Welcome!!!

Welcome!!!
And thanks for visiting! This blog has given me the opportunity to share my work with the WORLD! Isn't that amazing to think about?! It seems, almost overnight, the world has shrunk in size. Please continue to visit. I hope you like what you see.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

SCBWI WINTER ILLUSTRATION CONFERENCE (part 1)

I am so glad I made it to this years SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Illustration conference! Last year, I was home sick with the flu! The illustration conference for the Utah/Idaho region of SCBWI is held yearly, usually in February, (but next year, I hear it's in March!) in Salt Lake City, UT. What a memorable experience this year's conference was for me! I have to put a shout out to Shawna Tenny, Manelle Oliphant, Sherry Meidell, and Jen Eichelberger. They did an amazing job organizing this year's conference! With bagels, cream cheese, milk and juice for breakfast and the home made soups, breads and cookies for lunch, along with the amazing guest speakers, it was a wonderful day to remember!

This year's conference focused on middle grade book covers. The first speaker was Nicki Carmack, Art Director, from Peachtree Publishing. It was such a pleasure listening to her English accent while she spoke! (Something about me: I listen to audio books when I'm working and there's just something wonderful about listening to a book read with an English accent! I think it's as simple as another "something" to draw me into the book's setting or world, as you will.) Nicki shared good insights on the design of book covers.

Her main points were:
  • The 10 foot rule.  I hadn't heard of this before, but great advice! She says to stand back from the art about 10 feet and see if it can be seen and understood, clearly. She continues by saying most people read it off of phones and tablets, nowadays, so the image must be simple enough to be read at a small size.
  • Don't give away secrets.  The book cover shouldn't show you the ending of the story or anything that should stay secret and found out only by the reader. A book cover hints at the story. It is the first thing a reader sees before beginning the story so it must be intriguing enough, without giving anything away, to pull the reader in.
  • On trend.  The book cover should be creative and unique but still fit into the current trends of today's book market. Research is the key. Visit your local bookstore and see what's out there.
I sure appreciated her words of knowledge! I will be implementing her suggestions in my next painting!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

CHARACTER CONSISTENCY

One of the many responsibilities of a children's book illustrator, is to keep the characters in your illustrations, consistent. This is also one of the most, if not the most, difficult to do! The shape of the head, body,... actually everything must stay the same throughout the whole book. Eye color? Hair color? Pudgy cheeks? YES! Even the style of the artwork, as well. Would it not be confusing to have the beginning of a book painted in a carefree, fun, watercolor wash and then have it end with realistic, tight, oil paintings?

I find I ask myself several questions along the character development stage. How old do I want this character to be? How tall? Skinny or not? Freckles? Once Ive decided on the basic character traits, many sketches are done for each pose and each page of the book. I find it very important to review the character throughout the book. Unless the character had a hair cut, hair dyed, lost or gained weight, got sunburned, etc., the character on the first page of the book, should look like the same person/character on the last page of the book.

Here's a few paintings I've done recently. I won't go into details about the story behind the illustrations because the book's not published yet, but, hopefully, you can see that this is the same child (and cat) in each illustration.




And here's how the final page will look.


Monday, February 22, 2016

MY JOURNEY AS AN ARTIST

 I've longed to be a children's book illustrator for as long as I can remember, but as everyone knows... life happens. I don't regret my long journey to this point in my life. I've been blessed to be able to use my illustration/art abilities in other fields. Each job position I've held has given me a little more confidence and a little more skill toward the profession I truly hoped to have one day. To me, the things I've learned along the way are priceless.

When my children were grown, I decided to return to school to learn the art of being a children's book illustrator. I am, indeed, thankful to the things I learned in school, but the jobs I held as an artist/illustrator and graphic designer are just as important to me as my college education. I am so thankful and appreciate the employers who were willing to hire me and give me that opportunity for growth and knowledge.

My art career, before returning to college, has spanned over ten years. I've worked at sportswear companies to candle companies. I thought I would share some of the first works I've ever done and also some of the last, but in reverse order.

The last job I held was for a candle/fragrance company. I wore many hats. Some days, I was an illustrator, painting in watercolor, creating "folk art" or whimsical labels for some of the companies many candle lines. On other days, I was a graphic designer, creating brochures, order forms, vinyl lettering, business cards, logos, or other labels for other candle and fragrance lines. I can definitely say, I was never bored! It was a good job! I enjoyed the people I worked with and the many things I did there. This company is no longer in business but it was this company that gave me the final push I needed to go after my dream and return to school.

These watercolored labels were for the "fold art" line. This line sold in Kohl's Department Store:




 These watercolored labels were for a "home party" line:



 These labels were for an odor eliminator, diaper bag spray, and candle. I actually painting this design, only once. I changed the colors for the other labels in Photoshop:



These labels were painted for a Christmas line for Kohl's Department Store. The buyers wanted two different candle sizes and styles but also wanted them to match:





Here are a few of my the graphic design labels:



The first artist/illustrator job I held was at a sportswear company creating illustrations that would be screen printed onto sweatshirts, t-shirts, tank tops, jackets, shorts, sweat pants, hats, etc. These would be sold throughout the tourist industry. I had my illustrations in Sea World, Dollywood, the Iron Man triathlon, Gecko Hawaii and many of the smaller tourist shops throughout the U.S. I had designs in Alaska, California, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Missouri, North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and many more. I illustrated lighthouses, sailboats, saguaros, humpback whales, killer whales, dolphins, sea turtles, seals, otters, seagulls, flowers, wolves, cougars, sled dogs, bears, caves, skiers, snowy mountains, sunsets, lakes, Eskimo items, Native American items, and much more.

I color separated my own illustrations. Most of my works had six colors or six plates. The black plate held the detail. Here's a few illustrations of mine, showing just the black plate:





And here's a few in full color:






And here's some graphic design appliques:



This company is no longer in business, but I will always have fond memories of working there. The owners gave me my first illustration job. They believed in me and I appreciate that more than they could ever know.

I've come a long way, since my first job. I look back with gratitude. But now, I'm looking forward with excitement and confidence, and with the desire to continue to grow and learn in my chosen field.

Friday, January 22, 2016

GHOST STORIES

I finally got a decent reproduction of one of my latest pieces! After two photographers, trying to shoot it myself, and then taking my painting to a scanning company, I think I'm satisfied! Ugh! I'm sure it's the contrast between the light and dark that gave everyone so much trouble. I spent a lot of money getting this reproduced! I hope my new postcards are worth it! Whew! Glad it's done!


Saturday, January 16, 2016

MY BUSY YEAR

WOW! You'd think, by viewing my blog, I fell off the earth! I assure you, I haven't! I guess I need to set a New Year's resolution to do better with letting you know about my comings and goings!

I will do my best to review the highlights of my past year, but I won't promise that it will be in chronological order!

  •  SOCIETY OF ILLUSTRATORS- I submitted a piece into SI's yearly illustrators' competition and was accepted into their show/annual. My painting, The Need For Swimming Lessons, hung in their New York City building over the summer. If you visited SI this summer, you may have seen it!
  • SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators)- This was amazing, as usual! I attend every year! I belong to the Utah/Southern Idaho region. Each year, they host an illustrators' conference where they have art directors, publishers, editors, writers, and, of course, illustrators that work in the children's book field come speak, teach, and share with us a little bit of their knowledge. Guy Francis, illustrator, (Clark the Shark) spoke to us, along with Kristine Brogno, design director, (Chronicle Books).
  • WIFYR (Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers)- I've been trying to hone my skills in writing children's books so I've been attending WIFYR for a few years now. I took the picture book class with Kathi Appelt. It was a week long morning class that focused on the ins and outs of picture books. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet Kathi! What a wonderful lady! If I was to share everything I learned from her class, I think it would take days to read it! And the afternoon sessions, of course, did not let me down.
  • UTAH STATE FAIR- I decided to submit an illustration of mine into the state fair. My husband and I attended the fair during the first few days of its opening. I was happy to see a blue, first place ribbon hanging from my piece. Then, my family and I made an unexpected trip back home, to Washington, to visit my step dad. This would be the last time I would see him before he would lose his battle with stomach cancer. It was a memorable trip- one filled with lots of joy but also sadness. While I was there, a friend called me to inform me I had not only won a first place ribbon at the fair, but also the People's Choice Award! I had been awarded it during the last few days of the fair. What an honor! I didn't know about this award. I guess the public could vote on their favorite piece throughout the whole art exhibit. The piece with the most votes won the People's Choice Award. Pretty cool, hu?!
  • REFLECTIONS- I was asked to be a judge for the national Reflections competition for a local Elementary school in my area.  I was so impressed with the creativity and talent of of these children! The Reflections competition has six different categories (dance/choreography, music/composition, photography, 3D, writing/literature, film, visual art) in which a child can submit a work of art. Each child is judged by age and by school. The finalists progress to region and can go all the way to Nationals! I saw some of the pieces I previously judged in the Utah State Fair. Good job kids!
  • WRITING A CHILDREN'S BOOK- I took an eleven week children's book writing course (one day a week) from Ken Baker, author. (Is my year looking full yet?) I told you I wanted to learn the ins and outs of children's book writing! I attended his class after WIFYR. It's interesting to see the things that were similar between the two classes but also the things that were different! Each class was a treasure of learning. And it's never a bad thing to have things repeated!
  • AMERICAN ILLUSTRATION 34- I submitted a piece into the AI 34 Annual competition and was thrilled to get the email that I would be included in their annual! I just barely got the annual in the mail, the other day. Here's the piece on the printed page: 
 

  • TOUCHSTONES JOURNAL- I submitted a piece into a local journal, as well. Actually it's the same one that was accepted into the AI 34 Annual (above). I won first place! 
  •  WARP AND WEAVE- I submitted a piece into another local journal. My Zombie Babysitter, was accepted into the journal, Warp and Weave, for their spring publication. Later in the year, the editor contacted me and asked it they could use the image for posters, etc. for publicity for their fall publication. Of course, I said yes.
  •  SCOTT GUSTAFSON- One of my all time illustration hero's! Can't say enough about this guy! I attended a lecture of his, asked tons of questions, and was pleasantly pleased to learn that we use a lot of the same techniques in our painting prep. I had him sign some books of his and had a wonderful chat with him. Amazing work! If you don't know who he is, you are missing out!
 I can't say for sure this is everything, but it's the parts I remember. It's been a wonderful and blessed year. I am truly thankful for the things I've learned and the growth I've made this past year and hope 2016 will be even better!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

SOMETHING HARD FROM SOMETHING SOFT/ HUMAN CHARACTERISTICS

A few weeks ago, I asked the kids in my art class to make something soft into something hard. I gave them pictures of snowflakes, clouds, feathers, and flowers along with some rocks for reference. We discussed what makes something hard vs. soft. We talked about line- soft vs. hard and light vs. dark. I think it was harder than the kids thought it would be. I decided to draw along side them. This is what I came up with:


I also asked the kids to give something not human, human characteristics. We discussed the Disney movies, such as Cars, Airplanes, and Beauty and the Beast. I gave them pictures of trees and rocks but they could also pull from any of my other picture references. Again, I chose to draw along side them. Here's mine:


A few days later, I decided to add another character to the drawing. I used pen and ink on the girl. The tree is done with a nib. I'm sure you can see the difference.


I sure enjoy my little art class for kids. I like drawing right along side them. It helps me to remember all of the things I have been taught. I'm looking through books that I haven't looked through for some time now. It's great for me to review and to research the things I have learned over the years.

Friday, January 23, 2015

ART CLASS FOR KIDS

A friend of mine approached me last year and asked if I would consider giving her son art lessons. I know how serious he is about art and his desire to learn so I decided to give it a try. After thinking about it for awhile, I decided to include other children. I thought he would have more fun if there were others his same age attending.

Each month, I am focusing on a different aspect of art. This month, I am having the kids focus on imagination. Imagination is a major key element in drawing. Artists don't just draw what they see. They add and/or subtract from their subject matter. Imagination is also one of the first characteristics children lose as they transition into adulthood. If an artist can utilize the imagination they had as a child, their art will benefit, greatly.

I held my second class this evening and would like to show you a little bit of what we did.

First, I allowed the kids to pick an animal from my stack of pictures. Since I had recently attended the zoo, I chose some zoo animals for them to use.


I asked them to study the animal they chose. "What makes an ostrich an ostrich, or a giraffe a giraffe?" I asked. Then I asked them to draw their animal based off of their observation.


Next, I asked them to pick a tool from the options I had placed on the table.


I asked them to study the tool they had chosen (What makes a hammer a hammer, etc.?), and then for them to draw that tool.


I then asked them to make a creature by combining the two (animal + tool). This child made an ostri-hammer! I LOVE it!


And then, going off of the picture of the creature they had just created, I asked them to make their creature in clay.





Isn't this sculpture AMAZING?! This kid did such a great job! I think he had a lot of fun tonight! I sure had fun watching him!