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1. Shower Thoughts: The Art of Finishing

A long time ago, before I was telling my stories with illustrations and words, I was a telling them through the use of moving pictures, I was an aspiring filmmaker.

It all started when a friend and I decided we would be the next Tarantino; break out filmmakers, creating cutting edge film. But instead of spending thousands of dollars on film school, we took what little money we had and we were going to do it guerilla style, the indie way.

In the next few months, we drafted a screenplay, auditioned actors, scouted locations, purchased equipment and started filming. We even came up with a hollywood sounding name for our troupe, “The Yuzzi Brothers.” And since we couldn’t take a few months out of our day jobs to make the movie, we wrote a story that took place at night. It would be one of the most intense times of my life. We typically filmed from 8pm to 3am, with just enough sleep to go to work that same morning. Caffeine had become my best friend. A year later, we finally finished our movie and showed it in theaters, in all its flawed glory.

Looking back at the romanticized version of those events, I could honestly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. We learned a lot about ourselves and about the industry, yet it was not without its challenges. We had actors & crew members who dropped out, our equipment was stolen, myriad of technical issues, schedule conflicts and even injuries. And when you’re on the 8th month of a production, you start to question yourself and your project (or your spouse would). We could have easily given up at any point, but we did not. We kept telling ourselves that we needed to finish.

Starting something new is exciting & fun. And let’s be honest, it’s probably the easiest part. The endless daydreaming of a new project gives us a sense of euphoria. But once the tire hits the pavement and the daily grind of our life gets in the way, that’s when we’re really tested. Self-doubt begins to manifest and we start looking for the off-ramp. We question our ideas, we procrastinate, we revise endlessly. We’re stuck in a never ending loop between unlived expectations and our limited abilities to meet them.

It’s only natural we should strive for perfection. But perfection is that golden goose that if you look at it long enough, it turns into an ugly duckling. That is, in fact, an important part of what makes us creatives. And as we grow and get better, we look back at our work and see the flaws. Yet it’s also important not to get stuck, to keep moving forward, to finish. That is how we grow. I know artists who actually don’t start anything, fearing that the end result will never live up to their expectations. It’s quite unfortunate.

When I feel dismayed, I go back to the reasons why I started. It’s much like reminiscing about my carefree childhood days. Everything seemed possible. I look for that seed of inspiration and use it to re-ignite my inner locomotive.

Sometimes, I realize that I am at that moment in my life incapable of telling the story or drawing that picture. I simply lack the life experience or skills to do so. This doesn’t mean that my idea is lost in the woods, never to be seen. It just means that I can put it in my back pocket and come back to it later. And trust me, I have many of those.

When we were working on our movie, there were so many variables that was ultimately out of our control. We relied on so many people, and to be able to keep it going for a year, and to finish was quite a miraculous thing.

Contrasting that to my current endeavor of writing and illustrating, where everything is really on my shoulders, gives me a unique perspective and set of expectations. I really have no excuse not to finish. It’s all on me. And If I have to spend time away from my family to work on my craft, then I better make it count.

Finishing is important. Once you’ve experienced completing a project that you’ve poured your life into, you stand among the few who have “made it.” You can tip your fedora to the naysayers and show them that you’ve done what you’ve set out to do. You’ve kept your word, your promise; even if it’s just to yourself.

Those who finish are the ones who inspire me the most, because I know how hard it is to get to that point. Not everyone can be a breakout overnight success, but we can sure break out of our walls and create something amazing, and it all starts with mastering the art of finishing.

So put on that thinking cap, adjust your monocle, get a jug of coffee, and dust off that manuscript or picture book. It’s calling your name.

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2. #768 – Crow Made a Friend by Margaret Peot (Giveaway)

Crow Made a Friend Series: I Like to Read® Written and Illustrated by Margaret Peot Holiday House     9/15/2015 978-0-8234-3297-4 24 pages     Ages 4—8 “Crow was alone. He had a plan. He tried and tried and tried to make a friend. If you like to read, you will like this book.” [back …

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3. #767 – Blue Whale Blues by Peter Carnavas

Blue Whale Blues Written and Illustrated by Peter Carnavas Kane Miller       9/27/2015 978-1-61067-458-4 32 pages      Ages 4—8 “When Penguin hears Whale singing the blues, he tries to help. But how exactly do you stop a blue whale from feeling blue? A delightful story about a whale with bike trouble and …

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4. #766 – The Year of the Monkey: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin & Kenji Ono

The Year of the Monkey Series: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac (Book 11) Written by Oliver Chin Illustrated by Kenji Ono Immedium      12/15/2015 978-1-59702-118-0 36 pages      Age 4—8 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. “Max is the son of the famous Monkey King and Queen, who have very high expectations. …

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5. 7 Lessons I’ve Learned So Far…

Alas, Pub Crawl readers, the time has come for me to make my exit. I’ve been writing for this blog since 2012 and it’s been a blast. From sharing publishing insights and craft advice, to engaging in wonderful discussions via the comments, to just geeking out over books and pop culture, I’ve had so much fun contributing to Pub Crawl!

But I also can’t ignore the fact that I am stretched too thin, that my writing time is precious and I need to guard it fiercely. It was a hard decision, but I need to cut back on my blogging obligations. I’ll still be writing books and sharing advice (via my blog, newsletter, and social media outlets), I just won’t be doing it here on Pub Crawl.

Before I go, and as Alex Bracken and Amie Kauffman have done before me, I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned since entering the publishing industry…


There is no perfect time to write, and there is no perfect place to do so. You might have an ideal—your dream writing day/situation—but if you sit around waiting for it, you’re burning precious hours. In the words of Tim Gunn, you just need to “make it work.” I wrote my debut in half hour sprints after work and on the weekends. Then I became a full time writer and had all the time in the world. It was marvelous. Of course, I now have a one-year-old and am back to writing in sprints and cramming copy-edits in during naps and brainstorming while I push the stroller. All this to say: nothing is life is constant. Be prepared to write under any circumstance.


If your book tanks, that doesn’t define you. If your book is a massive hit, that doesn’t define you either. Your identity is not tied to the success of your books. Remember that age-old mantra, The only thing you can control is the words? Well, it’s true. So don’t let your happiness be tied to things you can’t control, like sales numbers and best-seller lists. Find other passions and hobbies. Spend time with friends and family. Love writing, but live outside it too.


I only made it through my debut season without going insane because kind, thoughtful, gracious writers who were ahead of me in their journey reached back and told me what to expect. They shared knowledge. They acted as a sounding board. They pulled back the curtain. Publishing can often feel like a giant mystery, like you’re wandering down a road-blocked, pothole-ridden street while wearing a blindfold. Help your fellow writers out. Pay-it-forward. We’re all in this together, I promise you.


Seriously. You’re allowed. As soon as you start feeling burned out, that you can’t keep up with the tweets, that the fun’s been sucked out of tumblr and that your networks are just another thing you have to maintain, STEP AWAY. Take a week or two off. Maybe more! The internet isn’t going anywhere. It will carry on just fine without you and it will be there when you get back. You’ll be amazed at how much you don’t miss, and how rejuvenated you feel when you finally return.


Write outside your comfort zone. Explore new genres. Take risks. Do something that scares you. The only way you grow as a writer is by trying new things. Comfort—writing only what feels safe—will keep you stale. It will stall your growth. And aren’t we all trying to grow?


Storytelling is everywhere, so when you watch a movie, binge a TV show, read a book, look at a photo, listen to song lyrics, peruse a gallery… take note of what you love. What works? What inspires you? On the other hand, what do you hate? What would you change? Apply that to your own writing.


The grass is always greener ahead. The future holds great promise. It could be when you land an agent, sell that book, get a movie deal, go on tour, hit a list, get showered with awards, and so on. But if you’re too busy looking ahead, you’ll miss the things happening now. And remember my point in #2? Those fancy things are wonderful, but journeys without them aren’t pointless journeys. Remember to live your life. Be present in the moment. Tomorrow is going to happen no matter what, so make sure you enjoy today.

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6. When We Least Expect

If it's worth having, it's worth the wait.
    Oh, my lovelies. This Princess has gained much after migrating south a decade and a half ago. I have developed a great love for country roads and mountain views.  Listened to amazing stories and sermons. Lived in many places. Had mission trips and grand adventures. Written novels and painted murals. Taught youth and made friends wherever I journeyed.
But my toughest and most beloved task was raising and educating my five oldest children. 

     I finished homeschooling three years ago. I thought I would love the day hubby and I were alone, but empty nest caused a deep depression. The reality of it tortured me. I love teaching kids  hands-on, through the arts. I ached inside to minister again. I almost forgot my calling. Not just to write good stories and create art.
But my purpose.
The vision God gave me a long time ago.

Ah, yes, my school...

I continued to pray. 
To take classes. 
And Pray. 
And bang my head against the wall
wondering if the voice I heard was imaginary 
and I needed to just hide in a corner. 
And write a sonnet.
Or something.

   I quit on the idea, but God, in His wonderful timing brought me a miracle over a thousand square feet in size on an acre of land. The owner offered it at a modest price. I will own it. Once we raise the money to put in a well and septic we will open the doors to my castle-shaped school. 
Students will focus on the arts while finishing their high school diplomas.
I will still build towers on either side for our gallery. 
We will plant a community garden. 
I will drop the ceilings and build two partial lofts. 
One for a prayer loft. 
The other for sleeping space when needed.
In between will be barn beams where I will hang twinkling icicle lights and banners and buttons and baubles and  whatnot. 
There's  room for my two-story upcycled Jesus (jungle gym) statue. 

   I have my safe place for kids to create. A haven for the troubled wanderers and creatives. Our little piece of heaven on earth. My tiny Kingdom where I will teach my royal subjects to be Kingdom dwellers, and I will lead them to the King. 

It doesn't look like much yet, my darlings. It will be the most eclectic and energetic Holy Ghost acre in this county.
   At long last, when I least expected, my lifelong dream is fulfilled. Praise the Almighty God. For He is good. 
 Until later, my darlings. Be royalty always. 
 Princess Jae

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7. Make Your Mark by Blogging!

I have plans, big plans, for my third grader writers this year. Topping the list is helping them to become bloggers.

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8. #726 – Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook by ViiiZ

Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook

By ViiiZ*
Quirk Books       8/20/2013
160 pages       Age 8—12 +
“You’ve never seen a doodle book quite like this one!”
”Wait, you can talk?”

“Photo Doodles combines kid-friendly photographs and cool creative challenges into the perfect canvas for anyone capable of wielding a crayon. Young artists and designers can complete dozens of fun and playful pictures of everything from roller coasters and soda cans to book covers and palaces. Perfect for sketching, scribbling, and coloring outside the lines, Photos Doodles will unleash the aspiring artist inside children of all ages.” [front jacket]

Photo Doodles is a fun-filled book for those kids—and adults—who love to doodle, but may not know how to get started. Similar to writing prompts, each spread contains a one sentence prompt to help you with ideas to doodle your way to a fun, satisfying end. Here are two of those prompts:


“Who (or what) is at the other end of the rope?”


“What outfit will the puppy wear today?”

With 160 pages to doodle and color, it seems the options are endless. From decorating a sea of umbrellas to filling in storyboards with your own story. There is even one many students will find hard to resist:

“It’s your turn at the blackboard . . . what will you write?”

How about “No more math problems,” or maybe “School’s out early today: Leave at noon,” or maybe you would use your turn to make tomorrow a teacher conference day—“Students stay home!”


There are plenty of open spaces in Photo Doodles or those kids and adults who can doodle and draw with ease and loads of pages with images to make colorful and expressive, rather than drawing from scratch. A total of 200 pictures await your crayons, colored pencils, markers, or other artistic medium. While marketed for the middle grade set, younger children will enjoy many of the easier prompts in Photo Doodles and adults will love the range of images and prompts.

I enjoyed playing with Photo Doodles. I love to draw, but have a hard time getting started. Photo Doodles made getting started easy and the images and prompts got me thinking of ways to doodle other than the normal doodles in the margin of a page.


Coloring books for adults are in every corner of every bookstore online and off, but doodle books that prompt you to create imaginative scenes and messages, like Photo Doodles, is not as common. I think kids of all ages will enjoy Photo Doodles as much as I have.

PHOTO DOODLES: A CREATIVE SKETCHBOOK. Text and illustrations copyright © 2015 by ViiiZ. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Quirk Books, Philadelphia, PA.

Buy Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook at AmazonBook DepositoryQuirk Books.

Learn more about Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook HERE.
The Sell Sheet can be found HERE.

Meet the authors/illustrators, ViiiZ.
Vahram Muratyan at his website:  http://www.vahrammuratyan.com/
Elodie Chaillous at LinkedIn:  https://fr.linkedin.com/pub/elodie-chaillous/84/79a/462/en
.        . (ViiiZ is the artistic team of Vahram Muratyan and Elodie Chaillous andfounders of ViiiZ, an art    direction and graphic design studio created in 2005 in Paris. They graduated from the acclaimed Parisian design school ESAGPenninghen.)

Find middle grade novels at the Quirk Books website:  http://www.quirkbooks.com/

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook by ViiiZ, and received from Quirk Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction Tagged: art, art prompts, colored pencils, crayons, creativity, doodling, imagination, Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook, Quirk Books, ViiiZ

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9. The Sink Overflowed

Hi folks, the sink overflowed this week. My son came home for lunch and found the mess. He didn't say a word to me and just cleaned up the water. I found a soaked roll of paper towels on the counter. Nice to have a family that supports creative endeavor.

What is this all about? Translated, my writing is popping. I'm back in the mode when I mean to sit down for thirty minutes of writing, and I end up writing for over an two hours even though I think thirty minutes. I know, I wish writing could always be this way. My story is Profit, a sci-fi epic. As usual, I so believe in this story. I'm leaving bits of my heart and soul on the page. I am inside a vast fictive dream that is so beyond me that it makes me tremble.

Here's the ramble. Chase after your creative dreams, folks. Don't worry. I know this can be tough, but always remember that the freedom is in the work. Every time you turn to the work you will find energy. I love to create. I love to see the work emerging, to experience it, and to bring it forth. I write words, but the important messages seem to be beyond the words. There is a hidden unseen part of creating. A great story builds something in the heart. It transfers true experience. It expands the world of the reader. It opens the reader to new ideas. It is bigger than me.

All creative work seems to do this. It connects us with the beauty of the universe. Consider this. Instinctively, we know that the chasing after money hurts. Our factories chug out greenhouse grasses, people fight for a buck on Wall Street, our green-less cities of steel are surrounded by isolated people in their ant-like cars, or worse bombs fall from our streaking jets, sending a message of --what? The best of us is in quiet souls toiling in corners often without pay or praise.  Every building that is more than square block of steel, every car with energy efficiency, every act that brings peace, and every creative endeavor opens the soul of human experience. Be in the business of making us more.

Do what you can with your life. Bloom in the pot you are planted in. Find ways to express yourself creatively.  Live mindfully. Live well.

I will be back next week with more meandering creative thoughts. This doodle comes from my husband Tim.  Yes, we all doodle at my house.


A quote for your pocket.

Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense. Marcus Aurelius

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10. Publish: Optimism and other lessons

Hi folks, I am writing a summer long series. It's called Publish and is in conjunction with my TEENS Publish workshop at the Ringer Library in College Station, Texas. The tribe is almost finished with their masterworks. The title of our anthology is A New Generation: TEENS Publish 2015 Anthology. Our revision letters are in and our last meeting is over. It was hard to say goodbye.

I learned so many things over the eight weeks we met. The first thing was the power of optimism. Your dreams can come true, ask anyone in the tribe.  It's just that easy. If you dream a thing and seek it, you will find it.

I loved that the writing tribe faced every bit of the writing process with an upbeat attitude. They expected to find the story they were trying to carve out. Failure wasn't an option. Critique was just a way to do better. Take a lesson from the tribe.  Assume your story will float. How can you do this? Buoyancy comes from your upbeat spirit. Here the deal: if you are writing, a place for that writing will form. That's just the way the universe is put together. 

Another thing I've learned from the tribe is if you are not excited about the next amazing thing you are about to do, you have missed the creative boat. The mind is flexible. Let it bend the way it wants to. Not knowing the "rules" is a major big blessing. Don't worry about what has come before. Don't worry about the next big thing. Trust your big old imagination. It is going to surprise you again and again. Yes, it may sound crazy. Go there. The tribe reopened me to the possibilities. 

Finally, not understanding what to do is okay. Asking questions is okay. Not knowing where you are going is okay. Trying all kinds of things is okay. Creativity is about the willingness to make mistakes, lots of them. It's fine to be where you are on your journey. Be glad that you have a journey. Embrace it. You never know what your mistakes will teach you. The writing tribe embraced the mysterious, the unknown, the uncharted country. 

Personally, I feel I will never face a writing project the same. I have a blank page in front of me. Is there any greater writing magic than that?  I hope you have enjoyed the series. Usually in August, I dig deep into my soul and explores some of my burning questions. I hope you drop in for some of the fire in my bones. 

Here is my doodle:Tree

Finally a quote for your pocket.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Helen  Keller

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11. 20 Pieces of Advice from 20 Illustrators


In preparation for her awesome upcoming online workshop Building a Freelance Illustration Business, Illustrator Salli Swindell decided to reach out and get some thoughts from other artists. The question was “What’s one piece of advice you would share with other illustrators?” This is testament to the fact that Salli is doing her best to make the workshop as useful and helpful as possible, and she has graciously shared the results with Illustration Friday!

Meet 20 artists below and read what they have to say! Also be sure to check out Salli’s educational and inspiring online workshop: Building a Freelance Illustration Business here.

Coming soon: Part 2 – Advice from art directors.

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12. GARDEN by Chloé Bulpin


Submitted by Chloé Bulpin for the Illustration Friday topic GARDEN.

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13. Reviewing My Taiwan Trip Art Supplies: What Worked, What Didn't

Trying my hand at "splash ink"!
I call this "The Spirit of The One"
and I've pasted it to the back cover
of my sketchbook.
The shadow in the middle is
where I had to fold it to fit.
Rice paper, sumi ink, Derwent Inktense pencil. 9" x 12". 
Time certainly flies. It's been several months since I've been home from Taiwan, and I've now had a chance to start working on some larger art pieces based on my travel sketchbook. At the same time, I've also been rethinking my choice of travel art supplies, all in the search for the "perfect pack." 

(Note: If you'd like to see what I took with me, or just need a reminder, here's my post listing the art supplies I packed.) 

In retrospect, I think most of my choices were good; others were . . . well, here's my verdict:

1. I loved my Stillman and Birn Epsilon 6" x 8" sketchbook, but it definitely took some getting used to. This was the first time I'd bought this brand, and I didn't have time to try it out before I left home. Not that I wasn't forewarned. Prior to making my purchase, I did quite a bit of research on the company and its products, and the one online comment I kept reading from other artists was that any kind of watercolor tends to "swim" on top of the book's paper. 

It's difficult to explain, and I didn't understand what they meant, but "swim" is the right word for sure. Until I learned how to manipulate the amount of water I applied to the areas I had colored in with my watercolor pencils, I had to be careful not to flood the pages. For instance, one picture I drew of the nursery we visited morphed into what looks like a rotten smashed cauliflower. It makes for an interesting abstract, but all the detail I wanted (and had drawn) was lost. (And no, I'm not sharing that one with you. Just use your imagination.) 

I think the problem is that the paper isn't very absorbent, so water and/or paint tends to pool on it. However, once I got used to this, I actually grew to enjoy and used the effect to advantage. Stillman and Birn sketchbooks are now the only ones I plan to buy, especially as they make so many different types of books and papers for various media.

2. Regardless of brand, the sketchbook I chose had too many pages: 50 of them. And because they were of such good quality paper, I could sketch on both sides without any kind of bleed-through whether I used my inky brush pens (purchased during the trip), watercolor pencils, or water-soluble graphite. (The paper didn't buckle when it was wet, either.) But planning to sketch 100 pictures in 12 days was ridiculously ambitious. I came home with the book less than half-filled. (The extra pages weren't wasted since I kept sketching once I got home using Taiwan references from my own photos, museum guides, and magazines. Every page is filled now, but it did take a whole three months.) So the next time I buy a Stillman and Birn for travel, it will be the 25-page version. 

3. My Faber-Castell Art Grip watercolor pencils were the best. I liked the triangular shape, and the grippy surface really did work, keeping the pencils from slipping and making them very comfortable to use. Like my sketchbook choice, I've decided to stick with this brand for travel. The colors are rich and intense with excellent coverage--probably one of the reasons I initially had trouble judging the amount of water I needed to use with them.

I had also mentioned in my earlier post on the subject that I had limited my colors down to 7. Now that I've had time to reflect, I would have added 2 more: black and pink. Yes, pink! Usually I don't like to use black paint out of a tube, preferring to mix my own, but this was one situation where a black watercolor pencil would have worked well. Not only would it have imitated the black ink that makes Chinese painting so unique, but I think it would have been a good mix with my other colors to give me a few more subtle, sophisticated hues. 

As for needing a pink pencil, I think I wanted to use pink about twenty times a day. The only red I brought was "scarlet" (a Caran d'Ache sample I received at a color pencil meeting). It's a beautiful red, and it turned out to be just right for Chinese lanterns, but it was absolutely hopeless when it came to drawing Taiwan's magnificent orchids and other flowers. Pink also would have been very helpful for drawing sunrises and sunsets, as well as Hello, Kitty!

One benefit of using such a limited palette was that it did give a coherent appearance to my sketchbook, but from now on I'm bringing a standard tin of 12 colors--including black and pink.

4. I brought--and used--a water-soluble graphite pencil (another Caran d'Ache sample from that same meeting I attended), but in all honesty I didn't find it that important or useful. Once again, I wished I'd had a black pencil in its place. So I'd leave this one at home.

5. I wrote about my water brush disaster here. I was lucky that we had already planned to go to an art supply store on the same day it broke, but what if I'd been in the middle of the woods? Or stuck on a desert isle? You can't always just go to the mall. To prevent any future mishaps, I'll be carrying three brushes with me at all times: 1 medium round, 1 large round, and 1 flat. And I am never, ever going to fly with them assembled again. (They're probably even easier to pack when the brushes are separated from the barrels.) So, lesson learned the hard way, but at least now I know.

6. One of my favorite pieces of advice I read before I left home was to just open my sketchbook "anywhere" rather than draw in page-by-page chronological order (my usual style of doing things). The good side of this advice is that it really helped me to think of my sketchbook as a working tool and not as a sacred text. It also kept me from freaking out about the pages I hadn't filled because I didn't realize how many were blank until I got home!

The downside of this system, though, was that none of my pictures follow the route of the trip. And because I failed to date anything, the where and when of some of my sketches will forever be a mystery. Next time: date the drawings, and maybe jot down a note or two about the location.

7. What I didn't bring and desperately wanted: my pocket-size viewfinder. Too often I was overwhelmed by Taiwan's scenery: huge green mountains, giant Buddhas, vast blue seas, enormous city blocks that went on and on and on . . . much of the time I couldn't grasp or take in the size of it. A viewfinder would have made sense of the vista and helped me to find the right portion to sketch. It's an easy item to pack and one that would have made a big difference to my sense of perspective. Note to self: Pack viewfinder!

All-in-all, though, I was pleased with my little kit, especially as it encouraged me to cultivate and continue a daily art practice, one that's become as important to me as my daily writing. I often think writing and drawing come from the same source anyway: both are about telling stories, making sense of the world around us, and endowing our daily experiences with gratitude and meaning. Last year I even wrote a post about it: Art and Writing, Two Sides of the Creative Coin.

So while you're digesting that happy thought, here are a couple of intermediate pieces I've been working on for your entertainment. They're larger than my sketchbook pages, but still in the "idea stage" as I work toward finding my true Taiwan art voice:

9"x 12". Color pencil on hot press watercolor paper.
I had to add the washi tape when the masking tape
I used to keep the paper on my drawing board
tore the edges. Happy accident?

9" x 12". One of the many vistas from The One.
Derwent Inktense pencil 
on hot press watercolor paper.

Tip of the Day: It's summer! You really don't have to go as far away as Taiwan to start a sketchbook habit. Keep a handy sketch pack in your car, purse, or backpack and just . . . sketch! Ideas for stories, ideas for jewelry, ideas for collage--you don't have to be a professional artist to express yourself with pictures. Go for it.

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14. Pick of the Week for SHARP and This Week’s Topic Announcement


It’s Illustration Friday again!

We’re ready to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the wonderful illustration above by Jessica Warrick, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of SHARP. Thanks to everyone who participated with drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more. We love seeing it all!

You can see a gallery of ALL the entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:


Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the public Gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!

Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to keep up with our exciting community updates!


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15. Meet the IF Team – Chloe Baldwin


Hello Illustration Friday friends!

As part of our ongoing efforts to celebrate all the fine folks who help to keep you inspired and keep the IF fires burning, we’d like to take a moment to highlight one of our key contributors, Chloe Baldwin!

Chloe is a freelance illustrator and designer who makes up one half of the collective, Buttercrumble. She is currently studying a degree in Graphic and Communication Design at The University of Leeds. When she is not drawing, she can be found baking or trawling vintage shops and loves all things quirky and sweet. Her work is inspired by mid-century design, folk art and anything cute.

Chloe also happens to be an Illustration Friday Editor, helping to curate our blog with a steady stream creative inspiration.

Thanks Chloe!

A few of Chloe’s recent posts:

Illustrator Clare Owen

Illustrator Submission :: Lizzy Stewart

Illustration Alice Pattullo

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16. #712 -If You Were a Dog by Jamie A. Swenson & Chris Raschka

cover lg.
If You Were a Dog
Written by Jamie A. Swenson
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Farrar Straus Giroux BYR        9/30/2014
40 pages              Age 3—6

“If you could be any kind of animal, what would you be? Would you be a sod that goes ARRRROOOOOOO? Or maybe you would be a sharp-toothed dinosaur that can CHOMP, STOMP, ROAR! Perhaps you might want to be a hopping frog that goes BOING, BOING, RIBBET! But maybe you would want to be the best kind of animal of all. Can you guess what that is?” [inside jacket]

Using sparse text, including exuberant onomatopœia, and characteristics specific to the animal on the spread, Swenson asks young children how they would act if they were a dog, a cat, a bird, a bug, a frog, and a dinosaur. Each two-spread animal begins its question with a recognizable formula:

“If you were a . . . would you be a . . . ?”

For example, the first animal is the dog.

dog am combo “If you were a dog, would you be a speedy-quick, lickety-sloppy,
best-friend-ever sort of dog?”

The following spread always asks one final question:

dog 2  combo“Would you howl at the moon?  Some dogs do.”

Youngsters will love the questions, especially each of the activity-type characteristics in If You Were a Dog. While not written in rhyme, the text flows nicely. The individual characteristics are ordered such that the similar suffixes following each other. Raschka’s illustrations are child-like in form, yet lively, and capture the text and the reader’s (listener’s), imagination. Young children will not only contemplate how they would act based on the given charactersitics, but are bound to come up with their own. I like anything that activates and stretches a child’s imagination and If You Were a Dog fits that bill nicely.

The final three spreads in If You Were a Dog acknowledge that we cannot become any animal we want, but we can imitate those around us. Besides, kids are told, the best animal to be is yourself.

IF YOU WERE A DOG. Text copyright (C) 2014 by Jamie A. Swenson. Illustrations copyright (C) 2014 by Chris Raschka. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers—an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, New York, NY.

Purchase If You Were a Dog at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesMacmillian Children’s Publishing Group.

Learn more about If You Were a Dog HERE.
You can find the CCSS-Aligned Discussion and Activity Guide HERE.

Junior Library Guild selection

Meet the author, Jamie A. Swenson, at her website:  http://www.jamieaswenson.com/
Meet the illustrator, Chris Raschka, at his twitter page:  @ChrisRaschka
Find more children’s books at the Farrar Strauss Giroux BYR website:  http://us.macmillan.com/mackids
Farrar Strauss Giroux BYR is an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 225

Full Disclosure: If You Were a Dog, by Jamie A. Swenson & Chris Raschka, and received from Farrar Strauss Giroux BYR, (an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book Tagged: animal traits, animals, being oneself, Chris Raschka, creativity, Farrar Straus Giroux, If You Were a Dog, imagination, Jamie A. Swenson, self esteem

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17. The Disney Animation Recruitment Website


If you’ve ever wanted to work for Disney, well head on over to this “official website for Disney Television Animation talent and recruitment”. You can use it to view and even apply for a variety of artistic and production-related projects.

Visit the Disney Recruitment site here >>

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18. Two creative cures for when you feel your art isn’t good enough.


We all have down days as creative’s, when whatever we draw just doesn’t turn out how we envisage in our heads. We screw up countless balls of paper to add it to the emerging mountain of sketchbook remains behind us and we just feel our art isn’t good enough.  Now believe it or not despite the fact that feeling despondent with our art is a natural thing that every creative goes through from time to time. It can be used to push us into being more brave and exploring new avenues we hadn’t before. It’s when we produce creative work with a closed mind that things can become to narrowed down and you’re just not sure what to do to make art you’re confident in.

So here’d a few ways to boost that creative confidence, regain that part of yourself that knows you’re good enough and how to present that artwork with pride!


  •  Draw things you get excited to draw : Although creative trends do help in our industry to produce work of interest to different markets, it can over time wear you down drawing things that don’t inspire you. This is why drawing things that make you smile, get your head reeling with ideas and heart filled with enthusiasm that you will be more happy with what you draw.  You’ll be less likely to second guess yourself and people will connect with your joy and enthusiasm for the art you make.


  • Think outside the box  : Taking a little inspiration from people around you can really refuel your creative energy and give you a boost to take your art in a new direction. For example you might take inspiration from a creative whose just launched a new project and think ” Wow if I tweaked this with my artwork in my own way then maybe the outcome would be better”. This is can also be used when you’re looking to expand your creative reach or  acquire that dream client. Don’t copy others but take a little inspiration and make it your own.

Illustration featured in this post was created by illustrator Jessica Richardson, you can find out more about her work here

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19. MONSTER by Rita Kwong


Submitted by Rita Kwong for the Illustration Friday topic MONSTER.

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20. A Guide to Stepping Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone

A note from Candy: Slushpile readers no doubt are marvelling at the sudden rise of activity here on our previously somnambulant blog. Yes, dear reader, we're trying to liven up this unreliable blog (we only blogged 11 times last year). How to do this? Why, find someone more reliable than us to blog of course! Ladies and gents, please welcome the latest member of Notes from the Slushpile, Nick

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21. Incredibly Useful Digital Watercolour Tools for Illustrators


If you’re a digital illustrator seeking a way to make work that looks handmade, you simply MUST check out this huge collection of digital brushes and tools from the great Nicky Laatz!

Equipped with just this pack – you will be an unstoppable watercolour design machine…without even picking up a paint brush :)

Get the pack here!

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22. MONSTER by Ben J Hutch


Submitted by Ben J Hutch for the Illustration Friday topic MONSTER.

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23. AIRBORNE by Pipiola


Submitted by Pipiola for the Illustration Friday topic AIRBORNE.

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24. Build a Freelance Illustration Business with This 3-Day Workshop

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.31.50 PM

Are you a designer, illustrator or creative doodler? Have you ever wondered how you could turn your talents into a business? This three-day workshop will help you create a plan for leveraging your creativity into a successful freelance business.

Run by Sally S. Swindell and Nate Padavick (illustrators and co-founders of They Draw and Cook) this course will give you an inside look at how two artists have built a successful design & illustration studio by fostering a community of artists that empower each other to grow their businesses.

Join Salli and Nate for (3) hour-long sessions to learn how you can leverage community & online content to build a successful freelance business around your creative skills.

Click here for more info >>


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25. Meet the IF Team: Andy Yates


Hi Illustration Friday community!

So many people play a role in keeping this site updated with inspiration to fuel your creativity, and we’d like to take a moment to highlight one of them today: Andy Yates.

You may be familiar with Andy’s incredibly popular Comics Illustrator of the Week Series (here’s the latest installment). We are so grateful that he helps us round out our content with comic art while giving much deserved attention to the artists involved.

Andy is a freelance illustrator, and animator. In 2013, he received his BS in Media Arts & Animation from the Art Institute of California – Orange County, and has worked creating 2d assets for the casual games industry, as well as working on various independent animation/illustration projects.

He spends his free-time consuming a plethora of good, and bad(but, oh so good..) TV, comics, movies, Cheez-its, Skittles, beer, and the occasional couch pretzel, after removing any hair of course. He writes about comics, and interviews the artists behind them on his website comicstavern.com. You can learn more about Andy, and see his art on his tumblr: plumdill.tumblr.com.

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