Friday, August 19, 2016


Watercolor with digital enhancements

As I've mentioned before, I've been taking some online classes at SVS Learn and I wanted to put some of the things I've learned to use. The SCBWI word prompt this month had a shortened turn-around time so I revamped an older illustration that I had done for Illustration Friday two years ago when the prompt was - KING. 

Here's the old one:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Bremen Town Musicians

     5 x 7 oil on illustration board

I finished this last week for an SCBWI notecard contest. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Serenity character study

     Lately I've been working on character design.  This is Serenity, one of my own story characters. I'm trying to figure out EXACTLY what she looks like and then draw her over, and over, and over, in different poses with different emotions, all the while maintaining consistency. 
   This is a digital drawing and looks a lot like the type of work that you can find in my sketchbook. Often, when I take those sketches and try to clean them up, refine lines, and add color, (either traditionally or digitally) they end up being very stiff. I'm trying to figure out how to keep the energy that my sketchbook has in it, and I think I've done a decent job this time. 
     Below is one of my earlier attempts at her with pen and ink and then a version of the sketch above with color added.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Castle by the sea

     A couple of weeks ago, I attended an amazing conference at the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay. The conference featured 12 children's books writers and illustrators who each gave highly inspirational keynote speeches. I took notes throughout the week and occasionally wrote down my own story ideas as they came to me. One of the most inspirational speeches reminded me that when you show up to work, the ideas will show up for you. Eventually. Sometimes you just have to doodle. Sometimes, if you're stuck, it's okay to copy the work of other people whom you admire (for learning purposes). The important thing is to be putting words and images to paper in one form or another - with consistency.
     I had the week to myself and would return to my little rented cottage each day at about 3:30. I had the rest of the evening to create. In all honesty, I didn't create much because my head was swimming and ready to explode after 7 information packed hours, but I did doodle. This is a 5" x 8" watercolor that I started that week, just for fun, just for myself, but it has sparked a story idea!
     Mostly, I came away from that week feeling that I am truly on the right path. It can be tough to motivate myself every day without a specific assignment or a deadline looming, but I'm trying. I'm moving forward and enjoying the steps along the way. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


5" x 7" acrylic on gesso board

     This is a small commission piece I did last week, working from my client's photos. I just accepted a 24" x 36" commission of a seascape for another client to be done in oils, so this small job was perfect timing. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016


   This is my latest illustration. I did it for the SCBWI online newsletter with a monthly illustration word prompt. This month's word - Admire.  I've been taking online illustration classes on a wonderful website that I may have mentioned before - SVS Learn. I am learning so much! My old habit was just to go with one of the first things that came to mind and get started drawing. I'm trying to make myself do more brainstorming beforehand and it helped this time. This image was approximately idea #8. Once I had narrowed down to this idea, I still had to plan the composition and put some of the things I've been learning into practice. I am learning (more like being reminded) to do MORE THUMBNAIL SKETCHES! I always knew it paid off to slow down and put more effort into the planning stages. I read once that 90% of the illustration work should be done before you start painting. I'm still a little too anxious to jump in and start the final stages, but I'm getting there.