Monday, December 7, 2009

***Christmas Designs Past***

Note: Link from Illustration Friday "Crunchy" was changed but may still be working. Sorry for word change.

A few years ago, before blogging, I created a Christmas pageant set that I often refer to when working on new projects so I thought I would post a few pictures.

It’s become very popular to use Styrofoam and insulation foam board for stage props and backdrops which is what I used here, however, I want to strongly caution anyone who cuts, sands or burns these products. The dust and fumes are a HEALTH HAZARD! Seek professional advice and the proper breathing and eye protections in a workspace away from other people. These particles are as fine as power and will DAMAGE the eyes and lungs. Simple goggles and dust mask will NOT protect you. Do NOT include children or onlookers during this process, vacuum frequently (shopvac) and wipe down the surfaces. Include others in the fun afterwards. Safety first.

To keep the materials simple, light-weight and manageable, I chose two-inch blue-insulation foamboard that is easily found at most hardware stores like Lowes. I carved (drywall knife), sanded, stacked, glued, painted, and little 5’ft me could move a 4’x 8’ piece all by myself.

After shaping the foam, the seams and imperfections were taped and/or filled with putty. The surface was primed with acrylic gesso. The gesso was watered down slightly to go on easier. (Gesso is great to use as a primer on cardboard boxes for other children’s projects.)
This is my daughter , Katelynn.

To keep the costs down, I used one gallon of white acrylic house paint and requested a pint of the deepest blue, red, yellow, and brown at the hardware store paint center. Rather than worrying about all the colors in between, I used small amounts of New Temp Acrylic 100% pure permanent artists color (same primary colors, plus black) to make my secondary colors, unless I needed large amounts like in the case of my pint of brown. For green, If I were to mix yellow and blue house paint, I would get a dull sick-looking green because house paint has too much white base. But if I added a tiny dab of pure blue to yellow house paint, I would get a rich green color that could be toned down with the white house paint and water (add more yellow again for a warmer light green). I had a dozen or so disposable plastic sandwich containers (with lids) for my palette. Also, I worked chalk pastels into the surface as I painted: yellow chalk for quick highlights, and light blue or purple for cool shadows. The powdery chalk quickly tinted the paint as I applied it. Later I outlined everything with permanent black makers.

The Manger was an opportunity to solve a childhood dilemma. I always hated the fact that the star of play couldn’t be seen by the audience while He lay in the manger, except by tall grownups. I knew how to solve that 2-dementionally, but could I build it? Because the whole idea of the stage was based on a flat story book come to life, I built the manger as an optical illusion cut-out. It might look strange for a classic set, but it worked here. Even I could see the top of baby Jesus’ head as I sat with audience.

Later I needed something to blend the set with stage floor. A natural substance like straw would have been out of place. Plus the word straw made the pastor cringe. However, paper, color paper, lots of shredded color paper would do quite nicely.

But what sort of costumes do little 3-dementional children wear in a 2-dementional world do you ask?

It’s fun to be given the creative freedom to design.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blur *IF

I don't know if the whimsy lettering counts toward the word "blur", but the premise of "confusion" in the letter to Santa Claus lends well to the way that he brings things into focus.

“All I want for Christmas is to nreal how to reab!”

“Can you reab what I reab?”, is an inspirational holiday poem that resonates with struggling readers, teachers and parents alike as it follows one boy’s magical journey into literacy. The poem is published in Reading Today and in the book, Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press). The author, Madeleine M. Kuderick, has also been invited to present a live reading at the International Reading Association’s Southeast Regional Conference: Liberty through Literacy, November 2009.

I too was inspired by Madeleine’s poem and created this illustration to celebrate the event. Sometimes stories like these take on a life of their own, therefore I thought a picture book moment would capture her words nicely. Or perhaps release the words, finally, as would be the Christmas wish of this special boy.

To read more, go to my links to visit Madeleine's website.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Peek at Christmas Card

I've been busy in the last week working on a special Christmas postcard/poster for an event that I'll talk more about later.

The finished Koi pond is now on my webpage if anyone would like to see the final. I had a great time working on it and made some major breakthroughs with Corel Painter to save some time.

I'll post again soon.

Hope you all had a safe Halloween.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pattern *IF

Work in Progress:

I’ve been working on this all day. I actually went back and redrew the scales because the pattern was off. It’s been much easier to digitally paint over the pencil drawing since fixing it. I haven’t added the final texture yet. So far this image is much brighter than my last on because I’m pulling more pure color like when use real color pencils. So far I’m pretty pleased. Hope you like it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Welcome! My New Website is Up.

What an appropriate word challenge for Illustrator Friday.
Please stop by my new website and visit awhile.
And as I mentioned before, don’t let that long-eared critter concern you.
He’s rather harmless.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Strong *IF

Strength of Character.
This piece is much darker in color and in mood from most of my work. I was trying something different, perhaps because the Halloween is around the corner. A lot of stuff out there for kids is more edgy so I thought I’d try something that didn’t feel like Disney. It’s probably not a strong piece and feels more like an underpainting, but sometimes I like the unfinished look.
Hope you like it.

My new website is up! I was able to keep the rollover feature (I hope that's working for everyone.) I’ll be adding more to my Digital Portfolio soon so come back and visit.

Enjoy and don’t worry about that long-eared woodland critter. I’m pretty sure he can’t hop over your fire wall.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Pinocchio is a cautionary tale all around.

I’m a little hesitant to post my progress of the illo. I took a break from it while working on the new website design. I’ve reworked the cricket. The first one was a little creepy. I’m worried that Jiminy is looking a bit roach like. But crickets are more often black, although mt dad fished with tan ones. Disney’s cricket has a greenish face…that’s a grasshopper to me. Also I need to be careful of the line quality of the cricket compared to the line on Pinocchio. The line work on him is softer, although that may change as a rework the color. I guess an image looking overworked isn’t just reserved for real media.

I must proceed with caution.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I’m becoming impatient about getting my new website up and running so I thought I would appease myself by posting a little tidbit that I plan to incorporate. I think I must have a sweet tooth. My daughter thinks we should go out for ice cream. I know what I want with my ice cream, Yum

High among the leaves
Bad ideas ripen well
Ready to hit me.

Grounded ideas
Make spoiled imagination
Taste better than pie.


Friday, July 31, 2009


I’m modifying more than just the way I paint from traditional to digital. I need to modify my website. I’m thinking about dropping all the textures, colors, old images… (of my current site) and making a more streamline site with some new work, a section for traditional work and break down into quick categories. What do you think about a simple site like this? I need to change my type font too. I started off with Papyrus then discovered how over used it is. I’m more into images than type so I don’t focus enough of titles.
I will be posting a “modified” image of Pinocchio soon. I sort of surprised myself. I look forward to sharing it.

Any comments?

I plan to keep the rollover feature and add title and comments about each image as needed. I could keep the slides feature too.

Monday, July 27, 2009

IDLE *IF - work in progress

Poor Pinocchio had more than idle dreams.

I think I know how he feels.

Work in progress *
This is a work-in-progress for my digital media portfolio. There is no time to day dream about where this new media style might take me. I’m currently working on different layers and plan to glaze in more color. We’ll see how it goes.
The image in my head is still a bit hazy, but I think that’s only because the fairy dust keeps getting in my eyes. She just won’t sit still long enough to get a proper pose. :)(hee)

Friday, July 17, 2009


I think couple number 3# has it. Wish I could bust a move like that.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The transition from real media to digital is really picking up pace.
You might remember a previous digital painting with these characters. I wasn’t completely happy with my first attempt. The image over all was too dark and I didn’t care much for the black outlines. So I went back to the original sketch, zoomed in, and began painting in layers and adding texture.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


The mysterious land of digital painting is beginning to unfold. I’ve had a personal goal of recreating my mixed-media painting technique with Corel Painter X’s awesome digital tools. I think I’m getting pretty darn close. Can you tell which one is “fully digital”? I didn’t even use the clone tool, just tracingpaper. The biggest clue is the yellow light source in the upper corner image. For which I will reveal that sometimes yellow color pencil will scan more intensely than intended because of its translucent quality when light bounces around the scanner (hint). I could still use a little more contrast and warm light in the lower dominate image, but I plan go back and rework it more because I haven’t collapsed the layers yet (hint).
I just learned this THIS week. Cooooool…Icy cool . (happy dance)

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Adapting to new situations isn’t always easy. In the story, the little girl is reflecting upon the words of someone close to her heart. I can’t say more than that or I’ll give away too much.

I’m still adapting to digital painting. So far I really like the line and hope to come up with a color wash technique that complements the pencil without the rest of the image falling flat.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Not cracking up yet.

I’m still working out the bugs with digital painting. This is just a zoom in from the “Many Voices” poster. I like some of the qualities of the image, but it needs a bit more polishing. The original sketch is scanned, but most of the digital color is too loose. Currently I’m evaluating whether or not I should draw directly into the computer and am still learning all I can about Corel Painter. Eventually, I do see myself working digitally, but this transition phase feels like it’s putting my back at the beginning. Though, the feeling may not last long.

I would love to get comments from other artists or blog sites about artists who have made this transition or perhaps still prefer to scan sketches but finish a piece digitally.

Hope you all out there had a safe Memorial day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Although the manuscript for this story needs more work, I think the text for the little girl’s thoughts works well for this week's theme.

“I think the Emperor is smart already.
There is nothing in his cup, and that’s alright by him.”

In the story, the Emperor gains confidence through the help of his little daughter.
Perhaps hierarchy has more to do with the way we perceive ourselves than the position we hold.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Is it possible to shift gears and start creating my artwork digitally after everything I’ve put into my traditional artwork?

I started off this piece on paper, gouache, and color pencils like usual, but it wasn’t the image in my head. The theme for the image is “Many Voices”. How appropriate because the voice in my head kept telling me that the picture was all wrong. I abandoned the paper, turned to the dark ominous screen on my desk, and wondered if the image needed another path. I scanned the rough sketch and began to practice different brushes in Painter, a computer art program. It would only be my second attempt to complete a picture this way. Would I run out of time before the deadline? After several redoes it has come to this. The warm sepia undertones provided the foundation, waves of color kept me guessing, and a little mouse with a shushing finger to his mouth told me it was alright for the many voices to stop.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Define: suspense or wavering, as between rest and motion or two phases of motion: the poise of the tides.

Poised or stuck! I’m working out some issues with an illustration I’m trying in Painter. Plus I thought the dragon looks more poised than I feel at the moment. Awhile back I posted my first digital illo. I felt the line was too dark before so I’m going lighter. Plus I really love sepia! I’m always trying to learn something new. I wonder where this look might take me and should I pursue it?

Friday, March 20, 2009


Is someone feeling a little left out today, less than a part of something bigger, a self proclaimed minus one equals Mr. Zero…

No, no! Take a step back. You are no Goose Egg!
You are a Bunny, unique in many ways. Do not be so hard on yourself. For one reason, EVERYONE, not just little bunnies (which adds up to a lot), have felt exactly the same way; not just today. And if everybody, including little bunnies (which is more than one bunny can count), would subtract all those days of feeling the same way. Then perhaps, Little Bunny, you are not so alone.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Little boys are instinctively creative, profoundly noisy, musically inclined with ordinary objects, quite proficient in provoking responses, and clever enough to convince the world that they can’t help themselves because… it is just instinct.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Tango in the Tall Grass: ZOOFARI 2007
There was a night of celebration at the 2007 Santa Ana Zoo Gala in California to raise money for the Giant Anteater Exhibit. It must have been a great party because even the ants didn’t mind tangoing in the tall grass.

This was the cover art for the event’s promotion and invitations. Joyce Glazier was a pleasure to work for. If you are ever in the area you should definitely stop in to visit the animals. You never know what might happen if lighting is just right, and you start humming a few bars of a familiar tune!

Friday, February 6, 2009


The Adventures of Mick McTime

This is a silly story I tried to write a few years ago. I just need to go back, in time, and condense the text more; however, the illos were fun.

Mick is boy who uses his fantastic, time-saving time machine in battle between goodies and evil. In other words, it's taking too long for mom's cookies to get done baking. He's convinced that his machine works because, instantly, there is mom with a plate of hot cookies and milk. Next during Mick's imaginary play, he decides to speed up dad's work day and is further convinced when dad suddenly walks through the front door. He's a genius! Although, unfortunate for us all, something happens to poor Mick's, most, incredible invention of all time.

And therefore I have run out of time and must bid you farewell until next time.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Who doesn’t like to share their climbing tree. Although, whose tree is it?

I drew this image years ago for a picture book class assignment. It’s nice to go back and look at earlier work. I believe I used turpentine to affect the texture of the paper and acrylic as the underpainting before adding color pencil. Later on I switched to gouache and no longer need the turp.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Welcome to my new studio! We’ve been in our new house for a year now and I’m loving the space and natural light. On the far wall I made foam and cloth panels to post my sketches and final art. There is enough room to hang 16+ pages of a picture book.
Most of my sketches are scanned and altered on my computer using Photoshop or Painter.

Monday, January 19, 2009


There are all kinds of color challenges when dealing with sequential artwork in picture books. Hopefully the pale cool tones of the bedtime scene hold enough contrast to the warmer tones of the daytime scene. In THE WARMEST PLACE OF ALL, (coming out fall 2009) The text plays with the idea of being cold, warm, then cold again before finding the warmest place of all. When developing the characters and page layout I also made plans for warm/cool color tone changes. You can find the first page of the book on my website. I tried to show a warm sunset without losing the cold feeling of the snow. Although most of my art is very vibrant I’m planning a paler palette for the book I’m currently working on. There is something about pale colors that make images more intimate and create atmosphere. I hope to explore this idea more in my artwork.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Contained *IF

The poor emperor is trying to contain his true feelings.

This spread is from THE EMPEROR’S NEW GIFT. Throughout the story, little cutouts reveal portions of the action contained behind a thin color film. The reader can see through the veil, but not everything is important to the main character, the little girl. The book’s design/concept is just as important to the story as the text. Whether or not the story is successful, I’m very pleased with my experiment between image and text. In the end the emperor breaks through the boundaries of his viewpoint and joins the girl, his daughter, on her colorful side.