Saturday, May 23, 2015


The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (of which I am a member) recently launched a monthly prompt for illustrators. The prompt word for June is Bounce, and this is my entry. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Redleg Annual (and Happy Opening Day!)

The last two years, I've illustrated the cover of an e-book called the Redleg Annual, which previewed in eloquent and entertaining fashion the Cincinnati Reds of 2013 and 2014.

For this year's zine, which is still available for purchase as any number of e-formats HERE (seriously, it's only $5...GO HERE!)... I did two interior illustrations instead and got to step into the weird and whimsical zone a little, and it was a ton of fun.  

For an article on Reds All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco (titled "Devin Goshdang Mesoraco") I was tasked with envisioning a Lovecraftian creature that could appropriately accompany an article containing lines like this:  
Devin Mesoraco is feared. By pitchers, sure, but also by children, beloved family pets, and young Victorian-era adventurers unjustly denied their inheritance. There is a rumbling of the earth and a black skein over the sun when Devin Mesoraco digs in. (words by Asher Kohn)

This one's a bit experimental for me, because I used a larger variety of media than usual.  This one included gouache, Colourfix primer, pencil, permanent marker, and pastels.

And for an article introducing new Reds players, I got a little punny welcoming Mr. Marlon Byrd, because sometimes I just can't help myself:

Today is Opening Day for my Reds and most of the baseball world, so happy 2015 season to all you baseball fans out there, and happy lovely spring day to everyone else!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rally caps! (Spring training 2015)

Pitchers and catchers report today to Goodyear, Arizona, kicking off spring training (and therefore the 2015 baseball season!) for my favorite team.  Since 2008, I've marked this day by sharing a baseball illustration.  After several years spotlighting players for this annual illustration, this year I want to celebrate fans.

(I'm also using this an opportunity to play around with some character design for a picture book manuscript I have in the works.  This devoted baseball fan is named Ruby, and she's my protagonist.)

So let's hear it for the fans.  Fans who care about the game way more than is reasonable, who cheer on their team through good times (1999! 2010! 2012!) and bad (2000-2009), who follow hundreds of games over 6+ months, and who (like Ruby here) put on their rally caps in critical dramatic moments because they can't stand to not do something to influence the game they love so much.

[Memory lane:  200820092010201120122013, 2014]

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Books Read in 2014

Here we are, halfway through the second month of 2015, and I haven't yet done my annual check-in on the past year's reading.  I didn't realize it until the end of the year, but I actually read very few books in 2014.  Still, there were some good ones mixed in.  My favorites are in bold.  Looking forward to good books (and MORE books!) in 2015.

  • The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
  • The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
  • Wildwood Imperium, by Colin Meloy
  • The Greenglass House, by Kate Milford
  • West of the Moon, by Margi Preus
  • Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Wainscott Weasel, by Tor Seidler
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
  • Veronica Mars:  The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
  • The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
  • The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
  • The Interrupted Tale, by Maryrose Wood

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Previously on... The Creative Life.

It's been a while since I've posted anything here, huh?  Fall is a crazy busy time at work and that can mean my art falls by the wayside for a little bit. But my creative self hasn't been entirely dormant.  A quick round-up of creative world goings on...

My aunt has a professional organizing business called Managed Chaos, and she commissioned an illustration for a brochure she's using to advertise her business. You can see the brochure at the link above-- it was truly a family undertaking, as my sister (with a new business of her own) designed it!
I had a lot of fun with this one since it's a bit of a departure from my usual work.  Makes me want to play around with lines more and see what happens.

Also in October some friends and I busted out the old acrylic paints (seriously, these were leftovers from college... and I just got an invitation for my 10-year reunion, sooooo....) and snazzed up some papier-mache skulls for Day of the Dead.


I miss painting.

Two weekends ago I attended my second Mid-Atlantic conference for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Some notes (and sketches from the margins of my notes).  Leave it to a room full or book people to turn a phrase / speak in fun little metaphors.
  • One of the agents in attendance (I didn't mark down who, shoot!) referred to the problem of starting a story in the wrong place as "throat clearing."
  • Stephen Mooser quoted Sid Fleischman in describing a character's dramatic introduction into  the story as a "grand staircase."
  • Keynoter Linda Urban refers to the essential essence of a story as its "spine," what you should hold onto.
  • At one point, author/illustrator Pat Cummings said it was harder to be an artist than a lawyer, then later indicated that adventuring was even harder than art.  Which led me to pen a mini infographic: 
In general, I had a great time at my second Mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference!  I pretended I was an extrovert and talked to many people.  And between the conference planners clearly going out of their way to provide more learning and networking opportunities for illustrators (yay, thanks conference planners!) and the fact that I've been writing more since this time last year, I felt like there were more nuggets of wonderful helpfulness than ever before.

Now it's November, and I'm all in on another round of Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo, the brainchild of Tara Lazar). 
Out of last year's 30 ideas, I now have three (very, very early stage) manuscripts, another close to complete story that's still in my brain until it discovers the perfect ending, an idea that I think might be an early reader or middle grade instead, and a character just begging to feature in a series.  Here's hoping this year is just as successful!

And of course, I still draw from time to time...


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