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

Friday, September 9, 2016

Bye bye "Baby on Board", off to the printers you go!

I've turned in my illustrations and revisions for Baby on Board. Now I get to see what Patty Arnold of Menagerie Design and Publishing comes up with for the design and layout. She'll make the words and art come together and shine.

I've read one book endorsement which goes on the back cover... "Beautiful in imagery and rich in text, this book is bound to delight and inform readers of all ages. Especially refreshing is that dads are included as primary caregivers in this book! A wonderfully comforting message of connectedness among the world’s creatures shines through--big or small, fierce or cuddly, we all care for our young."
-- Dr. Mary Benson McMullen, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

The story starts and ends with people, but in between you'll find various baby mammals, birds, reptiles and arachnids. It's fun to see the book developing and evolving, almost like raising a baby to be sent out into the world.
Copyright page and beginning of the story, page 3
One of my favorite parts of illustrating children's books is after the artwork is turned in. I create free downloadable activities to tie in with the book. I'm not so interested in research, consistency and creative integrity as I am in making something work that 3 - 8 year olds will be able to create and enjoy. I want to challenge them, but not frustrate them, know what I mean?
Baby on Board Floaty Sea Otter Craft
Child-tested by my seven year old grandson!
Not only does the otter float, but also sticks to the side of the bath tub = Awesome kid fun!
Here's some adorable otter pups you can watch while making your craft and waiting for the book release. And more at Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Cam. Last, but not least are these incredible Sea Otter Cupcakes. No otters were harmed in the making of these yummy treats!

Below is another craft, less steps, but potentially much, much, messier - BEWARE!
Baby on Board's Very Messy Penguin Footprint Craft
Kangaroo pouch craft, lion coloring page, lots of fun animal activities to make
We're working on a couple of more activities to go along with more animals in Baby On Board. Not every activity we experiment with makes the cut, but you get the idea.
Experimental headpiece activity? Don't think so...
Thanks as always for taking a look!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

August's here already?

It's hard to believe it's already August. This year I've had my head buried in projects; four educational picture books, one trade book and several presentations. Yesterday I turned in final illustrations for Baby on Board which comes out in the spring. Now there's one more book and one more presentation to go. I have ideas I want to develop so I'm looking forward getting involved with new projects and open up some space to see what comes next.

In Northern Colorado we have Style Magazine. August's issue focuses on female entrepreneurs. I was fortunate to be interviewed by Elissa J. Tivona. Elissa is a journalist, she travels internationally to present her work in peace and conflict studies and teaches at CSU. She was wonderful to work with and I'm proud to be a part of this month's magazine.

Also, I wanted to thank Elizabeth Dulemba for including Storytime in the Dome in her Friday Linky List! Elizabeth is a Visiting Associate Professor of the Picture Book Design class at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia in the summer. The rest of the year she lives in Edinburgh Scotland, pursuing her MFA in Illustration at the University of Edinburgh. Plus, she's an all around good person to know. We're both members of PictureBookArtists and I keep up with her on her blog these days.

Last, but hopefully not least, here's a couple of illustrations from Baby on Board.

They paddle very slowly as they swim along the coast.
But nestled under Mama's fin, this baby likes it most.
Tucked in pouches, gripped in teeth
Propped on backs or underneath
This is what some animals do.
How did someone carry you?
 Thanks for taking a look. See you in September!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Storytime in the Dome

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
I'm a volunteer at the Museum of Discovery in Fort Collins. Volunteering there always brings new experiences, plus it's fun. On opening day I was behind the cash register in the gift shop. I work with the educational department greeting school groups on field trips. Last fall I helped with garden maintenance, pulling weeds and pruning plants. One of my favorite things is being a docent in their Historical Heritage Courtyard program.  

Storytime in the Dome at
This month I am totally excited and honored to kick off Storytime in the Dome. This opportunity began in a brain storming session when they were opening the new Tot Spot exhibit. Here is the software program they are using to create the big interactive picture book we'll be reading and discussing. The event will begin with the kids creating an art project that relates to the book, a nature pendent. Then we'll head upstairs to the digital dome where we'll read and talk about The Prairie That Nature Built. I want this program to succeed so we can bring a lot more books to life and get more book creators involved.
Thank you to whoever took this photo!
And I want to report that our first ever "Storytime in the Dome" was amazing. As we were preparing and rehearsing for this event I'd ask how ticket sales were doing. A couple of weeks ago 10 sold, then 37, then the morning of the event I heard 55 tickets had sold. As we were getting the materials together for the art project and passing them out people continued to stream in. We actually sold out all the seats which equalled a dome-full of 80 plus kids and their folks. It was great to see families excited about this and I'm very encouraged.

Thanks to Sarah, the early childhood lead for working super hard to make this a success, along with Ben, who created the digital show, Jason, the museum director who brainstormed the event and kept us all enthused and on track, to Amy for creating a great display and book signing area in the gift shop and especially thanks to Holly who really believed in me and this book. Did I mention I love being a volunteer at the museum?

Red Feather Lakes Community Library
On the same day as "Storytime in the Dome" I have an afternoon presentation at the Red Feather Lakes Community Library where we'll talk about illustrating creative nonfiction children's books. This is part of their Summer Reading Program. It will be a day of more talking, less drawing which makes me a little nervous with four book deadlines looming this summer! Here's a photo of the exterior of the library where they're putting in new landscaping. It already looks great. Flowers sooth my extreme deadline anxiety.

And just so you know I'm really working, here's the Common Loon illustration from Baby on Board.

The little loon's thick feathers hold body heat inside, So it can climb on Mama's back as they go for a ride.

Thanks for taking a look!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference

21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference
21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference

I've been looking forward to this conference all year. Now it's only a week away and there's still a lot to do. I'm honored to be presenting two workshops. Saturday afternoon I present "Creating a Picture Book - An Illustrator's Perspective". And on Sunday I'm co-presenting with James Ransome, whose work I LOVE! That workshop is "Surviving as an Illustrator". I'm sure his perspective must be totally different from mine so it should be interesting.

Conference faculty
And while on the subject of creating a picture book, here's a couple of new illustrations for Baby on Board, written by Marianne Berkes and published by Dawn Publications. It's a Spring 2017 release, due around the same time as all the new spring babies.
This 'possum hauls her babies from one place to another. The joeys have it easy as they all ride on their mother. 
Here's a little background about North America's only marsupial, the strange animal with the appropriately confusing name. In 1608 Captain John Smith coined the word opossum from "opassum", the Algonquian term meaning "white animal." In his notes he wrote, "An Opassom hath an head like a Swine, and a taile like a Rat, and is of the bignes of a Cat. Under her belly she hath a bagge, wherein shee lodgeth, carrieth, and sucketh her young."

No one really knows why the opossum's "o" was dropped, but it appears in print as early as 1613. There are true possums in Australia and New Guinea, not to be confused with their North American cousins, the opossums. I told you it was strange.
Baby clings on Mama's hair. They slowly move with ease. They sleep while hanging upside-down from branches in the trees.
And who doesn't love a sloth? Two-toed sloths are nocturnal while three-toed sloths are diurnal, which means they are most active during the day. Skeletons of now extinct species of sloth suggest some varieties used to be as large as elephants!

You can click on the first two images for details about the conference. Click the illustrations to enlarge and get a better view. Thanks for taking a look!