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1. Thursday...




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2. Rabbits and some links...






















Hello there!  Here are some links for you to peruse...

Some tips on writing picture books from Mem Fox

A short video about the work of illustrator, Nikki McClure

A short video about the work of illustrator, Renata Liwska

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3. Warming up...


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4. New York, Spring, and other things...

























The last few months have left me feeling a bit wrung out. There have been good things; visiting with illustrator friends, a trip to beautiful southern Florida, attending the SCBWI conference in NY where my portfolio earned one of the honor awards, and finishing the illustrations for my first two books.  And there have been hard things; surgery to remove ovarian cysts, followed by a miscarriage, and most recently, the death of my grandmother.   And now, on the threshold of spring, I am ready for green and sun and new beginnings.

I'm thinking about my work as an illustrator and the stories I'd like to tell and about learning to write those stories.  One of my very favorite speeches from the NY SCBWI conference came from author, Kate Messner.  Kate talked about failure.  Her speech was funny and heartfelt and full of inspiration.  I hope that you were there to hear it, too.  But, if you weren't, here are a few of the highlights...

"When we keep moving the bar, we can turn anything into a failure."

"You have to fall if you want to fly."

"Be brave, but it's okay to be afraid." 

"What would you do if you knew that failure was impossible?"

She also said, "The only thing we control at the end of the day is the way we do our work", which was very comforting to me.  There are so many aspects of life that we are not in control of.  But, I can control what I put into my work.  I can choose to draw everyday.  I can choose to practice writing.  I can choose to share my writing with my critique group, even if I'm afraid my story is a flop.  I can work hard to improve my craft.

Kate also gave us a moment to sit in silence and appreciate our successes, small or large.  This was the point in the speech when both the friend I was sitting next to and I were searching for tissues.  It's easy to focus on the not-so-good things, and taking a moment to appreciate the happy things, the steps forward, and the small triumphs, felt really good.  

So, I hope that you, too, will take a moment to celebrate your successes, both large and small, and to appreciate the good in your life and your career.  And I hope that you find joy in the warmth of spring, in the company of friends, and in the work you do.

Me with illustrators Jessixa Bagley and Lisa Anchin
Excellent illustrator friends; Rodolfo Montalvo, Rene Spencer, Andy Musser, Linda Dorn, and Corinna Luyken
Illustrators Lisa Anchin, Maple Lam, and Jen Betton

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5. Warming up...





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6. Off to NYC!






















New York City, here I come!

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7. Books!





















At the end of January one of my favorite used book stores closed down.  I'm sad to see them go.  But, I was glad to take advantage of the great sale they were having and I'm now the proud owner of several new books.  Small Pig by Arnold Lobel and Animal Stories by William Johnston are both full of wonderful illustrations.  I couldn't put down Holes by Louis Sachar and now I'm on to The Cricket in Times Square.  There is much inspiration to be found in these pages.  What's been inspiring you lately? 

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8. Ravens...


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9. Benny and Squirrel


































This is Benny and his friend Squirrel.  These two pals make an appearance on the new postcards that I just ordered for the SCBWI Winter conference in New York.  Are you going to the conference, too?

In other news, here are some links you might like...

Picture books that will never win awards, from the New York Public Library

A video of Author/Illustrator, Peter Brown, sharing his process

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have a new book coming out with Candlewick

A great process post from Greg Pizzoli about his award winning book, The Watermelon Seed

Also, I just finished reading Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys and I can't stop thinking about it.  If you haven't read it yet, please do.

Ok, that's all for now.  Back to drawing.  Happy Tuesday!

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10. Monday...



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11. What I'm working on today...


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12. Tuesday morning...





















I started off the day sketching and reading at one of my favorite coffee shops.  Sometimes it's nice to get out of the studio for a little while.  Now I'm back home and deadlines are quickly approaching so I'm off to work on book projects.  But, before I go, here are a few links you might like...

An article about Kadir Nelson and his new book, Baby Bear.

My author/illustrator friend, Julie Rowan-Zoch, recently introduced me to the very excellent work of Vladimir Stankovic.

A conversation between Caldecott winners, Jon Klassen and Chris Raschka. 

An interesting video of illustrator, Victo Ngai. 

My brother's really cool instagram photos

Enjoy your Tuesday! :)


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13. Monday...




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14. It's 2014!

Hello to a new year!  Did you make any new year's resolutions?  I never really used to make resolutions, but in the last few years as I've watched my grandparents age and have seen my grandmothers struggle with dementia I've been thinking a lot about how I want to live my life.  I like the idea of setting an intention (or several) for each new year.

Here are some of my intentions for 2014...

1. Be thankful.  Be thankful for what I have and for the people in my life.  Be thankful that I get to do what I love.  Be thankful for the food on my table and for the art supplies on my desk. 

2.  Be brave.  I've been drawing my whole life and have had lots of practice.  Writing, on the other hand, makes me nervous.  I've been worried that maybe I'm not very good at writing or maybe my story ideas aren't interesting and no one will like them.  This year, instead of keeping my stories hidden away in my sketchbooks and the secret folder on my computer, I will share them with my critique group.  I will write everyday even though it won't always be very good and sometimes it might be very bad.  But, that's okay.  Hopefully by being brave about writing, I will become a better writer.

3.  Be present.  My husband and I spend a lot of time talking about what we want for our future.  We talk about where we want to live and the kind of house we'd like to build someday.  We talk about where we'd like to travel (so many places!) and what it will be like when we have kids.  And I like talking about all of those things.  But, maybe by spending so much time thinking about the future, we forget to enjoy where we are now.  So, this year I'm going to try to be present with what is happening, when it's happening. 

4.  Read more, watch less.  There are so many good books out there that I haven't gotten to yet.  I always read when I go to bed, but often I'm too tired to get through very many pages.  This year I'm going to turn off the T.V. and pick up a book.  Are you in?

So here's wishing you a year full of thankfulness, bravery, presence of mind, and good books!  What are your intentions for the year?  Whatever they are, I hope your 2014 is full of good things. :)      

    

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15. Warm-up sketch...


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16. Painting...


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17. Sketching...

Today seems like a good day to avoid the holiday busy-ness by staying home to draw.  Lately I've been working on loosening up my line work.  Unfortunately, Mr. Pants is unimpressed. 

I hope that your holiday preparations are going well.  And I hope that your kitty is more appreciative of your artistic attempts than mine is.  Enjoy your weekend!

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18. Hoping for snow...





















Hello and Happy Wednesday to you!  I always like seeing how other people work so I thought I'd share a few process photos of one of yesterday's warm-up sketches.  For the ink outline I use FW Acrylic Artists Ink and for the gray background wash in the last photo I used ArtGraf watercolor graphite. 

The cold snap we had in Colorado a few weeks ago is officially over and now it feels far too much like spring.  This little curly haired gal and I are hoping we'll have some fresh snow soon. 

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19. Fire & Bone on Kickstarter...

My brother, Christopher, and two of his friends recently launched a campaign on Kickstarter called Fire & Bone.  After less than a week they've received over $90,000 in pledges, much more than their original request of $8,000.  The tiny bronze and silver skull pendants that they make are really amazing (I have one of their white bronze fox skulls and I love it!).

Check out their Kickstarter campaign if you'd like to get in on the action, or just to see what my talented big brother is up to. 

Fire & Bone is adding a wolf skull to their collection and I did this drawing for their site.

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20. Painting...


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21. Inking...


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22. On my bookshelf...


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23. Tuesday...




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24. Ghouls!





































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25. Getting back into the swing of things...



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