Thursday, December 29, 2011

Illustration Friday - Messenger

A messenger of Spring to come....floating on Lake Merritt, here in Oakland.
Here's to sailing off into the new year full of optimism and enthusiasm.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Light in the Darkness

Happy Solstice, Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanzaa to all my blog readers! And a very happy new year to you and yours!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Here is a silly ornament my son made in first grade at school...his school picture, made into an angel with doilies and a pipe cleaner halo. My husband loves to put this on the top of the tree. Especially poignant this year as that cute little guy is about to turn 18. What do you put on top of your Christmas tree?

Note: I did not do one bit of decorating this year. That visual director husband of mine did it all...while I typed!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Illustration Friday - Brigade

 Brigade, well that's a tough one. No military action going on here...

I'm just hard at work writing papers for grad school, and trying to get in a little holiday shopping here and there.  Looking forward to a long chunk of artmaking time soon...

PS Sorry about those ads up there on the right, I'm trying to figure out how to edit that space... it so far is very complicated, so if you have any advice, bring it on!! (it's google adwords at the moment, but I may switch to something easier to edit, where I can suggest wonderful books for you).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tree of Life

 I am fascinated with trees lately...maybe due to those gorgeous reds and oranges out there now. Tree of life imagery has been around for thousands of years, in cultures worldwide. Here's a quote from wikipedia,

"The concept of a tree of life, a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related, has been used in science, religion, philosophy, mythology, and other areas. A tree of life is variously: a motif in various world theologies, mythologies, and philosophies; a mystical concept alluding to the interconnectedness of all life on our planet; and a metaphor for common descent in the evolutionary sense."
This one above is from India.
 Here is Gustav Klimt's beautiful golden tree.
 I painted this one several years ago...
Here's a tiny one I painted this weekend, just for fun. It's only about six inches tall. I think I will be painting more of these in the near future...once all the grad school papers are out the door!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Look at me! Look at me!

 As there is a dearth of artwork happening in the studio at the moment...(term papers, helping with college apps and portfolio work has gotten in the way.) I'm sending you some eye candy this week. The trees in our front yard, liquidambar, I think, are just on fire this year. The living room glows during the day with their reflected light. My husband, working in the front yard this weekend, heard some folks passing by say, "Wow! Your tree is amazing!"
 "Yes," Dan said, "but I had nothing to do with it. It's just Mother Nature saying, "Look at me! Look at me!"

And here's the boy, in his final sprint to the finish of his college applications, with a portfolio that also says, "Look at me! Look at me!"

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Love a Good Mystery!

It's National Novel Writing Month (, click on the title above to get to the website), and many of my students are hunched over laptops and pads of paper, churning out novels. The general goal is to crank out 40,000 words by the end of November. I've joined in the fray as I was already starting to work on a kids' chapter book. After all, if 4th through 8th graders can do it, I should be able to, right?

Here's the so-far untitled synopsis (title suggestions welcome):

Abby and Eliza’s dad has a new girlfriend, Susan. They hate her, of course. But when Susan invites them all to go on vacation to her family’s summerhouse in Cape Cod they can’t resist their first airplane trip and adventure to the east coast. Once they get to the old saltbox house on the Cape, strange things start to happen. Abby has visions of someone who lived in the house long ago. Drawings appear in her sketchbook, as if done by her hand. Abby's mysterious experience at the cemetery scares her, but she’d rather chase ghosts than spend time with Susan.  The town's historical society reveals surprising things about Susan’s house and what went on there centuries ago. But Abby is not surprised, her dreams have been telling her about these events.  When Abby tries to tell Dad what she’s experiencing, he doesn’t believe her. But Susan does, because Abby’s visions sound all to familiar to her.  Together she and Abby work to solve the mystery, becoming closer in the proces to each other and to a girl from the past who needs their help.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Best Costume Ever! (Illustration Friday: Scary)

This dancing prancing Chinese Dragon just won a costume contest. Her mom made the costume using my cover art from Chinese Nursery Rhymes: Stories and Songs to Share as inspiration. How cute is that?!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I usually avoid politics here, but you know, art is political. And this is just so worth repeating:

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance 
1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.
2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.
3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.
4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.
5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.
6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.
7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.
8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.
9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.
10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.
11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.
12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.
13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Inspiration: Ana Juan

Here are two films of illustrator Ana Juan's work. I love her mysterious creepiness and the way she draws faces.  Her silhouettes are fantastic, too. Right now I am playing around with different ways to draw faces, and looking at the work of those who do it so well.  (I've also been teaching self-portraits to some of my students, including a group of adults this week for the first time ever. But that's another story.) Ana's have wide-set eyes, features low down on big round heads, and rather stoic expressions in the midst of chaos or strange events.

I do think her work would have given me nightmares as a little kid. Or at least strange dreams.

Although on second thought, I went through a phase in about 5th grade where I read all of Grimm's fairy tales, and those rainbow fairy books. Just devoured them.
I managed to sleep just fine.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

I never know when it will strike. Flipping through the September Elle Decor, paintings on a wall in a house in Texas. One painting stood out.
Yes, this one. For some reason, its graphic quality called to me.  An idea came, so I followed. Sketching quickly I could see them all in a row.
She wasn't quite what I had in mind, but I continued on.
 A series of these earth maidens have bubbled up out of me. From that one painting on the wall. Really, is that where inspiration comes from? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

First day of kindergarten for that little guy on the right.

 First day of senior year. 

Ok, I admit I can't look at these without tears running down my face. This will be a year of many 'lasts'. We went to our last Back-to-School Night as parents the other night. (Not that I will hugely miss those, but I do like to see what other teachers are doing.)
The end of an era... and yet also the beginning of other things. Like an empty house, often. Time.
And a full fridge.
but it still makes me cry.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Children's authors who broke the rules

Good article in the NY Times the title above to find it.
Love Sendak's writing and his illustrations.

Shel Silverstein's drawings have such great line quality, and his poems really 'get' childhood. 
(But I've always hated The Giving Tree)

And Dr. Seuss. Well, his manic energy is just infectious.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day

We built a new ceiling...
primed walls...
painted trim(til the paint ran out)...
finished the new deck...
= a very tired work crew.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What I did this summer...

Painted a cabin,
grew a salad garden,
had a great girl getaway,
painted a cabin,
hosted a 50th birthday party for 50 people,
researched and wrote three new picture books(still in the works),
painted a cabin,
painted some pictures,
and painted a cabin.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy birthday to my man! I hope your wildest dreams come true this year. xoxo

Monday, August 1, 2011

Illustration Friday - Obsession

I guess I have an obsession with painting flowers...
It's a nice counter to what I've been doing lately - writing. I am working on four different picture books, alternating between them when I get stuck. And jotting down new ideas that keep flooding in. I'm never at a loss for ideas, it's sticking with the ones I'm in the middle of that is difficult. As I see summer racing to a finish, I feel rushed to bring closure to these stories in my head.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Art teachers blogging all around

Take a look at what art teachers are doing all over the planet(click on the title above).... Here's a little garden eye candy for you above...I will post more soon, working hard on two new picture books, one on artist from the past, Rosa Bonheur.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Illustration Friday - Stay

We're just back from a weekend in the mountains. I wish I could STAY up there!