Saturday, October 31, 2009

Intertwining Facts & Fiction Illustrating a Fairy Tale

The original "Story of the Three Little Pigs" is credited to James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, 1843 in London. This is the beginning of the golden age of children's books. Also this was the early Victorian period.

The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax in Brussels in 1841 and a year later was patented in France.

The modern type of suspenders were invented in 1822 by Albert Thurston and were at once almost universally worn due to the high cut of mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century trousers. That's from Wikipedia!

In 1853 Levi Strauss, 24 years old from Germany invented today's "blue jeans". The California gold rush was in full swing and the prospectors needed heavy canvas fabric for tents and wagon covers. This is what Levi brought to sell at his brother's New York dry goods store. The miners told Levi, "You should have brought pants!," because nothing they wore was strong enough to last. Strauss made the canvas into waist overalls which the miners liked except they tended to chafe. He then substituted a twilled cotton cloth from France called "serge de Nimes." and that fabric became known as denim and the pants were nicknamed blue jeans.

The forerunners of the roller coaster were created in Russia in the late 1400s. During the winter they built hills of wood and packed them with snow. Water was sprayed over this and once it froze, it was used for a slick track. Guides, holding riders in their laps, would take riders down the slopes. This progressed until the early 1800s when ice slides came to France. Since France had milder weather the "Snow and Ice" version was converted to a conveyor belt system. The first wheeled coaster was called the "Russian Mountain" and premiered in 1804 in France.

Please let me know what other historical facts you come up with regarding this time period - mid to late 19th century. Maybe we can incorporate these into the illustrations. It makes for a much more interesting and fun book to read.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Konnor Evan Brown, my inspiration!

I was about to post a new image of a project "in the works". But I couldn't resist posting this photo instead. This is my new grandson, Konnor along his dad (and my son) Evan. I wish Amber, my amazing daughter-in-law was in this photo, but there will be more to come. Currently Evan is going to school for his B.A. in Political Science while doing other "stuff". Konnor has two new teeth which you can almost see here. Also the book I'm working on will be dedicated to him and his big sister Gracie. So back to work for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Walk In My Shoes, a reading program

Here's a couple of illustrations that are part of a comprehensive reading program that will be published by the end of this year.

This story is about a group of students who decide to make a difference in the world. They come together to create a "shoe drive" for the people of Senegal, West Africa. All changes, big or small, make the world a better place to live.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pony Summer by Olga Cossi

This cover art is still "in progress", or hopefully I'm making progress on it. This will be a chapter book and I'm still waiting to hear if the interior illustrations will be full color or black and white.

I won't give much away at this point as it's still being edited, other than to say that I love the manuscript and am excited to illustrate this book. The publisher is Odyssey Books based in Longmont, Colorado. They were the first publisher I worked with and always produce wonderful books!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How To Read A Person Like A Book

I'm working with Square One Publishing updating illustrations from How To Read A Person Like A Book originally published in 1971.

So now, almost forty years later the original two authors, Henry Calero and Gerard Nierenberg have teamed up with Gabriel Grayson, an authority on sign language and nonverbal communications to create the number one book on body language.

It's been an interesting process, showing how various gestures, postures and expressions communicate everything from authority and confidence to defensiveness and self-consciousness. It's definitely taken my "people watching" to a new level.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'll huff and I'll puff and draw till the house comes down

OK, if you've been paying attention, and even if you haven't, I've been illustrating a new version of The 3 Pigs - part of the StoryTime Cafe series. (Scroll back for the cover image) Out of context this image doesn't mean a lot. But when the book is complete and you see this illustration, along with the story, along with the next illustration and so on, please trust me it all works. So now I must work too.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Illustrating for a phonics program

Not every piece of art is a picture book illustration. Here's an image that is part of a phonics program for kindergarten students. Just one of dozens of different spots. A fun challenge - creating lots of individual images instead of dealing with the consistency of illustrating a 32 page picture book.

Now can you find and circle all the letter N's?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Last Christmas Tree by Jeff Darnell

Illustrating a Christmas book in the summer usually feels a little strange. But this summer in Colorado has been so cold and wet that it almost seemed seasonal. Either way this has been a fun project to work on.

This story has a very timeless quality to it. It reads like an old fashioned classic Christmas tale that adults will appreciate as much as the kiddos.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Florrie Binford Kichler named in the Top Fifty Women in Book Publishing

Just had to say "Kudos to Florrie Kichler", creator and publisher of the Young Patriot Series patriapress It's a huge honor and she totally deserves it.

President and founder of Patria Press Inc., Florrie Binford Kichler, has been selected as one of the fifty top women in book publishing by Book Business Magazine as they honor leading female executives who are helping to shape the industry. The first-ever list recognizes women who have made, and are still making, a significant contribution to the book industry.

A 17-year veteran of the publishing industry, Kichler currently serves on the 3500-member Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) as its President,, and has been on the board for the past seven years. She also serves on the Book Industry Study Group Board and BookExpo America Conference Advisory Board. Kichler is a member of the Children’s Book Council and the Women’s National Book Association. Kichler’s word for publishers is, “Never forget that it is the reader you must please. Have access to at least four times as much capital as you think you will need. Then double that amount.”

As the major source of creativity and innovation in book publishing, independent publishers continue to shape the book business,” noted Ms. Kichler. “I am proud to be in the company of so many gifted women in our industry but even prouder to serve so many independent publishers through IBPA.”

The full Book Business Magazine list of the 50 Top Women in Book Publishing may be found online at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I'm working on a few projects and didn't realize it had been a month since posting a new image. So here's one of the books I'm illustrating... it's a follow up to "Tigers", a picture book for pre-schoolers about giraffes. It's only in the beginning stages but should be out Spring 2010.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PBAA goes Green!

Here's "PBAA goes Green", our newest poster promo for This is my online email group of 100 plus children's book illustrators from around the world. As most of us are working from solitary home/work spaces it's great to be able to share ideas, celebrate each other successes or commiserate when things don't go as planned. I could not keep going without this great group of illustrators and friends. You can see more at

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tigers by Sherry Been

Seems like I did these illustrations a long time ago, but the book is finally coming out this spring. Here's a couple of spreads.

There's rumors of a follow-up book. I can't divulge the next animal but can give you a hint, it's the tallest land animal, has spots and lives in Africa.

It's nice to finally see the finished project and hopefully the kids will enjoy it too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Progressing from Rough Concept to Final Illustration

Working on a recent educational project, my client liked my black and white style but needed a full color illustration. They suggested that I colorize my black and white illustrations, same idea as hand tinting a black and white photo. So here's what we came up with, from the initial rough, to b&w to final full color illustration.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Abigail's Secret by Montrew Dunham

I've been fortunate to illustrate a few of Ms. Dunham's historical fiction chapter books for the Patria Press series. This time she's coming out with a novel, Abigail's Secret. It's based in the 1930's depression era and it's intriguing to parallel those days with today's economy and politics. On top of that it's just a fun mystery that you can't put down.
Here's an excerpt from Chapter One...
"Almost all week had been unusual. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as President of the United States just last Saturday on March 4, 1933 which had seemed so very special. And then the next day he proclaimed that all the banks in the country were to be closed. A bank holiday!
Abigail frowned as she thought about it... A holiday had a good sound... but for them there was nothing good about this holiday. It meant that they had no money!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Once Upon A Time...

...there were three little pigs, and the rest as they say is history. Here's a new image for an old story.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Illustrator Workshop at Mamie Doud Eisenhower Library

Some might think the best part of being an illustrator is drawing all day. But my favorite job is working with future book writers and illustrators. This was a presentation/worshop at Mamie Doud Eisenhower Library in Broomfield, CO. I gave a quick talk about book illustration, did a sample sketch and then we got down to work. This was one of the hardest working, most creative, talented and fun group of kids I've worked with. Thank you, Lesley Clayton and the rest of staff at the Library for making this such a fun event!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Character Development

The holidays are over so back to work now. I'm just starting to play around with character development on a new project so we'll see how this evolves. One nice thing about working on the Cintiq is it allows me to place various characters on different layers to highlight them. Can you see the difference here? In the top image I've screened the two bikers at 70%, making the main character pop more. The second image is the exact same, but the resolution is 100% for all levels.