Thursday, December 20, 2007

Running out the year....

So my posts have sporadic lately because I've gotten 3 jobs in all due over the holidays - Jan 2, Jan14 and one that was due today, and possibly a fourth due Jan 5th if I agree to it.... sigh so much for a relaxing Christmas. Just this week I finally got christmas cards in the mail, so don't worry I didn't forget you this year, you know who you are. Last night Frosty was on TV and I had had this vision of us having a relaxing evening after dinner: me and Jim Dear, sitting around watching Frosty, drinking eggnog and feeling all warm and snuggly basking in the glow of sharing our childhood Christmas TV show memories with the Small Fry...... and then I put the crack pipe down.

Just kidding there wasn't a crack pipe involved. It's way to hard to hold one of those and a paint brush at the same time. I ended up working til it was baby's bedtime, then quit to go read Pooh Is Entirely Surrounded By Water to the Small Fry who refers to the book as Wah-terrrr! Then it was off to crash in front of a 60 minutes re-run and microwave lasagna. So much for warm and fuzzy holiday memories. At least we taped Frosty. Late last night I was looking through my old Christmas cards and came up with the idea of doing a christmas retrospective next year. It will be my 10th year freelancing and I'm trying to think of cool ways to celebrate it. Some of the old cards were kinda good, some were really bad, but as a whole they were an interesting map through 10 years of illustrating. I may do a sheet of all the old ones and stick in with next years card, so keep an eye out..... it can't possibly be any worse than getting a long christmas letter in the mail. But judging by the rate I'm going this holiday season I'm going to have to start planning that oh, say, around Thursday of next week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Yawk New Yawk

Just a quick post this time to say that I'm signed up for the SCBWI New York Winter Conference... yayyy! and the illustrator's intensive the day before. This year they are having a VIP reception for the NY art directors for everyone who is signed up for the Intensive so that you can show your portfolio, I'd say that alone is worth the price of the plane ticket. And speaking of that, I'm hoping I have enough credit card points to get a free ticket for Jim Dear to go along. I"m sure he would enjoy sleeping and watching CNN in the hotel while I make myself a more fabulous illustrator, plus its in February right before Valentine's day.... I"m thinking a romantic night at the theater may be in the offing.... now I would just have to figure out to make that part of the trip a tax deduction.....

Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Small Fry!

This post isn't really art related but today is a big day in our house so I'm posting anyway. Exactly at this moment 2 years go I heard my son holler for the first time. The first of many many times but of course I didn't know that at the time. It was such an amazing moment, I don't think I really believed he was real until I heard him. Thank God he was a perfectly normal healthy baby, I felt so lucky! Right at the moment he is rolling around in his bed talking to his animals and singing to himself. In a minute I will have to go get him and feed him breakfast. He doesn't know it's his birthday.... he doesn't know what birthdays are yet. Later today we'll tell him, and sing to him, and have cake and presents, but just for a minute I'm stopping to think about what a big day this is for all of us - 2 years of wonder and exploration for him, 2 years of unlimited love patience for me and his dad, and 2 years of happiness for us all. Happy Birthday Small Fry!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hey Diddle Diddle

This is an illustration I've wanted to do for a while. I love the idea of a cow jumping over the moon. Actually I love the idea of anything jumping over the moon as you can tell by my logo. Again on this piece I focused on expressions. I think the moon would be justifiably indignant at having a cow in his lap! Also on this piece I tried to focus on having some really heavy darks and saturated colors to bring up the drama. This was mentioned in my critique with Elizabeth Parisi, the art director of hard cover trade at Scholastic. Haven't got this on my website yet..... gotta work on that tomorrow while the young'un is at mother's day out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I really AM an illustrator!

While we are on the subject of expressions I will post a piece that Laurent Linn liked because of the expressions and tell this little anecdote from earlier today that illustrates how expressions really do tell a story:
I'm a subscriber on the and yesterday received a report advising me on my keywords for each image on the site. The report was done by someone I haven't even met who doesn't know any of the background behind my work. The suggestions of new keywords were simply to focus more finely on what the perceived subject of each piece is. For the piece below the report suggested adding Communication and Romance to my keywords.

Remember the person who did the report had no idea what the piece was "supposed" to be about. They simply looked at it and from what they saw inferred that these two cats must be trying to communicate and that there may be a love connection going on. Here is where I do a happy dance: that's exactly what IS happening in the piece! I really am an illustrator! Without any text or explanation of any kind, a total stranger sitting hundreds of miles away looked at this illustration and figured out what the "story" of the image is by the expressions of the characters.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fear and Loathing in a Nashville garage

As I mentioned earlier in last 2 months I've had the good fortune to have had some great critiques by art directors at some well known publishing houses. Arguably the best critique was with Laurent Linn, an art director at Henry Holt. While all the crits said essentially the same thing, Mr. Linn said it with the most clarity: tell more of the story in your work, "trade looks for work that evokes drama, that says there's a story going on here." Some of the ways he suggested highlighting this was through the obvious - color, tone, shadow (more on that later) - but he also said to pay special attention to the expressions on the characters faces. While happy is great, angry and sad are more interesting than happy. I actually love doing expressions and used to be very good at it..... until I got started doing a bunch of happy work! Don't get me wrong, I love my happy pieces (and the jobs that come with them) but I think my lack of practice with different expressions of late has resulted in some bland expressions over all. So one of the goals is to bring back some excitement, and fear and loathing, to the faces of my characters. Sounds like fun!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

so here goes...

yeah how many other new bloggers have started their blogs with that headline....? Really I guess there's only so many times I can hit reload on Firefox to change around my template before I have to actually start, ahem, blogging. Anyway I was inspired to create this blog because of my involvement with the Picture Bookies Showcase and by reading the blogs of a couple other illustrator ladies I know, check them out here and here. I've been illustrating for about 10 years and at this point have been published just about everywhere but in trade picture books. It remains the illusive gold ring. Luckily I am a member of the SCBWI and in the last couple of months, at two different conferences, I received some great feedback on my work that, were I to push my work in the directions given, could finally manage to land me in the yes pile next to a picture book manuscript on an editor's desk.

So with this blog I hope to chronicle my journey in that direction. Anyone reading this who has also been working for a while and thinking "what do I need to do?" and (probably more emphatically) "when is it going to happen for me?", read on and be inspired. I plan to post new sketches and final art as I go along.