Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Etsy Sale!

To celebrate the New Year I'm running a sale in my Etsy shop. 10% off everything in the shop (before sales tax and shipping) from today, 12/31/11 - Wed. 1/4/12. Use coupon code NEWYEARS10 at checkout to get the discount.

I hope everyone's had a wonderful holiday season. I just arrived back in town last night from a long trip to Arizona to visit family. We did a ton of hiking in and around the Prescott area - Arizona is the place to be if you're into hiking. Here's a shot of the dells from the Watson Dam Trail:
Happy New Year!

Friday, November 25, 2011

IF: Round

I thought this old illustration would work well for today's Illustration Friday topic and be oh-so appropriate for the upcoming holiday season:
I painted an early version of this image in art school and then re-painted it shortly after I graduated. Looking at it now I can only think how much better it would look if I re-painted it yet again. It's kind of fun (and occasionally painful) to look back at old work and see where you've improved (and where you still need some work!). This painting had a brief life some years ago as a greeting card for a charity card company and it's been more recently revived as a greeting card once again in my CafePress shop. Need Christmas cards? Get them here!

Monday, November 14, 2011

In the Book Forest

Just when I was starting to appreciate the relative speed of digital art, I had to go and do something like this -
- which is currently in progress and taking quite a lot of time.

I started a traditional version of this piece many years ago as a poster to take with me to the second annual SCBWI Winter Conference. It was very large when compared to the sizes I'm accustomed to working with and proved to be rather overambitious given the very limited amount of time I had to complete it. So... it has sat around in my closet waiting for its day of resurrection which seems to have come at last. Now, I just need to tame this beast by painting lots and lots of books, books, books!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feather Study & a Visit to Missouri

I'd seen a number of watercolor studies of feathers online recently and had a bit of an itch to do one myself. Fortuitously, I stumbled across this bluejay feather and thought it would be the perfect specimen:These little nature studies are really fun to do and much quicker to finish than my usual work. I hope to do more of these in the future. This one's available here in my Etsy Shop.

I didn't find any feathers... but hopefully our most recent excursion outdoors will give some inspiration for further studies. We just came back from our annual trip to St. Louis to visit my family, where we all set out on a short side-trip together. We clambered about on huge rocks at Elephant Rocks State Park:
Visited an abandoned lead mine at the Missouri Mines State Historic Site which was excellent reference for my husband in his video game work:

Took a boat tour through an old flooded mine at Bonne Terre Mine:

And circled back to St. Louis where we got to be kids again at the incredible playgrounds of City Museum:
Busy vacation! Now I need to recover!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kitten Spots

Here are the finished versions of my kitten spots. As you can see, my intention at the time of developing these years ago was to have a different image for each season that I could use on letterheads, etc. in conjunction with the current season:
On an aside - well, I followed my own advice from my last post and went to see Paul Zelinsky speak at the Allen Public Library last weekend and he was just great. He showed us all about the construction of pop-up books and the amazingly complicated paper engineering involved. Additionally, the people at Storyopolis Entertainment ran a raffle wherein to my disbelief and amazement I won a very limited edition print of an image from Tony DiTerlizzi's The Spider and the Fly!

I am one of those people who never wins anything, so I was and still am so excited that apparently I had to blog about it! So the lesson for any local Dallas children's book aficionados is to go support these presentations - even if there aren't any future give-aways, you might get a chance to see the moving innards of a pop-up book or some such and how cool is that?!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Woodchuck Mama

This illustration appeared in last May's issue of the children's magazine Clubhouse Jr.
It's now available here in my Etsy Shop.

I don't know if I have any local readers, but in case I do I thought I'd bring up something very cool that's happening here in Dallas. Storyopolis Entertainment has established a speakers series featuring various children's book luminaries. The speakers give their presentations in both the Ball Park in Arlington and the Allen Public Library. Here are links to the list of speakers at both locations:
Ball Park: http://www.storyopolisentertainment.com/texas-rangers
Allen Public Library: http://www.storyopolisentertainment.com/allen

I went to see Raul Colon last month in Allen and really enjoyed the presentation. I'm going to try to see them all!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Sand Lion and a Little Rage

All finished:
And regarding the "rage" in the post title - no, I'm not angry about anything, but I have to take a moment to promote my husband's new video game Rage which just released today. (And in the unlikelihood that the title isn't enough of a dead-giveaway, this game is not for young children! :) )

Official website: http://www.rage.com/gate/?return=%2F
EGM Review: http://www.egmnow.com/articles/egm-review-rage/
Several trailers: http://www.gametrailers.com/game/rage/5315

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kitten Spots

I'm currently resurrecting a number of decade-old spot illustrations based on my kitten logo that I had intended to use as a sort of branding - on letterheads, business cards, invoices, etc. Here are two of them:I'd even started paintings for all of them, but got sidetracked by other work at the time and never came back to them. I probably won't use them for their original purpose, but I thought they might make for some more good digital practice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Escape to the North

Finding that last summer's 'escape to the north' vacation worked well to disrupt our protracted Texas summers, we repeated the venture again this year, this time visiting New England. Unfortunately, we were met by a number of less than ideal circumstances - I contracted some kind of illness almost immediately upon our arrival and Hurricane Irene was on the approach.

We spent a very long first day making up for all the hiking we didn't get to do this summer - first at Flume Gorge in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Following lunch we started hike #2 on Falling Waters Trail, intending to climb all the way to the summit of Little Haystack Mountain. We thought surely this would be no problem at all as the trail was only 3.25 miles one way. I knew it was a steep mountain just from reading about it, so I must have been deluding myself that the trail would gently meander it's way up the mountain. I was wrong. It was 3.25 miles of up. Boulders, stairs, crossing streams here and there. It was beautiful - just what we've been missing out on in Dallas, but it was too strenuous for us out-of-shape, currently non-hiking hikers and we decided to give up after learning from several descending hikers that after about two and a half hours on the trail we still had an hour of up to go before reaching the summit. Even so, we enjoyed several gorgeous waterfalls along the way. I think this one's called "Cloudland Falls:"Having a little bit a daylight left and suffering the disappointment that we didn't get to enjoy a view from the top, we cheated our way to the top of a different mountain by way of the aerial tram on Cannon Mountain. We had a nice view of Echo Lake from the tram:And a nice view of a black bear too!Hurricane Irene, turned tropical storm, did ruin our plans to spend a day in Cape Cod where I'd hoped to capture some good beach reference for my "Sand Lion" painting (see previous post), but we did manage to drive through the blustery wind and rain to Plymouth, MA. Being near the coast, we were really lucky to miss out on the worst of the storm. I know a lot of people were not so lucky and I hope they're recovering well from the damage... Our day in Plymouth was aimless and relaxing. The power had gone out mid-day, so we weren't the only ones out wandering around the waterfront in the wind and spitting rain.It seemed so fitting that the night we spent in the oldest town in New England happened to be completely blacked out. We spent a candlelit evening in a house built in 1782 and even enjoyed an impromptu ghost-tour of some nearby houses led by a friendly neighbor.

We briefly visited both Boston and Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA before finishing our vacation in Newport, Rhode Island where we visited six of the impressive Newport Mansions and finished out the day strolling along Cliff Walk.Our vacations always seem to be a bit more busy than relaxing, but we can always say we're never bored! It was great to get away for a short time, but it was also good to come home (despite all my complaining about the heat!). Hopefully some of those pleasant New England temperatures (and rain) will follow us here soon!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Sand Lion

Here's a sketch that I've just barely started as a digital painting. This was another idea pulled from maybe over a decade ago: I guess I'd be worn out too if I'd spent the day building a huge sand lion!

Friday, July 29, 2011

IF - Obsession

This week's Illustration Friday topic gave me a good excuse to start a sketch for a painting I've been wanting to create for a while. When I was in elementary school, I was quite obsessed with unicorns. Unicorns were the end all be all for me. I collected them, had my room decorated in all things unicorn, and of course, drew them. I had gathered up a number of my old unicorn drawings a few years ago while putting together a presentation and thought how much fun it would be to take one of those drawings and re-illustrate it today in my current style and technique. I imagine I'll add more detail in the final painting, but for now, here's today's sketch:
And here's the drawing on which it's loosely based - probably over 25 years old now:
As you can see, in my childhood fantasy world, rabbits could fly which is why in my new sketch we find a lop rabbit sitting in a tree. According to a small note at the top of the old drawing the unicorn in the picture's name is "Pollen," whose acquaintance I'd imagine no one suffering from seasonal allergies would ever desire to make.

Another illustration on the topic - if you've ever visited my Etsy store then you've probably already seen this painting, but since I'm on the subject I thought I'd post it here too:
This is an ancient painting from my art school days. Nearing the end of my time in college, I realized I hadn't yet revisited my favorite subject of old, so I did this painting for a class assignment. The little girl riding the unicorn is more or less my childhood self, complete with great big glasses and a school uniform. This little painting's for sale here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

IF - Perennial

For this week's Illustration Friday topic, I decided to play with watercolors and created this little painting of one of my favorite flowers - poppies (which I think are a perennial flower, but I could be wrong).
This painting is cobbled together from several photos I'd taken when we lived in Los Angeles. This type of poppy (Alpine poppy?) was a popular garden flower in California. I remember seeing sizeable beds of them at my husband's office and we had some smaller collections of them at our little apartment complex. I always looked forward to their blooming every spring!

This painting is for sale - here - at my Etsy shop.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Garden Witch

This little character popped into my head the other day, so I made a rough painting of her over the course of a few morning sessions:
I don't know why her hat is so tall or how exactly it stands up as well as it does. Maybe she stores something under it - perhaps flower seeds or some such, although that seems highly impractical. I probably won't get to it for a while, but I do eventually want to do a full-scale painting of her in her garden:
I'm not sure what to do with the background yet. Maybe some dynamic clouds or possibly some tall silhouetted pine-y trees to give contrast between a dark background and the sunlit, brightly colored garden. I'll have to give it some more thought....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Springtime Planting Final

I finished up this one a while ago, but just came back to it this week to add a couple minor finishing touches. It seems like it always helps to step away from a painting for a while and come back to it later with a fresh eye.

I wanted to have red punctuating the green wall of leaves, so for a while it was a toss up between tomatoes and scarlet runner pole beans. I can't say why, but the pole beans won out this round. Tomatoes will still have their day, I'm sure.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

IF: Remedy

I thought I'd revisit the squirrels for this week's Illustration Friday topic in this rough sketch, wherein the remedy is hot chocolate:I did a second sketch on the topic. This is me. Sort of...

Probably not a very well-proportioned me, but who can tell with the blanket, right? I've developed a bit of a reputation for being cold all the time. My family likes to tease me about it. Blankets are common Christmas presents for me - which is not a bad thing at all since, as you can see, I like them. They're both decorative and functional after all. My husband likes to ponder the reasons for my chronic coldness. Current theories revolve around my having poor circulation or quite possibly "a small, cold heart." It couldn't simply be that when I'm cold it's because it's just plain cold outside, could it?

Friday, June 10, 2011

IF: Swept

I'm digging way back in the archives for this Illustration Friday. This unpublished pen and ink drawing is over ten years old:I drew this piece not long after graduating art school to accompany the old nursery rhyme:
There was an old woman tossed in a basket,
Seventeen times as high as the moon;
But where she was going no mortal could tell,
For under her arm she carried a broom.
"Old woman, old woman, old woman," said I,
"Whither, o whither, oh whither so high?"
"To sweep the cobwebs from the sky;
And I'll be with you by-and-by."

Monday, May 30, 2011

IF: Asleep

It seems I've got myself in a bit of a 'cat rut' due to Illustration Friday. I thought this page from my book dummy worked well for this week's theme:Hope everyone's having a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Springtime Planting

Here's something I'm working on:
This image is taken from a thumbnail sketched out while at my old job ten or so years ago. I love when I finally get a chance to get back to old ideas. I think I'm going to attempt to paint this one digitally.

Friday, May 20, 2011

IF: Soaked

Another quick and simple one for Illustration Friday from this morning's warm-up sketches:
A wet cat is a grumpy cat. I know that from first-hand experience. Since this little guy is a kitten, he'll probably bounce back from the unpleasant shock of being drenched pretty quickly and be right back at the bowl batting at the goldfish.

On an aside - Over the course of our three years here in Texas, I thought I'd seen all the variety of spring-time wildflowers central Texas has to offer, but this spring proved me wrong. So, I'm back again this year with my annual wildflower season post:
Poppies and ? This large field is located in Richardson, right next to the library and just off the highway. I love that even very urban parts of Dallas are sprinkled with these breath-taking patches of color!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Turtlehouse in the Rain

I had a chance at the end of last year to revisit my "Turtlehouse" character in a new illustration. This piece accompanied a Langston Hughes poem in a children's magazine:
Looking at it now, I notice the original is a bit dimmer than I'd like it to be (it's displaying a little higher contrast here than it is in real life). Even though it's a twilight rain scene, I think I should have added some moonlight-esque highlights to the characters to make them pop a little more. But that aside, I'm pretty content with the design and I like the characters.

The original painting is available in my etsy shop. Oh - and also, I had mentioned in a previous post that my "Ducklings on the Move" painting would soon be available - it's now listed at my shop as well.

Friday, May 6, 2011

IF: Beginner

A couple quick ones from this morning's sketches, both appropriate for today's Illustration Friday topic. And in doing so, I happily got a chance to try out my new Col-Erase pencils:
While sketching these little guys I couldn't help but think back to our cat's kitten days. Here's a pic of our little guy before he put on fifteen pounds and developed a deep and abiding fear of the laundry basket.
He's since grown up to be a good-natured and laid-back seven-year-old, but, my oh my, those kitten days were fun!

Monday, May 2, 2011

IF: Lesson

Here's another really quick sketch I did for this week's Illustration Friday, topic - Lesson:

Mama Bird's trying to figure out just what the little one is doing wrong. What I learned from drawing her is that it's a bit tricky to convey the expression of 'thoughtful criticism' on a bird when you have only one eye with which to portray the expression. Cocking the head helps, but it's still tricky. And I think I almost got it, but my mind's eye-version is a still a whole lot better.

Monday, April 25, 2011

IF: Bicycle

I did this really quick little sketch for Illustration Friday. The theme this week is bicycle:

I'm trying to get myself in the habit of doing quick warm-up sketches in the morning where I have to produce something in a relatively short amount of time. It can be anything at all and it doesn't have to be good. I just have to agree with myself to leave it alone after my allotted time is up no matter how badly I may want to fix. Like those tires, for example. I rather dislike the tires, but I'm forbidding myself to do anything about it (which is hard when you're me). Anyway, I'm hoping this kind of exercise will gradually help me to loosen up a bit as well as provide an opportunity to play with media I seldom touch. Today I used micron pens and colored pencil. I can't remember the last time I used micron pens...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nesting

After several truly exhausting days, we're finally all moved in to our new place. We have a lot of unpacking and arranging to do. My studio still appears to have been ravaged by a tornado, but I'm making progress. I'm hoping to have my studio together by the end of today (or at least by tomorrow afternoon!).

It seems we weren't the only ones procuring a new home this past month. The swallows came back again this year and built a brand new nest above our kitchen window just as we were beginning to move out. Their old nest from last year had been removed, so they had to start from scratch. A lot of work for them, no doubt, but it did afford me a great opportunity to watch the new nest evolve over time. I tried to take a picture a day to document their progress:I'm amazed by how quickly they were able to construct a new nest. They seemed to have completed it well within two weeks. I think I should take a cue from those little birds and get my house in order as soon as possible!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On the Move

Our final moving date is just a little over a week away and there's still a lot to do. I need to put in change of addresses with various places, set up phone and internet service at our new home, and gather up a bunch more book boxes for our substantial library. But, I do, at least, have my painting all finished and ready to be made into postcards:
I think I'm probably going to post this one for sale on my Etsy shop, but I think it might be best to hang on to it until my postcards are finalized. So, if you're interested, check my shop in maybe three or four weeks. I'll update here with a direct link too when it's available.

Update 5/13/11: This painting is now available here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ducklings on the Move

In anticipation of yet another upcoming move (just a short, local move this time), I started designing a postcard to send out once we're settled at our new address:
I think I'm setting myself up for a serious challenge with all the ripples in the water those little ducklings can't help but generate. But for the opportunity to illustrate ducklings in all their irresistable cuteness, hopefully the challenge will be worth it!