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.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Statue of Liberty - Miniature

Statue of Liberty Model

Last week, while walking on the east side of Manhattan, I passed this bronze copy of artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi's plaster model for the Statue of Liberty.  I appreciated being able to look closely at the details of this great lady.

Seeing her reminded me of how work takes time...Bartholdi drew sketches, created models, and then made the final version that stands in our harbor.

Work worth doing doesn't often happen overnight...and as with the Statue of Liberty...usually has many helpers in the process.

The common people of France paid for her creation...the common people of New York collected money to create the base she stands on.

She is truly...of the people. 

Below are the words taken from the plaque at the base of this miniature Statue of Liberty: 

created by Frederic - Auguste Bartholdi 1834-1904

"This statue, cast in bronze from the original plaster sculpture, was enlarged 16 times by the artist to create the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, perhaps the most recognized symbol of freedom in the world.

It was presented as a gift to the American people and paid for by the citizens of France. The statue celebrates the core values of both countries: freedom, democratic government and the equality of man.

It also celebrates the bonds of friendship between our two countries and the vital financial and military assistance that France gave our Revolutionary Army commanded by George Washington during our young nation's hour of greatest need."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Relaxing & Rejuvenating Getaway

Sometimes a getaway is just what the doctor ordered.

I went to the Long Island Sound.

Sea air, sea gulls, sea breezes...

I napped and drew pictures of ponies...

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Magic of Trees

Today, when walking through Central Park with my friend, Alice, we saw a beautiful grove of trees near the Bethesda Fountain at 72nd Street.

This tree in particular drew my attention. It seemed to have its own story.

I love the lines of trees, the shadows, the lights and darks, and especially the way they trigger my imagination.

Trees are magical. They are individuals. They are community. They are homes. They are inspiring.

How many stories can you think of where characters live in, under, or on trees?