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Happy 2012! I began the new year working on a poster for Virago Theatre Company’s upcoming production, A Taste of Honey.
According to Virago Theatre: A sensation in the late fifties and early sixties with its bold racial and sexual themes, and boasting huge successes in London, Paris and on Broadway, Delaney’s script is considered a masterpiece of character driven black comedy. A Taste of Honey is directed by Virago Artistic Director Laura Lundy-Paine and performed in San Francisco’s intimate Thick House Theater.
About the artwork and design: A combination of brush pen illustration and digitally altered photographs–a stained paper bag and the face of woman on a 1950s advertisement–coupled with clean, modernistic design atop beautifully chaotic “grime.” In short: A mixed “mess.”
Got kids on your Christmas gift list who like, love or need books?
Allow me to hook you up with the 4:00 Book Hook, a fantabulous e-newsletter dedicated to children and YA literature. The latest edition features their annual holiday book gift guide and I’ve gotten the okay to post that section online :).
The holiday gift guide features author reviews and recommendations of some of their favorite children and young adult books on the market. With the wonderful variety of books for kids and teens, you’re sure to find something for your selective young reader.
For your convenience, I’ve uploaded the entire Holiday Gift Guide section of the 4:00 Book Hook–just click on the page links below:
BTW, my recommendations for three of my favorite recently-published picture books are on page 4.
Oh, and please don’t forget to buy your books from your local brick ‘n mortar bookstores or at independent bookstores online–not that nameless shameless one using books as loss leaders :(. This holiday season especially, let’s show support and love for true book-loving booksellers… just sayin’. :-)!
Happy gift giving and reading!
P.S. 4:00 Book Hook is a free e-newsletter for people who share books with kids: parents, home-schoolers, teachers, grandparents and librarians. Contact the 4:00 Book Hook at this email address for your free subscription: firstname.lastname@example.org
I was thrilled to work on the poster for this year’s Oakland Youth Chorus’ Holiday Concert. The title, Peace-ing It Together: Peace, Love & Music posed an interesting challenge since it was a rush job and I had to come up with a concept quickly. I put my attention on the word Peace-ing and thought of a dove. Christmassy, yes?
Then I sketched out the dove and paired placed with a Treble Clef in its beak. This says “music,” right?
I played with a few drawing tools, comparing the various renditions in pencil, pen and chalk pastel. The chalk pastel won out. To give the artwork some extra oomph (plus, tie in with the young singers), I added a collage of digitally modified photos of the youth chorus on the wings and body of the dove. After some tweaking of the layout and type-speccing… Viola! A completed poster!
Be sure to check out OYC’s holiday concert this Saturday, December 10, 2011, 6 PM. Visit Oakland Youth Chorus’ site for more info.
Yesterday, I joined PiBoIdMo which stands for Picture Book Idea Month. The main idea is to come up with one picture book (PB) per day so that by the end of the month you have 30 PB’s that you work on the rest of the year. is the brainchild of author, Tara Lazar, who hosts the challenge on her blog. 2011 marks the third year.
It’s not too late to join. You have until November 3rd to sign up. Check out the official deets here.
Painting imaginary worlds is one of the best things about being an illustrator. I simply tune out the world around me and “access” an inner realm where colors sing, stories unfold and imagery pours forth in surprising ways. This is especially true when I listen to music as I work.
Lucky me: This summer, I worked on CD cover and booklet illustrations for award-winning musician, Kira Willey. Having worked with Kira on Dance for the Sun, her first CD, I was beyond thrilled to illustrate her new one, Kings & Queens of the Forest. I tried to capture the wonder and joy of the title song, Kings and Queens of the Forest, which celebrates our magical connection with nature.
Kira described her vision for the cover and I listened to the early tracks from the CD for further inspiration. Once I got the flavor of the music, I sketched out several rough concepts and showed Kira a tight pencil sketch (above). It took a few more weeks to complete the image which was painted with gouache, colored pencil and pastel (below).
Find out more about Kira, her music and yoga work with kids on this podcast.
Today, I’m blogging about Mike Jung AKA Captain Stupendous’ Numero Uno Fan and his May 28th Norcal SCBWI talk for writers and illustrators of YA and Kid Lit, aptly titled: DON’T BE A PINHEAD: Building an Online Presence Before Landing a Book Deal.
The gist of the talk: How Mike established an online presence which led to some very cool results. It wasn’t a how-to session as much as it was a terrific opportunity to hear Mike share his story. (Photo courtesy of Mike Jung.)
One of my favorite moments in the talk happened toward the end when we witnessed Mike burst into a raging bonfire of kidlitosphere effervescence–for fifteen seconds–his face twitching, eyebrows arching, eyes bugging out while sputtering: “Don’t you LOVE books and childrens literature? [Everyone nodded.] This is AWESOME! I love doing this! IT GIVES ME JOY!”
That, dear reader, is Mike’s “super power” behind building a fabuloso-bordering-on-megalomania online presence. He exemplifies passion. In an instant, my weariness from a slog rewrites dropped away and I was reminded of my own passion for kid lit. Enthusiasm is infectious.
A few anecdotes and tips on social networking from Mike:
• Join an online community of Kid Lit and YA writers such as Verla Kay’s Blue Boards where Mike is a Moderator. To get the most out of those boards: Participate. Joining is free and lurkers are welcome. But the more you participate, the greater the access to info and discussions. (Sorry, no direct quotes from Mike. I arrived a few minutes late just as he was wrapping up this part. FYI, I’ve known Mike for a while from the Blue Boards and I have a handle on the basics of that forum.)
• Facebook is an obvious way to get to know others in the world of kid lit and YA. Mike emphasized keeping it social and fun. For example, he’s used his FB Profile Pic as a way of sharing good news from others. For example, Mike posted a photo of himself holding a signed copy of Lisa Yee’s Bobby Vs. Girls (Accidentally) after he won her blog contest (more on that below).
A week ago today, news and images of Japan’s tragic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters sent “shockwaves” around the globe. I found myself glued to the news, searching for info via friends and family on facebook and twitter. When things “calmed down,” it became apparent that the highly developed nation of Japan needed extra manpower and resources to assist people, rebuild infrastructure and more. Thankfully, the internet has been a great tool in helping people find people, seek services and donate. Click here for a compilation of directories, news sources and sites dedicated to relief efforts.
Beginning Monday, March 21st, here is another way to help: Donate to Japan through the love of children’s and young adult (YA) literature! Author, Greg Fishbone, created the KidLit 4 Japan site: Children’s Authors and Illustrators for Japan, as a means for professionals, artists and writers in publishing to auction off a range of items and services. Proceeds will go “directly to an organization providing basic needs services specifically to children in the affected area.” I am pleased to participate in this incredible cause and I look forward to seeing the wide assortment of goodies being auctioned off!
Here’s a pro bono graphic image that I created for this charity auction. It displays the Good Luck Cat with a book! Feel free to use it as a badge to help promote the auction on your website, email and message boards.
Thanks, mahalo nui loa and domo arigato, in advance, for helping spread the word, participating and even bidding in the KidLit4Japan auction!
A double dosage of happiness came upon us in January: The New Year and National Soup Month!
As a huge soup fan, I started the new year off with weekly meals featuring soup as the main course. I cooked soup in crock pots, ordered home-made soup in restaurants and enjoyed quick ramen meal mixes with fresh chopped veggies… Well, you get the idea.
For this post, I dusted off an illustration created a few years ago as homage to Lewis Carroll’s poem, Beautiful Soup. Here’s to a savory 2011…!
Hey, check it out: I’ve been interviewed by the fabulous, Nathalie Mvondo, writer and contributor to several multicultural children’s literature publications including the Multicultural Review.
I was pleasantly surprised and honored when Nathalie first contacted me for the interview. I thought: Great! It’s a piece of cake… just kidding!
She explained that she had a short list of questions for me to look over and answer in my own time. I said: Sure, send them over!
And she did!
I received a list of excellent, inciteful questions which coaxed me into reflecting upon a lot. I had to work for my answers—searching, scoping and sorting out dust-laden, long-forgotten corners of my brain.
I hope I did the questions justice. Do give it a read and decide for yourself!
When I first set out to blog, I fancied I’d be a happy, avid blogger. As an artist and writer, I love to share and exchange information. There were no how-to manuals six years ago (my early blogs were on Blogger under a different name), so I ended up “winging it” and posting topics on a whim when I launched Just Sketch. A lack of structure made blogging my lowest priorty and “life,” work, you-name-it, took precedence. I procrastinated and failed on “promises” as a blogger. Feeling embarrassed and annoyed with myself, I was not happy about blogging, nor was I avid blogger, after all.
Regardless of how busy I was, I didn’t want to stop blogging. According to a 2009 State of the Blogosphere report by Technorati, “70% of all respondents say that personal satisfaction is a way they measure the success of their blog.” I now realize that I like blogging for a whole host of reasons and personal satisfaction ranks high on my list.
Rather than give up, I decided to get serious. I attended a SoCal SCBWI “Cyber Promo Workshop” in Santa Barbara to learn from a powerhouse collective of kid lit and online promo experts– Alexis O’Neill, Greg Pincus, Lisa Yee, Anastasia Suen and others. It was a wonderful event hosted and attended by kid lit authors and illustrators in Southern CA. (I think I was the only northerner there.) I learned so much! (And yes, I’ll post something about it in the future…!) I was enthusiastic about blogging again. (more…)
It’s been a while, folks. In February, I traveled abroad on family business and since returning I’ve been occupied with playing catch up. Life is gradually returning to “normal.” For starters, I am involved in a fun spring event—the annual childrens book illustrator show at MOCHA (Museum of Childrean’s Art) in Oakland, Once Upon A Time. Come to the Artist Reception tomorrow, March 27, 2010, 2-4 pm. For location and more info, visit the museum online.
The following image is a pencil draft of a page in my picture book, Can You Catch A Coqui Frog? written by Vera Arita and illustrated by yours truly. If you’d like to see the actual finished illustration, then do come to the show which runs until May 7.
Last Friday, as soon as I found out the theme, I grabbed a ball-point pen and a piece of paper and started drawing the first thing I laid my eyes on: a little toy hen that resides at my desk. It was an experiment in expressing the theme using my left hand!
I’m thrilled to share that I received an early copy of my picture book, CAN YOU CATCH A COQUI FROG (BeachHouse Publishing), written by Vera Arita, and illustrated by yours truly.
Here’s a little taste of the book (from the cover copy):
Can you catch a coqui frog as he’s sitting on a log?
Can you hear him in the night with a croak so high and bright?
Can you see him hop all day in his happy little way? Can you catch a frog?
These questions and more are posed in a sing-song rhyme that introduces children to some of Hawai‘i’s unique animals—from the tiny yet notorious coqui frog to monk seals to the friendly
Children will love discovering the various animals and imaginations are sure to sparkle as they use all their senses to think about these island creatures. After time spent discovering, the reader is brought home to think about family and friends and to appreciate how special Hawai‘i is.
I just gotta say that while I was looking forward to my book, I didn’t expect to be as happy and bouncy I was over it. After all, folks, I’d been staring at the illustrations for over a year! However, holding the book in my hands and flipping through the pages brought up a rush of feelings. It was very fun to notice all the design and production touches. Maika’i—very nice! The design team at BeachHouse did a super-duper job! Two thumbs up, waaaay up!
The book launches next month. Please stay tuned for more info.
My daughter, Kai, brought the book in with the rest of today’s mail. Naturally, she took a photo of this happy moment. Where would we be without digital cameras?
Early August, I attended the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference in LA. All the fun and excitement took place at the Century Plaza Hyatt hotel. Below, and in the next few posts, I’ll share the highlights of my trip, a few observations and then some..:-)
I decided to modify a version of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus around the time I quit pursuing publishing. That was close to ten years ago. I spent several years prior with a very strong focus on picture books but that gradually gave way to frustration.
The industry was changing. While I was repped at the time, I had a hard time with the change. Externally, things looked all right. Internally, I was at odds with myself. I painted my heart out—pouring all my feelings onto canvas. I took three years off. When I returned, I was able to look at the painting with a “fresh” set of eyes.
Finding Your Path in Kid Lit
Sometimes I’m approached by people who want to write and/or illustrate children’s and YA books. I might sound like a broken record but I always utter the initials: S C B W I. It stands for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
One thing I did upon returning to children’s books was join the SCBWI. It has been instrumental in helping me reach my goals. I do the work, stayed focused, yada, yada. However, the SCBWI provides a ton of resources and has helped me make important connections. I can’t speak highly enough of it.
Above photo: Teaching the kids a sitting hula. * Special thanks to Principal Joy Dean and Media Center Teachers, Ana Soria-Kevy and Jeni Marr. I had a fantastic time at your school!
The Internet Scene :: My interview with editor Tarie Sabido of Into The Wardrobe, a delightful children’s and YA literature blog is up now. This month, Tarie highlights kid lit authors and illustrators who have a unique Asian Pacific connection. She posed some excellent questions that I hope I answered well. FYI, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, typing out my answers to the best of my ability ** note: bleary eyes but full heart** I am honored to be part of this month’s festivities. Please check out the interview and blog here.
I took an online quiz and found out that I’m a Nymph with some Siren and a touch of Elf. Since I know very little about them, I did a little research.
Here’s what I found:
There are nymphs of the Eastern Celestial variety as in the above image from the 1500 year-old frescoes of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka. Then there are the Western nymphs representing beauty and grace as in the image “Nymph with morning glory flowers” by Jules Joseph Lefebvre.
And, of course, there are nymphs of the animal world kind such as the Tettigoniidae which are known in American English as katydids and in British English as bush-crickets.
Now you know my mythical creature. What’s yours ?
What Mythical Creature are you?
Your Result: Nymph
Nymphs are known for being extraordinarily beautiful. Unlike other mythical creatures, Nymphs are completely unselfish and do not always realize their beauty. Because of this naivette, they are easily taken advantage of. Nymphs are quite innocent and devoted. They have one main passion in life, and devote themselves to it. As a Nymph, you are pure of heart, playful, and very free spirited.
Finally, I am using my Lomographic camera: Fisheye No. 1. I first saw it in an art store near the check-out table. Yes, it was conspicuously displayed for impulse buying. Yes, I was an impulse buyer. And yet, I’d always wanted to experiment with fisheye lens photography and there was my chance.
I toted the camera to the other end of town where I began shooting the industrial landscape of the old Naval Air Station and working my way home along the beach.
My first lesson with the Fisheye Lomo was: Take the picture, take the leap. WYSIWYG doesn’t exist. You look into the lens and that is not what you’ll get. According to Fisheye’s “instructions,” there are no rules. Anything goes. Experiment.
I began the shoot trusting that something interesting or half-way decent would turn up. The grey lighting and cloudy sky were not promising. I wanted to come up with some intriguing angles to make for a decent composition.
So, I played.
In the end, I liked some of the photos. One image was the result of a somewhat pleasing accident: A quonset hut with color/lighting errors caused by the 35 mm film.
I captured a group of ships with high-contrast lighting.
Based on my results, I know what I’ll do next:
• Take more photos using dramatic lighting.
• Push the drama with more close-ups.
• Experiment with the flash.
• Bring extra rolls of film.
• Use some of the tips shared on the online Lomo site.
Notes: The above images were taken with 400 speed 35 mm film on a manual lomographic camera, processed at a local drugstore and digitized. I tweaked them in Photoshop CS3 making minor adjustments to the levels, hues and contrast.
Yesterday, while walking along Lincoln Avenue, I came upon this worn-out wooden knob. There was no apparent use for it other than it occupying a space atop a post, between two small Victorians. Whatever fence was previously attached to it was now completely gone. Probably torn away decades ago. I find the ratty condition of the wood quite charming–its shape and linear patterns, along with all the knicks and scratches, leading my eye into a richly-textured background.
This week I’m playing around with my fisheye cam as much as I can. Is it the holidays or is it me? I feel like gobbling up all the eye-candy around me. The images I see today will surely show up in my paintings in one form or other. Perhaps I’ll shoot and post something everyday for five straight days. Then again. Perhaps not.
Remember doing Show ‘n Tell back in grade school? That’s essentially what I do when I visit schools and libraries as a visiting author/illustrator. I love sharing with young audiences the process of creating a picture book. Depending on how long I have, I take my audience through the journey of book-making from idea to publication and printing. Often, I’ll share a little bit extra about the culture and food of Hawai’i. If there is time, I’ll even perform a sitting hula like I did at Fairytale Town in Sacramento this fall. The photos above and below show the audience involvement. Fun for all ages!
I’ve performed in classrooms and school assemblies of all sizes since my book, The Sleeping Giant: A Tale From Kaua’i was released in fall 2006. I look forward to doing more school and library performances in 2009. To find out how to book me for a school appearance, please visit this link.
Oh, happy spring! After a three month break, I’m back. I’ve run with springtime revelers. chomped on chocolate bunnies and now I’m clearing dust bunnies, literally and figuratively.
I’ll bring this blog up to date by interspersing stories from recent months with current news and happenings. I might post pics from my trip to the Winter SCBWI conference in NYC in the morning, then later in the day post about a booksigning.
Stay tuned for more ramblings cuz I’m springing forward!
About the photo: Wildflower garden bursting with color at Giverny, the home and garden of French Artist, Claude Monet. Photo taken by my son on a French club excursion last month.