Saturday, November 3, 2012

Empowerment through Writing

The Hungry Tiger
I've doing my favorite activity lately...
Working with grade school students on writing and illustrating their own stories.

For 3 weeks, I worked with Mr. Braverman's wonderful 2nd grade class on creating their own stories and illustrations through Behind the Book.

These students are natural artists. In addition to drawing and coloring, we broke out the water colors paints.

Reading Together - so FUN!
It was a gift to watch these young people focus on color experimentation and see their willingness to take chances with paint.

I'm a big believer in using drawing and/or painting as part of the writing process. I draw while I write. It helps me to get thoughts in order and stretch my imagination further.

These pictures show us reading "Hungry Tiger," the story we wrote as a group.

They were thrilled to see their names in print....
I feel the same way! : )

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mice in the Mail

100 Mice are finished and mailing this week.

Some of you might already have yours. : )

This has been a fun project.

And after painting so many little pictures, I feel braver in my color choices.

Hmmm? I wonder what my next large project will be?

Any suggestions?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Have You Read This Book Before?

I'm in the midst of author visits with a wonderful 2nd grade class in Brooklyn, NY, through Behind the Book.

This last Friday as I read my book, "Not Afraid of Dogs" to the class, one boy piped up, "Have you read this book before?"

I laughed and said, "Yes, I have."

Like many classes, the student were impressed that I didn't have to look at the words very often as I read the book. Usually, a student asks me if I've memorized the book. : ))

I love working with kids!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Missing France

Here I am at Versailles
I'm missing France these I miss my family.

It's funny that one can miss a place so much having only been there once.

It makes senses though.  There are people that we feel love for on sight. Like I did my friend, Caroline, who now lives in France.

Maybe I have a strong love for France because I connect it with her, her darling daughter, Jasmine, and lovely husband, Jerome...and the amazing time I had living life with them for several weeks.

Whatever the reason. I long to return. And, remember that feelings like these define us...and usually when we have feelings so strong...we do what it takes to soothe them.

Guess I'd better learn more French. ; ))

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Most Perfect Spot - Read of the Week

I discovered this charming picture book, "The Most Perfect Spot" by Diane Goode at my local used bookstore.

The artwork is thoroughly enchanting. The details in the illustrations are guaranteed to spur discussions with your young read aloud partner.

It's a funny and sweet story about a mother and son searching for the most perfect spot to have a picnic and all the challenges that get in their way.

The story is clear, fun and sweet. My favorite part is that the illustrations tell a second story about a little dog.

The story made me laugh, 'ahhh,' and I must admit, get a little teary with joy at the end.

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rainy Days, Books, and Cookies

My Cousin, Grant, Myself, and my sister, Jennifer

Reading in bed is one of my favorite activities.

Today, it rained all day in New York City...all I could think about was getting back into bed and reading...and cookies.

If you're looking for a great book to read and discuss in bed with the kids in your life...try, "Be Nice to Spiders" by Margaret Bloy Graham.

This book turned my life around. After reading it, I was never afraid of spiders again. 

It's a very sweet book that brings home the message that spiders have a very important purpose

Happy reading!

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Month - Fresh Start

"A Month that Ends
with Halloween is Special"
I love new months.

Of course, I also love new days, years, decades, centuries, hours, and so on.

It's always the beginning of something. A fresh start.

Today, I've already organized my desk and files, written my goals for the month, eaten all the leftover pumpkin bread, hung new artwork and photos, written 'thank yous' to the wonderful people who made KidLitCon possible this year....

And, I just drew from a hat the winner of September's drawing for "Steal Like an Artist": Jennifer Mead. Jennifer will be receiving her free book in the mail...this week! Woohoo!

Now, to spend the rest of my day completing the new book dummy for "Turtles Can't Race." *One of my big goals for the day.

Have your best October ever! 
I know I will.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Surrounded by People Who Love What I Love

KidLitCon at New York Public Library

Another perfect day at KidLitCon surrounded by people who love what I love -- Children's Books.

To add to the thrill, KidLitCon was held in the main New York Public Library! Wow!

I came home inspired, energized, and ready to read. 

To keep in touch, I collected some wonderful children's literature blogs that I'd like to share. 

To check them out for yourself, CLICK on the title:

Enjoy them! 

And, may the near future hold a day where you are surrounded with people who love what you love. It's glorious!

Friday, September 28, 2012

KidLitCon 2012

Kidlitosphere Central
What an amazing day!

Today, I was a participant in the 2012 KidLitCon sponsored by Kidlitosphere Central.

KidLitCon is a conference for bloggers who report on the field of children's literature.

As a book lover myself, I couldn't have imagined a more magical day. My morning was spent in Random House, hearing editors sing the praises of their fall and winter book lists for children, middle grade readers, and young adults. The visit was made all the more thrilling by seeing the extensive collection of books that Random House has published over the years.

Grace Lin
Grace Lin
My afternoon was spent at HarperCollins. Another delightful set of enthusiastic editors spoke about their exciting new children, middle grade, and young adult book lists.

I can't wait to read many of the books I heard about today.

My evening was spent at a dinner with an inspiring guest speaker, author/illustrator, Grace Lin.

The day was completely magical, because my in-between time was spent talking to book lovers.

It doesn't get much better than this.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sometimes a Nap is the Best Solution

Lucky napping in Sofie's bed
For the last 4 days, I have worked non-stop on projects that have immediate deadlines.

When I saw Lucky squeezing himself into Sofie's bed, I thought of all those times when a nap was the best part of my day.

Naps allow me to let go of clear my head and rest. Then I can come back to a challenge with rested eyes and fresh mind.

More than anything, a nap is a luxury. When I take a nap, I feel truly lucky.

Friday, September 21, 2012

100 Mice Almost Painted

Mice in Progress
Over 100 mice are crowding my work area. They are in various stages of being painted.

It's fun to look at them. Mice don't scare me one bit. : )

The first 30+ were painted with my vintage water colors from England. The next set, as seen at the left, are painted with ink and gouache.

This has been a great exercise in letting go and having fun. In this process, I have become more confident in my ink lines and skills with color.

Many times the best way to learn is to just do it. Learn from what happens...mistakes and successes.

My goal is to have all the mice complete by the end of September. Then they can go into the mail for October delivery to all who have reserved one.

There are 19 mice unspoken, send in your top 5 number choices and one of those mice will be yours.

Reserve Your Mouse Today!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mr. Pilcher - 7th Grade Geography Teacher

#89 in the 100 Mouse Project
As soon as I finished drawing this picture, I thought of my 7th grade Geography teacher, Mr. Pilcher.


I was late almost every day in 7th grade. And, I would have to go to him to buy my lunch ticket.

He never got mad at me. Just told me to do better.

He was a great man with a calm, humorous attitude...who in the middle of his geography lessons told us about living in other countries and stories from Greek mythology.

True, I don't know how much geography I learned in his class...I wasn't the best listener back then...but I always heard the personal stories he told about his travels...and the Greek mythology he shared.

When working with people, I understand that what they need or receive from me might not be what I'm officially there to share. They might need the extra things I share.

Just like I needed Mr. Pilcher to share the extras. The things that got me to pay attention. Those extras started my mind thinking of worlds beyond Kansas, and of fantastical stories of Greek gods and the people that believed in them.

Thank you Mr. Pilcher for being so fun and such a good example...and for never getting truly mad at me for being late.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Collie of My Dreams

Timmy and Lassie
From childhood on -- collies have been my favorite dogs.

First, with the TV Lassie who was able to rescue some living thing every week. She was loyal, kind, smart, communicative, and beautiful.

Then, I was impressed as a child when my father, a veterinarian, was boarding a collie. My mom came toward us children, the collie must have thought she was going to hurt us, so he held Mom gently in place so she couldn't reach us. What child wouldn't love that?

Susanna and Lucky

Over the years, I've had 6 different wonderful collies. About 17 years ago the last one passed away. I have dreamed of having another one ever since.

Almost a month ago, my dream came true with a smooth collie named Lucky.

I talk about this again today, because knowing your dreams and not giving up on them ... gives you the possibility of having them come true.

What are your dreams?
May you be as happy as I am when they come true.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Don't Miss Your Chance to Win!!

Enter to win your very own copy of "How to Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon.

To Be Entered to Win: 

Simply Sign Up to be a Follower of this Blog...
see right column on this website.

Already a follower of this blog?
You're already entered to win.

At the end of September,
I will draw a winner from all the Blog Followers.

Don't miss the chance to win this wonderfully inspiring book. Great for people in every field.

Thanks for entering. Best of Luck!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Two Wolves Inside Us All

Photo from Houston Zoo Website
A friend of mine shared the following legend:

"An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.

The other is Good. It is peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth."

The boy thought about it, and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?"

The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."

The author for this piece is unknown.

The sentiment rings our lives, we make a choice every day of which wolf to feed.

Which wolf do you feed?

Click HERE to link to more Native American Legends.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Try Something New Every Day

My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives
Illustrated by Laura Cornell

Today I saw Jamie Lee Curtis promoting her new book, "My Brave Year of Firsts."

She talked about how we expect children to try new things all the time. 

As adults, however, we rarely challenge ourselves to try something new.

Starting today, I'm going to challenge myself to try something new every day....a activity...something.

What new things will you try?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Answer is Always "No," Unless You Ask

Original Cover Art - Ellen Raskin

I've been reminded lately that the answer will always be 'No," unless you challenge yourself to move forward after what you want.

Madeleine L'Engle could have stopped submitting her fantasy novel, "A Wrinkle in Time," after the 1st, 2nd, 10th rejection, but she didn't.

She kept going and eventually after 26 rejections, her agent returned the manuscript to her. She could have stopped then. However, a friend wanted to introduce her to John C. Farrar of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, a company that didn't publish children's books at the time. Ms. L'Engle still said 'yes,' to the meeting.

Mr. Farrar liked her story and published it. "A Wrinkle in Time" has been in print ever since, and won multiple awards, including the prestigious Newberry Award.

Madeleine L'Engle didn't let all the roadblocks stop her. She continued forward toward a "Yes." 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Enter to Win a Free Copy of "How to Steal Like an Artist"

Enter to win your very own copy of "How to Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon.

This is an inspiring book for people in all fields...thus, a perfect choice for my drawing.

Enter to win: 

Simply sign up to be a follower of this blog...see right column on this website.

Already a follower of this blog?
You're already entered to win.

At the end of September, the names of all the blog followers will be placed in a bowl and the winner drawn.

Thanks for entering. Best of Luck!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Story Book Apps - the Future is Here

Nosy Crow's Cinderella by Ed Bryan

Interested in reading and/or writing storybooks for electronic devices?

Check out this great article, "The One Thing You Must Do If You Want to Write Storybook Apps," by Julie Hedlund, author and freelance writer.

Also, check out Nosy Crow's website to see more electronic storybooks.

Fun stuff. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Like Cats? Allergic to Them? Here's Your Solution

Found at the Barnes and Noble, NYC
Like cats?
Allergic to them?
No problem.
Knit Your Own Cat.

I thought this book was hilarious.

I would love to know how many people knit their own cats.

What I love most?
Shows there's a market out there for everything.

And guess what? There's even a "Knit Your Own Dog."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quantity Produces Quality

Mice have invaded my work space.
Why 100 mice?

Because by creating a large quantity of mouse themed illustrations - I am forced to stretch in my ideas of how a mouse could be drawn and what situations a mouse might get into.

In addition, I'm reminded of a story I read years ago in the inspiring book, "Art and Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pounds of pots rated an 'A', forty pounds a 'B', and so on.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work and learning from their mistakes the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
So...I'm producing a quantity of mice in order to improve the quality of my mice....oh yes, and to improve my skills with ink and watercolor.

What activities have you spent hours freely doing? Aren't you pretty good at them?
What are they?
What skill would you like to get better at? Try the quantity experiment.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Diversity - Another Artistic Lesson from Nature

Illustration by Lizzy Rockwell
My favorite thing about living in New York City is the diversity of our citizens. Every kind of person lives here.

In nature, there isn't just one kind of flower, one kind of dog, one kind of bug -- almost every natural thing on the planet has hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties.

When creating art, writing, or portraying a character, it's important to think about all the ways each person is different and unique. Embrace these differences. Your work will be richer...and your life.

One of my favorite writer / illustrators, Lizzy Rockwell, is a master at illustrating the wonderful diversity of people. Click HERE to visit her website and see her fun and engaging work.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Update - 100 Mouse Project

My desk is covered with ink drawings of mice. 

It's pretty funny.

I just finished inking Mouse #46.

This has been a great project in letting go and just drawing what pops into my head...and painting free!

If you were going to do a 100 project...what would your subject be?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Creative Clusters

When I first moved to New York City, I took a 12 - week workshop with Julia Cameron, author of "The Artist's Way."

Her book had changed my life...brought me to art school and to New York...the workshop took me further on my journey to the life I dreamed.

Julia spoke frequently about the importance of Creative Clusters. The need for creative people to surround themselves with other creative people. To be able to support each other as reminders to be brave, as supporters when times are rough, as motivators for going further into our projects.

Over the years, I have found my creative cluster of friends to be priceless...because on those rare
moments when my ego isn't at its fullest...I remember their faith in my abilities...and feel boosted...when I want to slack off...I see that they are moving forward and I gather up energy...and when I feel discouraged with rejection...they remind me...rejection is part of everything we do...the question always comes around to: Do I want it enough to be brave?

Who's in your creative cluster?

Who do you want in your creative cluster?

Ask them?

Friday, August 17, 2012


Photo taken by his foster mom, Diana
Here is the latest member of my family.

He came from an Animal Rescue with the name "Lucky"...and we are lucky to have him.

He's everything I could want in a dog....he's a collie, he's sweet, calm, smart, pretty, and housebroken.

Finding his photo on, going through everything we needed to do to adopt him, feeling excited and nervous at the same time...would we get him?

All these things reminded me that my one true priority in life...ever since I was little...was a dog companion...not a house, not to travel, not anything else...if I had to choose one thing over another, having a dog has always come out on top.

I'm very thankful for this new and perfect one...and glad to remember my priorities.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Life Deals You Bug Bites...

When Life Deals You Bug Bites...Write a Story about It.

While visiting Kansas years ago, I got covered with bug bites. This inspired me to write the story, "Bug Bite." Within the year, it was picked up by the art director and editor at a major publishing house. As has happened to me more than I would like ...when it got to the Marketing Department, it fell through.

After a few rounds to other houses, I put it on the shelf.

Last weekend, after hiking in the woods, I was covered with bug bites again. In a miserable itchy moment, I got on the Internet to find relief ideas.

What happened was wonderful. I found a list of bug bite home remedies. In a flash, I knew how to revise my story. 

Soon, "Bug Bite" will go out to publishers again. The story has stayed alive in my mind. Now, I have the solution that makes it complete.

Many times what is painful and/or irritating brings us the biggest rewards.

Now, I need to go rub a lemon peel on my bug bites. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baby Mourning Dove

Baby Mourning Dove
Two months ago when I stuck my head out the window to weed and water my fire escape garden, there was this baby mourning dove.

The sight of him filled me with joy. I knew his parents. I knew his older siblings. Now, they had directed him to my little garden and to the food and water there.

It's always wonderful seeing a baby anything. And I especially love mourning doves. Their sound reminds me of my Kansas childhood.

It's wonderful that they are here in the courtyard of my New York apartment....and even in France...they were there when I visited Monet's garden

Just as mashed potatoes are my comfort food. Mourning doves are my comfort bird. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Where do You Getaway?

There are days when we just need to get away from our lives. 

Where do you get away?

Where is your imagined getaway? Your real one?

For me, when I can't physically get away, I like to imagine a quiet tropical beach with a gentle cool breeze, blue water, white sand, and a jungle behind me.

On days when I can physically get away, I go to the woods.

Ever since I was little, the woods have been my place for reflective and calm solitude. A place where my brain is filled...seeing the familiar and wanting to know better the new. I'm always happily overwhelmed with the beauty of how nature presents itself.

I must the feels like there must be all kinds of beings that I can't see.

I'm not 100% sure magical creatures exist...I just like to think they do.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Design in Nature

Beautiful Pink Mushroom
Does your eye move through this photo or stay in one place?

Today, when hiking in the woods on Long Island, I was reminded of my beloved Design 101 class with Linda Kemnitzer at the University of Kansas. Through exercises and assignments, Ms. Kemnitzer secured in us the elements of design:  point, line, plane, flow, color, etc.

As I was photographing a wide variety of mushrooms in the woods, I thought of those elements. The mushrooms became the point of the photo. I worked to set up a plane where the lines created by the natural materials would draw the viewers eye around the piece.

It was fun.
Now, I'd like to know the names of all the mushrooms. : )

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mushrooms and Fungi

While walking in the woods near Fairfield, Connecticut...I found several beautiful mushrooms and fungi...

I don't know what they are...just that I find them beautiful...and magical.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Colossus

Yesterday, I wrote about the model of the Statue of Liberty.

That got me to thinking about the poem written at the base of the Statue in New York Harbor.

"New Colossus" written by Emma Lazarus.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

Beautiful sentiment.