Thursday, December 16, 2010

the wave, realized

I posted this on Facebook, and forgot to post it here- Ethan as the wave, come to life! I am days away from Christmas break, and can't wait to chase some of the creative projects I haven't been able to get to because of school. The mantis with dragon armor has a destiny in Sculpey! I haven't worked in Sculpey since the Disney days, when we got to do figure sculpting in our down time, but I've heard that there's a great tutorial on

I found a mantis in the garden last week when I was cleaning up for the party, but it had gotten cold and he was dying. After a brief couple of hours trying to revive him under my desk lamp, I realized he was too far gone, and put him back to die in the fresh air as any wild thing should.

Oooh. Downer. Sorry. I hope everyone has a great holiday, whatever you celebrate. Stay tuned for Surfside Girls website, which will be appearing this break, and mantis sculpture updates...

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Collaboration. It's been the word of the day with me for about six months now, as I see the graduation light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel. In an animation studio, you get to drive to work and see a bunch of arty friends every day. The downside was I couldn't work on my own stuff. Oh, and I literally worked every day (the garden looked really bad in those days.) So, wanting my cake and to eat it too, I have decided I need to a. secure a really cool studio space, which I think I have in a really cool applied arts district in Long Beach, and b. convince my illustrator friends to stop working in various garages and coffee tables and actually help me pay for the space. The upside is we all get to hang out everyday, like in school, and the whole street has cool arty types on it. Plus, they have a rockin' street-wide Christmas party every year. The curatorial grad students on campus have figured this out already, and have formed the studio group Six Pack. They hung a great show last night on the Promenade in Long Beach.

So I have finished Surf Tip 5. These will get bound into a bitty book for my Illustration Special Studies class. Over Christmas break they will become part of the Surfside Girls website (or online experience, if I can learn Dreamweaver that well.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

magic day

It was really a cool day today. In the midst of the muddle that is thesis edits and end-of-semester wind-down, I got a scholarship, and a good one at that. There was a really cool lunch, and I got lots of hugs from my CSUF family. Happy happy day.

I finished up Surf Tip 6, though I haven't finished 5 yet. That's tomorrow's project. I had to rebel against linear thought... I think it's all that critical reasoning. After they're all done, I'm binding them into a How to Surf book for the end-of-class leave behind. The concept looks cool in my sketchpad- I can pull it off if I get thesis done (final final done.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

wish for St. Nick

I have a week and a half to finish my thesis (just got my edits,) two more Surf Tips, a sketchbook for class, and get the house ready for our massive, awesome Christmas party. So what happens? Along comes the opportunity to make Ethan another costume (for the "Walk Through California" fourth grade history thing.) Squirrel! Just like in "Up," give me something to distract me and off I go. I am making him a geographical feature of California, a wave. The drawings I made had me laughing out loud, though I know I'm easy to please. I hope you like them.

I'm also posting Surf Tip 4. I have decided that all I want for Christmas from "St. Nick" is a book deal. Keep your fingers crossed, folks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

re: artwalk

I need a nap. Last night was ArtWalk at Huntington Beach, tons of fun. Thanks to all my friends who came out, and thanks to Robin Ott, awesome cookie-providing librarian. I hope you took advantage of fish tacos and HB Brewery as well. I would have if they weren't CLOSED when I was done! I got really good feedback on Surfside Girls; I had it up next to one of the framed interior pages. It was cool to watch the little people pick it up and read it, even if it is just 20 pages. They all wanted to know what happened next... woo hoo!

It was also fun to watch people read Surf Tip 1: Goofy or Regular? and see adults do both stances and then exclaim, "I'm goofy!" Wish I had a video camera on it.

I just got done trying to teach six Cub Scouts (nine year-olds) how to draw portraits. I don't know what has me more tired- ArtWalk or Scouts. Couch, here I come.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I finished the warrior mantis and fairy piece and I called it Alliance. Wow, they both were really telling me their story as I worked! I had a fuzzy idea what was going on, but it seems to be rolling now. I don't know what I want to do with it, except I needed some story framework to produce pieces for my grad show. I want to utilize some epic storytelling devices, higher contrast than I'm used to working. I finished this piece and am very happy with it. I busted it out in 6 x 6 format for a show at Memphis Saturday night, put together by some of our curatorial grad student buddies. It already sold before it got hung! So excited!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

dead flies and fairy warriors

Woo hoo! A new distraction from thesis! I've been invited into a little group show by, actually, some of the curatorial students in thesis class! And with my total commitment to collaboration with friends, how can I say no? Although, I'll have to work fast, as the whole first draft is due in two weeks... Anyway, this gives me a chance to explore my mantis warriors a little further. I had to include the dead fly sketch. In what universe does an artist need reference of a dead fly? I love this job...

Raina Telegemeier spoke at CSUF yesterday. Thanks to the Pencil Mileage Club for making that happen! She illustrated Scholastic's Babysitter's Club into graphic novel format, and has just put out "Smile Raina." She gave a great talk; really clear, entertaining and honest.

She will be at the Long Beach Comic Con this weekend, as will my awesome friend Woody, his beard, and his comic. See you there!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

re: sketch day

Well, the SCBWI illustrator's group had another amazing, inspirational sketch day yesterday. Thanks, Veronica, for coordinating, and thanks Marilyn, the Toymaker, for offering your (always clean, well decorated, inspirational) home as the venue. It rained lightly, but not enough to spoil things. The costumed kiddos played with blocks on the table out back, and we sketched them in action. Quite a funny sight to have a minion playing blocks with a zombie! Love Halloween! I came away inspired by Marilyn's latest projects on wood, and Margaret's amazing lit scenes in boxes. I've been wanting to work large lately, after having been confined to graphic novel parameters and thesis brain ache, and I think that even if it has to be late nights and another cup of coffee, I must carve out some time to do so. Here a couple of my sketches. The other artists did some beautiful work; I will post them if they send them to me (hint hint!) It's so cool to see how people interpret- some are soft and delicate, some have amazing likenesses, some capture the energy and the action. So glad to know y0u all!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

running and painting

Waaa. Huntington Beach Art Walk was canceled for tonight, which means I've got 15 pieces of artwork matted and framed, and nowhere to go... Well, we need the rain, so I can't be too upset. And my plumeria and most of the other potted plants are gloriously happy.

Sunday was a great day! I ran, and finished! the Long Beach Half Marathon (and I can still walk, as long as it's not down stairs,) and my illo came out in the LA Times. Not a bad day! I have used three of my neighbors in this illustration. They've been really fun projects. It's nice to get someone else's story, and not be responsible for the words too, for a change.

I will be at next month's Art Walk, and I'll post that date when I get it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

go Sam!

I just finished a piece for the LA Times Kids' Reading Room. I'm really happy with how it came out! I used all warm, Halloween themed colors, and it has put me a totally Fall-ish mood. Let's just hope the summer we never got in California doesn't come late! I'm all about the sweater and crisp, clean breeze right now! I'll post the piece after it publishes October 17th.

I thought I'd throw this up (on the blog, not actually upchucking); I particularly like this drawing of Sam, out in front of the cave, and wondering what to do. Going through will change her life. Ever feel like that? What if I go in? Will I be a different person when I come out? Life is just cool like that, huh?

Hey, I will be putting a bunch of paintings up in the Huntington Beach ArtWalk on October 20. If you're around Surf City, stop into the library and say hi! The librarian has especially requested some of the Surfside Girls pages, so I'll frame some and put them up. Preview of the grad show..!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

re: thesis...

Hoo boy. I have come to that place in my education where I have to write the thesis. Not fair. I mean, do they make the math grad students hang an art show? Does computer science have to have a cohesive visual display, with cocktail shrimp and champagne, of their thesis? The professor, who is very nice, and a walking encyclopedia of obscure art knowledge, asked if we had any questions. I didn't feel it would help my case to have her define critical thinking... Anyway, to console myself, and while the graphic novel is (gggglk, anxiety and nausea) off at a publisher being looked at, I'm going to pursue a series of paintings I've wanted to do for a while now, of warrior fairies mounted on dragon-armor clad mantises. And build the Surfside Girls website, with my new friend Priscilla. Stay tuned. Oh, the lobster tail was at our Cabrillo Beach campout with Scouts- tons of fun!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We had such a great day yesterday! Linda from my illustrator group suggested a sketch day in San Juan Capistrano. She had free tickets to the Mission, and it was "Historic Days," where people are moving about in period costume. Yesterday was Zorro day. I've always had a thing for Zorro; so mysterious, with the Latin accent and all. We never actually saw him, which was probably a good thing, since we were there to be serious artists and he would have made quite a distraction. It was an amazingly beautiful Southern California weather day, and we all had a great time making little pictures. I'm very inspired to go back! Lots of early Californian history.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The L.A. Times Reading Room illustration published Sunday, and the colors looked great! Thanks, Jennifer, for that great opportunity. My son was so proud; he is, of course, always my model, so he's told everyone he knows that "he was in the paper." We're in the process of updating his bedroom- he wants his decor to be a combination of Despicable Me Minions (I picked up a bunch of cut-outs at ComiCon,) Mom's art, and Star Wars. Yes, I have a pop-culture child, and yes, I am proud of that. Anyway, I put a little frame on the original piece, and that will be up in the room.

I mentioned in the last post about this cross-platform media stuff. I find this endlessly fascinating, and am embarking on getting Sam (my graphic novel's mystery solving surfer girl) up and running on the internet. I love the added depth and reality this can add to a story. I came across this article in the online magazine Script, put out by Final Draft. The link follows:
There is probably a more elegant way to do that, but I'm just learning this linking business. The article made me flash on a memory I didn't know I had, of myself as a four or five-year-old at Disneyland. There was a board, and on this board were a bunch of labeled phones. You know, the old style kind, with the metal cord and ear and mouth bulbs between the handle part. These phones were labeled "Mickey," "Minnie," "Donald," etc. You could pick up the phone and "call" these characters. Fast forward to today, and I imagine Mickey tweets! Same concept. Disney was always ahead of the curve, especially in those early days. I do remember the sense of awe, knowing that Mickey was talking to me! I am only slightly less naive now...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

re: website! is up and running! I know I've been a bit slow off the blocks with this digital stuff, but now that I'm in, I'm really excited, and look forward to more. John Sciezsa, at the SCBWI conference, talked extensively about his SPHDZ project, which is a multi-platform middle grade novel. What that really means is that the characters in his book, and their classroom, all have facebook pages and websites. Among other projects I'm on right now is getting Surfside Girls' website up and running, with a trailer. Woo hoo! Back to my film roots! This is honestly the best of both worlds. It's a great tool to make a fictional world that much more real.

I've attached a screen shot from the website. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I am back to reality after an amazing four days at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (yes, a mouthful) conference in Culver City (LA.) Exhausting, emotional, overwhelming and inspirational, I am recharged for another year of chasing the dream. So today I am taking the day off from anything creative, and doing that miserable task of getting my house back under control. Really, it's ridiculous the state it's in. Try leaving a man, a boy, and a puppy home alone for four days with no woman supervision. If you are a woman reading this, you are nodding your head and sympathizing right now. However, in their defense, everyone still has all of their limbs, and the house isn't burnt down.

I had a very clear "I will remember this moment as long as I live" kind of moment at the conference- I was out on the dance floor at the Heart and Soul Ball under the stars, dancing next to the awesome Lin Oliver, who runs the show, in addition to writing awesome books, and Gail Levine of Ella Enchanted fame. My friends were also all around me, shaking booties to "I Like Big Butts," and for a surreal moment I had a sense that this was my tribe. Odd and looney, but my tribe nonetheless. If writing or illustrating for little people is what you want to do with your life, this summer conference is something you shouldn't miss.

Let me also put in a word here for my friend Kelly Light. She is a fellow illustrator and happy, saddle-shoe clad gal, who took the gulf oil spill tragedy to heart and started Ripple. So far she has raised $10,000 for the cause, all money going to bird and animal rescue organizations on the Gulf Coast. You rock, Kelly. Check out

I compiled doodles, words, and caricatures from my weekend conference notes/ sketches and thought I'd post them. Now back to cleaning...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

re: sister's wedding

Woo. My little sister is getting married Saturday! I am married-maid of honor (I can't take the word matron; my bosom is not large enough.) A lot of time and energy have been going into preparations- like the bachelorette party posting shows. By the way... it's really hard to keep up with a group of girls ten years younger than you are. We're going to dinner at 9:30? And then going out after? That's bedtime! It was a darn fun weekend in Palm Springs, but it's taking me a week to recover!

She asked me if I would do watercolor sketches of the different tree names she has designated her tables at the reception. I'm posting my two favorites.

Monday, June 28, 2010

re: Palm Springs!

Just got back from my sister's bachelorette weekend in Palm Springs. I need a nap! Lots of fun, but just being outside in that heat was exhausting (I assume this is why we were exhausted after a day of laying by the pool.) Darling little boutique hotel, with funky lanterns in the olive trees, and neatly clipped boxwood hedges. The whole color scheme was black and white and yellow. I stayed by the pool late in the afternoon while the rest of the girls were primping to go out, and painted the pool. The colors are so vibrant in the desert, and the air is so thin there's no atmospheric perspective. We weren't so sure if we weren't on a giant movie set...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Well school is out, and the livin' is easy! I wish that were true... out of the frying pan, and into the fire is more like it! I'm in the midst of a Boy Scout crisis; our local council is in debt, and in danger of losing its land. Nothing like a crisis to get the blood flowing, huh? I am leading a charge to recycle ourselves out of debt. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get the last of Act 1 done on my graphic novel for the SCBWI conference in July. Hoping to snag some interest there. This is a splash page of Sam and Jade. This summer should bring me a website, and Surfside Girls' own website as well (I'm very inspired by Axe Cop!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I had a great time at my Illustrator group meeting Saturday. It's so cool to be able to hang out and get inspired with other illustrator types! It's raining today and it's nice to be cozy in the studio with the cat and dog hanging out. The end of the semester means seeing a culmination of all of the semesters work, and that also is a boost. I printed a short, 20 page booklet of my graphic novel to date, and though it barely scratches the surface of the story, I'm thrilled with how it came out. I see light! I am taking it to the SCBWI conference this summer with hopes of attracting someone to publish it. I am certain I can get at least another ten pages done by then.

I am posting a watercolor from another project, the season's book. It's one of the spring pages. I love having both projects going at the same time; the energy keeps me going!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My friends are the best! Not many people will endure being directed when they know that ultimately they will end up as an insect (thanks, ladies!) However, directing is an important skill to have as an illustrator. The people gotta do what's in your head! Not always easy to communicate! Therefore, I had my figure drawing class do a little of this yesterday. What a hoot! Inevitable, somehow, many of the scenes we came up with ended up being Star Wars or Lord of the Rings related (strong with us,the geek factor is!) But it was fun to let them create a multiple-figure scene, then spend the three minutes drawing it. Great skill work, and tons of fun. Here are some of mine from the session.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Have you ever gotten near the end of a painting (project, etc.) and realized that it's not quite right? And then, when you ask people what to do to fix it, it gets worse and worse? And then you realize that there is no putting diamonds on poop. What really needs to happen is a complete, from scratch, overhaul. That is the story of this piece. I finished it and it didn't sparkle. Usually a painting will sparkle or sing when it's done. No sparkle. No singing. It was flat. Happily, though, the second time worked out. Rethink, repaint, sparkle. Enjoy Gossip!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

re: hedgehog

Okay, I'm putting the hedgehog close-up out there by itself.


I finished this piece this morning. I am particularly happy with the hedgehog. So so sad they're illegal in California, although, if I had one as a pet, I would probably not be very productive, so maybe it's for the best.

The wind's blowing today, making everything look alive. My connection with the outdoors is really driving this seasons book. I remember a time during the Disney animation days, on Hercules in particular, where I would go in to work in the early morning dark, and leave work in the late evening dark. Working in the basement of the building, there would be entire days where I would have missed what the weather was doing. I remember one day in particular, where I left work to find puddles all over the parking lot, and I realized it had rained all day, and I didn't even know. That kind of disconnect, for me at least, is very unhealthy, and I am so happy to be painting in my office/ sunroom, looking out over the pond, and seeing the trees blow! Grateful!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

re: the Huntington

I had a delightful time on Saturday at the Huntington Library and Gardens. The Orange County chapter of SCBWI went on a sketching/lunch/children's book art viewing trip. The weather was perfect, the company was delightful, and wow! to see original Arthur Rackham illustrations, amazing and delicate Kate Greenaway watercolors, and discovering Jessie Marion King... it was pretty close to a perfect day. If you live in Southern California, and have not discovered the Huntington, it is an amazing jewel that you owe it to yourself to see. I think it is a perfect example of way way way too much money, done right. To be able to collect all of those plant specimens, master works of art, and (?) the Gutenberg Bible, and then to ultimately give it up to the public, seems to me to be money with a higher calling. Thank you!
I am posting a bit of work; I've been extremely busy, but working on several different projects simultaneously. These are two sketches I did on my new Canson sketch pad (wonderful paper texture,) also a page from a new quiet book I'm working on about the Seasons, and then two panels from the last page I've done for Surfside Girls, which I'm particularly proud of.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

re: spring cleaning

It's warming up, I'm sitting here with my studio door open onto the garden. Yummy! I've been pretty darn productive lately, although it's mostly been busting out more graphic novel pages, and I don't post those (yet...) This time of year I have to fight the urge to go spend all day in the garden or at the beach... good for generating ideas, but not so great for getting things finished. That takes buttglue, and buttglue and gorgeous spring days don't get on so well! I finished the charity piece for my son's school, and finally am getting to post it. The other sketch is of our Graduate Studios and orange tree at CSUF. The Chair of our Illustration department (and all around wonderful guy) asked us to do some plein air sketching around the department for a project he's putting together. The rest of today will be about finishing the Domestic Life of Bugs piece "Coffee," and putting the final touches on a landscape design. Maybe if I work really hard I'll have a little time to peek at the ocean...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

re: snails

Snails are really cool. It rained the other day on campus and I saw one on my way to the parking garage. I had to stop and take a picture. What would it be like to have your eyeballs on stalks? Seriously! I have this charity piece to do for my son's school auction, and of course the snail got incorporated. Here's the sketch, and the photo. The bugs and coffee piece is progressing, about 85% done, but I'm not going to post until it's finished (which should be Friday.) Lots of projects!
Lots of fun! By the way, on a totally unrelated note, I went stand-up paddling last week for the first time. Woo hoo! I was walking on water! I felt cool and tribal. It was glorious. Just the fuel I needed to keep the projects fresh and moving!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

farther along

Well I've got too many irons in the fire right now, and I think that's how I work best creatively. Just a slight bit of ADD is good for the art! Here's what I've accomplished on the Bug Coffee piece; the graphite transfer is slightly incomplete due to my small scanner and oversized plywood board I work on, and the color is the first round of color layin. (I got the whole color piece scanned by cleaning off my desk and laying my scanner lid flat. Imagine that!)

I went sketching at Downtown Disney on Sunday with my illustrator group. How lovely! So much fun to be out with fellow artists. A little lunch + a little sketching = a great day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Goodness! I am posting the drawing I'm wrestling with right now; it will someday soon be a watercolor, but for right now it remains a thick tangle of furniture, bug legs, and perspective. Ouch! Hurting my brain! Thankfully I have a light box, which means I will eventually be able to decipher which line lies on top of which, and will blissfully begin my graphite transfer. How does a gossipy bug cross her legs? How does a mantis grip her coffee, without spilling or impaling it? Does a beetle torso bend enough to sit properly in a chair? There may be people out there grappling with more difficult questions right now, like health care or acceleration pedals, but I've got to believe that these questions rank right up there. Stay tuned for watercolor...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I just finished a piece to send up to LucasArts. That was fun. I've never really done the fan art thing, but Ira asked if I would put something in a charity auction up there, and wanted to know what I'd do with Ahsoka. A spunky girl character? Of course she has to be surfing! I put a logo on the piece for Kashyyk, the Wookiee planet that has really good surf. Sounding mighty geeky, I know, but having an eight year old boy means we are firmly entrenched in Star Wars and Clone Wars and all that- not that I don't like it too! I scanned both my transfer drawing (almost nothing makes me happier than a freshly graphite transfered drawing on stretched paper,) and my finished watercolor.