Saturday, December 16, 2006

My website is down

Ahh, I don't know what's going on, but it appears that my portfolio website ( is MIA. Hopefully it will be back soon. You can also visit to view my work and the work of some of my very talented friends.

Merry Christmas Picture Books

My kids and I have been reading alot of Christmas books these days. Here are a few of my favorites...

1. The Grinch that Stole Christmas - I've only seen snipets of the Jim Carey version and frankly it looked kind of scary and I'm not a huge Dr. Seuss fan but I do love this book.

2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens illustrated by P.J. Lynch. Okay this one isn't a picture book, but they were selling next to the picture books at Barnes and Nobles, and the illustrations are just gorgeous.

3. A Christmas Carol the DK Classics edition This is a nice introduction to the Dickens story. It's an abridged version of the story with sidebars and illustrations to help explain and elaborate on the text. I even learned a few things.

4. The First Christmas by Carol Heyer - This is a nice telling of the first Christmas story. The illustrations are colorful and realistic. The text is pleasant and straight forward. Several of the religious Christmas books we've read have been beautifully written but my kids weren't grasping the more poetic, and abstract text of some of these books.

5. Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera - Unfortunately we haven't read this one yet this year because I haven't found our copy. But the illustrations are just marvelous.

Do you have any others? I'm always looking for new ones.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I've been tagged

I've been tagged alot this week. My son has begged me to play tag at the bus stop everyday this week and now my friends are tagging me on the computer.

Susan Mitchell has tagged me, so here goes...

4 jobs I have had:

- Nurse girl (what's a nurse girl? - well that's what they called the summer nanny help at the private estate that I worked at in college. It's an awful name isn't it? Especially since one of us was a guy.)

- I was also a math tutor in college

- Unix programmer at AT&T (me an a million other people in central New Jersey)

- Database consultant

4 movies I could watch over and over:

- Philadelphia Story (It's an old Katherine Hepburn movie)

- Casablanca

- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (I'm not a huge Monty Python fan but I do like this one)

- Airplane

4 places I have lived (apart from where I am now):

- Bradford, Pennsylvania - I grew up there.

- Plainfield, New Jersey

- Edison, New Jersey

- Southington, Connecticut

4 TV shows I love:

Hmmm, we don't get cable on our street and we don't have a dish so I don't watch much TV these days. When I had access to cable I was addicted to HGTV.

- Coupling - PBS has been showing reruns of this British show and I love it. Unfortunately they aren't airing it any longer (I think I've seen them all anyways)

- The Office (BBC version) I haven't seen the US version too many times

- And what ever else is coming in clear on the arial antennea.

4 places I have been for a vacation:

- England - I'd love to go back.

- New Zealand - beautiful, black sand beaches, giant ferns, amazing fjords

- Cayman Islands

- Iceland - I'd like to back again and see more of the country side and spend more time at the blue lagoon

4 websites I visit daily:

There isn't any site that I visit daily but here are some I do go to alot...


- Illustration Friday

- Amazon - I don't check daily but I do check my book's Amazon rating a little too often as well as my web stats - I don't know why.

- Jacketflap

4 favourite foods:

- Icecream and/or frozen yogurt (I have an icecream maker and make homemade banana icecream yum!)

- Pizza (anchovies are one of my favorite toppings)

- Walnut chicken from the new Chinese place here in town

- Sushi

4 places I would rather be:

I don't know if I'd RATHER be these places because New England at Christmas time is pretty nice but here are few other places I wouldn't mind going...

- New York City - I'm bummed I didn't get to see the holiday store windows this year.

- The blue lagoon

- Portland,Oregon

- Any place with a nice warm beach

4 people I am tagging:

Karen Lee
Ginger Nielson
Paula Becker
Sarah Davis

Friday, December 01, 2006

Illustration Friday -Might

It might be a scarf, it might be a puppet, it might be a snake puppet scarf - which of course it is. I made these for my kids last year. They don't wear them too much (but I do!) I just bought some fleece to make some more.

I'm sorry I totally digressed this week. You may be saying this is ILLUSTRATION Friday? This is not an illustration. I know, it won't happen again - I promise. I'm just in sewing mood today.

Boy is it hard to take a picture of your own hand inside a puppet. Who knew?!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Painting Progression - Part 2

Here's the continuation of my painting demo...

Next I use a bunch of scrunchy textured brushes in photoshop and add the colors. I do this on another layer so I don't mess up the black outlines. Some of the brushes I use I made by scanning in black blobs and others are brushes that came with photoshop that I tweaked a little bit.

Here it is partially colored in. I redid the fish bowl after this stage, the fish looked too muddy so I repainted them.

After a bunch more coloring and texturing - ta da! Here's the final product...

Painting Progression

I like seeing how other artists work, so I thought I'd share one of my pieces and show how I do my photoshop scratch board paintings.

Once I had a watercolorist say to me, "Oh, you work on a computer. Don't you just press a button to tell the computer what sort of picture you want it to make?" "Uh, yeah... sure... I just press that button and out pops a picture." Even when I tried to explain to him that it wasn't that easy, I don't think he believed me. There must be secret button that I wasn't telling him about. In reality, Photoshop isn't that much different than traditional painting but there are a few advantages. One, I don't get my clothes dirty. Two, I don't run on of paint (a good thing since the nearest decent art supply is 45 minutes away) And three, I have that most wonderful invention in the history of the human race - the undo button. Let's face it, wouldn't it be nice if everything we did had an undo button!

All my work starts with a pencil sketch (usually a bunch). I not very good at drawing on the computer. This particular sketch is pretty rough. Usually they are more finished than this before I start the final.

Next I scan the pencil drawing into photoshop. Then it's time to start "scratching" the black lines. This is all done in the photoshop.

I set the pencil sketch's layer to 'multiply' and work in blue on a lower layer. I use blue so the pencil lines stand out and I can see what I'm doing. Then I use a fat paint brush to lay down areas of blue and use the eraser tool to remove sections. It's pretty much the same as using a regular old scratch board, except I don't get little black bits all over the place.

Once all the 'scrathing' is done I change the blue to black and delete the pencil layer and I have something like this...

Then I start adding the colors. I usually do a small color study with my initial color ideas. Usually I stick pretty close to it. But this time - well, it was pretty ugly. At least I knew what colors NOT to use.

Hmmm, I think I'll have to finish this in another post. Blogger won't let me add another photo.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Illustration Friday - Invention

As I watched my fish swimming around in their aquarium I wondered if they ever got bored of being in the same place day in and day out. What if they wanted to see the world and decided to do something about it. Although I image they would need some help building their fishmobile invention - I'm not sure how handy fish are with tools. Maybe the cat was in on it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Illustration Friday - Thanksgiving

"Over the turnpike and through the tolls to Grandmother's house we go!"

This is a greeting card I did a while back for Great Arrow Graphics. It looks better in real life with gold metallic ink. Great Arrow has a great line of cards of hand silk screened cards, check 'em out at

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Illustration Friday - Clear

"Estelle looked everywhere for her glasses. She couldn't see clearly without them. Where could they be?"

Sorry, I only have time for a line drawing this week. Maybe I'll get a chance later this week to finish this.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Illustration Friday - Smoke

I've been reading a book with my daughter called "Dragon's Breath" in which the dragons have to eat hot peppers to get their fire breath.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Awards

Yay for Aflie!

I was just told that "May I Please Have a Cookie?" was chosen as an honor book for the Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Awards in the "easy fiction" category. This award is given out by the Maryland Library Association to outstanding books for beginning and reluctant readers published in 2005.

For more information about the Blue Crab Award go to the Maryland Library Association's website

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Illustration Friday - Ghost

My kids thought my illustration friday submission was just too creepy. So in lieu of therapy bills for my children, I've decided to replaced my first submission with a kinder, gentler ghost. If you want to see the original post just click here...

Scary ghost

Happy All Hallow's Eve!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Orange and Black

Here is my first attempt at a piece for the orange and black contest that Penelope Dullaghan is hosting. You can check out the other entries

I liked the idea of the spider knitting a sweater but the composition was kind of lame - I didn't think it out very well. Besides I need to work on my paintly style some more. So instead of re-doing the first piece I decided to go in a different direction. Here is attempt number two - it kind of morphed into a book cover (this is the one I submitted by the way) Happy Halloween!...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Illustration Friday - Smitten

Darlene was the first to notice the tall handsome foreigner. He never spoke to anyone. Darlene assumed that it was because he was from tropical island and didn't speak English. The drakes all thought the guy was a phony but, never the less, the ladies all flocked to him.

This piece is dedicated to the Union Products company. Union Products is the original manufacturer of the pink plastic flamingo. Sadly they are closing their doors for good on November 1st of this year.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Why hasn't this book won an award?

I just received a very nice email from Mrs. Major's 1st grade class asking me what my favorite children's book is. Hmmm, I never had to pick just one before. But I thought back to what I liked as a kid and which books my kids like. And one of our favorites is "The Monster and the End of This Book" by Jon Stone. This is the Sesame Street, Little Golden Book where Grover is afraid to turn the pages.

I just checked if it was still available on Amazon. I was surprised at what I found. This book has been in print for 35 years and has an Amazon sales rank as of this morning of 7,821. There are 106 reader reviews all of which are 5 stars. So it's not just me that loves this book!

In my humble opinion, I think it "The Monster at the End of This Book" should be award some sort of life-time achievement award. It's one of the least recognized books in children's literature. Heck, how many TV show tie-in books have stayed in print for 35 years! And it makes me wonder, what makes a children's book successful?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Creepy Old Days

My friend Jim seems a bit bummed that I don't do many weird, creepy drawings any more. The main reason for this is that my kids are terrified to even walk down the Halloween aisle at Walmart - hard to believe we're related sometimes! But I was going through some old paper and found this pen and ink piece that I did in college. It was for a drunk driving contest (The text said "Take a Cold Hard Look at Drinking"). Alas, I didn't win the contest, but I thought I'd share it, it's the right time of year for skull and skeletons.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Illustration Friday - Phobia

It was very hard for the other amphibians in the pond to relate to Spencer and his irrational fear of the water.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Illustration Friday - Change

This is an existing piece but I thought it represented change pretty well. This kid has promised to change this school year. No more misbehaving and no more getting into trouble. But what fun is that?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Illustration Friday - Safe

I was working on my illustration friday piece, which was suppose to be a squirrel (running away from a dog) Well, it turns out I was the one to get bit! I was wasn't planning on getting so far into this piece tonight but one thing led to another and I was pretty happy with the results so far. Only I never bothered the save the file. I know better, but I lost track of time. But that's okay because photoshop never locks up anyways. Right?... ARRRRGGGHHHH!!!! (insert colorful expression here)

I quickly did a screen capture before I killed photoshop so at least I have something for illustration friday.

Safe? - I think not. (sigh)

Goodbye Fish Chair

I know I've posted this before, but now it's finally done. I finally put the finishing touches on the fish chair that I painted for the local library (the library is auctioning off chairs decorated by various artists as a fund raiser). I was nervous about adding the glass marbles because than meant actually drilling recesses into the wood (eek!) It sat here for a really long time, but finally this weekend I got up the nerve to start drilling. I'm pretty happy with the results.
Even after four coats of polyurathane the paint dots are still raised which I really like. It gives it a nice texture when you run your hand over it.

I dropped it off at the library this afternoon, and I'm a bit sad to see it go (okey maybe more than a bit). I hope it finds a good home. I wish I had a place in my house to put it.

Here's the seat. The large dots are the glass beads - they stick out a little, but not so much they hurt your bum.

And here's the back...

And here's the back of the back...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Illustration Friday - Run

I listened to "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" in the car this week with my kids so I'm in a mouse kind of mood this week. At first I was going to do a mouse on an exericise wheel but decided for a more traditional mouse instead. He's pretty tiny, hope you can see him.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Illustration Friday - Play

This summer I took golf lessons. I had never played golf in my life, not counting mini-golf. My husband wanted to learn so he signed us both of us up for a five session golf clinic. I had no desire to play golf but didn't want to hurt his feelings so I decided to give it a go. Surprisingly, I really liked it. I even won a free bucket of balls at the driving range last week.

So when my husband went shopping for golf clubs this weekend, I tagged along to see what was available in the ladies section. Shopping for golf clubs has been an interesting exercise. Since my husband and I have the same amount of golf experience, I thought the sales pitch to both of us would be similar. But I didn't consider one important factor, the male love of high tech gadgets.

The first store we went to was a large sporting good chain. The salesman talked to my husband first while I kept an eye on the kids. I eaves dropped on the two of them as the salesman discussed the merits of steel over graphite, head sizes, sweet spots, inertia, trajectory, weight ratios, and the theory of relativity. Once he had gone through his sales pitch with my huband, I asked him what he recommended for me, as I have the same golf experience as my husband. I was shown one set of beginner clubs. He said they had graphite shafts and then spent several minutes showing me all the pockets in the cart bag for my personal belongings and the insulated compartment for my water bottle.

The second store we went to was a small independent golf store. He showed my husband no fewer than 5 sets of clubs as he engaged in a lengthy discussion about the high-tech engineering of today's golf clubs. As for me, I was shown one set of beginner clubs. He said they they had steel shafts. That was it. He didn't have much else to say - I guess it was because they didn't come with a bag.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Illustration Friday - Capture

We never knew when The Net would come. We never knew what The Net wanted. All we knew was that we never saw Sid again.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Illustration Friday - Clean

A Clean Sheet.

There is nothing I find more intriguing than a clean sheet of paper. To me, the potential that a sheet of paper holds borders on magical. When touched by a pen or pencil, the image created can make people laugh or bring them to tears.

I suppose it's that potential that prods me to draw and paint when other things are begging for my attention. Right now, for instance, I should be balancing the check book. But first, just one more drawing...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Illustration Friday - Opposites

Most people couldn't believe Geraldine and Earnestine were related much less identical twins. The sisters were as opposite as brussell sprouts and deep-fried Twinkies. About the only thing they shared was lunch every Tuesday at Tiny's.

It was a bit creepy working on this drawing because I posed for both women. I couldn't help wondering which one I will turn into in twenty years. Which one do I want to turn into? Hmmmm...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Illustration Friday - Sacrifice

I live in a rural area with many small country roads. Often, while driving on a particularly long, straight stretch of road with no other cars in sight, a chipmunk will jump out of the bushes and dive under the front wheels of my car. About one time in ten I hear a heart-sinking little thump as he goes on to chipmunk heaven. (Sorry, Chippy!)

But why, when there hasn't been a car past in hours (possibly days) do they jump out right in front of my car? One might hypothesize that it's because the noise of the car startles them. But the animals around here are so accustomed to the sounds of civilization this seems unlikely to me. The only remaining, logical explanation is that it's some sort of a sacrificial rodent ritual. Could this little chippy be ensuring a good harvest of acorns for the rest of the chipmunk community? I like to think so.

And then again, maybe I'm just a little woozy from the heat and having trouble thinking of something for this week's Illustration Friday topic!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Alfie the Alligator is listed as a "Best Bet" Book

My book "May I Please Have a Cookie?" was listed by the TEMPO Reading Program at the University of Virginia as being a "Best Bet for the Classroom." I feel honored that my beginning reader book was listed right between Tedd Arnold and Kate DiCamillo.

You can see the rest of the list here. For more information about my book you can click here.

My son's preschool class liked my book but I think they are a little biased because the teachers and the kids know me. But I recently heard from a friend in NY that she saw a battered copy of my book at her child's preschool. The teacher said the kids like my book and she reads it often. When someone forgets to say please, the teacher says to them, "What would Alfie say?" That just made my day!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

SCBWI Contest

I received an email today that said I was the runner up in the latest SCBWI illustration contest. The challenge was to draw a child (human or otherwise) driving the vehicle they would most like the go cruisin' in.

Here's my fishy entry...

Here's a link to the rest of the winners...

SCBWI winners

I think they were all wonderful. Mai Stewart's Elephant is terrific. And I adore Holli's "junk" pictures.

Boy I've been slacking on Illustration Friday. I hope to get back to them next week.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Illustration Friday - Rain

This week's topic couldn't be more appropriate because it's been pouring all night. I'm sure there are going to be lots of "raining cats and dogs" images but... oh well... I felt like it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Illustration Friday - Dance

When my daughter was four we went to a "fairy tea party" at a gardening place in Maine. They had hired a husband and wife duet to play Celtic music for the afternoon. There were other young children there but the only one dancing and twirling as my daughter. She didn't care what anyone thought. She was completely oblivious to everyone looking at her, even the other children. At first I was embarrassed, then I was incredibly envious.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Garden Visitor

Someone's been digging in my garden again. The snapping turtle came back the other day to lay her eggs. I assume it's the same one because every year she comes up from the beaver pond to dig her nest right near our front door. This year she decided to dig up my patch of ajuga. I don't think she layed any eggs this time though. When I went out to check later in the day she had left without filling in the hole. Too bad, it's fun to see the babies when they hatch in the fall.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Illustration Friday - Jungle

This is a two page spread from a children's book that I created called "The Flashlight"

Friday, May 26, 2006

Illustration Friday - Cake

Here's the baker for the owl and pussy cat's wedding - sardine, rodent and dead bird cake (with a delicate filling of pureed garter snake) YUM! Something for all of the guests. Click on image for a larger view.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Illustration Friday - Sorry

This is design for an "I'm sorry" card that I did for Great Arrow Graphics. Great Arrow makes some really wonderful silkscreened cards (and I'm not just saying that because some of them are mine.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Illustration Friday - Fat

What would a fat cat like more than a juicy mouse... sushi of course. I think my cat would take a California roll over a mouse any day - she wouldn't have to chase the California roll.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Trying a new technique

Trying out some new techniques. Worrying less about perspective and more about having fun (maybe I should try that in the rest of my life too.) Here's a close up...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Iceland - Pictures

Sorry if your looking for Illustration Friday (scroll down to see my entry) A few people were asking to see photos of Iceland. This photo was on the Golden Circle bus tour where the tour guide said that we had entered the forested area...

Yikes! most Icelandic "trees" wouldn't even make a respectible shrub here in New Enlgand.

But trees or no trees, Thingvellir was really lovely. Here I took the liberty of merging 2 photos so the mountain was behind the foot bridge. In real life the mountain was a bit to the right but I thought it looked better this way (ahhh, photoshop)...

Here's one more picture of Thingvellir...

Oh, and I took a photo of the sheep's head sign. He's just that much better in technicolor "Thank you Mr. Chef for boiling my head!"