Saturday, December 18, 2010

Is there a draft in here?

It feels a bit drafty.

Finished my first draft of my last pb of the year.

It weighs in at about 500 words (the shortest one I've written). And when I dummy it, it may "grow" shorter.

Another character driven hero story.

To do: Cowboy lingo needs some research
Sketch and dummy and a few more samples.
And to figure how to draw the antagonist. Or not. We may not even ever see him really. We'll see.

And the minor characters.

Other goals: Finish rhymes and dummy... slog... slog... slog............must do!

New postcard image, and samples for website.

Yippee YiYo!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It is the simple things...

in life that make me happy.

Like the cardinals that hop around on the branch of the tree which is outside the window behind my computer on the kitchen counter.

How many prepositions are in this sentence... or SAT question of the day...

Is this sentence error free.

You tell me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Aw... what the heck.

Here I am in my studio. Notice the cracked walls, the sloped roof line
(gotta watch my head like Alice)
and the genuine amount of 'stuff' I use. And this is only one side of the studio.
But it is my haven and my own workspace, and I use every bit of it. Barb

Character Studies to Final

Here are some character studies I did for the main character in the assignment I did for last Sunday's Illustrator Day.

And here is the final I did for the AD. He wants a few more additions which I hope to do during the Holiday Week.

This was a great assignment and I loved doing it.


I actually am conceiving of another story with him as the MC. Not Halloween though. And it is not really about a cowboy so much as it is what he wants to happen.

Update: Two thirds with first draft two weeks later. This one is coming together quickly because I figured what I wanted to say before I wrote it, came up with a universal "theme"
and got my characters fleshed out before I began. Then I thought of a few things as obstacles for the middle section. And I checked the market for similar stories. I think it is kinda sweet, heartfelt, beautiful and funny.

I hope to finish it soon and start dummying the vacation week after Christmas.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another great illustrator day

It was indeed. Laurent's assignment critique/sessions were fabulous. One thing he said really resonated with me and that was to try and make everything a character. Something I love to do as that is part of world building, and creates, humor, drama and tension. He is awesome. Go into the dark... push yourself. I feel I do this well in my doll stories. But I can do even more with them.

And my portfolio critique went well. Marijka told me what she loved and what she didn't. She also said it was purely subjective, and another person could feel the exact opposite. And she spotted a few things the fix.

Her main comments were to watch the gutter and leave more room for text... even in samples. And since much of my work is bleed, to leave about a 1/4 inch of non-essential matter. Doh!

Our coordinator gave a great presentation on color/character and composition much of what I know already but was happy to have reiterated, and also one on networking/promotional material. I need to do more postcards. And a brochure.

Then we all got to parade ourselves and our illustrations in front of editors and agents. La!

Now for the thank you follow-ups and samples to send. And maybe a dummy.

And the nursery rhyme dummy to complete. I may just send a few samples with text to ADs to see if it has potential... on the ADs advice. She seemed to think that would be best.

Great day. Every illustrator should do these. They are very rewarding. And exhausting.

Also, I hope to put the final up here soon. I have a few things to add to it first on the AD's suggestion. And then a copy of it goes back to Laurent.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Best Sketch yet!

Well, not necessarily but I am very pleased with the outcome.

This is a sketch I inked for an upcoming workshop taken from existing manuscript text (not my own). After the AD comments I will revise and go to town with collage, and it should take on a whole new life. The subjects are goblins, a cowboy and Halloween candy. I have a feeling the boy's arms may need more flaying, and that better sizing of the goblins on the right may be in order. We'll see if I am right. Or if it is something else entirely that I am not seeing.
(UPDATE: And, of course, none of the things I thought would need changing was touched upon. And four things (three of which are easy to fix, and one requiring an outfit rethink) were things I thought about initially but wondered if they would come up. This Art Director is awesome with insight, and catches little things that can make a big difference.) He's right.

The challenge to me here was making candy smells tangible. But I LOVE challenges. And hopefully I solved that problem. (Actually that will come in to play when I do the final... surprise...surprise). (He helped me with this one, too.)

Still want to work on the candy names. A few of them are not good enough... yet.

Anyway, it was a blast doing this, and expanding on the text. I did it over the weekend in about six hours (we ((the illustrators)) had a very short deadline... like a week). I was a bit nervous about coming up with anything decent in that amount of time... but the ink and ebony pencil fairies sighed on and kissed my forehead. Every artist needs Ink and Ebony Pencil Fairies.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You learn something new every day

or you knew something learned every day.

(I love the second-to-last one, especially.)

From a friend:

Paraprosdokian sentences are figures of speech that use an unexpected ending to a series or phrase.

Some examples would be...

I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike
>and asked for forgiveness.
>Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with
>Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a
>garage makes you a car.
>The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.
>Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until
>you hear them speak.
>If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
>We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
>War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
>Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit
>The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
>To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
>A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
>Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train
>people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
>I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted pay checks.
>I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
>Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check
>when you say the paint is wet?
>Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for
>Miss America ?
>A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
>You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive
>Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.
>Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.
> Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.
>I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
>You're never too old to learn something stupid.
>To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
>Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination
>Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I hung my art last night with a little help from my friends.

It took three hours.

It looks pretty darn good up there on them walls.

I am pleased. I am tired. I am elated.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NJ SCBWI Illustrator Day

On Sunday, November 14, the NJ SCBWI will hold another Illustrator Day at the Princeton Hyatt. Two Art Directors will be on the faculty: Laurent Linn of Simon and Schuster, and Marijka Kostiw of Arthur Levine/Scholastic Press/ Orchard Press.

The illustrator is emailed various passages of PB text and chooses one to illustrate. The illustrator gives specs to the art director and submits a preliminary sketch to him/her by a predetermined deadline. The AD sends back comments. Then the illustrator goes to work and completes a final from that sketch with the AD's comments.

On illustrator day, the art directors give group critiques of all the artists' finals. (Two separate groups.)

The other art director gives the artist a portfolio review.

Basically the illustrators are divided into two groups and spend half of their 'time' with one and then the other. Plus they get a yummy lunch with one or the other.

What I love in addition to this is seeing how everyone interprets the text differently and how they work. And everyone always has something (no matter how little) that can be improved.

Saving my pennies and dimes and using this as a kick in the bottom to finish my dummy and more samples.

Can't wait!!

This is one of the best things offered from SCBWI to illustrators... IMHO.

If anyone has any questions or would like more info please email me.... soon! It fills up fast.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Biting Pear of Salamanca by Ursula Vernon

I usually don't like anthropomorphic food... but sometimes I eat it. (I also love and collect pear paraphernalia.) Sold right there... like I am so there. And I need this today while I work... for inspiration.

(Could this be in a picture book, perhaps?, that pear is scary)

But there is something funny about this without being campy and cheesy (I could use a pear salad right now)... to me anyway. Maybe the lack of a complete face on the pear's part, and the traditional styled little rodent with his daguerreotyper alongside this five-foot tall, food-engineered poire.

Should that chipmunk be afeared?

"If you bite me, there will be no more portrait du poire, today."

(But you can't see anyway, pear... so your mouth would be chasing only air.)

Thank you, and courtesy of 'Art of the Day' on my homepage... one of my favorite things to wake up to.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer Accomplishments

It has been a LONG summer... I think the extreme heat and mugginess have not helped. Not the best summer for fun and travel but the best for getting things done... book, art and family related.

1. Got daughter moved into college apartment. Not an easy feat as hers is a four floor walk up (No elevator, she's top floor and it was the hottest day of the year... and her apt. is unfurnished) We put the bed together which took hours... and the desk and...
How do parents do this with multiple kids?

Said goodbye without tears. Just blood and sweat.

2. Framed over forty pieces of art (not really framed... but glassed) and they look grrrrreat. Can't wait to hang them.

3. Got a date for my opening.

4. My latest dummy is in progress. This one is a blast and is working itself out well. Is interesting b/c I have to do the middle first to get all the characters set before I can put them in the opening page (Kind of like a play) Their physical appearance has to be established first. DId I mention how much I love structuring? I think it has become my new favorite thing (next to world building.)

And I can tinker with the nursery rhymes once I have the art going. They really work hand-in-hand.

I love this project... took me long enough to get it all set in my head... and on paper. It has lots of hooks, and I hope kids will find it extremely entertaining and engaging. As I write I have to be that kid who has to be entertained both visually and with sound of words. And out of all the dummies I have made, this one and three others make me the proudest.

5. I've got some new art samples. Yay... don't have a new postcard image though. I may go with an existing image I love.

6. I wrote up a press release. I should call it "I HATE TALKING ABOUT MYSELF". I know I've said that before. But my friend is helping me through it. And it will go out soon.

7. I sent out a few queries and have heard nada. What does that mean? It is a puzzlement.

(Anyway, it is supposed to be a beautiful Labor Day weekend... and I reckon I will be working on my dummy for part of it.)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hospital Bloopers

(A friend sent me these recently)

I particularly like number six and number twenty-three. Enjoy!

>1. The patient refused autopsy.
>2. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
>3. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
>4. Note: patient here-recovering from forehead cut. Patient became very angry when given an enema by mistake.
>5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
>6. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
>7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
>8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
>9. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.
>10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
>11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
>12. She is numb from her toes down.
>13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.
>14. The skin was moist and dry.
>15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
>16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
>17.Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
>18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
>19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
>20. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
>21. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
>22. Skin: somewhat pale but present
>23. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Plotting, framing and studying favorites

Blimey it is hot. Thank goodness for a few air-conditioned rooms.

My studio has AC so lately I am up there a lot. Comfort breeds productivity. Thick air breeds thick thinking and naps.

Today I framed six pieces (frameless glass as I have at least forty I need to do for the exhibit... can't go broke in the process.. they look great thanks to creative paper working on my part). Now to think about writing bits.

But I had a bit of a breakthrough on my nursery rhyme heavily-reliant-on-illustrations-to-text project. I reviewed Each Peach Pear Plum and The Jolly Postman (fantastic books) and others to give me a visual beginning and end, to tie up the sequence. (Another kind of framing perhaps?) Plus I love me my cast full of characters. Yes, in picture books. Always have. They need not be described. But they are referred to and do things I notice and go back to over and over again.)

This project is turning out to be more than I had planned but WTH... I intend to make it work... words and art. Why not. It may take a while but I think it will turn out well.. with patience.

Gettin' stuff done..........................

I got it down... all my characters and their worlds, and how the whole thing works!

Update as of early August: FINISHED first draft of 14 fractured and themed rhymes, got some illos done. FIgured out the approach, the introduction and the end. Got the characters and scenes... now to dummy! (This project has been simmering for over two years.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The plight of tigers

I just read a writer's blog post about the plight of tigers in the wild. There are only a few thousand or so in left existence. They are being poached for every possible use of their anatomy. I find it horrific.

The rest are in zoos and while I love zoos I always feel depressed when I see the big cats pace. They must feel humiliated. I would were I a big, regal beautiful beast. (The gorillas just throw things at you as in "you deserve it, you voyeur"... but the tigers just pace as in "get me outta here.") I know they are spared from the rugdom and cared for by the keeperdom, and absolutely loved by spectators... but still.

Now more than ever I have to write this story. They say to write from inspiration. That is always the best place to start. But before I do so I have to let go of the anger I feel towards the greedy killers. Otherwise, it'll just be an angry response. And that is not a good place to start.

Soon, I will talk about giraffes and how I feel about them. (They are so cool... yes they are!) And our experience with them.

Till then...think about nature as being here for you now, to enjoy as it is in alive and kicking. Not something to kill or destroy (physically or mentally). Please respect it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My World and Welcome to It

Remember that show with William Windom... the cartoonist (he really is NOT a cartoonist... he is an actor.) EDIT: Based on Thurber. Good ole "One-eyed Thurber".

And his daughter with the braids... what's her name?

no. Me neither. EDIT: Her name was Lisa Gerritson and she was a pistol!

Well. You (we) are (were) too young... or just lost that segment of our over crowded-minds. Ahem. That was a great show. Windom's cartoons kinda morphed into live action. Dry and funny and... wise.

The show never took off but it did maintain a viable presence thanks to side-by-side air-time (by Sondheim) no by Bewitched... I mean Bewitched (great show... Darrin... Tabitha... Sabrina...) campy like most shows of its day but fun nonetheless...EDIT: That show won two Emmys. (Oops.I wrote too soon!) So it DID take off.

I digress...

I LOVE making worlds in my art and I think it one of my strong points. My World and Welcome to It. You got me.

And I proudly jest that I am completing (illustrating and writing) two more worlds for my In-Progress picture book, and it is so much fun and working well. Check off a summer project.

Caveat: Never post until you've got the answers. Smirk.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My own show -- the real deal.

Yesterday I met with my friend at the space I will be displaying my children's art. It is in a beautiful, old house that belongs to a beautiful iris garden famous nationally and internationally. This particular room is reserved for artists' shows.

We discussed everything from framing and hanging work, which pieces to show (altho I can do whatever I want and how many I want which could be 50 or so or more if I get ambitious), press releases, selling giclees, the opening, to do's, a workshop, what I am doing now, advertising and publicity, postcards, who to invite etc.. My art will be on display for two months.

But I feel like the best thing is that she "Read" my work and picked up the right details and visual clues and responded well to it.
Like me, she goes for intricacy in her own work and she doesn't miss anything when she looks at others' work. You mean you use tweezers too?

She also asked to see little bits of writing to go with the pieces I display. And perhaps some questions to pose for children and adults alike.

I didn't realize how much work I have to do in preparation and two months is going to fly by. Best get busy, and out and about.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Last week I began an illustration of peppermints and such, and today I am tackling the clear candy wrappers.

(Except I can't do clear wrappers because they won't show well ((up?)) on my collage.) Minor problem. Heeheehee.

So today my project is to find a way to make clear candy wrappers visible and interesting on my illustration. This is one of the things that artists confront all the time. And it is called problem solving. And a bit of artistic license, perhaps? Some people call it creativity.

Except children and adults won't call it creativity if they can't "read" it immediately. Very important. You have to step away and look at your work thru someone else's eyes. And get others to look at it and tell you the truth. (Silent Wah.)

But Rome wasn't built in a day. And obviously, this collage won't be either.

But once I solve it, it will work and hopefully work well. The concept is there. And the execution today is in "exspearimint".

Peppermints anyone?

UPDATE: Figured it out. It looks great! Hawtness.

Time to move on to the next illo for this book project.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

When it is not a story, it is a different animal.

I've been working on and off on fractured rhymes for a few years and now am tackling some art work for them. Wow, is it a different ball game? First of all there is no beginning, middle nor end. There is no conflict. There is no problem or issue attached to the mc. There is no mc. There is no arc or pacing. There is no plot.. not really anyway. There is no one story.

But there will be several individual ones.

What there is: Funny and intriguing art and words and a theme to the whole body of work. Funny, huh? Well, I think so, anyway. And 2 points of audience participation.

Is it harder or easier? Yes.

Why am I doing this? Because a famous illustrator I had a critique with told me to. He "gasped... in a good sort of gaspy The Great Gaspy ( but he didn't croak or anything like that) over a picture of mine and asked if I wrote, as well.

"Um... yes."

"Well, you have to write for this."

So for a few years I have been staring at that piece, and I think I might have something going on. You stare at if forever until it comes together. There is a concept in there. And that is what floats my boat... the whole concept.

But time will tell. If I can muster up two or three illustrations that are unified by kid-friendly theme, style, voice and composition then I can hope that someone will like it.

I've done my market research... and it is not "Truckery Rhymes" which I adore. It is my rhymes. Smile.

It is very freeing to divert from what I usually do... but it still is challenge.

I am a slow writer... but there is reason for that. I think out everything holistically. The whole thing... warts and all.

Picking papers... and words?

Peter Piper picked a pack of pasteled papers;
A pack of pasteled papers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a pack of pasteled papers,
Where's the pack of pastled papers Peter Piper picked?

No, this verse will not go in the manuscript dummy. Not this way anyway.

But the pack of pasteled papers will.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer projects

It is getting too hot too early in my humble opinion. But when the temperature goes up so does my creative thermometer.

So here are my lofty goals for the summer:

1) DONE Have Bill put the AC in my studio window which means me moving things out of the way. Fun... not. Because it is the hottest room in the house, and without the AC I can't stand to even move... in there. Do it this weekend because... I need to....

2) Start my Halloween/Pumpkin art for my fall postcard. And for my fall show. Preferably three illustrations. Pick the most postcardy for the postcard...eee.

3) Start a dummy -- will do Fractured/Themed Nursery Rhymes -- In Progress as of mid-August -- try to finish by the fall

4) DONEFinish the last few fractured and themed Nursery Rhymes, and maybe do one or two more illos to go with the one I've done. Can't wait.... love this project... it is so much fun.

5) Send art samples to a few publishers.

6) DONE Visit "The Curious Garden" in New York. Because that is what I shall call it from now on, and oh, how I want to experience it. Must go there soon! Thank you Peter Brown!! Love that book.

7) DONE Send out 3 pb/dummy queries on one same ms to those who ask for just that.

8) Revisit Robot book dummy -- this has taken a big turn and has book a poetic "Word" book

9) Work on other doll drafts

10) DONE tighten up pig dummy

11) Revisit gargoyle dummy

12) admire and reflect on biography

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Picked up off the floor or "Would You Like to Have an Art Show?"

Just when you are feeling down you get "Upped". (No... not by watching that wonderful film.)

Because after all this time and work someone wants to have you exhibit your work and conduct a class about it.

Yes... really.

A former copywriter colleague (from my advertising years in New York) ran into me a few days ago. She is now a fine arts photographer and MEWsie with connections. She LOVES my children's book art and asked if I wanted to present it in an art show and to conduct a class.

Ummm. YES!! Yes. Yes. Yes.

Would I ever.


Now which pieces to pick.

(I'm "Up.". And I love that movie. too.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tyger Tyger Burning Bright

or how to pick the right postcard illustration.

It is hard and scary to do because your postcard is your calling card (or roaring card) and your first impression (or next first impression) with the publisher. And it has to read well (shrunken down from original size) and not lose details that matter. It has to speak like a child would and be heard over everything. It has to be taken seriously even if it is funny. It has to have personality and charm. It has to have something to say. And it has to be memorable. But most of all it has to say "Barbara" (or whatever your name is-- yes, you the creator).

So I picked Rory -- the angry tiger boy. I love him. He's got all of the above. And he shrunk well with this postcard (altho he hardly shrinks from anything in real life). And he's in a story I am working on too. And if that doesn't pan out he may very well be in his own story.

My goal is to now send out 3 postcard mailings a year. I've found a few reasonable postcard people who do small runs and a husband who can do my scans at work for free. Got editor lists, got art director lists, got a cute little tiger. I love tigers.

It is all coming together......Grrrrrrrrreat!

Update! Ninety Postcards sent to ADs and editors all carefully researched and targeted. Best postcard yet!!

And I expect a 10 percent return rate but I hope more.

I've become so good at stepping back and looking at things objectively. But I am so ready to start my own project or somebody else's I love.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The learning curve

I wanted to scan a picture of the St. Louis Arch but my scanner is on the fritz.

Anyway, I spent part of my day going thru seven years of papers from classes, conferences, internet etc., and filing, tossing and rereading (as in good editor/writer critiques) and realized how much I have grown as a writer/illustrator in that time. I also realized how much the industry has changed (half the staff is no longer there) and what I have to do to with my mss/dummies to make them marketable. I put critiques with mss and or dummies... and I read them now with courage and knowledge and desire to tackle.

The good news is I that I have a few that I KNOW are close to marketable. The bad news is that I have some dummies and mss that need work... but I am no longer clueless as to how to fix them. And some that need to be finished... aha.

What I learned about myself as a writer is that I sometimes write two stories at once... and I have to pick one and chop the other. I GET IT. Finally.

But now my studio is organized by files for every ms project, a file for agent/interview questions, a big fat file of writing tips, a file for illustration tips, a file for making my own bio, a file of editor bios which needs editing..., a file of all kinds of rejections, and a file for my own personal needs/research.

I have a lot of work to do.

But I have come a long way in eight years and have a few projects close to go.

The learning curve for writer/illustrator is winding down I hope.

Or maybe it isn't a curve at all but is a circle. Heheh.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Another Proud Auntie Post

My English nephew's techno-pop hit "Starry-Eyed" is now featured in the new teen superhero movie called "Kick Ass."

It is playing right here in town, and whether or not it is my cup-o-tea I am going to see it.

Yahooo! You go Johnny!! (Can I touch you? .... oh no... wait a minute... that is gross). ;}

You worked hard for this and you made it!!!

And I going to tell all of my kid's friends.

Hippo Birdy Two Ewes

Hippo Birdy Two Ewes
Hippo Birdy Two Ewes
Hippo Birdy Two Ewes!

Yes. The Big One is today and to compensate for the total shock and denial I feel about it I am going to illustrate my own birthday card using the ewe. A cinnamon colored ewe.

Who ewe? Yes, me. Actually, I'll nix that birthday card and finish that neglected second illustration for my newest book idea. And substitute the hippo and birdy with a wooly bear caterpillar. Already got the birdy one down in another illustration anyway.

Hippo Birdy to me!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Memories of Art Directing and how I got there.

Long ago when a I was a twenty-something I lived in poverty in NYC. It was a nice poverty tho. Why? Because I lived in a pre-war sixteen story elevator building on the Upper West Side right off of Central Park West. (Fanny Brice lived in my building...cooowilll). Right off of Central Park. It was my side yard.

I was quite lucky to find this apartment, and came very close to living in the YMCA (which I can tell you is a good incentive to keep looking for an apartment). I found this apartment through an advert at FIT. FIT was where I was to begin post-grad work in fashion design (it should have been fashion illustration as that was where I excelled). I snatched it up on the spot. Location, location, location. I loved and still love that area to pieces.

But I needed a job to live there and did not want to be a poor student.

Fast forward....

I was not cut out for fashion design. And illustration was at best a limited endeavor.

So I changed gears and moved from the fashion world to the advertising world. I liked it... especially the art and copy part.
I went to night school while I worked as an assistant for a big ad firm. I studied and created art campaigns and learned copy writing.

And I could walk to work!!

Eventually, I made my way up to art directing. But what I didn't realize is that art directing is not simply coming up with images and matching them with the art. NO, THE REAL JOB is stated below.

What much of it is is quality control which brings the final art to production for print/film.

This involves checking and fixing and finalizing proofs for :

Text Placement
Type with Image Choice
Copy Proofing

Now, imagine doing this on several different projects at once. And imagine the client saying they want changes and more changes and more changes and it is due tomorrow at the 9:00 AM meeting. Because the client is in town and is leaving the next day at 10:00. The big client.

And the typesetter (this is before computers) is all flustered with the little window he has to get the job done. And the printer can't possibly squeeze your most important job in this week.

No one appreciates the art director.

But without them you get no results. Or poor ones at best.

And who wants poor results?

Not I.

I miss those days. Central Park at my feet, walking to work, working as an art director. Making things happen.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It takes one to know one

(An artist I mean)

Sent to me by an artist friend:

Can an artist with multiple personality disorders have a one-woman show?

(We'll have to think about it and get back to you.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

PB word count and my angst

I visited one of my town's two bookstores (yes, we have two and they are still kicking) to check out the picture book section which is in the back of this lovely, classy, galley store. The shelves for pbs are broken up by non-fic, concept, toddler and classic/new. There are also shelves for new titles, topical titles, themed titles, puzzle books, fairy/folk tales etc...

I focused on the new/classic...the largest shelf. Because I wanted to see what I see as a classic and what I see as a hip and fun pb. There is a difference. And today's hip and fun could become a classic I suppose.

(My teenager is nagging at me saying, " I need to go home do to my mountains of homework," interspersed with, "I LOVE WHERE'S WALDO.")

"So do I Emily... who doesn't... in a minute..."

I perused about twenty books. Mostly new titles I've heard about or googled beforehand.

But I came back to two books that always leave me laughing/amazed and a wee bit sentimental... those being Lily and her Plastic Purse and Skippy Jon Jones. These books are not short (in any aspect)... and they have everything... everything. They are rich and they linger, and I LOVE THEM. They really touched me and they still do. And the writing is good and the plotting is good and they have enormous heart with a touch of humor. They capture real child emotions and situations and adults relate.

I want to beef up my writing to match their's but with all this 'keep thine short...what is a writer to do....?' Grrrr. I want to add add add.

Minor beef...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Today I watched Irving Berlin's Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. I grew up on old dancy musicals and I still adore them. And I love those two so much. So much. Class acts.

Then I watched a tribute to Henry Fonda. And cried.

Then I spent two hours working on a pb query. It is still not done... not quite right. And I won't rush it. I've learned that every little step you make has complete impact on the outcome. Every little thing.

Happy Easter

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why I love Log Lines

This is kind of a first for me but I feel like I stumbled onto something great... because log lines can get you on track when you are stuck. When you don't know what direction you are going in. Log lines are one sentence (maybe cheating with two) premises of your stories.

It took me all of fifteen minutes today to write up nine of my book log lines. But that doesn't mean it took fifteen minutes period. This has been a process. But the more you do it the better you will get. For the reader it is an understanding of what a stranger's book is about. For the writer it is a way to know that you know what your book is about, and if there is conflict (if necessary). It is also a way to know if you are writing too many stories in one manuscript. Or if your book plot may be convoluted/too slight or too nonsensical. Basically it tells you where you are going with plot and resolution.

So why am I so happy? Because I finally figured out (with one of these log lines) how to rewrite a picture book that I have been working on for YEARS. What was initially wrong with it and where to take it. I got rid of one of the things that originally intrigued me which took the plot in another direction. (But I can make up for that in the art because it has to do with color.)
Which speaks for itself. I want to make this a gorgeous book with happiness and sadness (and not in that order) and joy.

And it speaks to children and has lots of emotion. And that stays.

I simplified and streamlined it. Now I have to rewrite and dummy it. But it shouldn't be as hard now.

So don't give up on something if you love, love, love it and have for years. Just write up a log line to get you on track and write it from there.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Aging gracefully

The Restaurant

A group of 40 year old girlfriends discussed where they should meet for lunch.

Finally it was agreed upon that they should meet at the Ocean View
restaurant because the waiters there had tight pants and nice buns.

10 years later at 50 years of age, the group once again discussed where they
should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at
the Ocean View restaurant because the food there was very good and the wine
selection was good also.

10 years later at 60 years of age, the group once again discussed where
they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at
the Ocean View restaurant because they could eat there in peace and quiet
and the restaurant had a beautiful view of the ocean.

10 years later, at 70 years of age, the group once again discussed where
they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they should
meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the restaurant was wheel chair
accessible and they even had an elevator.

10 years later, at 80 years of age, the group once again discussed where
they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they should
meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been there before.

As I reach the last month of my 40s (hah) I treated myself to a little snippet of realistic humor.

I FEEL GOOD AND I LOOK EVEN BETTER!! WOOHOO! And I'm going out tonight, too. But not to the Ocean View. Jazz baby. Good food and good friends.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A side benefit of being a writer/illustrator

Your child has to write a two page horror story for school. And she needs your help. Ooooweeeeee!!

I ask, "Can it be funny?"


"Can it be illustrated?"



"Well...maybe. But I was thinking more like sadistic mice terrorizing a pet cat."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Take that Look Off Your Face

and put it into your characters.

Do you get restless when your illustrated characters possess blank and vacuous physiognomies?

Do you droop when you produce rigid stick figures?

Then it is time for you to get Hands-fired!. Hands-fired! is the newest way to get some life into your stone-faced statue like subjects.

Simply install Hands-fired! on the ends of your pencils, markers...what have you and let it go to work. Instantly, magically your figures will come to life (and so will your fingers). They may even start moving off the page and jump into your lap. That should wake you up.

Hands-fired! has been discovered around the world by thousands of uninspired illustrators. You don't even need your brains anymore. Simply install Hands-fired! on the ends of your pencils, markers...what have you and let it go to work.

The beauty of Hands-fired! is that it has a life of its own. Even when you don't. Those kids nagging at you? That dog needs walking? That oven door blew off again? You can even leave Hands-fired! alone for a brief moment. Unlike your children, your dog or your door.

*(And when you come back you will miraculously have several animated characters on your double page spread. Some needing snacks, walks or naps.)

Hands-fired! keeps on going even when your hand cramps so hard you feel like you'll never,ever lift a drawing utensil againsil.

*We are working on the second installment of Hands-fired! so that you don't even have to hold the pencil. You turn it on and it just keeps on going.

Hands-fired! was tested by the brilliant creator of Where's Waldo. You think he did all those people all by himself? Think again. He had a plan. Or perhaps numbness and tingling in his thumbs and his fingering.

And we at Hands-fired! can attest to that. Because we hired Martin Handford to invent our new Hands-fired!. So get some expression into your work! Better your gestures with Hands-fired!!

Buy Hands-fired! now! And put some fire into your characters. And lay-off your hands!

(All those years of writing ad copy have finally taken their toll.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Can you tell me how to get... how to get to

Just about had a car crash today. Maybe it is because it is such a sunny day outside this last day of Whimper.

Or is it that whilst driving I lose myself in NJ's great jazz station 'WGBO" I am hearing hints of the music theme of Sesame Street. Wait a minute... I know what Sesame Street is and I am not going there. (We don't have one but we need one.) I think I even know what TV Broadcaster this is on. It is in a land called PBS. But heck. I am not on PBS. I am on Grove Street ( where is Grover?) I am in Montclair doing mindless yet meaningful errands.

Where the heck am I now?

This cool rendition of Sesame Street is telling how to get there. What a cool rendition of Sesame Street... these WGBO jazz musicians have found it... wow!

WGBO is great but I 'WIll Go Back Over' my directions. There is no Sesame Street here... in Montclair...

not yet.

But there should be. That would be such a sunny day!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Ezra Jack Keats!

Born today March 11, 1916

One of my favorite artists who made art from his heart. An artist who broke the mold with Peter, a boy protaganist of color. An artist who created intimate, private and large worlds for his characters to inhabit and explore. Simple, meaningful, right-there worlds for them.

Keats is one of my largest inspirations as an artist. And specifically as a collagist. I remember hearing and seeing his books as a child. Like it was yesterday. Melting in his snowy world.

He was so great at creating a tone and a mood with his work. A serene and fun snowy day. He captured how the youngest child experiences that cold, powdery, magical stuff.

But, hey. Honestly right now I am so glad winter is almost over.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I really wanted to go to the conference this year. But between all the art supplies, the cost of submitting dummies (some being sent back unlooked at) I can't justify another expenditure. And it is a big one.

I've been at this for years; and making samples, copying them, and then making dummies and sending them out is becoming prohibitive. ILLUSTRATING IS EXPENSIVE.

Oh, and the writing classes and mentorships. And the website.

And the economy, and the kid in college.

I have to be frugal and pick carefully what I need. encouragement?

I really should be farther along than I am now. I know that. But that is okay.

I will persist, and one day the sun will shine on my project. Till then.....

Back To Work.

( rare rant.)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Prepping for a dummy

Finished my first draft of a new manuscript. Cut up the text and taped it onto the outside of the plastic sleeves of the 32 page dummy binder. Wrote out brief descriptions of the art and taped them over each piece of text. Went thru my four page plus list of notes I've gathered over the last few years of prerequisites for writing, asked myself if this book will matter, does it fit the age group with everything, has it been done before??, is it marketable??, will kids love it??? and will they feel involved, and does it move me (us, we), asking myself all kinds of questions. So many things we must satisfy with so little. And do I love it... does it have real heart, humor, hope.... hooks.........

And then I must research everything visually to even think about the sketches. And sketch. This will take months. But I am vested.

And crazy in love.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Forest! The Trees!

I drew one-hundred some odd trees this week. And a few sheep.

Now I can go to sleep (along with my hand) like my sheep.

Under a shady tree.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nothing to do with illustrating but I am purroud

A shout out to my English Nephew Jonny and the song "Starry Eyed" which he wrote for English pop star Ellie Goulding!! Soon to be in the US, we hope. (What a road he walked to get there.)

You ROCK, Jonny. Major congrats!!!!!

(Oh, and congrats on your brand new spankin' baybeh, too!! You know the one that cries and needs to be fed, and nappy changed.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sometimes it is what you don't write and illustrate

A Happy Birthday to Edward Gorey born 2. 22. 1925.

The illustrator of The Utter Zoo, The Wuggle Ump, The Broken Spoke, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, The Doubtful Guest, The Epiplectic Bicycle, The Gashlycrumb Tinies and of course, the classic Mystery Masterpiece Theater.

And thank you Pomegranate Press for printing up all the Gorey paraphernalia and postcards you publish and provide to this pleased purchaser.

It was how he takes you to a high point and leaves you there to finish up. It is what he doesn't write and illustrate that plays in your mind. You can draw your own conclusion.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Looking at today's Google Luge Banner for the Olympics

and it is remarkably similar to a series of illustrations I am preparing. Lots of trees (how many more trees do I have to draw today?) and mountains, while I blast the Who. Who are you... who... who... who... who?

I'm a tree! I'm a tree! See me, tree me.

(Except the color palette and the sledder. And mine is for children not the Olympics.)

I feel complimented in an off-handed way. Very nice banners! Kind of hypnotic.

Done with page one

of my next picture book!

It is adventurous, it is poetic, it is first person (yay), it is a boy book (but I think girls would like it too), it has a cast of interesting characters who all contribute to the denouement, it has audience participation, it is funny and heartfelt, and it goes forward line by line (I hope). I gave it a set up, the character a concern relatable to age group and have the illustrated characters I can work with.

And it can be dummied as I see the characters and scenes. And I think it is original in concept and execution (altho I will have to check out the slew of robot books coming out and make sure). Now I have to do tons of research for the sketches but that comes after the best draft I can muster.

Which means it simply needs a middle and an end (happily I know what the end is going to be) and that the mc has to solve the problem all by himself... even though he has a little help from his friends.

And he should grow and change (this will take some work). The physical and the emotional.

I just have to finish it.

One page took me a week of tweaking.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Local Writers and Editors Support Group announcement today:

The #%#^%&&* is shutting down its building tomorrow because of the snow forecast and so we’re canceling our Master Class on Coping with Rejection. Nothing personal! We swear! We’ll let you know if we’re able to reschedule.

I don't know why this made me chuckle but it really did.

Master Class on Coping with Rejection -- cancelled -- so take that!!!!

(and enjoy shoveling the snow while you are at it.)

Oh, dear.

Hee hee... no work tomorrow...

(so I can write and illustrate to my heart's content or content whatever

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cardinals Rule!

I have an affinity for cardinals. And I am blessed to have a tree in front of my kitchen window/Mac where cardinals flock to in the cold months. As I write, there is one hopping all about that branch. So temporarily I lose sight of my writing, blog browsing, googling etc... And when they sing I am a goner.

My start in the art world began in second grade when I decided to paint every bird I could think of... on my dad's dry cleaning cardboard shirt inserts. I think I did about one-hundred of them.

I have this desire to write and illustrate with collage a picture book entirely about the birds I love because I think I would be in euphoria just conceiving it. Maybe it will be about me painting birds and what it meant to me.

Sounds quiet right now but that is alright.

But the little guy on this blog is ready to star (or co-star) in a book.

Or maybe it will go someplace else entirely...

Monday, February 1, 2010

How Holly Hobbie helps me

I love Holly Hobbie's Toot and Puddle series.

And while I clamber down and write my first draft of my new pb manuscript I stare not only at my samples for this book, but I nestle with Toot and Puddle.

Not only is Ms. Hobbie a funny and dry illustrator with a brave voice, she has a great way with language and word sounds in her sentences. Her sentences roll of the tongue. So I examine them in my own writing... my own way.

(First get your premise down to a few sentences and establish your set-up and have a few hooks. Put in a bad guy who is not so bad intentionally and make your boy mc a hero.)

Erk... Back to Holly... and what is really cool is that she is not young. But she is still going strong....

and she doesn't get talked about that much IMHO. Huh?

Love you Holly. You rock! And you delight your readers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rewrite: Projects and Goals for 2010

1: Humorous, heartfelt heroine character book dummy (and rough drafts of three others) and samples - dummy, samples on submission

2: Funny and beautiful little gargoyle book dummy and samples -- my hope is to make this a truly gorgeously illustrated book

3: Edgy, funny, animal unlikely friendship dummy and samples -- my hope is to be able to raise the stakes

4: Biography of multiculturalist and early Pan-American Idol dummy and samples (full of action and adventure) -- my hope is to find a pubisher who is as fascinated as I am about the subject because he is a bit obscure

5: Parody and continuation of classic pig tale dummy -- this one has funky art which is a great part in the storytelling

6: Funny Flamingo thumbnail, text and samples -- I love the language but the story is too familiar, so I am going for a new premise all together because I love the art and language and I know I can do it in time

7: Fractured nursery rhymes with established theme -- text and art samples-- I love the art and premise and hope to pull this off

8: Text and art samples for giraffe story -- meh

9: Brewing concept book idea and art -- too early to tell

And what I really want to start is a robot story with which I have neat samples... have to look at all the robot stories and set mine apart -- starting the new draft

Gotta a nice portfolio of work both art and writing bearing a few bumps to smoothen.

New Art samples up soon! Who Said Red?

This should keep me busy for a while

Sunday, January 10, 2010


When I posted my bio on my illustrator website I mentioned how writing and illustration was a road to self-discovery and I meant it. Through the many years I have been pursuing publication I have thought long and hard about what exactly I WANT and LOVE to write. And a few days ago I read a thread on "The Blue" about a situation/decision. The question posed was would you (pretending you were an editor) pick premise over writing assuming one was weak and other strong. And one writer answered how hard it would be to do so because writing has to fit the book and that writing entails many things those being character development, plotting, voice/language/dialogue/pacing/structure/world building etc. (I'll add rhythm). I felt like a glowing coconut conked my head open.

And that premise doesn't always have to be original to make a book strong if the writing works well for the book. (Altho great premises can help.)

In terms of writing all of these things should matter and be apparent in the finished piece. But one of them stuck out for me as something I really l think I am GOOD at and LOVE and that is World Building... but... in my illustration. I love characters and characterization and things happening in a social world. I love places and different settings and movement from one spot to another. I love reactions and responses.

I love main character development, as well. Fun as fun can be.

Plotting is harder, tho, for me. But challenge is good. Yes, challenge is GOOD. And the plot IS the challenge and problem solving. But I think I am getting better at it and am not afraid of it anymore. Actually, when it works I get a "high" from it.

But language I always wonder about. I like it. But will you, my children and adult readers? Will it work for this book? This is my insecurity... and maybe stupid one. I've always been quiet but when I write I can sometimes reveal my own insecurities.

I wonder how many writers are good at all four things. I wonder how many writers would say three of the above come naturally.

I wonder what other writers and illustrators recognize any of these as challenges as they create picture books and novels.

And when I look at big character picture books (my favorite to create) I will try harder to meet all of the above and give them my all.

I've discovered what I like to create, what I think I am good at, what to look and strive for. The four doorways: Character, Plot, Language and World.