Friday, December 11, 2009

Art Cards for Bridget Zinn Auction

There’s an auction going on for author/librarian Bridget Zinn, to help her kick cancer. There are lots of great things to bid on, including books, art, critiques, cards (some with my art on them) and more! Bidding is open until 9pm (CST) Friday December 11. Go to – – Auction ID: bridget Password: rules (info about Bridget and the auction at the end of this post).

Here’s more about the cards I donated if you’re interested. There are five sets of cards, featuring: Animals & Birthdays, Chickens, Elephants, Puppies, and Reading &Writing. Want to see the cards? Here’s all 20 designs for the 5 collections (each set has 8 cards, 2 of each design).

cards for Bridget Zinn auction

cards for Bridget Zinn auction

Ooh, pretty. Actually, the cards turned out really well. I was worried for a bit, because when I donated the cards, I was going to have my local printer print them for me. He couldn’t do it because there were too many designs to print in a small quantity. Then I tried an online printer I trust, but they couldn’t get them here in time. I knew I couldn’t print them with my old printer (it was barely printing passable prints for my portfolio … ok, not even passable for that).

So … I bought a new printer and some great textured felt card stock (and envelopes). Then proceeded to print lots of test prints (and mistakes), before finally printing up a whole batch of cards for the auction.

All cards are hand printed, cut and folded and can be used to send as birthday cards, thank you notes, or even a handwritten note, because everyone loves to get snail mail once in a while.
There’s only one day left to bid on the items in the auction. Please bid before 9pm (CST) Friday December 11 if you want to help. Go to – – Auction ID: bridget Password: rules

More info about Bridget and the auction: Browse, bid, and win for a good cause at this online auction to raise money for Bridget Zinn and Barrett Dowell. Bridget is a 32-year-old writer and librarian who is currently being treated for stage 4 colon cancer – and her “healthy young person between jobs” health insurance does not cover many of her expenses. Read Bridget’s blog at for more information.

We have received dozens of generous donations of items to be auctioned off. Many authors – Bridget’s friends and acquaintances – have donated signed copies of their books; there are also a number of manuscript critiques and proofreading services for authors. But that’s not all – there’s something for everyone! We also have works of art, note cards, food and drink, baby gifts, jewelry, and more. Many of the items would make lovely gifts, just in time for your holiday shopping. Take a look – you may find just the thing you’re looking for!

Auction items can be viewed at – or just go to and use the Auction ID: bridget and Password: rules (as in: Bridget rules!!) to view the auction. You will need to create an account on the site in order to bid on auction items. (Creating an account simply requires your name, email address, and a password, and it is required so that we can contact you if you win an item.) Bidding started on Nov. 27 and will continue through 9 p.m. Central time on Dec. 11.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Best Twilight comment ever!

This is the best Twilight comment ever! (Or why I have to see New Moon; unfortunately I haven’t seen it yet.)  This is from the site My Life Is Average. Big thanks to Adrienne for the link!
“Yesterday I went to see new moon with my twilight crazy friends. Not being a fan of twilight, I felt like an outcast tagging along. When Robert Pattinson came on the sceen, a 8 year old girl got up and screamed; “Cedric Digory lives! I must tell Dumbledore!” She then proceeded to run out of the cinema along with half the cinema including me. I’ve never felt so included. MLIA”
Anyone want to go see New Moon with me so we can do this? (Then we’ll go to a different theater and watch it all the way through.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CBIG: Birdie Family

The prompt this month for the CBIG blog (Children’s Book Illustrators Group) this month is family. The birdie family from my portfolio fits this theme well. Mother Goose is protecting her five goslings from the rain:

Birdie Family

Birdie Family

Speaking of CBIG, I have new images up in my CBIG portfolio, including the two elephant illustrations I did recently. Click here if you want to check it out.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

IF: Musical Elephant

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is, “music.” I remembered a small elephant sketch I did a long time ago (I think it was with a crayon on a paper table cloth at a restaurant). I found the original sketch, which was okay, but I felt it needed a bit more. Here’s the sketch:

Original Trumpeting Elephant Sketch

Original Trumpeting Elephant Sketch

Here’s my updated version (note – it looks small compared to the original sketch, but it’s actually 22″ long!):

Trumpeting Elephants

Trumpeting Elephants

I had so much fun doing this and I like how it turned out. I’m going to put it in my portfolio the next time I update it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

week four (4 week novel) interruptions

Week Four of the 4 Week Novel*: Sometimes you’ve got to concentrate on things other than writing, like Thanksgiving and family, or laundry that needs to be done. But don’t forget about your novel; you’re in the home stretch now! Try to set realistic goals for how much you can write by the end of the month.

If there’s no crisis and you’ve got clean socks, then go eat dinner and get back to writing. Ask someone you love if they will do the dishes for you :)

Don’t forget to resolve the conflicts and storylines you started. They don’t need to be wrapped up with a bow, but they should have some sort of resolution so the reader will be satisfied with the ending. If you can’t figure out exactly how to end your book, don’t worry. That’s what revisions are for.

*The 4 week novel tips are designed for NaNoWriMo, but could be used any time of the year if you are trying to fast draft a story. This is the sixth post. The others so far were: NaNoWriMo Thoughts and Tips, prepping for the 4 week novel, week one – ready, set, go, week two – getting unstuck, and week three – halfway there!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

IF: Unbalanced Elephant

The prompt for Illustration Friday was unbalanced, which totally cracked me up. I had lots of funny image ideas, but finally settled on this unbalanced elephant who is getting ready for a birthday party.

Unbalanced Elephant

Unbalanced Elephant

Update: I liked this image, but I didn’t think the cake worked and the background was too plain. The cake was a good idea, but was too small compared to the packages and made the elephant look more balanced than unbalanced. So, I revised the image, and I think it works better, sans cake and with a more textured background. What do you think? The new version will be going into my portfolio next time I update it.

Unbalanced Elephant Take 2

Unbalanced Elephant Take 2

Sunday, November 15, 2009

week three (4 week novel) half way there, maybe

Week Three of the 4 Week Novel*: You’re half way there! If you’re not (like me) keep going! You can still catch up, and so can I! You can make it to the end of your first draft if you Just Keep Writing!! Trust your vision and your creative talent, and whatever you do, Do Not Listen To Your Evil Inner Editor! 

If you’re getting stuck on what happens next, try the tips from week 2, or blow something up and see how your characters react.

I know someone is going to say, “but I’m writing a romance, I can’t blow anything up!” Yes you can. You can blow up their relationship. Jealous ex-boyfriend (or girlfriend), someone flirting with someone they shouldn’t be flirting with, or everyone gets drunk and isn’t sure what happened.
Blow something up for real, or metaphorically. It’s fun to make your characters miserable, because later you can make things better … or not, it’s all up to you :)

*The 4 week novel tips are designed for NaNoWriMo, but could be used any time of the year if you are trying to fast draft a story. This is the fifth post. The others so far were:NaNoWriMo Thoughts and Tips, prepping for the 4 week novel, week one – ready, set, go, and week two – getting unstuck.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Teaser Tuesday – NaNo novel excerpt

My NaNoWriMo novel suddenly changed from third to first person (I usually write in first, so not a shock). I also deleted one of the characters. Since NaNoWriMo is all about forging ahead and upping your word count, I decided not to go back and fix/change things. Instead, I just jumped in with the tense shift and wrote this bit to explain the character’s absence:

“It feels like we’re missing something, or someone.” said Lexa. “Didn’t we have another friend before?” 

“Before what?” I asked.

“Before this. Weren’t there three of us last night?” asked Lexa.

“Huh,” I said. “That sounds vaguely familiar. I think you might be right. Didn’t her name start with an I or something?”

“Yeah, I think you’re right.”

Lexa and I stared at each other for a while, trying to figure out who our missing mystery friend was. If we had been on a cartoon, they would have gone to a close up of our faces, then shown what was going on inside our heads. Tiny little hamsters running on wheels, around and around and around and never coming up with the answer to our question.

“I wonder what happened to her,” I said.

“Who?” asked Lexa.

“The girl we used to be friends with, the one whose name started with an I.”

“Good question. Maybe we’ll never know.”

Maybe plowing forward like this would be a good idea when not doing NaNo too. I love to go back and edit/re-edit so much that it’s hard to keep going sometimes. Plus this scene cracked my evil inner editor up so that he didn’t even mess with me. Anything that does that is worth trying again.

2 paintings: Puppy and Wild (chicken) Thing for WaWe

The Watercolor Wednesdays prompt for this week was to create a child or animal character. When I sat down to paint, this is who showed up.

Happy Puppy!

Happy Puppy!

Does he look familiar? I think he looks a lot like the puppy I did for the Frankenstein prompt and the Halloween character prompt and maybe a little like this puppy too. They are all supposed to be the same kind of dog, so maybe they’re different puppies from the same litter.

The prompt for last week was Wild Thing. Originally I was going to do an image of the characters from the book/movie, but then I decided to do something slightly different in the style of Maurice Sendak. It took a lot longer than I thought it would to complete this painting, and honestly I could have spent another week or so on it to make it look the way I wanted it to look. Since I have other projects that I need to get done, I cut a few corners to finish the painting. There are parts I really like and parts I wish I could have spent the time to do right. I think I’ll be using some of the techniques and the palette in future paintings to see what happens. So, here’s my wild (chicken) thing painting.

Wild Chicken Thing and Max

Wild Chicken Thing and Max

Sunday, November 8, 2009

week two (4 week novel) getting unstuck

Week Two of the 4 Week Novel*: Keep Writing! If you’re stuck, put in some backstory, do a bit of world building, or write a conversation between characters about what should happen next. All of these can be used to keep yourself going in the first draft (or for your word count in NaNoWriMo), as long as you realize that they might need to be cut later.

Or you could ask some questions to get jumpstarted again.
- What’s the main quest that your MC is on and how is she going to achieve it?
- Does your story have a theme or a question it answers?
- What’s the emotional tone of your story?
- Is your MC someone that the reader can care about and identify with?
- Can the reader identify with what’s important to your MC?
- What’s your MC’s secret? Do you reveal this to the reader?
- Do you know the ending of your story yet? Is it the logical conclusion to your story? Is it plausible?
- How does your character grow and change in the story, or do they not grow/change?

*The 4 week novel tips are designed for NaNoWriMo, but could be used any time of the year if you are trying to fast draft a story. This is the fourth post. The others so far were: NaNoWriMo Thoughts and Tips, prepping for the 4 week novel and week one, ready, set, go.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

week one (4 week novel) ready, set, go

Week One of the 4 Week Novel*: Start writing! Don’t stop, don’t edit along the way. Just Keep on writing! Unless …

… you like to edit as you go, like I do. This year during NaNoWriMo, I’m trying something new. I’m printing out my work at the end of each day. Any editing or notes I need to make will be on the printed pages and not in the computer so I can keep writing. I’ll also have a master document to paste my writing in at the end of each day so I don’t get tempted to edit on screen.

If you are like me and have multiple novel ideas you want to write, pick just one for the 4 week novel. Or pick a main novel and don’t work on the other one(s) until you’ve worked on your main novel each day.

*The 4 week novel tips are designed for NaNoWriMo, but could be used any time of the year if you are trying to fast draft a story. This is the third post. The first one was NaNoWriMo Thoughts and Tips, the second was prepping for the 4 week novel.

Flight of Bees

I finished another black and white drawing today. More bees. Lots and lots of bees! Buzz buzz ;)

Flight of Bees

Flight of Bees

Then I decided to add color to see what it would look like. I think it looks good either way. What do you think?

Colorful Flight of Bees

Colorful Flight of Bees

It’s time to get started on my NaNoWriMo novel, then more sketching.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

WaWe: Favorite Halloween Character (Mummy)

The prompt this week for Watercolor Wednesdays is your favorite Halloween character. I decided to do a favorite character that I like to draw. I love drawing simple ghosts like those from last week, but for this prompt I decided to do a mummy, which is also fun. This is a more traditional mummy than the ones I usually do, so I played with texture in the background and added the little dog.

Oh No!

Oh No!

IF: Fast (bees) and my NaNo character

Originally I was going to do another ghost for the Illustration Friday prompt, but then I was drawing these two pictures of my NaNoWriMo character and realized that bees are fast too. (These are the black and white images I’ve been talking about all week on Twitter.) This style is a bit of a departure for me. What do you think?

The first image was done with ink on bristol.

Forest of Bees

Forest of Bees

The second image started out as a sketch of a different scene for a watercolor painting, but as I doodled, it became this image. I thought about transferring the image to bristol, but decided to just ink on the watercolor paper. My pens weren’t happy about that and rebelled a few times, but overall I’m happy with the image and I really love the texture of the tree.

Tree of Bees

Tree of Bees

prepping for the 4 week novel

Here are some tips and ideas to help you write a novel in 4 weeks (this is for NaNoWriMo, but could be used any time of the year). This first post is up a few days before the fun starts if you need help planning. The first week post will go up November 1 and then every Sunday until it’s over. Hope it’s helpful!

Prepping for the 4 week novel can be done in one hour, one day, one month, or while you’re writing your novel – it’s up to you

All you need to do is come up with a plot idea for a novel or an interesting character (preferably both).

Having trouble coming up with a plot? Think about your characters and play “what if:”

*What if this happened? *What happens next? *What would be the best place to start the novel?

*What does my character want, need, fear? *What happens if they get what they want? *What happens if they don’t? etc.

Still need help? Here are a few more questions to think about while plotting and planning:

*Who is your main character (MC)?
*What does your MC want, need, desire?
*What do they try to help them achieve that?
*Who or what thwarts their attempt?
*What do they try next?
*What stops them this time?
*Will they get what they want in the end, or will they grow/change to not want it?
*Does your character want more than one thing?
*Do the things that the MC wants conflict with each other?
*Is your MC struggling against another person, nature, or herself?
*What is the MC’s secret? Does it cause inner or outer conflict?
*Is the MC on the journey by themselves, or do they have a friend, boyfriend, group?
*What role (if any) does the MC’s family play in your story?
*Why does the MC need to tell this particular story about their life?
*What is the emotional journey or tone of the story?

Keep asking yourself questions until you know where you need to start your story and have a general idea of where you are going to go. Or just open a blank document on November 1st and wing it! Whatever you do, have fun :)

Note: The 4 week novel tips are designed for NaNoWriMo, but could be used any time of the year if you are trying to fast draft a story. This is the second post. The first one was on NaNoWriMo Thoughts and Tips

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A few NaNoWriMo thoughts and tips

This year will be my fourth NaNoWriMo! Here are some tips to get you through the month and hopefully get to 50k in 30 days.

If you’re an over writer, great! Indulge in every bit of extra description and unnecessary dialog you can think of.

If you’re an underwriter (like me), don’t forget to include description, including what the MC hears, sees, tastes and feels, but don’t add so much that you lose the story. After you’re done with your story, you will probably be short of words. That’s ok. At the end of the story, write all the lavish setting descriptions, backstory, character profiles or quirks, and possible subplot ideas. You can decide later if you want to add this to your story when you revise.

Start on November 1st no matter what. Even if you just put down a couple of words or a sentence. Then add to it every day that you can – try for every day, even if it’s only a couple of words. It’s a lot harder to finish if you only write half the time, although it can be done.

Stay off discussion boards and social marketing sites if it’s keeping you from your work. Actually a good tip even if you’re not doing NaNo, although it’s really hard to do. If it’s helping you, then stay on the discussion boards, etc.

Use NaNoWriMo to your benefit. The traditional NaNo rules or word count might not fit your style or project. Use the dedicated time to finish a project, start something new that’s longer than 50k, or revise/rewrite a manuscript. Whatever you need/want to do, you should do that. NaNo is great fun, although a bit crazy, but if it derails your writing, it’s not worth it. Do what works for you and have a good time. Find a friend or two or three hundred to do it with you. You can each set your own goals and cheer each other on.

Have a plan. A plan doesn’t have to be a detailed outline or even a plot, but if you have an idea for a story or even a character’s name, it will help you to get going right away.

My plan this year – to fix problems in past years. Use my plan if you want. If you do, you’ll need 4 things.

1. Novel info (yours might be slightly different than mine): main character, secondary characters and a basic plot idea. (I also have ideas about the world it’s going to be set in, but no outline or romantic interest … yet.)

2. Daily print outs of what you’ve written, so if you have the urge to edit or make notes, it’s on the paper copy and not taking away from your word count.

3. A master document that you paste your daily writing into. Use a blank document each day to keep you from editing what’s already written. Note: I got the idea for # 2 and 3 from the end of this article.

4. Hand-written notes each night on what’s next in the story or what scenes you want to tackle next. This should help jumpstart the writing each day. They’re hand-written so you don’t have to have them in your document or keep switching between documents.

That’s it, that’s my plan, although I might add a 5th thing – Scrivner. They have a NaNo deal for Mac users and I’ve wanted to try it for a while. More info here -

Here are my previous NaNo stats in case you are interested:

2004 – I went in with a story idea I loved, but no outline or real plot. The novel took a sharp turn into crazy land, but I got to 50k (despite starting late because I was getting ready for a portfolio review – I think I did the whole thing in 2.5 weeks). I’ve tried to rewrite this novel several times since then, but it’s so convoluted it might not be salvageable … unless I can figure out a plot for it.

2005 – I have no idea what happened that year, but I didn’t finish. No doubt I still didn’t have a plot and didn’t start on time due to the portfolio review preparations. (My illustrator’s group has a review every November – usually the second weekend. Getting ready can really take away from writing time.) Then I skipped a few years.

2008 – I had an idea, I had a plan, and I started right away (despite my portfolio review prep). However, then I had my review, and an editor loved some illustrations and was interested in seeing the graphic novel when I was done. So I switched novels for NaNo, and didn’t finish. However, after months of trying to figure out what to do with the graphic novel, I’m finally on track with it and the MC from last year’s original NaNo novel is in my novel this year with a shiny new plot (the one last year stunk).

So, you see, it’s not all bad. What started last year wasn’t ready to be written and could have a happy ending this year.

Here are some other resources and thoughts on NaNoWriMo that I’ve found:
There’s a NaNoWriMo YA contest. The first 250 words of your YA novel could win!
Writer Chuck Wendig’s take on the good and bad of NaNoWriMo.
Elissa Cruz has some brilliant (non-cheating) tricks for NaNoWriMo.
Write your novel on & get a free copy of your book when you finish!

Happy NaNo noveling everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

IF: Frozen (Treats)

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week was “frozen” and I’ve been trying to create a ghost picture for all the prompts this month. So, what better way to combine the two than to show how much ghosts like frozen treats. When the Mr. Ghostie Cloud-Truck flies by playing music, all the ghosts gather around for treats.

Ghosts love frozen treats, especially ghostsickles.

Ghosts love frozen treats, especially ghostsickles.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WaWe: Class Halloween Party (a sponge painting)

The Watercolor Wednesdays prompt this week was a Halloween class party. I painted this one with cut up sponges (except the vampire). I painted the vampire with brushes to set him apart from the rest of the class. I thought the texture would be fun, and it is, except that the painting was too small (8.5 x 11) or the sponges were too big to make it look the way I wanted it to. Still, it’s something I might play around with again in the future, or use brushes to try to re-create the texture.

Eddie was out sick the day Ms. MacDonald’s class decided to dress up as farm animals for the class party. Everyone forgot to tell Eddie when he came back.

Ms. MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O

Ms. MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O

CBIG: Autumn Puppy

I decided that a black dog for Halloween might be an interesting change from the usual black cat. I might have to tell a story about this puppy. It also fits the “autumn” prompt for the CBIG blog this month.

Autumn leaves and Halloween pumpkins

Autumn leaves and Halloween pumpkins

Thursday, October 15, 2009

IF: Flying

Here’s my quick pencil and watercolor pencil painting for Illustration Friday this week.
Flying is the best thing about being a ghost.

Haunted Flight

Haunted Flight

WaWe: The Colors of Fall

The prompt for Watercolor Wednesdays this week is: The Colors of Fall (an outdoor scene with children).

Fall Kids / Fall Colors

Fall Kids / Fall Colors

This is another attempt at layering. I like how it turned out, but I think I’ll do a bit more planning next time. Want to see how I got to the finished painting? Scroll down to see the other stages.

Yellow layer

Yellow layer

browns and skin tones added

browns and skin tones added



blues and reds

blues and reds

The final step was to layer in all the greens, then add details with markers, to get the painting at the beginning of the post.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

IF: Germs

This was the first thing I thought of for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, so I decided to go with it as a b/w cartoon:

Ewwww, germs!

Ewwww, germs!

If you can’t read it, the germ is saying, “Eek! Ghosts!”

WaWe: Young Frankenstein and his first monster

The Watercolor Wednesdays prompt for this week is to imagine Frankenstein as a child, so I painted Young Frankenstein with his first monster, FrankenTeddy, and his little dog Frankie. I think Young Frankenstein would have worn PJs with his lab coat over them.

Young Frankenstein and FrankenTeddy

Young Frankenstein and FrankenTeddy

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beach books and library books

Here’s what I’m going to be doing on my vacation  …

sruble doing a handstand?

sruble doing a handstand?

Ok, not really. I can’t do a cartwheel, or a handstand. What I will be doing is working; I’ll be writing, drawing, painting and reading while I’m at the beach. Here’s my reading list:

sruble's beach books

sruble's beach books

I’m way behind on my reading, so there’s a mix of old and new here to keep me busy. When I’m not reading, I’ll be taking long walks on the beach with my DH or building sandcastles.

When I’m not playing in the sand, I’ll be working on a PB dummy a dummy revision, a zombie graphic novel, and another PB, if I have time. (haha) The PB dummy I’m almost done with is on deck first. Sheila the zombie cheerleader will probably be chasing me around the beach, threatening to eat my brains if I don’t work on her story, so that’s really good incentive to get my PB dummy done! I also brought watercolor paints and a couple of small watercolor blocks – just in case I want to paint something.

You might be wondering why I’m not bringing any PBs to read, since I’ll be working on at least one while I’m at the beach. There’s a great bookstore and a library where we’re going, plus I just got done reading all of these PBs from the library:

PBs from the library

PBs from the library

Some old favorites and some new favorites too!

You probably won’t hear from me for a while; I’ll be working at the beach. See you when I get back!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Interview: Elizabeth Dulemba, author/illustrator

I’m interviewing author/illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba today. And at the end, there will be a chance to win her brand new picture book, Soap, soap, soap! (Update: The winner of the contest for Elizabeth Dulemba’s new PB, Soap! Soap! Soap! is Amy Baskin – yay!!)


What’s the difference between illustrating someone else’s text vs. illustrating your own?
The obvious difference is a sense of ownership and freedom to be able to tweak the text to work with the illustrations. However, in the end, I’m still illustrating a specific story the best way I can. And perhaps that’s the most difficult thing of all – listening to that inner voice and making changes (even tough ones) when I know I need to. When I am the sole creator, I have to live up to the highest and most demanding standards – my own!

What’s your process for digital painting?
 I’m evolving where digital painting is concerned. I used to do all my sketches by hand (elements scattered every which way on a page) and scan them into Photoshop to create my composition, but more and more I find myself actually drawing in my computer. It really depends on how the art wants out of me. I also used to lay in all the flat color in Photoshop then render/shade in Painter (how I did SOAP), but I’m starting to experiment with working directly on a colored canvas in Photoshop and/or Painter.

Many people think digital makes you faster, but I’m finding the opposite to be true. Since I don’t have to fiddle with mixing colors, I’m able to spend more time experimenting with method – and that has actually slowed me down. (In a good way, I like to think!)

Do you use the digital brushes that come with Photoshop/Painter or do you make your own or find them online somewhere?
 I’m in a bit of a transition with my brushes right now. I illustrated SOAP, SOAP, SOAP on my older computer using Photoshop and Painter with a Wacom tablet. I don’t often create my own brushes, but I definitely manipulate the ones that are available. On my new computer I’m experimenting with keeping everything in Photoshop – we’ll see. But I’m also wanting to pull in more texture. I started doing it in SOAP but really want to push that. In other words, I’m always experimenting and hope I never stop!

pages 14-15 from Soap, soap, soap!
pages 14-15 from Soap, soap, soap!

Do you have any tips for someone that’s starting to paint on the computer?
The main thing would be to be patient with yourself. You won’t get it overnight. Just play with it, work with it, learn something new every day and let your knowledge and comfort level grow over time. Working digitally is wonderful (and liberating) but it can also be intimidating at first. I promise you I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg of what these programs can do, and I’ve been working with them since day 1.

The other point would be to experiment with media (digitally) that you don’t use in ‘real’ life. For
instance, I never considered myself a traditional painter, and yet my favorite brushes in Painter are the oil brushes. Go figure.

What’s your favorite thing about digital painting?
I came up through graphic design where everything was speedy, speedy. So I worked with quick media like markers and colored pencils. I never learned how to mix colors. And yet, with digital painting, I have the full rainbow and all its nuances available to me! I’ve often heard traditional artists complain that digital doesn’t allow for the ‘happy accidents’ that can make painting so exciting. But I can assure you, I get plenty of those happy accidents and unexpected results and they are downright wonderful.

What’s your least favorite thing about digital painting?
A finished piece of art for me is either the printed page or a giclee. I do hate that I don’t have an ‘original’ in the traditional sense. It makes me wonder if someday – way far away – I might actually play with traditional painting again.

What did you do for Talk Like a Pirate Day?
The last three years I created a Pirate-themed coloring page for my Coloring Page Tuesdays. All were linked to by the guys who actually invented “Talk Like a Pirate Day” on their main website. I hope to create another one this year to post to my blog along with pirate humor, poems, etc. Gotta love drawing pirates – Arrrrrrrr!!!!

What are you working on next?
I am currently illustrating “The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia”, written by my friend Susan R. Spain, for Sterling Publishers (Holiday 2010). I’m also writing a new novel, shopping a new picture book and have lots of other works-in-progress. I’m busy, but I love it!

Bio: Elizabeth O. Dulemba was beamed to this planet with a pencil in her hand. Once she stopped chewing on it she began to draw and write stories for children. She is an award-winning illustrator for Highlights and of several picture books: Paco and the Giant Chile Plant (bilingual); the ParentSmart KidHappy™ series (3 books); Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese; The Prince’s Diary; and “The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia” (2010). She also wrote her latest picture book: Soap, soap, soap!  “e” enjoys speaking to kids and adults about creating picture books and offers free coloring pages at

Contest to win Soap, soap, soap!: You can win your very own copy of Soap, soap, soap! written and illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba, by commenting on this post and leaving your blog or email so I know how to get ahold of you if you win. The contest copy is bilingual (it’s really cool to see the words in both languages). The cover of the book is shown above.

The contest is open to residents of the US for comments until midnight EST on September 30th. (Sorry it’s only for US residents, but last time I did an international contest, the shipping for the book was more than the cost of the book.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Zombie Pirates for Talk Like A Pirate Day

Ahoy! Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day! I’ve been working on my pirate painting all week, only it’s a zombie pirate and his zombie chicken friend. Here it is (and below that is the original sketch).

I'll eat ye brains I'll will. Arrr!

I'll eat ye brains I'll will. Arrr!

This painting started as a sketch I did on the back of a piece of watercolor paper (the front had a different sketch that didn’t work out and some paint from testing colors for a different painting.I also had a speech bubble in the upper left, with the zombie pirate saying, “I’ll eat ye brains, I will. Arrr!”

This be the zombie pirate sketch. Arrr!

This be the zombie pirate sketch. Arrr!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brains for Lunch – Watercolor Wednesdays

Last week, I said I wanted to do a crayon resist for Watercolor Wednesdays this week, so I did. I’ve always loved crayon resist, because you never quite know how it’s going to turn out. I even learned a few things (or re-learned them, since I’m sure I knew them when I was 5), like: white crayons first, then black, otherwise the black will smear (duh).

So here it is, Sheila and her best friend Amanda talking about school lunch at Zombie High:

Brains for lunch!

Brains for lunch!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Illustration Friday: Welcome (committee)

I just finished this painting last night and thought it fit well with today’s Illustration Friday topic, welcome. These cows are the welcome committee for the herd.
The black line is all acrylic because I wanted it to be really dark. The color is watercolor, using layers of different color to make the orange, purple and green spots. I really like using the real color or a color I’ve mixed before hand, so this was a challenge for me to accept what the colors looked like after layering. I like the effect, but I think it would have looked good using bright green, orange and purple too.

Meet the welcoming committee. Moo.

Meet the welcoming committee. Moo.

If you are a watercolor painter, do you like mixing colors by layering or do you prefer to mix them before you paint?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sheila’s first day of school and a new principal

These two paintings for Watercolor Wednesdays  and the CBIG blog are from a YA zombie graphic novel I’m working on, starring Sheila the Zombie Cheerleader. The graphic novel isn’t in watercolor, but I thought I’d do some zombie watercolors this month because Watercolor Wednesdays has school prompts every week.

Sheila’s first day back at school was yesterday. (She wouldn’t let me post her first day picture last week. If I did, she said she’d, “eat my brains!”) Sheila’s best friend Amanda suffered through the first day with her. Here’s their first day picture, which Sheila said I could post today:

Sheila the Zombie Cheerleader's first day of school

Sheila the Zombie Cheerleader's first day of school

Sheila and Amanda are talking about the new teacher in the next picture:

Zombie High staff changes ...

Zombie High staff changes ...

The black line for both images is acrylic paint and the color is watercolor crayon. I love watercolor crayons because they make me feel like a kid again. I get to color with crayons, then paint. Fun!
Maybe next week I’ll do crayon resist … or maybe not. Halloween is coming, and ghosts are a whole lot of fun for crayon resist. :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Illustration Friday: Strong

When I saw this week’s topic, the first thing that came to mind was this scene with Sheila the zombie cheerleader.

That is one STRONG chicken!

That is one STRONG chicken!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

IF: Magnify, a.k.a. Cluck, Cluck, Cheep!

I was working on a cat painting for Illustration Friday (actually, I was working on the painting and it happened to sort-of fit with the theme) but it won’t be finished for a while, so I painted something else for IF. Maybe the cat painting will be done in time for next week and fit in with whatever the theme will be.

This week’s theme is Magnify. The little chic in this painting had to be magnified or you’d never be able to see him.

Cluck, Cluck, Cheep!

Cluck, Cluck, Cheep!

The image is 4×6, acrylic on watercolor paper.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kitties at the beach for Watercolor Wednesdays

This week for Watercolor Wednesdays, I used a technique that I’ve never tried before, glazing. For those who don’t know, glazing is where you build up thin layers of color instead of just laying down one color from the beginning (which is what I usually do). It was fun, but frustrating to wait for layers to dry, and of course I cheated a few times and painted before a layer was completely dry (I couldn’t help myself).

Here it is; the original is a bit brighter. What do you think?

Remus and Romulus at the beach

Remus and Romulus at the beach

Next time I try glazing, I’m going to try mixing more colors through layering.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Notes from the SCBWI LA conference

I’ve been trying to decide what the theme was this year. There’s usually a theme that I notice that runs through comments that several speakers make over the four days. There are probably several themes that could be taken from the conference, but the theme that I notice usually reflects where I am in my work and what I need to concentrate on when I return home. It helps me to take the inspiration from the conference and shape it into something tangible.

The theme for me this year was, “building your career.”

(Note: all comments are paraphrased unless there are quotes around them. I wasn’t able to write notes as fast as people talked.)

Sherman Alexie talked about career in his amazing opening keynote speech, how your writing affects the readers and how your family and friends will be neglected if you’re doing it right.

David Wiesner talked about his career so far in his inspiring keynote speech. He showed how things that he’d worked on many years ago kept appearing in his work until he found the right book for them. He also talked about stories and dummies that didn’t work sometimes morphed into other stories that did work.

“Be open to all that stuff floating around out there and the cool stuff you liked as a kid and the stuff you think is cool now.”

David’s breakout session was excellent too. The best advice was to always think of it like a book. He uses a blank book that’s the size and shape of the final book and swaps out the images at every stage, sketches, final drawings, finishes, so that he’s always seeing the page turns and reading it as a book.

“Observational drawing is the basis for everything we do.”

Steven Malk gave my favorite workshop of the conference. Some of his career advice for illustrators (most of which applies to authors too):

“Have a career plan and know what you want to do. All of your decisions should help you work towards that goal.”

“Don’t dibble dabble. Decide you want to build a career and completely jump in.”

“Only you can own your career decisions. Each decision you make affects your career.”

“Make each decision in a calm, rational way, not a shot in the dark kind of way.”

Writing and illustrating is to your advantage. Knock their socks off with the dummy. Take the time to do a great job and really show your vision for the book. You need to have a finished dummy, not just a few finishes.

Elizabeth Parisi made a comment about being realistic about what your skills are (cover artist, PB artist, etc.). Wish I had been able to capture the exact quote, but she went on to the next thing too quickly.

A bit of good news for illustrators: MG covers are still about 95% illustration and they are using more interior illustrations since Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

Artist mistakes: going straight to final without sketches and surprising the AD with major changes between approved sketches to final illustrations.

Start with illustration or writing and get your foot in the door with one thing. Don’t try to jump into both. Pick the one that you really love and do that first.

Eve Bunting: When she finishes a book, she thinks, “Is this worth saying?”

Dan Yaccarino says yes to everything, whether he knows how to do it or can do it, or not (animation, package design, etc.). When people ask if he has a story to go with an image in his portfolio, he says yes, even if he doesn’t. Then he goes home and writes it and sends it out.

Dan also talked about doing art that he wanted to do and not just what he thought he should do.

Holly Black: “Read enough that you’re part of the conversation.” (During her keynote, on reading fantasy if writing it, but could apply to any area of children’s books.)

Holly’s breakout session was really great too, along the lines of Steven Malk’s session, but for writers. I wish I had seen the whole session, but I came in half way through.

“Respect your process.” Put together a plan that works for you and remember to plan for trips and other times when you’re not going to be able to get as much done.

“You need to include some space in your schedule to stay inspired (continuously), so you’re not just work, work, work, project, project, project.” Do what ever inspires you, reading, walking, etc. If you don’t do that, you’ll burn out quickly.

Richard Peck: “Always write the story going forward because the characters can’t go back.”

Elizabeth Law: She talked about respecting a MG writer who said that she wasn’t comfortable writing YA so she wrote MG and that theme came up a couple of times.

“Know who you are writing for and why someone would want your book, but don’t force yourself to write something because you think it will sell or that you’re not comfortable with.”
Encouraged everyone to use social marketing to connect, unless it keeps you from doing your own work.

Linda Sue Park: “Love the story for itself, even if you’re the only one that ever reads it.” Linda Sue said that her editor has turned down novels since she won the Newbery, so she has to believe that it’s not wasted time and love the thing for what it is.

Arthur Levine: “Crossing genres is easier with one long term editor … instead of selling in to another house based on past books.”

* There were too many speeches, quotes, and comments to write them all here, but I tried to highlight the ones I thought would be the most useful or inspiring.

Friday, August 21, 2009

IF: Caution

It’s chicken week here at! There are chickens for Illustration Friday, Watercolor Wednesdays, and the CBIG blog! But they are all different as you can see below :)
Illustration Friday: Caution – Sheila says, “Beware of Chickens!”

If: Caution - Sheila says, "Beware of chickens!"

If: Caution - Sheila says, "Beware of chickens!"

This is from my mini comic, Sheila The Zombie Cheerleader in: Chickens. The original is b/w line art (pen and ink), but I colored it for IF. Speaking of which, after I colored it, I thought it might look cool without the black line. I like them both. Which one is your favorite?
IF: Caution - Beware of Chickens 2

IF: Caution - Beware of Chickens 2

For the CBIG (Children’s Book Illustrators Group) blog, the theme this month is vacation, so I sent the chickens on bungee jumping vacation. This image is from my new portfolio.

Chickens Bungee Jump on Vacation

Chickens Bungee Jump on Vacation

For the Watercolor Wednesdays blog, usually a weekly theme, is “Anything Goes in August.” So I painted a chicken dancing, using waterlogged acrylic. The effect is very similar to what my watercolor looks like.

Chicken Dancing

Chicken Dancing

If this week was chickens, I wonder what next week will bring?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

SCBWI LA links

Here are the links to LA conference blogging that I’ve got so far, in case you are interested in checking out notes and things. I didn’t get to meet all these people, but I did get to see lots of old friends and meet some new ones too. Note: I’m just starting to look for notes, so I’ll be adding to the list as I find them. Let me know if you blogged about the conference, and where, and I’ll add your link.

The official SCBWI conference blog
Lisa Yee: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog 
Kelly Light’s blog
Lois Peterson’s blog: Part 1, Part 2
Denise Jaden’s blog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Recap
Cindy Pon’s blog: food, blue moon, dream career
Tammi Sauer’s blog: book tour with Cynthea Liu
PW article on the LA Conference
Debbie Ohi’s blog: Debbie’s got a lot of great posts about LA.
Sheri Rosen’s blog

Blue Moon Ball and my outfit

The Blue Moon Ball was a blast, even though I didn’t dance this year. I kept running into people and talking. I had planned a costume, but I ran out of time, so I wore custom made shoes (painted by moi).

blue moo shoes 1
blue moo shoes 1

blue moo shoes 2

blue moo shoes 2

I also wore a shirt with an ironed on picture of a cow that I painted. Here’s a picture of The Blue Moo – get it? Yeah, I know it’s silly, but I like cows, and how often do I have an excuse to paint a blue cow? Not that I need an excuse …

Blue Moo
Blue Moo

I had a camera on my cell phone, but of course I kept forgetting to take pictures. In fact, the only 3 pictures I took in LA were of the Blue Moon Ball from my room. It’s a time-lapse thing, even if the last picture is very dark because the party was in full swing by then. The three pictures are, 1: set up, 2: just starting (I was dropping my portfolio off in my room), and 3: Party!!! (I went up to get my sweater because it was a bit chilly). 

Blue Moon Ball, time lapse

Blue Moon Ball, time lapse