Illustration Friday--Crooked


So this is one of the letters I'm working on for my Alphabet coloring book, and I'm frustrated because the image feels really crooked in places... too much black here and there... pixelation from enlarging the image (the original is only 3x5)...ehh. I'll get there eventually.

Will be putting together a Kickstarter package for it soon, in the hopes of fast-tracking the first printing!

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Illustration Friday-- Bounce

Coloring book art-- Y is for Yippee!

When I saw the word this week I thought-- I have just the thing! I've been working on a coloring book based on the alphabet, and as you can see I'm almost done.

Just two more letters to go.... yeah, that's right. Not all alphabets end with Z!

This also seemed appropriate for today since last night, the Curiosity Rover made a successful landing on Mars-- even though it didn't use the bouncing ball technique the last two rovers employed. I'm impressed and amazed that such a rube goldberg landing technique worked!

Bigger image here:
(Anyone besides me totally frustrated with the new Scrapbook? Oy)

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Illustration Friday--Carry

So, you know I've been doing these shoes.
I had an interesting request--a pair of mustache shoes. Ah... a challenge!
This is the result-- pictures of mustaches carrying on in many ways:


Here we have papa and daughter mustaches flying a mustache kite while mustaches in the grass sneak up on them, next to a mustache picnic, next to a mustache family portrait.

On the other side I went more for the movies, with mustache vultures zooming in on a carcass next to a mustachioed gunslinger, next to Mustache Tarzan swinging thru the trees.

On this one, things look a bit more peaceful-- a mustache is riding his bike, mustaches are smiling for no reason in particular, while birdie mustaches fly into a mustachioed sunset.


Next we have a flock of mustaches descending on a kid's ponytails so they can ask if her hair would like to join their group (doesn't look like she minds)... a mustache walking her dog under the mustache tree, and a couple of groovy mustache dudes rockin out(or something).


I always like to leave something for the wearer on the shoes tongues, and this one was too fun to resist.

I'm probably done with these for now, as my supplier dried up, and what's currently available online or anywhere else is about 3 times the cost... ugh. But I'll most likely be doing them again when the stores decide it's the "right season" for plain canvas shoes again!

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Illustration Friday-- sight

Since April, positive changes in my family's life mean that I've come down from a seriously crazy schedule. I'm so happy to have time to spend on Dan and the kids again. Also writing... cooking... enjoying the woods...

and of course, making art.

I actually did this image back in January, at a time when I'd been sick often enough and badly enough that my boss insisted I take some time off to rest. I knew then that I would (eventually) be enjoying the return to life that I have now, but it still seemed impossibly far off.

So very, very grateful to be here.

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Shoes, anyone?

I made these using simple canvas shoes, and discovered others might be interested in buying a pair! I posted this on my FB account, and then realized there are probably people I know on LJ that aren't on FB, sooo....

If you want to order a custom pair, private message me with the following information:
--Your name and mailing address
-- predominant colors you'd like in the shoes, as well as any particular motifs you'd like to see
  (stars, peace signs, tie-dye, hearts, wings, ferns... I dunno. You tell me!)
-- shoe size(essential info!!)

The shoes will cost $28 a pair, which will include the cost of the shoes and shipping.
Anyone reasonably local (Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Mill Run PA) who's willing to meet me somewhere to pick shoes up, I'lll only charge $25.
Payments via Paypal.

I'll do the shoes in the order I receive them! :D

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The Sketchbook Project 2012

This is the first time I've ever participated in the Sketchbook Project-- thanks so much to The Arthouse Co-op for sending me a journal-- that was a delightful surprise! (maybe I should get on twitter more often-- hmm?)

About the art-- this sketchbook was very much an experiment for me. When I signed up, I knew I wanted to do something about flight, and that I wanted to use gouache and ink-- and that was pretty much it.

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Dr Fred Bortz, science educator extraordinaire, returns today to talk about his book Meltdown, which explores the events leading to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facilities last year.

Dr. Fred has long been fascinated with nuclear energy as evidenced  by his work for companies like Westinghouse (nuclear design group at the Advanced Reactors Division), and readers of his book Catastrophe! Great Engineering Failure—and Success will see that Meltdown! picks up right where the discussion of the risks and benefits of nuclear power left off.

The book also explains how earthquake and tsunami detection technology doubtless saved many lives during the event, which is very much in keeping with the "science behind the story" style of Catastrophe!

Dr. Fred does an excellent job drawing readers into the social and scientific issues related to the disaster, and the judicious use of diagrams, maps, and photos provide a fuller sense of how the ideas fit together, even for readers unfamiliar with the basics of nuclear technology. He also provides a rich variety of resources for readers who'd like to learn more after reading the book.

As I read, I kept thinking of the last book that I interviewed Dr. Fred about-- Astrobiology. While doing the research for that story, he was able to go on site to the big telescope and met the scientists who worked there.

A writer can learn a lot from exploring the subject directly this way-- but visiting the site of a nuclear disaster might not be wise.

So I asked....

When you were doing the research for Meltdown, did you have any desire to visit the site, and if so, who would you have wanted to  talk to? Where would you focus your attention?

Fred responds...

I haven't given any thought to visiting northeastern Japan. Yes, it would be "cool" to check out the tsunami damage in the same way that we might see the aftermath of a serious automobile accident, but it would also be "creepy" in the same way. And it wouldn't produce anything of value.

When I talk to young readers about my work, I always focus on how to ask productive questions. That is why, had it been possible, I would have liked to tag along with PBS reporter Miles O'Brien, while he was developing the Frontline documentary, "Nuclear Aftershocks," that first aired on January 17, 2012. It asks the same questions that I want to leave my readers with in my book.

The program description at the Frontline web page ( is this: "FRONTLINE travels to three continents to explore the debate about nuclear power: Is it safe? What are the alternatives? And could a Fukushima-style disaster happen in the U.S.?"

To put that program together, Mr. O'Brien had to talk not only to nuclear power experts but also energy economists and policy-makers, including leading politicians. Like Meltdown!, that documentary leaves the key questions open, because it recognizes the answers will come in a very different world, politically, economically, and technologically.

Finding those answers will require going beyond nuclear science. They will depend on alternative forms of energy and the impact of climate change, which is only now giving hints about what changes will take place as the world warms.

I want my readers to be able to ask challenging questions when they are adults and many of them are taking the lead in energy policy or technology. The only way that will happen is if they go beyond my book. To guide them, I am regularly updating the Meltdown! pages of my website. I have a growing page of links and updates as the nuclear power debate flows around the world. Those are mainly newspaper and magazine articles.

The page also has a link to other resources (videos and books) about the meltdowns. Right now, the other resources page is limited, but I will be looking for other suitable books for young readers, including popular books for adults, as they appear.

Fred's publisher's website also includes supplemental information and a classroom activity based on the book at its downloadable eSource material. You can find it on the right side of the Meltdown! page, 

Click on the picture to read about Fred and his signature bowtie...
you'll see he's literally "in his element" with this one!

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Cybils Winners!!

Here are our Winners in Graphics-- with so many excellent reads (again!!!) it was a tough choice!
Our Midgrade winner:

Zita the Spacegirl
by Ben Hatke
First Second Books
Nominated by: Isaac Z

Zita the Spacegirl's appealing combination of humor and sci-fi adventure already has kids begging their librarians for the sequel. It's got everything: aliens, robots, critters from the cute to the weird to the scary, and a smart, self-sufficient heroine who's unfailingly loyal to her friends whether they happen to be human, robot or giant mouse. The visual storytelling is just as appealing—the drawing style is loose and open, and the fun character design and sound effects add liveliness and humor. There's enough action, novelty, and color to keep younger readers interested, and enough thoughtfulness to satisfy more sophisticated readers, making this a terrific choice for a wide range of ages.

Our Young Adult Winner:

Anya's Ghost
by Vera Brosgol
First Second Books
Nominated by: Robin

Ghost story—check. Snarky but fully rounded protagonist—check. Believable teen characters and behavior—check. Humor—yep. Anya's Ghost has the perfect blend of story elements and it deftly layers several classic teen literature topics in a relatively short space. The themes of fitting in at school and in life, avoiding toxic friends both earthly and unearthly, and learning to come to terms with who you are, are nicely underscored by the fact that Anya is an immigrant. At the same time, Anya's interactions with the ghost add suspense and the perfect amount of creepiness. The art style is simple, engaging and funny, and works well with a monochromatic format. A fast-paced read that doesn't skimp on story.

You can find the full list of winners here.

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