Friday, November 16, 2012

Just a little derby drawing!

I'm still playing around with watercolors.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Posts have been few and far between around here lately. I read a list of writing tips by Sherman Alexie not too long ago, and #8 has kind of been my motto recently: 

Every word on your blog is a word not in your book. 

So basically, Sherman Alexie is telling me not to blog, and who am I to argue?

The truth is, I've been doing A LOT of writing recently- and not too much drawing. And me sitting around in my p.j.s creating Word documents does not make for exciting blog posts. 

However, I DO have a few visual things to share! I've also been teaching a new illustration class this fall at Pacific Northwest College of Art. Teaching is a challenge, I will say that. I am challenged each week to prepare lesson plans for extremely talented students, and to keep learning myself. One of the (many) benefits of teaching is learning about artists I didn't know much about before. Check out these amazing postcards by Rudolf Kalvach, an artist working in Vienna in the early 1900s...

OMG, I am IN LOVE with that Leda and the Swan postcard. It makes me happy in my heart every time I look at it.

Along with this new BFA course, I am still teaching a Continuing Education class in children's books. And it's funny- the same topic has been coming up in both classes, and continues to come up in my own work. How do you keep the freshness & vitality of early sketches when you move into "final" illustrations? One thing I recommend to both classes is to copy (literally) the work of illustrators you admire. I liken it to how, when you're in art school, you spend many hours drawing and painting from masterpieces in museums. For children's books, the big difference is that you get to take these masterpieces home with you, and you can draw from them in the comfort of your p.j.s (p.j.s are a big thing with me, apparently).

This morning I took a little break from writing and decided to put my money where my mouth is. I've been a great admirer of illustrator Julia Denos for quite a while now- her watercolors are fresh and lively. And, I just so happened to have a copy of DOTTY out from the library. (It's a wonderful book- written by Erica S. Perl, one of my favorite authors. Do yourself a favor & read her novel, WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU OJ).

So anyway, I recently bought myself some new watercolors, and this morning I picked out two of my favorites from DOTTY, and copied them. (PS- my scanner does NOT do any favors to the original book. I implore you to check out the illustrator's website for better examples of her work!)

It's a totally fun exercise, and it frees you from worrying about "screwing up"- because it's not really YOUR artwork- who cares if you make a mistake? I always learn something when I do this exercise- in this case, how to be more free and loose when I put down color.

It's fun- give it a try!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I can't quit you, roller derby!

I still have to take a break for a while- but hopefully coaching and the occasional practice will get me through. Roller derby, you... complete... me!! (how many other movie cliches can I throw in here? "You had me at sweaty wrist guards!")

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Art School Confidential is BACK!

Ah, September. The number of back-to-school photos on my friends' Facebook pages really drives home the fact: it's back-to-school time. Classes started this week at Pacific Northwest College of Art, where I am teaching an illustration course in the BFA program this fall. The class is called Design + Image, and it's a hybrid design/illustration class. Here are the "ice breaker" images I wanted to use on the first day, but my husband wouldn't let me because he said they were too jokey-jokey and unprofessional. So I shall put them here, on my "professional" blog for the whole world to see.


I was worried about teaching a design class because I generally define the word "designer" as "someone cooler than me". This is how I picture myself, a non-designer:

Sloppy, blurry- maybe not so fat and hairy, but on a day-to-day basis, I think "hot mess" is a fair description.

DESIGNERS, on the other hand, look like this:

Sleek haircut, sparse Nordic workspace, chunky glasses.

In this class, the point I want to make is this: Design is for ALL illustrators, not just those of us who have cool glasses & have our lives in order. To make the point about design playing a part in all illustrations, I showed the following images. I took the design principles from a book called PICTURE THIS, by Molly Bang- a fabulous book on composition that I highly recommend. 

For an example, here's a spread from the Caldecott-award-winning  A SICK DAY FOR AMOS McGEE, illustrated by Erin Stead. This book is a veritable  study in horizontal compositions. I think the  flat, steady, calming compositions are part of what makes this book feel instantly timeless and classic.

...whereas Marla Frazee adds a feeling of tension and motion, just by tilting that ground up. Gosh, I love her work.

(illustration by Oliver Jeffers)

(illustration by Lane Smith)

(Mike Yamada, in a concept piece for Dreamworks)

(illustration by Gracia Lam)

I'll keep posting some of the lessons I'm learning as I'm teaching the class. Or, you could always sign up for my children's book illustration class, offered through the Continuing Ed department- that one starts at the end of the month!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New sketches!

I'll admit to you, internet- I don't know how celebs do it. Two weeks of book signings and interviews, and I was pretty much SPENT. Don't get me wrong- it was great getting out and meeting new people, and I love book signings- and I am EXTREMELY appreciative of all of the positive response I've been getting for Olympig. But when push comes to shove- I am an introverted hermit at heart, and attention makes me sweaty. So I've spent the past few weeks hiding in my studio, working off my Olympics hangover, and drawing, drawing, drawing! I have a few exciting projects coming up that I'll share soon! But for now, a few sketches to ease my toes back into the public sphere...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More OLYMPIG! events!

I lived out one of my life-long dreams last weekend: I had a book event at the world-famous Powell's City of Books! 

We even had some international athletes! France AND Canada were among the nations competing that day. It was tons of fun, and as I said, a dream come true.

And Boomer made the window display!

Afterwards, just like a true athlete I celebrated my victory with an ice cream cone. Have you noticed how I reward myself with delicious treats, just like all the dieting books tell you to do? Anyway, this was no ordinary ice cream cone, but a cone full of salty caramel ice cream from Salt & Straw, my new obsession.

What's that? You'd like a closer look?

I also had a wonderful event yesterday at the ever-lovely Portland Children's Museum! Unfortunately, my personal photographer (my husband) was occupied that day, so I have no photos to share with you. As previously mentioned, I can't remember to take pictures of fun stuff for the life of me. BUT, I did get to take home this fabulous gold medal, bringing my current medal count up to three!

(What? How did my Rose City Rollers 2012 Season Champions medal make it into this picture?!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

No Red Vines in the Green Room

I had a very surreal experience yesterday! Sure, I may have daydreamed from time to time about being interviewed on TV about my books... but I never ACTUALLY thought I would be interviewed on TV about my books! You guessed it- that is exactly what happened yesterday! AM Northwest, a morning show here in Portland, invited me to come and speak about OLYMPIG! on the air! 

I got to sit in a greenroom! It was really green! No fruit salad, though.

I basically fretted and stressed over what ended up being a very pleasant, very easy, 5 or so minute conversation. It was actually really fun! Of course, what I fretted the most over was WHAT TO WEAR. I settled for the shirt I wore in my author photo, because hey- 1) go with what works, and 2) I don't have too many clothes (I think US Weekly would call me a "Recessionista") Soooo, without further ado, I give you...

(OK, I got a little tricky there- clicking on the photo above will take you to the KATU site.)

And the best part? The studio was right up the street from the little corner of heaven known as...

I think I earned myself a little treat!

The sweet taste of success!

Monday, July 30, 2012

All I can say is...

...WOW! OLYMPIG! has been making waves recently, and I DON'T mean in the diving competition! Besides being featured in the New York Times Book Review, Boomer ALSO appeared in a roundup of Olympics children's books in USA Today! !!! Amazing! I am so honored and thrilled.

Speaking of honored and thrilled... My OLYMPIG! book launch party was this weekend, hosted by Portland independent children's bookstore, Green Bean Books. I love this bookstore! I've already posted a picture of their awesome Olympics window display:

The party on Saturday was held on their beautiful backyard patio. We made Olympic crafts, including medals and torches. You can check out some directions for Olympic crafts on my website if you missed the party!

Did I mention the backyard is amazingly beautiful?!?

We did some running and some dancing:

... and swimming!

Kids really seemed to enjoy their torches and medals. One young overachiever even made multiple medals, inspired by Michael Phelps.

If you missed this party, fear not- I'll also be doing a Kids' Storytime this Saturday, August 4th at Powell's City of Books, and I'll be visiting the Portland Children's Museum next Wednesday, August 8th!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer sketches

Here's a sketch I did at the park yesterday. Gosh, do I love grouchy kids.
More to come soon on OLYMPIG!- including my book launch party this Saturday! PLUS the real Olympics start on Friday!!! I am beside myself with excitement.

Monday, July 23, 2012

OLYMPIG! Book Trailer!

I have never posted a video before! I feel so high-tech. I also feel high-tech having created this book trailer for OLYMPIG! I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Pig Is Born

Hello! It's nice to be back here at the ol' blog post. The past two weeks have been a lovely celebration of weddings, babies, family and friends. And oh yes, in the midst of our vacation, OLYMPIG! was released!

Exciting things have been happening over the past two weeks, including... A REVIEW IN THE NEW YORK TIMES!!  Yes, you read that correctly. EEEEEEE! When my publicist at Dial first told me this was a possibility, my first reaction was nausea. Luckily, this was replaced quickly by happiness, and I realized I would be IN New York City when the Times piece came out! I thought it would be a great photo to be IN New York reading my review in the New York Times... and then I forgot. So instead, please enjoy this photo of me standing in front of the Cosby house. (It's in Manhattan, not Brooklyn. Who knew?!)

I have some more great reviews and interviews to share, but I am going to pace myself- something I did not do with the bagels and pizza I consumed in New York. Lesson learned. I WILL, however, indulge in some dessert:

AAAAAGHH! This may be the cutest thing I've ever seen! It's the window display at Green Bean Books, where I'll be having a launch party on Saturday, July 28th at 2pm. Come one, come all!

Friday, June 29, 2012

What a week!

I just wrapped up the Third Annual Children's Book Intensive class at Pacific Northwest College of Art. It's one of my favorite weeks out of the 52- four full days of all children's books, all the time. Per usual, we had a stellar line-up of Guest Speakers this year:

Plus a class full of some really talented illustrators. Thanks, everyone, for a great week!

I'm making this snappy, because I really should be finishing up my packing for a trip to New York! See, I told you it was a big week. And if that's not enough, OLYMPIG! is released next week, too!!! I'll post some pictures of my sophisticated trip to the big city.* (*most pictures will be of me pigging out at the Shake Shack).

Happy weekend and Fourth of July, everyone!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

TV watchin'

Maybe it's a freelancer thing, but I feel guilty when I spend a day (a weekend day!) relaxing and watching sports on TV (or, the internet, in this case). So, I did some sketches while watching ECDX today- a big roller derby tournament being held this weekend in Pennsylvania. If you want to watch an exciting game, I recommend tuning in to tomorrow at 4:30 pm EST/ 1:30 PST to watch Portland (#2 in the nation) play New York (#1). It's going to be epic!