Thursday, January 22, 2015

Superhero Style

  I was fortunate once again to work with Red Chair Press in 2014. The illustrations for this book were completed in November.  Red Chair Press puts a lot of heart into their books and each one carries a specific message to help kids navigate a confusing and sometimes hostile world.
  This guide to dealing with bullies provides some tools to transform even the most intimidated kids into voices of truth and justice. At least we can hope.
 Zack is a mild-mannered kid (just like you) who becomes a protective champion when he witnesses a kid being bullied.  His superpowers are simply what all kids can access themselves: words and the courage to speak them.  And oh yeah, he does get to fly around wearing a cape and rainboots and multiply himself for dramatic effect.
  This book gave me the chance to work with character development, staging and movement. It was especially fun getting into the poses.  Figuratively speaking, of course.
 Here are some scenes from the 23 page reader.


More zipping around ensues... and then...

 Here he goes again multiplying himself...

 A bit of behind the scenes process:

 I began all of the pages as traditional drawings:  graphite pencil and white pencil on toned paper. This established the tonalities. And it meant I could work on them out on the porch on nice days.

Plus, I like having the physical artwork. Who knows... maybe I can sell these. Anyone interested?

 I scanned the art and lightened the tone and tinted the greys to a warmer color. 

Here I began adding photoshop color and a sky layer for the cover. I was digging the moody dystopic look of this but ultimately the designer, Jeffrey Dinardo, and I agreed it needed to be brighter.

 I compared both versions. 
The first sky looked too much like evening. He wouldn't be avenging bullies at night !
 After all, he's a kid (just like you).

Like all good books there is a happy ending...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Is it Earth Day Yet?

             Is it spring yet? Yes, here in illustration land. Ranger Rick is always encouraging kids to get out and commune with wildlife and their habitat, in the wild or their own backyards. That's why I love them so much. I was thrilled to be able to contribute this new illustration for their April issue.

                                                Here's how it will appear in the magazine:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


 This image was originally created in 2014, probably in the dog days of August, for a High Five magazine cover. I decided to play around with some new type today for a New Year's greeting and this is what resulted.  Thanks to Kelly Cunningham for this chill assignment. Despite my sarcastic exterior, I have the pure (snowy white in fact!) heart of an innocent child and love doing these High Five covers.
 Assignments like these make me glad illustration is how I make a living.  This one also made me long for that hill where my three sisters and I tobogganed with my Mom and Dad as kids.
 I'm also looking forward to creating more books in 2015, especially picture books.
 So brace yourself, it's going to be a great ride!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Solstice

 Time out to honor the longest night and the increasing light. Light in the darkness, lightness of spirit, and the promise of light in longer days.  What began as a small doodle turned out to be my card this year.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Leaving Hidden Pictures

   That's a pun. I don't know if I will be doing any more of these, but the art director will not be; so it may be my last one! I post this with much gratitude to Highlights for allowing me to create this for their Hidden Pictures puzzle books. While you are waiting for that pie to bake, grab your kid and immerse yourself in the memory of jumping in a pile of autumn leaves. ( beats snow any time). And try to find the 5 hidden sailboats! Happy Thanksgiving! My next post will be about the book I've been illustrating so stay tuned!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pajama Party!

Such a busy few months ! Could not turn down this offer from Hal Leonard for a sheet music cover for the wee ones. Songs about getting ready for bed! Sounds wonderful... "is there a monster under my bed?" they sing in unison...  I can almost hear  them.  My sketch:

 ...and the finished piece.

Just in time for cuddling up and recovering from my killer cold ( a little human interest there to  make my post captivating.)  Let's see, what else?  I  kidnapped my neighbor's kids and made them pose for me for this piece. That's how I caught this cold. No, not really. Thanks to my artist friend Sheree Boyd for providing use of her red plaid. She really did.  Goodnight!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dealing With Bullies

  I've been working on illustrations for a fun but also serious guidebook for dealing with bullies... "superhero style"! 
  Here are some of the sketches. It will be published by the nice folks at Red Chair Press. I did not author it. September and October will be busy months as I do the finishes!
  This week I will be prepping for the SCBWI conference in town here on Friday and Saturday.  I'm excited as I am making more progress on the road to  authoring and illustrating my own book, and I always leave the conferences inspired. 

Zack is a kid just like you... except when he dons his DIY superhero outfit.