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Viewing Blog: John Nez, Most Recent at Top
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Tidbits from the studio of a freelance children's book artist...
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1. New changes to my website

Some new changes to my website went up over the weekend.  Now I've added a 'PDF Tearsheet' link, so visitors can download samples of my current illustration work.  I've been meaning to put up a tearsheet for years... but never got around to it before.

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2. A big summer reading poster!

This was a fun project for the wonderful folks at Highlights.  It's a summer reading poster that will be appearing in libraries and schools for summer reading. It's really, really big - much bigger than my 22" monitor.
 It actually started out as just a spot drawing, but they liked it so much they decided to turn it into a poster.
 With a little digital magic I adjusted the dpi and sizes, so that a larger drawing would work at poster size. This is the largest illustration I've ever done.

I was very pleased with how it turned out.  I tried out a new technique of isolating some of the images as layers with shadows, so it looks kind of like a collage.

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3. Featured on Elizabeth Dulemba's blog!

Today is the day that I'm featured on Elizabeth Dulemba's blog! It's a fun bit of bio and there is a free book giveaway too. In it I reveal all my secrets of how I networked my way into doing the book 'Peter Panda Melts Down!' using just a bus ticket and a bit of cleverness.

THANKS! Elizabeth!



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4. Art is like a shiny pebble...

I think making art is quite a bit like finding a shiny pebble in a stream. At first it's all glisteny and bright and you think it's the most beautiful thing ever. But then it dries and sometimes just looks dusty and tired. That's my little bit of wisdom for today.

It's spring on the drawing board today. I think I fell in love with the square sponge brush for blobbing out backgrounds.

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5. More Fun Than Mice!

More Fun Than Mice!

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6. A new picture book!

Here's the cover of my latest picture book. It's about a fire dog and takes place in a fire house.  I've always wanted to do a fire house book.

There's a big slurpy doggy kiss on the cover. I like how the cover typography came out. I also like fire engines, but red is a difficult color to do because it just gets too red!

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7. Spring has sprung!

Spring has sprung!  I quite like my new Lumix fz200. It lets you process the photos without photoshop - like I did here.  So that makes it more fun.

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8. Ducks in Droves are flocking to Peter Panda!

I have a newfound appreciation for National Geographic photographers.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get 25 ducks to all pay attention to a picture book?

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9. Here's a Peter Panda QwikFlik

Here's a Peter Panda QwikFlik - just the thing for a rainy winter's day. It's a real art trying to film and turn the pages at the same time... Read the rest of this post

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10. Happy Valentine's Day!

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11. On no! It's the invasion! Oh yes!

Look out! He's here! Peter Panda is now in a bookstore near you! (hopefully)

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12. Kudos to Jon Nez!

The original rough sketch for the cover

"What a sweet little book. Peter Panda may be having a melt down, but I've never seen one look so cute! If it isn't already obvious, it was the illustrations that initially made me want to check out this book. Even on my iPad, the illustrations were big, bright, and perfectly matched the lines on the page. Kudos to Jon Nez!"

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13. Yay! Peter Panda!

Peter Panda's first reviews have arrived and they seem to like the kibbles being dished up. Yay! Peter Panda! Even the cat likes it - and she's a slow reader.

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14. Peter Panda's Birthday!

Peter Panda was born at ALA mid-winter... so I guess this is like his first birthday!

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15. From Flintstone to Flynn...

I thought this progression of the protagonist was an interesting journey.  It started out looking a bit like Fred Flintstone (who I slavishly drew all through 5th grade)... and ended up a bit like Errol Flynn. 

Originally I had a comic character in mind. But editorial decisions changed it to a less comic and more heroic version. On the way I stumbled across a new line style I liked - strong, bold lines - drawn with pencil.

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16. Sketching away... lost in a book

I signed the contract for a new PB this morning... so that should keep me out of mischief for a while. I must be doing something right. Fun story, just right. As always, I'm trying for something slightly different from before.
So I'm busy, sketching away... lost in a book.

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17. Peter Panda Melts Down!

A new book I did arrived from Blue Apple Books.  That's a great way to start off the new year.

Peter Panda Melts Down! is fun book about a day in the life of Peter Panda.  The words are nimbly written by Artie Bennett, who has several best selling books to his resume. I would think a lot of kids and parents will relate to this story about getting through a day in the life with one difficult little panda.

The origin of this book happened 100% by chance - like everything important in life.  It happened because I decided to take the bus downtown for the second day of ALA last winter.  While everyone was away at the Caldecotts I had a chance to chat with the publisher and designer at Blue Apple Books. I'd known the designer from projects years ago in NYC. It is so great to be able to actually get some face time with publishers!

Once I started, the pictures to the book were created in a flurry of 10 weeks. As a bookmaker, I especially liked how every time I saw the manuscript the text had changed.  I admire that kind of improvisational book making, since that's how I make  books too.  I'm never quite sure when they're finally complete.

'Peter Panda Melts Down!' will be in stores this February... so the world can make his acquaintance at that point. I hope that readers take a shine to him, since he is clearly a big handful of a cute little panda.

All in all I love how a bit of serendipity in life can change everything.  It's too bad it's so rare to actually meet the people behind the books. 

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18. Happy Winter!

Happy Winter!

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19. Art imitates Life

All it needs to complete the match is the cat, a mouse and a toy train.

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20. Happy Holidays!

Here's wishing Happy Holidays to the faithful readers of my blog!  Thanks for reading my little old blogger blog.

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21. On the 7th day of Christmas...

On the 7th day of Christmas the USPS gave to me... 2 winners to the Goodreads giveaway. Soon copies of 'Mouse's Christmas Cookie' will be jetting off at Santa-Speed to West Virginia and North Carolina.

Meanwhile I have accomplished near biblical miracles of shopping, thanks to modern online technology. I have barely set foot in a mall. Whew!

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22. A delightful book event at Parkplace Books

A delightful evening was had by all at the Parkplace Books holiday event in Kirkland. A group of live musicians (Ostgard) played wonderful quiet holiday music in the background while patrons nibbled cookies and sipped wine and cocoa.

I had a marvelous evening of interesting book chat with local authors. Nina Laden was there with her amazing book collection. I sat with local book makers brimming with the excitement of being an author. And why shouldn't authors get a little recognition? We spend out lives in total isolation - never getting the applause that actors or musicians receive and require to keep them inspired. Even though a picture book artist does everything that a movie-maker does - creating characters, costumes, dialogue, emotions, directing and choreography... we never get invited to any Oscar parties.

It's sad that events like this are so rare here. My neighborhood doesn't even have a bookstore anymore. So last night was wonderful to be in a place where books are as important as designer furniture.

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23. Beware! Peter Panda may be hurtling towards you!

What's is this? A christmas tree ornament? A countdown to new years? I'd guess it's the world of Peter Panda bouncing into bookstores in the not too distant future.

Beware! In a nearby galaxy Peter Panda may be hurtling towards you! (I rarely get to use hurtling in a sentence) but in this instance it is justified.

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24. Who says illustrators don't get Holiday parties?

Who says illustrators don't get Holiday parties? Well... after going for two decades and 30 books without a Holiday party, I've finally been invited to one. Imagine that!

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25. 'Mouse's Christmas Cookie' - a new book!

Santa arrived last week with a box full of books. So it's starting to look a lot like Christmas around the studio desk. My new book with Two Lions finally arrived and I'm delighted with how the digital detail of the artwork translated into print on paper.

It's just amazing what printing can do. I'd think one appealing thing about digital coloring is how the artist can achieve color depth and control it with finesse. Also details like clouds and atmospheric shadows are fun to do... things which would drive an artist nuts with traditional paints.

Let's hope Santa likes having a mouse drive the Christmas toy train.

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