Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fall leaves, Illustration Friday, and Smart Dummies

On my walk this morning, I saw my first Fall leaf! 
There are other leaves on the ground, but this one changed colors before it fell.

Happy Fall everyone! 
Some people think Fall starts after Labor Day, Sept. 7th this year, and others think it starts on the autumnal equinox, Sept. 23rd this year. But if the leaves are falling, it must be Fall, right? (Even if it feels like summer with this heat wave we're having!)

Smart Dummies + Illustration Friday = Cows!
(It's always cows with me. What else could it be?

What does that mean? The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is: work, and Smart Dummies is a challenge for illustrators to complete a picture book dummy in September. (It was started this year by Dani Duck.)

I wrote a guest post for Smart Dummies (Three Ways To Make A Picture Book Dummy). I also made art to go with that post. The cow illustrates one type of dummy you can make, and it also illustrates the IF prompt of work. (I love it when two things go together like that.)

Here's my cow working on a picture book dummy:

There's also a cat and a unicorn! 
(The unicorn is also my new avatar for September.)

How do these three relate to making picture book dummies? Click here to find out!

Are you participating in Smart Dummies or working on a portfolio?
Here are a couple of other posts I've written that might help:

* If you're having trouble figuring out what to draw, here's a post on ten tips to help you choose what to draw and ten ways to find inspiration.

* If you're just starting out, or are trying to get your work to the next level, here's a post I wrote for illustrators on five things that helped me (and will hopefully help you too) on my path to my first picture book.

* If you're an illustrator (or writer) and want to write a picture book, but aren't sure where to start, here's a post on how to write a picture book in twelve easy steps (the title is tongue in cheek, but the post is hopefully helpful).

Happy September and Good Luck with your picture book dummies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

dog day, pictures of people, portfolio tips, and other news

Today is National Dog Day! This day is to help bring awareness to all the dogs that need rescuing. It seemed like a good day to do some dog sketches, so that's what I did. Here's a sample:

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: people.

This is a great prompt for me as I've been working to add more people to my portfolio (right now I have a LOT of animals in my portfolio, and a few people too). I have a few new pieces that I'll be adding to my website soon. Until then, I'll give you a sneak peek here. I had two postcards printed for mailing and for the SCBWI LA conference. Both sides of both postcards had people on them! Here's the color postcard front:

And here's the back:

Roberta likes robots and ballet, but isn't as fond of taking baths! She also likes to draw. Here she is drawing on the front of the black and white postcard:

The back of the black and white postcard featured a different girl sharing her snacks with her puppy (which is perfect for national dog day):

I really like the pretzel stamp on this card! I like the robot on the other card too. Too bad the ones I mailed had to have the stamps covered up, but I don't think the post office would mail them with my stamps.

Working on a portfolio?
Here are a couple of posts I've written that might help:

* If you're having trouble figuring out what to draw, here's a post on ten tips to help you choose what to draw and ten ways to find inspiration.

* If you're just starting out, or are trying to get your work to the next level, here's a post I wrote for illustrators on five things that helped me (and will hopefully help you too) on my path to my first picture book.

* If you're an illustrator (or writer) and want to write a picture book, but aren't sure where to start, here's a post on how to write a picture book in twelve easy steps (the title is tongue in cheek, but the post is hopefully helpful)>

In other news:

* Mr. Schu and I about picture books, art, reading & EWE AND AYE.  It was fun to finish his sentences!

* Author / illustrator Eliza Wheeler put up an amazing post on moving forward in your art, having fun, and banishing feelings that your work sucks. A must read for artists (and writers) who are having doubts about their work or are trying to push through to the next level.

* Author / illustrator Dani Duck is hosting Smart Dummies in September. It's a month dedicated to helping illustrators create picture book dummies. There will be guest posts (including one from me) and prizes too! Sign up here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

close encounters of the fur kind and world elephant day

Today is World Elephant Day, a day to bring attention to the plight of Asian and African elephants and help to protect them from the dangers they face. Elephants need our help. One thing you can do to help is to create elephant art and share it on social media (use the hashtag #elegram). The Nature Conservancy is asking for 20,000 handmade elephants and is working with donors to match your artwork with at least $150,000 to work with partners on the ground to protect elephants. You don't have to be an artist. You can doodle, make a sculpture, use cut paper, or any other art materials. More details here.

This is my baby elephant for World Elephant Day and elegrams (it's a 2" x 2" painting I did a few years ago that I still love:

 The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: pointy.

The chicken wouldn't be quite so alarmed if the aliens didn't have pointy ears and teeth, which remind her of storybook wolves. The aliens have pointy teeth (the better to eat you with), and pointy ears (the better to hear you with), and if you could see them, they'd most likely have pointy tails too (the better to thwack you with).

Or maybe she's just the chicken who cried wolf.

This is from one of the new portfolio images I did for the LA SCBWI conference last week, and also from a story I'm secretly working on (though since I mentioned it just now, I guess it's not so secret anymore).

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ten picture books with art I love

Today* is the annual Picture Book 10 for 10 event (on Twitter: #pb10for10).

 It's hard to choose just ten picture books to showcase! I decided to narrow it down with the theme of books with art I love, which was still hard to narrow down! So, here are ten picture books on my desk** with art that I love:

1. ORANGE PEAR APPLE BEAR by Emily Gravett - I love the seeming simplicity of the word play and the art, and how something that seems so simple can be so rich.

2. NOT A BOX by Antoinette Portis - This is another deceptively simple concept that is anything but simple. It captures the art of imagination in a few lines of text and art.

3. THE GREAT GRACIE CHASE by Mark Teague - I have to admit that this is my favorite book by Mark Teague. There's just something wonderful about Gracie and the way that she and everyone else in this book is painted.

4. WAVE by Suzy Lee - If you've ever been to the beach, this book will bring you back while flipping through the pages. It's the next best thing to being at the beach.

5. MISS HAZELTINE'S HOME FOR SHY AND FEARFUL CATS by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Brigitta Sif - So many awesome cat drawings! A must read for cat lovers and cat artists.

 6. ARE WE THERE YETI? by Ashlyn Anstee - A great title + fun art = a book that begs to be read.

7. COUNTING CROWS by Kathi Applet, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey - The art in this counting book is stunning, from the limited palette (black, white, and red), to the crows and cat.

8. THE BEAR ATE YOUR SANDWICH by Julia Sarcone-Roach - The art in this book is absolutely gorgeous and the story is really fun (and not at all spoiled by knowing who ate the sandwich).

9. WHEREVER YOU GO by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler - This book is a lovely journey both in text and art, and I am in awe of how Eliza's bicycle riding bunny drawings.

10. SUMMONING THE PHOENIX: Poems And Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments by Emily Jiang, illustrated by April Chu - The art and text bring music and Chinese instruments to life.

There's another book on my desk with art I love, but it's not on this list, because I'm totally biased. It's EWE AND AYE by Candace Ryan, illustrated by Stephanie Ruble (yep, that's me - told you I was totally biased). - It's about a sheep and a lemur who both dream of flying, but aren't able to fly until they work together.

* Technically it's still Monday the 10th on the West Coast, and since I just got back from there yesterday, I'm still on West Coast time.

** The picture books on my desk aren't always the same. These are the ones on my desk right now with art that I love. Next week or next month there could (and probably will) be different picture books with art I love.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

legalizing copyright infringement

Congress is considering legalizing copyright infringement (this will affect anyone who creates visual content, especially those who post art and photos online). The Copyright Office has asked for letters regarding visual art in this legislation.

Please consider writing a letter to The Copyright Office. There's an easy online form here: http://copyright.gov/policy/visualworks/comment-form

Let them know if you think it's important that you're in control of how and by whom your art or photos are used, and that you don't want others to profit without your knowledge or consent.

*** The Deadline For Letters Is July 23 ***

Here are some basic facts (from The Illustrator's Partnership):

   * "The Next Great Copyright Act" would replace all existing copyright law.

   * It would void our Constitutional right to the exclusive control of our work.

    * It would "privilege" the public's right to use our work.

   * It would "pressure" you to register your work with commercial registries.

    * It would "orphan" unregistered work.

   * It would make orphaned work available for commercial infringement by "good faith" infringers.

    * It would allow others to alter your work and copyright these "derivative works" in their own names.

   * It would affect all visual art: drawings, paintings, sketches, photos, etc.; past, present and future; published and unpublished; domestic and foreign.

The demand for copyright "reform" has come from large Internet firms and the legal scholars allied with them. Their business models involve supplying the public with access to other people's copyrighted work. Their problem has been how to do this legally and without paying artists.

The "reforms" they've proposed would allow them to stock their databases with our pictures. This would happen either by forcing us to hand over our images to them as registered works, or by harvesting unregistered works as orphans and copyrighting them in their own names as "derivative works."

The Copyright Office acknowledges that this will cause special problems for visual artists but concludes that we should still be subject to orphan works law.

Want to know more? Check out this post from The Illustrator's Partnership:

Thank you for your help!

Monday, July 13, 2015

garden bunny

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: garden. I've been in a bunny drawing mood lately, and bunnies like gardens, so I sketched this image:

I had already emphasized the bunny, butterfly, bee, snail, and worm (and their plants) with black line, but decided to add color to them too. This is the result:

It looks a bit more like a poster with types of plants than gardens, but I like it. Then I decided to take away the line to see what it would look like with just the color:

The three images are the same, and yet different. Not sure which one I like best, but I do like them all for different reasons.

Experimenting with art is fun! But it doesn't always yield an answer to what's best or what direction to keep experimenting with. Guess that means more experimenting with all of these, and more!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

alligator vs. bunny part two: sharp teeth and a challenge

I couldn't resist drawing what happens after the alligator tries to eat the bunny in the picture I drew last week. (Both images are from an old picture book dummy that I'm revising.)

Since the Illustration Friday prompt this week is: sharp (as in, "Look at those sharp alligator teeth!"), it seemed like a perfect fit for IF too. Here's what happens after you turn the page from last week's image:

The bunny is hoping that the alligator will accept her challenge instead of having her for lunch!

I changed the alligator slightly from last week, so that the mouth is longer and more alligator-ish. Here's a close up of the bunny:

I used a reverse type speech bubble because when it was white with black type, it got lost among all the white alligator teeth. I wanted both the text and the teeth to stand out.

What do you think happens next? Do you think the bunny will still be lunch? Or do you think the bunny will outsmart the alligator?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

alligator vs. bunny = danger

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: danger. I had an old sketch of an alligator trying to eat a bunny (from a picture book dummy I'm thinking of revising) and decided to make a new drawing:

 Poor bunny! Do you think she'll get away?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

panda sketches - small for illustration friday

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: small. I did a few panda sketches (didn't know pandas were so hard to draw!) for a friend, and the panda on the right side is feeling so small compared to the other two pandas. It's hard to be the littlest panda (or child in the family, or kid in the class):

Poor small panda!

Don't worry though. Small panda will grow up to be a big panda before you know it!

Monday, June 8, 2015

last day to bid on children's book art for the ABFE auction

Update: Now that the auction is over,* I wanted to post an update to say: Thank you to everyone who bid on art in the auction! And thank you to everyone who wasn't able to bid, but helped to get the word out! And an extra thank you to the people who bid on my art! To the people who won art in the auction: I hope you love your new art and it brings you joy whenever you see it hanging in your home or office.

Would you like to support free speech and get some great children's book art? Today is the last day* to bid on art in the ABFE** auction. Items have different auction closing times throughout the day/evening, so check early for more choices.

Click here for the link to the auction.

I have two pieces in the auction this time. The first is the painting, Once Upon A Time Birdies. It was created for the auction on Tell A Story Day (for my unusual holidays series). These little birdies are telling a story, and reading a story (EWE AND AYE). (note: the colors look better in real life than in the scan). Click here to bid on the Once Upon A Time Birdies.

The second painting is in honor of Judy Blume (the person ABFE honored at their BEA auction this year). I had several ideas about what to draw before deciding to paint a girl reading a Judy Blume book (ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET), with more Judy Blume books to choose from when she's looking for another book to read. Click here to bid on the Girl Reading Judy Blume Books.

* The auction is over, except for two Chris Raschka pieces, which you can bid on until Thursday.

** From the ABA website: "The American Booksellers for Free Expression (The ABFE Group at ABA) is the bookseller's voice in the fight for free speech. Its mission is to promote and protect the free exchange of ideas, particularly those contained in books..." Click Here to read more about ABFE.