Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Felt Fortune Cookies

Here's a fun craft that looks almost good enough to eat.  In fact, my son picked one up before he realized it was felt!  Here is what you will need...

  • Craft Felt (tan or color of your choice)
  • "Glue Dots" or a hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • White paper

Cut a circle of felt approximately 4 1/2" in diameter.  (A large can works well as a template.)

Fold the felt circle in half like a taco.

Push in on the center bottom of the taco as you bring the corners toward each other as shown.

Keep bringing the two sides together as you encourage the top of the "taco" to turn down.  It will start to look like a fortune cookie.

Attach the two sides that you pinched together with a "Glue Dot" or a dab of hot glue.

Cut a strip of paper about 1/2" wide and 2 1/2" long.  Write a fortune on the strip of paper and slip it into one side of the cookie.  Now make a batch for someone you love.

Monday, December 01, 2014

December Newsletter Available

Check out the free kid activities like this cute reindeer puppet in the December issue of my monthly newsletter.  And don't forget to subscribe so you can receive future newsletters straight to your inbox!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Small Works Art Exhibit - Lunenburg Public Library

I have several watercolors hanging at the Small Works Art Exhibit in Lunenburg MA.  The opening reception is tonight at the Lunenburg Public Library.  The show will be up until December 13th.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Watercolor Autumn Leaves Craft Project

  • Watercolor paints (non-toxic if children are involved)
  • Paint Brush
  • Cup of water
  • 8 1/2"x11" Sheet of watercolor paper (found at most arts and crafts departments)
  • Scissors 
  • Pencil
  • Leaf Templates PDF (printed on stiff paper or card stock and cut out)

How to:

Dip the paint brush in water and wet the paper by "painting" it with clean water.
Then (this is the fun part!) dip your brush in the watercolors and cover your paper with paint.  Let the colors drip and swirl together.  The object is to cover the entire paper with paint.
Let the paper dry completely.

When the watercolor paper is completely dry, cut it in half the long way.  

Fold each long rectangle in half.

Lay the leaf template on the watercolor paper, lining up the folded edge with the straight edge of the template.  You should have room for 2 leaves on each rectangle of paper.Trace around the templates using a pencil.

Cut out the leaves.

Ideas for Your Leaves:
  • Make a tree trunk out of brown construction paper and have the kids tape their leaves to the tree.
  • Write a family member's name on each leaf and use them as place cards for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Attach them with yarn to a hanger to make a falling leaves mobile.
  • Or tie them to a piece of yarn and make a pretty autumn garland.

Nice Review for Steve and Wessley in School Library Journal

Here is a nice review that was posted on Barnes and Noble website for Steve and Wessley and the Sea Monster.  Thank you Gloria Koster for the nice review and for noting that Steve is an opossum.  The poor guy gets called a rat all the time.

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—A fun and engaging easy reader. When pals Steve, an opossum, and Wessley, a rabbit, disagree about a mysterious object afloat in the pond, readers assume that Wessley is right and that it is just a stick. Steve is convinced it's a sea monster. It's only when the very rational rabbit convinces his friend that sea monsters live in the sea and not in a pond that they are able to agree and move on. Children will get a kick out of the surprise ending. Spare, easy-to-read text delivered exclusively through speech bubbles accompanies the cartoon illustrations that are sweet, engaging, and full of humor.—Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Photoshop - Remove Red Pencils Lines from Drawings

Here is a trick that I learned recently that I really like.  You can do all your preliminary pencil sketching with a red pencil and then go over that with ink or graphite pencil and then you can remove the red lines in Photoshop.

Here's a video on how to do it...

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Inktober #2

Sometimes I get weird images that flash through my head for just a split second.  Yeah, well... this is one of them...  #inktober

Inktober #1

Happy inktober everyone!  #inktober

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

My October Newsletter Available

Halloween Paper Dolls Featured in October Newsletter

Signup today to receive my monthly e-newsletter filled with fun craft ideas and children's book information.  The October edition is hot off the press, check it out!

Check out other back issues of my newsletter here...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steve and Wessley in Scholastic Seesaw Book Club

If you have a child in first grade, Steve and Wessley are in the September Scholastic Seesaw book club flyer.  Both books for $5.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Book Birthday!

Today is the official release date of the second Steve and Wessley Scholastic Reader book. This book is dedicated to the Lake Whalom sea monster who inspired the story and to Leo who doubted it existed!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

SCBWI LA 2014 - Recap

You know how when you go on the Scrambler at a carnival and your head keeps spinning for a few minutes even after you get off the ride? That's what it's like going to the SCBWI in LA.  I've been back home for nearly 48 hours and my head is just starting to slow down.  Family and friends keep asking if I had a relaxing weekend in California and the answer is a resounding No!  It was fun, inspirational, thought-provoking, chaotic, for a person used to spending most days alone in an attic studio, a bit socially challenging.  But relaxing? Nope.

I was really hoping to talk to more of the illustrators that were there. There were about 200 illustrator portfolios in the showcase, some of which blew me away.  I was disappointed that only 8 of those were recognized for awards.  Some really amazing work went without any recognition at all. Today I'm adding all the promos I brought home to my inspiration collection. 

Speaking of promos,  how cute are these little goodie bags that Debbie Ohi handed out? I'm a big fan of her work and I'm so happy to have met her.

Debbie Ohi Goodie Bag

I'm also a big fan of Marla Frazee and I was really excited to have a portfolio review with her. She gave me some very good things to think about.  Most of what she said I already suspected but it was good to have her validate my hunches and give me some confidence that I'm on the right track.  I was really happy that she complimented my use of color, which is something that I've really been working hard to improve.

Marla Frazee
I really enjoyed Judy Schachner's key note address when she talked about making character bibles for each of her books. Her character bibles are scrapbooks filled with inspiration and ideas for each of her books.  I can't imagine I would ever make anything as labor intensive as and wonderful as her character bibles but I can't wait to make my own version for the book I'm currently working on.

I also took away a great deal from Meg Rosoff's breakout session about accessing your subconsious.  She likened a mind to a horse (the unconscious) and rider (the conscious) and that the rider has to understand and connect with the unwieldy beast under her if they are going to be able to work together. I definitely need to work on my horsemanship!

Now that my head has stopped spinning and I have mostly unpacked my suitcase, I feel like I can move forward with a freshly charged battery and a sharp new pencil  Now I just have to roll up my sleeves and get to work!  


Friday, July 11, 2014

Writing Picture Books at Lunenburg Public Library

Storyboard for "May I Please Have a Cookie?"

I will be at the Lunenburg public library in Lunenburg, MA Thursday July 17th 7:00pm to share my process of writing and illustrating picture books.  Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Creating Bleed and Crop Marks in Photoshop

I like to make sure my images are the correct size from the get go.  I hate having to go back later and fiddle around with adding extra bleed after the image is done.  So here is a quick and easy way to add bleed and crop guidelines to your Photoshop documents. If you don't know what a bleed or a crop mark is then you can read all about it here.  Otherwise, let's get started.

Let's say I need to create a 6.75"x 8.25" image with an additional 1/8" bleed all around. I could do a bunch of addition but that's a pain in the neck.  So instead, I'm going to create a document (File -> New) Make this new document the size of the final art.  Don't worry about adding the bleed yet.

Next, make sure your rulers are visible (View -> Rulers) and snap to document bounds is turned on (View -> Snap to -> Document Bounds)  Click on the top ruler and drag down to create a new guideline.  Drop that guideline to the top of your document. If you have Snap to Document Bounds set, the guideline will pop itself perfectly onto the edge of the document. Then click on the ruler again and drag a guideline to the bottom of your document.

Next click on the ruler to the left and drag a guideline over to the left edge of the document.  Again, it should snap itself to the edge of the document.  And, of course, we need to click and drag once more from the left-hand ruler to add a guideline to the right-hand side of the document.  So now you should have blue guidelines on each edge of your document.

Now all you need to do is open the Canvas Size windows (Image -> Canvas Size.)  Make sure the "Relative" check box is checked. and that the Anchor Point is in the middle.  Then set the width to twice the bleed amount.  Remember you need to add bleed to both left and right so this value needs to the be equal to bleed amount x 2.  So in our case 1/8" x 2 = .25"  Then also set the height to twice the bleed amount which would also be .25"  Then hit OK. 

And voila! You have your document set up with the proper amount of bleed and all of your crop lines marked.

Hope you found this useful!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Photoshop Brushes: Flow vs Opacity Part 2

This is a follow up to an article that I did quite some time ago about about the difference between "flow" and "opacity" using Photoshop Brushes.  This has become a very popular article and a reader brought up a point which I thought would be good to address.  If you haven't read the first article, I suggest you go back and read that one first because this is an addendum to that article.

In the last article I created a brush made up of lots of overlapping circles to show the effects of changing the opacity and flow settings.

A reader then made the following observation:

The effect shown for "opacity 100% and flow 50%" can be achieved with "opacity 50% and flow 100%" if you paint one overlying circle at a time... :)

Yes, the reader is correct.  If you set the opacity to 50% and the flow to 100% and make one long brush stroke it will look like the middle sample above.  But, if you make lots of small one-circle-long brush strokes, it will look like the bottom sample.  Why the heck is that happening?

In the example below, I set the opacity to 50% and the flow to 100% and the mode to "Normal." I then made 8 different brush strokes, which means I touched my stylus to the tablet 8 different times lifting it off the tablet in between (if I was using a mouse, I could have clicked my mouse button 8 separate times)

As you can see I have made notes where each brush stroke starts and stops. The opacity setting only governs the opacity within a single brush stroke.  Which is an important point to keep in mind.  If another brush stoke comes by later and overlaps it, it will change the resulting opacity in the area of the overlap. 

Hope this helps clear up any confusion.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Author Visit in Milford NH

I'll be in Milford NH next weekend at the Toadstool Bookshop.  If you are in the area I hope you will stop by and say hi.  Below is a blub about the event.  If you know anyone that might be interested, please pass it on.

Bring the kids for a fun-filled story time.   

Saturday June 7, 2014 at 2:00pm
Toadstool Bookshop, Milford NH
Award winning children’s book author and illustrator, Jennifer E. Morris will be reading and signing, “The Ice Cream Shop,” the first book in her silly new Scholastic Reader series featuring Steve the opossum and Wessley the rabbit (approx. age 3-8).  Then join us while we make our very own rabbit or opossum ears, complete with face paint whiskers! 

Jennifer is the author and illustrator of several children’s books including the best-selling, “May I Please Have a Cookie?” also published by Scholastic. Visit her on the web at www.jemorris.com.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lots of Free Coloring Pages

I have been doing some spring cleaning and have found lots of activity/coloring pages that I'm putting all in one place and making available on my website.   There are word searches, mazes, dot-to-dots and all sort of stuff. All of these images are free to download and distribute for non-commercial use.

Most of them relate to my book titles, like this little cut-out for "May I Please Have a Cookie?"

But some were just for fun, like this easy-to-make dog hand puppet.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Painting from life

Painting in the yard today. Some with iPad and some with these new fangled things called water colors. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bunny Rabbit Paper Bag Puppet

I'm in the process of creating some new activity pages to coincide with my latest book that is coming out in a few weeks.  But I felt like this weekend was a perfect time for this super simple rabbit puppet.  Just download the free PDF and cut out the face and hands and glue them to a paper lunch sack.  Ta da! a bunny rabbit for Easter.

Download the PDF here...

iPad Warm-up Painting

This is my cat, Flubby.  He doesn't move for days at a time.  That is, unless, I'm trying to paint him.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Amazon Bestseller List

I made it to the Amazon bestseller list for Children's Literature & Fiction today!  There I am! I'm right there WAY down at the bottom, right after Dr. Seuss.  I took a screen shot before it disappeared. :)

"May I Please Have a Cookie?" is also the number one best seller in Children's Books (hyphen)  Animals (hyphen) Alligators & Crocodiles AND number one in Children's Books (hyphen) Growing Up & Facts of Life (hyphen) Friends, Social Skills & School Life (hyphen) Manners

Painting on the iPad

This morning's warm up on the iPad.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Painting on the iPad

Today's warm-up done with #procreateapp on the iPad. The view out my window, snow and all! I'm not too smooth painting with the iPad yet, but I hope I'll get used to it eventually.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cardinal #6 with Video

I felt like I had to do at least one more cardinal.  And since yesterday's cardinal was biking, I thought we should go old-school and have a cardinal flying today. I think this guy is enjoying the last of the warm weather before the snow moved in tomorrow. :(