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Showing posts from 2011

Chicken Licken finds a Turkey in the Straw

I DID IT! I entered the SCBWI's Tomie dePaola Illustration Contest. The challenge was open to SCBWI members to illustrate a text taken from the story of Chicken Licken (Chicken Little).

Goosey Loosey, Ducky Daddles, Cocky Locky, Henny Penny and Chicken Licken find Turkey Lurkey and tell him that the sky is falling and that they are going to tell the King. They convince Turkey Lurkey of the urgency of the matter and joins them on their quest.

It may be only funny to me (and maybe some bluegrass fans), but I thought - how funny it would be if they found the Turkey in the Straw? This is the title of an old fiddling tune.

There you have it, now go tell the King.


I have gotten some nice compliments on the piece of art I am using to advertise my show.  It is a piece I did a couple of years ago, but am still very fond of.  So I have been wracking my brain to come up with a complimentary idea.

Sometimes the ideas come in a wink of an eye and other times I have to excavate down deep in my brain to find it. Like a prospector spending hours panning through material to find one tiny fleck of gold.

I haven't yet decided if the animal in the middle is a pig or a bear.  Above is a floppy-eared bunny and the duck is putting the star on the tree.

Today is DAY 30 of my 30-day-challenge. I am not sure if I proved anything other than that I can't count! -just kidding... I missed a few days so there are a few posts missing.  On the bright side is has gotten me to draw and write almost everyday.  No harm in that! Check out the other challengers' blogs: Sara WeingartnerBarb Björnson and Nina Crittenden.


Last night I snuggled on the couch with my honey-bunny as we watched a show about Alaska on public television.  But it got to be a bit late and she nearly fell asleep on me.  Time for bed.

Art Show Press

Facebook also has some buzz about Alicia Schwab's art show on the CBIG Group page:

Art Show Press

My friends at CBIG were kind enough to feature an article about my upcoming show.


If you are like me, you may have a mixed feelings of anticipation and dread at the thought of the coming snow. So far, it has been having trouble getting here. And yes, in Minnesota we talk about snow as a "entity" or like a troublesome character from a book that hooks everyone into the story by their antics. It is that "grin-and-bear-it" attitude that keeps us all here year after year.

Pretty soon, the temps. will be stable enough for the city parks to flood the baseball diamonds to create outdoor ice skating rinks. Even some adventurous types build a rink in their own backyard. It doesn't matter how cold it gets, there's always a bunch of kids out on the ice.

My anticipation for the snow is to start cross country skiing again. Some of the regional parks have groomed trails and rental facilities. It makes the six months of snow go by quickly when you find a way to enjoy it.

Art Show

A Jubilee of Imagination: the Art of Alicia Schwab

Show runs: Dec. 1 – 31, 2011
St. Barnabas Center for the Arts

St. Barnabas Lutheran Church
15600 Old Rockford Rd.
Plymouth, MN 55446

Viewing Hours:
M-Th 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
F 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sa 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Su 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.


Ok, so I couldn't resist.  This is my take on the weekend shopping experience.  It doesn't make you feel like a valued customer, more like livestock being corralled through the aisles of discounts and limited-time-offers.   


Well I could think of a whole list of things to draw and post this Thanksgiving week. (i.e turkeys, crazed pepper spraying shoppers, or lots of fat overly stuffed tummies from the big holiday meal). So why show dancing chickens, then? Well, the chickens are whooping it up this week because no one is paying them any attention. With all the hype about Turkey dinners, leftovers and shopping 'til you drop while in a food-coma - the chickens are enjoying their time off. Whoo-hoo! Can you do the chicken dance?


After a rough day at work and the surmounting tasks of the upcoming holiday season, I stopped to take a breather.  I was helped by my two loyal office assistants who work tirelessly along side me day after day, (see "Diagram 1").  Actually, one is quite tired and one is not. -go figure.
On Wednesday, February 9th of this year - I attended a panel discussion of some of the great illustrators of our region (see 2.9.11 post).  One of the themes they all echoed when talking about their work was finding balance between work, life, family and health. It is so easy to get lopsided, especially when circumstances change, (i.e. the holiday rush).  No one had the "magic recipe" for how to achieve balance in one's life but they all concluded that it was vital and an ever evolving process.


This is a sketch a did awhile ago that I still think of time to time. I have never been here. Well, I have... in my imagination -or- maybe it is a cumulation of all the water fronts I have been to. That is the fun part about building a scene, you can take all your mental snapshots and meld them together and leave out the stuff not worth remembering to create a really beautiful place. It is summer in this place and the thunderheads are brewing off in the distance (but that part of the story is for another page to come).

To me it has more of the feel of the North Shore (MN) on Lake Superior than any of the other seascapes or lakes I have visited. I love how the water meanders back through to the horizon as it visits with each island or peninsula and continues on it's way. I can imagine a sailboat crossing between those points back and forth to take advantage of the building winds.


After the party, cake and ice cream its always good to "go get your wiggles out". So what better way than with a baseball game? And when the pitcher stands this close there is even a chance that I could hit the ball.


Surprise!... I have introduced a new character. The birthday boy. I hope he likes his presents...


If you scroll down to post "thirteen" you will see that this new sketch is a continuation of that group of characters. This would be for a board book or a book for pre-schoolers with a very simple, rhythmic story line.

In this scene, the characters have just arrived at their destination, a birthday party. But who is it for, you ask?


We interrupt this exciting series of blog posts with a visit from Jan Brett on her 2011 Bus Tour for her new book, "Home for Christmas". It is important to take breaks and get out of the studio to get inspiration. And this was well worth the effort. The folks at The Bookcase in Wayzata, MN did a good job organizing the event.
 I was very pleased to get my photo-opp. with Jan. She's really nice!
I am not much for heels, but I love these shoes! These eskimo high-heels  are very groovy. :-)

My dear friend, Nina Crittenden also made it to the event. We had a good time!


This sketch is aiming at the market for the very young readers. This one of a series of character sketches where I draw the characters having fun together as friends.


The Yggdrasill is an immense ash tree from old Norse mythology. Its uppermost branches reach up into the heavens and is said to actually support them. A very large golden Rooster sits at the tippy-top to warn of any danger. While the roots hold all the wisdom for the people to use.

I am fascinated with old stories and their power to captivate people through the eons. What is it about a story that makes it stand the test of time? Nowadays, we have so much information flowing through our daily activities it can be overwhelming. It is sometimes nice to sit for a moment and ponder how we communicated ideas long, long ago.

eleven eleven eleven

Today has a funny date so I put it in the title. I was pleased to see the sun again today. I know Minnesota doesn't get as dreary as some other parts of the world but I really missed the sun the last days.

The sun is low and lazy this time of year. We are about six weeks away from the winter solstice. And even though that marks the shortest amount of daylight for the year, it seems that November and February are the darker months. Today we didn't have a cloud in the sky, how lovely.


So it is hard to say how long the Spoon and Fork have been separated, (it's a very old story) but I can tell you for sure that Dish didn't know about this... until now.


The Dish ran away with the Spoon until... they came to a fork in the road.

Thanks Nina, for your wonderful pun. I decided to run with it. This presents an exciting turn of events! Not only did the story continue, but added another valuable piece from the dinner set that has been missing for all these centuries. But why is the fork crying, you ask?


And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.

Here are all the cast of characters. My question was: why did the table settings run away? Also, how did everyone else react to this?

The great thing about also writing for children's books is the perspective it gives me on how a story is constructed. My art instructs my writing as well as my writing instructs how I create an image. It's fun to explore. Sometimes they come out at the same time, and I have to scurry between both illustrating and writing to find the meaning of what I am trying to communicate.


Well... o.k. so I'm behind already. I am doing my best to post sketch or color study per day. Yesterday I spent time with my family. They are important to me too. Here is the color study from the dog sketch.

The first six images are meant to go together, hence the similar color palette. This is my take on the poem, "Hey Diddle, Diddle". I tried to delve deeper between the lines of the poem to bring out more of the story behind the musical cat, the hyper cow, the laughing dog and the delinquent table settings. It's an odd assortment of characters that has always intrigued me.


The little dog laughed to see such a sport.
But why is he dancing, you ask? I finished writing the rest of the poem. But I am not going to post it for now so I can revise it and get it to work as a whole. Then maybe, just maybe, I'll work up the gumption to submit it to a magazine. (that's my evil plan). ooo...
In the meantime, here's another sketch. Color tomorrow...


Mooooove over lil' kitty,
The Cow has come home, And she's feeling full of spunk, Too bad she hasn't noticed, The moon's in the sky, And she's headed for a dunk.


Hey Diddle Diddle,
The cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon,
Eager to look as sharp as the kitty, Color coming soon...


Today is November 1st. I will take part this month to create one image a day for the whole month of November. (Sara Weingartner, Anne Adix Fabie, Barb Björnson and Nina Crittenden are participating as well.

The Cat and the Fiddle is an image that I am revisiting after several years. My first version was for a triptych of the whole song, "Hey Diddle, Diddle". I have always been very fond of marmalade cats. We had an orange tabby while growing up. Unfortunately his only musical talents consisted of sitting in a far room and moaning mournfully for someone or something. He never did get around to telling us whom or what it was for.
My goal this month is to fiddle with color (sorry, couldn't resist). I also want to see how it is to work quickly with the medium (acrylic). here we go...

Ever since I was about knee high we have been making an annual trip to the Southwest. It has left an imprint on my psyche. There is something about the air there, the high altitude and the smell of the Sage Bush. I love the abundance of flora and fauna with the beautiful mountains as a backdrop. The Spanish Style architecture, adobe, terra-cotta, the tile work all have influenced my art. The colors of the southwest, the way the mountains change as the sun rotates around them. I can't spend enough time looking, seeing, enjoying.
This piece is about a boy who looks, sees and loves all that is there, especially the birds. He is singing to the Sparrows, Las Golondrinas in the Mission garden. I too, love to spend time in my own garden, and I really like to paint gardens as well. I find the shapes and colors that form between the plants are just as interesting as the plants themselves.

Traveling Sketchbook

Here is the first sample of some of the sketches I have been doing. I have been developing these two characters as well as others to put on the new website.
This is a sketch about friendship. I was inspired by the Patti Page song: "How much is that doggie in the window? The one with the waggely tail..."

Traveling sketchbook

Hello again, it has been awhile since my last post. I have been very busy redesigning and coding a new website for myself. Coming soon!
I have also been working on a book project for a local client for over a year now. It is to be kept under wraps until it is published. You have no idea how excited I am to show it, but that will have to wait.
Yesterday was sweltering here in Minneapolis. I think we almost set a record for a high dew point measurement. It felt like it was 105 degrees F., very tropical. So what to do on a too hot day? We bunkered down in the basement. I made a traveling sketchbook bag for myself. I have been using the off-the-shelf paper portfolios to hold my stuff but they are no match for all the abuse I put them through. This bag holds a 20x14 inch paper portfolio which I kept inside for stability.
Why do I need a "traveling portfolio"? During the summer, I spend a lot of my time at swimming lessons and such. I dislike being idle so, I take my work with me. I…
Last night, I was very happy to see such a great panel discussion/art show. Chatted with Beth Peck, Lauren Stringer & Mike Wohnoutka, afterwards. Awesome! All the panelists have amazing work in the show. Check it out: photo left to right: Derek Anderson, Leslie Bowman, Stephen Gammell, Beth Peck, Lauren Stringer, and Mike Wohnoutka.)