massive amount of jellybeans and peeps I've been eating this week has really helped too. :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. As a result, I haven't spent a whole lot of time drawing lately. I did manage to do this little sketch for a book idea I've been mulling over.

I also need to begin my "homework assignment" for the NE-SCBWI Illustrator's Academy. I need to have three completed scenes, along with thumbnail sketches. So, I've got to get my drawing cap back on again. Good thing it's raining ... no nice weather to distract me! :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter

My kids and I were having a free form painting/collage session and I did four pictures representing the seasons (not intentionally it just kind of turned out that way). Here is spring, when they were all copied together this one stood out as the oddball, the purple is too fake or happy, that's what you get sometimes for using the craft acrylics. Have a great sunny weekend!