Wednesday, December 31, 2014


"But every raw soul has it own secret advantages. Elena had hers, 
and those advantages might as well be termed perplexity. 
Perplexity isn't as noble as conviction, but perhaps more good is done 
in the name of muddling through uncertainty 
than is done hacking away with the righteous sword of self-confidence.  
I don't know.  And that's my perplexity."

- from Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Here's to another glorious year of uncertainty...

Happy New Year!  


And here are a few other book that I've been lucky enough to read over the holidays and happily recommend:

An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender
Zlateh The Goat And Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


One of my favorite things about the holidays are all the lights....

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

something new

"Perhaps the excitement of a new idea 
comes partly from the feeling of freedom that accompanies the loss 
of the previous idea." 

 -John Tarrant  
Bring Me The Rhinoceros

 Something new, from this week. A girl and a dragon...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


"Oh," said Sister Marie out loud in her sleep, in her chair by the door, 
"how wonderful.  Didn't I know it? I did. I did. I knew it all along."

-Kate DiCamillo, The Magicians Elephant

I've been delving into a world of blackness and stars and flight as I work on a new story.  And so it feels like a good time to share this excerpt from Kate DiCamillo's book, The Magician's Elephant. The beauty of the language and storytelling takes my breath away each time I read it.

"As the snow fell, Sister Marie, who sat by the door at the Orphanage of the Sisters of Perpetual Light, dreamed too.  She dreamed that she was flying high over the world, her habit spread out on either side of her like dark wings.  She was terribly pleased, because she had always, secretly, deep within her heart, believed that she could fly.  And now here she was, doing what she had long suspected she could do, and she could not deny that it was gratifying in the extreme.
Sister Marie looked down at the world below her and saw millions and millions of stars and thought, I am not flying over the earth at all.  Why, I am flying higher than that. I am flying over the very tops of the stars.  I am looking down at the sky. And then she realized that no, no, it was the earth that she was flying over, and that she was looking not at the stars but at the creatures of the world, and that they were all, they were each- beggars, dogs, orphans, kings, elephants, soldiers- 
emitting pulses of light.
 The whole of creation glowed.
    Sister Marie's heart grew large in her chest, and her heart, expanding in such a way, allowed her to fly higher and then higher still- but no matter how high she flew, she never lost sight of the glowing earth below her.  "Oh," said Sister Marie out loud in her sleep, in her chair by the door, 

"how wonderful.  Didn't I know it? I did.  I did. I knew it all along."
-Kate DiCamillo, The Magicians Elephant


Sunday, November 16, 2014

when we no longer know

"It may be that when we no longer know what to do 
we have come to our real work 
and that when we no longer know which way to go 
we have begun our real journey... 
The impeded stream is the one that sings."

-Wendell Berry, Standing By Words

Thursday, October 23, 2014


"Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, 
while messes are the artist’s true friend."

-Anne Lamott

A few happy messes, from my sketchbooks:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

something is always far away


"The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost... the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water... the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance.
This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons... of anything far away.  The color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains.
look across the distance without wanting to close it up...own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed...  For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond...Something is always far away. "


the north wind

I've been thinking about the color blue.  Pthalo, turquoise, cobalt, cerulean, indigo, ultramarine.  What is the feeling of blue?  I'm choosing colors for a few characters that I'm working on, and as I walk through my days, I keep looking for the perfect blue.  The blue that catches your eye and looks as though it is lit from within.  And so it was a thrill to happen upon the above lovely words, by Rebecca Solnit.  And a big thank you to Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings for introducing me to her work.   I love this idea of "the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go... "

the east wind, shopping for shoes.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


"If you want to be a writer you have to be reverent.
If not, why are you writing? Why are you here?
Think of reverence as awe,
as presence in and openness to the world."
A few weeks ago, through my local Western WA chapter of SCBWI, I had the opportunity to take classes with two illustrators whose work I admire a great deal,  Sergio Ruzzier and Kelly Murphy.  After three days that were filled to the brim (with experimental drawing, inking, color theory, spectacular sunsets and the kindest most wonderful people) I came home inspired, grateful, in awe.

Friday, September 12, 2014

the greatest storyteller

"The wind is the greatest storyteller of them all.
Just listen to the wind."

-Tomi Ungerer

A few nights ago I was finally able to watch Far Out Isn't Far Enough, a documentary about the life and art of Tomi Ungerer.  There were many things that I loved about it (seeing the clear influence of a childhood surrounded by war/propoganda/art on his art making, his own influence on Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are, his thoughts on the importance of fear in the development of courage.) His words about the wind were also great company, as I work on my own windy story.  

And there were more than a few other quotes worth remembering and repeating:

"Here in Ireland the greatest compliment 
you can pay someone is to say they are genuine."

-Tomi Ungerer 
(from Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story)

Monday, August 25, 2014

reaching for something far beyond

Wesley McNub

I've been making changes to a character in a story that I'd thought was nearly finished...

And so I was especially inspired by these words from M.B. Goffstein.  I found them via a  Number Five Bus Presents interview with K.T. Horning (this is Philip and Erin Stead's collection of interviews with very thoughtful children's book people.  If you haven't seen it, make sure to check it out!)

M.B. Goffstein on how to write and illustrate a picture book:

"...Write something you don't know but long to know.
It is tiresome to read a text that the author hasn't fought for, lost,

and by some miracle when all hope is gone, found.

When you have your text, say it over and over

until the rough edges are worn smooth.
Recite it to yourself in the mirror.
The book must be separate from you.

You are serving the book.

It has to make its way in the world.
Make sure it can communicate.

...What do the characters look like?

Their world is on paper before you.
The characters talk to each other.

They mean what they say.
Their hearts are in it.

What makes you think children like childish things?

Don't tell them how to be children.
They want to grow up.
Do them the honor of reaching for something far beyond you.
It won’t be noticeable but it will be felt..."

-M.B. Goffstein

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

balloons are wishes

"Balloons are wishes.  
The winds made them."

-Carl Sandburg
 Rootabaga Stories

I've been working on a few new book dummies (in preparation for the fast-approaching summer SCBWI conference).  They are from very different worlds... but I am enjoying hopping back and forth between them.

my heart, my heart  is a poem about how the heart can open, close and open again.

Sore FEET is a story about a small shoe shop, the factory outlet shoe store across the street, and what happens on a day when the North and the East winds come to town, looking to buy shoes.

A few images from SoreFEET...

Soon the winds approached Wesley McNub's FACTORY OUTLET

the North and the East wind both came to be in Ned's shoe shop....

...and were soon shopping for shoes.

Yesterday, as I was adding color to these drawings of the North and the East winds, my father-in-law was reading to my daughter from Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories.  

It was one of my very favorite books as a child, but she and I have just begun to read them.  So this was a story I hadn't heard since my mother read it to me when I was a little girl.  His story telling and language are as captivating now as they were then.  Considering what I was drawing, I especially enjoyed this bit...

"A little blue wind was blowing 
and the many balloons tied to the braids of the six girls 
swung up and down and slow and fast whenever the blue wind 
went up and down and slow and fast.....

The first little girl put her thumb under her chin, looked up at her six balloons floating 
in the little blue wind over her head, and said: 
'Balloons are wishes.  The wind made them.  
The west wind makes the red balloons.  The south wind makes the blue.  
The yellow and the green balloons come from the east wind and the north wind.' "

-Carl Sandburg 

from Rootabaga Stories

my heart, my heart

I've been working on some new images for my portfolio, as well as two new book dummies 
(getting ready for the summer SCBWI conference in LA).   

Here are a few images from one of the dummies, my heart, my heart:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Another shoe shop sketch, this time of Mabeline and Meghan McKnight:

"...agreeing, for the first time ever, on something."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

NYC SCBWI 2014 preparations

Portfolio is almost ready...


clam tide

Since the summer SCBWI conference in LA and my portfolio critiques, I've been working on a book dummy (CLAM TIDE) about a young girls first night-time dig for razor clams.  Here are a few sketches and prints from that story...

Mama says I can stay up late tonight

Just my raincoat...

Look what I found!

Papa says there are millions of razor clams hiding beneath the surface of the sand.

That boy has a shovel just like mine!

Now my feet are wet and cold.

My first clam!

I tell Mama I want to clean my own clams when we get home.

Mama says "we'll see..."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Here are a few images from my SCBWI LA portfolio that I have adapted or continued for the NYC conference.

drawing 1 (from SCBWI LA portfolio)

drawing 2, with butterflies (for SCBWI NYC portfolio)

petal wings (from SCBWI LA Portfolio)

butterfly cloud (for SCBWI NYC portfolio)

Monday, February 17, 2014

cloud parade

Here are a few sketches and prints from a book dummy, CLOUD PARADE, which I've been working on this winter:


and up...

then choose an instrument,

and get in line...

...through the storm garden

then down, down, down