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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

There We Go

Sometimes in my eagerness I rush into projects only to abandon them when they don't quite work out. This isn't true with illustration though, I find myself up to the challenge of a redo, and am given a pleasant surprise at the results.

Remember my last problem of the varying illustrations styles? See the last post for reference.
Here is the first picture in that group, redone:

What a difference, eh? I'm happy with the results. Now to package all these samples up and send them out to publishers. Round 1 in full swing!

– jenny

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Progression

When it comes to cranking out portfolio-worthy pieces ... I'm ON IT! I'm churning out ideas in my sketchbook. I'm immediately putting pencil to paper. I'm finding every scrap of time to sit and work on the finished product.

I'm ON IT!

Turns out, I'm a little too on it. While I thought that I was in a great groove, I discovered that my "style" as it were, is still under construction. Below are my three illustrations. They're supposed to go together but they look like they belong in three different books! The illustrations are in order of #1, #2, and #3. As they go, the lines get finer and the colors are progressively bolder. Arg!


My question to myself now is, should I try to fix #2? I'm definitely starting over on #1. But I just love how #3 turned out. I suppose I don't need to be so shy with color. It's definitely a process!

Perhaps it's time for a walk.

– jenny

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Illustration Portfolio Live!

I just can't believe it. After a year of really trying to put something together for illustration, I've finally managed to do it!

Illustration Logo

Isn't he cute? A few years back when I exited the baby fog and started to sketch again, I made a series of dogs. Mostly because my office was shared by my springer spaniel, Butchie (Butch - my husband named him, not me). I wasn't sure where this sketching would lead to. At the time, I was overwhelmed with my children, my housework, and my job. I worked in a tiny, cramped office while my children and babysitter romped around the house as I tried to work. There were many days when I would finish work late at night, often working until 3AM or later, just to hit a deadline. I was exhausted, overworked, overstressed, and looking for an outlet. So I sketched.

In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to do something more. I longed to get out the supplies from my art school days, dust them off, and get to work. Work on exactly what, I couldn't tell you at the time. I just longed to make something again. To put pen to paper and see what happened.

It was a painful beginning. During my college days I had to do 100 studies of hands, draw 25 full skeletons from various angles, sketch hundreds  of faces, and didn't think much about it. Okay, the hands were hard, I did think about that. However, sketching now, half dazed, half asleep, I would stare at the blank page, make false starts, erase, and stare some more. Butchie found his way onto more than one page.

Now I can say that I'm truly on my way to being a published illustrator! In March of this year, I joined SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), and have no regrets at all. Even though I have only be a part of the society for a few months, I can already tell that this experience will benefit me in huge ways. I've already met a lot of lovely, kind, professional, talented, quirky, and most of all, encouraging people in this society.

Many thanks goes out to my critique group as well. Starting last fall, we started meeting to discuss writing, books, and read and critique our work. I have never met a more uplifting and encouraging group of people who make you feel great about fixing what's wrong with your work! It is this small group that has encouraged me to press on. Thank you Bena, Charla, and Manny (yes, you are included as well)!

Oh yeah, and thanks to Mom, Dad, Joel, and the kids, for already acting like I'm a professional. You're the best!

– jenny

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Super Girl

These days I'm spending much more time on my sketches and trying to develop characters.


The phone is now a fancy paper weight. – jenny

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Panda Zombies

The intention for these pandas was to be much cuter. However, they look a bit ...

a bit ...


Panda zombies.

"Please eat our brainnnnnsssss!"

The kids loved them anyway.

– jenny

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

This is what the Easter Bunny has to deal with these days:


This is the second year we've give a book by the dynamic duo: Sally Lloyd Jones and Jago. Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing is a wonderful devotional for children. It's written in such a way that the deepest thoughts and feelings in the hearts of children are easily and lovingly laid out in beautiful illustrations. This has prompted lovely bedtime discussions about life and faith with my children. Jago rocks. Sally too.

@sallylloydjones  and @jagosilver  have made it into our Easter baskets the last two years. #thoughtstomakeyourheartsing

What would Easter be without a little Perler Beads art?


– jenny

Friday, March 29, 2013

In Panera

There is a man who works every day in Panera. He always wears a loud Hawaiian shirt. I've brought my markers to sketch him. He has no legs.


– jenny

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting and Sketch Books

I do a lot of waiting.

Dental office patterns. Waiting for cavity filling of the small person.

Waiting for doctors, waiting for dance class, waiting for school pickup ... just waiting! I always find myself waiting without any kind of sketcbook and you know what happens when the mind wanders. You want to sketch your ideas! It's harder to do on a napkin so I end up writing the idea down on a scrap of paper, lose it, and then wonder what the heck I was going to sketch.

And then I sketch yet another dog.

So I remembered to bring along my sketchbook a few times and decided to really challenge myself!

Sketching in the car.

Emotions in a face are so hard to capture sometimes but yet so essential in conveying the action or feelings of an image. This was frustrating at first, but then really fun as I tried to think of different emotions like the "How are You Feeling Today?" magnets.

Next time I actually remember to throw the sketchbook in my purse, perhaps I'll come up with something great!

– jenny

Monday, January 14, 2013

Young Artist

Rather than sit around and watch TV all day (don't think I'm some sort of supermom, that has happened once or twice but only under life or death circumstances :) ) when one child is sick, we do some drawing.

This is C's still life studies. Which then morphed into outer space scenes. Of course.

Home sick but well enough to sketch.

He signed all of his drawings.

I'm so proud.

– jenny