Saturday, December 4, 2021

Step Lightly: Book Maker Construction Site Ahead!

World Read Aloud Day is an annual celebration of reading and story sharing that connects students with children's book illustrators and authors from all over the world. It's a fun event coming up February 2, 2022. Book creators volunteer their time that day visiting classrooms and libraries for a virtual read-a-loud plus sharing our book making experience.
Thank you Jessica for this fun poster featuring 100 Days of School Projects. Please see more on Jessica's Pinterest.
As 2021 winds down I'm wrapping up some projects while starting others. Most are in various stages from rough sketch concepts, reading and researching, revising and presenting, story boarding, etc. Nothing is ready for show-and-tell just yet.

My studio is a mess, but it's part of the creative process. I keep telling myself this.

Here we're moving off the floor and opening a drawer of my old school flat files... (also a mess).

Here's a couple of projects I am happy to finally share; both working with Barb Ciletti and Schiffer Kids. We just signed two contracts. One is for a brand new picture book. The second is redeveloping The Tiny Giant as a board book and puzzle package created for younger kiddos. Nothing makes me happier than watching a toddler engrossed in a board book. This is something I'm super excited about.

For now the upcoming book's working title is Meet the Minibeast, but everything can change. It's under construction, going through growing pains; some parts undergoing major revisions, some parts just need a little tweak. We want to make the final book as awesome as possible. So the below illustration might or might not make it into the final book. It's a very fun project to work on and I'll be showing more sketches and illustrations along the way. Even though the book isn't scheduled to release until 2023 the final story and artwork need to be submitted to the publisher this summer. Once it's in their hands the designer takes over and does the final design and layout. From there it goes to the marketing and sales team, gets proofed and printed, and cataloged. Finally it’s sent out to book reviewers, book stores, etc. so it can be released fall 2023. That seems like a long way off, but it'll be here before you know it. 

Since I haven't included a ton of artwork in this blog post I've posted a mini portfolio highlighting a few of my favorite projects I’ve collaborated on recently. Just click this link!
Christina Wald's Blog
Alright, last bit of big news is that I'm going to be traveling with Christina Wald's Sketch Romania 2022 Tour! Christina and I have been virtual friends for several years. We both illustrate children's books for Arbordale Press. She's an amazing illustrator, educator, Urban Sketcher and world traveler. Below is one of her watercolor sketches when she was in Romania last 2014. Originally our trip was scheduled for the summer of 2020, but we all remember how that year turned out. Plus, my plein air painter husband is coming along too. It's going to be an amazing two weeks. I've been working digitally so long that I need to brush up on my analog skills.
One of Christina's sketches from Brasov Square in Romania, 2014 and link to her twitter

Thanks to everybody for reading my blog. Click on images for larger detailed views and links for more information. 

Here's to a happy, healthy 2022 and beyond.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

What's happening this Summer?

Publishing is seasonal with most books debuting in Spring and Fall. So what's up in the Summer? Writers and illustrators are still creating. Acquisition editors continue to discover and acquire upcoming titles. Art directors are still designing and creating beautiful picture books. But we all take a little extra time to stop and smell the roses. In my case, I also draw the roses along with the yucca, moon flower and many of the hungry pollinators who come out by day and by night. 

Front End Papers Artwork

Back End Papers Artwork


And below are a couple illustrations from a portrait series. These are two of my favorites.

Digital Pastel Portrait of Amanda Gorman
Digital Pastel Portrait of John Lewis
A huge "THANK YOU!" to Peter Limata for including The Tiny Giant in his Storytime Book Series.  

One of the few good things that came out of our COVID lockdown was so many publishers started granting rights for Virtual Story times. My favorite is Story Time with Mr. Limata on Facebook and YouTube. I first discovered him on Instagram, @StorytimeWithMrLimata, but most people know him from his appearance on the Ellen Show! We all appreciate his creativity and hard work he puts into his class of second graders along with sharing picture books with the rest of the world. Lucky us!

And last, but not least... The Tiny Giant is the recipient of the 2021 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award - Children's Picture Book Silver Award Winner! Thank you to the judges and Schiffer Publishing for believing in our book!

So enjoy your summer and thanks for taking time to check out my blog. Please click on the links for more information and the images for a closer view.


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Birds do it. Bees do it.

Here's some illustrations from a work-in-progress. Did you guess that it's about pollination? Right now the project is very fluid, lots and lots of changes going on. I won't bother to give you the working title because that's been changing weekly right along with the story. Here are some page spreads which may or may not make it into the final book. So it's a sneak peek just for you. Shhhh, don't tell anybody.

A tiny fleet of insects wings its way to nectar and pollen.

Hummingbirds hover at petunias, and tango with trumpets of mint.

Flowers bloom around the clock. Some only bloom at night. The Cereus cactus blooms once a year so you better be watching. Most of us are familiar with daytime pollinators like bees, hummingbirds, lady bugs and butterflies. What about the nighttime pollinators? Bats, fireflies, hawk moths and even some geckos are a few of our nighttime heroes working hard to save our planet.

Their feast awaits.

By day or by night, pollen falls when creatures feed.

One of my favorite projects that capped off 2020 was illustrating a picture book by Ryan Caver and Jacqueline Bordeaux. The book is for, an environmental Conservation Organization. Check out their inspiring instagram feed, @clean.horizons ( and their website is  

For every book you purchase Oliver and his friends pledge to pick up a pound of trash in your honor. This is your opportunity to help protect our coastlines along the Gulf Coast, keeping our beaches safe and beautiful and our wildlife happy and healthy. Who is Oliver, you ask? Well, he's absolutely amazing! You really need to buy a book to get involved and find out more!... 

Below are some free downloadable activity sheets created for the book.

Cootie Catcher Sea Turtle Challenge Activity Page for Litter, Litter, Please Come Here

Be-A-MAZE-ing activity sheet for Litter, Litter, Please Come Here

No to littering! coloring sheet for Litter, Litter, Please Come Here

Scratching my head, trying to work out the kinks for the cootie catcher/sea turtle activity.....

Think I've got this thing figured out with a lot of help from kids who totally know their cootie catcher construction and games!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Clicking on the illustrations enlarge the images, much easier to see details. Click the links to go to Clean Horizons for more information about their environmental group and to purchase a book. You can also click on the activity pages to download them, print them out and enjoy!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Wrapping Up 2020, One Illustration At A Time

What can you say about 2020?  

It’s been no picnic, but we’ve tried making the best of what life has thrown our way this year. I’ve been grateful to be able to work from home and have some fun projects to wrap my mind around. 

Below are illustrations from Litter, Litter, Please Come Here by Jacqueline Bordeaux and Ryan Caver. This is a very fun, simple story with an empowering message for today's kids. “You can clean up your environment, a piece of litter at a time. It only takes one to to make a big impact.” When the book is published I'll post a link with more information.

Our beach friends make the trash a meal. Imagine how that makes them feel?

Litter, litter, everywhere. Litter, litter, please come here. 

Many call the beach their home. Fish that swim and crabs that roam.

Now back to that Picnic theme...

The last several years I’ve been illustrating various projects for Darling NYC. They always throw fun challenges my way. The videos below are for Pink & Pepper, two of five picnic themed ads to launch Morton Himalayan Pink Salt & McCormick Ground Pepper Shakers. All the creative, the animation, design, etc., is Darling. I drew the illustrations.

 Various illustrations from Pink & Pepper

So now you know, children’s book illustrators sometime do more than illustrate children’s books.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. 
And here’s hoping for a brighter and better 2021.

Monday, July 27, 2020

HEAR YE, Here's Ye Tiny Giant Free Downloadable Activities!

Tiny Giant Wreath Activity

Tiny Giant Wishes and Dreams Box Activity

Tiny Giant Bookmark Activity

Tiny Giant Poem and Link to Neil Bromhall's Acorn Video

Tiny Giant Arbor Day Jokes
Tiny Giant Digital Puzzle

One bright spot during this time has been working with my friend, Barb Ciletti, the author of The Tiny Giant. We've been putting our heads together (as much as you can put your heads together while social distancing) to come up with a variety of Free Downloadable Activities for you. Here's a few and you can find more on Schiffer Books Resources Page. I'll include that link once we've put everything together.

The Tiny Giant, Schiffer Books, coming September 2020

All activities vetted by actual curious, creative kids

School Library Journal, ...Tiny Giant is a charming and pretty addition to nature-focused collections.
Midwest Book Review, ...This rhythmic story of the life cycle of a mighty oak from a tiny acorn is sure to fill you with awe and appreciation.
Please click on each image for a larger view, to download an activity or to access a link with more information. For instance, the link to the puzzle image actually takes you to the digital puzzle (although it won't bring you back to my blog). The link under the poem activity takes you to Neil Bromhall's YouTube video. Try it, you'll like it.

Hope you're well and thank you for taking a look at my blog!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Oh, what a difference a virus makes!

Under the Sea, part of the Over/Under series
Family Tree (18"x 24")
 Puzzle Me This

Above are a couple of new illustrations for my art licensing agency. They start as ideas that will become puzzles, beach blankets, home decor, murals and more. It's a different process than illustrating picture books, but still relates to kids. I do have more books coming, but it's way too soon for show and tell. Click on each image for an expanded view.

Read Across America

NEA (National Educational Association) launched Read Across America to encourage children to read more books. This began in 1997 and is celebrated on or around March 2, Theodor Geisel's (Dr. Suess's) birthday. It's since expanded to a week long celebration hosted by schools, bookstores and libraries where local celebrities, public leaders, authors and illustrators visit and read with elementary school aged kids. 

I got to visit with kindergartners and first graders at Bauder Elementary in Fort Collins. The kids were wonderful and gifted me a signed copy (signed by them!) of one of my favorite picture books, Little Red Writing by Joan Holub, illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Read Across America / Dr Seuss Day, March 2 - 6, 2020
 We All Hunker Down at Home

Oh, what a difference a couple of weeks makes. Coronavirus came along and changed our world for awhile as we all hunker down and stay home. I'm lucky to have a home studio to work from. Self isolation is pretty much business as usual for book creators. We're mostly introverts, but still love connecting with kids in our community, sharing our books, visiting schools, museums, libraries, all closed for now.

But book creators are a resourceful bunch. If kids can't come to us we'll come to them, one way or another. Here's a great online resource: The Big List of Children's Book Creators Doing Read-Alouds and Activities - We Are Teachers.

Below is The Big Empty: Drone footage of Denver during coronavirus stay-at-home order by Guerilla Capturing. It was shot and edited by Blake Rubenstein with views of downtown Denver; RiNo, LoHi, Mile High Stadium, Denver Art Museum, among other landmarks. It was shot during lunch hours between Tuesday, March 24th - March 26, 2020. It's eerie watching empty Denver streets, but I feel it's a good reminder that we're all in this together and we should wash our hands.