Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where has the summer gone!

Whew!  I can't believe that it's almost August!  Last I posted the summer was just beginning and now we are just a few weeks away from it ending!  I have had a busy summer to say the least and I have lots to update you on.  First of all apologies for taking such a long time to post again, but when you hear all that I have done, and when you hear my good news, I think you'll understand.

June was my month of Art Festivals.  I did two art festivals within two weeks of each other.  The first was the Keuka Arts Festival.  It was my first time showing there and I had a great experience!  I brought my mom with me to help me out because doing a festival by yourself is a lot of work.  We had a great time after setting up just visiting with each other and the festival participants, and at night we went out to eat at some great restaurants.  The people who ran the festival were so kind and the attendance was good.  And best of all I sold 4 paintings:)  I also made the front page of the local newspaper!  Check out the great picture they got of me and my mother!

After the Keuka Arts Festival came the East Aurora Art Society Fine Arts Festival.  I am a member of the East Aurora Art Society and have been participating in this festival for at least 6 years now, so I couldn't miss this one….all my friends are there!  We have a great time hanging out all weekend, talking art and hoping to sell some.  I was lucky and sold four paintings again!  Four must be my lucky number.  When that festival was over I collapsed into July….

But the best news that came during that time has to do with the post I made just before I went "under" for 6 weeks.  I posted that I was putting myself out there as an illustrator and sent a promotional packet to a local publisher.  Well….I heard from the publisher and they loved my work!  We had a meeting and I showed them my "Swing" book and they loved it even more!  So I have been spending the month of July and the upcoming month of August finishing up the artwork for my first picture book!  So excited!  Can't believe it!  My professor was right.  Put yourself out there and good things can happen!

I can't show you the book before it's published, but I'll be able to share sneak peeks as we get closer to the publishing date….so stay tuned:)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Putting Myself Out There!

Well, I'm following up on my list that my professor had me make this past semester of things I can do to get my illustration career going!

This post is about my first official submission to a professional publisher!  During the semester I met a local publisher by the name of Buffalo Heritage Unlimited.  They have an imprint that publishes children's books called Paper Rock (Safety) Sissors…..don't you love that name! Well, I contacted them after my semester was over and discussed my work and my interest in being a children's book illustrator.  They reviewed my on-line portfolio with me while I was on the phone!  They were very complementary and said they would be interested in seeing more from me.  I told them about my book dummy and they seemed even more interested…..it's getting exciting, isn't it!  So above you can see the promotional packet that I sent them for review.  It includes a cover letter, bio and resume, a tear sheet of illustration samples, my character development from my book dummy and the book dummy itself fully mocked up.  I created custom labels for the folder and for the envelop I sent everything in.  The whole project helped put me well on my way to developing my branding as an illustrator.  Before this semester I was nervous to do such a thing, but with encouragement from my professor I realize that I have to start somewhere and I have created enough work so far that I might as well jump in and start putting myself out there!

I'm on my way and excited to hear what they have to say:)  I'll update you when I hear back from them.   In the mean time I think I need to put together another promotional packet…..

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


It's official!  I joined SCBWI!  SCBWI is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and it is the largest professional organization dedicated to production of children's literature and illustration.  I knew of SCBWI before this semester, and even ordered a video of an interview with Tomie dePaola done by SCBWI.  And then, this semester my professor spoke so highly of SCBWI that I decided I was crazy not to join.  And I am so glad that I did!!!!  It is a great place to get connected as an illustrator and although I have not fully digested all the resources available, I have found several I really like.

One opportunity that interests me is the Tomi dePaola Illustrator award.
The Tomie dePaola Illustrator Award is given annually to an illustrator of promise chosen by Tomie himself. The award consists full tuition, transportation and accommodations to the New York Winter Conference held in Manhattan. The winning piece of art will be featured at the annual winter conference in New York.
Not only is Tomie dePaola one of my favorite illustrators, but the opportunity to do some illustration work, and have Tomie himself review it, is irresistible:)

So for now I am a new member just beginning to discover the possibilities of a career in children's picture book illustration and excited to share my news with you:)  I'll keep you updated with what I discover and learn and opportunities that I may take advantage of.  Stay tuned…...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Color Finishes

So here is the moment you have all been waiting for……my color finishes or final art.  At least it's final for now until I get some feedback that makes me decide to change them:)  My professor helped me chose the 4 strongest compositions from my dummy book and those are the ones I finished first.  I had done the cover illustration last semester so I include that with these since it set the color pallet and tone for the artwork.  As I mentioned before, I have three more I want to finish off.  They are the "cow" scene, the "dog and squirrel from above" scene and the "boy flying" scene.  You can check these out in my color studies post which preceded this post.  I figure these additional scenes will give me a nice variety of angles, perspectives, and characters to chose from for the final 5 that I will use in my final thesis.

These are mixed media paintings done on illustration board.  They all measure 12"H x 22"W.  I little bit about my process…

I transfer the drawing onto the illustration board with graphite.  Then I paint in local colors with watercolor to get the values and approximate colors.  I know I can always change these a bit so it helps me to see whether I have made them too saturated or too light.  Then I put an oil wash over the whole painting and remove it with tissue in areas where I don't want it, paying attention to shadows and form. When it's dry I go back in with oil paint preserving what I like from the underpainting and covering up or enhancing areas where I want to draw the eye.  I then use prisma color pencil to add the fine details I can't get with the brush.

So here they are!  Let me know your thoughts.  I'll post the next three when I have them done.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Color Studies

Here are the color studies I did for my picture book "The Swing".  Some are done in prism color marker and some are done in prisma color pencil.  I think I like the pencil versions better so that may be my tool of choice for future projects.  I didn't do a color study on every page yet, just the ones I want to take to finish.  I'll eventually do them all so I can show it to a publisher, but for now here is what I have.   Let me know your thoughts.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Dummy

Ok, so many of you know that I am working on a picture book as part of my studies at AAU.  I actually will illustrate three picture books in total, but only 5 fully finished illustrations from each manuscript.  One picture book, however, I have a personal soft spot for and so I decided to illustrate the whole thing!  That means I need to create a book dummy for the whole thing.  A book dummy is a value study layout of each page.  It helps you to see the flow of the book, determine she sequence of images and maintain the consistency of the characters.  I worked for most of the semester this winter/spring on creating my book dummy.  It still needs a few tweaks, but at least for now, it is in a close to finished state so I thought I would post it for you.  I'll post the whole dummy as a storyboard and then each page so you can get a feeling for how the book will flow.


Copyright and Dedication Page

Title Page

Wordless spread to establish environment

Wordless ending page

I'll post my color work next time!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Busy April and May

Wow!  I can't believe I haven't posted since March!  It has been a very busy April and May and I have so much to tell you, but I just haven't had the time to sit down and write.  In the last month I finished up teaching at my college, which meant final exams and final grades.  I also finished up my semester at AAU which meant final exam and final projects.  Plus Mother's Day, basketball tournaments with my older son, volleyball tournament with my daughter,  and a crossing over ceremony for my younger son who became a boy scout!  Whew!  It was a lot.  Now I have some time so I thought I'd catch up on my blog.  Rather than inundate you all at once with what I have been doing I thought I'd do a couple of posts over the next few days so you will have something fun to look forward to each day.

Let's start with my raven study, which is where I left off.  At the beginning of April my good friend and fellow artist Jen Seth-Cimini and I made a little retreat to a cabin for 24 hours of painting.  Jen found us an adorable little cabin at Beaver Meadows, an naturalist site near us in Western New York. We brought our food, chocolate and cookies and drinks, our sleeping bags and our paints!  We had a blast talking and drinking and painting till all hours of the morning.  It was wonderful to get away, no kids, no meals to cook, just painting and laughing.  I do a ton of both whenever I am with Jen.  She is such a great friend and artist:)

Here is Jen and our cabin...

Here is Jen set up in her space

And here is one of her paintings that she was working on there…a view out of our cabin window.

We ordered in some food including cheese and bacon covered french fries!  Yummy!  I wanted a little salt to go with them and the bar maid at the restaurant/bar we went to gave us the whole shaker!  We laughed for hours about that and brought it back to paint a picture of it.  Here is the photo reference we took for the painting.  Painting to come:)

We made a camp fire that night outside in the fire pit and sat around it in 22 degree weather looking at the stars and listening to the boy scout troupe that came to use the observatory on the property for their own star gazing.  The next morning was beautiful so we went on a walk…

And here is the painting I worked on…another raven study.   I started another painting but did not finish it and haven't worked on it since that weekend.  When I'm done with it I'll post it for you.  

Hope you enjoyed the story of our little retreat!