Love and Snow Come to You!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


A blizzard is coming tonight and it's almost Christmas. I feel grateful for the warmth of my home on a day like today, and wish warmth and goodness to you too. I can't believe how fast this year just flew.

Here is a wintery spread from Dotty (done and released Fall 2010!): Ida and her friend Katya are headed to school in a snow storm, on one of those winter mornings when the sky looks pink-grey and exciting, because a sky like that usually means early school closing! Poor lumpy Dotty is trying to keep up and slightly failing.

Have a beautiful holiday and see you in the New Year!

Woke up to...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


SNOW today! And here is a picture of the little diner below us, the old sign is hiding between branches. At the bottom of the sign it just says, "EAT". Love it. Winter's here.

Winter Work

Tuesday, December 8, 2009



Helloooo out there! How are you?...I regret I cannot share any of the work from the 2 completed picture books yet or the Audrey one (almost done!) so here is a personal sketch. I think her name is Chloë and she should be wearing peacock blue. One thing I can't wait to do, when the work is done: WRITE stories!

P.S. Music is my fuel for every single painting. Any audio suggestions are welcome, what are you listening to?

Sweets

Friday, November 20, 2009

When you're on a deadline (I'm a crazed picture book machine right now) you have to appreciate the little breaks and indulgences sweet enough to be a break but not so sweet you lose your stamina. Like jogging in place while you run a marathon.

Below are mine from last week:

Cat










Couture










Cannoli




What are your sweets?

Monte Carlo Baby

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Putting the finishing touches on the Audrey book and realized I needed a little 1940's swanky film-set guy in the background of one of the spreads where Audrey's filming "Monte Carlo Baby". So I scribbled him in and here he is freshly scanned. Looks like he might break into a little Astaire soft-shoe and/or vocal number . Are those high-waisted pants or WHAT?

This one goes out to my kid brother.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read All About Them!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


While I'm working, I thought I'd point your attention to some fancy interviews:

Art director/designer/superman at Abrams, Chad Beckerman (also my swell art director on DOTTY) was just interviewed about his job as a book designer, including some of his well-known covers. Check it out! His Mishaps and Misadventures blog is also very informative, revealing a lot of the super secret behind-the- scenes process for the books he's worked on.

Also in news:

Today author and illustrator, Grace Lin, wrote up a great interview of the lovely staff at the close-to-my-heart indie bookstore, Curious George ! If you ever find yourself on the Red Line T one day, take it to the Harvard stop and visit the shop. As soon as you pop out of the T, you'll glance across the street and see cheery windows adorned in children's books and toys. Everything they say in that interview is true: they are expert and wildly learn-ed bookpeople, and they are passionate about which book they put into your hands. Michelle, GM, can make amazing pom pom Mo Willems pigeons (see above). They all are also very silly, which is very important.

I worked at Curious G for 3 years until freelance became too busy. I'm rusty on my book inventory now, but I still know where on the shelves Corduroy and Eloise live. I learned so much during my time there and also met my illustrator buds, Emily and Jess. Now, I like to pop in for much relished visits. Wishing the lovely ladies (and gentlemen) of the "hut" continued success-XO

Deadlines Taste Like Sushi

Friday, November 6, 2009


Deadlines, oh deadlines!...yum, deadlines taste like salmon maki.

I've been pretty good about making dinner during this past month of deadlines because I really love to cook-it's a creative release! Here's one deadline-related recipe I recently tried (Tip: I used diced tomatoes instead of Audrey's preferred romas, so add a cup of water). Still, no matter how you plan your time, you can't avoid those last c-r-a-z-y weeks: solid days/nights of PJ's, buried painting desk, teetering piles of sketches and reference, REALLY bad hair days, missed phone calls (eek– sorry!), anything and everything playing in the background as you've worn out your music (Golden Girls marathons, thanks to Jess) and SUSHI NIGHTS! (from Beni, down the street) I can take the back road behind my house right there...jacket and boots over pj's...no one knows, right?

When I return, I'll reveal some interiors for DOTTY! Be well– See you soon!

*Many thanks to my support, Matt P., who doesn't mind picking up the sushi and looking at my bizarre hairstyles, and to my understanding friends and family and loyal feline.

Pete and Repeat, In the City

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

-Another teaser from DOTTY: the imaginary-friend-mini-Lochnesses (in mobile fish tanks), Pete and Repeat. They belong to Max, the adventurous newspaper-capped explorer in Ida's class. Feverishly finishing two titles, stories that I adore and have enjoyed every minute making pictures for.

I arrived home at 3 this morning (yikes!) from a little book trip to New York where I attended The 2009 Original Art Show reception at the Society of Illustrators. It was great to see the walls decked with beautiful originals from this past year's published books and say hello to illustrator and publishing buddies old and new (special congrats to Scott, Dan, Lauren and to Brian for the silver medal for his exquisite Moonshot!) The show is up until November 25th, and if you're into the art of the picture book, it's always worth a trip.

It was a treat to hear Mr. Chris Van Allsburg speak on accepting his lifetime achievement award too. He mentioned The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, which forever changed the way I looked at picture books, even as a child, and helped me along my career path (to be an "ileastratider"). I appreciated his thoughts on "quietness" in children's books, and about bookmaking with for an ageless audience. I remember shutting his hardcovers, decked out in my best hot-green slouch socks and side ponytail circa 1989, and knowing I had to make books. I was in second grade and I had no idea how I might get there, but I hoped I would.

On my way out of the show last night, I even mumbled a spectacularly awkward sentence his way, thanking him for his inspiration, and received a "good luck" from him in return! It was also special to be there when Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) was awarded posthumously and hear a bit about his life and amazing bookmaking career. Big titles and big dreams in a very little gallery and in little books for that matter. I think I will always be in love with picture books.

Now we're back home in our small city, and it's back to work. Hope all is well ♥

Meeting Audrey

Thursday, October 8, 2009


While working on the book for Audrey, I've been lucky enough to get to research her dreamy era for cues on dresses, buildings, streetcars, hats and important places like the old Fulton Theater in New York where she first performed as "Gigi" and made her American debut. (Can you hear me squealing in delight?)

Really though, what I've most enjoyed were the surprise little things I've found along with the nuts-and-bolts research...really beautiful and quiet moments in movies and interviews that let me peek into her heart and not just her life's timeline. As an added bonus in making biographical art, I feel I have made a dear new friend. Audrey did not have an easy life by any means, but seemed to glean joy from most any circumstance (which is not always easy!) making her luminous. I especially love one biographer's (Pamela Clarke Keogh) take on Audrey's lifestyle, "This decision to live in joy takes moral courage, and is, ultimately, one of the truest expressions of style." ♥

If you have 5 minutes to spend with Audrey, watch this video from behind-the-scenes of one of her last efforts, an Emmy-winning PBS series, "Gardens of the World". Make sure you watch it through until the very very end! Enjoy.

Gertie

Thursday, October 1, 2009



Here's one of the imaginary friends from the cast of DOTTY. She is an especially elusive and bashful one...you'll have to read the book next year to meet (and find!) her.

Are you enjoying fall? I am hoping for a chance between life to somehow go apple picking.

For me, colder weather is jazz-flavored, and for some reason, so is this particular book. So I suppose it is perfectly perfect to be working on it while the leaves turn. I usually break out the Django, but tonight it's Marian McPartland. Ask me what song feels most like picture books and city lights in the fall and I will tell you this particular version of A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.

Corny & Cornelia In the Wild!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


My art school roommate, Minty, found this today in her classroom out in California and took a picture. I wasn't even sure of the pub. date exactly, so it was a surprise! Thanks Minty! So here is book 1 in the series in its intended habitat: SCHOOL. This is a book club series by Pam Munoz Ryan. Final art for book 2 in this series, "Cornelia and the Show-and-Tell Showdown" is due tomorrow, and since early readers are usually double the amount of spreads that picture books are, I've been in the company of pet snakes, bullies, and the cheeky Cornelia for quite some time. Art to come (or TK in pub. lingo!)

"No," answered the lady. "I have no information about a crocodile wearing a red scarf."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Yikes! Has it almost been a month since we last? Time is marching on, so are projects and unpacking and assembling and painting. Everything is still in brilliant boxy shambles over here (at least the art desks are set up) but nothing nice enough to post yet. The book projects are chugging along too. Since everything is either secret or messy, I will post my current picture book inspirations (and a picture of Seri honestly sleeping on some of them!)


I was stuck on a few spreads, so I was compelled to make a run to Curious George for a badly needed picture book fix with Jess last week. I was especially looking for ones I hadn't read since I was small, like Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. When you crack open a book you haven't looked at since age 7, it's like time travel. Remember how it felt to literally be a part of the story as the pages turned? Renewing this feeling and keeping it with me as I work helps me along on my own books. So here are some of my recent jump-starters:


Bernard Waber, and his Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (*blog title quote, picture)
Tomi Ungerer, especially in Crictor
Marc Simont à la The Philharmonic Gets Dressed
Ludwig Bemelmans the great and his lovely Madeline
M. Sasek in his This Is (Ireland, New York, London...) books

...back to the classics. Oh and I have just found this new little dress. It also seems to time travel a bit.

Giant Things...Part I: Farewell, Davis Square

Friday, August 7, 2009

Old, rusty mailbox...to a new shiny loft!
So, in a previous post I mentioned how life is "giant" right now, and have been slow to blog accordingly. I'm moving (tomorrow!!) into our new home, a magical converted gear factory loft outside of Boston. We will be building an art studio on the left against some of those huge windows...so excited! Hopefully, I'll be up and running soon (and painting). I think crazy Seri will have fun Slip-and-Sliding down that hallway. Back to packing up and moving on, and farewell to my beloved Davis Square, Somerville ♥

DOTTY!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mr. Chad Beckerman, my designer/art director at Abrams (also responsible for designing the sensational "Wimpy Kid" books, among many others) has just posted on his blog about the makings of DOTTY, picture book in progress. Go here to check out some of my preliminary sketches, behind the scenes with the author, Erica Perl, and of course some very official webchat sketch meeting snapshots...oh dear. As you can see from the post it took months of painstaking research and careful study on the merits of imaginary friends. Final art is in progress, stop back soon to sneak a peek! (Above is the final character color study)

"It's not smart to be mean to a reptile"-Cornelia

Friday, July 10, 2009

Here is Cornelia, very angered by an off-screen bully, Jason, who happens to be taunting her pet snake, Corny, during Show-and-Tell. She's pretty miffed. I wished there were boots like that in real world, so I just painted them onto her. Actually, my designer at Scholastic remarked that she owns a pair just like that and was wearing them the day she brought the first cover to the meeting! So I carried them over from book 1. This is the cover art for book 2 concerning the Corny and Cornelia capers, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, published by Scholastic, 2010.

Happy Friday ♥

Up Close and Purrrrrrrsonal

Tuesday, June 16, 2009



Life is giant and and busy and happening all at once over here.. and there is all the book work in between too. Wish I could post what I've been painting! In the meantime look at this kitty...

Capucine the Great!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Here is a sample I recently finished for a book that never made it off the ground (click to enlarge). The authorless tale would have starred the brilliant Capucine. Capucine is a real girl, living in France. Her adventures have been caught on tape by her mother (who has also lovingly subtitled them into English!) The movie "Fooling the Toothfairy" (the subject of my sample) concerns "La Petite Souris (the French toothfairy, or "The Little Mouse!) and Capu's schemes to score an under-the-pillow "cadeau". Sadly, the project was cut short, but I believe Capucine has only just begun! Already an overseas Vimeo phenomenon, she is only 4 and has started her own little Edurelief fund for education in Mongolia. Be sure to check out her awesome fund boutique



Most importantly, I am indebted to Miss Capucine for her charm. When I was sent the assignment, and "met" Capucine, I fell in love! She is a real kid, with honest-to-goodness bedhead and a snaggly smile and grand plans, the kind that good stories write themselves around. In what can at times be a market populated by contrived children's characters, Capucine was a little ray of sun for me. Maybe someday she'll have a book. So merci to Capu for your sunshine, and merci beaucoup to her mother, Anne, for capturing it! Make sure you watch all of her videos. I highly recommend, "Once Upon a Time"...but beware the "crocodeeeeeel" and the "hippopotame" (which, by the way, you can buy on a t-shirt at her boutique!)

Maud Monday

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's a Monday night, and I haven't posted in quite some time. Well, I'm in a bit of a tussle with a headcold (I thought I had properly won last week, but it's back for round 2, so I'm back to the Airborne!) but nonetheless life has been productive somehow, even with frequent escapes into all this unbelievable sunshine in Boston.

In the middle of what is now my final lap on my Candlewick book (due out in 2010!) I had a spare moment to doodle, and here is Maud. Isn't Maud such a funny old name? I love it, it looks like the color mauve in my mind, and it tastes like raspberry ice-cream (the cold medicine is definitely getting to me!)


Maud's meandering soundtrack:

Philip Glass on Pandora (what a station!)
Claude Debussy: "Claire de Lune"
Ennio Morricone +Yo-Yo Ma: "Main Theme From Marco Polo"
The Most Serene Republic: "The Men Who Live Upstairs"
Rachel's: "Rhine & Courtesan"

On How To Be Lovely!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I've received permission to tell a secret! One of the projects I've been working on is a biographical picture book about the beautiful life of a beautiful lady. She was a legend of classic film, an icon in women's fashion (working with her friend, designer Hubert de Givenchy), and also an open-hearted humanitarian devoting the later years of her life to the work she would do with UNICEF. Her namesake Children's Fund intiatives continue today.

The book publishes in 2010 (Balzer & Bray/ Harper Collins) with words by Margaret Cardillo. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Much more to come!

So...guess who?

Cokie's Mirror

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Quick character piece, still working on her palette, playing around, wishing "muffs" would come back in fashion. SIGH. Back to the books!

If you're interested, Cokie's soundtrack: "Lost Language" by Monade, "Clarion Union Hall" by The High Llamas (this song's love at first listen) ♥

Artifaktori

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oh, hello! I am here on a rainy night in my very small apartment with my very small cat, hoping you are cozy somewhere too. I am a little sad I can't share any new art with you just yet, most of it is secret still.


So here are photographs of two inspiring finds from the local vintage shop called Artifaktori in Davis Square. A pair of navy leather 1971 kitten-heeled Naturalizer pumps which almost fit perfectly with band-aids, and a nameless, ownerless, very magical looking suitcase that takes me on a trip with it every time I glance at it. It just about yelled at me to bring it home from its position on the sidewalk as I passed it leaving the dentist's office. Old things just make me wonder of them, "WHERE have you been, and WHAT have you seen?"


And of course little Serif is in there trying to steal the scene. Kate thinks he is a pharaoh spirit housed in a feline body...I think he is a little goblin, or a dog, since he has now learned "paw" as well as "sit" and "fetch".



Paintings to come. Goodnight!

Imaginary Friends!

Monday, April 6, 2009



...Some character sketches for the imaginary friends starring in my upcoming picture book, DOTTY, by Erica Perl, published by Abrams...more to come soon. I'm working on the child-drawn concept for the book, which required me to mentally tune out any art training, take a seat at the pasty craft table in nursery school, and get back to basics. Drawings done in Prismacolor Lead Stix on cream paper by my inner 4 year old.

Happy rainy little Monday ♥

Crocuses

Friday, March 13, 2009


The first brave flowers to come out of hiding! Matt took this picture on our warm weekend stroll, they were such a fresh and happy sight! It felt like it had been AGES since I'd seen a crocus. Isn't it funny how every time the seasons change, grown-ups and children and animals too all become so excited, as if this really is the very first time winter has ever changed to spring?

"Spring is here again. Spring is the earth's birthday. It comes again and again and again."

-Alice and Martin Provensen, A Book of Seasons, 1976

Little Alphabet

Monday, March 9, 2009

Here is a very little alphabet I painted in between projects, in a slice of time before going to bed. The paintings were barely an inch wide before scanning them! I am very happy with how crabby monsieur chat turned out to be, especially in the letter "A". I also discovered the beautiful lacy voice of Montreal-based "Coeur De Pirate" (Béatrice Martin) around the time I was painting these. Another note: I forgot all about daylight savings time! Spring ahead! I am now an hour behind :P

Busy Bee

Tuesday, March 3, 2009




Good morning to you! It's been hard to stop back at the blog, I've been b-u-s-y in the studio with final art. I'd love to post some of it soon. Until then, I'll be here drawing and painting and fetching (with Serif! he has learned how to fetch). Hope all's well ♥

Treasure

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



I was at my old haunt, Rodney's bookstore in Central Square, sneaking around worn wooden bookshelves when I happened upon this little treasure! The Campfire Girls was a series for girls (and boys!) published during the early 1900's. I snapped it up and hugged it and bought it and scanned it (CAREFULLY!) This particular installment, At Work, was written by "Helen Hart" (pen name of Samuel Lowe ?!) and illustrated by the classical Violet Moore Higgins.

Stories starring girls always feel special to me, having enjoyed girls series so much while growing up with sisters, and now having created art for The Sleepover Squad series. (Check out Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy and Tib). Higgins' work is ornate and her girls hint a bit at their flapper underpinnings. It's fascinating to see an antique version of our standard chapter book format with black and white interiors reaching all the way back from 1920 to my hands in 2009. It felt very magical to be at the end of that tradition. Look! The waving hankie and all!

The extra treat in used books is the inscription, library cards, or owners' names written in wobbly crayon. I love that this teacher is awarding Myron for second prize... and look at that penmanship!

One last little beauty accompanied by the caption, "We have to think of a way to make Sonia understand!" Just look at those cheeky bobbed haircuts.♥

ECO 2

Monday, February 9, 2009



Bonjour to you!

Since I've been working up the fashion portfolio in between projects, I thought I'd give you the sneakiest-peek before this one even hit my web portfolio. It's going up this week. Her concept is pretty obvious, but I wanted to approach it with enough whimsy to make it young and fresh. I think that now, more than ever, we are in a time of rapid awakening, especially regarding the consumer's conscience when it comes to environmental and social responsiblity, and fashion will need to follow in this functional and meaningful spirit. With the idea of fashion as lifestyle/character design, I created ECO 2. You can click on her to enlarge. I've got some exciting leads in the client area that I'd LOVE to reveal soon, but all remain hush hush for now....oh boo. Happy Monday! <3

ECO's soundtrack song =The Most Serene Republic's Compliance.

Birdcage Veils & Fearless Brides

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
















The brilliant boudoir and wedding photographer Rachel Hadiashar behind Merge Weddings recently launched her Fearless Bridals project featuring the juxtaposition of her elegant bridal portraiture against daring backdrops. Subjects of her post-wedding day shoots step in to the dress one more time, as they "explore the world in a wedding dress".

I had a blissful time designing the dainty-yet-fearless bride for her header...(Also gave me an excuse to indulge in my secret obsession with birdcage veils)...read more about Rachel's concept behind the project!

Illustration World!

The bloggie's linked in "features" today on IllustrationMundo. Here's a little sketch from the portfolio update.

New Year Portfolio Makeover

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Don't know about where you are, but it's a slushy wonderland outside in my neck of the woods. So if you are staying in tonight and flitting about on the internet, check out my updated portfolio if you'd like, with new work from this past year. Much of it is sample work for books to come this year! Many thank yous to the wonderful webmaster at Shannon Associates ;)