Monday, June 29, 2015

Our Home Finished

Here's how the print I've been working on turned out. I'm pretty excited about it! This will be the cover for the dummy that I'm working on now.

Above is the linoleum. I carved it without attaching it to a backing block this time and it worked fine. I had to have a rigid board to support it while printing so it wouldn't move. Printing big images by hand is always a little challenging. The bigger the linocut, the more likely it will shift a tiny bit while I am rubbing the back and give me a bad print.

Here's a photo of me carving the sun rays. I swear my nose isn't really that big! It must be the camera angle. :)

Pulling the print up to peek is always a favorite moment. I love seeing how it turned out!

Here's how the black and white print looks. I left space a little thin and splotchy so when I add gouache it will show up more and look neat.

This is what the front cover will look like and the sun will be on the back. Yay for Our Home!

Monday, June 22, 2015


This recent linocut of the Ugly Duckling and his siblings discovering water for the first time is my entry for Susanna Leonard Hill's illustration contest. If you are an illustrator, go check out the contest on her blog!

Here is more of The Ugly Duckling text by Hans Christian Anderson:

The following day, the weather was glorious, and the sun shone brightly on all the green burdock leaves. The mother duck came down to the water with her entire family and jumped in with a splash. "Quack, quack," she said, and one after another the ducklings leaped in after her. The water closed over their heads, but in an instant they were back up again, floating along beautifully. Their legs paddled along on their own, and now the whole group was in the water- even the ugly gray duckling joined in on the swimming.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Carving Our Home

I've been working away at this linocut for the cover of my dummy, Our Home. I included my reading glasses in this photo because they are a necessary tool! The other day I kept making little slips and mistakes. It was driving me crazy. A linocut with this much detail will have plenty of imperfections, but  I made 3 or 4 bad cuts on the very same house and it's because I couldn't see well.

I've only been wearing reading glasses for about 6 months and they are the weakest ones. But lately I've felt like my eyes were failing! Which was understandably upsetting. Then I finally realized that it's my lighting. A light right over the top just makes a glare on the linoleum. But lights to the side show me the shadows and that really helps my brain interpret the information. So I'm back on track and happy carving!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Our Home

I'm really excited to get back to one of my favorite picture book dummies. It's title was Home, but since Carson Ellis' book Home came out I felt like slightly changing my title. Carson's book is really wonderful by the way, and I'd definitely recommend it!

So I'm going with the title Our Home. I sketched out a new dummy quite a while ago and didn't get further with it. But Ive pulled it out to finish and it reads well without too many changes. So I'm diving in! I'm going to be simultaneously cleaning up the sketches and carving a big linocut for the cover. I hope to have one or two linocuts and the new dummy finished by the time I go to the SCBWI LA Conference at the end of July. I'm working fast!

Here is the drawing on tracing paper for the block I'm about to start. Actually, for the first time I'm going to try carving a large piece- 19x10 with the linoleum unmounted. So I guess I can't call it a block.

And here's a super quick mock-up of the layout of the cover. I can't wait to get started!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you might be sighing and thinking, "She's going to carve ANOTHER picture of the Earth?" And I feel your eye-roll and I sympathize with it. But I guess I just have to keep after this theme until I get it right. Cross your fingers with me that this will be the best version yet. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ugly Duckling Postcards

I ordered these postcards from Moo and they are so nice! The print and paper quality are excellent. And the packaging that they arrived in is outrageously gorgeous.

I put one of these images on each side of the postcard. So they aren't really postcards in the sense that you could mail them. But hey, they send you envelopes too.

If you are willing to pay the extra, their Luxe postcards are worth the money!

Monday, June 8, 2015


I'm going to be a guest artist at Make Studio's kid's art camp for one day this summer! The week I'm going to be a guest, the kids are creating their own creature and doing something different with him every day. I'm going to help them write stories and make their own books about their creatures.

We are going to cram a lot into 3 hours including writing a story, making a simple pamphlet-stitched book with a cover, and writing and illustrating in the book. So of course I had to make one myself first. I resurrected an old book dummy of mine, made changes and shortened it, and now I'm working on Maybelle and the Monster as an example for the class.

Here is my storyboard. I'll be giving them a blank storyboard as well as some ideas for getting to know their character and getting their story started.

I was thinking about lettering and trying to get the text to show up on a dark background. I think I will bring my letter stamps for the kids to use. I'll use them for my book sparingly also.

Here's a line drawing from the book of Maybelle reading to Hector her cat. After all of the drawings are done in black colored pencil I get to color! Yay!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Beautiful Swans

The Ugly Duckling grew up! Here he is meeting other swans for the first time. I think swans must be the most beautiful birds of all.

This is the new block on the right next to the first Ugly Duckling block I did on the left. You can see how the black ink stains the block and gets down in the little crevices. It's impossible to get completely clean and it doesn't really matter because the printing surface is the raised, top surface. As long as I get the top of the block clean I can store it and print off the block again if I want to.

Here is the first print I pulled off the block. This is my FAVORITE part of printmaking. Pulling that sheet of paper up to see what the new print will look like!

Thursday, May 28, 2015


This spring a friend of mine asked me to create a piece for her friends who were getting married. After talking about the image layout and looking at lots of photos, this is the print I made for Hannah and Kevin (and their very large dogs!!)

I haven't met Hannah and Kevin. I heard they like their picture and I hope they really do!

Doing commissions is hard because you often don't really know the person who asked you to create the art, or you don't  know the recipient, or you don't know the setting that was requested, or whatever, but it's IMPORTANT that you get it all just right anyway.

So I ask a lot of questions and hopefully get some reference photos. And there's always Google Images when you  are feeling lost. When I have a general idea for the image I usually run it past the client verbally or in an email and make sure I'm on the right track. If that goes well I do a drawing and show the client. Everyone who has asked me to make something for them has already been really familiar with my work. So I don't worry too much about if they will be able to envision what the final piece will look like based on the drawing. It will look like one of my linocuts!

I thought I'd share some of the other commissions I've done in the last few years.

This teepee is near Hayden, Colorado and was commissioned as a birthday present for the owner of the teepee by his very sweet girlfriend. I asked her if she minded if I made the print into an edition and had it available for sale for other people too. She thought that was fine, so I made it to go with a series of Colorado images that I sell locally as originals or cards.

This is a picture of my friend, Liz and her beloved dog, Smokey who passed away. She asked me to make a piece where they are sitting under a tree at sunset. I made this one a little more stylized but hopefully it still shows the love between the two of them.

This one was very hard. A coworker asked me to make something for the parents of a baby who passed away. She was a twin and her sister is living. My coworker wanted to give something personal that would commemorate Allie Mae. I wanted it to be small so they could tuck it away and only look at it sometimes if they wanted to. And I didn't want to try and do the baby's likeness because it would have been too sad and I don't think my artistic talents are up to it. So here is the symbolic piece I did. I not only feel  sympathy for the baby's parents, but I also have a lot of respect for people who make sympathy cards.

This one is a much happier story. A lady I've emailed quite a bit but never met in person collects my artwork. She had a fall and winter linocut of mine and wanted to get spring and summer images as well. She picked my Crows print as the summer picture and asked me if I had any spring pictures. And I have some that would maybe pass as spring, but I asked if she would wait while I made her a new piece that would go with the Crows. In this case, she didn't want to hear anything about the new image. She wanted me to surprise her. Like the Teepee, I asked if she would mind if I made it an edition and other people could buy a print also. 

So here is a spring picture and it's especially relevant this year with all of the rain. There are Sandhill Cranes because they fly through our area every spring and fall. These cranes are towing rain clouds. The river is high and there are glacier lilies blooming. 

Happy spring to all of you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ugly Duckling Painted

Here's how the first Ugly Duckling print turned out. I didn't originally know if the central image and the border would fight, but I think they are working together ok!

I've just started carving the second image. I'll post that when there is something worth seeing.

I wanted to share a little inspiration for the style of this linocut. I've always loved doing borders, but they are sort of old-fashioned for illustration. Sometimes I give in though, like in Dreaming of Flowers above.

One of my favorite illustrators who uses a lot of black and is not afraid of decorative patterns and borders is Julie Paschkis. She has a wonderful blog about children's books with several talented friends called Books Around the Table. Here are some of Julie's illustrations:

There's a Czech illustrator named Josef Paleček who I discovered online while poking around. Wow! I just love his colors, textures, and his style. Here are some of his Ugly Duckling illustrations:

And in an older style- Maxwell Armfield. I love the detailed paintings with the ancient style borders and text.

I just wanted to share some of the beautiful illustrations that were stirring around in my head as I created my own version of The Ugly Duckling. Thanks for taking a look!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ugly Duckling Progress

I've been working on lots of different things lately but I managed to squeeze in enough time to finish carving and print my first Ugly Duckling Block. 

Here it is black and white. I'm definitely going to add color though, so stay tuned!

I've already gotten started on the next image. This is when the Ugly Duckling is all grown up and meets some swans for the first time. I'm going to carve an apple tree and lilacs in bloom. This will be a very fragrant print!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Stamps at the Library

I wanted to share some photos of the kids stamping, drawing, and making some great art at our library during Children's Book Feast! It was so much fun and the stamps I made were a success. Yay!!

It started off rather calm and in control...

You should have seen the little twin on the left at work. She was incredibly enthusiastic. I think she may even grow up to be a printmaker! Or a drummer?

It got rather chaotic at times.

Here's my daughter in the middle with some of her friends having a great time.

And me toward the end. Whew!

Here's how the painting turned out. Most kids were more interested in doing their own pictures on blank paper, so if I do this again, I may just skip the big painting and make more stamps for the kids to use!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Stamping a City Scene

I'm getting ready for the Creativity Fair this weekend at Steamboat's Bud Werner Memorial Library. I'm excited! It's part of the Steamboat Book Feast, a festival of children's books this Saturday May 9th. Check out the schedule- Brian Floca and Avi are doing presentations! Here is a nice article from The Steamboat Today about the festival.

The Creativity Fair is aimed at the younger kids with arts and crafts, face painting, and storytelling. I'm going to be helping the kids do some stamping. I've been cutting cars, trucks, people, dogs, cats, and birds out of foam and sticking them on blocks. The foam prints really well with stamp pads. Here are some test prints with the blocks from my sketchbook.

Here are more blocks along with part of the scene I painted. 

And here's the whole scene. I am having to restrain my self from stamping on it right now. It's just calling out for some cars driving on that road! I'll be sure to share some photos and let you see how it looks once the kids are done with it.

If you are in Steamboat, please come and play at the library from 10-12 this Saturday, May 9th!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ed Emberley

I got to go to The Tattered Cover in Denver the other day. I love bookstores and this big marvelous bookstore is my favorite! We were at the one on 16th Street which is in an old building that has incredibly high ceilings, worn wooden floors, old furniture, and just feels like a perfect bookstore.

I spent time in the children's section of course. But I also looked very closely at the art books. I never get to browse art books anymore! I had four books picked out but I knew I could only buy one. The one I settled on surprised me. It's a very big book about the artwork of Ed Emberley by Todd Oldham and Caleb Neelon.

My brother and I grew up learning to draw from his Drawing Book of Animals. We drew on big stacks of old-school computer paper. My mom was studying Computer Science in college when the paper for printouts had holes running along the sides to feed it, and each sheet was connected to the next with perforated lines so you could have one long continuous printout. We drew his animals on that computer paper over and over again. We LOVED this book.

I knew that Mr Emberley was also a children's illustrator beyond the drawing books, but I didn't realize just how many books he's created until recently. He's made about 80 books!

The reason I kept coming back to this book while trying to pick one to take home was because of the many different styles, the fun exuberance of his artwork, the skill, and the variety of subjects. It's pretty amazing! I want to share some of the pages that I like best.

And here's a quote that made me really happy:
"I didn't consider myself an illustrator. I considered myself a book maker."