Friday, March 17, 2017

rain during a blizzard and art challenges

This has been an art filled week!

We had a blizzard on Tuesday. You may have seen something about it on the news, or wondered why everyone was talking about Stella (that's what they named the blizzard). We got hit by the blizzard, and then it shifted and we got rain, and then snow, and then rain and snow together, and then snow again. Yay! (Ugh!)

So I made some art:

I even made an avatar out of the image (because it's a bit of a self portrait and shows how I feel about snow, and rain-snow). Check it out on the sidebar.

After the blizzard, it was National Panda Day on Thursday. (Yay pandas!) So of course I had to make some art for that too. (BTW, did you know pandas are hard to draw? They are!) When I was done with the line drawing, I realized some grasses would make a great background. As a bonus, it could be my Colour Collective image (the color is clover green this week):

I had so much fun making the green grasses with my brush markers that decided to make more art with them. It did not turn out well (there's a reason I don't use those markers very often). There was a lot of clover green though, so I scanned it to use as a second Colour Collective image. After scanning, it looked even worse, so I painted over it in Photoshop. It looks much better now:

Today I looked on the  Illustration Friday site and saw that the prompt this week is snail. And then this happened (and luckily it has clover green in it, so it can be a third image Colour Collective image):

That's the end of my art filled week. It started off with winter and ended up with spring ;).

Wishing you all a creative art filled weekend (whatever kind of art you want to make or enjoy, whether it's visual, written story, music or something else)!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

a pie loving bear coloring page for pi day

Happy Pi Day! (a.k.a. Pie Day) Here's a pie eating bear coloring page to celebrate (+ 5 more new coloring pages too, including - a cat and mouse, a lost sock train, pigs on a combine, kids playing in the sun, and smart alligators):

Ready to color? Click here!

Friday, March 10, 2017

punk rock toddlers and a tiny mermaid waving hello

The Colour Collective color for this week is: Amaranth. I played around with a few ideas and ended up drawing a trio of toddlers rocking out. Unfortunately, one of them was a complete drawing failure and got inked out. I had just enough room on the paper I was using to create a new character to round out the trio.

Since everyone posts their images for Colour Collective at the same time on Friday afternoons (19:30 GMT), that gave me time to check out the Illustration Friday prompt for this week. Luckily, the prompt ties in with the image I created for Colour Collective. The Illustration Friday prompt is: punk.

My little rockin' toddlers love punk music! A coincidence? Probably, but still true. Here they are with their newest member (the one in the middle) and their new song:

The toddler on the left is my new avatar. She is not impressed with the singing talent of their newest punk rocker.

In other news, apparently it's winter again. If you'd rather think about warm tropical weather, or just need a friendly bit of happy today, this tiny mermaid is waving hello to you:

I like the tiny mermaid, but my favorite character is actually the octopus with an attitude:

Also, in case you didn't notice, there's a shark hiding in the picture too.

Whether you're rocking out, dreaming of warm weather, making art, or plotting your next book while shoveling snow, I hope you have an awesome weekend! (Even if you're not doing any of those things, I hope you have an awesome weekend doing whatever it is that you're doing!)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

scoop for an underwater reporter, a leaping sheep, and a snowman

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: scoop. My first thought when I saw the topic yesterday was a reporter getting a news scoop. And then I wondered what it would look like if that reporter were a shark. A real live shark in the ocean, trying to interview an elusive subject. (Creativity is strange sometimes, or maybe it's just my creativity that's strange.)

Here's the underwater news report, and the moment that my shark reporter gets the scoop:

After drawing this, I realized that scoop could also refer to a scoop of ice cream. So of course I wondered if the octopus would hide as a cherry on the top of an ice cream sundae to avoid the shark reporter. Might have to draw that later! Until then, here's a close up of the Ocean News, in case you want to know the scoop!

When I went to post this today, I realized I hadn't posted my leaping sheep pictures from last month. The first one below was for Valentine's Day, the second one was for my first Colour Collective image (the color that week was Opal Grey). It's basically the same image, but with a few differences that make a big difference in the final look:

Sheep In Love:

Leaping Sheep:

Can't decide which one I like better. They're both fun for different reasons. Which one do you like better?

Finally, here's a snowman to brighten your day. I drew it for my aunt Thelma, who loved snowmen, but was not fond of winter:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

sketch book look + tea for IF

Thought I'd share some images from my sketchbook (I always love seeing what's in other artist's sketchbooks). Here are a few from today, including my drawing for the Illustration Friday prompt this week, which is tea, and a few character sketches (all cell phone pics):

Here's a close up of the tea party (with fancy hats):

And here's a bonus sketch (thinking of spring while it snows outside):

What's on your drawing board today?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

if you just want to illustrate and not write

Happy New Year! Do you have any goals or resolutions for the year?

I don’t usually make resolutions, and I tend to make goals throughout the year, not just at the beginning. One of the goals I have for this year (which I’ve actually been working on since November) is to focus on illustration and to replace all the work in my current portfolio with new art (even if I really like the old art). Here's a new piece I made in December because another one of my goals is to start making more black and white art:

(FYI: If you're looking for coloring pages for your kids (or you), this image, plus robots, a mermaid, and more are available to download for free here -

Like many illustrators, I also write. But sometimes I wish I could just make art! Then again, stories sometimes start because of making art! So, focusing on the art will help me create stories too.

What if you don’t want to write stories, but only want to illustrate?
I wrote a post about the path illustrators take to get published (note: it’s not the same as it is for authors). If you aren’t familiar with that path, check out my post on the path illustrators take to get their work noticed and advance their careers -

If you just want to draw for a living, the reality of children's books (at least trade book publishing) is that there's usually not a lot of money in it. Also, it takes a while to get your foot in the door, sometimes many, many years. That said, there are illustration opportunities out there.

First, you will need a portfolio. If you have one, great! Keep reading. If you don’t have a portfolio, or need to update your portfolio, you might find it helpful to read the post I wrote on what to draw for your portfolio - Once you’re all ready with your portfolio ...

Opportunities to illustrate for children:

(Note – This is a post for illustrators, but a lot of it applies to writers too. For all these categories, make sure you have a contract. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the terms of the contract. Have a lawyer, or your agent, look over the contract before you sign it. Also make sure to follow submission guidelines.)

* Trade Picture Books (at both small and large publishers): There are writers who don’t illustrate, so there are publishers who look for illustrators. Two ways you can get your work in front of editors and art directors by having a website and sending out postcards. Don’t forget to also send postcards to agents if you’re looking for an agent and they represent illustrators. Note: Always follow submission guidelines. If an editor, art director, or publisher prefers an email with a link to your website, send that instead of a postcard. If they don’t want emails, send a postcard if they accept snail mail.

* Educational Publishing: Textbooks, study workbooks/worksheets, and home schooling materials are all part of educational publishing, and a lot of those materials need illustrations. Research companies and guidelines so you know what they’re looking for before you submit.

* Work For Hire (a.k.a. WFH): Some publishers, packagers, and magazines need illustrations and purchase all rights for a fee. WFH isn’t for everyone. Consider reading about it and/or talking with others who have done it before you dive in.

* Art For Older Kids: Don't forget to think about illustrating covers, black and white illustrations for the interiors of chapter books and middle grade novels, and graphic novels. Check out current books at the library or bookstore to see what kind of work is being published now, and who publishes it. Send postcards or website links to publishers as requested in their submission guidelines.

* New publishers and upstart epublishers: New publishers can be wonderful opportunities or shady businesses that you'll wish you stayed away from. Beware of who they are and what kind of contract you're signing before you decide to work with them. Carefully look over the contract for what they are asking for in terms of rights and non-compete clauses. Have a lawyer go over the contract before you sign too.

* Children’s magazines (both print and online): Again, beware of the contract you're signing, the rights you're giving them, and whether or not you're being paid (they should pay you, although there may be a case where you believe in something enough to illustrate for free).

* Self publishing: If you go that route, make sure you’re getting a fair price for your time, skills and expertise, and make sure you have a contract to protect yourself should the deal go sideways. Always make sure to factor into the contract what’s allowed for changes to the art, and at what point they will have to pay extra for continued changes. Do research to see what other illustrators are charging, what questions they ask before working with self publishers, and what to avoid based on experiences others have had with difficult jobs.

Other Advice For Illustrators:

* Don't discount luck. You could get lucky and be at the right place at the right time for a great opportunity. Luck plays a large part in a lot of careers. But don't count on being one of the lucky ones either. Most of the time you have to make your own luck, by having a great portfolio and getting your name and work known, so that you're in the position to be in the right place at the right time.

* Consider joining SCBWI. If you do decide to pursue illustration for children, then an SCBWI membership is something I'd recommend. It's true that there are more resources for writers, but they are increasing the resources for illustrators. And don't discount the advice for writers. I've learned a lot about illustrating for kids by learning about writing stories for them. The biggest benefit of the SCBWI (for me) has been community. Meeting people, going to conferences, sharing resources and critiques. Finding others that are at the same stage in their journey is important, so that you have someone who understands where you're at and can cheer you on (and you can cheer them on too).

* Even if you don’t join SCBWI, check out their discussion board. The general sections of the board are open to the public, some sections are only for members (FYI - membership to the discussion boards is free), and there are SCBWI only sections as well. Look through the posts on the discussion board for illustration, contracts, magazines, small publishers, etc. There's a ton of info there about the industry. It will give you a better idea of what it's all about and whether or not you want to pursue children's books and illustrating for children.

* Five things for illustrators (that have helped me with illustrating for children, and will hopefully help you too):

* The truth is that if you want to make a living in this field, you will likely have to do many different jobs/types of illustration for kids. At least at first. Being able to draw people, especially children is a big advantage, but if you're really good at drawing animals, that could work too.

* The biggest thing is to have a strong portfolio that reflects the market you're trying to work in. So, if you want to illustrate for kids, you need to look at the art in picture books, chapter books and middle grade novels, children's magazines, and online sites for children. Think about your strengths and what you like to draw. Then consider where you might fit in to this market. Create art to focus on that. When you have a really strong portfolio, that you think can compete with the art that's out there for what you want to do, start submitting.

* Attend conferences and sign up for critiques if you are able to. It can be a great help to go to a conference and get a professional critique. Just remember that everything is subjective, and you could have two portfolio reviews with two people on the same day, one of which will love your art and one who will hate it (it's happened to me many times). Either way, if you get constructive feedback on what's working, what's not, and how to improve for the market you want to illustrate for, it's a successful critique. Unfortunately, not all critiques are successful, but most give you some take away that will help your art and career.

* Consider creating a dummy to go with your portfolio. If you don’t have a story you’ve written, take a classic public domain story, like Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel, and put your own spin on it to show how you’d interpret a story. Not sure how to make a dummy? Here’s a post I wrote on three ways to make a picture book dummy that could help, or maybe make you laugh.

* Consider writing a picture book. Okay, I know I said this was all about illustrating and NOT writing, but sometimes pictures decide they need stories. If that happens to you and you need some advice of writing a picture book, check out my post on how to write a picture book in twelve easy steps (note – it’s not really easy, but it is doable).

* If you decide you want to illustrate, but not for children, you will still need to do research on whatever field you decide you do want to illustrate for, and you'll need a strong portfolio. Remember that in any field, it will take time to break in.

Good luck, and most of all, have fun making art!

*runs off to make new art for the new year*

Monday, November 28, 2016

good deeds to end the year

Good Deeds To End The Year
2016 was a rough year for a lot of people.* Do you want to do something good to end the year, and maybe make it a little bit better? Here are a few suggestions for things you can do now (and throughout 2017 too). There are options for everyone, some are free and some require a donation of time, goods, or money.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add more good deeds and donation ideas in the comments. Also, though it is written with a US audience in mind, many of these suggestions are applicable in other areas with local information and organizations substituted in.

 Book Related Good Deeds:
1. Check out books by your favorite authors and illustrators from the library (circulation helps libraries decide which books to buy). If you don't see a book you're looking for, ask the library if they can purchase it or get it for you through an interlibrary loan. You can do this for new releases and older books too.

2. Review books from your favorite authors and illustrators on your blog, a book review site, or a bookstore site. Reviews help readers find new books and help authors and illustrators sell books. You can do this for new books, but please don't forget older books too. Your old favorites could be a new favorite for another reader.

3. Buy books from your favorite authors and illustrators
(especially children's books because they're awesome - okay, I might be a bit biased, but children's books are awesome)! Buy from local independent bookstores if you can. Click here - - to find your local stores. If you don't have children, you could give books to a child of a friend or family member (or read them yourself- kids books are for everyone and they're awesome, really, they are). Don't know a kid to give a book to? Possible places to donate books are your local library, school, hospital/ children's hospital, or holiday toy/book drives. It's great to do this for new books and older books too.

4. Check out, review, and buy books from authors and illustrators who are new to you. Please consider boosting the books of diverse authors and illustrators, and women too. It's great to do this for new releases, but don't forget books released in other years.

5. Donate to book related organizations. Here are a few possibilities:

- Your local library (many libraries accept books and/or monetary donations) 
- First Book -
 (Now thru Dec. 31, for every $3 donated to First Book, Random House will donate 2 books.)
- Reading is Fundamental - 
- We Need Diverse Books - website: / Twitter: @diversebooks 

People Related Good Deeds:
1. Do something small for someone you don't know, like hold open a door, give them your seat on the bus/train, or compliment their winter hat. (There are so many fun winter hats - hat that look like animals, hats with stripes, or polka dots, or hats with giant puffballs on top!)

2. Stand up and support others if you see/hear a hateful attack. If it’s not safe, call the police and/or an ambulance, and/or film what’s happening to document it.

3. If you, or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255 Their website is You can also find them on Twitter @800273TALK.

4. Volunteer to read to patients at the local hospital/children's hospital or nursing home. Or offer to play games/cards, or entertain them if you're a musician. Or volunteer to help serve meals to the homeless, or deliver meals to the elderly and others who need it.

5. Do something bigger if you're able to, like pay for a bus/train ride for someone who doesn't have enough for the fare, or pay for a coffee or groceries. We all need a little help sometimes.

6. Donate books and clothing to local or national organizations that accept them.

7. Consider giving food and/or money to your local food bank or other local organizations that help out your community.

8. There are national and international organizations that could use your monetary help too. Here are a few:

- No DAPL - There are multiple donation sites to help this organization, who is fighting for the protection of water for all of us (this Twitter thread has a list). Or donate to the main camp here.
- Disabled American Veterans
- American Heart Association
- American Cancer Society

Animal Related Good Deeds:
1. Offer to volunteer at your local animal shelter to walk dogs, or read to cats, or anything they need help with.

2. Donate pet food, toys, and/or money to local animal shelters or organizations that can use the help.

3. Here are some national and international organizations you can donate to that will use the money to help animals.

- Humane Society of the United States
- Sierra Club (helps animals and our planet)

Current Event Good Deeds:
1. Call your Senators and Representatives in Congress. There are many issues facing our country. Let your Senators and Representatives know what you think about issues and how they can help you (they were elected to help the people of their districts and the people of this country). Call often. If you can't call, you can write them instead, or better yet, do both.

Not sure who to call? 

- Find your House Representative here:
- Find your Senators here:

Not sure how to call? Comic creator Lucy Knisley made up some calling cards to show how she does it. You can make your own for whatever issue you're calling about. Click here to see Lucy Knisley's calling cards.

Have social anxiety? Cartoonist Cordelia McGee-Tubb made a comic showing you how. Read it here.

2. Call and/or write your local government officials to let them know what you think and how they can help you. They want to hear from you. They were elected to help the people in your area. Call often, or write, or both. (Note: calling is said to be the most effective.)

Note: Talking to local and national government officials who represent you can seem overwhelming, especially if you haven't done it before. Start small. What is one thing you care about, or that affects your family, or friends, or community? Work to help with that one thing. Call or write about that this week. Next week tackle another issue that matters to you. It's hard, but it gets easier the more you do it. Pretty soon you'll be able to pick up the phone and call for all the issues you feel passionate about. They work for you; let your voice be heard. These calling cards and/or this comic about calling when you have social anxiety (both also listed above) might help if you don't know where to start.

3. Vary your news sources. It's hard to know the truth and be informed if you are only watching one news channel or getting your news from social media.

Note: This applies to everyone, no matter your religious or political affiliations. If you are only reading and seeing news that agrees with your point of view, you're not getting the full story.

4. Add international news to your viewing/reading routine. It's interesting to see how they cover our news, and it's good to be aware of events that are happening around the world. Things that happen in other countries can affect what happens here too.

5. Subscribe to publications to help support journalism and a free press. Here are a few publications that have been doing good work this year and could use your subscriptions and/or support:

- Your local paper
- Teen Vogue (Seriously, they’ve been doing great work covering news and politics this year – check out their twitter feed @TeenVogue, and never, ever, underestimate teen girls.)

6. Consider running for office or helping someone you believe in run for office. Change is possible when citizens get involved.

7. Vote in every election you're eligible to vote in, whether it's a local election for school board, mayor, or sheriff, or a state election, or a national election. Your vote and your voice matter.

Thanks For Doing Good Deeds!
These are just a few ways you can help out to end 2016 on a good note, and most of these are things you can do to help out all year round. Again, this is not an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add suggestions of ways to help in the comments.  

Please consider sharing this post with people you know who are looking for good deeds to do, or just put a link up on social media for anyone who is interested. 
Thanks for helping to make our country and the world a better place!

* Just a few of the many reasons 2016 was a rough year: mass shootings, Brexit, Aleppo, terrorist attacks, politics and the US election, the refugee crisis, and celebrity deaths (including – Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Phife Dawg, Lemmy Kilmister, Patty Duke, Gene Wilder, Natalie Cole, Dan Haggerty, Glenn Frey, Abe Vigoda, Florence Henderson, Ron Glass, Harper Lee, and Anna Dewdney – and that’s not even a full list, and we’re not done with the year yet).

Thursday, November 3, 2016

birthday wishes, IF, inktober, and Halloween

In honor of my birthday yesterday, I did a sketch of a little girl and her cat, just before she makes a wish and blows out the candles on her cake.

Here's a close up so you can see the girl and cat better:

Then today I realized that before she could be in that picture, we needed to see her the year before, making the wish that brought her toy cat to life. She also wished for her cat to be able to talk. She didn't bargain on the fact that Kitty would lots of opinions and like to talk all the time! Also, since the Illustration Friday prompt for this week is stripes, I decided to give her a stripey cake (the cat's tail has stripes too):

October and inktober are over, but the art lives on here on my blog! Here are the last 4 inktober drawings* - they're all cell pics, as I didn't have my scanner with me while traveling:

Day 28: It was a swirling, whirling, ghosting kind of day!

Day 29:It was Hug A Sheep Day! This ghostie is hugging her best sheep friend.

Day 30:It was Candy Corn Day! Did you know that ghosts love candy corn? Nom! Nom! Nom!

Day 31: Happy Halloween! Got home from my trip just in time for Halloween, but missed a few trick-or-treaters because I had to go out and get candy. My final inktober drawing was the teal and orange pumpkin sign I made for our door. I drew 30 days of ghosts and two pumpkins on the last day! We only had one kid who needed allergy free treats, but it was totally worth it to see his smile and to see/hear the parents freak out that someone had thought to get treats that their child could have (we gave him Halloween notebooks, pencils and glow in the dark stickers):

Happy Three Days After Halloween and the end of inktober! Hope you all had a creative month!

* To see my inktober ghosts from the first 14 days of the month, click here. Or if you want to see my inktober ghosts from days 15-27 (including writing and illustrating ghosts), click here. I had lots of fun drawing ghosts all month. I think my favorite one is Day 12 - still makes me laugh! Though I also really like Day 22. My dad likes them all (he's biased), but his favorite is Day 27 (the first image, without the cat - though he also likes the second one, with the cat).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Inktober and fun holidays - Happy Black Cat Day!

It's still inktober. I usually pick a different subject for each week of inktober, with an overall theme of Halloween. However, this year, I decided to draw ghosts for 31 days. Yay ghosts! Here are my ghosts since my last inktober post (in reverse order starting with today - most of these are cell pics, as I didn't have my scanner with me while traveling):

Day 27 (today): Happy Black Cat Day! I didn't know it was Black Cat Day when I did my ink drawing of a ghost hiding in a hollow tree, but then I found out, so I did another drawing of a ghost and a black cat hanging out in a tree:

Day 26: Happy Pumpkin Day! Didn't know it was pumpkin day when I drew my picture yesterday, but my little ghost was getting ready for a pumpkin party, so it worked out well.

Days 24-25: Monday Morning Ghost Traffic and a Big Tuesday Pancake Breakfast! (What? ghosts have to get to work, and they like pancakes too.)

Days 22-23: Once A Reader (or a painter) Always A Reader (or a painter).

Days 20 - 21: Ghost Writers work long hours and like to take naps to dream up their next story:

Day 19:  Pug among ghosts:

Days 17 -18: Ghost Kitty needs to find her friends and decorate her pumpkin! These two drawings are from my Halloween Activities for kids page. There are six activities, including Dot to Dot, matching ghosts, pumpkin decorating, finishing a drawing, finding a pumpkin and ghost in the pumpkin patch, and a leaf maze (all featuring Ghost Kitty from my new Halloween story, Glide and EEK! ).

Day 16: Ghost and Ghost Kitty - also from the Halloween Activities page. (Note: the original file doesn't have the dot in the center. Not sure why it's there when I upload it. Weird!) Click here if you're looking for Halloween Activities to do with kids (or for yourself, just for fun).

Day 15: Pfft! (I think the ghost is upset at being last, or is ready to be done with this post.)

Happy Black Cat Day! Happy Inktober! Happy Haunting!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

inktober, Trick Or Reaters, Halloween Activities for kids, and Illustration Friday

Happy October! Happy Inktober! I've been making lots of art for inktober again this year. My theme for the month (so far) has been ghosts. (Note: I post my inks every day on social media if you want to see them in between blog posts. The current art is pinned at the top of my twitter feed after I post each day.)

Here are my inktober ghosts so far:
Day One: A full page ink with my character Ghost Kitty surrounded by regular ghosts. Ghost Kitty is the main character in a short (not so) scary ghost story that I wrote and illustrated for Trick Or Reaters this year. It's called Glide and EEK! Click here to read it. 

FYI: I also designed a flyer for people to had out to trick-or-treaters so kids (and their parents) know they can go to Trick Or Reaters to read scary stories (at all levels of scary). Would you like a flier to hand out to trick-or-treaters? Click here download my flyer (shown below).

Days Two - Seven: Ghosts with patterns and/or a connection to nature.

Day Eight: Here's one of the ghosts from my short (not so) scary ghost story, Glide and EEK!

Day Nine: Cheep! Moo! Chirp! Boo!

Day Ten: Ghost Kitty says, "EEK!" This is another image from my short (not so) scary ghost story, Glide and EEK!

Day Eleven: Leaf maze! This is from my Halloween Activities for kids page. There are six activities, including Dot to Dot, matching ghosts, pumpkin decorating, finishing a drawing, finding a pumpkin and ghost in the pumpkin patch, and the leaf maze (featuring Ghost Kitty looking for her pumpkin). Click here if you're looking for Halloween Activities to do with kids (or for yourself, just for fun).

Day Twelve: "Hello Again!" says G.H. Ost. (Couldn't resist.)

Day Thirteen: Ghost + Penguins (part one). This is also for the Illustration Friday prompt for this week, which is ice. The penguins are on an iceberg ... oh no, here comes a ghost!

Day Fourteen: Ghost + Penguins (part two). This is actually tomorrow's inking, but since I'm going to be inking something for a different project tomorrow, I did it today and am posting early. (The penguins are still on the Illustration Friday iceberg ... and now the ghost is too.)

Am considering continuing the Ghost + Penguins story. Not sure yet, but there might be more to this story. But there will be no more to this blog post! This is the end! It's too long already!

*waves goodbye* Happy October! Happy Inktober! Happy (almost) Halloween!