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Viewing Blog: JZ ArtBlog, Most Recent at Top
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1. Highlights Hidden Pictures

I recently got my copy of the new Highlights High Five Hidden Pictures magazine, with my artwork on the cover!  This was fun to work on, because my daughter is just the right age for High Five.  It has been fun introducing her to the hidden pictures games.  Can you find all five kites?

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2. Blast Off!

I created this piece for my agent's upcoming catalog, with the theme "Transportation".  I think every kid's favorite mode of transportation is imagination and a cardboard box! 

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3. Riley Mae Books Released

My newest books "Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek" and "Riley Mae and the Ready Eddie Rapids" have been released by Zonderkidz!  I did the covers and the spot art chapter headers for these middle-grade chapter books about a girl named Riley Mae who becomes the spoke-girl for Swiftriver Shoe Company.  Soon she's appearing in commercials and magazine ads, and every girl in town wants to wear Riley Mae shoes. Well, except for Riley. Because walking in those shoes means missing out on softball season, making her best friend TJ mad, and embarrassing her new friend, Rusty. It also means sneaking around, hiding, and keeping secrets---because suddenly something isn't quite right at Swiftriver. But a contract's a contract, so Riley laces up her 'Rock Shocker' hiking boots for a climb up Half-Dome in Yosemite. Will they be the right shoes to get her back on solid ground?


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4. As You Wish

Hi All!  Check out my first post to Once Upon A Sketch!  I offer tips and advice for setting the right goals for 2014 for your business and portfolio.


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5. Once Upon a Sketch

Well, this announcement is overdue, but starting this year, I will be one of the regular contriubutors to the blog "Once Upon A Sketch."  This blog is a resource for illustrators which gives "insight, education and news about the many facets of the Children’s Illustration Market. From Children’s Books to Character Design, Game Art, Storyboarding, Toys and licensed Products you’ll find articles, interviews and resources to help fuel your education and growth. Jump in and learn more about the various industries from working professionals and find out what it takes to become successful in this field."  Founded by Wilson Williams Jr and Norman Grock, the website became a go-to for artists looking to learn about new techniques, new technologies and important news affecting the illustration industry.  After Wilson's unexpected passing in August this past year, the blog went on hiatus for a few months.  During that time, Norman Grock began looking for new and returning contributors to partner with him in order to continue maintaining and updating "Once Upon A Sketch", keeping it a relevant resource for artists. 
I am excited to be able to be a part of this great website!  Check out our very first group-post of the year, "What We Wish We Knew BEFORE We Started Out As Artists".  Also, next week, I will be posting my first entry about identifying and setting meaningful goals for our portfolios and our businesses to attract new clients and appeal to new markets.
Thanks for reading!

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6. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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7. How Can I Help

Hi Everyone,
It's been an exciting month for book releases! I just got a copy of my newest picture book "How Can I Help?  God's Calling for Kids" in the mail!  It was such a treat to open, and my daughter had me read it to her right out of the envelope. 

Also, Concordia Publishing sent me this video about how one dad/pastor uses the book in his own life.


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8. The Summer Fairy

Exciting news!  My newest picture book "The Summer Fairy" has been released! 

This is a story about a fairy who visits every year on the last day of school to help the kids kick off summer vacation.  Do you want the Summer Fairy to visit you?  Just pick a flower on the last day of school, put it in the vase included with the book, and the Summer Fairy will visit you that night...leaving you a fun summer stash in the morning! 
I was so excited to get my copies.  The book comes beautifully packaged in a plastic case with cloth flower petals inside and a reusable plastic vase inserted into the back cover.  If you want to invite the Summer Fairy to your home, you can purchase the book at www.TheSummerFairy.com.  Also, check out this book trailer that the author made.  I love how she showcased so much of the artwork.  Enjoy!

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9. Into the Land of Snowflakes

I always paint a special piece for my yearly Christmas card to family and clients.  This year has been a year of "magical pieces".  I started off 2013 with "Faerie Lights in the Garden of Wishes".  Later, in the spring, I featured a magical ladybug in "Ladybug Picnic".  Plus, one of my biggest client projects of the year was a picture book about a fairy.  So, it seemed right to close out the year with a personal piece with a magical theme.  This artwork was loosely inspired by "The Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake".  Hope you enjoy!

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10. Fun With Kids

MB Artists' new promotional catalog themed "Fun With Kids" has been released!  Enjoy this new collection of artwork by this great group of artists!

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11. Good News Shoes

I have just wrapped up the cover art for the third title in Zonderkidz new "Faithgirlz - Good News Shoes" series.  I'm loving these books about Riley Mae, official sporty spokesgirl for the Swiftriver Shoe Company and unofficial mystery sleuth.  It was fun to design Riley Mae and all of her trendy shoes (each title features a different shoe).  The covers for the first two books have been released, and the books will be available for purchase in January 2014!


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12. Splash Park

Happy summer, everyone!

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13. Clubs In My Bag

My newest picture book, "The Clubs in my Bag" has been released by The Littlest Golfer!  I just got my copies in the mail the other day, and my daughter has taken to carrying the book around the house.  She loves the little turtles.  If you are interested in purchasing a copy for your little golfer, just click the image below.  Enjoy!

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14. MB Artists Family Catalog

My agency just put out its newest promotional catalog.  The theme for this one was "Family".  Hope you all enjoy all of the great pieces by the amazing MB Artist illustrators.  I love being a part of this talented group!

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15. Katie Kate Explains Epilepsy

It's been a busy spring!  In addition to working on a the covers for a new book series for ZonderKidz,  I just wrapped up the last book in the Katie Kate series, "The Great Katie Kate Explains Epilespy."  Here is a sneak peak of the cover art for this latest title.

I have several other picture books in the works for this summer as well, and will be wrapping up one of them later this month.  Stay tuned for some more sneak peaks!  Happy Summer!

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16. Promotional Postcards

Hi everyone!  Fellow illustrator Kristi Valiant (who has an adorable book about dancing penguins coming out later this year; everyone go preorder it) has a very informative blog post on promotional postcards for illustrators (you know, the ones you make and send out to art directors several times a yaer hoping that someone says "YES!  I love his/her work and have the perfect project for this art style!")  In any case, I wanted to share this post with you, because it is a great resourse for illustrators who are promoting themselves, their artwork, or their upcoming books.

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17. The Monsters Come Out At Night

My agency puts out a quarterly catalog featuring all of the artists in our group, and each catalog has a theme.  The second catalog of the year has the theme "Family", and I decided to take a slightly darker view of the subject than would be "typical" for the children's market, but is nonetheless very real for many children.

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18. Fairy Tales

MB Artists, the amazing artist agency that I belong to, has released a promotional catalog with the theme "Fairy Tales".  Each artist contributed a piece of artwork with that theme. There are so many great illustrations!


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19. NogginStik

Hi everyone,

It's been a big secret for the past year, but I can finally tell you all....  This time last year, I worked on the artwork for an instructional brochure that will accompany a new baby developmental toy, the "NogginStik".  It's a great little all-in-one toy that is perfect for little hands, and can be used from birth to toddler years to help babies learn and experiment to meet their developmental milestones.  My daughter Olivia was the exact target age for the product while I was working on the artwork, and go to be one of the "test subjects" when the first prototypes came out last fall.  The head of the NogginStik lights up when she taps it, the base is a rattle, and the whole toy had different colors and textures.

The toy should be on the market in the next month, and I will be posting a link on my website to let you all know where you can purchase it.  As for me, I can't wait to buy all of my "young mom" friends NogginStiks for their own little ones.  In the meanwhile, here is a preview of some of the activities from the booklet that comes with the toy....can you spot Olivia?!

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20. SCBWI Illustrator's Day

On Sept 8, I was excited to be a part of the first annual SCBWI-Indiana Illustrator's Day!  It was so great to connect with local illustrators, and also to hear speakers with topics of particular interest to illustrators.  I was able to participate in two capacities: both as an attendee and a speaker. 

First of all, the event was hosted by 4 Kids Bookstore in Zionsville.  I had never been in there before, and after spending every single break going through the store's shelves, I have to give it a bunch of love.  AMAZING store with quality toys and books.  Lots of fabulous, beautifully illustrated books, Melissa and Doug toys (I even found train tracks parts sold separately!), puzzles, etc.  Seriously, go shop there for your kids' Christmas gifts.

OK, now back to the conference.  As an attendee, I was especially looking forward to hearing Michele Farley speak about her experiences on the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Committee.  While we were all put under oath not to divulge the secrets of the "behind the scenes" for the Caldecott award, it was really enriching to learn what the thought processes were as the committee members went through the picturebooks, why certain books made it high up on the list and others did not, and seeing "highlights" from the picture book stacks. I also enjoyed the "insider's look" at the award and the selection process.

As a speaker, I was asked to give a talk about art reps/agents, and my personal experiences as an agented illustrator.  Several people who attended asked it I would make the information from my presentation available online, and I said "check out my blog. I'll post it there."  Most of my presentation was adapted from a blog post that I wrote back in 2010.  So, if you are an illustrator looking for that information from my presenation, please visit this blog post:
I am working on trying to get my PowerPoint presentation converted to an uploadable PDF, but so far am running into some glitches.  However, the above blog post has 90% of the information that I had in my presenation, for those who are interested.

Thank you SCBWI-Indiana for putting on this great event and for allowing me to be a part of the day!

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21. Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you! I hope that your holiday is full of special moments with your family, friends and loved ones!

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22. Faerie Lights in the Garden of Wishes

Hoping that all of your wishes and dreams for 2013 come true!  Happy New Year!

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23. The Littlest Golfer

I just finished the artwork for my latest picturebook, commissioned by The Littlest Golfer, and featuring their characters Putter and Sandy.  When I was first introduced to The Littlest Golfer via Nicole Weller, who sent my daughter the most adorable set of real toddler golf clubs, I immediately thought, "Wow...those turtles in the logo are so cute!  They would make great picture book characters...."  I was so excited when the opportunity came about to work with The Littlest Golfer to illustrate their upcoming children's book.  I really enjoyed interpreting Putter and Sandy in my own style and bringing them to life.  I really wanted to express the fun that the turtles have on the golf course, and to capture the way that young children learn and approach new experiences...with a mixture of some silliness, some mistakes and enthusiam!  Here is one of my favorite spreads from the book.  I'll post the release date as soon as I know it! 

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24. Keeping busy

It's been a busy spring!  I'm excited to be working on several book projects all at once, all for different publishers and age groups.  I can't say much about them right now, but am looking forward to sharing some of the artwork with you later in the year.  Plus, at least two of the projects will be books that my toddler can enjoy, so I am happy to be working on books that will eventually make their way onto her books shelf.  I also have a few new portfolio pieces to share.  My friend Missy announced her engagement last month, and she asked me to create an illustration to be printed on the back of the wedding invitation.  I was honored to contribute in this way to her special day.  She wanted something that would reflect her and the groom's personalities, little inside jokes that pertain to their relationship, and Chicago sites that wedding guests will get to enjoy during the wedding weekend.  Here is the finished piece.  I am so glad that Missy liked it!

I also worked on a self-promotional image, which was inspired by my daughter's love of ladybugs and cooking.  Olivia loves helping to make meals (even if "helping" really means standing next to me and eating the ingredients that I am trying to use), and I wanted to create something fun and product-oriented that would appeal to little girls like Olivia, but without too much pink or frills.  Instead of "foofy", I wanted "quirky and playful", and was inspired by modern patterns, toddler girls' outfits, and quirky color combinations of the sort that you might associate with "Alice in Wonderland". 

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Just saw the book covers featuring the artwork that I created for the two new Lily Series books by Nancy Rue from Zonderkidz:  "Lily's Passport to Paris" and "Lily's In London".  These should be released later this year.  I love Lily and all of her wild orange hair! 

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