Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tooning In: Ring of Fire

Tonight was a blast from my past—and in general, simply a blast!

Here's the thing: before I was an illustrator, I was a costume and set designer. Only God knows how much of my youth I spent in the dark, prowling the catwalks or sitting in a mostly empty theater "house" with a notepad during tech rehearsals. After an absence of more than twenty years, tonight, at the invitation of Jenny Hutchinson of LARAC (Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council), I was back in the catwalks of a local theater. What a treat!

I met Jenny in February in Glens Falls NY at Art in the Public Eye's Go APE for Art! small works show, in which we both participated. Jenny, a talented artist (who is the Gallery Curator and Program and Shop Coordinator for LARAC), slipped me her card and invited me to participate in 'Tooning In, a theater sketching event she was organizing for LARAC, which was scheduled for the summer. At the time we were in the middle of a harsh upstate New York winter—summer seemed an eternity away. But here we are, at the end of July already!

'Tooning In came to upstate New York via Christopher Baldwin, a sequential artist whose work can be seen in MAD magazine (and whose first book, Little Dee, will be out soon). He took the idea from the Portland Opera and adapted it with the help of Jenny and others here in New York State for the Adirondack Theater Festival. The basic idea is that artists attend dress rehearsals at which they sketch like crazy. The resulting art is displayed and sold, gallery-style, in the lobby of the theater. 

Many area artists were asked to participate, and there were several productions from which to choose. I signed up to sketch Ring of Fire, a review of the music of Johnny Cash, because I am a die-hard fan! Tonight was the last dress rehearsal before tomorrow night's preview performance. The show opens Friday night—and if you live anywhere near the Wood Theater in Glens Falls, New York, you need to be there! The show is fantastic, and absolutely family-friendly. If you go, look for my art in the lobby... I sketched as many of the cast as I could from my once-familar perch in the catwalk.

Friday, June 6, 2014

MB Artists

Big news, people: In recent months I teamed up with Mela Bolinao (above) of the amazing children's book illustration agency MB Artists. Hooooo-ray!

Book Expo America happened last weekend, which got me back to NYC for the first time in a long while. After moths of exchanging e-mail, my new Manhattan-based agent and I were finally able to meet in person.

Mela's place and her hospitality were an oasis on that marathon day. First she fed me beautiful fresh berries, a kindness this weary traveler will not soon forget. Then we talked and talked, and looked at art. Mela's walls are an illustration gallery including original paintings by some of my long-time heroes, all members of MB Artists, including Hiroe Nakate. (I am such a fan—love you, Hiroe! My son Gray and I read Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate a million times together when he was little.)

I got to meet Mela's beautiful assistant Jess, and her brother Jon who does the books and is very good at treating illustrators like rock stars. Also in attendance: Mela's incredible kids, Milo (3) and Maya (5). Maya, a budding literary genius, wrote an illustrated a book from start to almost-finish during my brief stay.

What. A. Pleasure.

Mela, thanks for the visit and everything else, and I look forward to hanging out again soon.

All the best,


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pet Pharmacy

It's been raining cats and dogs at Violet Lemay Illustration! 

After adding a slew of furry friends to my portfolio site (click here to see!), I got a call from Christine Garrson at USA Today to create art for an article about pets and prescriptions. Did you know that a variety of local drugstores now fill scripts written by veterinarians?

The concept for the art was to show cats and dogs at the pharmacy, mixing with the usual crowd.

Fluff and Fido (above) got cut, which was fine, because illustrating guys in fedoras reading the newspaper is one of my all-time favorite activities.

Also, at the last minute we traded out fedora man's fictional Gazette for an actual copy of USA Today.

Working on this project while snowbound in my upstate New York studio in early March helped beat the winter doldrums. Who knew a visit to the pharmacy could be so much fun? That was several months ago. After the long wait (the grass is finally green now, and the tulips are about to bloom), I'm glad the art is finally in print. Look for it in USA Today's Pet Guide, which is available today.

If you'd like to see a larger version of the pharmacy art shown at the top of this post, click here.

When I said it's raining cats and dogs around here, I wasn't kidding! A variety of pet-friendly projects are keeping me busy lately, so stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"Hobby Trip" for USA Today

New for USA Today's travel guide: Hobby Trip! The article by Lisa Davis lists several interesting travel packages for hobby enthusiasts including archeological digs, wine making, and (shown above) knitting cruises to Hawaii. Expert art direction provided by the amazing Erin Aulov. Thank you, Erin!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Simply Saratoga

Flip to page 16 of the spring 2014 issue of Simply Saratoga magazine and you'll find an article about me and Isabella's Shoe Studio (duopress/2013), penned with excellence by the lovely Helen Edelman. Click here to be redirected to a virtual copy.

I was supposed to meet Helen in downtown Saratoga Springs at Northshire Bookstore for this interview several months ago, but the cold killed my car's battery.

Helen braved the weather and drove out to my family's Gansevoort home (Gansevoort = in the sticks). Thank you, Helen!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beach Babies!

New from duopressBeach Babies!

Beach Babies is an adorable 22-page board book for you to share with all of the tiny readers and beach-bums in your life.

Written by Puck, designed by Grant McMahan....

... with illustrations and art direction by me, your friend, Violet Lemay.

I hope that you and your baby will have as much fun experiencing Beach Babies as the team at duopress had, making the book. 

The charming words and colorful art on every page, and the activities at the end of Beach Babies, are all designed to make itty bitty beach-goers and their caregivers very, very happy.
Announcing the arrival of Beach Babies makes me so happy that I have to sing! 
What better song to celebrate babies at the beach than Bon Voyage
(Think back to your high-school production of Anything Goes, and sing along!)

Bon VOYage.
You mean bon voyAGE-uh.
I hate to say goodbye sweetheart.
By the seashore...
You mean sur la plage...
I'll sail and watch the sea,
Til you come back to me.

Oh my dearie...
You mean ma cherie...
I'm yours for life...
You mean pour la vie...
So kiss me pretty wench
In English or in French
Bon voyAGE!
Bon voyAGE-uh!


Beach Babies is available on-line (click here to order!), and at your favorite local independent bookstore.


Special thanks to George M. Cohan for the lyrics to Bon Voyage. Thanks also to my little brother Matt, who refrained from either killing me or smashing my stereo during my high-school "Cohan Phase"— four solid years of binge Cohen album-listening interrupted only by short bouts of AnnieHello Dolly, West Side Story and My Fair Lady. I'm proud to have been a theater nerd through and through, but Matt, I'm soooo sorry! Ask yourself: Did you decided to become a trombonist to drown out your sister's music? Perhaps my youthful obsession with classic musical theater actually spurred you on to your eventual career. It just may be that you owe a great big thank you to George M, brother-mine! What do you think of that?

Monday, March 10, 2014


Last October I submitted this image from San Francisco Baby to the annual competition sponsored by the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles. Several months later a happy e-mail announced that I made the cut. Hooray!

The perks of being recognized by SILA include involvement in ILLUSTRATION WEST 52, a group gallery exhibit, which is happening right now (March 7-39, 2014) at Center Stage Gallery, 847 Hollywood Way in Burbank, California.

Because I live on the east coast I packed up the art and shipped it to the gallery. My good friends Tyler and Paige Garrison, talented illustrators who live in Burbank, stopped by to snap these photos for me.

Tyler, Paige and I all met in a classroom at the Savannah College of Art and Design where I was teaching several years ago when they were still students. Since then they got married (yay!) and eventually moved west. Meanwhile, my family picked up and moved north. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, Paige and I co-illustrated Beach Doodles, another fun and creative activity book by duopress.


If you can't make it to Center Stage Gallery but would like to see the show, click here to virtually stroll through SILA's on-line gallery.


San Francisco Baby, published by duopress in 2013, was co-written by Tess Shea and Jerome Pohlen. Jerry and I have teamed up on several other duopress projects, including Doodle Texas, Doodle America, and Chicago Baby.


As I mentioned above, Tyler and Paige are both amazingly talented illustrators. Check out Tyler's work here at fizzlepopstuido, and click here to see Paige's portfolio.