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!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

inside out umbrella - art inspired by Edward Gorey for Illustration Friday

When I read that the Illustration Friday prompt for this week is rain, my first thought was of being stuck in a storm when your umbrella flips inside out. I did a quick sketch of the idea (and my mood for the day) and got this:

Showed it to my DH, who said it reminded him of Edward Gorey, which improved my mood considerably! I hadn't meant to channel Gorey, but I love his art. When I went on to draw a more finished image, I decided to actually think about Gorey while drawing. This is the result:

The finished result is not an imitation of Gorey's art or style, but I think the influence and inspiration is obvious. What do you think?

Here's a crop so you can get a closer look at the details:

Hope your day today is sunny! It's a rainy day for you, I hope that your umbrella stays open the right way and keeps you dry. Or better yet, I hope you can stay inside and draw! If your mood is rainy, I hope you can find an artist or a story that will inspire you, or possibly turn your mood around.

Note: The images were drawn on a tan colored paper that looks a bit peach when scanned. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Talk Like A Pirate Day / Talk Like A Cow Day

Yesterday was Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arr!

Did you celebrate?

What are your favorite pirate sayings?

It's always a fun day, whether you participate or just read/see/listen to what others are doing. In other years I've created art for it and wanted to make something fun again this year. I didn't have an idea before Talk Like A Pirate Day. Then I didn't have an idea for most of yesterday, until a cow (it's always a cow with me) and her parrot popped into my head. The idea for the image didn't come until I had the idea for a pirate saying. Talking like a pirate is not easy! This is the result:

If you missed Talk Like A Pirate Day yesterday, celebrate today instead! Or make today Talk Like A Cow Day - MOO!

Every day should be Talk Like A Cow Day.

How much fun would that be?

It would be hilari-moos!

Happy Talk Like A Cow Day!*


*People make up holidays all the time. I make up cow-lidays. Moo!

p.s. I always like it when artists show part of their process, so here's the black line stage to show what it looked like before color was added:

Happy Talk Like A Cow Day! Are you celebrating? I am. MOO! ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

reading in 2016 - book stats and favorites April - June

2016 Book Reading Stats (April, May, June):

9 Picture Books

6 Chapter Books

7 Middle Grade Novels

6 YA Novels (1 pubbed as adult many years ago – now YA)

1 Graphic Novels

1 Non Fiction Book (about art / creativity)

Total = 33 books!*

* There were nine books I didn't finish that aren't in the totals above. About half were not right for me right now, though I might have enjoyed them at a different time. Unfortunately, the other half had problematic content that made me stop reading. Most of them were books I’d had for a while and hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.

Note: 99% of these books are new reads. Each book is only counted once (each year), even if I re-read it over and over. I usually don't re-read novels, but I do re-read picture books.

April to June 2016 - Favorites: 
Since I read 33 books in 3 months, I decided to highlight 3 favorites from 3 age groups, PB, MG, and YA.

3 Picture Book Favorites:

1. THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING by Ashley Spires – a neat book about inspiration, disappointment, and the creative process. For creative (and not yet creative) kids and adults.

2. THE COW WHO CLIMBED A TREE by Gemma Merino – a fun book about adventure, taking risks, and being your own person/cow. For cow lovers and adventurers (even those who prefer to have their adventures in books).

3. MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE by Kell Andrews, illustrated by Lissy Marlin – a blend of fiction and non combine to made an interesting story about predicting fortunes and weather, and finding out who you are or who you want to be. For readers interested in meteorology and/or who like inquisitive characters.

3 Middle Grade Favorites:

1. WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin – a rich story about finding your fortune that includes a mix of old stories/myths, a journey, a dragon, and wonderful illustrations that enhance the narrative. For readers who love a layered story, or a good quest, or for readers who want to fall into the world of a book.

2. THE WILD ROBOT by Peter Brown – an amusing and thoughtful look at what might happen if a robot were stranded on an island and had to learn how to survive. For kids and adults who love robots, or animals, or island survival stories.

3. SEVEN STORIES UP by Laurel Snyder – a heartfelt story about family and time travel. If you’ve ever wondered what people were like when they were young, this story is a glimpse into that for one family. For readers who love time travel and stories about characters connecting in difficult or unusual circumstances.

3 YA Favorites:

1. HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon – an incredible story of a senseless shooting that explores the aftermath through the eyes of the victim’s friends, family, and community. For readers who like to see all sides of a story, or who are trying to make sense of the violence in currents, or for readers who like a good story. If you haven’t read this book, move it to the top of your to read list.

2. INHERITANCE by Malinda Lo – an intriguing story about two teens whose lives were saved and forever altered with alien DNA. It looks at the complicated issues surrounding government secrets, medical experiments, and public opinion. For readers who love aliens, sci-fi, government conspiracies, and thinking about how one decision/action can affect many things and people.

3. DRAW THE LINE by Laurent Linn – a dramatic story about finding yourself, finding love, and fighting hate, that weaves together reality and fantasy through words and illustrations. For anyone who has ever wanted to be a superhero, or wished they could live a different life, or want to fight injustices that seem insurmountable, or who process experiences creatively (drawing, writing, etc.).

* What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? Any favorite books this year? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

world giraffe day, imagination, selfie day, and a new website

Happy World Giraffe Day and National Selfie Day! In honor of these two holidays and the Illustration Friday prompt for this week (yarn), I drew a picture of myself imagining a few characters, including a giraffe and a bird knitting a looooooong scarf with yarn:

Did you take a selfie today or draw a picture of yourself? Did you celebrate World Giraffe Day?

In other news, I finally re-designed my website. WooHoo! Unfortunately, it is not as mobile friendly as I thought it would be. Boo! I thought that the fluid design I was creating was also a responsive* design, but it was not. (*Responsive designs detect the device you're using and automatically reformat the website without the user having to do anything.)

I still like the new design, whether it's responsive or not! That said:

Will be re-designing my website again, just as soon as I learn how to make it a responsive design. Hoping to do it this fall or winter - if all else fails, I could make a Wordpress site (though I haven't had luck with WP security and getting hacked in the past, so I'm hoping to figure out how to make a responsive site myself instead).

Want to see the new design while it's still up? Here it is:

Do you have a responsive website or a favorite responsive website by someone else?

Happy World Giraffe Day and National Selfie Day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

follow your nose for IF, with toucans, a robot, 3 people, and a wolf

The first thing I thought of when I found out the Illustration Friday prompt this week was nose, is, "Follow your nose! It always knows!" If you know your classic cereal characters and commercials, you know that's what Toucan Sam said about finding Froot Loops (click here to see the evolution of the character and to see the old commercials starring Toucan Sam).

I liked Toucan Sam, but the thing that always bothered me about those commercials is that the thing they were calling a nose wasn't a nose at all! It was the toucan's beak. Still liked the commercials though, especially the spooky haunted house/knight one (see link above to watch).

Did you like Toucan Sam? Did you like the other cereal mascots? What was your favorite cereal character or commercial? Mine might be Count Chocula, because chocolate + monster = awesome! (Though I like several of other cereal characters too).

After all the thoughts about cereal and toucans, I painted this image for Illustration Friday this week:

FYI, beaks are still NOT noses in this image. My characters are wearing the beaks ON their noses. Though technically robots don't have noses, so that just applies to the girl ... or at least my robot doesn't have a nose! The girl and the robot are from a current picture book project. The toucans are just for this picture.

While waiting for the paint to dry, I ran across my painting of Little Red Riding Hood from last year. Lots of big noses in this painting! Since I never shared it, I decided to share it for Illustration Friday this week (also because the toucan beak covered up the girl's nose in the other image):

Can't decide if the woman Little Red is talking to is her mother, her grandmother, or the huntsman (huntswoman?). I'm also wondering if Little Red made up the whole story about the wolf eating grandma. Maybe she's a teller of tall tales (looks like her nose is growing from fibs, just like Pinocchio's nose did). No matter what, I think this version of the story is a bit different than the one we knew as kids. (Maybe I should write it. Hmm.)

I had two main goals while painting this. 1. Have fun. I did! 2. Make the wolf scary. My wolves tend not to be scary, but I think I pulled it off this time. Here's a close up of the wolf. Do you think the wolf is scary? -

Do you follow your nose to breakfast every morning? Do you still eat cereal for breakfast (if you did as a kid)? Do you just wish you could watch Saturday morning cartoons and eat cereal again?

Friday, May 20, 2016

patterns, personal art themes, and illustration friday

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: nostalgia. I've been going through old art lately and looking at themes, or things in my art that I return to again and again. One of the themes I like to play around with is patterns. The nice thing about patterns is they can be different every time, so they can fit in to almost any piece of art without looking like you're doing the same thing over and over again. The patterns can be bold so the viewer can't help but notice them, or subtle so the viewer might not even realize there's a pattern until they look again.

One of my old pattern pieces that I really love is one that hardly anyone has seen. It's an illustration of swirling mail (which is also nostalgic because people don't send or receive as much personal mail these days, and because it reminds me of my mom, who loved to write and send letters):

Makes you want to write and send a letter, doesn't it?

Another nostalgic image is a painting I did of sea turtles for Ripple in 2010. I love sea turtles and even got to swim with them once! Was happy to be able to paint this piece to help support ocean animals.

A more recent example of pattern mixed with nostalgia is this picture of a cat in a field of flowers (trying to get the birds, while a bird above is about to dump a hive full of bees on the cat). It's nostalgic because it's an updated version of the stuffed animal friend I had as a child (my alter-ego Kitty, who was mischievous):

 Speaking of bees, several years ago, I was working on a novel called, Path Of Bees. The novel didn't go anywhere (yet - working on picture books now), but this is one of the images inspired by the story:

Speaking of picture books, EWE AND AYE by Candace Ryan, illustrated by Stephanie Ruble, had a couple of pattern pieces in it. This one is the pattern of the tree leaves and vines (each set of two leaves forms a heart - most are upside down, just like Aye in this scene):

Here are four more patterned images (both new and old) with more obvious patterns:

And finally, let me leave you with a song. It's about carrots:

Do you like to make patterns, either obvious or hidden in your art? Or do you make patterns when you doodle? (I do.) Do you have themes you return to again and again? If not, maybe this trip down my art memory lane will inspire you to take your own trip through your old art, or inspire you to make new art with patterns. Happy art making!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

dogs in Hawaiian shirts, pugs in tulips, and hippos with tattoos and sunflowers

Today is a "Dogs In Hawaiian Shirts" kind of day. From the art archive:

Makes me want to break out my watercolors!*
(Update: Got out the watercolors! Two new paintings at the end of the post!)

Or maybe it's a "Hippo With A Tattoo" kind of day (also from the art archive and for the Illustration Friday prompt, tattoo):

Maybe those dogs are wearing Hawaiian shirts to hide their hippo tattoos!

Or maybe the hippo and the seagull have Hawaiian shirts, but took them off to go swimming!

So many possibilities!

That's how stories start, with a silly idea.  

(Or at least that's how my stories start. YMMV.)

What kind of day are you having?

* Couldn't resist pulling out the watercolors and painting! So much fun! Apparently it was a "Watercolor Painting" kind of day, inspired by the two images I posted above. :)

#1 - It was also a "Pug Puppies Tiptoeing (and bounding) Through The Tulips" kind of day:

I've never drawn pugs before (not even the year I drew a dog a day all year). Fun to try. Might do it again some time!

#2 - And a "Tiny Hippo Stops To Smell Giant Sunflower" kind of day:

Hope you have a wonderful and creative day, whatever kind of day it is for you! 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

meet the sheep (from the refugee auction painting)

Last week, I blogged about an auction to benefit refugees (see the end of post for more info on auction), and the sheep package up for bid that includes three items from me (an original painting, a signed copy of my picture book EWE AND AYE, and sheep note cards). Note: The auction has ended. Thanks to everyone who bid on items to help refugees!

Now it's time to meet the six sheep from the painting and find out what books they like to read!

1. Fluffy loves books about space. She has a telescope and a collection of socks with stars and planets on them (the ones she's wearing in the painting match her book). Fluffy hopes to be an astronaut one day and explore the universe.

2. Ewegenia (pronounced like Eugenia) loves books about cows and fashion (her best friend is a cow). She likes to dress up and go out and about on the farm with her best cow friend. She also likes to give the other sheep makeovers, even when they don't want them. She's not a big fan of shearing day; she likes her wool to look just so. Ewegenia is a cousin of Ewe (from EWE AND AYE).

3. Baa-b (pronounced like Bob) likes being scared and reading scary books, the scarier the better. He's afraid of spiders and is always cold, so he always wears a cap, a sweater, and slippers, and keeps a look out for creepy crawlies.

4. Woolly loves magic. Her favorite books are about a witch named Woolly Hatter, who saves the world from evil. She likes to pretend that she's Woolly Hatter (they have the same first name) and can save the world with a swish of her wand. But first, she needs to find out what happens in the books. Then she needs to get a wand.

5. Ewenice (pronounced like Eunice) loves to dance. She's been practicing she she was just a little lamb. She twirls and leaps everywhere she goes. One day she hopes to dance with the royal farm ballet company. Ewenice is another cousin of Ewe (from EWE AND AYE).

6. Zee loves to sleep during the day because he works all night. You know those sheep people always tell you to count when you're trying to fall asleep? Zee is one of the counting sleep sheep. He reads sleepy books about sheep and rabbits to help him fall asleep during the day.

Here's the full painting, with all the sheep together:

If you'd like to see pictures of this painting in progress, check out my post about the painting here.

About the auction - From the site: "Authors Shannon Hale and Mette Ivie Harrison have mobilized book people to donate items for an epic online auction. You will find one of a kind offers, critiques, art, books, personalized visits, and unique events from our generous helpers. All the money after administrative fees will go to Lifting Hands International, a charity that gets life-saving supplies directly to refugee camps."

Note: The auction has ended. Thanks to everyone who bid on items to help refugees! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

the woods are full of chickens!

Did you know that chickens like to hang out in trees? They do! If you're ever in an area with a lot of trees, keep a look out for chickens. For instance, if you were out walking in the woods, this is what you might see (but only if you're really still and quiet so the chickens get curious and come out):

That's a whole lot of chickens hanging out in the woods! Let's move in a little closer and see what they're up to. Here are a few of the chickens nestled high up in the branches: 

What do you think those chickens are up to? Hmm. Let's look down on the ground and see what a few of the other chickens are doing:

That chicken way in the back looks like it's planning and scheming. Maybe it's a good plan, like for a surprise birthday party ... or maybe it's something more nefarious! What do you think?

Last week I ran across an old sketch of chickens in the woods. When I found out the prompt for Illustration Friday this week was wood, it seemed like time to get out the paintbrushes and do something about those chickens! After all, the only thing chickens like more than hanging out in trees is having people draw and paint them.

In case you're curious to see how the art was created, here are a few pictures of the process:

Step One: Sketch

Step Two: Ink

Step Three: Colored Pencil

Step Four: Start Painting

Step Five: Final Paint And Ink Details

p.s. There's a charity auction for refugee children going on right now. There are lots of wonderful items to bid on, including my painting of several sheep reading (it comes with a copy of my book, EWE AND AYE, and a set of 8 sheep note cards). Click here to bid on the sheep reading painting. If you'd like to see the painting as it evolves, I'm blogging about the process of painting the sheep here.