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Children's Writer and illustrator

September 14th, 2007

Anyone who's been reading my blog this month is probably thinking about now-- Is she *ever* going to stop posting chunks of that same image?
And the answer is yes, but when I saw that the topic this week was wedding, I thought-- great! I can keep my momentum up and finish this piece instead of doing something different for the sake of the prompt!

The ironic thing is that, even though all the chunks you've seen so far-- discovery, missing, and momentum, have been of wedding reception-goers--
this is not a story about a mouse and a frog, or a wedding!

All the real action is happening above the leaves that are sheltering these creatures... and the kids following the line of spider silk through the trees(hoping to find treasure at the end) don't see any of it.

Don't feel bad for them, though. They see plenty of enchanting things as they go. But the only ones privy to the full story will be the children who read the book.

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September 7th, 2007

So, I'm posting another tiny chunk of the picture book finish spread I've been working on, because I don't want to lose momentum.
Hopefully the frog and mousie who just got married (and left down the glowing path through the weeds here) had sufficient momentum to avoid the big black snake that(so I hear) shows up at their reception in other versions of the story.
It should be pretty clear from the final image that he didn't show up in *my* version!
Hoping to have this thing finished and out the door next week!

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August 31st, 2007

This is a topic I could really get into drawing-- I love alphabets. There's a more complex image I'd like to do for this prompt, related to a story that may or may not turn out to be an alphabet book, but since it's still very shadowy in my head, I thought I'd use this one instead. It's part of a Farm ABC dummy. The pumpkins around here are definitely getting orange, so I thought it might be appropriate for the season!

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August 30th, 2007

This version on the theme is my very first artist trading card-- it's one of the images I scanned when I added yesterday's picture. I don't know who this little character is-- he just popped out of a doodle.

I'm still trying to decide where to place these, how many to do, etc. I know I can sell them at the local shop this fall. Anyone who does this regularly-- where do you send your cards? I'm pretty new at this!

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August 29th, 2007

This is a picture my daughter and I worked on together one afternoon while we sat and sold girl scout cookies at a local store(for about 6 hours...!) She'd draw something and hand it to me, and then I'd do the same.

We pretty quickly settled on a fairground as the subject matter. You can see that her favorite parts of the fair are the horses and the bunnies and the ferris wheel. The canned goods and blue ribbons are upper left (Gwen won for her cookies this year-- Hooray!), and I think the scribble at the top is the rodeo. I scanned this and added the color. We had a lot of fun drawing this together!

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August 18th, 2007

This image popped into my head when I saw today's prompt.As I drew her, I realized that this was Wendy from Peter Pan, and that she'd somehow managed to find her own set of wings.
Tink is beside her, just in case she needs a little extra fairy dust to stay aloft.
Are they off to rescue Peter? I don't know.
What do you think?

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July 28th, 2007

OK, so I couldn't stand not painting this one. Illo friday painting can be such a great cure for the blahs.

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Illustration Friday - Moon


Well, I was hoping to paint a dreamy moon for this prompt, but I am busy working on some toys for the shop, so I haven't managed it.
Maybe later in the week I will...
Gwen made the wooden moon in this picture and painted it. The rest is a wooden climbing toy-- you hang the words on the wall, and pull the strings alternately to make the piggy climb to the stars.

The words over my porky aviator are Latin for "To the stars on the wings of a pig," which is a saying associated with John Steinbeck. The concept of a lumbering soul trying for celestial status was his personal motto.

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July 23rd, 2007

Illustration Friday - Poem


Good poems evoke both color and mood for me, and often the images they create are abstract, at least in part. I was thinking about how you might express a poetic sentiment without words, and thought this might be a fun way to interpret the theme.

Any of you writers out there who'd like to translate these images (or one of them if you prefer) into words-- I'd love to read what you come up with!

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July 13th, 2007

Discovery-- what a great word!
Conveniently, I am working on finish art for a picture book that (should it ever be published) will be chock full of little things to discover. This little person was playing for an all night fairy dance party, and since it's now about sunrise, she's sound asleep. The children walking by her cozy spot in the undergrowth can't see her-- but the kids reading the book will-- and all her friends, too! This is a detail from a spread I've been working on this week (hence the fuzziness around the edges)
Hope you have a week full of fun discoveries!

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July 6th, 2007

I wonder how many of us were tempted to post self portraits for this prompt... hmm. I'm not sure I'm really qualified, at least in the most common definition of the word-- I don't know much about computer systems.
But "geek" hasn't always been about computers. I think of it more as living in your head all the time and forgetting you ought to make yourself presentable to others. The outsides of your average geek are not appealing-- but the insides are full of wondering.

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July 1st, 2007

So it's finally summer for me-- my insane schedule is DONE!
(Well, OK. As done as it's ever going to be)
And I got to sit down and do an illo friday the way I like to.
(Yeah, I know. On Sunday night. I'm working on that)

This is an image I'm thinking of painting on silk, either as a wrap or a wall hanging.

When I think of DNA, I think of the sources of all those lines of bio code--
all the far flung ancestors, all those sunrises and stargazers, all those laughing children.
All those hands, locked together in the memory of every cell of your being.

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June 24th, 2007

Well, I think the addition of leaves and etc. camouflages the games a bit? I could think of a lot of different images that would fit this topic and would be fun to paint, but sadly I have no time. Next week... life will be a lot less chaotic.
Next week, summer starts.

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June 16th, 2007

Writing and illustrating for kids is a tough, tough business, as anyone who's ever tried to get something into print anywhere other than a vanity press can tell you. To quote the immortal Somebody or Other I Once Heard Speak, It's a bunny eat bunny world-- a world of editors drowning in slush, many good books vying for a few open spots on publisher's lists, and celebrity books bumping good books by lesser known writers from bookstore shelves.

When we're just beginning, most of us harbor dreams of bypassing the whole mess-- making some magical connection with an agent or publisher who will pluck us from obscurity and into JK Rowling land in a few short months. Car ads sell on the image of intrepid SUV drivers pulling on to the shoulder and driving up the cliff, avoiding the rush hour jam. Like millions of SUV owners, we find that, once we start down publication road, we *do* have to deal with the tangled mess, regardless of what we're driving.

The process itself, whether we're creating stories or images, is the drive off the highway and up the cliff. We push our craft to its limits, and are rewarded with the view from the top, and the sense of fulfillment it brings.
We can sit there and admire the landscape for as long as we like. But if we want to get our books into anyone else's hands, at some point, we have to drive back down and merge into the line of stinky, tired, overworked creative types below.

Instead of vistas, we fall back into the landscape of orange rejection letter cones. Don't hang on to them too hard-- they may slow you down, but they're only there to point you in the right direction.

You and everyone else.

My favorite quote about rejection in the creative world comes from literary rock star Neil Gaiman. The story goes that early in his career, when he received a rejection letter, he sat back down, determined to write a story so good they couldn't possibly reject it.
Hence, my ram's motto, "Just try rejecting THIS!"

If you want to survive in this business, you can keep your insides soft and full of dreams.

That's good. That's where the stories live.

Just make sure your softness is carried along on fiery and determined little feet.

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June 8th, 2007

I know, I've been AWOL for awhile now. But that's because I've been busily working on Many Good Things.

I am happy to say that the kids' school Fun Day went well, and they're still playing with the water clock and cogs and escapement, and we may do some kind of additional project this summer with the sundials and Mayan/Aztec Calendar wheels. (Building our own Stonehenge requires too much higher math for any of us except Dan, alas, but maybe in a few years...)

So I'll start with this week's Illo Friday-- Suit. Which makes me think of a suit in a card game, which brings me to the project I've been working on since Memorial Day weekend:

I'm going to be selling game boards at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, along with giclee art prints and other handmade wooden toys (a limberjack spider that dances the tarantella, for instance).

I decided to paint this table on the porch so the kids could play all the games, too.

This is Not finished-- I'll be going back after the pink and yellow paint dries and adding in vines and things around the games so that they're all nested in a web of fun details. I also still need to make the various game pieces... but you get the idea.
What are the games, you ask?

Starting at 12:00-- this is a board for The Royal Game of Ur, which I discovered some years back and fell in love with.
At about 1:30,with edges of the game board covered in paint (that will go away) is the board for my original game, Beeline.
Below at 4-5:00 is a simple Horse Race Game, which I designed around the kids' wishes. Gwen wanted a track for a unicorn (the green forest track in the middle) and a track for a pegasus (the starry track at the outside). Eli requested a track for a dragon (the fiery center). I think he and Zeke will be fighting over that one. I can't wait to make *those* game pieces!
Below that at 5:30ish is a 9 Men's Morris board. This is the way to play tic tac toe without stalemates.
To the left at 6:30 is a leap frog checkers board, and above it is my version of The Royal Game of Goose (What do geese have to do with Royalty? I'm mystified)
Last at about 10-11:00 is Snakes and Ladders-- only this one is based on Alice in Wonderland. There are flamingo neck snakes, and various things for ladders. The heart cards replace the death spaces on the traditional board, and the white rabbit replaces the money spaces.

I don't know whether I'm going to be offering tables like this-- the cost would be prohibitive-- but the kids are excited about it.

So that's that project.

Now for Illo Friday "Your Paradise" and Tuesday walk....

I debated doing a painting for this topic all week, but the truth is, I don't think anything I did would compare to the beauty I see around me all day.
The old joke goes-- How do you tell who the hillbillies are in heaven? They're the ones who keep trying to go home on the weekends.

I haven't had the camera with me when I've been in the woods lately, so I'll give you this, which I snapped while Gwen was hunting for her ball glove last night.

And I solemnly swear that I will take better pictures this week, and post them to tuesdaywalk , because really, this time of year is for sharing. I only wish I could give you the green smell and the birdsong too.

I still have lots of things to do.. and I've fallen woefully behind on portraits (Dianne, Bev and Robin!) and crits (Sheela!) And emails(a whole bunch of people!).
But school is finally out, and I should have something for you in the next week or two.
Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

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May 29th, 2007

Illustration Friday - Cars


Here's a fairy procession-- the guys in the center bottom have some kind of bubble car, I think. There might be a few other interesting modes of transportation in here, too if you look around.

Right now I'm waiting for my camera to charge so I can post the project I've been working on all weekend, and also--

In today's tuesdaywalk, I am going to post an Is It Or Is It Not Poison Ivy? guide to the summer woods, for those who are interested (or in need!)

Both should be up in about an hour(camera battery permitting). :o/

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May 23rd, 2007

Illustration Friday-- Signs


This week I decided to revisit the illo I sketched out quickly for "Remember" instead of doing a completely different image.
Signs are things that stand for other things-- and the images in Remember are symbolic of many things in my own memory. I regretted not having the time to do that image justice. I regret that I probably won't be done with it this week, either, because committments loom on all sides! But here's a small taste of how it's evolving.

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May 17th, 2007

So I think I'm finally catching up with things... I hope!
Here's my take on citrus.

If Cinderella lived in Florida, she would have had a much sweeter ride to the ball.

On the other hand, I'm not sure she would have arrived at all...

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May 10th, 2007

Sorry I've been awol-- very very busy on the local art front. In the interest of getting my Illustration Friday image in before the next topic comes up, I give you the cover to the instructions of a board game I developed, called Beeline. (hope to have some photos of the game before too much longer-- a new phone charger is on its way!)

Bees are really wonderful neighbors. I love to see them buzzing in the apple and peach blossoms, and I really wish we still had some in an actul hive... love that local honey. Maybe next year.

While I was working on the game board that goes with this booklet, at least half dozen honeybees were milling around while I painted (I was working on the porch). I don't know what they were looking for-- I doubt they'd be fooled by my painted honeycomb! All the same, it was nice to have them around.

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April 27th, 2007

I wish I had more time to work on this one, because it really ought to be chock full of little things tucked in here and there.

When I was small, I pictured the inside of my mind as dark, dusty library shelves packed with books. Things lurked in the stacks. There was a pile of cushions in the front, by the window(my eyes), so I could pick something to read from time to time.

I always thought I ought to go through and clean things up a bit--scrub everything down and organize by topic, or decade, or something. Maybe repaint the shelves in a brighter color.
I guess today's my chance!

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April 20th, 2007

Last week's theme was "fortune". I was away all weekend, nd when I came back, the Virginia Tech shootings happened, and the only connection I could make for fortune all week was the losses there. SO I didn't paint it, and thought perhaps this week's theme might provide a different angle on that word for me-- and it did.

This is a quick one that riffs on an old (Victorian era, maybe? I'm thinking Jules Verne) story in which a group of Antarctic explorers stumble on a warm green valley in the middle of the frozen wasteland. I googled it, but failed to come up with the story I remember. Anyone remember the one I'm thinking of?
I did find an article about a real Antarctic oasis, which is every bit as amazing, though not nearly so colorful.

Here's hoping that spring will break through the recent cold spell and make our landscape green again!

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April 11th, 2007

Illustration Friday - Green

This took awhile, between holidays and sicknesses and ball practices, but I couldn't let one of my favorite colors pass unpainted. If I look out the window, I see mud and sleet, and daffodils flattened by our recent snows. But I know dappled sun will filter through a green canopy soon, and birds will sing, and it will be warm, and everything will be alive again. Soon-- very soon. Site Meter

March 30th, 2007

Illustration Friday-- Snap


We haven't planted ours quite yet-- I've got some fertilizer relocation to attend to first.
But I can't wait to taste those first sweet crunchy peas!

Edited to add: this image now available on a kitchen tile and mug in my cafepress shop, per a couple requests! I also added it to a barbeque apron, a bib, and a baby onesie, since it seemed like it might work there too!

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March 23rd, 2007

Illustration Friday - I spy

Hey, golden girl.
Next time you decide to let down your hair, make sure you're pulling in a prince.

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March 17th, 2007

Here's an update with a bit more of the white cut away.. double(or even triple or quadruple) click to see this larger if you like. Site Meter

March 9th, 2007

This is your brain on SUGAR! Site Meter

March 2nd, 2007

This is a fragment of an enormous doodle that I did over a couple of years in college. I think you could say that the whole image was where I got the bulk of my drawing experience fixing lines gone wrong, crosshatching, stippling. It was great practice.

I also had a good time with injecting tiny vignettes and images into the corners, here and there. If you look at the whole picture, it doesn't make any sense. If you look at a fragment of it in black and white(and you weren't me-- I know where everything is hidden), it still probably wouldn't make much sense.

I thought that the megadoodle(as I call it) would make a really fun coloring page, and am planning to add it to my site when it goes live (soon!!!:D).

So I scanned it and cleaned it up, and I tried coloring this small segment of it. I was surprised how easily the images popped into view once I added colors. I think I may need to get back to linework at some point here! For me, pen and ink is where I get the most enjoyment with traditional materials.

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February 23rd, 2007

Here's my owl for the Keene College Parliament of Owls-- I thought it was quite appropriate for today's Illustration Friday topic.
My kids kept peeking over my shoulder and asking me about the story here as I was painting.

"Go write the story," I tell them.

What do you think is going on here?

I've posted a low-quality version of this image, since I made it for the festival. I'll be sending them the high quality giclee version... as soon as I find a local printer that does giclee prints!

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February 16th, 2007

Gravity is good!
You can sail through the clouds and see the world, and it will always bring you back home when you're done.

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February 9th, 2007

Or should I say, C.R.A.S.H.

As in: Care Rehabilitation and Aid for Sick Hedgehogs.

You think I'm joking?

But no. Check it out!

Sadly, they have a strict "No visitors" policy.
Except for immediate family, of course.

Word to the wise-- no more poisoning slugs in the garden!

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