Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

wobbly egg for Illustration Friday

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is egg. I did some egg sketches and ended up choosing an egg with a chicken that's about to hatch.

If the chick doesn't regain her footing, gravity will help her out of her shell!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

a lizard wearing glasses, an old newspaper joke, and illustration Friday

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is eye glasses. I did several sketches before coming up with this drawing of a lizard and his friends all wearing glasses:

I drew the girl on the left first, not knowing what she was so surprised about. When I started to draw the boy, I knew there would be something or someone on his shoulder, but had no idea it was going to be a lizard! I decided that a lizard wearing glasses was funnier than a squirrel, so that's what I went with. The girl on the right was just an excuse to draw a profile with someone wearing glasses, but I think she fits in quite well with the other two. She's amused because she's the one that gave the lizard the glasses!

This is a different style for me. It looks similar to my regular style, but the line is a lot thinner. Here's a crop with just the black line so you can see what I mean:

I also made a version with a dark red background. Originally it was to make sure that everything was colored in without the background showing through, but then I really liked the way it looked. What do you think of the red background?

Couldn't help thinking of that old joke my dad used to tell: "What's black and white, and read all over? --- A Newspaper!" I didn't say it was a funny joke. When I was really little, I thought it was the color red, not read. I still think of that when I think of that joke, even though I know it's really read, not red ... probably because I'm an artist.

And here's the crop I put on the Illustration Friday site:

 I like it because it reminds me of a movie poster. It also shows how different an image can look and feel just by how you crop it. Now I want to go see a movie! I'll have to check the newspaper to see what's playing ... I'll probably check it online, since we only get the Sunday paper these days. If our newspaper had comics, we'd probably still get it every day.

Friday, March 15, 2013

a toothy smile for a boy and a moo

I have to go to the dentist today. It's just for a cleaning, but going to the dentist is not my favorite thing. Then I thought of my drawing of a boy and his cow friend and their toothy grins, and it made me smile. I'll have a toothy grin after going to the dentist, so it's worth suffering through the cleaning :D

You might be able to see the date in the bottom right corner. It says 1-15-04. I can't believe I drew this image nine years ago! At the time, I was a little over half way through my project of drawing a cow a day for a year. I needed to draw something silly, and to use crayons (I love crayons)! BTW, the background is crayon too. It's watercolor crayon, which is even better, because I get to draw with crayons, and then play with a paintbrush!

The image was part of a series with the boy and cow. Here are some of my other favorites of them, starting with: Upside-down Moose Ears! This is the first image I drew of them, and my favorite from the series.

The second image was the two playing leap frog. Bet you've never seen a cow play leap frog before!

Another fun one is when the cow watched the movie Jaws before going to the beach. The boy better watch out for cow sharks!

My final favorite to share is of them on the swings. I drew a new version of this image a few years later for my portfolio:

A boy and his moo friend, the perfect distraction from thinking about having to go to the dentist!

What distractions do you use when you have to do something you don't want to do?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Night Owl is not amused by daylight saving time.

Saturday Night: Night Owl would like to know whose idea it was to turn the clocks forward an hour. It doesn't seem like bedtime yet and she's wide awake. Night Owl is not amused by daylight saving time!

Sunday Morning: Eventually, Night Owl falls asleep. Her alarm goes off a few minutes later. She's not ready to wake up, she's very, very tired. Night Owl is still not amused by daylight saving time!

Monday Morning: Happy daylight saving time from Night Owl! To celebrate, she suggests an afternoon nap every day for the next week or so.

Friday, March 8, 2013

You are the background in other people's pictures.

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is yesterday ... as in, "Yesterday the world was full of color. Today, *looks out window* there's snow, snow, and more snow, and everything is white!" So, my picture for IF shows a world full of color and no snow, and there's also a story, not from yesterday, but from yesteryear! Though I did draw it yesterday.

Several years ago, I was walking down the street with a guy I knew, when we saw someone taking a picture. He told me that we were the background in that person's picture. I was thinking about this yesterday and sketched a bunny who inadvertently got caught in the background of a picture when he stopped to look at the butterfly landing on another bunny's head:

The two bunnies in the front are frozen in place with their hands at their sides so the butterfly doesn't move while their picture is being taken. Or at least that's how it would have gone when I was a kid. "Don't move! I'm trying to take your picture with the butterfly!"

If you've seen my other art, you have probably noticed that I usually use black outlines. This time I tried not to use them. It works, but I miss the outlines. I also used a different brush that has more texture. Here's a close up, where hopefully you can see some of the texture:

This is just a color sketch for fun. I don't think I'll be changing my style just yet. Also, the colors on the textured art aren't as bright when I save for the web, compared to the colors of my regular style ... or at least that's how it seems!

Here's the original sketch. It makes me want to do the image again in my usual style with black outlines and see which one I like better, but I'm not going to (at least not now).

The idea of being the background in other people's pictures has always stuck with me. I think about it whenever I'm in someone's shot (I have been known to make bunny ears - thus the bunnies in the picture, or smile really big, or even turn away). I think about it when I'm creating the background for a picture book spread too. Who is in my character's neighborhood? Do they live there? Are they friends or family? Or are they visitors from out of town? And I think about it once in a while when I'm creating characters. Everyone is the star of their own pictures, and we're all the background for someone else. I wonder if my character is in the background more often, or is the subject of the photos. Then I try to figure out who is taking the picture.

Have you ever thought about being the background in other people's pictures?

Want to win a signed copy of the picture book When A Dragon Moves In written by Jodi Moore and Illustrated by Howard McWilliam? Click here to enter!

Monday, March 4, 2013

March came in like a crocodile, and a talented octopus for Illustration Friday

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is talent. I thought of the octopus I painted for IF a couple of weeks ago. I've been working on some portfolio images with the octopus and a crab friend, so that image has been on my mind lately. I wondered what talent the octopus might have if he or she had a talent, and how the crabby friend might be involved. This is what I came up with:

Have you ever seen an octopus spin beach balls and a crab? Me either, but I bet octopuses could totally do this! Here's a close up of how much the crab is enjoying being a participant in this stunt (hint - the crab is crabby):

It also gives you a better idea of how the art looks. I wanted it to be more sketchy than my finished art usually is, so I left in all the pencil marks and actually used the pencil for my black line. I also didn't stay within the lines 100%, on purpose! I didn't go wild with going out of the lines, but I didn't worry if it went just over the lines here and there. Have to say I'm happy with the result and it was really fun to do too!

You will be seeing more of the octopus and crab in the future!

Also new this week: I have a new avatar for the month of March! You might have noticed it here, or on Twitter, or other places I'm online. If not, here it is:

Why the crocodile? (Or is it an alligator?) Whenever March rolls around, I wait for someone to talk about lions and lambs:
March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb.
I always wonder what's going to happen when it comes in like a lamb. Does that mean it will go out like a lion? This year I didn't hear anyone say it, probably because the weather wasn't too bad here. Since nobody said it, I decided March needed a new saying for this year. Lucky for me, it goes with my new March avatar:
March came in like a crocodile and will go out like an alligator!
I doubt anyone else is going to adopt my new March saying, but it works for me. How's March treating you so far? I hope it's more lamb than lion, or maybe even a friendly crocodile!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Read Across America, Dr. Seuss, and cats wearing hats

Today is Read Across America day! Dr. Seuss, and his book The Cat in the Hat, help inspire kids to read every year (tomorrow is his birthday - he would have been 109). Last year I drew a series of Dr. Seuss inspired art, and posted this one for Read Across America:

It's  still one of my favorites from that series, and answers the question: What if the Cat in the Hat had a brother? (Unfortunately for the fish, it that would be a bad thing indeed!) What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book? What do you think would happen in a story with the Cat in the Hat and his brothers and sisters? Maybe they'd be a family of cats, all wearing hats!

I drew these cats wearing hats in May 2010. I particularly like the orange cat, who looks like our old cat, Romulus. I can just imagine him looking forlorn like that and thinking, "Why are you making me wear this hat?"

Read a book today, with your kids, by yourself, or to your cat, or fish! I'll be reading Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss, and will hopefully have time to read a novel too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

suspense vs. stupidity in movies and TV shows

Sometimes when I’m watching a movie or a TV show, and somebody does something really stupid, I just want to yell at them. I know they can’t hear me, but someone should yell at them. Here’s an example. I was watching a show where there’s a killer in the house, and the character knows that the killer is in the house. So what does she decide to do? She goes into the basement! And then I had this conversation running through my head:

Wait, what are you DOING? Don’t go in the basement. Do NOT go in the basement. ACK! OMG! Why aren’t you listening to me fictional character lady? Why do you want to go down to the basement? Haven’t you ever seen a horror movie? I don’t care if you’re an FBI agent and have a gun. There’s a killer. In the HOUSE! Probably in the basement, where you’re going! And if they aren’t in the basement, they will be soon, so get out of there! Better yet, LEAVE THE HOUSE! If you’re not there, they can’t kill you.

Oh, and another thing, why is it that the lights never seem to work in the basement and they always have to use a flashlight? Turn on the light people! Okay, that would alert the killer that you were coming downstairs, but so will the flashlight and the creaking stairs. So, turn on the light! That way you can see the killer when he or she jumps out at you!

Oh No! The scary music is playing. Now you did it! Yes, I know you already called for backup, because, let’s face it, killer in the house! That’s why you should stay upstairs, where they can find you, until they come, you know, to back you up! No, don’t go down those stairs! I’m going to tell your mother! There’s nothing down there you really need to see or do that can’t wait until after the other people get there so that the killer doesn’t kill you.

Good job! You made it to the basement and you’re still alive! We’re all proud of you, you risk taker. No GET OUT!

Seriously. Leave the basement! Leave it NOW! Just DO IT! Just get out of the basement! Just GO! UPSTAIRS! NOW! RIGHT NOW!

---If you & your friends continue being too stupid to live,* I’m going to stop watching.---

They’re hiding behind the curtain. The killer. Is behind. THE CURTAIN!


She’s right behind you! RUN! No, not that way, the other way!


---Watching movies and/or TV is fun, when it doesn’t give you a heart attack.---

Oh goody, here's another show. What's this guy doing? Dude, do NOT go in that basement! Get out of the house and call the POLICE! Seriously! Did you not learn anything when I was yelling at the FBI lady? Great. He's not listening to me either. Shocker! But he hasn't gone to the basement yet. He looks too scared:

Do you think he's going to the basement? Do you ever yell at the characters on TV or in the movies when they're doing stupid things?

How does stupidity build suspense on the screen? It doesn't! It just makes the viewer frustrated.
* She lived to see another episode. The killer got caught, and all ended happy-happy, well except for the people who were already dead. They probably weren’t too happy.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Whispering Jerboas for Illustration Friday

The prompt this week for Illustration Friday is whisper. I had a lot of ideas, but the one below got sketched out first. It's one jerboa whispering to another jerboa.

(A jerboa is a small rodent with big ears and long tails with a fluffy bit at the end, sort of like a kangaroo+mouse+bunny - yes, it's a real animal.)

I wasn't completely satisfied with that sketch. It looks like the words the jerboa on the right is saying (whisper whisper whisper ...) is actually a tongue. Then I remembered that I started a picture last year of a jerboa that looks like a dragon, who had accidentally stepped on a smaller jerboa. I remembered it because the background color is purple too. The dragon is whispering that he's sorry, and the smaller jerboa is whispering, "ouch!" I cleaned up the sketch a bit and decided to post it too (it saved much lighter than the original).

It's a bit hard to see the smaller jerboa, so here's a close-up:

I think this might be my favorite part of the image, other than the fluffy clouds, because even though he's smashed, you know he'll be okay ... eventually. None of these images are going into my portfolio, but that doesn't mean there won't be a jerboa in there somewhere!

Monday, February 18, 2013

sheep and woolly mammoth for Illustration Friday and President's Day

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is wool. Of course the first thing I thought of was sheep. The second thing I thought of was a woolly mammoth! Then I realized that Monday was President's Day in the US. All three of those ideas swirled together to make this image:

One of my favorite things about this picture is that the background looks like a ball of blue yarn exploded, which is exactly the effect I was going for. I also really like the stovepipe hat and ball of yarn. The wig on the woolly mammoth doesn't work quite as well as I wanted, but it does still give him a George Washington vibe. I don't know about you, but when I think of woolly mammoths, I think of George Washington (okay, not really, but I will now).

To celebrate President's Day, Abe the sheep and George the woolly mammoth are going shopping at the mall. Abe is hoping to get a new pair of knitting needles, and George is planning to get a new hat (he's jealous of Abe's). After the mall, they're going for pizza, because they didn't get to eat a whole lot of pizza as president (state dinners tend to serve more formal food).

What are you doing today? Are you celebrating President's Day? Going shopping? Enjoying the day off of work? Or just having a regular Monday?

I'm planning to go to a movie!

See more art on my website:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Octopus and Clown Fish in a Snowstorm - for IF

The theme for Illustration Friday this week is storm. It was announced the day winter storm Nemo hit, so I decided to include a few clown fish in a snowstorm. Since the first thing I thought of when I heard the theme was the iconic movie poster from Firestarter (the one with Drew Barrymore's hair raging around her), I added a octopus whose tentacles rage around in the storm.

It's hard to see the details, so here's a crop:

Here's another crop. I actually like this one as a complete image by itself!

See more art on my website,

Thursday, February 7, 2013

wheel: art for Illustration Friday

The topic for Illustration Friday this week was wheel. When I first read it, I thought it was Whee! I didn't have a ton of time, so I ended up doing a really detailed sketch, a black outline, and a crop of quick color sketch. No finished art in this bunch, but I like the drawing, so I might do another one in the future, or finish the color for this one. I thought people might like to see the process, so I'm posting all three images.

Mice! And Wheels! And ... hey, is that a cat? The original sketch:

The original sketch is a little hard to see, but you can tell that there are wheels everywhere. Or at least I hope you can see all the round circles.

After I scanned it, I re-drew it with black outline. I used thick black lines and didn't worry about fine details because I thought I was going to have time to do more with it before posting. Here's the black layer:

 You can see the line better now, but it's still not finished. I decided to do a small crop and play with color. Normally I don't do this step, but I knew I wouldn't have time to do finished art and wanted to do a quick color study for later.

I cropped the image where the car was to emphasize the wheel theme. Plus I like that there's also a squirrel, a dog, and a mouse reading a book in this part. Hmm. Looks like I forgot to color in the tongue of the mouse on the bottom. If I do final color, I'll make sure to add that in. Here's the color layer:

I've been thinking about wheels a lot lately for a book I'm working on. It was fun to draw them and play with a different set of characters for these sketches.

Tomorrow it's back to the drawing board for the other set of wheel images, but for today, it's all about the mice, and the squirrel, and dog, cat, ants, and birds!

BTW, I almost put a bat into the image, but it didn't work, so there are two birds. Maybe the Illustration Friday topic next week will be bats. We'll find out tomorrow! Until then, the bats are sleeping.

There's more art on my website:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Seagull and Pigeon go leaf surfing with the squirrels from the big tree

Seagull and Pigeon are going leaf surfing with the squirrels from the big tree!

I’ve had the idea of them leaf surfing for a while, so when I found out the topic for Illustration Friday this week was tree, it seemed like a good fit. I decided to add the squirrels, because like the pigeon and the seagull, squirrels are abundant in my neighborhood. We also have black squirrels, which I’d never seen before I moved here, so I included a couple of them in this drawing, along with a grey squirrel. I’m still drawing every day for DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month)! If you want to join me, there’s still time. Click here for more info.
A quick follow up to Monday’s post: as you might have seen on the news, we got hit again this week with a nor’easter. Some people that just got their power back lost it again, and there are many that still don’t have power or places to live due to Hurricane Sandy. If you’re looking for ways to help, there’s a list below.

How you can help people affected by Hurricane Sandy:
American Red Cross (They list several ways to help on their site, and also how you can get help if you need it.)
The Humane Society (To help our furry friends, many who were left homeless after the storm.)
A more extensive list of how you can help, from NBC / Rock Center with Brian Williams
A list for how to help if you live in the NY area, from The Gothamist
Kidlit Cares (An auction from the children’s book community. Round two will be starting soon at this link.)
NYC Food and Water Distribution Locations (If you live in NYC and need help.)

For Occupy Sandy, there are two sets of listings below. One for New York. One for New Jersey. Both need help.

Occupy Sandy *New York* (They have a wedding registry where you can order items they need now, like cleaning supplies, blankets, and diapers, and have them shipped directly to Occupy Sandy in New York, who will distribute to the people who need them.)
Twitter: @OccupySandy
Occupy Sandy *New Jersey* (They have a wedding registry where you can order items they need now, like cleaning supplies, blankets, and diapers, and have them shipped directly to Occupy Sandy in New Jersey, who will distribute to the people who need them.)
Twitter: @OccupySandyNJ

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Seagull and Pigeon think voting is cool – for DaDraMo

I wasn’t going to post a DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month) sketch today, but then I remembered it’s election day, and Seagull and Pigeon love to vote!* Seagull even put on a tie and combed his feathers.

* Seagull and Pigeon voted in the Bird Election, but they got their stickers when a couple of people dropped them (birds don’t get stickers when they vote because it’s hard to get them off of their feathers … Seagull and Pigeon like stickers anyway).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Doodle for DaDraMo, Shy for IF, and Seagull and Pigeon in NYC

I did three quick sketches the last three days because I didn’t have a lot of time, but I also felt it was important to keep drawing every day during DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month). Note: you can still join DaDraMo if you want! Click here for details. All of these sketches are small. The largest one is about four and a half inches wide.
A Doodle For Saturday:

Shy Pigeon and Outgoing Seagull:

Seagull and Pigeon Take Manhattan By Storm:

I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since Hurricane Sandy raged through our area. When I decided to draw every day this month, it was to get back to drawing every day, and because I was stuck at home with a lot of nervous energy and no way to physically help the people who got the worst of the storm. We were very fortunate, but many in my area were not. Things are starting to get better, but we’re not back to normal yet and won’t be for a while. The hardest hit areas will probably take years to recover. The pigeon and seagull are birds I see in my neighborhood every day. In a time where things aren’t the way they used to be, the birds are the one constant, and so they seemed like a good way for me to channel some of my frustration with the storm.

Other things I can do are donate, and help spread the word about how to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy. If you want to help and are able to help, here are some places to start:
American Red Cross (They list several ways to help on their site, and also how you can get help if you need it.)
The Humane Society (To help our furry friends, many who were left homeless after the storm.)
A more extensive list of how you can help, from NBC / Rock Center with Brian Williams
A list for how to help if you live in the NY area, from The Gothamist
Auctions from the children’s book community, with items for writers and illustrators:
Kidlit Cares
Kidlit Community Giving Back To Benefit Red Cross (Look on the sidebar for a list of auction posts in Oct. and Nov. or scroll through the blog – all posts are auction posts)
If you live in NYC and need help:
NYC Food and Water Distribution Locations

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seagull and Pigeon: Have Forks, Will Travel – for DaDraMo

The seagull and the pigeon are back in my DaDraMo drawing today, to help me celebrate my birthday. Looks like I’d better grab a fork before they eat all the cake!

I really liked the exclamation mark accident above the pigeon’s head yesterday, so I added it to this sketch on purpose. BTW, I won’t be posting again until Monday, but I will be drawing! Have a great weekend everyone :)
It’s not too late to join in to DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month)! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Click here for the details.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Introducing DaDraMo – Daily Drawing Month

Every November there are monthly writing challenges, like NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo, which are great. I’ve participated in both before, and may do so again this year (haven’t quite made up my mind).

Every year, I wish there was an art challenge in November. This morning, I woke up with the idea that since I hadn’t found an art challenge to join, I should start one. So I did.

Introducing DaDraMo (Daily Drawing Month)!

Goal: To draw, scribble, doodle, paint, or pixel one picture a day for the month of November. It doesn’t have to be a good drawing. The point is to do it daily. The more you draw, the better you’ll get and the more fun you’ll have!

Who: Anyone! You don’t have to be an artist to participate. You can draw stick figures or doodle circles, or splash paint. Whatever works for you.

Accountability: Nobody will be checking your work, it’s on the honor system. This is a fun project, so if you want to join, go for it!

Prizes: I don’t know, maybe? I thought up this idea this morning, so I’m not sure yet. Right now it’s just for fun, but I will announce prizes if they happen.

Badge: Here’s a badge for your site or blog if you want one. Please link back to this page if you use the badge, so that others will know what it is and can participate if they want.

Daily Drawing Month 2012 Logo

I know it’s last minute, but I hope some of you will join me for the first year of DaDraMo. Leave a comment if you plan to participate. This could be fun to do with PiBoIdMo if you’re an author/illustrator, or author who wants to sketch out their ideas. I’m thinking of doing both this year. Will decide later today.

Here’s my drawing for today. It’s a pencil sketch inspired by the pigeons and seagulls I see every day, and a Norman Rockwell picture that shows him painting a self portrait (it’s always been one of my favorites of his).

I left the accidental pencil mark above the pigeon because it looks like the pigeon has an exclamation point over its head. It’s funny (to me, anyway) because I can imagine so many things the pigeon could be thinking. I’m planning to share my art throughout the month, probably a couple of times a week, unless I get really ambitious and post every day. Let me know if you’re going to try DaDraMo. I’d love some company!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Good News! I’m illustrating my first picture book!

I’m going to be illustrating my firs picture book! Here are the details (from Publisher’s Lunch):
Candace Ryan’s EWE AND AYE, the story of a sheep and lemur who are empowered to great heights by their cooperation, with illustrations by Stephanie Ruble, to Kevin Lewis at Hyperion Children’s, for publication in Winter 2014, by Rubin Pfeffer of East-West Agency on behalf of author and Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary on behalf of illustrator (World).
How did I get to illustrate my first picture book? Well, this news has been a long time in coming. The first time I thought about illustrating a picture book, I was in grade school! We saw a film about a man who created the art for a picture book. I don’t remember the title of the book, though I wish I did. I do remember that it was a book about ocean life. After watching the film, we had to write a poem and create art to go with it. I still have both. Here’s the picture I did (even then my characters had personalities, and I loved the crayon resist art technique):

The next time I seriously thought about illustrating picture books was in college. One of my professors (Hope Cook – Thanks Hope!) gave us an assignment to think up an idea for a children’s book and then complete a few illustrations. The only problem at the time was that I couldn’t think of any ideas for children’s books! (Note: I don’t have that problem now. In fact it’s the opposite. I have tons of ideas for children’s books, probably because I’ve been brainstorming ideas since that assignment in college!) So what did I do for my assignment? I created a series of prints based on a concert. I used The Who as my models, and made them into cows! Unfortunately, those prints are either in storage or at my parent’s house, so I can’t show them. However, I can show you a test print that I made before doing The Who prints. The plates were all two inches square and were similar to this cow here:

I was still learning how to etch the metal plates and draw the image backwards, but I like how it turned out. Several years later, I got serious about illustrating picture books. I wrote an original story and retold a few classics, all with cow characters. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I made a couple of book dummies and sent them to a publisher. Here’s the scary thing. There was no finished art in my dummies. It was all rough sketches filled in with colored pencil. They’re cringe worthy! The publisher was very nice and said they liked my writing. They didn’t say anything about my art. Back then I was hurt. How could they not like my art and know I was an artist? Now I understand why: I didn’t show them that I was an artist. How were they supposed to know? You want to see some of the scary art, don’t you?

One of the books I submitted was called, JANET’S SECRET ADMIRER. Here’s a spread from the book dummy:

I clearly didn’t know about leaving room for the gutter, and because it will never see the light of day I will reveal the spoiler to the story: it was all a dream! Still, the publisher complimented my writing, which is probably why I kept writing, so that’s a big positive from that experience.

A few years after that, I happened to connect to a children’s book publisher, and after I told them about the story I was working on, they offered me the opportunity to submit it. The story featured a cow (of course), and a pig and a little girl. This time I didn’t make a dummy. Nope. I did something even worse. I typed out a cover letter and sent five stories with ideas for four more! Then I drew pictures on all the pages (including the cover letter), with a ballpoint pen and colored pencil. (I can’t believe I’m admitting this. Yikes!) Here’s a sample:

You can see that the text of the story cuts into the art, which is just so wrong! The publisher wrote a personal note and was complimentary, though I didn’t know it at the time, because I didn’t know anything about publishing (obviously). I just thought it was a rejection. A year or so after that, I read a few books on how to write, illustrate, and submit children’s books (the right way). I found out about and joined the SCBWI, started attending conferences and workshops, getting portfolio reviews, and building a real illustration portfolio.

The final part of this story happened last November (many years after the scary submissions shown above). I had a portfolio review with Kevin Lewis, a picture book author, and also my wonderful new editor at Disney-Hyperion. He liked my art and took my picture book dummy back to the office with him (it didn’t star a cow, but there were cows in it, along with chickens, sheep, and other farm animals). That dummy convinced my editor and the publisher to give me a chance to do samples for the picture book, EWE AND AYE by Candace Ryan. I really liked the story and was able to imagine the characters right away. They liked the results, my excellent agent, Barry Goldblatt, helped to make the deal, and the book will be out in Winter of 2014! Hooray! I’m really excited to be illustrating this book, and I can’t wait to share art when it’s ready. Until I can share art from the book, here’s a sheep image from my portfolio (just imagine this is EWE from the book, before she meets AYE):

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flamingo vs. Alligator – Heights for Illustration Friday

I’ve been working on a flamingo vs. alligator image for my portfolio, and a crop from that image seemed like a perfect fit for the Illustration Friday topic, “heights,” this week. The full image has more alligators, but still only one flamingo!

The flamingo has to jump great heights to avoid being eaten by the alligator.

The frog blends in with the grass, so if he jumps low, he’ll be safe too.

This image was done in CMYK mode, where surprisingly, the colors are much brighter. It prints with nice bright colors too. Usually colors dull when I switch from RGB to CMYK, not the other way around.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

a cow inspired by the Stenberg Brothers, and puzzled for IF

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is, puzzled. You might be puzzled about my image until you learn more about the inspiration behind it (unless you area Russian avant-garde movie poster buff). The cow in the picture is puzzled as to why her hooves are in a different part of the picture and why she has two tails! She’s also a bit scared about what that means. The image itself reminds me a bit of a puzzle, in that it looks like you need to rearrange the pieces for it to make sense. Here is my puzzled moo:

This picture is a new version of an old image I did in 2004. When I heard the prompt this week was puzzled, I immediately thought of this image because it’s always reminded me of a puzzle in the way it looks and how I pieced it together the first time. The original image was done February 26, 2004, as part of a year long project. For a whole year (366 days because it was leap year), I drew/painted a cow a day. This image came towards the end of the project, when I was trying to find more creative ways to draw my daily cows. Here’s my first image:

I’ve always liked this drawing … probably because I always liked the poster that inspired it. When I was trying to think of a cow to draw that day, I remembered a movie poster by the Stenberg Brothers and decided it would look cool with a cow instead of a person. Here’s the Stenberg Brothers poster for the 1929 movie A Fragment Of An Empire:

My first image is almost a direct representation of the original, although bovine themed and with English words. The one I did today still recalls the original, but when you look at them side by side, they’re very different. The new image is closer to my style both now and when I used to be an abstract painter.

My style was, and still is, influenced by graphic images in advertising and art. In 2008 I did another series of cows that played with the idea of using a single cow and a simple palette to create multiple graphic images. They aren’t directly related to any art or artist, but the style is influenced by graphic art images. Here’s the first cow:

And here’s a sample of the cows I created off of this one image and turned into my own poster. I actually like them better all together, rather than as separate images. Still need to get this poster framed …

BTW, I first fell in love with the Stenberg Brothers when MOMA held an exhibition of their art. I worked there at the time and would look at the posters every day. I think it might be the only catalog of a show that I purchased. I don’t work there anymore, but if they ever have a Franz Marc exhibition, that might be the second catalog I buy.
What art styles and artists are you inspired by?