Friday, November 7, 2014

Every fall Colorado Country Life Magazine features local authors and illustrators. This year they featured The Prairie That Nature Built's Augmented Reality (AR) app under Discoveries. This is a freebie pop-up app that is included with the printed book. After downloading the app onto your tablet or smart phone you view the printed book which makes the characters dramatically spring to life - the owl swoops, the mouse runs, the foxes lunge and prairie dogs hide. Meanwhile a narrator reads the story aloud. This is not your grandfather's app!

The folks at the magazine created a very cool video explaining how this works. It's so great to live in such a supportive community. Thank you Colorado Country Life!
Colorado Country Life November 2014

And Dawn Publishing just created a separate game/book app that supports the book as well. You can buy it or find more information about it here on Dawn's website.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dreams of dino treasures and life on the prairie

Here's my four legged office assistant and security system, Crowley, who always goes with me to check the mail. This day we received advanced reading copies and marketing materials for The Prairie That Nature Built and Dino Treasures. Crowley posed for a few of the illustrations in Prairie so he was excited then relieved when some good reviews starting coming out. He was so relieved that it was time for a nap.

Here are some early reviews from Prairie on Dawn Publishing's website and an article by Lindsey R. McKissick on 5280 Magazine's Bookshelf. You can also find fun ideas and activities that tie in with the book here. And look for a game app coming out soon.

Crowley dreaming of digging for dino bone treasures and his life on the prairie
Dino Treasures hasn't been released just yet, but has gotten a nice review and recommendation from The National Science Teacher's Association, NSTA Recommends.

And here's 303 Magazine's illustrator interview by Wendy Pitton. Sometimes when I tell folks that I'm a children's book illustrator I get funny looks. So it's always extra special to get local support from Colorado media. Makes me feel more legit!

First look at Pitter and Patter's cover
I just got a look at the cover and interior spreads for Pitter and Patter by Martha Sullivan, a wonderful writer. This comes out March 1, 2015 and we're collaborating with Dawn Publications on another book now. Also, here's the first review by Kirkus and they like it!

Wishing for snow
And hopefully you're familiar with Debbie Glade's blog, Smart Books for Smart Kids. She's pretty amazing; hosts numerous book give-aways, tips on raising a reader, focuses on science education, much more than I tell you here. I was fortunate to talk with her and she did an illustrator interview that focuses on my work process (yes, I work digitally, but it really does take more than just pushing a button and BAM!, out pops a prairie owl), a view of my home studio and more that you can find here.

Finally, I've updated my SCBWI Illustrator Gallery with some new work. Thanks for taking a look!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

This Land Is Your Land sneak peek

Where land meets sea, there is a coast…
A hill slopes up above the ground...
On the plains are grazing cows…
A mountain stretches steep and high…
Surrounded by an open sea….
Here's a few spreads from This Land Is Your Land, by Catherine Ciocchi and published by Arbordale Publishing. It's about landforms in case you were wondering. And we thought it could also be a fun introduction to maps as well. There's so many styles of maps; thematic, political, physical, topographic, climate, resource, road maps, I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

This is my seventh book with Arbordale Publishing and I'm very much looking forward to starting my eighth book very soon.

So I need to get back to work!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Life happens while you're illustrating

Black and white rough sketch phase
The busier I get the less I post, but I wanted to show you some artwork from Pitter and Patter

 Above is my black and white rough. While working on the final artwork for this spread I read a blog post from my niece and nephew who are traveling through Belize. They wrote about being startled by bats. Something had been bothering me about this spread and then it hit me - I love how bats are so still and silent, then boom, they explode in a huge mass and scare the heck out of you. So I changed this spread, added more bats! I need to get out and actually explore a cave myself, but in the meantime this is what you get. You can click on the images to get a better look.
Color spread of Patter in underground cave
And one more revision for this spread...
And the above illustration shows one of the reasons why I love working digitally. My art director/editor had a good suggestion to make the art tie in better with the manuscript. So the change took very little time and we're all much happier with the final image.

And another spread, showing Patter trickling down into the soil
Patter lands in a spring meadow
Pitter where the wetlands meet the ocean
….and Patter is swept out to sea.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Random week as an illustrator

One of the perks of being a children's book illustrator is that no two weeks (or days) are the same. There's a lot of multi-tasking and little boredom.

Below are some photos from a school visit and a couple of projects in the works. I have to say that working with the kids is the best part of my job. Thanks for taking a look!
Thank You notes and booklet with photos from the wonderful kids at Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver
Beaver puppet activity sheet for Three Little Beavers
You can see more activity sheets on the Three Little Beaver's Facebook page.

Work in progress for This Land Is Your Land
Work in progress for Pitter and Patter

One more spread from Pitter and Patter
And another...

Friday, April 4, 2014

And another book goes to press!

Official cover for The Prairie That Nature Built
I just got the final page proofs for this picture book for Dawn Publishing. It's my first book with them and I'm working on the second one now. They are wonderful to work with so I'm a happy camper or drawer in this case.

You've seen a few scenes from this book but I'll post a few more. The official release date is September 1, 2014.

This is the lightning that sparks a fire,
So red-hot and swift it moves without tire,
Flaming the flowers and blazing the grasses,
Chasing the animals rushing in masses.

This is the rain that splatters the ground,
And quenches the fire
that blazed all around.

Marybeth Lorbiecki is the author and it was a fun challenge to illustrate her words. And in case you're wondering, that's our dog, Crowley, who modeled for this spread and very much loves the prairie. It's fun to include a personal touch here and there when working on these books.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dino Treasures goes to press soon!

Today I got my first look at the completed pdf of Dino Treasures, the sequel to Dino Tracks. Both are by Rhonda Lucas Donald and I love collaborating on her books. We get to check it out one final time before it goes to press.

I've included a few of the spreads below, no copy, just the images, so it looks a little lonely on the left hand spread where the type falls, but hopefully you get the idea.

Colorful Critters
Head Butting Dinos
All of Arbordale Publishing's books include a "Creative Minds" educational section at the end that can be copied for classroom use as well as an online resource guide tying into every state's common core curriculum. The main goal is to make these fun stories that kids will want to pick up and read again and again.

Behind the scenes there's a lot of folks working hard to create these books and make sure they are successful. Here's a list of the vetters who checked and doubled checked it to make sure we've all done our jobs! Dino Treasures comes out this fall and we hope you enjoy it.

Thanks to the following scientists for verifying the information in this book:
• Dr. Phil Bell, Vertebrate Paleontologist, University of New England, Australia
• Dr. Karen Chin, Curator of Paleontology, Museum of Natural History and Associate Professor of Geological Sciences at University of Colorado
• Dr. Jacques Gauthier, Professor of Geology, Yale University and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Peabody Museum
• Dr. Tyler Lyson, Marmarth Research Foundation and Researcher for the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
• Dr. Ryan McKellar, Invertebrate Paleontologist, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alberta
• Dr. Joseph Peterson, Vertebrate Paleontologist, Assistant Professor of Geology, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
• William F. Simpson, McCarter Collections Manager, Fossil Vertebrates, Field Museum of Natural History
• Dr. David Varricchio, Associate Professor of Paleontology Montana State University
• Dr. Thomas E. Williamson, Curator of Paleontology, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Friday, January 24, 2014

Spring is the air, almost...

Final cover with type and seeds blowing in the wind

It's the dead of winter in Colorado but I have a new spring book release, Daisylocks by Marianne Berkes. It's our second book together and I love illustrating her stories. As an avid gardener, if I can't grow flowers while the ground is frozen over at least I can draw them. It's almost as good. Our book officially hits stores mid February. 

Also, Libby James from North Forty News came out to my home and interviewed me for their January edition. I feel a little funny when people ask me what I do because as a children's book illustrator I basically sit here drawing. And researching. And then I do that a lot more until I'm done, end of story. But Libby made it sound so much better. You can read the interview here.

Interior spread from Daisylocks