Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Monday, October 05, 2015

Trick-Or-Treat Bucket Craft

These trick-or-treat buckets are made from recycled plastic peanut jars. They are adorable, plus they have the added bonus of being smaller than the store bought treat buckets. Your little ghosts and goblins will feel like they got lots of candy when their bucket is filled to the brim with sweets.  The screw-on lid avoids spills.


* Large plastic peanut butter jar 
* Acrylic craft paints in white, yellow, orange and green
* Drill with 3/16" drill bit or a sharp object to poke holes into plastic jar.
* 18" of 5/8" wide ribbon
* Black magic marker

To make, wash the jar and remove the label. Let dry thoroughly.

Then paint the outside of the jar with non-toxic acrylic craft paint.  I used a combination of orange, yellow and white and swirled them together.  No need to be neat with this part.  I gave mine two coats to make the paint nice and opaque.  Paint the outside of the lid in a similar fashion with with swirls of green and white.

Once the paint is dry, draw a face on your jack-o-lantern using the black marker.

Carefully drill 2 - 3/16" holes, one on each side of the jar and thread the ribbon through to use as a handle.  Knot the ribbon in the inside to keep it from pulling through.  Of course, using power tools is a job for adults, not small children.

Get creative and make custom treat buckets to accompany everyone's costumes.  Use silver paint to make a treat jar for a robot, or make a rainbow colored one with sequins for a sparkly unicorn to carry.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Anyone Want Some Tuna Ice Cream?

Yesterday I found carrot ice cream on-line.  I thought OK that's weird but it doesn't sound half bad.

Which made me wonder if there was really such a thing as chocolate tuna chunk ice cream.  I didn't find any but I did find chocolate tuna tartlets with tuna ice cream.  I'm sure Steve would approve.  Anyone want to try it?

Character Consistency - Character Turnaround Exercise

One of the things I find challenging about doing sequential illustrations is having my characters stay consistent from page to page and from pose to pose.  I thought doing some turnarounds would give me some good drawing practice.

Today I chose to work on a basic child character.  I didn't want to complicated things with clothes and hair and such. I use this same body type for a lot of different characters so I wanted to create some reference for my generic little kid.
After I drew the figure from the front, I drew him/her from 3/4, side, and back views.  To help keep the proportions the same from pose to pose, it helps to draw straight lines across the page to note the position of various body parts; the eyes, the mouth, the tip of the nose etc.  I find drawing on graph paper or lined notebook paper can also be helpful.

Keeping track of how many heads tall your character is another way to help maintain consistency.  Rarely do characters stay in this static standing position. Measuring how many "heads" tall the character is a useful tool to check your drawings in more dynamic poses.  Note, that my characters are stylized.  This character, which I envision is being about 5-year-olds, is 4 heads high.  A real-life 5 year-old would actually be about 6 heads tall.

To test the accuracy of my drawings, I scanned all my poses into Photoshop and placed them on separate Photoshop layers one top of another.  By turning the layers on and off it I could flip through the poses and see where there I had made mistakes.

Another cool thing is that once your are done, you can use the Photoshop Timeline window to make an animation.  Select "Make Frames from Layers."  Below is the resulting Photoshop animation.  I then did an Export --> Save for Web and saved as a GIF (since I did the animation, it saves it as an animated GIF).  Any anomalies in the drawings quickly become apparent when you string them together like this.
If you give this a try yourself please share your results in the comment section.  Happy drawing!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Carrot Ice Cream? Really?

When we get to the part of the story where the kids find out that Wessley's favorite ice cream flavor is carrot swirl they always say, "ewwww!"  But I just found a recipe for ginger carrot ice cream that sounds divine.  I can't wait to try it.

Carrot ice cream?... Never say never!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stay Mindful with a Glittery Relaxation Bottle

In honor of the release of our new book The Lemonade Hurricane (written by Licia Morelli), here is a fun and relaxing craft project.

Watching these swirly twirly sparklers will definitely help you calm down and become mindful.  Plus they are simple and fun to make!

  • Clear plastic bottle or jar with a cap (old soda bottles work great!)
  • Light corn syrup
  • Food coloring
  • Warm Water
  • Glitter 
  • Duct tape
Make sure your bottle is clean and the labels are removed.  Fill your bottle about one third of the way with corn syrup.  The corn syrup helps the glitter stay suspended in the liquid longer.

Add one or two of food coloring.  Don't add too much food coloring or you won't see the glitter later. Fill the bottle to the top with warm water.  Securely replace the cap and shake the bottle until the corn syrup, food coloring and water are mixed thoroughly.

Then remove the cap and add the glitter.  I used approximately one teaspoon of glitter.  The fine glitter works great for this.  Replace the cap.  You can add more glitter or food coloring as desired.

Once you are happy with your glitter bottle, securely replace the cap.  Then cover the cap with some duct tape so it doesn't come unscrewed.

Note: Please use common sense.  These are bottles full of food coloring, glitter and sticky corn syrup.  Don't throw them around on your brand new sofa!

For the one above, I used 2 drops of green food coloring, fine green glitter and medium silver glitter.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Lemonade Hurricane - Book Trailer

The Lemonade Hurricane
by Licia Morelli
Illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris

Emma doesn't really like hurricanes. After a busy day of school and activities, Emma likes to sit still and rest. Her little brother, Henry, does everything but. She calls him The Lemonade Hurricane. Henry is a lot of fun when he's not storming through the house, so Emma decides to teach him how to be still. By showing him how to sit, bow, and breathe, Emma is able to calm the hurricane within Henry.

Visit or to download activities associated with this title.

Buy the book today from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, or iTunes

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Picture Book Workshop This Wednesday

Do you think you have a great idea for a kid's book?  Have you always wanted to write for kids but have no idea how to get started?  Come to my workshop on Wednesday and learn how to get your book into hands of little readers.

I'll be leading a picture book workshop this Wednesday (August 19, 2015) at the Lunenburg Public Library. 

Topics will include:
  • Common pitfalls
  • Knowing your audience
  • What to do if you can't draw?
  • Is self publishing the way to go?
  • How to submit your work to a publisher
  • What resrouces are available to help you on your way
Come join us....

Lunenburg, Mass
August 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm

For ages 14 and up

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Lemonade Hurricane - Picture Book Trailer

The Lemonade Hurricane is my latest book baby.  It was written by the noted psychic and coach, Licia Morelli.  It's due to be released the end of this month! (August 2015)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

GF&AF Expo Worcester MA

I will be signing copies of It's a Gluten-Free Birthday for Me! (written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by yours truly) at the GF-AF (Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly) Expo in Worcester, MA on Saturday July 25, 2015.  Please stop by and say hi!

If you can't make it to Worcester but are interested in attending, check out the GF-AF Expo website for an event location near you.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"A Gluten Free Birthday For Me!" Wins Award

"A Gluten Free Birthday For Me!" written by the amazing Sue Fliess and illustrated by me, was recognized as one of the best gluten free children's books by the Fifth Annual Gluten-Free Awards.  

Even though the book focuses on children with gluten intolerance, children with other dietary restrictions will be able to relate to the characters in this story.

Here's some more kudos for the book... 

"This bright and colorful picture book sheds light on certain childhood allergies. . .Teachers will find this book to be a great introduction to allergies, to embrace acceptance, and show respect."
Library Media Connection

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Painting with Procreate and the iPad

I've been having a lot of fun lately with the Procreate app on my iPad.  This is a scene that I saw on my drive this morning.  It was very cold (8F) and this house looked so cozy.  So when I got home I painted a quick sketch.  Remember no matter how tempting it is - never paint and drive!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Steve and Wessley Cybils Finalists

Steve and Wessley's first book, The Ice Cream Shop is a finalist in the Cybils awards in the Easy Reader category.

In case you are not familiar with the Cybils. They are the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards. Here is the the mission statement that they post on their website...

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Since most of my books revolve around food that sounds like the perfect award for me!  I'm very happy and honored that they recognized my book for this award.  

The reviewer, Katie Fitzgerald, mistakenly called Steve a rat (he's an opossum).  But that's ok, because I was thrilled that she picked up on the theme of the book, which is, reading is important.  In the book, Steve the opossum is having trouble getting into the neighborhood ice cream shop because no matter how hard he pushes, the door won't open.  Had he used his reading skills and read the "PULL" sign on the door he would have gotten his ice cream much sooner.