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Viewing Blog: It's A Whimsical Life, Most Recent at Top
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I am a freelance children's book illustrator. I also like to make things out of fabric and bits and pieces, just for the fun of it.
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1. Turn the page

Oh hello…been a while hasn’t it? I am back to see if I can get into the swing of blogging again – I do miss it.

While this blog has been sleeping, behind the scenes there have been new experiences, some travel and a couple of books illustrated and published. I look forward to sharing what I have been up to on a more regular basis.

Montreal has been hit with its first big snowstorm of the year. Everything is hushed and soft and it really looks quite magical. Perhaps this is a perfect place to begin again – everything sparkling and full of promise, a new chapter….so let’s turn the page….

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2. Little Poppets

Pop! Today is the release day for my first two Little Poppet books in the UK. I am really excited about these books and hope that children love them too. I haven’t received my actual book samples yet, so will leave you with an interior spread from Happy Birthday, Mole, except in reality, each page has a flap so you will have to use your imagination!

Here are the Amazon UK links:

Happy Birthday, Mole

Mouse’s Sock Tree

I am not sure when they are coming out in the U.S. but they will be released in Canada May 28th.

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3. Illustration Friday – Egg

Well it has been a while since I have contributed to Illustration Friday – I have missed it. All the springy weather out there got me inspired. Hope everyone is having a lovely and relaxing Easter weekend.

cardboard tag, acrylic, pencil, digital textures

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4. Little Poppets

I am so glad to be able to show you the covers of my first two Little Poppets books. These books were a labour of love. Mole, Mouse, Pippin and Rose have been with me for quite a while now and it was a lot of fun to create a little world for them. I needle felted the characters (these ones have pipe cleaner skeletons so that they were poseable), made the sets and a lot of the props, and used doll’s house miniatures for things that I was unable to make myself such as crockery and cutlery. I then posed and photographed them in the scenes.

The very talented Paula Metcalf wrote perfectly sweet and funny stories for my characters and I am hoping that little toddlers will love these little lift-the-flap books as much as I do.


Published by Campbell Books, April 2013

Published by Campbell Books, April 2013

There will be four books in all – the second two will be released this September. Happy Birthday, Mole and Mouse’s Sock Tree will come out in April, 2013 and are available for pre-order now at: Amazon.ca and Amazon.uk

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5. Weekly inspirations – 1

One of the reasons that I haven’t been blogging so much is that I often work on projects that can’t be shared until they are published. So I thought I might share the artists and music that inspire me on a regular basis.

Inspired by: Mister Finch

Mister Finch and large moth

I came across Mister Finch’s Etsy shop a while ago but only recently discovered that he has a blog. Mr Finch is a textile artist based in England who creates wonderful creatures and objects that celebrate the beauty of things old and worn. If Miss Havisham had a cabinet of curiosities, Mr. Finch’s work would be in it.

Flowery moths by Mister Finch

He works with vintage fabrics and found objects, finishing them off with stains and dyes. All of his pieces have a delicate subtlety to them and remind me of little lost treasures that you might find in a long forgotten trunk. Love.

Textile toadstools by Mister Finch

So make yourself a nice cup of coffee or beverage of your choice, draw up a chair and be prepared to stay a while: Mr Finch

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6. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I want to wish you all a year filled with fun and creativity. I have had a mellow and restful holiday and now feel ready to get back to work. I have a couple of projects on the go, excited about some books coming out in the spring and generally looking forward to being more creative and productive. Hopefully, this will mean blogging on a more regular basis too. So, onwards and upwards!

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7. December

It’s getting cold out there. Emma starts to tremble even before I put her little winter coat on. Snoozing on a warm wool blanket is her favourite thing to do – a girl after my own heart.

I haven’t done any sewing for ages but falling snowflakes got me in the mood to make some little winter belles:

Etsy

And until December 12th, everything in my shop has free shipping worldwide – Happy Holidays!

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8. November

Why hello there. After such a long blogging hiatus, it is hard to know where to begin. So here are some snippets from the last six months:

May
I saw Ane Brun perform and it was absolutely wonderful. I gave her a print of my illustration that was inspired by her song “Undertow”

June
My lovely son turned sixteen.

July and August
I worked for most of the summer but we did have some had some beautiful days filled with music and sunshine.

September
We adopted a sausage dog! We went to a sausage dog race at our local park and the adoption society was there with a couple of dogs. We met Emma and it was love at first sight.

She is two years old, very sweet, cuddly and strong willed, all wrapped up in a very cute bundle with incredibly short legs. She may appear in some of my future illustrations…

Then it was back to school – this is a picture of Ewan’s first day of kindergarten and first day of grade eleven – Oh, how time flies.

October
More work. I have been working on a series of books featuring my little needle felted characters and I finished book three.

And of course, we celebrated Halloween.

November
I have just started working on the fourth Little Poppets book – I can’t wait to show you some images from them. Today, I am building a garden shed for Mole and I think it might be my favourite thing that I have made so far.

It is starting to feel quite wintery around here and I am looking forward to making lots of soup, snuggling with our dog and of course, blogging on a more regular basis.

Here is some more music to finish off with. I only discovered Sam Lee very recently and am completely hooked.

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9. Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Pippin and his Little Poppet pals are visiting Bologna Children’s Book Fair this week – how exciting!

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10. Januaries – daily drawings

I don’t talk much about my personal life here and that is a deliberate choice. I like to keep this blog a happy place where I share my thoughts about creativity and work. But I do want to say that 2011 was a tough year. I experienced a lot of changes in my life, not all of them welcome.

I want to look ahead this year and focus on the positive things that are in my life. I feel grateful that I get to draw and paint every day for a living, which is a wonderful thing. The daily drawings that I started have also become very important to me – little pockets of something that help me to remember that creating for its own sake is a good thing.

I have a bunch of work to keep me busy for the next few months and want to give it the time and focus it needs, so these little drawings might be more sporadic and will be squeezed in here and there and posted when I have the time. Maybe I will even leave it to a weekly update – might be interesting to see them in groups.

For now, here are the last few days:

Januaries 5 – 15 minute drawing, collage and ink

Januaries 6 – 15 minute drawing, collage and ink



Januaries 7 – 15 minute drawing, collage, acrylic and ink

I want to wish everyone a very happy and creative 2012.

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11. Januaries – daily drawings

The daily drawings haven’t worked out so far so I did like a flurry of them today. It’s freezing outside, so sometimes drawing snowy scenes is preferable to being out in them.

It snowed a bit over the holidays – Januaries 2, 15 minute drawing, pencil and ink

Grocery shopping in a sharp January wind is never fun – Januaries 3, 15 minute drawing, collage, pencil and ink

Winter – Januaries 4, 30 minute drawing, pencil, ink and acrylic

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12. Spring and things

Well, hello there! My blogging activity didn’t end up getting any livelier as I got caught up in finishing The Little Christmas Elf for Little Golden Books.

It was really fun working on this book – lovely folks at Random House and the author Nikki Shannon Smith is really sweet. Dream job really – nice people to work with, elves and Christmas – what’s not to like?

There has been a round of birthdays here to keep us busy and general adjusting to Spring things. It is hard to believe that Spring really is here though as there seems to be sleet coming down outside – I can hear it tinkling against the windows. So instead of feeling energized, I feel like curling up under a cozy blanket and reading a good book.

There are more things going on behind the scenes (doesn’t that sound mysterious!) – I am working on a chapter book for Kids Can Press with black and white illustrations, which I am quite excited about. More about that later when I am able to share. There are other plannings and possibilities floating around too, all too early to talk about here, but plenty to keep my brain busy.

I have been enjoying the wonders of Pinterest a virtual scrapbook where you can collect inspiring images.

I think it could be a great reference source for illustration and it is fun because it is quite sociable as you can share your favourite images with other people. I have already discovered a bunch of illustrator’s work that I did not previously know and there are some amazing photographers out there. I haven’t worked out how to add a link button to my sidebar, so if you want to take a look at my page, here is the link: My Pinterest You will quickly see that I am interested in lots of things and that I am a Pinterest hoarder – there are just so many beautiful images out there.

What else? Well, the ARC’s of Paul’s third and final book of The Joy of Spooking series recently arrived. It is called Sinister Scenes and the red cover is just fantastic. We were inspired to do a fun photo shoot with it:

Paul is touring British Columbia for TD Book Week in May (authors and illustrators visit a different province from their own and visit schools and libraries to talk about their work) and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre has posted interviews of all authors and illustrators that are touring this year. Paul’s interview is up there under BC: TD Book Week

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13. An illustrator first

I recently finished illustrating a picture book for Kids Can Press called Reaching by Judy Ann Sadler. We are at the stage of checking final proofs before it goes to print and soon we will get to hold the real books in our hands. Exciting.

Here is a tiny sneak peek:

This book was quite poignant for me to work on because I based the baby in the book on how my son looked when he was small and also got to include his constant companion, his toy dog Boo. As Ewan is now a lanky fourteen year old, it was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me to remember how cute and cuddly he was.

I don’t always hear from authors, so I am often left wondering if they liked the artwork or not and I usually feel a bit too shy to contact them to ask what they think. So it is always lovely when I do get feedback, especially if they love how the book turned out!

Today was a special day because a beautiful bouquet arrived at my door with a lovely thank you note from Judy Ann saying how much she loved my illustrations. This is a first for me and I was very touched.

So heart warming :)

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14. Illustration Friday: Sweater

A cozy red sweater helps to make winter feel more cheerful…

A bit of an experiment with this one. Trying to combine my 3D characters with my illustrations. I am a bit of a novice when it comes to Photoshop, therefore it looks a little rough. But I do like the idea and will try again.

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15. February inspirations

Hello peeps!
I am trying to get back in the swing of things and hoping to bring this blog back to life this year. I thought I would start by sharing what is inspiring me right now.

I love Alex T.Smith’s illustrations and his diary is so funny, quirky and cute. Here is a page from January:
Illustration by Alex T.Smith

Take a look and at his blog and I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face: Alex T.Smith

I haven’t been needle felting these days but have been dreaming and planning about what to do with my little characters. I love to see what other people make and how they create magical worlds. Maggie over at Mouse Houses makes adorable mice and sets them into worlds that remind me very much of Beatrix Potter. They are so beautifully detailed and right now she has a very cool video showing her studio and all of the wonderful props that she makes.

Little mousie by Maggie Rudy

And for more magical petite worlds, Miss Clara is well worth a visit. Pure magic.

Illustration by Miss Clara

And when I want to feel cozy, look at lovely photos, read yummy recipes and get tempted to take up knitting again, I love to visit Alicia Paulson As Liz lemon in 30 Rock says: “I want to go to there”.

Outside it may be cold and snowy, but these blogs make me feel warm inside and help to make February feel almost jolly.

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16. Illustration Friday: Chicken

A bit late in the day I know, but when I saw that my pal Jannie Ho’s theme “chicken” had been picked for this week’s Illustration Friday, I had to participate.

Do the chicken dance!…….

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17. Wintery doings

Christmas card design for Pierre Belvedere 2010

Things have been very quiet here I know, but very busy behind the scenes. I have been working on a picture book for Kids Can Press and the deadline is approaching fast. I also have to complete a few other projects before leaving for Scotland (Yay!), so it is all systems go.

I had hoped to create lots of Christmassy things for my Etsy shop, bunnies and needle felting and such, but time has run away from me. I have also been saying that I would start participating in Illustration Friday again, and haven’t managed that either. Perhaps that will have to go on my New Year’s resolution list, along with trying to blog more often!

There are a couple of new bunnies in my Etsy shop that I have been meaning to show you for a while and finally got around to photographing:

Benjamin

and Pippin:

I have a couple more bunnies in a half finished state, and if I can squeeze in some time, I will try to get them listed also.

And a quick reminder that I have 2011 calendars for sale here:Lulu and here: Red Bubble

I will try to pop in again before the holidays, but if not, I wish you all a very jolly holiday season.

Toodle pip.

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18. Happy Halloween!

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19. Interlude

Things have been quiet on this blog but there have been busy scurryings behind the scenes. My new website is almost ready and I am looking forward to showing it to all of you.

It has been fun to finally put all my artwork together in one place and has made me realise that the last few years have been busy! The new website will have my blog integrated into it, so once everything is live, I will be adding a link so that you can find it easily and hopefully visit.

On the news front, I will be starting to work on a new picture book soon which I am very excited about. It will be published by Kids Can Press, a Canadian publisher, which I am very happy about too. Even though I live in Montreal, most of my work comes from the U.S., so it will be nice to work on a project that is on my home turf :)

And this weekend is the Great Goose Egg Auction that benefits Open Fields School . If you are looking to buy a unique gift (for yourself or a special someone), the auction begins Saturday, May 8th at 1.30pm.
There is an on-line bidding option too, if you can't attend the event but want to participate.

Little Red and Alice

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20. New Website and Blog

I know I have been talking about the new website for a while and I am happy to tell you that it is up and running. I now have a space where my blog and website are combined, and I would love it if you would come on over and visit: www.susan-mitchell.com

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21. New Website and Blog

I know I have been talking about the new website for a while and I am happy to tell you that it is up and running. I now have a space where my blog and website are combined, and I would love it if you would come on over and visit: www.susan-mitchell.com

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22. Interlude

Things have been quiet on this blog but there have been busy scurryings behind the scenes. My new website is almost ready and I am looking forward to showing it to all of you.

It has been fun to finally put all my artwork together in one place and has made me realise that the last few years have been busy! The new website will have my blog integrated into it, so once everything is live, I will be adding a link so that you can find it easily and hopefully visit.

On the news front, I will be starting to work on a new picture book soon which I am very excited about. It will be published by Kids Can Press, a Canadian publisher, which I am very happy about too. Even though I live in Montreal, most of my work comes from the U.S., so it will be nice to work on a project that is on my home turf :)

And this weekend is the Great Goose Egg Auction that benefits Open Fields School . If you are looking to buy a unique gift (for yourself or a special someone), the auction begins Saturday, May 8th at 1.30pm.
There is an on-line bidding option too, if you can't attend the event but want to participate.

Little Red and Alice

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23. A Harvest of New Books

I wanted to give this a mention. If you are in Montreal, you are welcome to join us:

Yes Oui CANSCAIP hosts “A Harvest of New Books”
Wed., Oct. 27th at 7 p.m.
Montreal West Town Hall (50 Westminster South in Montreal West)

Local children’s book authors Nancy Gow, Jennifer Lloyd, P.J. Bracegirdle, Jill Murray, Alan Silberberg and local children’s book illustrators Susan Mitchell and Yayo (Diego Herrera) will speak about their latest books. Their titles will be on sale at the event and attendees will be able to have them autographed.

This event is free and open to the public.

RSVP to Carol-Ann Hoyte, Yes Oui CANSCAIP co-representative, at carol_ann_hoyte@hotmail.com.

Yes Oui CANSCAIP is the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers.

MORE ABOUT THE PRESENTERS:

Nancy Gow is a picture book author whose first book, Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose, just came out this month.

Jennifer Lloyd has written three picture books. Her latest book is Ella’s Umbrellas.

P.J. Bracegirdle has written two middle-grade novels for children. His latest book is Unearthly Asylum, the second book in The Joy of Spooking trilogy. The first book in the series is Fiendish Deeds. He also wrote the picture book, Comet Can’t Wait for Christmas, which his wife, Susan Mitchell, illustrated.

Jill Murray has written two novels for teens. Her latest book is Rhythm and Blues. Bring It On was her first book.

Alan Silberberg has written two middle-grade novels for children. His latest book is Milo: Brain Freeze and Sticky Notes. Pond Scum was his first book.

Susan Mitchell has illustrated several books. Her latest titles include Too Many Fairies, Paula Deen’s Cookbook for the Lunchbox Set, Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook, My Mom and Me, and My Dad and Me.

Yayo (Diego Herrera) has illustrated several books. His latest titles include The Hug and The King Who Barked.

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24. Why would anybody want to go to Honesdale?

“Why would anybody want to go to Honesdale?” asked the immigration officer as we were crossing the Canadian/U.S. border. If you are an illustrator, you would have plenty of reasons. Not only is Honesdale, PA a very pretty town but it is also the home of the Highlight’s magazine offices. Every year, Highlights throw a weekend party for their illustrators, family and guests. I haven’t worked for the magazine yet but this year I was lucky to be invited as Paula’s guest.

Paula and I are are both members of Illustration for Kids and we were quite excited because for the first time, four out of the seven of us were going to hang out together for the weekend.(Myself, Paula Becker, Jannie Ho and Jenn Morris

It was a really fun road trip. Paula and I had plenty to chat about and there was lots of prettiness to photograph along the way

On the road to Honedale

How did he get there?….
Photo by Paula Becker

We arrived early Friday evening with just enough time to check into our room, freshen up a bit and take a quick wander down by the lake.

Sunset on the lake at Central House

Then it was off to the barbecue at Boyd’s Mill where we would get to meet everyone for the first time. At this point I could feel butterflies in my tummy and was worried that I would get all shy and tongue tied. I am so used to working at home alone, that suddenly meeting a whole bunch of illustrators at once felt a little intimidating but exciting too. All shyness was forgotten when we got to meet Jannie again, and Jenn for the first time. The chatting began and we felt like old friends. I also got to meet Karen Lee who I have known a long time on the internet and it was so nice to meet her in person. And also Jennifer Thermes and Julie Fortenberry were there, which was a lovely surprise. We all became good buddies and hung out together for the rest of the weekend.

The Illustration for Kids gals -from left to right: me, Paula, Jannie and Jenn

The next morning we had a bright and early start with br

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25. September musings

I can’t believe that it has been almost a month since I last posted something here.

My days are filled with painting a cute baby and his family. This book is especially fun for me to paint because the baby is based on how my son looked when he was a one year old and I have also been able to put in his special toy Boo, a very floppy dog who now looks a bit worse for wear but is still loved none the less. Here is a picture of him that I took a few years ago. I was blogging about this lovely photography book of children’s well loved items (not always soft toys!) and was excited to see Boo’s twin on the cover:

Even though I know I will miss summer, I am kind of enjoying the change. It feels cozy sitting at my desk sketching and painting while listening to Librivox recordings. I have even been thinking of getting back to needle felting and stuffie making. The cool weather makes it more appealing – humid days and wool roving do not go well together!

Speaking of needle felting, I have updated my calenders to 2011 and they are now up for sale at Lulu and Red Bubble.

I know that Christmas is ages away but I have been thinking about it a lot recently because I just received my Christmas card samples that I did for Pierre Belvedere this year and I also just got offered a Christmas book project which I am very excited about. I haven’t illustrated a Christmas book for quite a few years and they are almost my favourite books to paint (apart from getting to paint babies that look like my son). I love painting snowy, wintery skies with people bundled up in cozy layers.

Well, I had better stop talking about painting, and go and actually do some. Toodle Pip.

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