Thursday, May 10, 2012

Maurice Sendak

I just listened to an NPR Fresh Air interview that Terry Gross did w/Maurice Sendak on September 20th 2011 — wow — that's all I can say...  here's the link

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Brain is Full

I spent the past three days at the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI) Spring Conference which was held in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts — wow, what an inspiring, exciting, exhausting (!), and extremely motivating experience.  

There were so many wonderful, generous writers and illustrators in attendance — all willing to share their knowledge and experience.  Lots to take in and absorb.  After I post this I plan on going through my notes and paperwork from the weekend and sort it all out — but before I do that, I wanted to let you know that my entry for the Poster Contest won Third Place in the People's Choice category!  Woo hoo!  Here is the image I submitted:

The theme of the contest was: A Whole New World — our instructions were:  "How do you go about building an entire world in just one image? How do you use illustration to "keep it real"? Explore a new world in your poster."

And look, see... here's my award certificate!  :^)

There were a lot of amazing entries... It was an honor to be chosen third by those attending the conference — I am beyond thrilled!  I promise I will provide a link to all the other winners' entries when it becomes available (I'm hoping NESCBWI will be putting that online!).  

Ok, I better get sorting through those notes!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Check that off my list!

The NESCBWI Spring Conference is NEXT weekend — and I'm slowly but surely checking things off of my to-do list.  My big accomplishment this afternoon was getting three portfolios ready to bring with me. 

The FIRST portfolio is for the Portfolio Showcase — art directors, editors, publishers, agents and conference attendees will have a chance to look at my portfolio... very exciting!  

The SECOND portfolio is for the Portfolio Critique — each participant is assigned an editor or agent who will offer feedback.  A great opportunity.

The THIRD portfolio is for the Illustrator's Peer Portfolio Review (Speed-Dating Style!) — illustrators will swap portfolios and provide critique, listen and learn.

Well, I better get back to that to-do list!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"First she looked in at the window..."

"...and then she peeped in at the keyhole; and seeing nobody in the house, she lifted the latch."

Hi Goldilocks!  This is one of the sketches that I worked on today — part of my homework assignment for the Advanced Illustrator Academy workshop I will be attending during the NESCBWI Conference in a few weeks.  I'm so excited!

The workshop is limited to 24 attendees and will be held all day on Sunday of the conference.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Especially since DAN YACCARINO is one of the leaders!  Yikes-o-rama.  I'm intimidated.

Another one of the leaders is Kristin Sorra — I was unfamiliar with her and her illustration before I signed up for this workshop, but have since found her on the web and she does really amazing work — check out this link to see for yourself.

Associate Creative Director Martha Rago of Harper Collins is the third leader of this workshop.  I am very eager to hear what she has to say and to learn as much as I can from her.  Here is a link to an in-depth interview that she gave to

I can't wait for this conference!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Makeshift Studio

Good Morning!  My son is home sick from school with a stomach bug (waah), so I've set up a makeshift studio in my living room for the day.  I'm still working on promotional materials for the conference I'll be attending next month (click here for the link) — today I'll be cutting out bookmarks to give away.  The bookmarks will have four of my favorite images from the board book I illustrated in 2008 ("Hug Hug!" published by Little Simon) on them.  Here is a close-up of some freshly cut ones below:

Ok, back to work — in between fetching saltines and giving back rubs!  :^)

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Nice Way to Spend a Rainy Day...

Promo cards ready for the conference

Well, I know what I'm doing today... printing and cutting hundreds of promo cards for the NESCBWI conference next month!  I really don't mind this type of work... it's nice and cozy here in my studio... a light rain is falling outside... not at all a bad way to spend the day.

My set-up

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Much Better

I told you that I might be reworking this one... here is the result.  I lightened the area under the big shell a bit — I think it now gives more of an impression of light bouncing off the sand onto the underside of the shell.  Not a drastic re-do, but enough for me to finally feel that it is DONE.  Yay!  Below is the original so you can compare... you can see that I played with the color balance and brightness/contrast in Photoshop a bit too, the final version above is closer to the original painting.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Today is Dr. Seuss's birthday!  Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 (1904!?  wow -- 108 years ago) in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Hmmm... who else do we know that was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in the month of March...?  Give up?  Ok then I'll tell you — me!  Yes, it is true — and before you say anything, no it was not 108 years ago — but boy it sure does feel like it sometimes.  ha ha

The photo above is of my very first Dr. Seuss book, "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" — a present for my 7th birthday given to me by my parents oh so many years ago.  How many?  Let's just say MANY many and leave it at that.  ;^)

Oh!  The movie "The Lorax" based on one of Dr. Seuss's books opens today... here is a link to the movie's website if you'd like to view the trailer  And... here's a picture of Betty White with The Lorax that I found while poking around on the internet... just sharing the cuteness!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Second Look

While poking around in my studio yesterday, I came across this illustration that I did in 2010 — I liked it when I first painted it... then I didn't... now I think I do again.  Sure I could rework it — soften some edges maybe...?  But I won't.  It's done.  I think...   ;^)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Overcoming Obstacles...

...obstacles such as this!  How am I supposed to get any work done with giant Friendly lounging all over it?  (Just move him, you say?  Hmmm.  Easier said than done.) 

In fairness to Friendly, we all know the camera adds ten pounds.  Yes, even for cats.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's still alive!

Yay!  I spent a wonderful day shopping w/my old pal Sue today.  One of our stops was Barnes & Noble at Shopper's World in Framingham, Massachusetts.  While there, I was quite thrilled to see four copies of "Hug Hug!" sitting front and center in their "Little Books for Little Hands" section.  I always keep my eyes peeled for it when I'm wandering around any bookstore and I hadn't seen any copies of it at Barnes & Noble in quite awhile, so I'm glad to see they've decided to carry it again — thanks B & N!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stephen and Maurice!

Stephen Colbert interviews Maurice Sendak -- hilarious -- the link for the excellent Part 2 is here.  Enjoy!!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Hello — I just finished an illustration for the NESCBWI conference that I'm attending in April, but I can't show it to you!  So I'm posting this cute kitty instead.  :^)

The illustration I worked on today is for a poster contest that the conference is putting on — the theme is "A Whole New World" and the challenge is:  "How do you go about building an entire world in just one image?  How do you use illustration to "keep it real"?  Explore a new world in your poster."  Well, I did and it's done.  I'll post the image after the contest is over — I wouldn't want anyone stealing my fab idea!

Next on my to-do list is to create a few new images to add to my portfolio.  I want to have a really strong cohesive collection of work to present at the conference.  Ok, I better get to it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Something to look forward to!

Hurray!  I'm registered for the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators 2012 Conference!  And double-hurray — it's going to be held in Springfield, Massachusetts — less than 45 minutes from my house!!

This will be my first NESCBWI conference.  In January of 2011 I attended the big SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in New York and it was FANTASTIC.  Really inspiring.  I learned so much and met some really nice people.  It was a great experience.

The New England Conference won't be until the end of April, but I'm already preparing for it.  I just finished designing three new promo postcards to bring with me.  One of them you can see at the beginning of this post.

Registration opened on Monday, January 23rd.  Here is a link to the NESCWI conference page if you are interested in checking out the details.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Here we go...

Hello — this is the first post on my brand-new illustration blog — welcome!

I've pursued a career in children's book writing and illustrating for quite awhile now — fitting it in as best as I could with the rest of my busy life.  I've had some success (most notably, "Hug Hug!" a board book published by Little Simon (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in 2008), and of course, some rejections.  

The rejections have been really "nice" ones though, believe it or not — I've received some thoughtful, constructive comments from some wonderful editors over the years.  I really have.  But rejections, nice or not, don't pay the bills!  I found myself becoming discouraged and burnt out.  So, in the Spring of 2011 I decided to take a break.  I stopped working on promo cards, didn't update my mailing list, barely skimmed through the copies of the SCBWI "Bulletin" that arrived in  my mailbox every few months... I really slacked off! 

That time off was just what I needed.  I should fess up that I wasn't "slacking off" creatively — I just redirected my energy.  I took up oil painting — it had been years since I had done that and it was wonderful to get back to it.  I started a painting blog:, opened an Etsy storefront... and am happy to report that I sold a few paintings — the whole experience boosted my creative ego and inspired me in many ways.

This time spent painting opened me up to experimenting a bit more — reminding me to keep things loose and to play with composition — both lessons that I plan to incorporate into my illustrations in the future.

Regarding the future...I'm excited about it!  My batteries are fully recharged and I'm ready to dive back in to this children's book illustration thingy and see what happens.  Yay!

My first order of business in this new phase is to get myself an agent.  That is where the sketch I've posted above comes in.  This is a cover sketch for a book idea I have come up with called "The Beach Day" — the whole book has been sketched out, a dummy has been made... I'm really happy with it.  The next step is to create a few spreads in color — and then it will be ready to present to an agent who will be blown away and sign me up immediately.

I have some other career-boosting plans in the works, but I'll save them for future posts.