Monday, March 3, 2014


This is all coming together people. I'm working on a picture book and have been inspired to work on a picture book dummy (yipes! zoiks!). I recently received a fantastic critique by a professional and was encouraged to do more of my narwhals. There's a story here. I'm excited to work on bringing it to life.

On the path...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Work, work, work...

Honestly, if I could bypass picking up the kids at school (sorry kids), dinner, homework, laundry, eating, and sleeping, I would keep working! No, I haven't hit a romantic spot in my work where everything is coming up roses. Rather, I have finally gotten myself over the artistic "hump" as it were, and found that I can just keep going.

This watercolor doesn't work? Scrap it. Start again. This sketch looks funny? Scrap it. Start again. Characters not coming out just right? Totally scrap it and do sometime different. One day I stopped drawing narwhals and just drew babies. Just because.

Figure studies

I can improve everywhere! Finally I have found that sweet spot where I can just sit down and start working on something and just keep going! I don't bemoan the fact (at least not a LOT), that this particular piece didn't turn out. I just keep going. Whoo hoo!

Right now I am having a hard time with my watercolors. I love working in watercolor! It was one of my favorite mediums to work with in college. The professor who taught my watercolor class was so good (at teaching and watercolor alike) that I took it twice! So, even though I am able to do sketches like this:

Watercolor Sketch

I am not so happy with my children's book characters in this medium right now. So I have turned to colored pencil for the moment. I think I like it so far. This is a sketch I did today with ink and colored pencils. Cat sort of blends in, but otherwise, I like it. I wish I had a grey and white rug like that one.

However, after a thorough and insightful critique by a trusted professional in the field, apparently vector is my strong suit. Hm. So I am not sure what to do with this pencil drawing. Expound upon it? Or do I convert it to vector like all my other drawings?

I am still learning. Being in a like-minded community helps. Everyone has opinions and not all of them are the same. At some point my work will strike a chord with someone out there. Then I will be IN!

On the path...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Portfolio Re-DO!

Ugh. Sometimes when inspiration hits, I jump for joy! Other times, I want to go hide under a table in the fetal position. This is one such occasion. Last week I attended a free webinar hosted by Mark Mitchell with special guest, Wendy Martin.

The webinar was all about using the program, Adobe Illustrator for children's illustration. Now, most people would be super-excited to attend just such a webinar. FREE! Right? I have to admit I was a bit reluctant. You see, I've been a graphic designer for 13 years and have been using the Adobe suite for a bit longer than that. I work all day on a computer. I do vector art on the computer. The last thing I wanted to do was sit down to the computer at night to draw.

For work, I did things like this:
Fun, right? A cute little t-shirt design here, infographics there. Seriously though, I was more excited to sit down to the drafting table and draw with REAL pens and pencils, and paint with watercolor and acrylics. For me, this was so cathartic and relaxing. Going back to the computer was not even in my thoughts.

However, after a mere 5 minutes of this webinar by Wendy (a highly talented artist - check out her website!), I realized my mistake. I've been frustrated with color, and correcting mistakes, things you can't really control in traditional mediums. While I am not ditching the traditional by any means (I actually start there), I realized that my talents do lie in Illustrator. It's just what I'm good at doing!

Here is a before and after shot of an illustration of my lovely little narwhals:

You can probably tell which is which. This was my first attempt at "vectoring" my original art. What do you think? Not bad for one day, eh? Obviously, there is more that I can do, but for right now, I'm working night and day on transforming my portfolio. I hope this works!

On the path...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Welcome to the world's only museum dedicated to the art of the picture book. Do you recognize this quilt? It's the original Keeping Quilt from Patricia Polacco's book by the same name. Isn't that cool? This, among many other interesting and beautiful artifacts live in this beautiful little space of the art museum world.


Thanks to the Michigan SCBWI chapter, we were able to have a private tour of the museum as well as a presentation by the founder and curator, Dr. Jerry Mallett. All over the walls of the Director's office were "signatures" of visiting illustrators. Below are just a few:





 A poster from Ed Emberley:

This is actually a linocut print!

Freight Train by Donald Crews:

The Paper Boy by Dav Pilkey (not just great at drawing school principals in underpants):

Oink, Moo How Do You Do? by Grace Maccarone:

The kids at the door, welcoming children of all ages to come and experience beautiful art:

The coolest part about this museum? There is a play space right in the middle of the museum. It's truly for kids. I will be back!

on the path...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

More Black and White

I finally translated some sketches to "real life" in paints and ink this week. I am not sure where this guy is going or what he is searching for, but he's really intent on finding whatever it is he's looking for.


The only thing I'm frustrated with about working in black and white is the loss of detail after my scans. No matter how I try to adjust the settings, the scan doesn't pick up all the brush pen strokes that I think just makes these pieces perfect. So perhaps working on understanding scanning should be next on my list!


On the path...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Finding Time

I haven't yet heard back from any publishers just DYING to hire me right away. (positive thoughts!) The struggle right now is to find appropriate time to sketch regularly. The days are just packed with workout, work, school and after school activities. But I think I've found my way around it ...

Have a happy Wednesday!

- on the path...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013



Okay, I'll be honest. I have been submitting manuscripts to the publishing world for over 10 years. Yep. More than a decade. And according to the pros, that's a drop in the bucket. In that time, I've had some pretty big bumps and bruises as well as some seriously gracious and kind rejection letters. I honestly was just thrilled to receive a letter that wasn't a template someone slapped in the mail.

Back in March I stopped hovering and decided to join SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). This group is the most welcoming, spirit building, constructive bunch of people I have ever met. On one of my first critiques I was met at the door with hugs. Hugs! The advice I received there was incredible.

Now that I am sending out samples, I have the jitters again. In my research I hear all kinds of scary things like "If you don't xyz ... your art gets TRASHED!" and "If your art doesn't match our style ... it gets TRASHED!" and "If you have a less than stellar award-winning piece in your portfolio ... it GETS ... immediatelysentbacktoyouinthemailviatheenclosedSASE." [pant ... pant]

So I spend hours pouring over market books and publisher's websites. The books are all highlighted and tagged and the websites are bookmarked. I've even researched in places like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (I recommend the last as a handy way to find the most updated staff info!).

The more I read, the more tweets I see from art directors, the more I psych myself out. You are only as good as your worst work. This I learned early on in art school. NEVER include a weak piece.

Well, what IS my weak piece? Right away I pluck out the bad ones. Then I over-think it. THEY'RE ALL BAD!! THEY STINK!

Wait. I kinda like those chickens.

Wait. Are they good?

Wait, that flying pig is pretty fun.

Wait, her color looks garish on the scan.

Then I take a breath. I pick out the one picture that drew gasps from my critique group and plop it on my postcards. Go with the gasps.

I'm sending them. It's a breeze of cool air in the hot summer months. What the heck. I have to start somewhere don't I?

Here's hoping!

– jenny