Thursday, March 23, 2017

What is Black & White & Read All Over?

 I started illustrating historical fiction chapter books for the Young Patriot Series beginning with Amelia Earhart, Young Air Pioneer in 2000. Fourteen books and eight years later we stopped after Alexander Hamilton, Young Statesman. The books have continued to sell well, but Florrie Kichler, the publisher, became president of IPG, the Independent Publisher's Group and life got beyond busy for her.

Last year I got an email from Florrie introducing me to the new owner of the series, Carol Tulley, publisher of TEI Landmark Audio. Carol has lots of great ideas and is picking up the series where we left off. We're working on book number fifteen, Dan Beard, Boy Scout. So here's a few chapter interior illustrations and I'm working on the cover illustration now.
Chapter 2,
But after the four boys started working they found potato-bug picking was not so bad. It became a game.
Chapter 5,
They wished they might tell the Mosher twins about Traveler, for they were proud of the beautiful bird. Besides, there was plenty of good grain in the Mosher's barn and Traveler loved corn and wheat.
Chapter 6,
They decorated the den with feathers, picture writing and different kinds of bones and skins. Dan copied from his books the pictures of William Penn and the Indians and hung it on the wall.
March 2 we presented If You Love Honey for Storytime in the Dome at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Along with reading in the Dome and creating the adorable bee headband craft the kids went to the main gallery to explore the live bee exhibit and show off their dance moves on the Honeybee Waggle Dance Floor. It was awesome!
If You Love Honey for Storytime in the Dome
I'm honored to be the featured "Artist of the Month" in Ruth's Art Gallery at the Red Feather Lakes Library. I'll be giving a presentation on the last day of the month, Friday, March 31 at 1pm. Please drop by if you're in the area.
"Artist of the Month" in Ruth's Art Gallery at the Red Feather Lakes Library
Last, but not least, here's Desiree of Photography By Desiree, a wonderful photography studio out of Fort Collins. It's for a magazine shoot that you'll hear more about this summer!
Desiree being a wonderful photographer and making this a very fun shoot!
Desiree making me look good in my normally very messy studio space, normally wearing the same thing three days in a row...
Thanks for taking a look!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

New book, kids, crafts and museums, oh my!

It's always exciting to get copies of a new book. Even after you've spent months reading the manuscript as it goes through numerous revisions, researching and illustrating art spreads, have proofed it through several generations of design, layout and printer proofs. It's great to hold the actual book, all shiny and new, in your hands. I hope kids will enjoy it.

Baby on Board's official release date is March 1, 2017. I didn't plan a book release party, but I'm working on a gallery exhibit and talk at the Red Feather Lakes Community Library for the month of March. Also, I'm working with the folks at Where Women Create BUSINESS on an article coming out this summer. So there'll be more about Baby on Board and what goes into being a children's book illustrator.
Copies of Baby On Board arrive in mail!
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that In A Nutshell finds a good home. The author and I are both submitting to literary agents and publishers. For the most part we've been sending PDFs through email, but some publishers want physical copies so we have those as well. I learned how to saddle stitch to create printer spreads for the book dummy. Thanks to the Fed Ex/Kinkos lady who told me that was what I needed to do and thank you to YouTube for walking me through the process.
In A Nutshell by Barb Ciletti, illustrated by Cathy Morrison 
Interior spreads for In A Nutshell
More saddle stitched and paginated spreads...
On Thursday, February 2 we read Over on the Farm as part of Storytime in the Dome at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. I hadn't read this book in a while so practiced by reading to Crowley. As you can see he loves the story, begging for his next walk to be over on a farm. He's fascinated by the sounds of the owls.

During our actual Storytime we had lots of audience participation. The kids counted the animals, made turkey gobbles, cow moos, pig snorts and found the hidden rooster on each page. Next book I'll have to figure out better hiding spots.
Over on the Farm by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by me, published by Dawn Publications
Here's Amy, another museum volunteer helping out with Rooster Puppets down stairs in the Learning Lab. We had five tables full of parents and kids making crafts, such a fun group!
And here's an image from The Prairie That Nature Built used for a display at the Prairie Heritage Center in Peterson, Iowa. I got a call from them one day asking to purchase rights to an image from the book. As a museum geek, this is a big honor!

O'Brien County Conservation Board's Prairie Heritage Center
Clicking on the images will enlarge them for a better view.
Thanks for taking time to look through my blog!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happy New 2017!

Thank you to Lydia Dody, the publisher of Style Magazine and journalist, Elissa J. Tivona for the article featuring "Storytime in the Dome" at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. This magazine reflects the heart and soul of life in Northern Colorado and it's an honor to be included.
 Style Magazine, January 2016
Style Magazine, January 2017
Click on Style Magazine's cover to get the Flip Book online magazine
Storytime in the Dome at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Click on the above logo to go the museum's site.
Everybody at the museum works hard to put this program together - hopefully it's a labor of love. Ben Gondrez, the Digital Dome Manager takes the files from my creative nonfiction picture books, digitizes and animates the page turns to be read and viewed on the gigantic 35 foot dome screen. He adds sound effects, bringing the experience to life. Sarah Kinard, the early childhood and special learning lead makes it all happen. She comes up with the crafts and activities that the kids will create that relate to the book. We head up to the theater escorting a group of cute, literary-loving kids along with their adults where we read the story. Afterwards we head down to the learning lab for art! Both publishers I work with, Arbordale Press and Dawn Publications have generously donated rights to the books since this is an experimental experience. So far it seems like the local families are enjoying it. The article below explains it much better than I do.
Stories Come to Life for the Whole Family
My messy desktop
And I'm making progress on a couple of projects. Here's the "during" and "after" shots for If the Mummy Could Talk.... Below I've placed some type to get a sense of how the cover will look. The book designer will choose the actual font and make it look much nicer. This helps me to visualize if I've left enough room for type, plus it's fun to experiment with various fonts. I'm excited to be working on another book with Rhonda Lucas Donald and Arbordale Publications!
If The Mummy Could Talk... coming Spring 2018
It's a good way to start a new year!
Thanks for taking a look.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Research Phase...

I'm working on a couple of new books. If The Mummy Could Talk... by Rhonda L. Donald is scheduled to be released Spring 2018. It sounds like a long time in the future, but there's a lot of work to be done between now and then. I've been doing research and have turned in interior roughs. Now I'm waiting to hear back from the publisher for more revisions and/or to go on to final artwork.

Have I mentioned that research is my favorite part of illustrating creative nonfiction books? I learn something new every day and hopefully it'll enrich the final illustrations.
Montage from research at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science's Egyptian Mummies exhibit
The docent in the lower left gave a great explanation of the elaborate process of mummification. The body's organs, including the brain which they didn't think was important are removed using a hook through the nose. The organs are preserved in canopic jars. Egyptians believed the gods would weigh the subject's heart to decide whether they deserved eternal life or not. Fascinating stuff!

Below are a couple of very rough interior spreads that my editor, art director and the author are going over now. They are super rough, but since we've all worked together before they understand that the final artwork will look better. The artwork might look similar to this or go in a totally different direction. I like the collaboration because it all works to make the book that much better.

Young King Tut had an awesome tomb but not the healthiest life.
Cats ruled dogs drooled in ancient Egypt

I find the most interesting mummies are the animals and we have several in this book. 

Even today we find ways to honor our favorite pets who have passed on to the afterlife. Here's a photo from a book shelf in my studio. On the left is a photo of my daughter with our first dog, Mohawk, an energetic Irish Setter. Next to the photo is an urn with ashes from our second dog, Tarzana, a good hearted yellow lab who liked to lay on my feet while I worked. Normally I wouldn't show my immortalized pets on my blog. However, after all the research for these mummified pets it doesn't seem so strange. How do you remember your favorite pets?
Our dearly departed pets, Mohawk next to ashes of Tarzana on my studio shelf

My second project is for Patria Press. This is a historical fiction chapter book series I worked on ten years ago with Florrie Kichler. As a kid, Florrie loved a book series called Childhood of Famous Americans (and so did I!). To make a long story short, Florrie bought the rights to many of the titles in the series, had it re-edited, re-designed along with new illustrations and has introduced it to a new generation of kids today.  Now it's The Young Patriot Series.

It was recently bought out by Carol Tully of TEI LandmarkAudio and I'm so excited to be illustrating the fifteenth book in the series, Dan Beard, Boy Scout by Miriam E. Mason. It's in the beginning stages. Even though I don't have roughs to show just yet I've included a photo of 90 year old Dan celebrating his birthday in New York along with a cover from the original series. I like Dan; he was from a family of artists, sketched nature, met Abe Lincoln as a boy and later knew Mark Twain. 
90 year old Dan Carter Beard, at his birthday celebration in New York.
Dan Beard, Boy Scout by Miriam E. Mason from the Childhood of Famous American Series
So I'm in the beginning stages, my favorite research phase and will have more to share shortly. It's scheduled to be published next year, 2017. 
Thanks for taking a look!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nothing to see here

In a perfect world, I'd update my blog at least once a month. But the two projects I'm working on are technically too soon to show. So I'll show what I can and tell you more about them. Below is a book dummy I'm creating with a friend/author/colleague, Barb Ciletti. We're working as a team to submit to publishers and/or agents to get a book deal - fingers crossed. There's many revisions, but this is how it looks at the moment.

The second project is a book about mummies! The author is Rhonda Lucas Donald and it's our third book together. The publisher is Arbordale Publishing and it's our ninth book together. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science just opened a new exhibit, Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs so this is where my research began. The book is scheduled for Spring 2018. I'll be posting images from that project when I'm further along.

And below is what I do when I'm not drawing. I've written earlier about being a volunteer at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. One of my favorite things is being a docent at the Historical Heritage Courtyard in Library Park. We have a couple of different events, Fort Collins Through Time with school groups and Culture in the Courtyard for the public.

Cathy Morrison (1905 Schoolmarm), Jeff Stone (Antoine Janis) and Cindy Tunney (Auntie Stone)
Thank you Chris Winslow of FC Public Media for the photos.

Tantramar Heritage Trust
 Ok, this photo is not really my students from the Upper Boxelder School. I found it online. But when I'm welcoming a school group to come inside and take a seat in the historic one room school house this is how I imagine they looked back in the day. The kids and I have a great time comparing and contrasting a day in the life of a student from 1905 and 2016.

Thank you for taking a look!

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

Slide from Power Point Presentation, Judging a Book by its Cover
 I'm super excited about this upcoming conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Robert Schram, the genius behind Bookends Design and I are giving a presentation about book covers for the Women Writing the West Conference. Bob will talk about book design while I chime in on illustrations.

Women Writing the West Fall Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Julia Cameron is the key note speaker and I've been a long time fan of her books. The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity started a movement that's been going on over two decades.

Santa Fe's always beautiful, but my favorite time is in the autumn. Looking forward to making new friends, soaking up some culture and dining on yummy southwest cuisine.
Photos from Santa Fe's tourism site