Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hope everyone had a beautiful little holiday. Best wishes for the New Year 2009!

Snowy Snake Secrets

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Have you seen your first snowfall of the year yet? Ours was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and it is snowing lightly right now. First snows always feel special, don't they? Even for me, a "seasoned" New Englander. It always makes things a tiny bit enchanting (won't be saying that in March!)

I'm busy on projects over here, so I thought I'd post a sneak of the character concept painting I did of the slithery hero and spunky heroine from my new early-reader title for Scholastic (click on her to enlarge) It's top secret for now...hope you are warm and cozy and enjoying the season where you are <3

Meet Serif!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I don't think I've ever properly introduced my new coworker...

He's a 6 month old satin–black kitten with a small white star on his chest, and a keen eye for art. He crits my sketches, purrs nonstop and drinks my watercolor water when I'm not looking. He also keeps me on task. When I am honestly working, he sleeps like a baby; when I am fiddling around on the internet, he glares and meows. How DOES he know I'm on Facebook?

I named him Serif, Seri for short. He has a slightly too-long tail for the rest of him which is always curled upright, like the tiny thing on the end of a letter. I guess a "serif", in the typography sense, serves the purpose of readability –allowing letters to flow into words as you read them. I just thought they made them fancy. Serif has made my little life a lot more fancy. And he only drinks water out of glasses, not a bowl, which is much fancier.

Seri came from a local shelter, runt of the litter, but full of heart and gumption. He was the last to be taken home of his brothers and sisters (sad truth behind Emily's sad black-cat story?) Now I can't remember what this little world was like without him!

Today he was using my book dummy pages as a slip-and-slide using it as a landing strip on his crazed flight from the front door into the bedroom, screeching like a little owl. We make a good team. Most of the time he wants to cuddle and play, two things that are excellent for producing a painting. Together we are making some good art. Some sketches:



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I've been chasing this fashion/costume thing since I was a little is such an integral part of character designing for me. So while I work on books, in the after-hours, these "character girls" show up and I run with them. It is a treat to work this aspect into my books, when I 'm able to. I'd like to move in this direction independently and simultaneously someday soon. I'm making character sketches really while I let them dictate the tone, the costume, the era. I named her Holden. Something in her reminded me of an angsty female Holden Caulfield lost in a time of netted feather hairpieces and sailor bibs and bobs.

My Little Girl

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's out! My Little Girl, by Tim McGraw & Tom Douglas, is twirling around on bookstore shelves!

Hello Carmine!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hello! How are you today? It's almost dusk here. I have been away these past weeks, working on making my new apartment a home, befriending my new kitten, and working on picture books and some experimental pieces. And since I have last posted, Fall has come!

Fall is my favorite season, warm light inside, cool light outside. Have you ever taken a dusk-time walk? That is the best time to max out the cozy meter, you can peek in politely from your place on the sidewalk as you stroll, and see into warmly lit places throughout your neighborhood. When the sky reaches that deep inky indigo, it is so lovely to see warm orange window lights just pop pop pop out all over the places like little window constellations.

I digress, but I am totally infatuated with color right now. Dr. Ph Martin, thank you for your sumptuous bottles of it. Here is an experiment with them (and Photoshop, colored pencil and watercolor). Her name is Carmine, for my good luck color and for her nailpolish. Her painting soundtrack was the new Stars LP, Broken Social Scene's song 7/4 (Shoreline), and the Sound of Music soundtrack...Much of the initial vision I had for her was based on Brigadoon's costume design (1954 musical starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse- so good!)

New Places

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hi! I've been on hiatus due to vacation rolled into moving into a cozy new apartment, so life has kept me packing, moving, in canoes, hiking, seeing friends and fam., cleaning and scrubbing (not in that order) and far away from the computer. I'm even typing this remotely, because my internet hookup doesn't happen until tonight. Navigating room to room via little pathways between stuff. One of my big motivators for unpacking is the new studio company I've been dreaming of: a kitten (or 2!). Art and pictures soon. Hope all is well <3


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

This is Clare. She is a quick little study done in graphite and "special" watercolor, born of 2 recent and simultaneous infatuations:

The band, Clare and the Reasons, from Brooklyn, NY. Listen to the tracks "Pluto" (a song of condolence for the overthrown planet we used to know and love) and "Rodi". Be prepared for an entrance into a lovely little world. Plus, the lead singer spells her name the same way I do my middle name.

While I was listening to them, I was on the search for Dr. Martin's Concentrated Watercolor (it feels like a secret I've uncovered). Their saturation is delicious and their layering ability is so exciting. I can't wait to try it all over everything! Even ice-cream!

Summer's Long Long Days

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How are you doing? Faring well, hopefully? Summer in Massachusetts is in full swing, days are long and vacations have been firmed up for August. I'm excited to be headed for some cozy and beautiful New England locations far from the city and close to trees and ocean with some of my beloveds <3

After being scolded for leaving my little blog alone, I decided to come back and say hello. Most of my art is under "shhh" status with Candlewick Press for Grandma's Gloves, pubbing (!) in 2010, so I can't post it yet. But life has kept me busy- Sleepover #7 is in the works, moving, weddings, searching for a kitten (or 2!), shifts at the bookstore, and long summer days all over Cambridge and Somerville with my favorite walking partner. And I recently had a press photo shoot with the gifted and inspiring Rachel Hadiashar, of Merge Weddings. Check her work out!

Here is the end of a recent summer day : fellow Boston-based illustrators and buddies Jess Golden, Emily Goodale, and I (pubbing!) at Deep Ellum in Allston. I told them we needed "a little illustrator picture" and they humored me. So here we are, the three of us, Marc Simont groupies, discussing new picture book titles, and talking in strange accents (derived from Cute natives). Add Goodale and Golden blogs to your reading travels!

So, art is coming soon! Thanks to all for your thoughtful comments these past weeks :) Enjoy a long long summer day where you are.

Art Room

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Don't you feel that when it becomes warmer, events and deadlines and weddings and parties and people decide to speed up, and claim days as fast a they can before the cold weather is back again? Busy busy over here, but here is a sneak of Sleepover Squad #6 interior art, pubbing this October.

It was fun to imagine fall.

More Picture Book News!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Can you guess the subject of the SUPER SECRET book I've been working on since winter? Check out my desk. It's what it looked like as I completed my last painting. I had to use a LOT of cowboy hat referencing for this one. Hmm.....

The story is called My Little Girl, written by Tim McGraw, after his song, "My Little Girl" featured in the film, Flicka. It's about a daddy and his daughter, sharing a day together.

Though I never really gave country music much time on my iTunes, I made a Pandora station for just for Tim, to check out his sound. I did grow up surrounded by a love of old southern spirituals, and my mother was always crankin' up the Mary Chapin Carpenter, or playing her favorite folk on her Yamaha (a singer/songwriter herself!). So although country's roots and my roots might have shared familiar soil, I had to introduce myself. I admire the narrative spirit and innocence in that music's tradition. And I took a liking to McGraw's "Last Dollar"- the sweet little voices with their own twang at the very end of the song!

So, in the spirit of that song, my own blue grass collection) and some of my sunniest girlhood memories, I made a little book for Tim Mcgraw and his daughters. I really do hope they like it. It was my first book working in watercolor/digital composite, so I know now what I will change for my next book and such...a learning experience I am very thankful for.

So I tip my hat to Mr. McGraw. Look for My Little Girl on shelves Fall '08!

Picture Book News!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I signed on to do a picture book with Abrams Book For Young Readers, due out in 2009!

Erica Perl has written the tale, DOTTY, about imaginary friends (who I can't wait to begin imagining...and sketching!) This one, Dotty, is especially feisty. She describes the story as, "a testament to the importance of keeping your imagination as long as possible." I am whole-heartedly behind that philosophy, Erica.

Please check out her website. She is delightful, she wears chicken hats in interviews, and her books are so much fun. Thanks as well go to Chad Beckerman at Abrams. His book design blog is also extremely's a cool peek into the industry too. Art for this book will start in fall...I'll be sure to update you on DOTTY, so come back to visit.

Stay tuned for more secret revealing. It's HOT in Boston...crossing my fingers for a cold front and pa(i)nting, in the meantime.

Swords, Sultans, and Secrets

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oh so many posts to post! For now, I'll throw a current ROUGH sketch up there before I start on the final watercolor for the book cover. It's for book 2 of Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy with Little Brown. It's interesting to have to be emulating another artist's style for the watercolor technique. I'll post it when I'm done. It's fun to study someone's handiwork closely, and I will be studying his.

So here he is, a crazed sword wielding berber!

Meanwhile I am scanning my drawings for the final pages of the undercover picture book, which I got the OK to announce last week! And stay tuned for some news about another new picture book on the way this fall with Abrams. I have secrets to reveal, so stop back soon!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On the phone doodles... Art updates soon. Lots of projects on the way!

Olden Days

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another discovery from the basement (see below). I wouldn't have so much fun playing every day for work, if it weren't for these people- my Pocca and Pop pop. Here in our first house on the coast of CT, we grew up with my grandparents living upstairs. There were good times and hard times in this old weathered house, but I wouldn't have traded away any of what came along with them; singing old Southern rounds which Pocca taught us to sing together, sipping Coca Cola through straws, and inventing "pass around stories", which Pop Pop excelled at. Our grandparents had as much fun playing pretend as we did. I've got the umbrella; my sister, Christa, has my dad's shoes on (and the BEST expression); sister, Anna, is in her little eggshell-blue hoodie. Lots and lots of love from this front porch in CT, having a "grand ol' time"<3

Career Day

Friday, May 16, 2008

I've had a feeling I'd be doing this since I was about 5.

This was on the cover of my first "book". It was a book made in my free time, which we had tons of in first grade. I rallied my desk buddies to "publish" a picture book together. We fought over who would write it and who would "ileastratide" it. I had heard wild rumors of a machine in the teachers' coffee room that could PRINT. It was a magical publishing machine, and I implored the assistant to please make as many copies as possible of this story on her break, since this was a serious endeavor. She didn't seem excited by her ability to publish our book (make copies) and I honestly didn't understand why. What a bored grown up.

I remember getting them back feeling a little let down that they weren't bound with jackets, but I was still mighty satisfied with stapled packets. I have been on a literal mission since then. I found this last weekend, while visiting my family in CT, on a late night search for old forgotten treasures in the basement. Look at that crazy Ed up there! He must be furious about being sent to his room, he looks downright maniacal. Ok, off to make some "dener."

A Quick Bookstore Moment

Monday, May 5, 2008

I am sitting in a place that serves as a daycare for stories. Loud children come in, watched by the nannie, not always paying good attention. But we care for the stories who wait here. Spoiled rotten stories, selfish stories, good natured stories and ugly fat stories too. Stories wait here, loudly, looking at us behind the desk in face-out attention. They are waiting to go home. Characters in shoes, on rooftops, in second grade, all asleep until fingers pull them from between their alphabetical siblings and slightly tear their jackets. Rung up, into the bag and home. And then it's flick flick flick stop motion color or black and white, whichever the little mind chooses for the film. And then one day it is done and the spine cracks back, pages fall, book shuts but never as flat and solidly square as before the adventure began. There is a sigh of relief from the book easing back from the child's use, and from the child leaving that world finished for a time. Sometimes the sigh is tinged with longing. For books and children are always teasing each other.

Sweet and Sour sun

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I am sitting at my desk looking out the window, while the scanner whirs below, scanning spread sketches for a picture book. I was just thinking how luxurious light really is, and how it makes simple things like window sills look opulent. My little space has two windows which I am very grateful for! Usually, I am complaining that Massachusetts never seems to get the same sweet and sour sun you see at the end of the day, that such sunlight is only found in Connecticut. But here I am working away in a pearl colored room (a messy) pearl colored room and I feel rich in light, right here.

Here is a little picture of that sun I tried to capture when I was home with my family in Connecticut, a few weeks back. This is ultimate sweet and sour light, especially falling on my Nana's things we took into the house when she passed away.

Hello, Onyx

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

And here is Onyx. She came out of the same sketch session. I'm shooting these out between assignments and minutes when I can. It's always my busiest times when I need need need to draw. Hope you are well, and a Happy Birthday to Kate <3

Meeting Provence

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm going to start scanning recent sketch pieces to get some personal work up here... the spontaneous stuff that doesn't always end up in the portfolio.

When I am in the groove, it's always a surprise when I flip to a new sheet of paper and someone abruptly shows up on it! This is the most delicious part of creating for me, feeling like a little channel for people and ideas from other places and times to just filter right through. And then I meet them! Sometimes we make friends right away, sometimes things need to be worked out a little longer. The journey of a character is something very special to me, from conception to final paint.

I wonder what Provence is up to. I imagined she probably just got back from a hazy spring walk and is looking for a glass of water, but is surprised to be met by visitors in their carriages at the front of her house. Duh. Duh. DUHHHH. What's next?

Ok... returning to Earth...need to answer some emails :)

Springtime In the Portfolio

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Before I start my painting today, I wanted to share Emily and her fat old cat, Mimo. They are new to my online portfolio (the latest from a batch of Sleepover book 5).

I've added a few new things to the portfolio too, did some spring cleaning (a GIANT thank you to Anthony at Shannon Associates). Things are growing, with the production of a lot of work for new assignments, a ton of learning and experimenting, and differing art direction from piece to piece.

Recently, each addition to my portfolio seems to be an extension of a developing style, based on the need for a particular voice for each story. From Pony the Hat, to the Riven Kingdom cover for Little Brown, to the cover for Scholastic's Sunny Holiday, they all seem to be working in dispersing directions. Perhaps they are just new little buds all growing toward the same light -time will tell. I am excited to watch where I am directed to next, without holding any reins too tightly. It is exhilarating for me to work in a range of voices. I love to keep all of it pliable and fertile; keeping style a living and breathing thing of its own.

I wonder if this piece today will give me another little clue as to where this little garden is growing to.

"Mornin', Cowboys!"

Monday, March 10, 2008

A few weeks ago, illustrator bud, Emily Goodale, and I decided to each make our own secret version of the plucky little girl named "Pony the Hat" from Erich Kastner's translated story, Emil and the Detectives. There is absolutely no explanation for her nickname throughout the text. Pony was so genuine and silly we couldn't contain our love for her, so we both decided to draw her.

For most of the story, Pony exists on a bicycle in a gang of boy sleuths, assisting them in tracking down a thief in the middle of Berlin (pre-WWII) She is the cousin of the protagonist, Emil Tabletoe. As a relayer of information between a worried grandmother and Emil's gang, Pony rides her nickel-plated bike to and from the city, thermoses of coffee and treats in tow for her boys. An essential part of the caper, she is often exclaiming things like, "Well, there's nothing like having a woman around the house." Keep in mind she is probably no older than 10 and likes wrestling more than her cousin.

We JUST revealed them to each other last week and decided to make a simultaneous post tonight for everyone to see! So here is my Pony, and here is Emily's.

P.S. Neither of us spoke of using a yellow dress or even hair and look what happened!

Post-Bunny Party Post

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hi there. So the cake came out well (look at the face slice!) Everyone really got into the theme with things brought and given and eaten. But really, the bunny to inspire it all was Marshmallow.

There were interesting gifts, including a tiny bunny in a cage from friend Emily, the book Prairie Girl's Guide to Life- Pioneer Project for the Modern Girl from sister Christa (right up our Frontier-loving alley) and many other thoughtful things. Look at the picture of the bag my friend Lee made for me. He put crazy leaping bunnies all over it and included a tag with the best rabbit story he wrote as well. Thanks everyone :)

On the work front: working on updating the portfolio again, working on new book covers, picture books. Had a great meeting at Candlewick this morning to go over my dummy. The book arrives in 2010!

Busy Bunny

Monday, February 25, 2008

I am busy with multiple books, covers, paintings, and work! I am still alive!

On the personal front, I just had a birthday in the midst of it all. For an end-of-the-week fiesta, my roomate and I are setting out to make this very famous (at Curious George bookstore at least) bunny into a birthday cake.

The book "Marshmallow", published by Harper Collins, is a classic re-release of an old Caldecott honor book, first published in 1942. If any of you are unfamiliar with Clare Turlay Newberry's illustrations, take a moment to find her images and hunt her books down (though most are out of print). The moment you open "Marshmallow" you will know why I immediately set my heart on making the protagonist into a cake! Her charcoal bunny gestures are flawless and downright yummy.

Onward with work and life, photos to come!

P.S. Does anyone know where I can buy pink dusty sugar to brush into the ears and nose?

Portfolio Makeover 2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008

It has been so busy and continues to be! One of the exciting things that is underway is my portfolio makeover (big thank you's to Shannon folks!) The entire thing has been updated, including art, bio, art order, and deleted old college work. I am missing 4-5 newest pieces, which will go up this week, but check it out if you are strolling through the web: Shannon Associates

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Emily McDougal

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I love this time of year. It's a flip-in-your-stomach/fresh-start-feeling. We are back to work, there's hope on the horizon, it's a new year to get to know. I feel like I might be good friends with 2008. My room and workspace has been changed for the better and I'm readying it for the picture book ahead! I hope you've been settling into the new year too (and depending on your location, maybe a bit of this winter thaw).

Here is a piece of the cover I am working on for the Sleepover Squad, I zoomed in and pulled Emily McDougal (of the Squad) and her sleeping bag out before I polish and shine and flatten the whole piece, squeaky clean. I liked Emily here in her gritty green and red so I scooped her out for you. Till next time :)