Gracie Brave on the shelf in Grand Rapids, MI! Seeing her nestled in the with these noteworthy new picture books on the market is thrilling! If you are local to Grand Rapids get yours at Reader's World on River. Also available thru Amazon.com.
I have been experimenting with my friend's Glowforge and we are brainstorming ideas faster than our little (well, my little ;-) ) brain can process! Seriously, check it out!
I've started my second semester in the Graphic Design certificate program I am in. This semester I will finally master Adobe Illustrator and InDesign! I got a 4.0 last semester, let's see if I can keep up the momentum. I'm seeking an internship to learn layout design for a magazine or catalogue so if you know any interesting leads in Central Massachusetts for me, I would welcome the resource!
Happy 2018 everyone! I am looking forward to a few weeks of break from my graphic design certificate program I am currently enrolled in. I had a great first semester, survived web design with minimal hairs being pulled and made Dean's list!
Big news for this month is that Gracie Brave has been launched on Amazon by the authors (Pamela Krikke and Kate Eldean). I illustrated Gracie Brave and worked one on one with the authors to bring her to life. It was an interesting project and one I enjoyed a great deal.
I have had requests for several years to do a wall calendar and I thought the latest Bugs and Botanicals series would be a perfect opportunity to satisfy my customers. The twelve-month calendar features:
- Large, 12' square format
- Printed in full color on heavy card stock matte paper
- coil-bound with a hole for easy hanging.
- Features 12 of my favorite images from the 100 Day Challenge project.
I love September! The temperature is a mixed bag and allows for the occasional heavier layer: a favorite cardigan and jeans. It's also one of the most nostalgic times of year, don't you think? I'm headed back to school to get a certificate in Graphic Design to help round out my skills! Don't you just love the smell of new books and pencils!?
Oy! Best laid plans... yep. This summer hasn't gone as planned. My seasonal allergies have really dampened my energy and reserve. I was on steroids for a few weeks to try and get on top of them and those were the best two weeks of my summer! I haven't been able to do any of my new series, other than the 100 Days of Botanicals and Bugs which has been really helpful and enlightening. So, let me catch you up on some of those pieces I was able to squeeze out of my hands. I also had some client work this summer which has been great as well.
I will be at Holden Days Community fest this Saturday with some new works like the ones below, "Love Thy Neighbor" series. I will have afordable originals as well as prints of soem fo the botanical and bugs. COme say hello! I'd love to see you.
I've been wanting to do circus-themed illustrations for years. I've been collecting imagery and dreaming about the sort of characters and environment I wanted to create. Lately, with the closing of Barnum and Bailey and the changing circus mission, it's been on my mind even more. I'm putting together a promo packet to send to art directors and agents and creating a few personal pieces to include in my port folio. I took this opportunity to have some fun with the circus theme. If you are an art director or agent and are interested in recieing my promotional packet when it is ready please email me or comment here with your email and I will be sure to include you on my short list!
Normally, summer is not my favorite season. I don't do well in the heat and my allergies leave me feeling itchy, tired and a bit foggy most of the time. This year, however, I have a reason to welcome it with open arms! I can already feel the schedule of the school year fading away and I'm starting to adjust to the new, more consistent work schedule in the studio. I will still be navigating the work schedules of my two teenage sons who are not yet driving and the very phrenetic schedule of my new(ish), high energy puppy but this is all an improvement!
Looking forward to sinking my teeth into my emerging "Caged" series. This series gets its imagery inspiration from vintage botanical and biological illustrations. The energy for this series is fueled by my own angst and thoughts about being a woman in her fifties as I consider all the choices I've made along the way and the things that cage me in one way or another. I will be incorporating hand embroidery into the works, as I have in the previous two series. This time I plan on working on hand dyed fabrics as well as the tissue paper layers I've used in the past. I have been doing research on the history of embroidery and it's parallel to woman's roles in the family and community. This history will play its own role in the series and what I hope to express in these works.
Because most artists these days have to keep many irons in the fire to keep the bills paid, I will also be putting together a marketing package to send out to art agents and directors in the direction of illustration and licensing work. Work on the Gracie Brave book is ongoing and I will be doing some illustration work for the authors this summer as well.
Happy Summer to all who have teken the time to visit my "desk" today. Be well and stay in touch!
I am now offering some of the 100 Days of Botanicals and Bugs as giclee prints in my shop here on my site! Please email me with inquiries or requests for specific images or sizes.
The 100 Days Project Continues and is going well ... I've loosened up and have played with new color palettes and am finding pure joy in the process! I've started doing research on the history of botanical illustrations as well as the history of embroidery and it's reflection of society and culture. This search and the daily practice of playing with the themes will inform my next series which I hope to really dig in to this summer. Finally, I am researching fellowships and artist residencies to commit a focused block of time to this series, if anyone has any leads - I'd welcome the resource!
These studies and sketches will inform my next wall art series. This new series will explore the mixture of hand embroidery, used in a more free-form/intuitive way than I have used it in my first Beasts series. I've begun to explore the use of embroidering on tea-dyed fabric as well as water soluble substrate material for hand work. My intention is to bring an updated and deeper exploration of the traditional botanical/natural history illustration.
I continue to work on my children's book illustration portfolio and hope to pull a pitch together for the Gigantic Turnip book.
Finally, I am researching the possibility of pursuing a Masters in Social Work to support my goals of bringing creativity as a means to healing to audiences that have experienced loss and or trauma.
I've been going back in to the illustrations I worked on for the Make Art That Sells Children's Book Illustration class I took this past fall. These are some character development attempts for the Sailor's wife for The Gigantic Turnip folktale that I have set by the sea.
I am pleased to announce that the newly expanded Worcester Art and Frame Gallery in West Brookfield, MA is now showing my work ! I have my Beasts II (Heritage Breeds and Heirloom Seeds) series hanging now in addition to some smaller works on paper and cards, also available. There will be a grand opening reception on March 11 if you're local and want to stop by to say hello to some local artists.
I'm the featured artist on Rise, Design and Shine this week ! I answered some questions about my work, my process and my dream jobs. Check it out.
Hello good people ! Whew! Haven't posted here since November ?! Shame on me ! December always gets away from me. Here's the new year upon us already. I have been emerging from the fog of activity related to the holidays as well as to my middle son starting college. I am just starting to get my footing with my new schedule of driving him back and forth to classes and carving out my studio time. Oh! And we added a new little four legged life to our family. "Jimmy" is a little ball of puppy energy and a real tricky one to train. I've taken on a new teaching position at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens and will be starting with a "Monet's Garden" class with young school age students in the spring. Really looking forward to teaching children again. I taught children ages 3-13 for 11 years in my private art school out of my home. I stopped teaching to get ready for a solo show back in 2011 and really miss being with young artists. Their enthusiasm and strong instincts were the things that got me painting again in 2006 and it's a missing piece in my life.
I'm working on a big project that unfortunately I can't share here or anywhere else until I get the thumbs up from the client. In the meantime I've been warming up in the studio by doing little concept pieces and throwing them on Instagram.
I've been inspired by a Emily Gould's journaling class on Skillshare, where she asked us to write daily by being sparked by the opening sentence, "today I noticed.."
I also played with some images that suggested to me a particular word. I worked with images first and then thought about what words came to mind when I thought about the composition. I've been working on hand lettering with all these ideas.
and finally ... I created a little piece for M.L.K. Jr. Day. I love W.E.B. Dubois's words...so much richness in his thoughts and writings.
Now that the the Children's Book Illustration course is over and all the Thanksgiving left overs are eaten, I am ready to take on the holiday season! I'm gearing up to participate in an art show this Saturday at the UUCW church and have just announced that I will be hosting an open studio the weekend of December 17-18.
I am offering my newest card design: a Hanukkah themed card !
I decided to enter the competition to win a free space in the next round of the Children's Book Illustration course.
The assignment was to design the front cover of the imaginary book titled, "The Sugar Plum Fairy's Adventure". I truly had so much fun with this assignment! I really tried to relax and have fun and give myself plenty of time to see it with fresh eyes to fine tune and make this the most solid submission to date.
My plan first thing in the new year is to design a marketing package to send to a small group of art directors and agents. If you are an art agent or art director in the children's book illustration and/or children's markets and would like to receive my newsletter and/or my marketing package please email me @ email@example.com. Thank you. Here's to the best year yet in 2017 !
AND...its a wrap ! Last submission to the Make Art That Sells Professional Children's Book Illustration course with Lilla Rogers and Zoe Tucker.
A few things I have learned about myself and the industry:
- I've come a long way in a few years and need to celebrate that.
- I can push myself to keep it simple and take some risks.
- Simplifying my palette has powerful results - do it more.
- You don't need a polished and finished manuscript to submit an idea to a publisher.
- I do have a hand lettering style!
- Character and emotion is all about subtlety ...the cover art and action inside is all about being bold and dramatic.
- I am super excited to work on my marketing package that sells my "USP": my Unique Selling Point !
It's staring out plainer than ever
Brighter than all the fool's gold that gleams
It's simply now or never
Putting flesh on the bones of my dreams
- David Gray, "Flesh"
Any chance I get to use David Gray's lyrics to illustrate a post is a good day for me !
I've been a bit quiet here the last few weeks but I apologize... I couldn't find my computer keyboard under the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates when I am chin deep into a project. And I have indeed been chin deep into the Make Art That Sells course, Children's Book Illustration course with Lilla Rogers and Zoe Tucker these past four weeks ! What a wonderful experience it has been for me. Some tears, as there are always tears when I take Lilla's courses. All my buttons get pushed and my ego tries to bully me. However, I am getting much better at pushing right back. I've been reflecting at how very far my work and my knowledge has come in the past three years (since taking the first MATS A course Lilla offered) and really, that's an opportunity to celebrate not fill tissues with tears!
I'd like to indulge you, if it's ok for just a bit, and share the lifespan of this dream I have of creating beautiful picture books for children.
Drawing, coloring, painting on the wall of my second grade classroom (shhhh...) have always been my activity of choice. My first studio was in my bedroom where I set up a private space in an unused large closet to research, draw and paint. I would collect my favorite picture books and study them intently in that little closet lit by one bulb hanging from the ceiling. I recently purchased a second copy of one such book that I was intrigued by: "Debbie's Dollhouse" illustrated by Pat Paris.
Other illustrators that I was intrigued by were Holly Hobbie, Arthur Rackham, Maurice Sendak, Jan Brett and 1930's illustration in general. The blocks in the photo above were my mother's. Her mother, my grandmother, whom I never knew wanted to be a children's book author/illustrator. I am told I look just like her and we have quite a bit in common leading many to believe I am her reincarnated spirit. It is eery how much we have in common but that's a story for another day...
In college I bounced around a bit within my studio art major at Skidmore College but always held up the intention to be a children's book illustrator. One of my drawing professors was married to illustrator, Lorinda Bryan Cauley. Pat and Lorinda invited us into their home where we could view her studio and ask her questions, etc.. I remember being tongue tied because this life of illustrating stories while raising small children was the very dream I had imagined for most of my life. I think it scared me to view this glimpse into the very life I wanted so closely. It doesn't make sense now but that's what I felt.
During the summer of my junior and senior years in college I was fortunate enough to work at The Main Street Gallery in Nantucket, MA. The gallery showed Jan Brett originals and I would stand transfixed in front of her work, studying every detail just as I had as a little girl in my studio closet. I was thrilled to meet her and to talk to her about my dream of developing my portfolio to approach publishers after graduation. She was so encouraging and even said I reminded her of herself at my age. Again, I felt more fear than encouragement at her open and kind spirit.
So, for reasons I can't really nail down, other than a lack of confidence in my own voice, I lost my way after college on the path to pursuing that dream. I won't go in to all the twists and a turns my career took since 1987 (including an advanced degree in a non-art field) but to suffice it to say, "what a long strange trip it's been!" Along the way, I met another one of my illustration heroes, Maurice Sendak , when I embarrassed myself by kneeling in front of him to ask for his advice. His response? "First, stand up". I think that's pretty telling. Yea Jane, stand up and take your place in the world would you for crying out loud !?
So, here I am. I started painting again professionally in 2006 and ever since I have worked toward developing my voice and honing my skills. I illustrated my first children's book this past year, "Gracie Brave" to be published soon. The authors' hired me privately so it's up to the winds of fate and their efforts to edit and pitch it to the right publisher so, fingers crossed!
So, "enough about me, what do you think of me?" wink wink
Here's some of my progress in the class:
The children's book illustration class with Art Agent Lilla Rogers and Scholastic UK Art Director Zoe Tucker started this week ! We had to pick a text from three different choices. Lila developed a quiz method to help us make our choices which was fun. I chose the Russian folk tale, "The Gigantic Turnip", a favorite or mine as a child. I always loved stories that built on itself progressively. I thought I could have fun with all the characters and it just felt right.
First I brainstormed about the characters...
? a farmer at the farmer's market buying seeds from a woman who's truck says, "Ginormous Seeds" or "Monstrous Seeds" or something...
? a scientist-farmer who is experimenting with various fertilizers...the scientific name of turnip is "Brassica Rapa"
? Show growing turnip under the ground with a calendar...looked up the growing season of turnips...
? make the turnip a character in it's own right
And then... I couldn't sleep because I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and the setting of the story. I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea that I fell in love with !
> Set on the seaside...family lives in a lighthouse (considered setting it in Holland but gave that up)...Old man is a fisherman who finds the seeds washed up on the beach in a pirate treasure type box...married to his wife, a mermaid...granddaughter based on photos of my mother's of her as a 2-3 year old in vintage 1930's bathing suit...use vintage 1930'2 color palette. In the back ground is a secondary story: a whale swimming in the ocean getting progressively closer to the shore...when the turnip does finally pop out of the ground it flies into the open mouth of the whale. That's my idea so far.
Here is my final main character submission for the old man:
I like how the embroidered details look on his coat and beard. I also like the color palette and the crab on the watering can. I want him to be an imposing figure built like a big, hefty turnip! I'm really looking forward to allowing the other characters and story to unfold. Working on trusting my instincts and not allowing my insecurities about certain details derail me but rather push through and just keep sketching and brainstorming gently. In the past I push so hard I think I block some of my best work.