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.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

US Forest Service Poster framed by a Colorado sunrise - I'm an early bird illustrator
In with the Old!

Here's one of the last illustrations completed in 2019 (so last decade!) which goes to press January 2020. This was such a fun project to research and illustrate. I'd love to have more jobs like this come along in this new decade.

The Ribbon, new story in the works
 Something New!

I'm collaborating on a new picture book. The working title is The Ribbon. So far I'm just playing around with different looks and exploring possibilities. The story is in flux as well as the illustrations. I don't feel I'm where I want to be yet, but you have to start someplace. Plus, turtles are fun to draw.

Download, print, color and laugh!
 Something Borrowed!

I borrowed these jokes from the folks who bring us Arbor Day. This fall I have a new book, The Tiny Giant coming out. The premise of the story shows how it takes one small thing to make a huge impact. We get the concept through watching the life cycle of a tiny acorn becoming a giant oak forest. I love to create activities that relate to the book. And kids love jokes, right?

Below is a partial cover reveal. The acquiring publisher, Schiffer Books, has been great to work with and is putting all the bells and whistles on the book cover and interior design and layout. You'll be seeing more throughout the year.
Partial cover reveal with a Colorado sunset in the background - gotta set the mood
Shhhh, Blue Beauty and her animals are trying to sleep!
And finally something Blue!

What's This Tail Saying? by Carolyn Combs, illustrated by Cathy Morrison
And I'm adding one last bittersweet announcement regarding my picture book coming out this Spring with Dawn Publications. I've been a huge fan of Dawn's creative nonfiction nature books long before I started working with them. This is our seventh book together and they have always been amazing to work with. Dawn has been acquired by Sourcebooks based in Chicago and is now part of their eXplore juvenile nonfiction imprint. You can find the acquisition details in this Publishers Weekly article. So on one hand I'm excited that Dawn Publications has found a new home with Sourcebooks. This should bring a wider audience to their books, continuing their mission of connecting children with nature. But on a personal note I'm going to miss working with the original folks who have always been so supportive and put their heart and soul into creating these fun nature titles.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. You can keep up with new images by following me on my Instagram account, @cathymorrisonillustrates. Also, clicking on an image will enlarge it for a better view and clicking on a link will give you more information.

Happy 2020.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Out of the Blue

Black and White Rough Sketch Concept No. 6
Full Color Illustration placed into InDesign Layout
A few more tweaks after gathering feedback from various forest service grassland experts, tribal nations, etc.
You know that expression, "out of the blue," when something unexpected happens? Well, that's how I felt about getting this U.S. Forest Service Poster commission. Much of my illustrations are for children's picture books, but recently I've been working on editorial projects which has been a nice, unexpected change.

Note Card Illustration for Colorado Country Life Magazine
Every so often I hear from one of my favorite clients, Colorado Country Life Magazine. We've been working together on several illustrations for seasonal themed note cards. One of them is the scarecrow illustration above. This time they asked if I could work on illustrations for the magazine! Absolutely, I loved illustrating the cover and interior art for Martin Mulcahey's legendary tales of buried treasures. Here's October's Magazine.

Front and Back Cover Wrap for What's This Tail Saying?
 And I'm excited about a new book coming out Spring 2020. What's This Tail Saying? is by Carolyn Combs and published by Dawn Publications.
Interior Illustration for What's This Tail Saying?
Illustrator interviews
Last but not least, I got to participate in two illustrator interviews.

Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant for Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and I sat down over coffee to talk about volunteering, illustration, and life. Here's the link to the interview for National Book Lovers Day. When somebody buys me a cup of coffee I'll go on and on.

One more interview, this time for Voyage Denver, a magazine celebrating artists and unique mom and pop shops in the creative field. Here's the link for that interview.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. You can click on the links for more information and the images to get a larger view, especially on the US Forest Service Poster which is BIG - 32"x 19"!
All the best,

Monday, July 1, 2019

Summertime Reading Beyond the Book

I love how museums and companies are thinking outside the binding to expand books way beyond their borders. As a volunteer for Fort Collins Museum of Discovery I've been able to share several of my creative nonfiction picture books through Storytime in the Dome.
Wild Ones: Observing City Critters by Carol Malnor

This program happens twice a month in the expansive 360° digital dome. The books always have a live narrator to keep it interactive for these young book lovers. The books are digitized with animated page turns and some include background sound effects! It's a fun, creative way to engage these young kids in reading. Afterwards we head down to the Learning Lab for a related craft.
If You Love Honey by Martha Sullivan
Here's a couple of the photos the Murray family sent me after reading If You Love Honey in the Dome. The girls created a bulletin board full of artwork, crafts and activities relating to the story, especially focusing on the honey bees. There's no limit to their imagination!

Over on the Farm by Marianne Berkes
Are you familiar with Ivy Kids Kits? These are monthly subscription boxes designed around a picture book. I've been in awe of this company for awhile. One day I was on their website and was surprised to learn they were featuring one of my books, Over on the Farm, for that month. (Seems the illustrator is always the last to know!) But it was a happy surprise and I was blown away by all the STEAM based activities created to enhance the book. Please check out more about their company at I love their mission and wish they had been around when my own kids were little.

And finally, here's some illustrations from a picture book I've been working on that's a little different for me. The publisher doesn't want me to talk about the book, but says I can show a few illustration samples. So here's my show-and-tell. It's been a fun project full of flowers, fairies and the moon.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. Click on the links for further information and the images for larger views.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Long and Short of It

Denver Children's Festival of Stories 2019
This year's Children's Festival of Stories was wonderful. I've put together a small collage to give you an idea of our day, or at least my little piece of it. Please click on the image which takes you to the Book Fest's Gallery to get the full picture, including story tellers, entertainers, books, book creators, food, (specifically Little Man Ice Cream!), music and the cutest kids ever! Thank you Second Star to the Right and Denverfcos for an amazing event.

Below is a free printable mask activity created for If A Mummy Could Talk. The kids at the book fest enjoyed cutting out and decorating their mask and I hope you will too.
 Cat Mummy Mask Activity

...As a valley becomes a forest from the efforts of just one.
Above are some illustrations from The Tiny Giant which comes out Fall 2020. This week I completed the illustrations and turned in all the artwork early! I can't tell you how good that feels. Now I just need to complete the illustrations for the picture book coming out Spring 2020. Such is the life of a children's book illustrator and I know somehow it's going to all work out.

Thanks so much for taking time to look at my blog. Click on the images for more information or a larger view.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The First Sign of Spring

Even through Colorado has many more snowy days ahead spring can't be far away. The first sign of spring for kids, their families and children's book creators is the Children's Festival of Stories in Denver. There's already a lot of planning and preparation going on behind the scenes. I look forward to seeing you there on March 23.
Click on the image to go the Children's Festival of Stories website

Above are some illustrations for The Tiny Giant. If you've been following my blog you've seen some of these images in different variations. This is a book I developed with a writer buddy and we've been revising and submitting for the past three years. Finally, it was picked up by a publisher so has new life. We couldn't be happier with the publisher and the new direction the book is taking. The release date is Fall 2020. The term, "Never Give Up!" comes to mind.
From the Sketchbook: Cathy Morrison
From The Sketchbook is a new series from The Children's Book Council. Illustrators share their creative process to provide context to their completed artwork for their picture books. This month they feature If A Mummy Could Talk, published by Arbordale Publishing, written by Rhonda Lucas Donald and illustrated by me!

Thank you for taking a look at my blog. You can click on the images for more information and a larger view.