Wednesday, September 23, 2015

still singing

When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.


A few new sketches here, from last week—

Also, this wonderful thing happened this week... 

And here are some images from my heart, my heart— the project that won the SCBWI  Don Freeman  Work In Progress Grant:

my heart is a fence

Saturday, August 29, 2015

balloons are wishes

"Balloons are wishes.  
The winds made them."

-Carl Sandburg
 Rootabaga Stories

I've been drawing lots of balloons lately.  Here's something new from last week...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

all I ever

"All I hope to say in books, all I ever hope to say, is that I love the world."

-E.B. White

Another SCBWI summer conference has come and gone, and once again I feel so grateful to be part of this community of writers and artists that care so much about making books for children.  As Lin Oliver said so beautifully,  

"There is no friend like a friend in ideas."  

As someone who lives in a small town, far from the cities where so many book makers live, SCBWI has been my avenue for connecting with this community.

So it is with a heart full of gratitude that I say Thank You to SCBWI for the honor of being chosen for one of the Portfolio Showcase Awards.  And a very big Congratulations to the other Portfolio Showcase Award Winners:

As well as the artists who were chosen for this year's Mentorship Program:

I really look forward to seeing everyone's work continue to grow. 
sketchbook, SCBWI LA 2015

"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration.  Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.  If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.  All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.  Things occur to you.  If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens.  But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction.  Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive.  You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case." 

-Chuck Close

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

to be played

"Every book is a question I don't know the answer to.   
I don't want my books to be read, I want them to be played. 
What I want is after they've read the book to say, 'I've got an idea!'"

-Mo Willems in this interview on NPR

My 5 year old reads books this way.  After we read Float, within minutes she was making paper boats and floating them in a little pool.  After reading Mrs. Maple's Seeds, she was Miss Maple, dressed in an apron, scattering seeds across the living room.  We read Hogwash and she was quickly drawing her own mud/paint/shower machines complete with magnets, faucets, and piggies hanging up on a clothesline to dry. After almost every story that she loves, she says 'Mama, I want to BE that. How can I BE in Hogwash?  How can I BE in Miss Rumphius, how can I BE in Virginia Wolf?  (Lots of paintbrushes and a big bow in her hair seem to be a good starting place for the latter.) It's a question that I've learned not to answer, as whatever she comes up with is always more surprising, more interesting, more wonderful than anything I could have suggested. 

Of course when we draw together, she is also full of ideas.  Sometimes we trade our drawings back and forth, sometimes we swap them right before adding color. We draw a lot of girls in flying machines and long fancy dresses.  But today I was drawing a creature in a scarf which she thought looked like a bandage.  Which seemed like a fun idea, which led to these—


Saturday, July 18, 2015

a fly, a dress and a haircut

A lady and a fly.

I love beginning a drawing without any idea of how it will end. Usually, I start with a face, and from there the drawing takes on a life of its own.

Here are a few such drawings from the past few weeks...

Two ladies, one dress.

And a haircut.

Monday, July 6, 2015

knobby bits

"I like strange stories, shaggy stories, stories with knobby bits and gristle and surprises... 
All my favorite books have quirks." 

I've been working on a few illustrations lately that have their share of knobby bits and gristle.  I've also been thinking about the ways in which stories can surprise and leave questions unanswered even as they end.  Most of my favorite books from childhood have quirks, and many of my favorite illustrators have a rough, loose, or odd quality to their work.

As I work on a story of my own, I've been visiting my local library and bringing home some tall stacks of books.  Here are some shaggy stories that I've really enjoyed lately:

Would You Rather by Jon Burningham
John Patrick Norman McHennessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late also by Jon Burningham
Hogwash by Arthur Geisert
Oink also by Arthur Geisert
Take Away the A: An Alphabeast of a Book! by Michael Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo
The Treehorn Trilogy by Florence Parry Heide and Edward Gorey
Outstanding in the Rain by Frank Viva
Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins
The Monsters' Monster by Patrick McDonnell
The Skunk by Mac Barnett and Patrick McDonnell
 It's Only Stanley by Jon Agee
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Bealey
The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett
Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith
The Rain Door by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake
Pomelo Explores Color by Ramona Badescu and Benjamin Chaud

Also,  Carter Higgins, creator of the wonderful blog Design of The Picture Book, shares her thoughts on the dingiest rattiest books, stories that matter, and honesty that makes you squirm (as well as a great list of of books to check out) here.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

along for the ride

Lots of wagons and carts this week.  And a few monsters along for the ride...

Going for a Ride, detail

Almost ready

Almost Ready, detail