Thursday, May 28, 2009

A nice review of BEA!

That's BEA ROCKS THE FLOCK, not BookExpo America. That hasn't happened yet, silly!

The review can be found at For Immediate Release Reviews- Kids!

Thanks so much, FIRR-K!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kid-Lit themed auction!

I'm sure many of you have heard about the online auction to benefit Bridget Zinn, YA author and librarian. Bidding ends this Saturday, May 30th! The item that really catches my eye is Carl Kasell's voice on your home answering device. All that glory, without having to be smart enough to win on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! My kind of prize.

There's also a silent auction here in Portland on Friday evening. I'll have this piece of original art from Bea Rocks the Flock up for bids:

As well as a signed copy of the book. Come one, come all!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Merchandising PASS and FAIL

You may remember from earlier posts about my wedding that my mother has the gift of the craft. Oh what the hey, I'll post this picture again:

Imagine my delight when she turned her crafty eye to Bea Rocks the Flock!

Is that not the cutest thing ever?!?

I was visiting the Jamieson estate this weekend while in town for a friend's wedding, and was welcomed into the house by a veritable shrine to Bea, with the 10 (yes, 10) books they had purchased, surrounded by Bea and her flock. Unfortch, I only had room for Bea in my suitcase.

Now, I will tell you what is indeed NOT the cutest thing ever: my previous attempt at toy merchandising.

Ok, it wasn't an attempt at toy merchandising; I was merely making a model of Motha when I was thinking of writing a story about her, based on this illustration:

The story's been put on hold, but I still like to keep Motha around, usually in her birdcage, to generally creep out my husband/slash/visitors.

If this doens't terrify you, you have a heart of stone.

Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bea's Official Release Date!

Yippee! BEA ROCKS THE FLOCK goes out into the world today! Here are some sketches- about half of these did not make it into the final book. It's like I'm giving away DVD extras over here!

And a finished spread, one of my favorites from the book.

Also, you've perhaps heard about the online auction for Bridget Zinn.  IShe's a YA author & former librarian, recently diagnosed with cancer. There are some great items up for bid- I put my money down for a publicity blast with Mitali Perkins, but I was promptly out-bid, and have a feeling I won't be able to keep up with the ensuing bidding war. Ah, well. Lots of good items, though- check it out!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pugs, and a confession

I guess painting personalized cards is my new "thing". One of my bestest buddies in the world is getting married this weekend, and she (inexplicably) has a thing for pugs. I mean, the longer I looked at them, the more they looked like aliens. Anyway, I am banking on her being too busy with last-minute preparations to be reading my blog, and thus, seeing her card early:

Now look... Honest Abe, I am NOT spending all of my time drawing greeting cards. Truth is, I am working on a new story, which- honestly- I thought was close to being finished. Then, I showed it to some people. One person, in particular, gave me some feedback that was simultaneously very very helpful, and very very hard to hear. It made me realize... I may have been approaching my picture-book writing in EXACTLY the wrong manner! I've read all sorts of writing manuals and author interviews, and they talk about just getting to know their character and being as surprised as the reader at what will happen next in their story. And I thought, That is all well and good for them! Me, I like to have a plan, and to know exactly how all the pieces fit together, and how it will all end up from the beginning. The problems with doing things this way is that there are no surprises. Not for me, not for the reader.

So, it's been a learning experience for me these past weeks, to say the least. It seems easier, right?!? This character is very fully formed in my mind, I just need to let him do his thing! Just relax and let the imagination flow! The thing is, I am the kind of person who applies her brakes when going downhill quickly on her bike, who will ski down the slope in the plow position so as to not lose control, who never, ever got so drunk in college that she didn't have control of her senses. If you're sensing a theme here, it's that I like to be in control! It's hard for me to hand over the reigns to my main character, and to trust that things will turn out in the end.

So, that's been the story of my workadays. Struggling with writing by day, and using my evenings to relax with painting, with which I feel much more comfortable. Do all the rest of you illustrators-turned-authors feel these growing pains? It's funny, BEA ROCKS THE FLOCK is being released TOMORROW! Just when I thought I knew a thing or two about writing picture books, I realized I know next to nothing at all. Isn't that an Indigo Girls song?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another experiment in acrylic gouache

Why is "gouache" the hardest word ever to spell?!? I always get it wrong the first go 'round.

Anyway, here's another quick study- and serves double-duty, as a thank-you card to my niece for being the most studious, conscientious flower girl ever.

And in case you were wondering, here's the finished product for those soon-to-be-mailed (honestly, family members!!!) thank you cards:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Experiments with Acryla Gouache

Just playing around with some of the nice matte qualitites of acrylic gouache. I haven't used gouache since art school, so I thought acrylic gouache might be a nice gateway material.
(click for a larger view)

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Gyo Fujikawa

I travelled back home to Florida for a friend's wedding last week. While there, I took the opportunity to look through the Jamieson Memorial Library, and found our old copies of Oh, What a Busy Day! and Come Follow Me. They were even more beautiful than I remembered:

Look, my brother and I shared! What good siblings.

I remember playing "sandwich" quite a bit as a kid- perhaps inspired by this book? We'd lie between two pillows, and tickle the other person whenever a new ingredient was added to the sandwich. Condiments required blowing on the stomach, raspberry-style. Oh, and I think we even "pressed" the sandwich, panini-style, by sitting on the person.

I loved this illustration...

... and this one.

And I think this one is just stunning. My crummy scan does not do it justice (O, how I miss you, high-quality flatbed scanner from my previous job!)

I can't find too much information about Gyo Fujikawa, which I find surprising, as it seems like she was groundbreaking in many ways. According to her Wikipedia profile, "Fujikawa is recognized for being the earliest mainstream illustrator of picture books to include children of many races in her work, before it was politically correct to do so."  A New York times article says that her family was interned in an Arkansas relocation camp during World War II. She sounds absolutely fascinating, and hopefully I'll be able to find more information about her. She had this quote in the Wikipedia article:

"In illustrating for children, what I relish most is trying to satisfy the constant question in the back of my mind--will this picture capture a child's imagination? What can I do to enhance it further? Does it help to tell a story? I am far from being successful (whatever that means), but I am ever so grateful to small readers who find 'something' in any book of mine."

What a beautiful quote- and what a nice thing for me to keep in mind as an illustrator, when it's easy to get sidetracked by thoughts like "hooks", "marketability", or "the next big thing". I certainly found more than "something" in her books, and I'm grateful that she created them.