Monday, December 28, 2015

Art Trading Cards

A few weeks ago at our monthly art meeting with the East Aurora Art Society we did an activity where we created and traded art cards.  We each created one and then exchanged them with each other at the end of the night.  This little exercise was so much fun that I continued to create art trading cards.  I think I am obsessed!  And I realized it's a great way to try out new techniques or characters without taking much time and with low commitment to the project.  If it doesn't turn out, just throw it's only a 2.5" x 3.5" piece of cardstock!  I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you here.  Which one is your favorite?  Let me know in the comments below.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Lovely Holiday Greeting from 1966

I know that it's past Christmas, but everyone is still in the holiday spirit till New Year's, right?  My colleague turned me onto this classic holiday greeting commercial from CBS that aired in 1966!   It was so lovely I just had to share it with you all. 

Designed by R.O. Blechman and animated by Willis Pyle. Beautiful, hand-drawn pen & ink drawings. Music arranged by Arnie Black. 


Friday, December 25, 2015

Jack's Christmas Present

I wanted to share with you a wonderful opportunity I had to get to know a little boy by the name of Jack.  Jack is the sweetest little boy whose grandfather discovered me at the Cornhill Arts Festival this summer.  He told me that Jack loves his swing as much as the boy in my book "The Swing".  He asked if I could paint a picture of Jack in his swing in a similar fashion to the artwork in the book.  I thought it would be fun!   

I had Jack's grandfather send me all kinds of pictures of Jack so I could make some sketches. Although I have never met Jack, his personality shined through in the pictures, so I really felt like I got to know him.  He has this impish little grin that I really wanted to capture in the final painting.  I created a final sketch with a few color studies for his grandpa's approval, then I created the final art in oil on illustration board.  Below you can see the finished piece and the work in progress with a several photo references of Jack and the color studies. 

The painting was intended as a Christmas present so I finished and mailed it out in early December.  I hope Jack has a wonderful time opening his present and discovering himself in the painting:)

Merry Christmas Jack!
Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Open your hand to the Poor

As you may already be aware, with the launch of the book "The Swing" I committed to donating 50% of the proceeds of the sale of the book to a wonderful organization called Feed My Starving Children.  This organization feeds hungry children around the world.  I have volunteered many times with my own children to pack the food and pray over it as it makes it's way to people in need.  I could not think of a better organization to support with the sale of "The Swing" than FMSC.  Their vision is:

With God's help, Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) will strive to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world by helping to instill compassion in people to hear and respond to the cries of those in need.  

As I did last year, I have kept count of all the books I sold in 2015 and for Christmas I am making my donation to FMSC.  Drum roll please...........

This year "The Swing" will donate $450!!!!

According to FMSC's website $50 will feed a starving child with Manna Pack food for 7 months!  In that time the child's life is literally transformed.  That means that with your support of "The Swing" this year we will feed and transform the lives of 9 precious children.  That's 9 happy faces like those below compiled from the FMSC website.

Thank you for your support and for supporting Feed My Starving Children. 

 Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Clover and the Shooting Star

This is a special picture book that I have been working on and it's almost ready for the press.  I have one spread left to finish and then I will send it to the printer.  It is a board book format, so it's shorter than a normal picture book and I did all the art fairly quickly so it would have a fresh expressive quality.  Instead of finishing it in photoshop and laying in the text professionally, I decided to collage the text directly onto the pages.  It was important to me that it kept the handmade quality of the original because the whole project was done in love.  It is called Clover and the Shooting Star and it is dedicated to my niece Nicole Diane Miller-Harris who left us too soon.  I am giving it to her parents, my bother-in-law and sister-in-law, for them to read to their grandchildren as a way to remember Aunt Nicole.  

Above is the cover art with Clover the rabbit in the middle and his friends Raccoon  Mole, Porcupine and Possum and her babies.  The synopsis of the story is that Cover sees a beautiful shooting star and it touches his heart.  He wants everyone to have had the same wonderful experience.  But as he talks with his friends he can't find anyone else who saw the star that had moved through the sky so quickly.  It makes Clover sad.  Then wise old owl informs Clover that there others have seen the star and are carrying the hope of her brilliance on!  

Below are a few of the finished pages from the book.  The last page is the "big reveal" page and the tear jerker page, so I won't show you that one till it's published:)

I thought this book would be a nice way to help little ones deal with the loss of a special person.  The ending is hopeful and let's them know their loved one is not forgotten and will live on in a very special way.  While it came from a place of sadness in our family, my hope is that it brings healing and hope to many.

I plan to have this book available by the beginning of the year so I can share it with you at my art shows and openings.  Let me know what you think.  Would you like me to send one to you?  Or you can pick one up at my next art show!  You can let me know in the comments section:) 

Monday, December 7, 2015

20 of the Most Beautiful Picture Books (in my personal collection)

I was intrigued the other day when I found a post called  20 Of The Most Beautiful Children's Books In The World.   Since I love picture books I had to check it out.  I owned several of the books, but there were also books I had never seen before.  Amazon here I come!  There were also books I felt belonged on the list that were missing.  So I thought...why not share with my readers my picks for the 20 Most Beautiful Picture Books?  Now, I have not finished building my picture book collection, (and I don't think I ever will!) but of the 300+ books that I have right now, I have many beautiful ones that I would love to share with you!

I buy picture books for all kinds of reasons, so if your favorite book is not here do not fear, I may still have it in my collection.  I buy picture books for the beauty of the art and the beauty of the story.  I buy them for the whimsy of the characters or the fun of the layout.  I buy the classics because they remind me of my childhood.  And I buy books from illustrators who are brand new to the scene because of their fresh take on visual storytelling.  But I have to admit, being an artist, I almost always buy them for their art:)  I also have many picture books in my collection that have been withdrawn from school or public libraries for one reason or another (you can see the tags on some of them in the picture below).  I cherish those because of the number of little hands and eyes that have enjoyed the stories and art. 

So here are the 20 Most Beautiful Picture Books (in my personal collection).  I hope you find a new one to add to your own collection!

ROW 1:
1.   Yatandou, by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Peter Sylvada
2.   Bats at the Library, by Brian Lies
3.   Journey, by Aaron Becker
4.   The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
5.   Der Baum der Erinnerung (Translated:  The Memory Tree), by Britta Teckentrup

ROW 2:
6.   The Umbrella, by Ingrid & Dieter Schubert
7.   The Fox and the Crow, by Manasi Subramaniam, illustrated by Culpeo S. Fox
8.   A Blue So Blue, by Jean-Francois Dumont
9.   14 Cows For America, by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
10. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

ROW 3:
11.  Keats's Neighborhood, by Ezra Jack Keats
12.  The Star People - A Lakota Story, by S.D. Nelson
13.  Moses - When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Nadir Nelson
14.  A Redwall Winter's Tale, by Brian Jacques, illustrated by Christopher Denise
15.  The Wind In The Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

ROW 4:
16.  The Red Tree, by Shaun Tan
17.  Flora and the Flamingo, by Molly Idle
18.  Fire on the Mountain, by Jane Kurtz, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
19.  Great Joy, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bigram Ibatoulline
20.  Little Elephants, by Graeme Base

Tell me, what picture books you consider most beautiful?  I would love to add them to my collection!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Selfie or Not to Selfie

art from Roswell Park Cancer Institute

It's no surprise to anyone that we are living in a time of the glorified "ME".  Most people I know are sick of the "selfie" and the focus on "me, me, me" by our society.  Even the college students who I teach are sick of our culture's obsession with "constant self promotion".  They tell me they find it annoying.  

While I was driving home from work today I was listening to the radio I heard a great talk from David Jeremiah on the opposite of the selfie.....being humble and humility.  He had such a great quote I had to share it with you.

I love that!!  Thinking of myself less and thinking of others more is all I need to do to counter balance this culture of "self obsession".  I hope this quote is as motivational for you as it was for me!  What do you think humility means?