Monday, March 14, 2016

A Ream of Paper, a Box of Pencils, and About a Million Dogs

This week I am wrapping up work on a new project for punchline: NYDOGS, a 96-page gift book for adults—not kids this time—which I wrote and also illustrated.

Most pages in NYDOGS are covered with multiple illustrations. That's a doggone lot of dogs! Every single one of the little critters was drawn on regulation printer paper with an HB Faber-Castell Goldfaber 1221 pencil. Totally classic. And speaking of Old School, we went with a vintage printing technique, opting to create all of the art using only three colors: Black, PMS 485 (Coke red), and PMS 2985 (a nice, retro aqua-blue). The result is quite beautiful, although also proved to be rather time-consuming. These dogs kept me tied up in my studio for the past four months! Was it worth the effort? Oh WOOF yeah. So excited about this one. :)

NYDOGS is currently in the final stages of editing before being sent off to the printer, and will be available in bookstores in and around NYC in September 2016. Between now and then I'll be sharing more behind-the-scenes stories about the team who made NYDOGS possible. Meanwhile, click here to pre-order your copy of NYDOGS today!

Bella's New Baby

I am very pleased to announce my latest literary "arrival," BELLA'S NEW BABY! A Little Golden Book (Random House 2016), Bella's New Baby was written by Sue Douglas Fliess and illustrated by Yours Truly, with art direction by Diane Muldrow.

Click here to order your copy today!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Everyone Loves New York!

I am very pleased to announce my inclusion in the recently released hard-cover book Everyone Loves New York.

Edited by Leslie Jonath, Everyone Loves New York is a compilation of 85 illustrations of the Big Apple created by a diverse group of 60 artists from around the world. Everyone Loves New York's page on Amazon includes 9 sample images, including my contribution: the New York Public Library illustration that I created for duopress's New York Baby, which was written by the prolific children's author Puck in 2012.

Two images from New York Baby (the alphabet spread above, and subway scene left) were recognized by American Illustration 32 when the book came out, and it is still in print. I have been involved in many book projects since then but New York Baby remains one of my favorites.

Here is the New York Public Library with Puck's words (designed by Tahara Hasan Anderson), as it appears in New York Baby.

Two wonderful books, both celebrating NYC in all of her glory. Enjoy!


To order Everyone Loves New York, click here.

To order New York Baby, click here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

ASPCA Rescue Readers

Recently I was invited to collaborate with a cat on her autobiography. Who could say no to an offer like that? The resulting book, titled I Am Daisy (Simon and Schuster/2015), is for readers ages 6-9.

I am Daisy (actually written by the very talented, very human author Lori Froeb) is part of the ASPCA Kids Rescue Readers series, all of which feature true stories of pet adoptions organized by the ASPCA.

From Simon & Schuster's site: "This story is told with exuberance and humor from the pet's point of view with appropriately-leveled vocabulary. Woven into the story is the importance of care, protection, and love of animals." 

Click here for for more info, and to order your copy of I Am Daisy today. Support a marvelous institution, and let your "I Love Cats" flag fly!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Madame Picasso & 100 Pablo Picassos

Over the summer while finishing up the art for duopress's soon-to-be-released book 100 Pablo Picassos, I saw an ad for Anne Girard's novel Madame Picasso in Publisher's Weekly.

Madame Picasso's beautiful cover caught my eye, as did the copy for the ad: "Twists and turns of fate are the hook for this intriguing story of love and loss..." So compelling!

I ordered Madame Picasso (published by Harlequin | MIRA, 2014) and was hooked from the start.

At this point I had recently researched and painted not only Pablo Picasso but also his friends Gertrude Stein, George Braques and Max Jacob, all of whom are featured in the illustration above. These interesting real-life champions of the arts and many others are prominently featured as supporting characters in Madame Picasso. It was so much fun to read about them in a non-researchy way. I found Anne Girard's story fascinating and well told.

Madame Picasso tells the story of Picasso's brief but powerful affair with Eva Gouel, which happened to overlap the end of the nine years he spent with Fernande Oliver. As you can imagine, fireworks ensued.

Fernande, an artists' model, was the subject of much of Picasso's work; she is credited with helping to usher the artist into his Rose Period. Picasso's love for Fernande, and the Rose Period in general, are the subjects of the above illustration which I painted for 100 Pablo Picassos.

By contrast, little is known about Eva. I imagine anonymity makes her especially intriguing to an author of historic fiction. There are only a few photos of her and as far as I can tell, fewer than a handful of Picasso's paintings are attributed to her—and two of those are non-representational cubist works. Everything about Eva is a mystery. (See? Compelling!)

For more about Fernande, Eva, and many others from the list of Picasso's lady loves, follow my Facebook fan page—I am posting interesting facts about them every day.

As an interview with the author at the end of Madame Picasso will attest, Anne Girard is not one to skimp on research. Ms. Girard masterfully paints a vivid picture of the art scene in Paris in the early 1900s. If you've ever wanted to be a fly on the wall of Gertrude Stein's salon, Madame Picasso is the book for you!

While reading Madame Picasso, I discovered a mistake I in my illustrations for 100 Pablo Picassos. I had painted Picasso as an older gentleman when he was with his Afghan hound Frika, but in fact, Frika—who figured prominently in Madame Picasso—lived in Paris with Picasso when he was a young artist. Google had provided me with photos of a silver-haired Picasso in the company of an Afghan hound, but apparently the artist had several Afghans throughout his life.

Luckily 100 Pablo Picassos had not yet gone to press yet when I realized this mistake. I was able to re-paint our Frika image, which I subsequently framed and sent to Anne with a note of thanks.

Recently Ms. Girard was kind enough to write the following endorsement for 100 Pablo Picassos:

100 Pablo Picassos is an utterly charming and informative tour through the life and career of Pablo Picasso. Enhanced by wonderful the art of Violet Lemay, this book cleverly introduces the work of the great 20th Century master to a new generation. Absolutely delightful!

So now I am doubly indebted to Anne Girard. Again and again Anne, thank you!


To order Madame Picasso by Anne Girard, a beautifully written Harlequin romance novel (that is definitely not for children), click here.

To pre-order 100 Pablo Picassos (written brilliantly by Mauricio Velázquez de Leon / duopress / 2015), click here.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Secret Self (vol 1)

I am pleased to announce my inclusion in Secret Self (Vol. 1), a publication of The Little Chimp Society.

From the LCS project page:

Secret Self is the LCS's first foray into smaller art zines and we're looking at producing five volumes over the next year and a half.
Each zine is a revealing collection of portraits and secrets from an international group of artists and designers. Each participant was asked to share something they had never shared with the public before and to create an accompanying illustration. While some are serious and others are silly, all of the secrets give you an insight into the psyches of the artists.
Volume one has been curated by Darren Di Lieto (founder of The Little Chimp Society). He asked ten illustrators to share intimate details about themselves or their lives in a sentence or two and then illustrate their secret in the form of a self-portrait. All funds raised from the sales of the zine go into supporting the LCS and making little projects like this possible.

My self-portrait (seen at the top of this post) reveals a gigantic secret about me that you would never, ever guess... and I will never tell! You'll have to buy a copy of the zine to read what I wrote. And after you've read it, I invite all of you amateur psychologists out there to send me your diagnosis of my psyche.

Click here to order your copy today. The price is £5.99, which is less than $10—a small price to pay for this slick little zine. And—bonus—the funds go to the LCS, an organization which exists soley for the betterment of illustration and illustrators. What's not to like about that?!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Good As New, by Patricia Lakin

Last spring I was invited to participate in an extremely cool project sponsored by Johnson and Johnson: "Once Upon a Care."

Famed children's book author Patricia Lakin stopped into a local school and asked kids, "Why do you think it's important for you to care?"

In response to her follow-up question, "What's a time that you remember that you showed that you care?", five individual sweetie-pies shared their stories. Patricia shaped each one into a manuscript for a 32-page picture book.

My assignment was a story called Good As New, as told by an adorable little girl named Brianna. Her baby brother had quite the tummy ache! When we was sick in the night, Brianna helped her mom take care of him.

Johnson and Johnson created an award-winning video to capture the entire project. It's less than three minutes long, and well worth the time. (Important note: Have tissues handy!) Click here to watch the video.... and then, download the free e-book, in which you'll see Brianna's story and these four others:

Jazlene Saves the Day, by Jazlene and Patricia, illustrated by Eugene and Louise
A Helping Hand, by Annie and Patricia, illustrated by Margeaux Lucas
Matthew's Wish, by Matthew and Patricia, illustrated by Paul Hoppe
A Valentine's Surprise, by Rene and Patricia, illustrated by Neil Numberman

Near the bottom of the "Once Upon a Care" page you'll see this picture frame, which invites you to share your child's story.


Good As New, written by Patricia Lakin and Brianna
designed by George Roca, Hugo Fitzgerald, Russell Sharpe and a team of awesome people from Johnson and Johnson

Illustrations created in watercolor by Violet Lemay, 2014

Violet Lemay is represented by MB Artists, Inc.