Monday, July 1, 2019

Summertime Reading Beyond the Book

I love how museums and companies are thinking outside the binding to expand books way beyond their borders. As a volunteer for Fort Collins Museum of Discovery I've been able to share several of my creative nonfiction picture books through Storytime in the Dome.
Wild Ones: Observing City Critters by Carol Malnor

This program happens twice a month in the expansive 360° digital dome. The books always have a live narrator to keep it interactive for these young book lovers. The books are digitized with animated page turns and some include background sound effects! It's a fun, creative way to engage these young kids in reading. Afterwards we head down to the Learning Lab for a related craft.
If You Love Honey by Martha Sullivan
Here's a couple of the photos the Murray family sent me after reading If You Love Honey in the Dome. The girls created a bulletin board full of artwork, crafts and activities relating to the story, especially focusing on the honey bees. There's no limit to their imagination!

Over on the Farm by Marianne Berkes
Are you familiar with Ivy Kids Kits? These are monthly subscription boxes designed around a picture book. I've been in awe of this company for awhile. One day I was on their website and was surprised to learn they were featuring one of my books, Over on the Farm, for that month. (Seems the illustrator is always the last to know!) But it was a happy surprise and I was blown away by all the STEAM based activities created to enhance the book. Please check out more about their company at I love their mission and wish they had been around when my own kids were little.

And finally, here's some illustrations from a picture book I've been working on that's a little different for me. The publisher doesn't want me to talk about the book, but says I can show a few illustration samples. So here's my show-and-tell. It's been a fun project full of flowers, fairies and the moon.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. Click on the links for further information and the images for larger views.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Long and Short of It

Denver Children's Festival of Stories 2019
This year's Children's Festival of Stories was wonderful. I've put together a small collage to give you an idea of our day, or at least my little piece of it. Please click on the image which takes you to the Book Fest's Gallery to get the full picture, including story tellers, entertainers, books, book creators, food, (specifically Little Man Ice Cream!), music and the cutest kids ever! Thank you Second Star to the Right and Denverfcos for an amazing event.

Below is a free printable mask activity created for If A Mummy Could Talk. The kids at the book fest enjoyed cutting out and decorating their mask and I hope you will too.
 Cat Mummy Mask Activity

...As a valley becomes a forest from the efforts of just one.
Above are some illustrations from The Tiny Giant which comes out Fall 2020. This week I completed the illustrations and turned in all the artwork early! I can't tell you how good that feels. Now I just need to complete the illustrations for the picture book coming out Spring 2020. Such is the life of a children's book illustrator and I know somehow it's going to all work out.

Thanks so much for taking time to look at my blog. Click on the images for more information or a larger view.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The First Sign of Spring

Even through Colorado has many more snowy days ahead spring can't be far away. The first sign of spring for kids, their families and children's book creators is the Children's Festival of Stories in Denver. There's already a lot of planning and preparation going on behind the scenes. I look forward to seeing you there on March 23.
Click on the image to go the Children's Festival of Stories website

Above are some illustrations for The Tiny Giant. If you've been following my blog you've seen some of these images in different variations. This is a book I developed with a writer buddy and we've been revising and submitting for the past three years. Finally, it was picked up by a publisher so has new life. We couldn't be happier with the publisher and the new direction the book is taking. The release date is Fall 2020. The term, "Never Give Up!" comes to mind.
From the Sketchbook: Cathy Morrison
From The Sketchbook is a new series from The Children's Book Council. Illustrators share their creative process to provide context to their completed artwork for their picture books. This month they feature If A Mummy Could Talk, published by Arbordale Publishing, written by Rhonda Lucas Donald and illustrated by me!

Thank you for taking a look at my blog. You can click on the images for more information and a larger view.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Welcome to my world!

The view from my home studio with a work-in-progress from What's This Tail Saying?
 Welcome to my world. Winter in Colorado is a great time to be inside all warm and toasty working on new projects. Below are illustrations from a creative nonfiction picture book with Dawn Publications. The working title is What's This Tail Saying? and it's a Spring 2020 release. The author, Carolyn Combs is a super smart scientist as well as author who knows precisely what animals' tails are saying. When you read our book you'll know too!
Flip! Zip! What's baby Elephant's tail saying?

Uh, oh! Skink doesn't see the raccoon in time to run away.

Two page spread showing copyright page and beginning of the story: Animal tails are talking. Can you guess what they are saying?
Stranger danger! Hearing the alarm all family dives into the pond.

And finally, If A Mummy Could Talk by Rhonda Lucas Donald unwraps at a bookstore near you very soon. To commemorate the book release here's the vintage 1978 King Tut performance by Steve Martin for SNL. And yes, we have an entire spread dedicated to King Tut in the book.

Cover, title page and interior spread from If A Mummy Could Talk...

Arbordale Publishing sent a book ARC (advanced reading copy) and I'm very happy with it. Also, the first review by Kirkus hit this December and they seem happy with it too!
Kirkus Review for If A Mummy Could Talk...
There's more books and projects in the works. I'll catch up with you in 2019 about those!
Thanks for taking a look. Be sure to click on the images for a more detailed view or a link for further information.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Good bye Summer, Hello Fall

My Studio With A View's South Facing View of the Mummy Range
Summertime is said to be "dead" in the publishing world. So many publishers are on vacation and the ones keeping up the pace might have their minds elsewhere, maybe on the beach or the mountains. This summer was anything but dead. However it can be hard to focus with nature calling to get out and explore. Here's a view from my desk to give you an idea of how enticing it can be working in the foothills northwest of Fort Collins.

Shortgrass Prairie
This mandala artwork, "Shortgrass Prairie" is part of a series I'm illustrating for my licensing representative.
Gardener Girl end page artwork
Seems one mandala leads to another. Here's art for front and back end pages for another book that I'm writing and illustrating. You'll be seeing more of this in the coming months. I've got a few books I'm working on and one just SOLD (after three years of writing, researching, drawing, designing, editing, submitting query after query and more revisions) so I'm stoked!

And below are some sweet peas for Seed Packets. If you're sensing a "nature theme" here you would be right.

Sweet Peas

Marianne Berkes and Over on the Farm
 Marianne Berkes is one of my favorite authors and from what I know she never rests. Here she is on her latest book tour. Over on the Farm is one of the books we did together and it's featured in Learning Magazine for the month of September. We've included lots of fun activities for kids too.
Sedona Trolley's New Logo and Badge Artwork
Sedona Arizona
And finally above is the new logo and badge artwork for Sedona Trolley. Collaborating with their marketing director was so much fun. She shared lots of beautiful scenery of the amazing Sedona mountains.

Thanks for taking a look. Please click on each image for more information or a larger view.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

It Takes A Village

Nothing's normal this summer. "Normal" is sitting in my little cabin researching and illustrating picture books. And while that is happening this year there's more. 

I got to participate in a stage production for Tales and Tune Live!, the brainchild of Kristen Olsen. She produces a radio program featuring children's book creators. This was part of a larger program, SummerFest 2018 and Off The Hook Arts which inspires a love of the performing arts through public concerts, education and collaboration among the arts and sciences.

Here's images from the show at the Carnegie Center for Creativity in Fort Collins. I met so many wonderful volunteers, entertainers, technicians, not to mention kids and their families! I never realized all that went on behind the scenes to put together a half hour show.

Off the Hook Arts and Tales and Tunes Live!
That's Jesse G. Shepherd performing on stage. Jesse produces a regional radio program, plus writes songs for children's picture books. He wrote three songs to tie in with my books as part of the program and the kids absolutely loved it. Hopefully I'll get some better photos to post because you need to see the super cute wood nymph along with her bear who live in that hollow log to the left of Jesse. I can't think of when I've had such a fun time.
I have to give a special shout out to thank the folks at Second Star to the Right Books in Denver. They drove up to Fort Collins for these events and set up a pop-up bookstore to sell our books after each show. They do so much to support kids in our community.  

Thank you Marc and Dea, owners of Second Star to the Right Books for all you do
And finally, some new art. Even though illustrating children's books is my passion, I've been picking up more commercial/editorial work lately. Here's a tomato illustration as part of a series of seed packet labels. 

I combined three of the images into a spread and worked up an illustration featuring a vole. It must the children's book illustrator/gardener side of me, I just couldn't help myself. Maybe it'll find itself in a kid book one day, you never know. I love stories about kids and food.
Children's book illustrators are usually creative gardeners too. Just think about the amazing fairy tale gardens Tasha Tudor used to create!
Gardener Girl, working title
Writing and drawing

Revising, redrawing, rewriting, again and again and one more time
And one last bit of news that I'm excited about... I've long admired the organization, ILCW, International League of Conservation Writers. This is a forum that brings creatives together from around the world to promote wilderness, nature and conservation as a means to protect and restore natural areas, habitats, animals, and plants for our planet. This year I applied and was accepted as a fellow. I'm looking forward to getting involved with all they have going on.

Thank you for taking a look at my blog. Please consider me for an upcoming project. You can click on each image and link for more information and a larger view.