Friday, April 27, 2007

At the Beach

I'm looking at the pile of post-its on the schedule to my right and I have seven jobs due next month. This is not counting the massively time consuming digital pastel finals for one trade book due at the end of next month (two samples just up on my website -- "winter" and "autumn" -- and the sketches for Kitchen Dance. So what am I doing this Friday? Playing with Painter and wondering why I didn't establish myself with a simpler style like this!
My next stage of procrastination before full-out creative panic and 24 hour workdays begin, will be to notice every speck of dust on my furniture and ball of dog fur on the floor and decide cleaning takes immediate priority over working on my deadlines.
And yet, if I schedule myself sensibly, my finishes are all tight and overworked.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

William and Jeffery

Character sketch from a manuscript I'm working on. I used Painter's digital "Fine Sumi-e Small" brush tool, which I don't think I've ever used before. It has a very nice line, easily controlled. I think I might prefer it over the scratchboard tool I normally use.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Poem Illustration for Cricket

Here's a new illustration just published in the May '07 issue of Cricket. It's done in the same "sketchy style" as TEA WITH MRS. ROSENBERG

I've had quite a few people lately telling me that they would like to learn to use Painter, but are too worried about a high learning curve.

While in reality Painter may be a complex program (there are a lot of things it can do using filters and brush building and "shapes"for example) In all the years I've used this software, I have been ignoring every tool but the few I actually need. I am only doing three basic things for each picture.

  • Setting a size (usually 300 DPI) for my image and choosing the canvas texture
  • Choosing a brush tool and color so I can actually sketch/draw/paint
  • Using layers to keep my pencil drawings separate from my watercolor layer while I work.

Then I just save it as a .tif if it's to be uploaded to my FTP site for the client to grab. If it's just a sketch, at a smaller resolution, I will just compress it and email it to the art director.

I don't recommend attending classes or sitting through tutorials or heaven forbid, reading the manual. I think the best way to learn Painter is to sit down and play with it. If you get stuck somewhere, Google your specific question. Even the most basic questions have been asked and answered on the internet. Or, you can just send your question to me and I'll try to help.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


YAY! For the first time in 5 years I've updated my website. This recently became a top priority after my sister compared my old light yellow design to a "country kitchen" once too often and even my agent had been pleading with me to take the embarassingly ancient dates off the copyright notices at the bottom of my images. Hopefully it looks more current and maybe a even a little edgy?

I almost thought I should start this blog over now that I've attached it to my website -- but instead I think I'll just keep plodding along. Those old posts will scroll off the site sooner or later. So I'm going to blab here more regularly and post some stuff I've been working on.

I've got a few new B&W images up. I've been thinking of trying a graphic novel, or just an illustrated chapter book and need to have more samples. Plus, almost all my book ideas begin with an illustration I've done for myself, for fun.

My big news is that my wonderful agent, Scott Treimel, sold KITCHEN DANCE, a story that came out of one of the images I had drawn for my website a while back while testing my "sketchy" style. The publisher is Clarion Books, which would probably be on the top of my list of publishers I've wanted to work with. More than 20 years ago, while I was still an illustration student as MassArt, I sent my very first manuscript to James Cross Giblin at Clarion. He sent me a personal rejection encouraging me to send him more in the future. I never did -- instead put that rejection letter in a frame and gazed lovingly at it over the years. And no matter what icky art job I had to endure in order to pay the rent (like drawing tanks and M16 rifles for a US Army contractor and drawing dentists and realtors for yellow page ads) I always knew that the letter from Jim Giblin inviting me to submit "more" to him was solid proof I was a writer.