Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Creating Repeating Patterns in Photoshop

The other day, I created this little dotty pattern in Photoshop for a background for my website. I used to struggle to create seamless patterns but I've since learned a quick and easy way to create them in Photoshop that thought it might be a useful technique for others. It works for creating all sorts of repeating patterns of all different sizes.

The dot pattern above is created by repeating this little file over and over again...

To make it, I created a new photoshop file. Mine was 30 pixels high and 30 pixels wide. You can make larger patterns. Just make sure you make it square and that you use an even number of pixels.

Then I changed the background to a medium blue color. So I have a small blue square.

Next I use the brush tool to draw a darker blue dot in the center of the blue box. You can draw something other than a dot, just make sure it doesn't touch the edges of the square.

Then you select Filter->Other->Offset. In the offset dialog box, enter +15 pixels right and +15 pixels down (half of the total height and width of my image) and select the "Wrap Around" option. Hit okay and your dot should have moved to the corners like so...

All that's left to do is make one more dark blue dot in the center. Now you have a repeating pattern. You can save it as a .jpg or a .gif and use it as the background on your website, like I did.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Website Redesign

I thought it was about time to remodel the ole website. If you notice anything breaking or looking odd in your web browser, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know. Thx!

Frog Friends Paper Plates

There are times that I do work for a company and I can't show it to anyone due to confidentiality. I have to wait until the work has been published, which can sometimes take years. Or even worse, sometimes a piece never gets published at all. So I was happy this morning when I stumbled across some familiar paper plates at the birthday-in-a-box website.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nashua Barnes and Nobles

Jean Cochran (on the left) and myself at the Nashua Barnes and Nobles.

I had a great time at the Barnes and Noble in Nashua, New Hampshire this past Saturday. One of the best parts was finally meeting Jean Cochran. Jean is the talented author of "If a Monkey Jumps Onto Your School Bus." If it weren't for her I wouldn't have an excuse to draw monkeys. We had a great time reading to the kids and making monkey puppets together. Thanks Jean and thanks to the folks at Barnes and Nobles!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Highlights Party

I was very privileged to receive an invitation to Highlights Magazine's illustrator party this year. How cool is that?! Most of us illustrators work out of our homes and, well, let's face it, we don't get out much. And we don't get invited to too many parties. Part of the festivities included a costume party. The theme of the party was "The Enchanted Forest" so I went as mother nature and my family went as forest creatures. My kids were really skeptical about dressing up as animals and walking into a room full of strangers (go figure) but they did it. Thanks kids! By the way, that is NOT my natural hair - honest.

Thank you, thank you Highlights. We had a really wonderful time!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Illustration Friday - Packed

All packed up and ready to go to Grandma's house. A Thanksgiving card design I did for Great Arrow Graphics. (The card looks better in real life.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Illustration Friday - Clique

Amanda never fit in with the popular girls. To tell the truth she was afraid of them. Even her imaginary friend was afraid of them.

This was a piece I did a while back for a postcard mailing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bus Stop Wildlife

My daughter noticed this unusual visitor sitting in the bush outside our door this morning. He looked so funny sitting in the very top of the bush like a Halloween decoration. Seeing the snake prompted me to bring my camera to the bus stop to take pictures of all the critter we met along the way. Our house is tucked into the woods and we regularly meet all sorts of things. This morning I met this chipmunk on the way back to the house. He lives under my front stoop with about 40 of his closest relatives.

And on damp mornings like today we always run into at least one red salamander. Today we found two.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Up Coming Events

I have a couple of author appearances coming up. Above are bookmarks that I had made up for occasion. If you are in the area please stop by and say "hi" and pick up a bookmark.

Saturday September 20th
I will be at the West Boylston Arts Fest in West Boylston, Massachusetts. I will be reading some stories and drawing some pictures at the Children's Story Tent at 11:00. After I'll be available to sign books.

Saturday October 18th

I will joining "If a Monkey Jumps Onto Your School Bus" author Jean Cochran of Pleasant St. Press at the Barnes and Nobles in Nashua New Hampshire. We will be there at 2:00pm sharing stories. Attendees can make their own monkey puppets to take home.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Illustration Friday - Island

I don't think there are any toucans in Hawaii but this one doesn't seem to mind.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Postcard Promo



I haven't done any promotional mailings in a long time. Here is a new postcard mailer that I'm working on. I've never done a monochromatic postcard before. I thought I'd give it a try.

We went shopping for a new goldfish the other day and the garden center had some amazing koi. I would love to have a koi pond some day but alas, I don't know who would enjoy it more, me or the raccoons. It would be like a big, expensive raccoon sushi bar. I think I'll keep my new goldfish indoors.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Monkey and His Friends are at Borders

All the animals are packing their lunches and high-tailing it back to school this month. If a Monkey Jumps Onto Your School Bus is being featured in Borders book stores this month as part of their back to school promotions. If you go to the Borders website you can enter your zip code to see if it's available at your local store. If a Monkey Jumps Onto Your School Bus is written by Jean M. Cochran and illustrated by yours truly.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Illustration Friday - Clutter

This is a frame from a comic book style version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Crafty Monkey

Ugh, it's been a while since I've blogged. Things have been busy with summer vacation, work, and back to school.

October 18th Jean Cochran (the author of If a Monkey Jumps Onto Your School Bus) and myself will be at the Barnes and Nobles in Nashua, New Hampshire. We will be reading, crafting and signing books. So if you're in the area please stop in and say hi!

If you aren't in the area, here are some pictures of the monkey puppets we'll be making. (I love puppets!) Thanks so much to Karen, the children's librarian here in Lunenburg, MA. She is a craft goddess and was the one who helped me put this together.

These are really easy to make and also tie in nicely with our book. All you need to make one is...

A Paper Lunch Sack
Construction Paper (yellow, red and brown)
Two Google Eyes
Glue Stick
Black crayon or marker

Cut the yellow contruction paper into two small circles (about 2" diam) for the eye area, one medium circle (about 2 1/2" diam cut in half) for the ears and half of a large circle (about 4" diam) for his snout.

Cut out a half circle about 2 1/2" in diam from the red paper for a tongue.

Cut a strip of brown paper approx 1" wide and 10" long for a tail.

Glue the two small yellow circles onto the bottom of the paper bag as shown. Glue the large half circle to the bottom too, lining up the flat edge of the circle with the edge of the flap. Glue this piece on so it covers the bottoms of the 2 smaller circles. Then glue on the ears and the google eyes. Lift up the flap of the bag bottom and glue on his/her tongue. Don't forget to make two dots on the center of the face to give your monkey nose holes so it can breath.

Lastly add a tail. Flip your monkey over and glue the tail to your monkey's posterior. If you curl the paper around your finger or a pencil first it makes it nice and boingy.

Ta Da! A monkey puppet! Of course you can use paper and crayons to accessorize your monkey. You can add stuff like arms and clothes, or what about making a flying monkey? Use your imagination and put on a puppet show!

I dressed mine for the office. Now he's ready for the corporate jungle.

I snapped this picture of all the pieces as I cut them out (Hurray for die cutters!) I spread them out to make sure I had enough of each piece. Don't they look like happy little robot people? ...You see it? ...don't you?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Illustration Friday - Enough

There's never enough ice cream. But this would be a good start. ;)

In case your an ice cream addict like myself - my friend Paula posted an recipe on her webiste with an illustration to match.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Illustration Friday - Foggy

Agnes fed the birds. Every day rain or shine Agnes went to the park to feed the birds. They needed her. They never said thank you or showed her any affection. But she knew she was appreciated. Then one day the Parks Department put up that sign. What did those fuddy duddies at the Parks Department know. The birds needed her. And she needed them.

Here's another, not so foggy, take on Agnes. But, I don't know, I think I prefer the lady in the first version better.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Wow, I have to apologize. Things have been a kind of hectic around here lately and I've been neglecting the ole blog. But I am so honored that 3 folks have nominated me for awards on their blogs this week. Tracy aka Yellow Kitty Notebook, Jennifer L. Meyers, and Ginger Nielson all gave me a brilliant weblog award. Wow, thanks everyone I'm honored! I wish to thank the Academy... No wait that's another award.

But seriously, thank you. And here are the "rules."

The rules of accepting are as follows:
1) Put the logo on your blog
2) Add a link to the person(s) who awarded you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on yours.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Okay this is REALLY tough part. I can think of so many deserving folks but here are my 7 nominations in no particular order....

Karen Lee
Jannie Ho
Carlyn Beccia
Ian Sands
Sarah Davis
Susan Mitchell
Paula Pertile

Friday, July 04, 2008

Illustration Friday - Sour

Who is this old sour puss? Maybe it's a self portrait of myself a few years down the road. :)

I tried to keep myself to 15 minutes again this week but it ended up being more like a half hour.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Illustration Friday - Fierce

I gave myself 15 minutes to come up with a piece for IF this week. Of course some would have you believe the fiercest animal on the planet is a wild animal like a lion or a tiger or something like that. But I happen to know, the most terrifyingly vicious beast on the face of the Earth is a Chihuahua.

Here's a coloring page version so you can make one the same color as that special little doggie in your life. :)

Hey, check it out, Erin colored in her own pooch and posted it on her blog. Maybe we should have a coloring contest - the prize could be a Chihuahua. (just kidding!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


This is a quick study. It was inspired by a girl that I saw in a restaurant last night.

Chicken - Part 2

I finished my chicken from last week's Illustration Friday. Here she is with the basic colors blocked in.

And here is the finished painting (all done in Photoshop).
Why did the chicken cross the road? We may never know.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Illustration Friday - Hoard

Chipmunks are famous for hoarding nuts but if I were a chipmunk I'd hoard cookies instead. I'd take an Oreo over an acorn any day.

I did this sketch at the playground this afternoon. If you ever are in need of a brutally honest critique just show your artwork to a group of 10-year-olds (grin)

Here's another version. Not real happy with it yet. May try again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My First Quilt

For some reason I felt compelled to buy a copy of "Quilts and More" magazine at the grocery store the other day. I've always wanted to try quilting but I'm really impatient and don't have a lot of time to quilt. The solution - itty bitty quilts. I found these great little coasters in the magazine. It was sewn by hand using English paper piecing and applique (I did use a machine to do the binding) It took me two evenings to complete. It wouldn't have been my first fabric choice but I had it laying around. But even so, I was pretty happy with the results.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Illustration Friday - Punchline

So, why did the chicken cross the road?

This is a painting in progress. I hope to have some time later this week to finish it.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Illustration Friday - Forgotten

Okay this is a stretch, forgive me. But I have lots picture book ideas that I scribble in notebooks and then forget about them. Most probably should be forgotten but I've decided to go back through and start seeing some of the better ones to fruition. This is a spread that I just finished for one of my "forgotten" stories.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Veggie Tra-a-a-a-a-ay

My son's first grade class is putting on a play this evening for the parents. I was asked to bring a veggie tray and since the play is about farm animals, I thought the veggies should get into the spirit. My son is going to be a chicken in the play, but I couldn't figure out how to make a veggie chicken. Hmmm, are cauliflower sheep vegan?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Alfie Coloring Pages

Sharpen your crayons! There are now Alfie the Alligator coloring pages and cookie activity pages available on my website.

And if you need more of a coloring fix, check out the monkey coloring and activity pages here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Illustration Friday - Worry

Worrying about what's lurking in the shadows. Cover illustration for "On a Dark, Dark Night" by Jean Marie Cochran (scheduled for release fall 2009.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Illustration Friday - Wide

Isn't it weird how if you give an animal a big wide head and wide spread apart eyes it automatically becomes cute?

For instance, here's a bunny...

A monkey...

Even a paramecium (I kind of think he'd make a neat throw pillow)...

It works on practically any sort of animal. Except for maybe politicians (I suspect you would get equally poor results with a Democrat.)...