Friday, January 30, 2009


I started to paint the 'climbing' IF piece from last week. I took the photo with my phone and it came out very dark (sorry!).
I am taking a different approach this time. I switched to watercolor paper, and I am also doing an underpainting, which will slow down the entire process.  I am curious to see how the end product will be different as far as colors etc. 
Thanks to those that visited my new ETSY shop. I have received a few orders and I am very excited! I added a few more items too. Let me know if there's something you'd like to see there that I don't have. I will continue to add more art work as the interest grows.

I will be spending a nice weekend away with my husband.  I am looking forward to the get away since I have been stressing out over too many things lately. It will be a much needed break! I hope you have a great weekend too!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm on Etsy now!

I finally gave in and decided to add some of my work to Etsy. 
I've been thinking about Valentine's Day and made some cards for this special day. I posted a few today and will post more tomorrow. So please visit and spread the word!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Color Study and Award

Here's a color study for an old illustration friday post. I feel I am falling behind with my illustration fridays. I have this one, and the one from this week to paint. I also have another sketch to paint, and three new books to read on illustration. Yet, I don't have enough time for all of it. I think I need to organize myself a little and re-prioritize. 

Also, the wonderfully talented Roberta has given me this award. Roberta is such a source of inspiration. I visit her blog regularly. Her stories are full of humor and life and her illustrations are always wonderful!

I am supposed to list 7 things I love and pass this along to 7 very creative bloggers:
My list:
  1. My husband and my two kids who love me just as much as I do!
  2. My mother and my in-laws who are always wonderful with me!
  3. My friends. On line, off line, close by, and far away.
  4. My art! I love to create. It's part of who I am!
  5. A good home cooked meal (not necessarily cooked by me)
  6. Buying art supplies. I enjoy shopping for clothes and shoes and purses too, but I love art supplies!
  7. Love to feel happy. 
I tag:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Portfolio Display at Confernce

This is how I set up my portfolio display at the conference. They gave us 3' of space, but somehow we ended up with less. Nevertheless, the board really helped set the work apart from the rest. There were about 8 other illustrators showcasing their work. Some had boards, some did not. Some only displayed published books and had no leave-behinds. Some had dummy books on display.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


UPDATE: This is a more recent sketch I worked on today, and color study. I am much happier with the story telling aspect of the sketch and the composition.

A quick sketch for IF this week. I still need to refine the little natives, the perspective and foreshortening more, but this week is birthday week at my house. We are celebrating my husband's and my son's birthday, so I won't have as much 'free' time as I usually do.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Monday ARTDAY: Telephone

The theme for Monday Art Day this week is telephone. Since I'm in character study mode, here's another short character study...

Little Witch is Back!

I wanted to improve the character study for the witch without having to redo all the pieces. The most apparent weakness to me is that in two of the 4 panels the little girl is down in a similar position with her dog. I liked the last one because it shows a nice connection with the characters, so I decided to dump the second one and add this one, which illustrates the moment where she would come in to show her dog what she found. I thought it would only make sense to have the dog startled at her sight!
Here's the full story:
I welcome your comments!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Moving on… and exploring!

I like a good challenge, and I usually like to meet it head on! So, I have decided to focus on character development, since it is one of my weak areas. I really don’t know much about character development. The illustration classes I took in college were related to editorial illustration, where the goal is to communicate your message with one visual image, and you don’t have to worry about character, tension, mood, etc.

I have ordered some books, but in the mean time, I thought I’d start drawing a character from all perspectives as quickly as I could. I had about an hour and as you could see, I did not get very far. I started very loosely but then I began to worry about getting the details right, the proportions etc. I also worried about the pose. Is this arm in the right place, the leg, the foot? When I took figure drawing class and the model was there…that was it, you followed the model, but coming up with a pose from thin air? Well, not so easy for me. I thought, if she’s about to run off, what would she look like, would she pick up the skirt not to trip? etc... I think the outcome says more about my personality than anything else. I’m a perfectionist! Not that these are perfect at all, but I want them to be! In addition, I thought the character still doesn’t look like something a kid would want to read/look at.
So I had an idea, when I was in college, you had to copy the masters to get a better sensitivity for their work, and I think that’s what I will do. I am going to pick up a few children’s books and just draw what I see. I call this an exploration in illustration. I’m not sure if I will post them, since I don’t want to have any copyright issues. But I think this may help me loosen up and help me understand characters better through other’s art.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

THE FULL (really long) SCOOP about the conference

After the conference I have been trying to organize my thoughts to be able to put them on paper (or my blog) in a way that it is helpful to you but also gives you a taste of my personal experience. I’m still not sure if I can do this successfully since I am rather confused at the moment, and I’m not sure that I’ll sort everything out in a snap.

I thought I would start by telling you about Mark Teague’s Workshop, which was titled “Drawing interesting characters”. Many of the things he spoke about relate to my portfolio critique.
  1. There are no rules. This is an important one for me, and part of the reason why I feel confused. I will expand on this later.
  2. Start with a Character. This means that if you are also an author or if you are working with a manuscript, you need to start with a character before you can start with anything else. Some of the techniques for developing a character are the same techniques writers use to develop a character. They key is to find the voice of the character and you can only achieve this by drawing the character more than 100 times from all different angles, capturing expressions and moods. Mark Teague has many drawings of many characters that were never used on the final art but were part of the discovery process.
  3. Read a lot. The more you read the better you become at story telling. He said that he became a better illustrator once he had kids because he read so many books to them and used them as a learning tool.
  4. Once you have the character then you can think about the story-telling part of the story. You can look at how other illustrators carry a character through a 32 page book.
  5. Choose and artist that is close to your sensitivity/style and study them. 
  6. About your own style – He said: “Don’t worry about developing a style, do your work and the style will come out organically out of you. It is an extension of who you are.
  7. Illustrate an older story to show an editor that you can take a character all the way through the story (32 pages). Pick a story that when you read it you can visualize what is happening like a movie playing in your head. Then, begin to develop the characters. Doodle, doodle, and doodle! Keep it private. Don’t worry about messing up, but doodle and doodle a lot! Until something (magic) happens.
  8. Get the character right. If you are drawing a dinosaur or a car, etc. Do your research and get all the details right. Gauges, lights, etc. Kids love details and they will notice if they are not believable. Getting it right helps keep a kid’s fantasy real!
  9. Honor the text that you have. Don’t violate something that is important to the author.
  10. Play it BIG! Big emotion! Big Energy! Pump it up! Find energy with the character. (This reminds me of something I was taught in school when I was studying graphic design…if something doesn’t work; make it big, if it still doesn’t work, make it red! Funny, that’s a tip that almost always works!)
  11. Kids don’t get nuances or subtleties. You need to be straight up and emotionally honest with the illustrations. You don’t illustrate a mad kid. You illustrate a REEEALLY MADDDDDD kid! Exaggerate energy and emotion. For example straight lines on a speeding car don’t have the same energy as curved lines on that same car.
  12. Play with perspective and point of view. It’s always a child’s world. Get in touch with your inner child. The emotional center of the illustration is always with the child (audience).
  13. Story-boarding helps composition. Identify the main focus on each page and add no distractions, but add things that help tell the story.
Then his talk turned into a QA session and someone asked, how would someone starting out know when they are ready? He said that was a very personal thing. When he was starting out he was told by his professor not to do it, that he would never be as good as the best illustrator at that time. However, he decided to move forward and he published books that today he doesn’t feel very proud of, but helped him get to where he is today. He felt he was ready, although in retrospect, he is not sure why he thought he was.
The subject of ‘there are no rules’ came up again. He mentioned how he loves the work of Barbara Coonie. However, he could never do her work, nor do many of his recommendations apply to her work or many other successfully published artists, yet their work is brilliant.
This was his workshop in a nutshell! This post is soooo long. I hope I’m not boring you if you are still reading…wow!
Now I am going to share some of the comments that he said directly about my work, and I’ll try to be specific, only because you may get something out of it:
Let me say first, that he was incredibly nice and I could see that he tried to be as thoughtful as possible to make comments that would be really constructive and not demeaning or over critical and I really appreciated that!
  • He saw my character study of the little witch girl and said that it was nice, but needed to push it further (no more specifics!)
  • By page 4 he said my work was weak in character development (not in those words exactly). I soon realized that I had not mixed up all emotions the right way, and had too many smiling children in the beginning of the portfolio. He reiterated many of the things I mentioned earlier from his workshop.
  • On the next page looking at the boys playing with the paper boat, he said that they were so calm. I then added (thinking this was a positive trait from my work and part of my unique style), that most people always commented on how soothing and pleasant my work was. He said that this is not helpful when you are trying to carry a character through a story where there are many emotions.
  • Then there was the piece about ‘going back to school’ He asked me what was happening there. I explained why the mother was upset, hoping to highlight the ‘emotion’ in my portfolio. Then he said, well this is a mother’s point of view and a child is not interested in a mother’s point of view. This is his world (referring to the boy in the bus) or the sister’s not the mother’s. Then he expanded by saying that my work was all a mother’s point of view and pointed out at some other illos. He said the work has to be interesting for children to look at. I guess it is part of what he spoke about the emotional center of the piece has to be with the child.
  • His last suggestion was for me to draw lots and lots and know my character inside and out…then we were out of time. He only got to see half of my portfolio.
So after a long weekend I came away with the following:
In the end, it is about finding your voice, believing in yourself and your work and continuing to strive to improve on your work based on YOU and not someone else’s formula. There’s no such thing as a guide or a rule-book to go by. It just works or it doesn’t. I also think that the success of an illustrator is somewhat tied to trends too. Graphic styles, illustration styles change and some go in and out of fashion. I think there’s some truth in the idea of having a marketable style.

I am in a strange place, because I felt very strongly about my work prior to the conference (I guess that’s part of it, you need to believe in yourself or no one else will), and after Mark Teagues’ input, I realize that his comments come from what he does with his work and what he believes in, and has worked for him. However, it doesn’t mean that I need to start drawing with crazy perspectives and curved lines, and blow everything out of the page because then I won’t be true to myself. On the other hand, he did offer some great advice, but I’m not sure how to make it my own yet. All of this makes me question who I am as an illustrator/artist? Where do I fit in? and where I should go from here?

Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful to you if you are in a similar journey or even if you are already published. As always, I welcome your comments!

Monday, January 19, 2009


Just a quick color study on a sketch I worked on tonight. I'm still gathering my thoughts after the conference.  
I was struck with an idea for a book today, and I have too many things floating in my head right now! Maybe some sleep will help me clear my head.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Back from Miami

I just came back from the SCBWI Florida Regional Conference and had a wonderful time! The weather was cold for us Floridians, but most presenters coming from NYC loved the weather! It was really beautiful! There were about 150 people and about 5% maybe 10% were illustrators. I was surprised to find that we were so few in numbers!

This was my first conference, so I was taking it all in! I heard some wonderful speakers on Saturday talk about the ins-and-outs of the business as it relates to authors. They were very well prepared, very funny at times and just great people in general. Here’s a little summary of who was there, and what they said:

Publisher Arthur Levine spoke about who you are as a person (likes, dislikes, culture, ideas, outlook) influences the work that you like as a publisher, which in turn influences the work that gets published.

Author Lisa Yee Spoke about why who you are dictates what you write. It seemed similar to Levine’s except that this was from the writer’s point of view. Quite interesting! She also brought Peepy and took a picture of him for her blog I may be somewhere in the background!

Agent Ginger Knowlton Spoke about the Do’s and Don’ts of the Agent Search, and referred to the book the 4 agreements. Especially the part about not taking it personal! (I think we could all use this advice!)

Editor Alexandra Cooper spoke about how and why a manuscript is acquired, and the best way I can summarize her in-depth talk is by saying ‘it’s a game of chance, luck, and being in the right place at the right time!’

Illustrator Mark Teague (love his work!) spoke about how to make lively picture books. I was very interested in his presentation and he did not disappoint. He has a new book coming out from an already established series with character Ike LaRue. He talked about the process of writing and illustrating his new book. Fascinating!

Agent Tina Wexler spoke about exploring the agent/author relationship and to consider aspects like chemistry and personality when selecting an agent.

Authors Elaine Landau & Ruth Vanderzee spoke about writing non-fiction. Apparently, there’s a big demand in this area and very rewarding for writers!

Editor Liz Waniewski spoke about how to WOW an editor with your writing. She shared a checklist of items she constantly thinks about when reviewing manuscripts. She also shared what were the most submitted topics in the last three months and interestingly enough the top three were: bedtime, monsters acting un-monster like, and cats / kittens. She also said that visiting grandparents and the first day of school were always at the top of the most submitted subjects.

Lastly, Writer Linda Sue Park talked about how to handle revisions from the editor. Basically you say ok. You go back and try it their way, then you try it your way, and more often than not, the work ends up stronger.

There you go! See, I paid attention even though it was not all about illustration!
Oh, and if you are still reading this, this week I will write about my one on one critique with Mark Teague and then his workshop on drawing interesting characters. He gave some great tips and advice that I will share here!

Friday, January 16, 2009

..and OFF I GO!

The day is finally here, when I leave for the so awaited SCBWI Regional Conference to be held in Miami. I will post about the conference next week after the holiday. Thanks for all your kind comments and good luck wishes. They really mean a lot to me. 

I don't have time to participate in illustration friday this week, but I decided to post an oldie. This is a very old illustration, or I should say color study. I could not find the final piece. I did this back in college when I took editorial illustration classes. Sometimes I look through my old stuff to see how I've evolved, yet still remain the same.

Originally, I thought the image did not apply to IF's theme, but then I looked up the definition of 'pale' and it read: "a space or field having bounds". Does a checkerboard have bounds? I would think so, but you be the judge! 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

IF:Ballon in color

Playtime! Yes! I had some time to play in Photoshop today. I took the black and white IF post I made for ballon and colored in Photoshop. I played with the brushes to try to get some texture. If anyone knows of any good free brushes, please let me know!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


If you visit here often, you are probably tired of reading about my preparations for the  SCBWI Florida conference. The refreshing news is that I am pretty much done! So I'll be writing about the conference itself next week, and moving on to other stuff!

I think it is important to go as well prepared as you can be to show a high level of professionalism. If a fellow artist is taking his/her time to review your work, or an editor takes the time to grab your card (a must-have!!!) and then looks at your web site, this one needs to be ready with your newest and best work. As I see it, every little thing you do counts and in the end it will pay dividends.

So in an effort to be fully prepared, I redesigned my web site last week. It was a lot of work! But thank goodness I have not only a design background, but a web design background so I was able to do it without assistance. I am very happy with it, and I invite you to visit it and click around. You'd probably seen most of my work, since I have used the Illustration Friday posts to build my portfolio. In any case, I hope you like it as much as I do!
I also updated my sample tearsheet which includes samples of my work and contact information in PDF format. Tearsheets are used as portfolio samples that Art Directors keep on-hand and usually leaf through when selecting an illustrator. Illustrators mail them to publishers but it is also common practice to email them as attachments or have them on their web site.

I have added links to both my website and my tearsheet on the left column.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Digital experiment

Well, I found myself on the computer last night looking for texture brushes for Photoshop and ended up downloading some brushes from to explore more textures. I think I need to find a different set of brushes. Although I did not mind the 'pastel' feeling of these. I used to do a lot of pastels when I was in college and these brushes definitely reminded me of that (minus the mess!). I would like to try more of a painterly style brush, or ones that don't have a square shape. If any one knows of a better resource, please comment. 
Here's the newer revised version. After following some suggestions, I added some more shadows and highlights. If I were to do it over I would add a night stand with some medicine on it. I think it would add to the story.

One of my goals this year is to experiment with more mediums. My first IF post was a digital piece I did in illustrator. All my other pieces have been done in acrylic. I do use the computer to refine sketches and make color studies, but I've always found that trying to draw with my drawing tablet is like drawing with a left hand (and I'm right handed).
This was not entirely digital. I worked from a sketch which I then colored in Photoshop. I spent about 4 hours total. I'm sure it could be better, so if you have suggestions please feel free to comment. However, I thought it was a good start.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My first self-promotion postcard! & IF: Contained

I am getting all my promotional pieces ready for the SCBWI Florida conference and this week I thought I would write about the postcard I created.
I used vistaprint for my printing. They were having a promotion and I just paid shipping. It was a great deal!
Since these are to pass out at the conference, I did not worry about a printing service that offered direct mailing. I may send some of these out to publishers and editors, but I still have to build a mailing list. (That may be a task for next month).
If you would like a postcard, send me an email with your info, and I’ll get one out in the mail.
I created the postcard in Photoshop with all the printer’s specifications (size, bleeds, resolution, etc) and saved the files as .jpg. 

Here’s the front of it:

The first thing I came up with was a ‘theme’ for the card and tied in the words, front illustration and back illustration to them. (I guess my advertising background comes in handy). I picked an image that had great energy and was vibrant and colorful so it would stand out but wasn’t too busy. I thought it also fit IF's theme because the boy is well contained in his  go-kart.
I also added my contact information on the front, as with my business card, I think contact information should be on the front to make it easy for Art Directors to contact you.

On the back I included all of my contact information, as well as company name, name and title, and I also used a black and white spot illustration that tied in with the theme. The right half is left untouched on purpose, this is where the address label and stamp would go. If you are making your own and want to use some of the space on the right, check with the post office to find out how big of a blank area you need to leave.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Welcome to the new layout!

I've seen blogs with 3 columns before and always thought the space on the screen was used much better, and it allowed the user to view more content without having to scroll down. Since I have a good background in HTML (I used to design and code web sites for a living, and sometimes still do), I decided to add a third column to my blog. Not a great idea at 10:00 pm !
I backed up my blog template and started to edit the HTML following some instructions on another blog which did not work. I then tried a different blog's suggestion. It did not work. Tried a third one... it did not work either. I should probably mention that when I say it did not work, it means that blogger was giving me some strange error and saying it could not process my file, or I was still seeing two columns. I panicked! By now it was close to midnight and I had no blog! I went back to my backup and except for the colors everything went back to normal, and even that step was not as simple as hitting browse file, upload, and restore. I am not one of those people to give up easily... so I kept at it... I finally found a good link that explained how to get the three column layout to work. It also tells you that you could lose all your widgets but that you can copy and paste them back into the code from your back up (which I had). While I was doing this, I started to get different errors and found a site that helped clarify that too. After some more tweaking, voilá! it worked! But not without a major hick up. Yes, the widgets were gone, but I had my back up, so I copied and pasted them back in the code. However, what the site doesn't clarify for you is that the content of the widgets is not saved! -- the images, text, javascript etc...all gone!  It was about 1:00 am when I decided to take a break and fix it today. I have almost everything back, but I did lose many of my links and many of my favorite blogs!

TIP: If you are going to make a 3 column layout... backup all of the content in your widgets first...images, html code, links, javascript etc. Backup your main template. Have a WSWIG HTML editor available to help you read the code better, and have lots of patience! 

Friday, January 2, 2009


The SCBWI Florida Chapter is having a conference the middle of this month. I am so excited about this conference. This is a great opportunity to meet fellow illustrators and get a first look at the industry. In addition to attending a few workshops, I signed up for a portfolio critique and I am also exhibiting my portfolio. I was apprehensive about signing up for the exhibit without having the critique, but without exposure, there’s no way to know how good I am. So I will take my chances and have my work out for everyone to see!

The next two weeks are all about getting ready for the conference. It is my resolve to spend this first half of the month on fine tuning my portfolio and working on some self-promotion pieces. I have made some progress and the first piece of self-promotion I worked on is my business card. 

A few months ago I printed my first set of cards with, and I was very pleased with their quality, price and turn around time. I received great feedback on the cards and now I am running low and decided it was a good time to revamp what I already had.

New Front
I changed the spot illustration on the front for an image that was more dynamic and full of energy and representative of the style I wanted to be working with.I left my name on the front and what I do so that anyone looking at the front understands it.
I also think the boy shows determination and resolve to have fun on his scooter which fits IF's theme perfectly!

I left the back of the card untouched. I listed all of my contact information and repeated my name and what I do to make it simpler for people reading the card. Otherwise, they’d have to flip the card to be able to read my name (yes, I’m funny about things like that).

TIP: If you are designing your own business card, my recommendation is to keep it simple but include key information such as who you are (name/company/title), what you do and how to contact you. If you are an illustrator, definitely include an image of your work! This image needs to be simple since it will be rather small and it needs to have great impact. A character or a spot illustration would be a great start. A two-sided card would make it easier to fit all information and have your spot illustration stand out more. On the back list all contact information. Don’t forget your website and your e-commerce site if you have one!

I’ll be writing about post cards next week...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

HELLO 2009!

Happy 2009 to all my blogging friends! Last year was really amazing! I started my blog and got a chance to meet so many wonderful people that have offered their support and have inspired me so much as I get myself and my portfolio ready to enter the great world of picture books! I am very grateful for all these new friendships and all of your visits and comments, they have helped me develop as an artist and have given me more confidence to believe that I am after the right dream! I have really enjoyed visiting and getting to know a little bit about you and sharing with you bits about myself.

I wish you a fabulous and very creative 2009!

I'm starting the new year with a new look, new masthead and new colors! - there's nothing like a make over!