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Showing posts from 2012

Tom Sawyer

This is my entry for the Tomie de Paola Award contest for SCBWI. This year's exciting challenge was to create an image for one of three stories in black and white. I chose The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain.

     It was difficult to pick just one passage from the whole book. There are so many exciting scenes to draw ideas from. I based my illustration from the text where he and his friends run away to become pirates.
     "Tom knew of the perfect hideout–a small, uninhabited island out in the Mississippi River called Jackson's Island. He and Joe sought out Huck Finn and invited him to join them on this wild adventure. . . .  Each would bring fishing hooks and lines and as much food and provisions as he could steal.
     It was a starry and very still night as Tom made his way out of the village. The mighty river lay like an ocean at rest. . . .
     The boys loaded their provisions onto a small raft tied up on the bank, and they pushed silently away from s…

Gardening nightmares

If any of you garden, you know that well, sometimes a plant can grow "out of control". Gardening is a passion of mine, and while I don't really mind taming the green little beasts that grow from time to time. I am sometimes taken back by how certain plants take over more aggressively than others.
     Do they have a mind of their own? Probably not, but some plants so are well equipped at taking over they even manage to get us to help them (i.e. the dandelion, the apple tree, and the tulip).
     You may be surprised or confused at my choices of plants. But the dandelion loves groomed grass lawns. Every time we mow them down we generously spread their seeds that blow over into our neighbor's yard.
     The apple tree entices us so much with it's sweet aroma that we have moved it far from it's native home in central Asia across the vast oceans to new continents. The little apple seed would never be able to accomplish such a journey without our help.

Character Design Exercise

Thanks, J. E. Morris for reposting this warm-up sketch exercise from Kelly Light's Character Design 101 Workshop at NESCBWI 2012. The exercise consists of taking the given shapes and creating characters from them. It was a challenge and a lot of fun!

1. The beginning shapes

2. Here is what I came up with. Hope you like it.

3. I have a guest artist featured below. The artist ISABEL, age eight has been drawing all her life. She loves birds and she draws them all the time. I especially like the spotted claw in the lower right!


Website Move!

After lots of packing and unpacking, my website has a new home at:

Trudi Tribute

If only our pets could live longer than they do. Our English Springer Spaniel, Trudi lost her bounce and passed away last Friday after a grueling battle with a mysterious disease. Trudi was a great dog, I miss her a lot. She has provided me with much impetus to create art and enjoy life. She was at my side in the studio reassuring me with sighs and snoring.

An eternal optimist, Trudi never met a person she didn't like. And if you didn't, she'd try her best to change your mind with sweet doggie kisses. She thought everyone would feel better with some kisses.

When she was healthy, Trudi was a lean-running machine tearing a permanent rut into the sod during her numerous hairpin turns around the circumference of our yard that she could circuit for hours. She held the bunnies and squirrels in check. And so, our signal for taking her out became, "Bunnies-n-Squirrels!" Even if she was sound asleep, hearing that phrase would make her jump up with enthusiasm. Being outsi…

My hero is gone, but his legacy remains.

I was part of the "Where the Wild Things Are" generation. Benefiting from the creator, author/illustrator Maurice Sendak's life long contributions to the Children's Literature.

I love this quote from the New York Times article.

“Dear Mr. Sendak,” read one, from an 8-year-old boy. “How much does it cost to get to where the wild things are? If it is not expensive, my sister and I would like to spend the summer there.” Thank you, Maurice Sendak for making our world a little brighter. We will miss you.

It's growing on me!

Spring has sprung here in Minnesota. And my new website ( is growing! If only it was as easy as planing a seed, watering, clearing the weeds and watching it grow. But it takes a lot more work than that to write, design and develop a website in CSS. My goal is to have it published by June, 2012. I am in do-or-die mode, now as the weeks are flying by. In the meantime, you can still review my work over at the old site: I am planning to leave it up for awhile in order to redirect people to the new URL.

Website Design

And now for something completely different.

My friend, Phyllis Alsdurf's picture book, It's Milking Time is soon to be released by Random House Children's Book later this month. I am very excited for her. She asked me to design and develop a website for her.

It was a lot of fun, I was so grateful to have such a nice selection of rich, beautiful photography taken by her daughter, Lydia Alsdurf for the website. Almost all the photos featured are from the family farm where Phyllis grew up. It's a nice way to pay homage to the Midwestern dairy farm. She has many happy memories from her youth which influences her writing.

Be sure to check out her new book, It's Milking Time, by Phyllis Alsdurf and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. ©2012 Random House Children's Books.

School Visit

Today I was invited to speak to the art and writing classes at Mound Westonka High School. What a great group! They were very eager to get started on the next phase of writing and illustrating their children's book story. The two classes are working together in a collaborative effort to write children's stories and then illustrate them. Later in the year, they will exhibit their their works together.

Encaustic #2

One of the materials I brought to the Encaustic class with Jodi Reeb-Myers was a sketch I had done from an older piece of a little girl sitting reflectively on a chair. I thought that it might work well as an image transfer for my 2nd piece, "DAYDREAMS" (click to enlarge).

There are so many different ways to approach a subject that it almost hard to decide what to do first. I think it is important to just start playing. But I ended up making the surface too bumpy with wax and paper collage items for the image transfer to adhere properly. Oh well! So I opted to place her face up as I had originally drawn the figure.

The dots are from pieces of found paper. Now after looking at this for awhile I can think of other ways that I would do this piece if I were to start over. But that is the benefit of taking a class to learn something. I really enjoyed the class and would like to try it again sometime. Thanks, Jodi!

Encaustic #1

I took a break yesterday and tried a new medium. WOW! That was great! The painting technique that I learned is Encaustic (painting with hot wax). I took a class from artist/instructor Jodi Reeb-Myers at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts.

There are lots of ways to paint with this technique. The two pieces I made were done with mixed media: paper, beeswax, oil paint on a wood support. There is a lot going on in this piece "INTO THE BLUE" (click to enlarge). I tried almost everything possible on this board and almost over did it. It is hard to know when to quit with this medium because you can re-melt the medium over and over again with the heat gun.

School Visit

School Visits are fun. The students love seeing what grown-ups do for work. Today I visited Mrs. Brayman's art class to talk to the students about how to use symbolism in their artwork. I showed them samples of my own work and how I use objects, color schemes and texture as some of the ways to convey a message or meaning in my work. In the book I am holding, Great Group Skits, I use symbolism in each of the chapter head illustrations to show what the title of that chapter is about. The students were inspired to take that knowledge and use it in their own illustrated book project. 

St. Catherine's University

Here is a peak at some of the art I produced for the recently published book, "Guide to Reflective and Intentional Giving" for St. Catherine University.

I painted in total seven landscape paintings of the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses. The concept/texture of the art for the book was built around a famous quote:

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." -- Mother Theresa.

The inside spread shown here is of the Minneapolis campus and posed a unique challenge of overlaying a depiction of the campus' historic stain glass windows over the courtyard scene. The window was actually painted separately and built in multi-transparent layers in Photoshop.

Seven Random Facts

Thank you,Nina Crittendenfor tagging my blog with this shiny Versatile Blogger Award. Not so sure how versatile my blog is, but don't-look-a-gift-horse-in-the-mouth, so they say. Here are the directions, I need to:

Thank the person who bestowed the award on youList seven random facts about yourself — seven... eegads!Spread the love by passing along the award to five other bloggers – and let them know
Thanks again, Nina! Best wishes for 2012! *hugs* Nina is a great friend and an awesome blogger.

Ok, Seven Random Facts about me...

1. I love to garden. Not the plant your pansies in a pot kind of gardening, I like to get down and dirty: build rock gardens; dig holes; move plants and haul dirt in my trusty-wheel barrow.  I spend all winter scheming which patch of grass will succumb to my next hostile take-over. wa-ha-ha! 2. I love to cross country ski. I spend Minnesota's other season, "Not-Winter" getting in shape so I don't hurt myself. -wish me luck, I'll need it. P…
Congrats to Yvette Piette Herrera, the winner of the SCBWI Tomie dePaola contest:, and to all those who placed! Good job! 

Thank you, Diandra Mae for creating the blog which features our Tomie dePaola Facebook group submissions: Click here to see more than 200 out of the total 300 submissions.

I can't wait to try again next year.