What I'm making right now

This is a cool line, BUT it's taken out of context in such a strange way; it haunts me:
It's on a shirt I picked up at Bard On the Beach in Vancouver, BC last summer and It's from a rather disturbing character in the play Titus Andronicus (aren't all the characters in that play disturbing?) by William Shakespeare. It's spooky when a creepy character says such a beckoning thing.

Like I said, the line is like a specter haunting me.

So I asked myself who else would say that, "I'll show thee wonderous things." And here's what I came up with (I settleled on "marvelous" instead of "wonderous"):

"The Book Dragon Beckoned.
"'I will show thee marvelous things,' he said.
"So I climbed on his back. And we were off."

I'm making a book dragon.
He isn't finished.
And I still might change "marvelous" back to "wonderous."

He's a scrappy illustration sample that isn't for anything important. He's just for fun.
I feel like I've dived out of overly-serious goal mood into playland (although I did make the drawings for this guy last month as part of my -- abandoned -- holly jolly goal).

And since we're in playland I don't have to worry that I'm posting too much or giving something away. This isn't a big official capital letter WIP (work-in-progress) or anything. This is an experiment in process to see what I can do and make some interesting illustration samples. So let's see what I can do.

I'm going to share a bunch of scrappy process stuff and photos as I go.

Join me for the ride.

Happy New Year!

P.S. Let's just make this the illustration of the month for December. It will end up as more than one illustration (kind of) So it may be for January too... We'll see.

The Beckoning Of Lovely

This makes me want to make stuff. I hope it will do the same for you. Or at least maybe it will make you feel all happy inside.

It's put together by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author of books like Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Christmas Cookies. She is also the author of many cool fill-in-the-blank journals, like Your Birthday Book (I'm filling in one of these for my son, Oscar).


The deadline is Jan 20th... hmmm... What are you making right now?

Here's the original 17 things I made video.



Enjoy!
:)

Book of Cards: Journaling Inspiration of the month, December 2008

So here's an inspiration to anyone who wants to make a photo album journal of your Christmas adventures.
It involves the big stack of holiday cards you've received from all your friends and family that you've got sitting around in a basket somewhere.
I love getting holiday cards from my friends and family. They are precious little glimpses into the lives of friends and loved ones who I don't often see.
I like to make my own holiday cards. Usually (this year included) I send out "Happy New Years" cards because I don't get around to making the cards until I'm relaxing for the Christmas break. In fact, guess what I made last week as part of my Christmas crafty craze? Yep. New Year's Cards:
So anyway, one year I made a Christmas album out of the holiday cards I received from friends and family.
Before I go farther I've got to give props to my sister -- like several of my personal albums/books, I started this project, but my sister helped to finish the book. While I came up with the idea for this book, she really should take the credit for this one -- she did most of the work.
The pages of the photo album are the holiday cards people sent me. The cover looks like an envelope.
I didn't write anything on any of the cards, but the signatures or notes others wrote show between the photos on many "pages."
You could make the same kind of book for a graduate or a birthday treat (I made something similar for my son's birthday last year).

This book is one of my favorite Christmas albums.
Happy New Year!


Christmas Craftiness and The Handmade Book of the Week Dec 27, 2008 - Jan 3, 2009

Eat your carrots!
Or maybe I should say "play with your food"... Click here for more pictures or to buy this week's book of the week. You'll see shortly what this week's inspiration was.

I took a break from all of my big ambitious goals last week and chilled out (literally, it was crazy snowy here) by taking a week to make crafty stuff for Christmas. This time of year always makes me want to go craft crazy and I decided to indulge in the craving. Check out this bird I made from recycled old book. The bird's body is from a cover and the wings are made from pages. She's a reading bird. I made a few of these. I think I might sell them next year.I wish I had taken pictures of the cool books I made my sister for Christmas. I made her an awesome dos-a-dos wine journal (different than the ones I sell) and a crazy Christmas stocking altered book that took forever and left me wishing I had made three or four.

Speaking of my sister, she came up for a few days and I taught her how to make felted goodies. Here's the felted goody that started it all. I made him several weeks ago with some crafty buddies of mine.
And here's a picture of me felting last week. My son Oscar was pretending to felt too. I used a needle. He used a pipe-cleaner.I started felting my new slippers:
My son got a play kitchen (we've been calling it kitchen stadium) for Christmas. So my sister felted my son a carrot to go with his kitchen:

Anyway, I gave myself permission to let go of my holly jolly goal so I could play at Christmas time. Play is important when you are an artist. Play leads to important discoveries and breakthroughs. You can't be all work and no play.

CRAFT ON!

P.S. I do have some awesome drawings I'm really excited about. I'm turning them into collages today, so all is not lost for my holly jolly Goal.

:)

...

Snowed in, sick and sipping tea

First the gripes:
Poor me. I'm sick this week. And my son was sick all week too. I got little to no work done (except for today -- today I drew and drew and drew). So, while my holly jolly goal looks sadly out of reach right now, who knows? Maybe it's for the best that I take some time to take it easy...

Which leads to the grins:
Even though we were sick, my son and I, we were cozy. It snowed here all week and it rarely snows here. When it snows everything shuts down and happy people bask in the beauty of it while grumpy people fuss (I've done both at different times over the years). While we couldn't go outside to play (because of the sick) we looked out the window lots. The snow sparkled and whisked around in the wind. I drank lots of tea. We both enjoyed the lights on the Christmas tree. My husband fixed us lots of good food.
Instead of work this week, I read stories to my son. Lots and lots and lots of them. He couldn't seem to get enough stories. And with that, how can I really complain? It was a good week.

Inspiration right and left

Okay, I confess. I'm behind with my holly jolly goal. Here's what I've got: a pretty dang awesome drawing (or right now I think it is anyway.) I'm going to have to kick things up a notch. I'm also going to have to focus and stop being distracted by all the awesome distractions that have come my way this week.

What's been going on this week? Inspiration: right and left!

First I attended my friend, Jaime Temairik's art opening in Seattle at the North Hill Bakery on Capital Hill. Her holiday monsters roar in a good way. I've got a cupcake monster card that will be framed and put up every Christmas!

On Saturday I went to the Urban Craft Uprising and The Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Craft shows -- this year as a shopper, not a vendor (I haven't been a vendor at UCU, but I have been one several times at Phinney). I LOVE these two shows. The Urban Craft Uprising has to be about the most fun, hip and playful craft show I've ever attended. I bought quite a few goodies and was tempted by many more.

Some of my favorites from both shows:
World Of Whim -- Awesome and imaginative handmade toys and dress-up for kids. My sister and I picked out a very kingly crown for my son, which he adores.
Chikabird -- I now am the proud owner of an awesome rhino ornament. They also make super awesome t-shirts and hoodies and whatnot.
Marmalade Originals - Could there be cuter handmade skirts? I'm not sure. Plus it turns out the woman who makes these is an old aquaintance of my sister's from high school. She's super nice. And she uses awesome fabrics.
Voracious reader sculptures made with maps and old books -- enough said.
A potter who imprints bike cogs and chains into her pottery -- also, enough said
Silly Feet -- Frog slippers for the little ones
Scissors sweater -- I bought one. Big treat for me. I heart scissors.
Type-face belt buckle with a bike tire belt -- Um... super cool, what can I say?
The most awesome shadow puppets ever -- Santa oh santa, am I too old to write you a letter, complete with a frivolous wish?

And I could really honestly keep going on and on and on...
I felt super inspired by these craft shows. On the one hand I was kind of sad I did not partake as a vendor. On the other, I've gotten lots of illustration and writing work done because I forwent craft shows this year AND it's sooo fun to attend and check out all the booths and chit-chat with the artists. I'm a crafty lady by heart. Through and through.

And the inspiration doesn't even stop there, my friends.
On Wednesday night I trucked down to Seattle again to listen to the talented Laini Taylor speak about finishing a novel draft. Now, I am not a novel writer -- I write picture books. But I had heard universal praise for her talks and I LOVE her book, FAERIES OF DREAMDARK, BLACKBRINGER.

A small plug -- I'm not even a huge fantasy person (although I tend to like books that linger at the edges of the genre) but I'd say FAERIES OF DREAMDARK, BLACKBRINGER is one of my favorite books I've read in the last few years, or maybe ever. And I read a whole heck-of-an-almost-embarrassing-a-lot. READ this book. It's so good. I can't wait for the sequel.

Okay so anyway, Laini's talk just blew me away. I loved her photos. I loved her quotes. Her advice was sound and perfect.

I loved how she challenged us to be the sort of writers who follow through with projects and finish them. "If it's a battle between writer and book -- writer should always win... YOU are the method of propulsion." I loved that.

Also I loved how she suggested to pick a project and stick to it. Don't let a "slutty new idea" lure you away from your commitment to your WIP (work-in-progress). Slutty new ideas have a way of becoming new works-in-progress with their own problems that will rear their ugly heads and tempt you to leave for yet more slutty new ideas. And the cycle will go on and on and you will never finish anything. Stick with something and WORK THROUGH THE HARD STUFF. I love this. It makes me want to dump everything and only work on my current dummy.

Anyway, I'm rambling on and on. But if you have a chance to hear Laini talk, do! And read her book!

But the inspiration doesn't even stop there. I've had many friends with jump-up-and-down good news lately. My friend, Jolie, signed with an awesome agent last week. Yay, Jolie! Then, yesterday I attended my monthly critique group and I just am beaming at the edges for all of my fellow friends and critiquers. The stuff they brought yesterday simply rocked. It was so good. I really think there were several of my collegues who brought their personal best yesterday. It's awesome and inspiring to see that and watch people grow. I hope (and believe) I'm doing the same. It's great. And I brought my new dummy draft to the critique group and left with gobs of motivation to get back to the drawing board, to forge on, and to refine my own WIP.

But. First. I have this goal of getting illustrations done. And I need to get illustration samples done. I need to. So I've got to crack the whip. I've got to stop blathering on here and actually get to work. So off I go, with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, back to work. Later folks!

Yellow

Yellow has always been my favorite color.

When I was very young I asked my mom to paint my room yellow. She did.

My husband sent me an awesome article entitled: "Yellow Expected As a Bright Spot For 2009.". He found it via Lance Armstrong's Twitter page.

Here's a quote from the article: "There's a prediction from a leading color source that cheerful and sunny yellow will be the influential color of 2009." Awesome.

What a sunshiney article to get in your inbox! Articles about color are good things.

Here's another.

Thanks, Bryce.

Enjoy!

P.S. I feel compelled to point out that the links on this post may not always be what you expect. Try the Lance Armstrong one, for example. Now. I better get back to work...

Back to the drawing table

Even though I haven't done craft shows this fall (BTW -- I am missing them this year -- they are so festive and fun), I do still have orders (which I love) and I'm a mommy who doesn't work full time. Yet look what I accomplished with my writing and illustating in November anyway! How great is that?

I spent the whole day yesterday scanning my new drawings, working the text into the compositions to see where my compositions lacked room for text, and reviewing what needs to be revised (a lot). It's probably time to let it sit for awhile and focus on something else so when I come back to it, I'll have a fresh mind and can see the problems more clearly. But it feels so great to see it all put together, even in it's imperfect state.

Anyway, I think I need another goal for December. I was just thinking that very thing this morning and then my friend, Jolie, posted her own December goal on her blog. She inspired me to make it official.

How about if I try to make three new illustration samples in December. THREE! That may be a lot when I have other work to do. Plus, for anyone who doesn't know this -- collage can be time-consuming. But what a holly jolly way to end the year -- to try. It's like a Christmas present to myself -- give myself permission to clear time for something important to me.

So wish me luck on my "Holly Jolly Goal." Today, I begin!

Handmade Book of the Week Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2008

Flip OUT!
To celebrate the beginning of the Christmas and Holiday season, I'm making this week's handmade book of the week a flip-out book. I think these books make great little holiday albums or stocking stuffers. They look really cool when they are filled up:

I include directions with how to fill them (although of course you can fill them however you want). To see the directions or for more info on the flip-out books, check out my flip-out page on my website.

For more pictures of this week's book of the week or to buy the book or look for other flip-outs I have for sale, click here. I also have many flip-outs in stock that I haven't photographed so I haven't posted in my shop. Contact me if you are interested in other colors.

Endurance

Perhaps you hadn't heard? Our economy has gotten bad enough that a major publishing house has suspended acquisitions -- at least for now...

I find this to be terribly sad. It's a hard bite to swallow.

What do authors and illustrators do with this sort of news?
I don't know. But I guess I tend to handle this kind of stuff by focusing on improving my craft.

A decade ago, while still in college, I had a conversation with a friend who asked me about the competitive nature of the art-world. She was wondering how I would handle it after graduation since I insisted that I wanted to be an artist. By the end of our conversation I had this mantra in my head:
"The best work gets through even in the worst of conditions; when you feel bad, work at becoming the best."

I still love that mantra. It empowers me. It's kind of a way to inflate my ego when my humiliating most humble inner critic comes out (you know the one -- "I suck, why do I bother? etc etc"). While I'm remembering that I'm not the best right now, I'm reminded that maybe if I keep working at becoming better, one day I can be.

So that's how I deal with scary news of certain publishers not acquiring anything for awhile. Shake it off. Realize it may take (more) years before anything of mine is published. Work at my craft. And be humbled, and grateful, very deeply and truly grateful, that I have the opportunity to make my work at all.

Another Day, Another Drawing Challenge plus LATE BREAKING UPDATE: GOLDEN COFFEE CUP GOAL COMPLETE!

ADDED AFTER THE FACT: Today was another BIC day. If the title of this post is confusing at first, it's because when I started this post, I still hadn't reached my Golden Coffee Cup Goal. I posted updates throughout the day. The beginning of this post starts with me looking back on my BIC experiment last Friday.

ORIGINAL POST:
Things I learned from my timed-BIC (butt in chair) experiment last Friday:
  • When I forced myself to just keep drawing no matter how much I thought I didn't know what to do next, stuff came out. It made me work through the problems instead of avoiding them by doing something else for awhile. It felt good.
  • I also tended to play with composition more. With many of the spreads I was thumbnail-ing, I found that the forced quickness resulted in more good options for compositions (albeit pretty sloppy) than I had expected.
  • I also learned that the slow work I did earlier in the month was really important in laying the groundwork for my understanding of the setting, characters, and all the pieces of the story -- when I drew fast on Friday, I could because I knew well enough what the canoe looked like, or the characters, or the riverbank (or whatever), that I could make quick approximate sketches of them for mostly compositional purposes.
  • I found that while I could sustain focus longer than I thought possible and get more done than I thought possible in one day, by the end of the day I was through in a big way. The final work was kind of bad. It's good to know my limits.
  • I suspect that because the drawings for this dummy had been germinating in my head for a very long time, working fast forced me to bring out solutions I had kind of already worked through but had not given a concrete form to. Does that make sense? Working fast made me just get it out. But there was something to get out. And the "something" only came out because it had long been fostered into a sort of being in my head. I don't think it would all come out point blank, or if it would, I don't know that I'd be as satisfied with it.
So anyway, I'm very satisfied with how my experiment in BIC worked on Friday. It will soon be time to stop the quick stuff and go back and work out the details. But I think my dummy would benefit from one more crazy timed and speedy output day like last Friday. Plus then I would make my Golden Coffee Cup Goal by the end of November and that would make me feel pretty golden indeed.

I'm aiming for fewer drawings today mostly because I don't have very many spreads left to thumbnail. I'll come back and update this post through-out the day to record how it goes. Wish me luck! I'm off to the drawing table...

UPDATE 12:20 PM: So far, so slow... I've been having a hard time sticking with the timer today. But! I have gotten some good drawing done. I'm hungry and need lunch right now. I'm counting on a better afternoon.

UPDATE 2:22 PM: Looking good. Just one remaining spread to make potential thumbnail compositions for. Surely I can get this done before the end of my workday. However, my inner editor is starting to come out. I see all the places that I want to improve previous "rough" thumbnails. I keep going back and fussing with what I already have done. That's not drafting. That's revising.

UPDATE 3:55 PM:
I FINISHED MY DRAFT!!! I'VE REACHED MY GOAL!

I confess I took a break from drawing after my last update and worked on some other stuff. But I also went back to drawing after a little break. And -- I finished! YAY YAY Yay! I finished! I finished today's goal and I finished the month's goal. A draft.

Golden Coffee Cup Goal: check! And after thinking it was impossible too. I still had a bunch of evenings I could have (maybe) squeezed in work time over the holiday. But no matter now, because I finished my draft and my goal and I feel good good good.

Next up for this dummy: revision.

Handmade Book of the week Nov 22 - 28, 2008

Draw on!
In honor of my drawing frenzy this month (that looks like it's going to stretch into next month too) I hereby make my pencil journal this week's book of the week.

No kidding, I had planned on making this book my book of the week this week because of the drawing frenzy. But I sold it a few days ago to one of my most favorite repeat customers. I've made her a couple of custom books -- a hamburger book and a hippo book, both for very specific and very cool purposes. I hope I get to see them filled someday. I'm super excited that this book is going to the woman that it is going to. Yay!

I decided to post it even though it's already sold. It's a cool book and it fits with my mood. But sorry folks if you want a pencil journal yourself, you'll have to order one special or check out the scissors and pencil journal I have in stock.

P.S. Isn't this shape of journal fun?

Experiment in BIC

Some of my friends are inspiring me with their Golden Coffee Cup determination. I decided it's my turn.

I'm daring myself today with a thumbnail gesture drawing challenge. I've been going too far towards finished drawings to meet my Golden Coffee Cup goal and so I'm going to step back and try to just get "ideas" for the drawings -- very (very) rough compositions that I can develop further later. That was the whole purpose of the insane original goal anyway.

Let's see how many thumbnails I can get rough compositions for today. Let's see how rough I can let myself be. Is it too crazy (it seems absolutely absurd) to aim for 10 by 4:00?

BIC = Butt in chair

Let's see where it gets me... I'll check in at 4:00 with how it worked out.
Here I go!

UPDATE 1:00 PM: Going good! And I'm learning a bunch too. I've got numerous thumbnail gesture compositions for 4 spreads. Pretty good! Way better than I would have expected prior to trying this challenge. But I'm starting to feel distracted. I'm not sure I can keep up the pace... But at least I'm starting to feel a tiny glimmer of hope for the overall goal...

UPDATE 2:50 PM: I'm up to 6. I've worked on 6 spreads and have multiple potential compositions/thumbnails -- that I'm actually happy with -- to work with for almost all of them. Who knew that such a sloppy draft would have some good potential in it? I guess that's why they teach gesture drawing in school. I've also worked a bit on changing the pacing and it's a good improvement. I feel so jazzed about today! Thanks for the inspiration, Molly, Holly, Jolie and other Golden Cuppers! I'm breaking for a very late lunch. I'll check in again sometime after 4:00.

UPDATE 4:00 PM: I'm pretty fried. I worked on one final spread to bring me up to 7 but the thumbnails for the seventh spread are pretty iffy at best. But they are there and I suppose I should count them since I'm supposed to be thinking "rough draft" dummy. So anyway, SEVEN!!!! I feel great about what I accomplished today. I have a couple more work days before the end of the month. Maybe, just maybe I'll actually come pretty close to accomplishing this Golden Coffee cup goal.

Enough rambling. This post was pretty much for me and to hold myself accountable. But thanks for bearing with me.

Illustration of the Month: November, 2008

Okay, okay, I know this illustration is not finished. So maybe, technically, it shouldn't be the "illustration of the month." Call it "sketch of the month," if you must, BUT I post it anyway because...

This month has been all about me working on my current dummy for my Golden Coffee Cup Goal. And even though I'm so far behind I'm almost certain I won't reach the goal by the end of this month (shooting for next month?), I have made huge strides and I LOVE what I've been making.

This is the drawing (which will probably change some when I get to the revision stage) for pages 30-31. It features my three resilient friends, Crow, Armadillo and Opossum in a scrappy patched together treehouse that they build at the end of the story I'm working on. I had an enormous amount of fun drawing it.

I liked this manuscript a lot, but I can't describe how much fun making the dummy for this one has been. It's VERY challenging and crazy to fit all the cluttered stuff that needs to go in the drawings, but it's so, so, so fun. And I can't wait to turn all these things into collage. It's going to be awesome and crazy and it just looks so fun to get into. I just feel like this book is pulling the best of what I can do out of me. Yay for that!

Handmade Book of the week Nov 15 - 21, 2008

Be Bold!
I've had this book in my Etsy shop for awhile. But I'm posting it for this week's book of the week because I love it. For some reason I haven't sold this type of book via my website much, even though they are hugely popular at craft shows. I think it's the kind of book that's best held and looked through if you want to appreciate it's value.

Anyway, I make this my book of the week because I'm thinking of keeping it. If no one buys in in the next few weeks, it'll be mine. It's a book I made for writers, it has a writer theme. I love the way "Bold" refers to both a kind of being and a kind of typeface. I love all the goofy little writing references inside. So, I'm making it as my book of the week to give people one last chance. This book is going to be mine if it doesn't sell soon.

Anyway, all that aside this is an upcycled/reclaimed book. I've torn out the pages on a very-out-of-date freebie book that I took from the free shelf at the library and now have given a new life. There's fun colorful pages inside, interesting visual surprises throughout and It's a darn cool journal.

To see more photos or to buy the book (which would be okay too -- it is still for sale and it makes me happy to sell my favorite books because then I can make more that are similar), click here.