Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goals for 2015

     To follow the tradition I started last year, I am posting my artistic goals for the year in the hope that I will be held more accountable to accomplish them. I will most likely set more goals than I actually have time for, but it is a list to strive for. I'd rather give myself more goals to meet than not enough, and not challenge or push myself. So here goes:

  • Complete 3 major book projects. These projects are already scheduled, it's just a matter of prioritizing and using my time responsibly. 
  • Creating personal work. I am happy with the amount of personal work I did this last year and I would like to match that, if not exceed it. I still have several ideas floating around my head and in my sketchbook. It's time to bring them to life!
  • Make a Picture Book Dummy. I have a story written that I am happy with. Now I just have to sit down and make it a book! I have done one dummy before and I went way too far with it. This time I want to keep it simple and just get it out there!
  • Write stories. This one always seems to be last on my list of "things-to-do", and I need to make it a bit more of a priority. Even if I don't write anything worth taking further than a rough draft, I still want to get story ideas out  and let them develop.  
  • Exposure. I have recently started an Instagram account and now that I have a smartphone it is a lot easier to post things "on the fly". That's what I want to do! There are also people I need to "keep in touch" with, and I don't want to loose those contacts! This will keep me busy with creating new art to send them occasionally. With that said, I also want to make sure I send out postcards several times this year. 3-4 times is always good!
  • Draw kids, kids, kids! I have started drawing them a lot recently to improve my skill in this area. I want to continue to do this until I feel REALLY comfortable drawing them. I also have a few portfolio pieces in mind with more kids too. 
Happy New Year! Tell me your goals for the new year, and we can keep each other accountable!! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Another Year Gone

     It's that time of year again. Time to reflect on all that has happened in the passed year and make goals for the year to come. Personally, and professionally, it has been a year of waiting; a year of "Almost, but not yet". It is a frustrating place to be because in most cases there isn't anything I can do to change the outcome, I just have to wait for it to happen. However, there has also been a lot that did happen! Here are some highlights from the last year:
  • Even just taking a quick look back on my own blog posts, I realize that I have done a good amount of personal work. That was a goal of mine for the year, and although I would have liked to do MORE personal work, I'm glad for the work I did. I finally got to work on some ideas and characters that have been locked up in my head for so long. 
  • Kobee Manatee Book 1 received a second award: the Gold Mom's Choice Award!
  • Completed 3 full picture books! Phew! 
    • Book 2 of the Kobee Manatee series.
    • The Coal Thief (book 1 of 3 in a series).
    • The Littlest Angel of All.
  • I got a new Wacom Cintiq which has made my work flow a lot faster in certain areas. I am so thankful for this new tool!
  • I made a spreadsheet of Publishers and Agents that I wanted to submit to. I have been able to consistently submit and update my spreadsheet with all the contact I have had with industry people. I keep track of all my correspondences and interactions. I great discipline to make a habit out of!
  • I have spent intentional time working on drawing/sketching kids. I have a pretty good handle on drawing animals, but I know that my people need work. I feel like I am starting to go in the right direction with my humans, but I still have a ways to go. Many pages in my sketch book have been filled with kids, kids, kids.
  • I have been working on making small adjustments to my painting technique to give my finished artwork a more unique and distinct look. Texture has been one of my main focuses.

     I am so grateful for all the opportunities I've had this year! I certainly feel like it has been a year of growth and learning, as well as a year of accomplishment and success. It is easy to dwell on everything I DIDN'T do or accomplish, so it is good for me to see all that I HAVE done.

     Up next are new goals for the coming year...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas and The Littlest Angel of All

"For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." - Luke 2:11

This past year I have been working on a video project for author, Terry Mayfield, who has written and produced a new song for the Christmas season. The book will be released in 2015. Below is the music video of The Littlest Angel Of All which is a accompanied by my illustrations.

Please also visit to learn more about the song and how to purchase it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

You better watch out....Santa Claus is coming to town!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Kid Sketches

Lately I have been spending some time in my sketchbook drawing kids. Just for practice and just for fun. Here are a few. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Follow Me on Instagram!

     I recently got my very first smart phone! Not that I was opposed to it for any particular reason, it just didn't seem necessary. Although that hasn't changed, I know it will be convenient in certain ways.

     Anyways, I did start an Instagram account, so follow me! I'm still working on building up a photo base, but it's there and I will try to post consistently.  See you on the interwebs!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Sad Juggler

     In between my paid freelance work I have, sadly, only found a few bits of time to work on my own, personal work. I have decided this is something that I need to change! I have heard many, many times that giving yourself time to do your own art is SO important, and I absolutely agree. It's a change to try new things, take risks, be my own art director, and let my ideas run free.

     Recently I found some time to start developing a character that has been in my sketchbook and the back of my mind for over a year. He is based on a short (and very cute) poem a friend wrote about a juggler. I am interested in making this a series of 3-5 pieces.

     I have also started working on adding more texture to my painting technique. I think it will be a slow process to really start incorporating this into my final art. It can be difficult to suddenly change your technique to any extreme measure, so I think it's best to do it slowly. At least for my own peace of mind.

Below are some test paintings to try different brush textures. They might be hard to see in the small image.

Here is the finished piece. More compositions are in the works. I plan to give myself more time to work on these, soon!

And here is just a character sketch. More to come!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Diver Re-Painting

     I have never repainted a piece of art that I have previously made, although I admit I have thought about doing it many, many times. Well, I have now done it, and whatever everyone else may think about the idea, I am so glad I did it! At the very least, it was a learning experience and a good exercise.

     Below is the old one and the new one to compare. I hope you will all agree that there were at least SOME improvements!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Future of Desktop Publishing Programs

     Ever since I started college I have been a fan and supporter of Abobe programs, especially Photoshop, but also Illustrator and InDesign. I can string together key commands faster than my computer can process them, and these programs have become a large part of my artistic process of creating art and laying out books, regardless of the fact that I remain a traditional painter.

     Recently, Adobe has switched to a subscription-based model which has upset many of their customers. (Myself included, although I am glad to say I have Creative Suite 6 all for myself. Hopefully it will last me awhile.) If this model sticks Adobe will most likely be losing many customers to rising competitors. Honestly, I didn't even realize there WERE competitors until just the last couple of years. Some artist friends have already started to switch over to these other programs and I have been hearing some great things about them. To be honest, I am the type of person who likes to stick with things I'm familiar with, so it's going to be a bit tough making the switch and I will probably feel a bit of guilt for abandoning Adobe, but there are times when change can be a good thing.

     One program I have been hearing more and more about is Manga Studio. I can't say I know all that much about it, since I haven't tried it yet, but if I were to make a switch from Photoshop, this would most likely be what I would use. Here is a great little blog post by a fellow illustrator who made the switch and found it to be very positive. The best part is Manga Studio is a fraction of the cost of Photoshop!

     A second emerging program is called Affinity Designer by a company called Serif. I had never heard of this program until just recently. It was originally designed only for PCs back int he 90's but is now going to be available for Macs as well. Also at a fraction of the cost of Photoshop, this program is specifically being developed in response to the change Adobe has made. You can read a little more about this program from the Once Upon A Sketch blog.

     It's hard to tell if this program or any other emerging competitor will take the lead over Adobe, but at least there are some good options available. All I know is I will be doing a lot more research on programs like these for awhile and who knows, maybe I will be making the switch sooner than I think.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

2 Books In-Progress

     I have posted before that I am currently working on 2 books, The Coal Thief, and The Littlest Angel Of All. They have been a bit slow going since I have been working on 3 books simultaneously this year. But now one is finished and out of the way, so these 2 will be picking up steam from here on out.

     On both books I am done with all color sketches and I'm about to start on final artwork! I love milestones. And I always reward myself when I reach one. Sometimes it's simply taking a day off and NOT working...this can be hard for me, but I realize it is important. Sometimes I reward myself by going out and doing something fun. This time I am giving myself the whole weekend to do whatever. Catch up with friends, read, spend time with my husband, and I'm even going on a hike up in the mountains! A great way to refresh myself and recharge before diving into the painting phase which will probably take up the rest of this year.

     It has been (and will be) interesting to create and paint these 2 books at the same time because they have very different color palettes. I will be switching back and forth between books as I go so I will probably need to take time before starting each time to readjust to each color palette. This should be interesting....but so fun!

      Here is a spot illustration (color sketch) from The Coal Thief.

     Here is a spot illustration (color sketch) from The Littlest Angel Of All.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kobee Manatee Book 2 Artwork Complete!

Yesterday I finished the last of the interior artwork for Kobee Manatee Book 2! Phew! It's a really great feeling when you lay out all the paintings and see all the work you've done. So much time, energy, and love goes into each and every piece. I try to think about each page as a stand alone piece for my portfolio. In reality every page of every book I do should be worthy of being in my portfolio. Of course, that doesn't always turn out to be the case, unfortunately. But that is always the goal!

Kobee Manatee: A Wild Weather Adventure (Book 2) is set to be released in January 2015! More information to come as the book comes together!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

An Important Video for New Clients

Saw this important video for new clients and for new illustrators too. It's a good overview of what to expect when hiring an illustrator and what is expected of the client as well.

Thank you to illustrator Will Terry  for putting this video out there to educate both sides of the business.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Littlest Angel Of All - Character Sketches

Next up on the drawing board, The Littlest Angel of All, my next picture book for self-publishing author, Terry Mayfield.

This project will first be a video (out this fall) to accompany a song written by the author, and then a picture book to follow.

Here are some early character sketches to explore The Littlest Angel's look and a small scene sketch to start exploring some of the setting. This is only the beginning. Plenty of more cute little angels to come!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Coal Thief - New Book Project

I'm so very pleased to officially announce my next book project, The Coal Thief!

The author, Alane Adams, is a local author who is self-publishing the book. It is loosely based on stories her father told her growing up about his own childhood. Therefore, the book is based in 1929 (a fun era to illustrate!) in the small town on Girard, Pennsylvania.

This is the first book in a series of three. But more on that later. For now, here is a snippet of one of the interior sketches.

More info and sketches to come in this new project!

The Importance of Having A Life

I read a blog post from a fellow illustrator that I've met at the SCBWI Conference (Chelsea Kenna).  I wanted to repost it here.

I don't know who the original author is, but it speaks on a point that I have fallen victim to many a time. Our success as illustrators should not be measured by the time we put into our work, but the quality of the work we create. And for some people (like myself) reaching that quality of work takes more time than other people. I have felt the guilt of not being in my chair ALL DAY, but instead, going to the store, cleaning, or (heaven forbid) going to hang out with friends. Since when has keeping your house in order been a bad thing? Since when has building or maintaining friendships been looked down upon?

This is not to say that us illustrators should not spend a significant amount of time improving our craft and learning new things, but at some point a line has to be drawn. I suppose that will be different for every person. All I know is that I've crossed my line too many times. No amount of success is worth letting relationships falling apart over.

So, let's change the way we encourage each other. Instead of asking, how much did you draw today? Maybe we should ask, did you go outside today? Did you talk to your family this week? What ELSE have you been up to?

Here is a link to the original post I read
And below is the article I am referring to.

The Workaholic Pedestal
We freelancers have a tendency to never truly be away from our work, regardless of the time or day of the week.  Especially if like me, your work station is in your home.  We work long hours and dedicate ourselves fully to whatever project we have at hand.  We loose sleep, skip social gatherings, eat whatever is quick and easy so we can get back to work. I have noticed that there is a sense of pride in general among freelancers that we are so in love with our work that we can dedicate ourselves this way.  Passion for your chosen profession is definitely a plus!

However, I have also observed a downside to this part of freelancing.  That dedication can cross the line into an unhealthy workaholic lifestyle, and other freelancers actually encourage it.  There is an underlying unspoken rule in freelancer culture that if you’re not working, you’re slacking.  I’ve seen other freelancers take subtle stabs at their peers for taking time off to see family, to tend to daily life, or to just have a day (or three) to simply BREATHE and do something other than art. Doing things like comparing your work load with others’ work load, making yourself out to be the harder working one.  Referring to things like showering, cooking, and cleaning as “free time” or “vacation”.  It creates or adds to guilt surrounding work, which is really not a nice thing to do to your friends and peers.
The disclaimer here is that clearly not every freelancer does this, and I think those that do are not being purposefully malicious, so please don’t misread this as an attack.  I’m guilty of playing into this myself, we are just falling into a part of the starving artist stereotype;  The idea that your chosen craft/art must encompass ALL of your being, every day and every moment for you to truly be passionate about it.

The truth is, there IS life outside of art and work, and it’s not a contest. We are living beings that must eat and sleep, and we are social animals that must have a connection with others.  So not only do we HAVE to do things other than art, but it’s also ok to spend time doing other things that make you happy.  It doesn’t mean you are less passionate about your work, or that other artists who spend more time on theirs love it more.

And yes, there are deadlines we must work under.  But none of us want to be starving artists. None of us enjoy loosing sleep, eating crappy or skipping meals, working our fingers to the bone, letting friendships fall apart…  These are not good things.  You aren’t a cooler or more a passionate artist for making those sacrifices.  So I think instead of putting that lifestyle on a pedestal, we should be encouraging one another to take time to care for ourselves, and to have a life outside of their work. Just like anyone else doing any other kind of work.  =)

YES. Thank you. It makes me really uncomfortable when I hear professionals saying things like “if you are not drawing 24/7 you’ll never make it”, implying that having outside interests or taking care of yourself means you will fail. You undoubtedly need to be dedicated and focused to succeed as a freelancer, but what is the point of having the so-called freedom that freelancing is supposed to provide you if you can’t even leave your desk every once in a while? Exercise, get outside, socialize, have other hobbies. I’ve found I’m more productive and happier and healthier and more passionate about my work and my career when I take time off, every day, to get away from work for a little while. Building a career is important and rewarding, but your life is not comprised solely of the amount of work you are able do. Your life is not defined solely by how many hours you clock at your work desk.

This mindset is rampant throughout college and even in the professional studio environments too. It’s so sad, I’ve fallen Ill because of it and still have a hard time breaking away. I see many of my peers ruining their bodies and minds too to live up to an ideal of working 24/7.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kobee Manatee Book 2 Sketches and News

Hello all,

Just rounding up some sketches I'm posted on Facebook and Twitter of the Kobee Manatee Book 2.  All sketching is done, soon I will start on the final paintings! This is quite a long process in itself to paint 14 full color spreads, so it will be some time before they are done.

In other news, Kobee Manatee Book 1 has received a second award!! It has won the Gold Mom's Choice Award!! What an honor!

Congratulations to Kobee and Robert Scott Thayer for the award too! We all played an important part in making the book something special.

Here are some of the sketches from Kobee Manatee: A Wild Weather Adventure (Book 2)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kobee Manatee: A Wild Weather Adventure Cover

     Fresh off the easel is Kobee Manatee: A Wild Weather Adventure cover art! Just finished the cover and now I'm working on the interior art.
     No official release date as of yet, but I will announce it once I know! Start spreading the word and watch for some posts with interior art shots. This summer will be full of painting! It's going to be a wild adventure!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day 3

Happy Valentine's Day!

Little Lover Boy has got it now. The smell of a lovely rose will sweep any girl off her feet....right?

May we all love someone today, especially those who need it the most.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day 2

Little Lover Boy knows exactly how to win a young girl's heart.

What woman can resist a love song?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day 1

Do you have that special Valentine this year?

Little Lover Boy does, and he plans to woo her the right way....Every woman loves a man with lots of knowledge of exotic and wild things....right?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Looking forward to 2014

As I thought about writing this post, I became very hesitant. Openly sharing my goals for this year means that I actually have to stick to them because you all know what I'm supposed to be doing with my time, and you'll know if I fail. But that's all the more reason to put it out there for all to see, so I can be held accountable for the things I say. So here goes, if I don't do everything on the list, fine. I'm sure there will be a fair reason why. A human can only do so much! But it's something to strive for and it gives me motivation every morning to work my hardest throughout the day. If I want to grow as an artist I must push myself.

  • I already have one project going and 2 potential projects coming, so my first goal is to complete those projects to the best of my abilities. No shortcuts, and no "just get it done" mentality. Just because it isn't personal work, doesn't mean I shouldn't put my whole heart into them.
  • Read more books! Picture books and middle grade books (I've already read The One and Only Ivan and I'm onto The Land of Stories!) I really enjoy reading but I consider it leisure, therefore I push it aside so I can get my "actual" work done. But it's important to know the market I am working in and what else is out there. Plus, it rejuvenates me, and I need that often!
  • Create a dummy. I have a picture book story that I wrote last year and I want to make it a full dummy to send out. This time it will be much less involved...I spent too much time making my last one. I need to find a happy medium between finished sketches and rough sketches. 
  • With this dummy I want to do another round of agent submissions. I've got my list going so I just need something new to submit! To tack onto this goal, I also want to submit my dummy to publishers. I didn't do that last time and I should!
  • Start writing new stories...and finish them! I'm going to keep this goal pretty broad because writing is still so new for me that getting anything to a finished level is a huge accomplishment! I'm just going to go with ideas when they come and see which ones catch my interest more than others.
  • Character development. I want to spend more time developing my characters and just letting them live in my sketchbook for awhile. Draw them in different situations and let their personalities grow and develop.
  • Drawing kids. I have already started this goal after the SCBWI Conference, but I want to keep it going. I am interested in moving into some middle grade content to broaden my opportunities so drawing kids is very important!....and doing more black and white spots.
  • More time for personal work. This is difficult to balance because bills need to be paid and I need to feed my husband, but I recently read a blog that talked about the importance of always doing personal work. So, for me that means taking a character, or a few, and making a short series (3-5 pieces) with them. Hopefully that will help me build my portfolio and give it some variety. It will also keep things fresh and manageable between working on huge, long-term projects.
I do have many more goals and sub-goals that go along with each of these goals that get into more detail, but I think this is enough for you to keep me accountable for. Of course I hope and plan to accomplish all of these, and I also realize that it probably wont happen. And that's ok. It really is. I have the rest of my life to get them done. It's not meant to be a list of stresses and worries.

Happy New Year, I hope and pray that it will be a year of big steps forward and growth for all of us! Who's with me!?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking Back on 2013

I woke up this morning and all of a sudden I realized that 2013 was gone! What happened? It seemed to just fly right by without slowing down and now it's onto another year. Hopefully this one will take it's time and linger awhile because I have some big dreams for 2014!

As fast as 2013 came and went, there was a lot that happened and I am so thankful for and didn't expect. There was growth and new experiences, as well as a lot of waiting and hoping and trying and failing. Next post will be looking forward to 2014 and all the goals and dreams I have. For now, here are some of the highlights from 2013:

  • I started my journey to learn how to write, in addition to illustrating children's books. I absolutely still have a long way to go but I did write 2 picture books, one of which I made into a full dummy. I admit that writing isn't my first love and it's more of a struggle than something I find pleasure in, but it is something that I want to get good at and eventually be able to communicate effectively and artistically. I made Zulu into a full dummy and was able to get some professional feedback from editors, which was also a first. I've never had my writing critiqued. A great learning experience! I also used Zulu to submit to agents. No bites yet, but my search will continue. I'm not ready to give up yet!!

  • I had the opportunity once again to have a solo art show at Cal State Fullerton thanks to the Art-4-Health team at the school. It is a lot of work putting together a whole show, but you end with such a sense of accomplishment seeing all your work hanging on the walls. It puts into perspective how much work I have completed. AND I sold 4 original artworks! 

  • I finished a project that was 2 years in the making and is now available online! Dimplemeyer's Design was started in 2011 and the very gracious and patient author, Al Weiss, was so kind to let me take some extended breaks from the project whenever something pressing came up...and there were quite a few things. But it is finally done and I think it is a quality book that I am proud to have my name on.

  • I was surprised to find that Vulture Verses was awarded the PubWest Design Silver Award for Children's/Young Adult—Illustrated Book! 

  • I finished illustrating Kobee Manatee, an educational book by Robert Scott Thayer. The book has already accomplished quite a bit of attention and was even a finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards - Education Category!

  • I attended the huge SCBWI Summer Conference in August. This is always a huge event and a time of much growth and inspiration. I got to have my portfolio critiqued by an Art Director and come away with some big goals and lots to work on. Read more about my experience at the conference here. One of the things I decided to work on was focusing on drawing more children and even venturing into the middle grade genre. This will be an ongoing goal.

  • I had my first experience being a panelist on a Children's Book Panel at Cal State Fullerton along with 4 other fantastic illustrators! I had such a great time at this event!
    From Left to Right:
          Wendy Grieb :
          Jennifer Wood :
          Jennifer Gray Olson :
          Lauren Gallegos : 
          Rodolfo Montalvo :

  • I also got to work with on a Early Reader project called Stone Soup. It was a great experience and I would be very glad to work with them again.