Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year!

It looks like we'll be starting off the New Year with a lot of cold and snow around here!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New sketch group

I just found a new sketch group at a public library near me, meeting once a month to sketch a model. The best part is that it's free! I had been going to the DuPage Art League, but the model fee went up, which I completely understand. Everyone has to make a living. This group gives me a chance to practice sketching with a posed model. A step up from sketching at Starbuck's where everyone keeps moving around!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What I'm working on

I just finished the final art for the ParaPup book. Here's one of the pieces...

Monday, November 16, 2009

What I'm working on...

A new book for self-publisher WinePress: "ParaPups", a very timely story about a secret Army unit of stuffed animals that comforts kids who have parents in the military. These are some of the sketches. I'm painting the final art right now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Even More Hidden Pictures...

One of my puzzles is on the cover of Highlights Hidden Pictures, Volume 3 for 2010. I'm proud to be among the artists represented - great illustrations and fantastic puzzles!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Have a spooky Halloween...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Our little parakeet Perky died last week. We weren't sure how old he was, since we inherited him from my Dad, but we think he was about 8 or 9. We were never able to teach him to talk, but I miss his chatter and twittering. The house has become so quiet...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What I'm working on: Laura and Phil

My daughter Laura and her pet snake Phil (see August 4 entry) are going to be in the new book I'm working on for Sterling. It's a book of hidden pictures puzzles with scenes of kids and their various pets. One scene called for a pet snake, so who else but Laura and Phil as models? This is the rough sketch.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Hidden Picture

The September 2009 issue of Highlights Magazine has one of my Hidden Picture Puzzles in it - kind of a dream come true for me. It's cool to think that my work is in the offices of pediatricians, dentists and orthodontists across the nation.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last Days at the Beach

Another piece from the archives... a part of a piece, actually. The original was printed on a floor puzzle for a self-publisher. Summer sure flew by this year, plus it was mostly cool and cloudy around here - not a lot of real beach weather.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Down on the Farm

Cleaning out files, digging through old art...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Books

I just received samples of some new Bible Fun Stuff books I illustrated for David C. Cook - Hot Crafts for Cool Kids and How's Your Serve? - full of activities to be used in church school and youth groups.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Greeting Cards

Since I have some time between projects, I've been working on greeting cards again and trying to license my own designs. Anyway, I decided to post some of my older designs, previously published by Gallant Greetings. These were a couple of kid's birthday cards.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New art

Has it really been over a month since my last post? I'm sorry I've been missing in action for so long! I've been working like crazy to finish up final art for another fun Kane Press book. Now that I have a little breathing space before my next project starts, I'm hoping to work on my writing, another promo postcard for September, and possibly start a new blog with my greeting card samples. In the meantime, I'll post a piece from another book that is just being published : "Terrible Trouble in Room 2A", a cute story about a snake loose in a classroom. I was working on this art months before my daughter decided she wanted to buy a snake as a pet. For years, I said "no snakes" to my son, but since Laura was moving into her own apartment at college, it was out of my control - lol! It was just a little creepy for me having Phil the Snake living here for a week or so until she moved...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What I'm working on

I'm finishing up some art for a PreSchool Educational job. This piece reminds me of my truck playing days with my son. We spent many happy hours in the sandbox making up stories about good, heroic trucks and evil, troublemaking trucks. He was so into trucks when he was 2 and 3 years old, I was sure that's what he would end up doing as a career. But he just graduated from college with a degree in Forestry. At least he still gets to drive some types of trucks, and owns a pickup!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Art

I just received a sample of the July 2009 issue of Highlights High Five Magazine, which has a spread of my art - a "Guess My Riddle" puzzle. I couldn't fit the entire spread on my scanner, but here's most of it. It was fun to work on, especially researching all those cacti. Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I've never acually seen a desert, but I hope to one day!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Book

I just received a printed sample of the new book I illustrated for Kane Press. The Yum-Yum House is a "Math Matters" book written by Nan Walker - a very funny and clever book that actually makes math fun!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sunday Afternoon at Herrick Lake

There was nothing much going on last Sunday afternoon, so I decided to go to Herrick Lake and do some people sketching. On such a beautiful, sunny day, it was crowded - people jogging and walking their dogs, fishing on the shore or canoeing on the lake, lots of people just sitting in lawn chairs reading...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring Promo Postcard

I finished that painting I started a while back, and had the postcards printed and sent out by USPS to all my clients. Here's the final result. USPS always seems to print darker or with more blue than the original art, so I'm not totally thrilled, but for the price and convenience, it's okay. Of course, this was a night scene, but I'll scale back on the blue for the next postcard.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The boy graduates!

My son Matthew graduated from Southern Illinois University last weekend with a BS degree in Forestry. We were so proud of him - and no more tuition payments - yay! The day before, a huge wind storm had blown through Carbondale creating a lot of destruction and knocking out all power, but the University still managed to have graduation. It will be one to remember!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Starting a new book

I haven't been on my blog in a while and the next few weeks are going to be busy for me : a family wedding, moving my daughter out of her college dorm and back home for the summer, traveling to southern Illinois for my son's graduation from SIU... In the meantime, though, I'm happy to start work on another book for Kane Press. Since I feel that this blog should be a record of what I'm working on and how I work, I'm posting my first sketches, even though they look like a bunch of chicken scratchings! I always start with sketches of the main characters so I can get an idea of how they'll look...

I also do thumbnail sketches of the entire book, in this case using the manuscript and layouts provided by the publisher. This gives me an idea of how the illustrations will flow, so I have variety in the compostions. I also decide what parts of the story I want to emphasize with the illustrations.

And then there's all the reference research for specific objects, which I mostly do on the computer now. It's much easier - I just google in something like "photos of girl sitting cross-legged" and I get tons of photos! I can throw out my boxloads of xeroxed references! Anyway, you can see how much work goes into the book even before I start drawing something serious.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From Easter back to Christmas

I'm working on some greeting cards again. Yes, we're already working on next Christmas! This is part of a holiday card I finished recently : Christmas time in the city.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Aother promo postcard

Time to send another promo postcard to publishers. I try to send one quarterly, or at least three times a year, to drum up business. I like to use direct mail Premium Postcards from USPS because it's so easy. Just upload my art and addresses, and they take care of the rest, including postage. And there's no minimum order, which is good. I never need 500 postcards because I target my market to children's book publishers. I usually send out about 80. My agent sends out postcards, along with PBAA, too. It all helps get my work out in the marketplace. Here's my final sketch - I'll be working on painting next week.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Even more Hidden Pictures!

Work is still rather slow, so I'm doing Hidden Pictures again. I've done so many, I thought it might be fun to do a Step-by-Step post on how I come up with them. I keep just about all of my old sketches, so sometimes I dig out one of them to use as a starting point.

I've enlarged the original sketch a bit and altered it to fit the required size. Then I traced over it, adding a tent, animals in the woods and clothes to the bears. I was going to dress them as Scouts with "Smokey" hats, but thought that might infringe on Smokey the Bear copyrights, so...just regular clothes. Now I have the basic subject matter for the puzzle.

Now for the fun, or tricky part. I have to hide about 18 objects in the scene, things that wouldn't normally be there, like a leaf. I can find shapes in the drawing... like a triangle becomes a party hat. I trace over, simplify lines, and add more lines and shapes to confuse kids!

The final sketch! Now I send it off to Highlights and see if they accept it!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life Drawing

Since the beginning of the year, I've been going now and again to a life drawing open studio at the Wheaton Art League. I thought I'd post one of the drawings I did last week. This was an hour and a half pose, but I was more or less done in an hour. I tend to draw fast, probably from all the years of working as an illustrator under deadlines! I'm going again tomorrow. I have to tell myself to relax and slow down... Drawing from life is great therapy for an artist. Rather like yoga. Good exercise for the brain.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Book!

I just received printed samples of the Kindergarten Memory Book that I illustrated last year, published by Annotation Press. That's my daughter Laura's photo added to the front cover. I think it turned out really well and Delane Pennington did a great job with the writing and concept. I hope to be doing more in the series!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lazy Jack and other nursery tales...

I've been working on some fairy tale or nursery rhyme samples. I remember Lazy Jack being one of my favorites as a kid, along with The Gingerbread Man. I was always hoping the Gingerbread Man would get away, instead of being snapped up by the fox - what a violent ending! Another favorite was The Little Engine That Could and now I don't know why. When my kids were little they begged for it every night, too, and I hated it! I took to hiding it, or if they did find it and I was forced to read it, I changed the words to "The Stupid Little Engine That Could", or used funny voices for the characters. That really got them angry, but probably saved my sanity!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A look back...

Looking back through my sketchbook from last year, I found a couple of sketches I never posted. This is my daughter Laura, sunbathing just a few days before she left for college. It's her Spring Break now and I bet she wishes she was doing this in Cancun today! Alas, she's stuck in still-frosty old Illinois. Warmer weather HAS to be coming sometime, though!

And another Ed sketch. He's one of my favorite models... never complains, holds the same pose for hours... Okay, I'm exagerating there, but now that he's 12 years old, it does seem like he spends most of his day sleeping!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Caribou Coffee, Downers Grove

Since it was a rather boring, cold day on Saturday, I decided to hang out at Caribou Coffee and sketch people hanging out at Caribou Coffee...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Promo Piece - finished

Here's the final piece. I built up layers of watercolor, then darkened linework with pencil and added some Prismacolor pencil. You can see the entire process in reverse by scrolling down!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Promo Piece

I print out my line drawing onto Strathmore paper and underpaint the shadow areas with Dioxazine Violet watercolor.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Promo Piece

I trace over my sketch in pencil, scan it into my computer and clean up the linework in Photoshop.