Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reading, Writing and Drawing in the Library

The print that I gave to the library during World Art Drop Day has been framed and hung! It's in one of my favorite spots- right above the new children's picture books. Our Bud Werner Memorial Library is so beautiful and such a fun place, I'm really happy to be a part of it!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rosie Sings

I haven't posted much lately because I've been mostly working on my Rosie sings dummy. And it's really boring to read about in a blog post! I'm pretty slow at this stage. I like to take a lot of time with the drawings because it's not something I'm confident about. And from experience I can tell you that it's better to do final art based on good drawings than on bad ones!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bird Song Finished

Here's a close-up of the words on my Bird Song print. I usually outline each letter the way you see here. Then I go back and carve away all of the extra linoleum. And yes, all words have to be carved backwards! When printed they will be facing forward on the paper.

I made the music collage and painted it green a while ago. Then to make this edition I scanned the collage and printed a series of them digitally on Rives BFK, my favorite printmaking paper. I tried printing the linocut on top of the original collage, but the paper was too thick and stiff. Paper for printmaking has to have a little flexibility. So the digitally printed backgrounds were a compromise that worked well for this edition.

Then I printed the block with black Gambling relief ink. To make the words Bird Song on the bottom, I used the letter stamps in the photo above. It was challenging to place the stamps well and not smudge them.

After some watercolor, here's how it turned out. I'm pretty happy with it!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Artist's Life

Many folks think of artists working alone in their drafty studios all hours of the day or night. It's a romantic life. And while it may be hard to make ends meet, the sacrifice is worth it for the art.

Here is one of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo painting a portrait of her father. Frida lived an amazing life that can't be distilled down to one image, but this photo is an example of the stereotype of an artist at work. Her space is peaceful. She is concentrating on creating a meaningful image and she is paying loving attention to the details.

Here is a more modern photo of another of my favorite artists, Sophie Blackall. She is painting a long image of characters riding the subway that was featured in the New York subway cars a couple of years ago. I love this painting, and I love how focused she is. The light coming in through the window, her sweet outfit and hair tied in a bun, and the tiny bit of watercolor mess make this a classic studio shot. Don't you wish you could step right into this photo and sit down to paint a picture?

All of us artists wish we could lead the perfect life full of peaceful time creating, lots of paying customers, and just the right amount of recognition to keep it all rolling. Of course the evenings could be dedicated to family or social life. And if you added a little bit of reality to this fantasy, there might also be some time handling email and business, and maybe some rushing to meet an important deadline.

Ha! Here's me at work! Very few artists are able to support themselves doing only artwork. Most of us piece together all sorts of different jobs- art related or not. And our lives are just as hectic as anyone else's. We juggle family, chores, errands, work, business, and just try to squeeze in some time for our personal art projects. People have always commented about how much artwork I produce, implying that it's a lot. I feel like I barely ever get anything done! But really it's probably somewhere in between those two extremes.

This morning my husband walked by the table, laughed, and said, "give me your phone I have to take your picture." I said, "No, my hair!" And sort of straightened my hair (hard to believe, eh?) then handed over my phone for this photo. When he handed it back he said "the artist's life." I do have a sense of humor so I could immediately see how funny this was. But it led me to thinking about how we artists lead our lives.

It's easy to get sucked into wishing for the idealized artist's life with a perfect studio and time to create. But don't waste you time wishing! And don't let anyone else dictate how you should work as an artist. You can create anywhere that works for you. You can spend hours at a time getting absorbed by a project, or only work in tiny bursts when you have a few minutes to spare. We create because it is what satisfies our soul. We create our lives with our families, our pets, and our friends. We create our artwork to share with the world, or just to bring us peace. Our lives are complicated, beautiful, and full of art. Now go and create- wherever you are and whenever you can!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween!

My little girl has been rebelling against drawing in our sketchbook for the last few weeks. But I recently got her to scribble a bit and this odd drawing of hers turned into two witches! I need to remember to photograph her drawing before I add to it because I think a before and after shot would be neat to see.

Here's another- I really like how sometimes lines that she's drawn won't fit into the main image I'm visualizing. So a whole new element gets added making the picture much more interesting. I could see the roof of a house in the lines she'd drawn, so I made the house. But I couldn't figure out what to do with the vertical line that she'd drawn in the top right corner. I kept seeing a balloon's string. But why is one balloon floating off the page? Well it turns out there are lots of balloons floating into the sky because when they mature, the balloon tree releases them like seeds to float away and grow new balloon trees. Obviously.

And here are my little cuties all ready for Halloween. Have a great spooky weekend everyone!

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Bird Song Print

I finally got around to starting a new print. This is a mama bird with three babies in a nest. Mama is singing, Let me sing you a song about your world so new. It will be a companion to Whale Song that I made last summer. And I plan to do one more after this. It's fun to work on a linocut again after drawing for my dummy over and over again!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


The word that my friend Clara assigned me to illustrate this month was Respite. I had a really hard time figuring out what the word meant to me. But it's been a hectic month at my house and I need calm art-making time to regroup. I haven't really been getting enough lately. So here is my respite!

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I'm still working hard on my dummy, but it's getting boring posting about that over and over again. So here is the sketchbook that I'm making with Tessa. She draws with pen and then I try and figure out what her scribble looks like and turn it into a little drawing. It's been really fun! When I've made my way through the book, I'm going to go back and add some color with watercolor.

This is for the Sketchbook Project. What a neat program! Apparently my book needs to be turned in by January 31, 2015 to make it on the 2015 tour and I'd like to do that. It was really fun to see the mobile library of sketchbooks come through town and park at our library. To register the book you  have to give your sketchbook a title, and I'm calling this book Together since its a book of collaborations by Tessa and me. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baby Sings Again and Again

I went to the Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI Conference about a week ago. It was great!

Salina Yoon did quite a few fantastic presentations. She is full of energy, enthusiasm, and book ideas- she's published about 150 books for children! She critiqued my dummy and portfolio in general. She was very positive about my artwork which was great to hear. She also had plenty of comments about my dummy that I'm working through.

Tricia Lawrence was one of the agents at the conference, and she gave me great feedback about my dummy as well.

And Stan Yan did a session about drawing repeatable characters, something that I needed. We all drew the same character on graph paper from different angles. We also drew a series of just faces with different expressions, and a series of figures with different body language.

All of this has led me to redoing the story and artwork with lots of new energy and ideas. Baby now has a name, Rosie. (This week it's Rosie anyway!) So the new version of my book is Rosie Sings. I'm afraid you will have to see more images from the book as I keep working on it. I hope you like them!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Susurrus and Illuminate

I'm so excited about these book pages! These are the first two spreads from the collaboration I'm doing with Clara Boza. I just got the top spread in the mail from her today. It illustrates the word Susurrus: a whispering, murmuring, or rustling. I bet you can tell which side I did! Clara's side is made from handmade Japanese paper and gouache. If you run your hand over it, it sounds like the rustle of leaves. And it's sooooo neat!

The bottom spread is for the word Illuminate. I used watercolor pencils and stamps on the right. I really wanted to continue the artwork that Clara created on the left. Mine got a little bit funky, but hopefully turned out ok in the end.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Baby Sings

Yay! I finally got the book dummy done for Baby Sings. This is really different artwork for me. I tried to keep it simple but with some interesting subtleties. Who knows if I pulled it off, but I did get 3 pages and a cover done.

Here is the original art. It will be cropped for the book and those messy edges won't show. It has been fun working a little messier for this book than usual.

And here is the little book itself! It feels good to see it come to life.

Now I'm putting together my portfolio, and then it's the Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI Conference in Denver next Saturday. I think I'm going to be ready!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dropping Art

Last week on September 2nd was World Art Drop Day. I had so much fun getting two of my prints ready to hide in the library!

The one above is an older print of mine that I hid in the picture books with a note. I heard that several of the librarians saw it and would have taken it, but they left it for a patron. It was finally taken the day after I hid it. Hopefully it's gone to a good home!

This print was one I did a few years ago as a submission for the Rocky Mountain SCBWI. They had text to be included, so I left an area above and below blank on the print, scanned it, and added the text on the computer. Then for years I had this print hanging out in my WAAAAAAY too full flat file and it just looked incomplete. I quickly added some hand lettered text while Tessa was eating breakfast and  brought both prints when we went to storytime. This one I hid back in the area that librarians use to prep for crafts. I gave the librarian a hint and told her it was artwork for the library. It was found and it sounds like it is much loved!

This is how it turned out- I like it with the hand lettering!

Monday, September 8, 2014


I printed one of the linocuts from my Baby Sings dummy and didn't like how it turned out. I can usually print a block with a solid black area using not very much pressure and that creates a lighter textured black. Then I paint over it after it's dried and it looks interesting. But these prints are going on top of a music collage with paste paint. The paint seems to seal the paper and when I print, the ink just sits on top making a heavy and shiny print. I tried to do it lightly so some of the paste paint would show through, but it just looked blotchy. Ick.

So after consulting with my friends, I carved away all of the black. But that left the crib looking strange and awkward to me. Sooooooooo, I decided to pull up some of the linoleum and start over. I've only done this a couple of times ever. I use a lot of glue and once it's dried, the linoleum is really hard to pull up! This is  how it looked:

Then I glued down a new piece of linoleum, transferred the drawing, and carved it.

Here it is carved.

And here it is printed- so much better! It still needs some watercolor, but overall it's a big improvement!