Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Illustration Directories

Excellent advise from Mark Mitchell and Jo Ann Miller: Should you advertise in an illustration directory?

...there are always people — right now especially — looking for that nostalgic, hands on feel in the art. Watercolor, draftsmanship, the simple pen and ink line have a more important place than they had three years ago. Everybody’s been touched by someone who’s lost a job. People are going through a tough time. They want an emotional comfort level. That means images that strike an emotional, warm and fuzzy feeling, that appear hand-made rather than in your face and MTV-like.

...

There’s always a need for the humaneness in visual images —  particularly in an economy that’s struggling. And it’s often found in pictures done in the very traditional mediums like watercolor and  pencil. I think artists of that old school style have shied away from promoting themselves when they should be embracing opportunities to showcase their art.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Neighborhood

We will be making the big move to North Carolina this weekend. Our new home will be in the Trinity Park neighborhood of Durham.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snow

I really like Uri Shulevitz, and his book Snow is certainly appropriate for this season.

We got our first snow accumulation here in Madison this past Thursday, which is always beautiful. We will likely get more tonight and tomorrow.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Illustration Art

Here is a great illustration blog.

Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

This was a wonderful present from my husband on my birthday (Nov. 27)!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pope Meets Artists in Sistine Chapel

Click here for the whole article:

He added: "Faith takes nothing away from your genius or your art: on the contrary, it exalts them and nourishes them."

...

Benedict, himself an accomplished pianist, said Saturday: "The experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful."

He told the artists: "You are the custodians of beauty: thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A New Drafting Table



I bought this beautiful, solid oak drafting table from my employer; an Architectural / Engineering firm. I got a great deal on it, and Joel and I could certainly use a nice one like this.

The place is a mess because we're getting ready for a move to North Carolina in a month!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

NYT Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2009

Here are the best illustrated children's books of 2009, according to the New York Times:

Every year since 1952, the Book Review has asked a panel of judges to select 10 books from among the several thousand children’s books published that year. The judges this time around were Adam Gopnik, who writes regularly for The New Yorker and is the author of two novels for children, “The King in the Window” and the forthcoming “Steps Across the Water”; Jillian Tamaki, a teacher at the School of Visual Arts and the recipient of a Society of Illustrators gold medal; and Lisa Von Drasek, the children’s librarian of the Bank Street College of Education.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Best of 2009

Here are the best picture books of 2009 according to Publishers Weekly:

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors
Chris Barton, illus. by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge)
The unlikely subjects of this fascinating picture book biography exemplify ingenuity and dedication to chasing one's dreams.

The Curious Garden
Peter Brown (Little, Brown)
With humor and some showstopping spreads, Brown offers a green fable about the rebirth of a city, without a hint of preachiness.

Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales
Lucy Cousins (Candlewick)
Moving beyond the geniality of Maisy, Cousins expertly draws out the primitive emotions at the core of Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, and six other beloved stories.

Dinotrux
Chris Gall (Little, Brown)
Few things are more kid-pleasing than trucks and dinosaurs—put them together in a raucous, prehistoric hybrid and you have picture-book gold.

John Brown: His Fight for Freedom
John Hendrix (Abrams)
Hendrix's powerful, exaggerated imagery in this picture book biography is ideally suited to the life of this controversial American abolitionist.

Stagecoach Sal
Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Carson Ellis (Disney-Hyperion)
Blithe storytelling and slyly humorous art give this story of an utterly confident, quick-thinking 19th-century heroine plenty of pioneer spirit.

The Lion & the Mouse
Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown)
Not a single word from Aesop's fable of friendship appears in Pinkney's version, set in the Serengeti. This isn't a problem since the lovingly detailed interplay between the protagonists say it all.

Otis
Loren Long (Philomel)
Long's story of the friendship between a tractor and a young calf exudes a comforting sense of nostalgia and a gentleness of spirit.

Crow Call
Lois Lowry, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline (Scholastic Press)
Newbery Medalist Lowry's first picture book, drawn from a childhood story about her father's return from war, is poignant and quietly moving, with a timely resonance.

Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World
Marilyn Nelson, illus. by Jerry Pinkney (Dial)
Gloriously evocative poetry and paintings create a stirring tribute to an all-female swing band that made spirits soar during an era of war and prejudice.

Duck! Rabbit!
Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle)
A simple, fixed design and two combative, off-screen voices make this book and its central optical illusion—is that animal a duck or a rabbit?— a delight.

All the World
Liz Garton Scanlon, illus. by Marla Frazee (S&S/Beach Lane)
A subtle undercurrent of interconnectedness and a spare elegance make this picture book more than just a gentle ode to families of all shapes, sizes and kinds (which it assuredly is).

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Birthday Card


Today is my father's 60th birthday. My three siblings and I got him a gift, and I drew this birthday card to go with it.

When we were little kids, we played a game where he would lie on the floor and we would all pile on top of him. We called it "Dead Dog and Flies."

Happy birthday, Pa.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wild Review

I have not yet seen the movie Where the Wild Things Are, but I thought this was an interesting review.

I too like it in the book when his room slowly changes into a forest.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Defiant Ones

From The New Yorker, a good article about parents and discipline in children's books:

...the stern disciplinarians of the past—in Robert McCloskey books, parents instruct children not to cry—have largely vanished. The parents in today’s stories suffer the same diminution in authority felt by the parents reading them aloud...

The typical adult in a contemporary picture book is harried and befuddled, scurrying to fulfill a child’s wishes and then hesitantly drawing the line. And the default temperament of the child is bratty, though often in a way so zesty and creative that the behavioral transgressions take on the quality of art.

...

One of the best writers of contemporary picture books is Kevin Henkes, a Wisconsin artist, whose Midwestern good sense is paired with a cheery pastel palette. For the past two decades, he has been depicting families as amiable, orderly mice. Henkes’s clean lines give his dot-eyed creatures a machined, Hello Kitty cuteness, but their emotions are palpably human.

I met Kevin Henkes this weekend at an opening reception for an exhibit of children's book art. A very nice man.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration

I plan to attend this on Sunday. It should be interesting. I've spoken with Kevin Henkes over the phone, and am looking to meet him in person.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A New Portrait


This one is of a couple whose 1-year wedding anniversary is coming up this October (mine is, too!). I work with the father of the groom, who asked me to do this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Writing with Pictures

Thanks to a Barnes & Noble coupon, today I got a new book in the mail: Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books by Uri Shulevitz. I've been looking forward to this for a while - it is one of the best resources on children's book illustration.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sketch of the Day

Tomie dePaola

Today is Tomie dePaola's 75th birthday.

Tomie is a great and prolific illustrator who came from a loving, supportive family. I too had a very good childhood, and am encouraged to know that that isn't a hindrance to being a successful illustrator!

From Elizabeth Kennedy:

Tomie came from a loving family of Irish and Italian background. He had an older brother and two younger sisters. His grandmothers were an important part of his life. Tomie's parents supported his desire to be an artist and to perform on stage. When he expressed an interest in taking dance lessons, he was immediately enrolled, even though it was unusual for a young boy to take dance lessons at that time. (See Oliver Button is a Sissy.) The emphasis in Tomie's family was on enjoying home, school, family and friends, and embracing personal interests and talents.

dePaola received a BFA from Pratt Institute and an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts. Between college and graduate school he spent a brief time in a Benedictine monastery. DePaola taught art and/or theater design at the college level from 1962 through 1978 before devoting himself fulltime to children's literature.

DePaola's picture books cover a number of themes/topics. Some of these include: his own life, Christmas and other holidays (religious and secular), folktales, Bible stories, Mother Goose rhymes, and books about Strega Nona. He has also written a number of informational books like Charlie Needs a Cloak, which is the story of the creation of a wool cloak, from shearing a sheep to spinning the wool, weaving the cloth, and sewing the garment. His collections include Mother Goose stories, scary stories, seasonal stories, and nursery tales. His books are characterized by humor and light hearted illustrations, many in a folkart style. DePaola creates his artwork in a combination of watercolor, tempera, and acrylic.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Something I would love getting invited to

From the Holy See press office:

A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office this morning to present Benedict XVI's forthcoming meeting with artists, which is due to take place in the Sistine Chapel on 21 November.

Among those participating in the press conference were Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, and Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums.

Archbishop Ravasi explained how his dicastery is promoting and organising the meeting, which will coincide with the tenth anniversary of John Paul II's Letter to Artists of 4 April 1999, and the forty-fifth anniversary of Paul VI's meeting with artists of 7 May 1964.

"The aim of the meeting", said the archbishop, "is to renew friendship and dialogue between the Church and artists, and to encourage new opportunities for collaboration".

For his part, Antonio Paolucci explained how the artists invited, their numbers necessarily limited due to the space available in the Sistine Chapel, come from all the continents, "They are", he said, "men and women of different cultures and languages: ... painters, sculptors, architects, writers and poets, musicians and singers, directors and actors from cinema and theatre, dancers".

On the evening of 20 November, before their meeting with the Holy Father on 21 November, the artists will visit the Vatican Museums' collection of modern and contemporary art, which was created at the express wish of Paul VI.

The Sistine Chapel is quite a thing to behold, but how cool it would be to be there with the pope!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In Defense of Comic Books

A good column In Defense of Comic Books. An exerpt:

The thing is, I’d been reading comic books since I was five years old and they had been instrumental in teaching me to read. Comic books dealt with major struggles between the forces of good and evil with the fate of the world often at stake. I was reading way above grade level, and actually dreaded class reading times, when we had to read these stories about a boy, a girl and a dog who didn’t seem to ever do much of anything. Chasing a ball around the backyard wasn’t my idea of a ripping yarn.

My big brother read comic books as a youngster, as did my husband who still reads them as an adult (he has also illustrated comic book covers). I don't follow comic books for the most part, but have read several of the big graphic novels including Maus, The Sandman, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Watchmen. I currently enjoy following the excellent Fables series.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm Back


Sorry for the long absence. It's been a big summer! We spent a couple of weeks in Italy, then my twin sister and brother in law moved down to Austin this past weekend. Sad for us, but we're happy for them! Jay Long, one of our favorite artists, is based in Austin.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Color Wheel


With the good help of Mark Mitchell over at How To Be A Children's Book Illustrator, I am working on improving my color skills. Or rather on gaining some color skills. I think it has been one of my weakest points.

Here is my color wheel, which was more difficult that I thought it would be. I went a bit heavy on the warmer colors, and my yellow-green could use more yellow, but it was a great exercise. I really look forward to working through his other color sessions.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pigments

How Watercolor Paints Are Made.

I am also currently reading Bright Earth. An excellent and informative book so far.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day


This is a commissioned portrait that someone had me do for a Father's Day gift to his parents.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Underground Comix

Today we went to an exhibit of Underground Comix at the Chazen Museum of Art. Great, weird, and interesting work. I liked seeing the originals up close. Last year we went to a similar - but much bigger - comics exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

We wondered if the artists ever thought about their work ending up in a nice, quite museum.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Line Game

From Anthony Browne, children's author, illustrator, and laureate:

My brother and I used to play a game that we thought was our own invention, until realizing that it is played by children all over the world. One of us would draw a shape and the other would turn that shape into a picture. I think all children should play it to encourage drawing.

I worked from home when my children were growing up so was lucky I was around to read to them. I spent time drawing with them too, and yes they played the game I 'made up' with my brother.

This struck me because, well, my three siblings and I played this game when we were little, and I too thought we were the only ones who played it. We called it "The Line Game," and would continually pass around the paper with each kid drawing a line until the whole thing turned into a picture. Or until it turned into a fight ...

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maurice Sendak Turns 81

A friend reminded me this morning that it is Maurice Sendak's birthday today:

It's the birthday of the children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, (books by this author) born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1928. His parents were Polish immigrants, and as Maurice was growing up, many extended family members died in the Holocaust. So his parents were constantly grieving for their family back in Poland, and they were worried about Maurice, who was a very sick child. He almost never went outside — most of what he knew about the world outside his bedroom came from visiting family members, from the view through his window, and from books. His dad read to him before bed every night, and his mom was constantly hovering around, making sure he was all right. So when he eventually became an illustrator, he oftentimes painted a moon in the background as a symbol of his watchful mother. He started drawing, got a job in high school drawing the Mutt and Jeff cartoon strip into comic books, and went on to art school. When he was 19, he illustrated a physics book, Atomics for the Millions (1947). Then he worked for years designing the window displays for FAO Schwartz while he took night classes at art school.

And eventually he started writing and illustrating his own books for children, books about normal kids who end up in surreal settings where strange things happen, books like Where the Wild Things Are (1963) and In the Night Kitchen (1970). Maurice Sendak has illustrated more than 90 books. He said: "You cannot write for children. They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My Style

Here is an iPhone application that Joel and I worked on. He did the designing and drawing, and I watercolored.

Monday, June 08, 2009

June 6th, 2009

Drawing Day was this past Saturday, June 6th.

I didn't participate however, because I had something more important to do - be at my dear twin sister's wedding!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dom Deluise, RIP


Dom Deluise has died at the age of 75.

I did not know that he wrote seven books for children.

Monday, May 04, 2009

David Diaz


I love David Diaz's artist statement, to the point that I wish I had written it for myself:

“An illustrator’s first priority is to illuminate, to enhance and make clear to the reader the text. Drawing is the foundation on which my art is built. The strength of this foundation determines whether a work will succeed or fail. All of the technique in the world can't save a bad drawing. As an artist, the challenge for me is to retain the spontaneity of an initial sketch or thumbnail drawing through to the creation of the final image.”

Tough Times


Grim projections for children's book sales from Publishers Weekly and the Institute for Publishing Research:

... the picture book category is expected to be down 5.7% this year compared to last year, and won't regain its 2008 numbers by 2012 ...

A Sale



Today my "portrait" was sold at Ancora. I think this calls for a new camera!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Freeloading & Snobbery

David Thompson on Freeloading & Snobbery:

"But on the subject of dissent, one might wonder whether publicly subsidised art and theatre will tend to favour a political outlook in which the subsidy on which it depends is most vigorously endorsed, thus leading to uniformity, inhibition and a political comfort zone."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sketch of the Day

The scanner was misbehaving after I installed Leopard on my iMac (G5). Sweet Husband solved that problem!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth Dies

Painter Andrew Wyeth Dies at 91 (via Maggie's Farm):

"I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future — the timelessness of the rocks and the hills — all the people who have existed there," he once said. "I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape — the loneliness of it — the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn't show.

"I think anything like that — which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone — people always feel is sad. Is it because we've lost the art of being alone?"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Art on Google Earth

How cool is this? Click here for another article about it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Theodore Dalrymple on Contemporary Art

Here is an article by Theodore Dalrymple at New English Review (I found this through Maggie's Farm). An exerpt:

It is here that Scruton’s argument becomes illuminating. The successful modern artist’s subject is himself, not in any genuinely self-examining way that would tell us something about the human condition, but as an ego to distinguish himself from other egos, as distinctly and noisily as he can. Like Oscar Wilde at the New York customs, he has nothing to declare but his genius: which, if he is lucky, will lead to fame and fortune. Of all the artistic disciplines nowadays, self-advertisement is by far the most important.

This is reflected in the training that art students now undergo. Rarely do they receive any formal training in (say) drawing or painting.

Indeed, from having talked to quite a number of art students, it seems that art school these days resembles a kindergarten for young adults, where play is more important than work. The lack of technical training is painfully obvious at the shows the students put on. Many of the students have good ideas, but cannot execute them successfully for lack of technical facility. Indeed, their technical incompetence is only too painfully obvious.

It is very striking, too, how few art students have any interest in or knowledge of the art of the past. Do you visit galleries, I ask them?

No, they reply, a little shocked at the very suggestion, and as if to do so would inhibit them in their creativity or to condone plagiarism.

As for art history, they are taught and know very little. This is all part of the programme of disconnecting them radically from the past, of making them free-floating molecules in the vast vacuum of art.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Art at Ancora

Later this year I will have work on display at two Ancora Coffee locations: from April 17 to May 28 on Monroe Street and September 24 to November 5 on King Street.