Sunday, February 28, 2010

The evolution continues

For about a year now, I have been working on and off on a story that I wrote and will illustrate. Although I have done a number of illustrations and revised the story quite a bit, the basic theme is still there. It has just taken on a new form. I kind of like this last version and if I still like it in a month ... after letting it sit quietly on my desk for a while, I will find the time to create a dummy.

Basically is is a very new twist...really twisted.. version of a timeless fairy tale. But that is all I will say. My heroine is a little girl and she has a few "tricks" up her sleeve.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The HEAD count

I have been working on illustrations for some books for Stemmer House Publishers in NH and for 4RV Publishers in OK.
For each assignment I had to create a number of characters of all ages. I used some reference material from my professional library and went back into my files to find "models" of children I had in standing poses just to check the "head count."
What I found was interesting. Although the reference material I used suggested a slightly larger or taller individual I think I came close enough with my style to create a chart that I can use for reference.

Of course all this changes when you have a model running, jumping, sleeping, eating, sitting, skiing, chasing, swimming, but it is still a good thing for me personally to have as a handy reference. I printed this and laminated it and keep it on my bulletin board.

I still use real people as models whenever I can, but sometimes it isn't that easy to find a model willing to sit in the lap of a huge brown bear or stand on one foot for an hour or so. *:)

Another kind of snow

Let's see... first there was snow, then more snow, up to 19 inches. Then the rain came and with it the flooding, and then...Oh yes, more snow. Just how many kinds of snow are there?

This time around we had "lumpy" snow. It looks so blue out there because the sky is still gray and all you can see is WHITE all around.

There is no way out the back door on the deck level, so we use the lower level to go outside, but there again, you have to shovel your way out.

The lower branches on the maple tree have bent to the ground and the swing hasn't seen a visitor in months.

Living at the edge of a forest means we are always surrounded by the incredible beauty nature provides.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Taking a page or two from My African Bedtime Rhymes, by Brettell Hone, published by Shamwari Publishing, the first illustration shows a fly resting on the water.

Soon to be chased by two young trout he finds a safer resting place above.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Check your Mobile Phone

You can now find selected images from my portfolio on your iPhone, Blackberry or other internet accessible cell phone.

And for this I have to thank Dani Jones, who figured it out and pointed the way. She posted a complete tutorial and you can follow along and create your own iPhone presence.

The key is a short code placed after the head code and keeping your images no wider than 300px and optimizing them for the web.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

EggsTravagant Playtime

Just for fun at the end of a long day of drawing and sketching I created an image hose of some of my egg designs,
and a pattern from the same designs....

then I put them both together and had some fun ...EGGSactly what one needs to end the day on a happy note.

A world of White..

The snow that began yesterday evening is still accumulating. As beautiful as it is, I dread losing power. It has happened several times today and our daughter in VT has been without it all day. These images only can show so much of the truly awesome sight outdoors.

SNOW ~ the SnowTesters

Since there are so many kinds of snow it is always great to have someone on hand for quality control.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mosaic Giraffe

BIG FISH -- little fish

Although I have always drawn, painted, illustrated, created displays, posters, paintings, classroom materials, window design, invitations, murals and more, I have only been a FULL Time illustrator for a very short time. As a classroom teacher I was a master teacher and a pretty big fish in my community. As a travel agent I enjoyed swimming in the same pond as some very big fish................. then I decided to move to another pond.

When I started illustrating full time I had no idea how large the new "pond" would be. Yes, I knew there were large numbers of illustrators, but the realization of just how many became apparent after attending my first SCBWI conference. I and many others realized we were the little fish in a very big pond.

Just to swim into that pond was an amazing experience. The BIG FISH were there, of course, and many medium sized fish, and then there were those of us that were the small fry. The Bigger Fish talked to us little fish and gave us great insight as to where to find the best fish food. They told us how to watch out for the sharks out there and those scavenger fish that would love to have us work for nothing. The Big Fish shared their successes and disappointments with us. We felt that because even they had struggled our struggles would only make us stronger and wiser. They also suggested we stay in the smaller ponds for a while so that we could grow and learn.

By and by even little fish begin to grow. They learn how to swim a bit faster and smarter and find others in the pond that share the same interests and goals. One by one they leave their little pond and begin to navigate the open waters.

Over the past 6 years I have been blessed to have known all sizes of "fish" in the community of children's illustrators and authors. The community of blogs, websites, online portfolios, groups and connections have been feeding sites for me and many of my peers.

I think we all need to thank and pay homage to the Big Fish that have been our leaders, mentors, friends, and supporters on the journey. I am still a much smaller fish in the big pond, but I am learning that I can grow if I pay attention, work hard and of course... never give up.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


When I think of Propagate I have only to look around my studio and see the endless sketches, drawings, printouts and paintings that share my workspace. I say "share" because when I create a character it becomes a part of my studio family. I have to printout all the pages to see if they are working. More than that , however, I need to keep that family near me while I work. The components of the current book adorn the many bulletin boards in my studio. They are also a form of propagation as I have to keep adding more to extend the surfaces for display.

Having finished a book with many characters I sent it off to the publisher like a mom sending a child off to the first day of school. With the files sent off I cleared the bulletin boards. Seeing them empty will not do, so now they are once again in propagation mode for the current project.
Since I cannot, for copyright reasons share that photo, I will post one small image from the book, that shows the propagation of a crowd drawn into a park by the sweet sounds of a little boy playing his harmonica. And I realize it is very small, but consider this, it is one of 30 printouts that hung in my studio as I worked to create this family of friends.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Painter Problem

This image is pretty much 1/6 of a larger painting I was working on when I began having a problem with Painter IX.

Before you try this fix ... be sure to SAVE your work. If you create some kind of situation that Painter does not like, you can stand to lose your work thus far. Just be on the safe side, SAVE SAVE SAVE when working in Painter.

Some of you may be using Painter IX or X and having this problem, so I have a solution.
The problem occurs when you are working on multilayered and huge files. The painting is going along well and you have something above 12 layers going and all of a sudden you get the message:
"Script Out Of Data Map Entries" at which point if you create even one more stroke a huge line smears itself across your painting. And this continues to happen with every subsequent stroke.
This is because Painter saves all your strokes in a script so that you can play it back if you need to. I don't use scripts so I figured I could get rid of them... Ha Ha Ha...joke was on me!

I found that even setting the number of script entries to ONE in the General preferences panel did not work. Trashing the entire script item from the program did not work either. Even with the Presets for scripts gone forever I was still getting that annoying message and those horrible errors on my paintings.

However I did find a solution and I should have guessed at it before.
I was so puzzled by the fact that even after I had trashed the script library the error still occurred.
So I went to WINDOW and selected SHOW SCRIPTS and wouldn't you know it, there was my little script library window with several little boxes (scripts in progress) showing. Once that was showing I could select "SCRIPT MOVER" from the drop down arrow . Next all I had to do was delete all those little boxes, close and quit and I was back in the business of creating.

Now as I work on these huge paintings I periodically go to the scripts window to see what the little devil is doing, and just delete the script items and keep on working.

Monday, February 8, 2010


A little late this week... but definitely very muddy *:)

I have been working to finish a picture book for Stemmer House Publishers. And while I was in the midst of it my older wacom tablet began to behave badly. Why? Well after 5 years of heavy use the overlay became very scratched up from the pen nibs which were wearing down.
I had to choose between getting a CINTIQ much earlier than I could afford or trying out the Wacom Intuos 4. I chose the latter and I am delighted with the new large tablet. It is sleek, large enough for me to be happy with, and even has little lighted keystroke buttons. So if I press a button I actually Know what it will do. The new pen is a joy as well. It comes with a holder that has a secret compartment for the pen nibs...ten in all. My favorite is the black and white tipped one. With the new tablet and the pen it really feels like your brush or pen is gliding across real paper. MMmmmmm what a nice addition to a digital artist's supplies*:)
Another reason for my decision, my Macintosh screen is much larger than the cintiq, so I rationalize that I will be more at home with the tablet ... at least for now.