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An Illustration Journal © 2005-2008 Angela Matteson All images are protected by copyright law and may not be copied, reproduced or used without permission. By day I'm an inhouse designer of greeting cards and food and gift packaging. On the flip side, I'm working towards illustrating in the children's market.
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1. GRUMBLES on catalog covers!

It was a very happy mail day when I opened an unexpected package, and saw my Jack and Jill artwork from GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN on the cover of  Boyds Mills Press's Fall 2016 catalog! Inside was this lovely 2 page spread.....

And then a few months later the publisher emailed us all this wonderful news.....
The Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association chose my Mother Goose art from GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN to feature as their 2016-2017 Winter catalog cover! The cover debuted in their newsletter with a very nice write up of our book! It's so wonderful to share this honor with Jane Yolen, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, our editor Rebecca M Davis, and Boyds Mills Press!

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In one month, GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist will be released into the world! Here's a sneak peek of Little Jack Horner who simply could not contain his excitement. (I know how he feels!) He's celebrating early with plum pie!

GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist is now available for Pre-order at:

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3. It took 94 audiobooks to illustrate 1 picture book

A glimpse at the messy studio
Illustrators are often asked what materials go into making their work. What brand of pencil is that? What paper do you use? Is that acrylic? For this post, I wanted to focus on one crucial element, at least in my own painting process, that goes unseen in the final work, and that is a constant supply of audiobooks! I say 'painting process' because during the drawing and ideas phases I need quiet, or movies I've already seen, or not-too-intrusive music. But, when it comes to painting there's nothing better to get me into the creative zone than a good audiobook!

It all started back with working on various paintings while listening to all the Harry Potter books read by Jim Dale, who does the most amazing job of bringing the characters to life. He set the bar so high though that I didn't know where to go next. After stumbling around a bit, I found His Dark Materials, (the Golden Compass series), which with its full cast and Phillip Pullman's epic storytelling rose right to the top of my list of best audiobooks ever. 

I tend to gravitate towards the fantasy/sci-fi genres in middle grade, YA, and adult, but I will wander into other genres if I hear something is especially good.

As part of my painting process, these audiobooks have an important job to do, and that is to keep me on task. This became especially important as I was illustrating my first children's picture book, GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN: MOTHER-GOOSE VOICES WITH A TWIST by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. As this was the most illustrations I'd ever painted back-to-back I needed more audiobooks than I ever listened to in my lifetime. I devoured them one after another. Between paint strokes, I was hunting down new series; watching for publisher's tweets for recommendations.

The best audiobooks for my purposes were the ones that had me rushing back to the studio to hear more. During a long project it can be a challenge to keep the motivation going, and getting back to a story in progress was great motivation. In this regard, one series did this better than all the rest during GRUMBLES, and that was Marie Lu's Legend Trilogy. I fell in love with her characters, June and Day, so deeply that I would rush home during my lunch hour to listen and paint. 

So, I wanted to write this post as a heartfelt thank you to all the authors and narrators and publishers who created these audiobooks which kept me company during those intense months of painting. I'm already gathering a list of books for future painting sessions. Below is a list of approximately all the audiobooks I consumed while painting GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN, mostly through my library's OverDrive.com system. I'm a bit shocked to see about 94 books on this list, and I remember listening to some of these more than once. I definitely listened to some of Neil Gaiman's works multiple times. He weaves the most wonderful tales, but he also has the most  marvelous voice which makes the paint flow just right. :)

If you happen to have similar tastes you may find this list helpful. And I'm always up for recommendations. (I know I should start a GoodReads account. I hope to soon...)

Marie Lu - Legend Trilogy (the best!)The Young Elites, The Rose Society
John Stephens - Books of Beginning Trilogy (narrated by Jim Dale - he's awesome!)
Tony DiTerlizzi - The Search for WondLa Trilogy (loved it!)
Jaleigh Johnson - The Mark of the Dragonfly (#1) (an unexpected gem!)

Everything Neil Gaiman writes is brilliant!- 
Neil Gaiman - American Gods, Anansi Boys, InterWorld (#1, #2)Odd and the Frost Giants, Trigger Warning, The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection, The Sleeper and the Spindle, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, M is for Magic, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Graveyard Book 

Sabaa Tahir - An Ember in the Ashes (This one left me craving more, but at the time book 2 wasn't out yet. A Torch Against the Night is out now, and I look forward to revisiting this series!)

Victoria Aveyard - Red Queen (#1) (I know enjoyed this one, but the cover doesn't represent the flavor of the book, so it gives me a weird case of amnesia. I'll have to refresh my memory before starting #2 and #3)

Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children #1 (This was perfect to listen to on Halloween)

George R.R. MartinFeast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, Rogues: Short Stories


The funny- (Much needed after all the Game of Thrones):
Adam Rex - The True Meaning of Smekday, Smek for President, Cold Cereal
Mindy Kaling Why Not Me?, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Felicia Day - You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
B.J. Novak One More Thing
David SedarisLet's Explore Diabetes with Owls, The Ultimate David Sedaris Box Set
Neil Patrick Harris - Choose Your Own Autobiography
Jennifer L. HolmThe Fourteenth Goldfish

The map books (I seem to have a thing for map books):
S.E. Grove - The Glass Sentence #1 (I'm looking forward to books 2 and 3 of this fun trilogy)
Carrie Ryan The Map to Everywhere (#1) 

Michael Scott - The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1), The Magician (#2)

Maile Meloy - The Apothecary (#1), The Apprentices (#2)
Naomi Novik - His Majesty's Dragon(Temeraire #1), Throne of Jade(#2)Black Powder War(#3)
Laini Taylor - Daughter of Smoke and Bone (#1)
Holly Black - The Darkest Part of the Forest, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Doll Bones

Process pics of the GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN cover
As a Hunger Games fan, these were obvious choices:
Veronica Roth - Divergent Trilogy
James Dashner - The Maze Runner Trilogy

Blue Balliett - Chasing Vermeer (#1)

Cassie Beasley - Circus Mirandus (narrated by Jim Dale - he's awesome!)
Lauren Oliver - Liesl and Po
Jenny NimmoMidnight for Charlie Bone (#1)
Lemony Snicket - The Lump of Coal (short story)
Bruce Hale - Nate Macavoy, Monster Hunter (short story)
Various Authors - Infinity Ring Series, (#1-5)
Brandon Mull - Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1)
Terry Pratchett - The Wee Free Men, Dodger, Snuff - Discworld Series, Book 39
Colin Meloy - Wildwood
Patrick Rothfuss - The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Since I was already a fan of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear this shorter story was quite enjoyable.)

Jacqueline Woodson - Brown Girl Dreaming (read by Jacqueline Woodson - a glorious way to experience her Newbery Honor Book!)

David Arnold - Mosquitoland 
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief (Loved it, but later discovered painting and balling my eyes out don't go together. Still really amazing though)
Chris Howard - Rootless
Dean Koontz - Odd Thomas 
Matthew Reilly - 7 Deadly Wonders (Like an action-adventure movie)
Lois Lowry - The Giver 
Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - The Little Prince

Close to the finish line - paintings piled up around the studio
Eoin Colfer - Airman
Lev Grossman - The Magicians (#1)
Charlie Fletcher - Stoneheart (#1)
Orson Scott Card - The Lost Gate (#1)
Trenton Lee Stewart - The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
Karen FoxleeOphelia and the Marvelous Boy 
Angie SagePathFinder Septimus Heap: Todhunter Moon Series, Book (#1) 
Michael ScottThe Thirteen Hallows     

Oh, I also listened to many wonderful podcasts. Some of my favorites can be found at: All the Wonders 

GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist is available for Pre-order from:

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4. Official picture book announcing news!

This blog is long overdue for an update, so it's with great pleasure I'm able to share news of my biggest dream-come-true project, illustrating my first picture book, GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist by the absolutely marvelous writers, Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich! I'm so grateful to Senior Editor, Rebecca M Davis of Boyds Mills Press for approaching my agent, Marcia Wernick and myself with such a wonderful opportunity. I've truly been pinching myself everyday. Being a part of Team Grumbles, and working with the most supportive editor has been an incredible experience.

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5. Happy Year of the Sheep!

'Year of the Sheep' - acrylic on wood
Oh, this poor neglected blog! What happened to 2014? Last year was a bit of a restructuring year for me. My apartment became intolerable after some noisy neighbors moved in above me, and next to my art room. I felt like I lost my creative space to think and work. For months, I hoped it would get better, and I sketched at parks and libraries. I househunted for months. Then, I was hit by an outrageously high rent increase, and I realized the universe was insisting I move immediately, and in a few weeks I was in a new townhouse with no one above me, and peace was restored! 

It was all so important because I'm working on a great project I love. It started to come together so much better after I moved and eliminated the noise and chaos. I'll be sharing more soon.

Angela on a cliff - May 2014

Anyway, here we are.... a new year, a new place, a new painting! I've faced so many new years with uncertainty. Full of hopes, and knowing I'm going to keep moving forward, but not sure how that will all play out. But, this year I begin 2015 with my mission already laid out. I know I'll have a fulfilling sense of accomplishment (about mid-year), and then I'll be exhausted, and then I'll make it a point to take in more stop-and-smell-the-roses moments like above.

I recently heard the term 'friluftsliv', "a Norwegian word loosely translated as “open air life,” which characterizes Norwegian culture. Norwegians embrace nature and enjoy the outdoors as a way of life. Ultimately, friluftsliv offers the possibility of recreation, rejuvenation and restoring balance among living things." This really resonated with me as a walk through the woods always grounds me, and I'm part Norwegian.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
The Sheep (Goat) is a Yin energy, a symbol of Peace, Harmonious co-existence and Tranquility. The Sheep is the symbol of the Arts. For those who trust in goodness, happiness and success will follow. (Read more at astrologyclub.org

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6. 'Be My Valentine' Group Exhibition

'My Complicated Valentine' - acrylic on wood  
Here's my piece entitled, 'My Complicated Valentine' for the 'Be My Valentine' Group Exhibition hosted by Rivet Gallery this month of February. We were asked to put a modern-day twist on the little Valentine squares from our elementary school days

This original painting is available for purchase at Rivet->> here 

See the entire exhibition->> here 

Process pics->>


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7. Holiday Sweet

I was pleased as punch and snickerdoodles that my illustrated recipe, Rudolph's Cinnamon Mango Frappé, was included in Holiday Sweet, a new cookbook from They Draw & Cook.

Thanks Nate and Salli!

Holiday Sweet contains illustrated recipes from many of my favorite artists.

Art from Salli Swindell, Tamara Henderson, Laura Mayes, and Sarah Ward

A sweet gift for your foodie friends!

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8. Special Announcement!

Mad Hatter from Laurent Linn's Character Workshop
I'm very excited to announce I am now represented by Marcia Wernick of Wernick & Pratt Literary Agency! This was the happy result of attending the SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest Conference, which for the first time, organized 5 chapters from 4 midwestern states. It was an event I couldn't pass up. Before heading to the conference, family and friends had wished for good things to happen, but I quickly told them I was going primarily for inspiration, and to learn more about writing for picture books. Little did I know it would be the best conference ever! I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to work with the fabulous Marcia Wernick, and I'm so grateful for all of her guidance in navigating through the children's book world. I'm looking forward to where this adventure might lead us....... Read the rest of this post

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9. All things autumnal...

After my trusty Sony H10 died, I went looking for a smallish personal camera to carry along to take shots of reference and inspiration, and to capture the marvelous wonders of the world and stuff. After much research I decided on a Fujifilm F850EXR. On a beautiful warm October day, an orange mum and a little spotted bug inspired me to start testing it out. I'm quite happy with it.

See his quizzical antennae? After several shots he was beginning to wonder why I was going all paparazzi on him.

A waterfall of purple berries! Taste the wave!
Oh wait, don't. They might be poisonous.
2 busy bees on a passion flower..... Ooo la la!
Yes, I do believe I am quite happy with this camera. In an attempt to treat it better than the last one I bought it a SwissGear camera case, and an across body neck strap sling thingy, which isn't as nerdy as it sounds....ok, maybe it is, but it's handy and cool in my book. Now, I'm back in business! :D

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10. cake for bee

8" x 8" acrylic painting on wood
I completed this piece earlier this year, but both the scanner and my camera weren't picking up the colors properly, so I was reluctant to post it. Last week, my 8 year old Sony Cybershot H10 died on me, so I picked up a new bridge camera for work. Cameras sure have come a long way in 8 years! The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is incredible, but it's going to take time to figure out all the settings.

Testing out the macro. It's crazy how close this camera can focus in Intelligent Auto mode. (hand held- no additional photoshop sharpening here)

Now to experiment with the Manual, Aperture, Shutter Speeds, and all that other stuff..... Read the rest of this post

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11. End of summer wrap-up....

Wow, I can't believe summer is slipping away already. Even when it's a little too hot I still love this time of year when everything is all green and alive. It makes me feel more alive.

But on the bright side, September always feels like a time to begin anew. I guess I still get that new school year feeling, and it feels like a time to get back to business. For me, it feels like a much better time to set new goals than January, in the dead of winter.

So, to move on, here's some pics of the last few weeks. Above is a wrap-up of the 5 weeks of Lilla's Make Art That Sells e-course. I stumbled on week 4. I was originally excited about it since it was all about having fun, and following where the paint takes you. It sounded like a great idea, but my 'illustrate with a purpose' brain began to have a lot of anxiety over the loss of direction. So, after the course I picked up some books on intuitive painting, and did some experimenting. Well, that is, after I painted this old bookcase.

Since there was already tarp all over my living room, I turned the area into a temporary work space to help loosen me up. Big strokes need a big space, right? I had fun playing with some various materials.

Then I tried some smaller scale experiments...

In the meantime, my tiny garden filled in nicely this year....
and I had some nice visitors.

I hiked some woods, and found some inner peace and stuff. :)

After rearranging my studio, I discovered with the addition of some bamboo utensil holders, my old Ikea computer desk is a great place to store paints.

Now, I'm happy with my studio space again. :)

So, back to the sketchbooks........

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12. Make Art That Sells - Week 3: Children's Books

Week 3 - Children's Books Assignment

For Week 3 of Lilla Roger's class, Make Art That Sells, it was especially great to be focusing on picture books! On Monday, we received our mini-exercise, and I have to admit I was a bit thrown when our subject was snails. I explored some character options, mostly of the happy variety.

mini-exercise -snail character sketches
Then on Wednesday we received the details of the main assignment. We were to do a cover with hand drawn type, or a double page spread for the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Snail and the Rose Tree. It turns out the story was not happy at all. This snail is ornery, grumpy, and quite judgmental of the frilly rose. He says, “The world is nothing to me. What have I to do with the world? I have enough to do with myself, and enough in myself". The snail says he spits on the world, and future snails crept into their houses and spat at the world. This sounds like some slugs I have known, who invaded my home, and left slime trails on my shoes. I've had to put epson salt along the baseboards. I hadn't seen one inside for over a year. And then, I kid you not, the day I read the assignment, I see a slug halfway up my closet door! So, after that drama, back to the drawing board......

In my version, since this snail thinks he is above everyone, he wears a little crown, (although he has no royal blood). I call him Joffery.

I was determined to get back to my acrylics this week, and sketched this onto wood board. But, as I was still figuring out colors I knew there was no way I'd finish in time, so I scanned it in, and colored it digitally.

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13. Make Art That Sells - Week 2: Home Decor

Week 1 - Home Decor Assignment
For week 2 of Lilla Roger's class, Make Art That Sells we were instructed to study seed pods and unique plants. As a gardener/nature lover I was in heaven! I stopped by my favorite garden nursery/gift shop, and hunted down and observed buds, seeds, and leaves. I took many, many photos.

I did some quick sketches in Illustrator, and played with my old Dr. Ph. Martin's inks, and later in the week sat out in my own tiny garden, and sketched my grape hyacinth and allium seed pods.

Our main assignment was to design dinner plates for stores such as Anthropologie and Crate and Barrel. With so much inspiration, my mind was going in a million directions for this one.

I was drawn to the combination of my navy scarf against the polka dot scarf, and when I found these hanging seed pods during my lunchtime walk at the park, a plate design idea began to take shape. They're so small that I almost missed them, but this week my eyes were trained on seeking out what is often overlooked.

Woad, Isatis tinctoria
I went back to the park after turning in our assignment, and found the name of this plant is Woad, Isatis tinctoria, and it has an interesting history as an ancient source of indigo dye. Maybe this is why I ended up with the blue in my color palette? I like when things all come together. :)

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14. Make Art That Sells - Week 1: Bolt Fabric

Wow, wow, wow! What an amazing first week of Lilla Roger's class, Make Art That Sells! This is my first time taking an online course, and I wondered if it would have the feel of those old college days, and the answer is YES! ......and so much more. The organization of the online class environment is excellent, and this community of artists taking the class is so supportive. There's so much sharing of information and resources. It's also quite motivating to see everyone posting up incredible work. I'll have to admit, I've had moments of feeling very intimated since many of the artists have been working in this market for years. Lilla has been tuned in to all our class facebook postings, and told us, "Yes, it's totally normal to get overwhelmed, but isn't that better than being underwhelmed?" That's so true! She understands our artistic natures so well. She 'gets' us.

On our first day we received a mini-exercise to sketch mushrooms and Pyrex casserole dishes. I had pages of pencil and pen drawings in my sketchbook, but then I wanted to try something different as Lilla encourages us to work in new media. I've been saving these colored pencil shavings on a piece of watercolor paper for months. I knew I wanted to do something with them, and here was my opportunity to play.

Week 1 - Bolt Fabric Assignment
Then, on Wednesday we received our main assignment to design a pattern with a vintage kitchen theme. We could also include some coordinating fabric patterns. We were shown so many unique inspiring styles throughout the week that I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to go. I ended up going back to my portfolio to ground myself in my own work. This gave me a strong urge to bring characters into it, and the bunnies were born. I found a color palette on Design Seeds, (adjusted it a bit), used some of my own painted textures, and then brought in the colored pencil shavings from the exercise. I had a blast creating this!

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15. A gift for Baby Eva

acrylic on wood
This was a gift for my dear friend, Juana Martinez-Neal. As the days to Baby Eva's arrival drew near, I was hit with a burst of inspiration for this painting. It quickly became one of my most enjoyable pieces to paint ever!

The day before Juana was scheduled to deliver her little bundle of joy she was emailing me words of encouragement for my art career. That's the kind of amazing, always-thinking-of-others friend she is. I was very grateful, but of course, told her "go get some rest, girl! There's a baby on the way tomorrow!" I'm so glad our artistic life journeys have crossed paths via the internets. Everyday I'm reminded....follow your dreams, and you will meet the most extraordinary people.

Trying to decide on a composition was a bit of a challenge as I had a few different directions that I was equally interested in pursuing. In the end it was about choosing the elements that best fit together in this decorative piece.   

idea sketches
I always need printed references

work in progress

As another example of how Juana is always looking to help our illustration community, the last few weeks she posted an incredible blog series with numerous tips on how to put together a prize winning portfoilio.

I highly recommend stopping by her blog to read:
In other news, although the blog has been quiet, I've been busy. I attended the 1st ever, Wild Wild Midwest SCBWI Conference in Fort Wayne, IN. It was an amazing, inspiring event that brought the feel of the big LA conference to our humble midwest as 5 regions from 4 states hosted.
In other-other news, I'm back in school! I enrolled in Lilla Roger's online class, Make Art That Sells, which is a 10 week intensive course covering 10 major markets. I'll have more on this in the weeks to come. So far, it's day #3 of class, and we just received our first assignment, and we're all incredibly excited, and some of us might also be a bit nervous. *points to self* Already I'm so glad I've decided to invest in this course. It will be quite a challenge, and I look forward to pushing myself, and learning so much along the way. As an added bonus, I see many art friends are also in the class. So fun!

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16. An October-like first day of spring

The cold blustery wind almost knocked me over today, and made me think of my October piece for our Storybook Brushes calendar. It's funny to me when people say it doesn't feel like spring because this warm - cold - indecisive rain/snow/sleet - sun thing sounds exactly like spring's modus operandi. Summer is the slightly more consistent warm/hot one. So, just a bit longer before we have those beautiful days when I can plant my mini garden again.

I worked on all 3 of my Snow Queen pieces simultaneously. (Oddly enough the Queen herself was not in any of these scenes.) This raven piece was my favorite as it was the most fun to paint. I especially had fun patterning the colors through the leaves.

Of course, the sketch stage was a bit tricky. Once I increased the size of Gerda, and turned the cat around it began to work better.

a close-up....
the final piece....

We had real sun yesterday! .......along with the killer wind.
It was lovely and warm through the window, so I grabbed a quick pic......

And there we have it. The final piece to the story of how 4 illustrators from around the world, Katriona Chapman, Juana Martinez-NealMaria Bogade, and myself, came together to create a calendar filled with 12 original pieces of art.

The calendar is for sale in my etsy shoppe here.

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17. A Storybook February

Valentine's Day seems to be an appropriate day to post my February painting for our Storybook Brushes calendar.

This one was my biggest challenge as I worked to figure out what I wanted these characters from the Snow Queen to look like. Since I had February, I thought the rooftop garden scene with Kai and Gerda would fit nicely. But, exactly how to compose this scene with two buildings and an adjoining garden was the question. So, there were many, many sketches.......

Also, the gathering of references as an idea began to take shape......

I thought I had it with this sketch, but the critique group pointed out that the image was rather static. It needed more movement from left to right since we were designing these as picture book spreads.

I agreed, and knew I could do better, so I gave the scene some more depth. Here's a painting progress shot....

the final piece....

Last week I was very excited to finally receive my set of finished calendars! I'm very impressed with the printing quality. I love how the woodgrain is apparent, but subtle.

The pages are a nice weight with a beautiful matte finish.
Maria's, Katriona's, and Juana's pages looks gorgeous!

It was fun to package them up, and they've been making there way across the country.

I have some extras left, so if you would like one they're available in my Etsy shoppe.


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18. The 2013 goals post

I need to get this 1st post into my 2013 archive because it's become a habit of mine to check back to see what each year's plans were, so I say to future Angela reading this, 'hey there, I hope you had a fantastic year!'

It's not my style to scramble to write up resolutions or plans on January 1st. Instead, I'm like a mom who needs to get a good look at her baby before naming it. The end of 2012 felt like a bit of a whirlwind, so it's taken a moment to get a feel for 2013. Afterall, this was the year that wasn't supposed to be, according to the Mayan calendar. So, what do you do when life gives you more life? I say we're now on our own schedule. Time to forget what should have been, and create your own unique vision of how things should go on.

It hit me this morning that this year's motto is 'don't stop'. Last year I was run down from the allergy detoxing, general business, our crazy heatwave, and a slew of other excuses, and I stopped exercising regularly. I've been paying for that neglect with several weeks of back pain and fatigue. After many trips to the chiropractor I've been able to get back to exercise, and my muscles are so much happier. I can breathe easier, and sit up nice and straight. So, lesson learned, if I want to accomplish my long list of goals, exercise is no longer an option.

I had also taken a break from drawing. First due to working on several paintings, and then needing to relax over the holidays. It was too much time away though, so it's been a challenge to get back in the sketching zone. I'd like to get back in the habit of posting more sketches and unfinished work like this girl with her crown of stars.

I love to read astrologyzone.com for Susan Miller's monthly horoscopes. They've been crazy accurate in the past.  This month she said, "This month, five heavenly bodies, including the Sun, Pluto, Mercury, Venus, and the new moon, January 11, will crowd into your eleventh house of friendship and hopes and wishes. .......
It is not usual for five planets to fill one part of the horoscope, and astrologers call this configuration a "stellium" or "crown of stars."

As soon as I read that I became obsessed with the imagery this brought to mind. One thing I've gathered from years of reading these is they only 'work' if you work,....if you take action. Susan only tells you things are in alignment to go certain way. It's up to me to take advantage of this. So, 2013 can be special and wonderful if I continue to be proactive, and don't stop.

A quick note: Storybook Brushes calendars are due to arrive at my door this week, so if you've ordered one you can expect a package quite soon. :D

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19. left behind

acrylic on wood

acrylic on Arches hot press
I happened upon this blue-footed bird with the unfortunate name in an old calendar, and it inspired this little character. I'm working on a larger painting for a June show, so I used these little pieces to get my painting muscles warmed up. Feels great to be back in the studio again!

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20. ISM: 10 year Anniversary Exhibition

naturalistic pantheism - acrylic on wood
I was honored to be invited to participate in the ISM- 10 year anniversary exhibition. Each artist was asked to illustrate a word ending in __ism, or to define our own __ism. I chose naturalistic pantheism, for it is the __ism I felt most connected to. The core of naturalistic pantheism is reverence and respect for nature and the wider universe.

_______ism will be on display at the ISM: 10 year celebration at Grand Central Art Center from Saturday, July 7 until Sunday, August 12.

Grand Central Art Center: 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 7, 7:00pm until 10:00pm
Closing Reception: Saturday, August 4, 7:00pm until 10:00pm
The exhibition will be on display from Saturday, July 7 until Sunday, August 12. 

The furry art director, Andy, is unimpressed

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21. robot whales

acrylic on wood 6" x 6"
This piece was a private commission I had a lot of fun painting.

 You can see the preliminary sketches over on Between the End Pages.

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22. Storybook Brushes & Our Calendar Project

What happens when 4 illustrators from 4 corners of the globe join forces?

A 12 month calendar by Storybook Brushes is born! 

When Maria Bogade contacted me about forming a group with the main purpose of producing group mailings to the children's book publishing world I thought this is exactly what I needed. While I've handed out promotional postcards at conferences, I was still working on establishing a mailing routine. I was so honored to be asked to join this group of brilliant, established professionals.....Katriona Chapman, Juana Martinez-Neal, and Maria Bogade.

And so began months of emails, to chose a name, design the logo, the calendar cover & inside pages, the website,....oh, and critique our calendar pieces. Juana hand painted our logo, which we all fell in love with. When I was home for Thanksgiving I drew a little squirrel tribute to our group on the cherry pie I baked with my mom.

For our fairy tale themed calendar, we were each responsible for 3 months. The horizontal format is meant to mimic a double-page spread. I chose to create a series from The Snow Queen, although oddly enough the queen herself never makes an appearance in my 3 pieces. I was unfamiliar with the full story, so I enjoyed reading the tale of Gerda and Kai in search of illustration ideas. Choosing 3 scenes with Gerda would allow me to work on my character consistancy. The chapter with the old flower woman who conjurers seemed appropriate for a summer June illustration.

There were many sketch revisions, and many, many more character development sketches, but I'll get back to that in another post.

I would have painted these on thin 1/8" wood boards, but I have my first local solo show coming up, (this Friday), and I wanted to include these pieces, so I would need to make them presentable to hang on a wall.

work in progress

final painting - acrylic on wood

scanned and color adjusted
Now, I'm very proud to announce that I finally opened my Etsy shoppe! Wow, how many years have I been talking about opening an Etsy shoppe? Hmmm, pretty much since I started up this blog 7 years ago. In the next several days I'll be working on filling up angelatoshoppe with prints and original paintings. I'm pleased to announce my very first listing is our calendar! As this is the Pre-Sale I'll also include my Penguin vs. Chicken/Hansel and Gretel piggies 2-sided promotional postcard with the first 10 orders.

Our calendar is only $10, and besides being sold in my USA shop, it may also be purchased at Kat's Etsy shop in London, Maria's Etsy shop in Germany, and Juana's Big Cartel shop here in the USA.

Working with the Storybook Brushes crew has been a most awesome collaboration. There have already been many thank yous in our private emails, but I wanted to publicly thank my amazing illustrator friends.....Maria, Kat, and Juana. Thank you for being so incredible, and making all of this possible! :)

We invite you to visit our new website to learn more about Storybook Brushes.

12 Comments on Storybook Brushes & Our Calendar Project, last added: 12/21/2012
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23. Happy Halloween!

acrylic on wood
Penguin and Chicken are all dressed up to wish you a Happy Halloween!
These mini paintings will be added to my Etsy shoppe which will finally be set up next month.

I almost didn't put out my autumnal decor this year, but then I remembered these gourds I painted a few years ago. I realized I missed them, and I didn't want to face a gourdless season. 

My favorite Halloween book, The Halloween Kid!
painted acorns from my parent's yard
My thoughts are with those affected by Hurricane Sandy. It warms my heart to hear the stories of people reaching out to aid those in need. If you would like to help, please Text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. As in the case with other donations via mobile, the donation will show up on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your balance if you have a prepaid phone. You need to be 18 or older, or have parental permission, to donate this way. www.redcross.org 

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24. What I'm working on.....

This is just a quick post to share what I've been working on. I know, this is a terrible sneak peak pic, but I have several paintings in the works, and it helps my momentum if I don't show too much yet. These pieces will be included in the works I'll be showing at Haiku: Poetic Food and Art in December. Some of the pieces will also be worked into some children's book promotions. There's been a lot of planning going on behind the scenes this year.

I've also been going through a life changing 13 week LZR7 Treatment program to eliminate my allergies & food intolerances, balance my hormones, and a ton of other stuff. I haven't been on allergy medication for months now, and besides eliminating my stomach pain, increasing my energy, and feeling overall better, this amazing thing happened.....I can see clearly now! I still need my contacts and glasses, but one day it was like I woke up with HD vision. The blurry haze I've had for the last 15 years has lifted, and everything is clean, sharp, defined, and colors seem more saturated. It's been a rather intense improvement that I'm grateful for everyday.

While most of the summer was spent drawing and detoxing every week during the treatments I did manage a little fun this summer. My friend, Bob and I went on an awesome open-air safari at The Wilds. I've always wanted to go on safari. I just never imagined it would be in Ohio! Located on nearly 10,000 acres, The Wilds is one of the largest wildlife conservation centers in the world. It is such an incredible place. I wish all animals had wide open spaces to roam.

I promise to post some better art pics soon. Now let the painting marathon begin....

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25. 7 year blogoversary!

acrylic on wood
Well, with the end of the world almost upon us, I thought I'd do a little year-end, world-end wrap-up. (Isn't that a grand way to start a blog post?)

Christmas Eve will be my 7 year blogoversary! I always credit this little blog and Illustration Friday for being the catalyst for this whole illustration path I've been on. Before the blog I was illustrating for my in-house design job, but I was lax about producing much personal work. Posting gave me the push I needed. And the rest of this story is….well, in the archives. Mostly, I want to thank everyone who has stopped by and supported me all of these years. I continue to be amazed by how incredible this online art community is. We may communicate differently these days; less blog commenting, more twitter and facebook, but the sense of community is stronger then ever. I'm so grateful to have found so many wonderful friends.

Here's where I like to look back at my first post of the year. Did I live up to my goals? I feel my decision to avoid conferences this year to focus on what kind of work I really want to create was very helpful. I needed to step away from expectations, and sink into my own world to see where it took me. But, towards the middle of the year I will admit I did start to feel a bit lost. My little boat had begun to drift too far into the big ocean, and I was losing sight of the shore. That's when 3 angels entered my life; and Maria, Katriona, Juana, and I formed the group Storybook Brushes with the main purpose being to promote ourselves through mailings, such as our 2013 calendar. I also want to say a special thanks to our angel friend, Gaia, who has been so supportive behind the scenes.

We're all quite excited that our calendars are back from the printer, and we can't wait to start shipping them out next year. I'm awaiting my shipment from overseas, but Maria snapped this quick pic.....

Now, I can finally check off my goal list that I opened my Etsy shoppe! Ok, I still need to get to work getting it all loaded up with prints and original art, and possibly some jewelry, but our calendar is now up for sale there. More Etsy listings are the first thing on my 2013 goal list. :)

So, it's been a productive year. An unexpected year. A year to remember.
2012 has been the start of some new exciting chapters. Oh, I better get some sleep. The end of the world is only 5 hours away, and no, it didn't already happen in Australia. It's based on UTC time. If we're going to joke, let's be more accurate. ;P

Happy Winter Solstice!
Half way out of the dark
….or the end of days. We'll see…….

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