Thursday, December 3, 2009


I had to smile when I read that this week's Illustration Friday topic: 'Tangled.' I've been working on a short film project with a friend and have a folder entitled 'Tangled' on my desktop, which contains several tangle-themed sketches. So, I thought I'd take some time today and finalize one of them. This will eventually be a still frame in the movie. When the whole thing is finished of course I'll let you know.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fitness Magazine

I did a full page illustration and two accompanying spots for the Nov/Dec issue of Fitness. Was sort of a dream job, because they chose a sketch for the main art with a cityscape in the background (always a favorite of mine), and I also got to paint the headline.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


"Blur' is this week's Illustration Friday topic. Unfortunately it was not difficult to find inspiration... all I had to do was take off my glasses.

I made the image blurry by printing the line work twice, just a bit off-register. You can see it better at my website:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trippy Dippy Hippies

Anna Goodson does a super-cool thematic coaster promotion every fall. This year, each of us submitted art inspired by the 60's-70's. I couldn't decide which one of my hippie sketches I liked the best, so I lumped them all together.

If any of you, like me, were young in the 70's, perhaps you remember carrying a big plastic comb in your back pocket, like the one the guy in the background has in his hand at the ready. We needed those combs to keep our feathers in place! (I say 'we', as if I ever had feathers. Alas, despite endless hours spent blow-drying and shellacking with spray, my hair would never cooperate.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today's Parent: 'We Surrender!'

Over the summer I made this image for the November 2009 issue of Today's Parent. The article poked holes in the myth that stay-at-home moms and mothers who work outside the home are at war with each other. Very uplifting and interesting article. The author explained that plenty of stay-at-home parents actually work from home, and those with brick and mortar jobs strive for flexibility in their schedules so they can spend more time with their kids. The boundaries between the two are blurry at best. And, in the end, each is supportive of the other.

Vegan Carrot Crisps

'Skinny' is this week's Illustration Friday topic.


For two days or so I mulled over various ideas, but to me, all were so boring... the problem with skinny is that there's not much to draw, you know? Fat covers a lot of surface area. Skinny, not so much.

Then I remembered illustrating an article for Modern Bride years ago, about how newlyweds tend to gain 10-15 pounds in their first year of wedded bliss. I did tons of sketches for that assignment, so I dug through the file cabinet until I found the pile of rejects. I love the way the guy's shirt in this one hangs on his skinny frame. The only change I made was the product name, from 'Marital Bliss Chips' to 'Vegan Carrot Crisps'.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Violet at the North Pole

This year's Bologna Children's Book Fair is honoring author Gianni Rodari with an illustration competition. Here is a study for my submission. If time allows, I'd like to make an actual painting, or a lino print... we'll see how it goes.

Finding his books here in the states was difficult. I was able to order a CD, however, on which a narrator read seven of his stories. I had to pick the one about the violet for obvious reasons. :-)

You can read about the competition and the book fair at the Bologna Fiere site:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Insomnia (sigh). So, I decided to get up and make a picture for this week's Illustration Friday. The topic: Fast. I love how little dogs with short legs seem to glide on wheels when they're running. This is my best attempt to show this fast phenomenon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Frozen Kiss

It is almost chilly in Savannah lately, before the sun comes up anyway. My son and I could see our breath hanging in the air as we walked to the bus stop yesterday—just barely, but it was definitely there. Made me wonder if, when it's chilly out and you blow a kiss to someone, you can see the kiss as it's wafting toward its target. All of these thoughts were the inspiration for this illustration.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I sketched this idea over a year and a half ago; finally had the time and the inclination to make it into an illustration. I thought it might make a nice gift card.

The shoe at the very top—the one with the butterfly—was the inspiration for this illustration. I bought that pair of shoes in Manila many years ago, and they are a precious reminder of that trip. They are beautiful black patent leather slides, very unusual. I was wearing them the day I made the sketch.

The shoe on the left, the one about to be hung on the tree, belongs to my dear friend Laura. This is the second time I've drawn that particular shoe. It's a navy Chanel sling-back pump, quite stylish.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Girl with the Green Ribbon

When I was little my brother and I had a few spooky records that we brought out at this time of year: scary tales read aloud by various celebrities. I think Ron Howard was one of the narrators. The stories were pretty tame (the records came from the Scholastic Book Club, I'm pretty sure), but riveting. The only one I really remember is called, 'The Girl with the Green Ribbon.' I googled it yesterday—apparently it's an old folk tale, so it's part of the public domain. Here's my rendition:

Once there was a pretty little girl, very cheerful and sweet, who always wore a green ribbon tied around her neck. The little boy who sat behind her in class wondered for quite some time about the ribbon which peeked out at him from beneath her bobbed hair. One day he mustered up his courage and asked, 'Why do you always wear that green ribbon?' She shyly replied, 'If we get married when we grow up, I will tell you.'

Her shy reply turned out to be quite prophetic, for many years later, all grown up, these two schoolmates did fall in love and were married. On their wedding night the husband asked again, 'My darling, why won't you take off that green ribbon?' His bride guardedly replied, 'If we ever have children, my dear, I will tell you.'

As time went by, the couple had two lovely children, a boy and a girl. And so one day when he could stand it no longer the husband again asked, 'My dear wife, when will you tell me why you always wear that green ribbon?' The color left her cheeks as she replied, 'Husband, please... I'd rather you didn't know. Not now. Ask me again when we are old.'

The husband adored his wife and decided to be content with her answer, as his question had upset her so.

Many more years passed. The wife became ill and very frail. At her bedside, her beloved husband kissed her ashen cheek. 'My beloved, perhaps you will tell me now. Why do you wear that green ribbon?' A tear rolled down her sweet face as she replied, 'Forgive me for keeping it from you all this time, my dear. I will show you now, why I have always worn it.' With that she untied the green ribbon, and off rolled her head.

I made this image into a 'pretend' book cover, as a sample for my portfolio:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Friend Joyce

The last time I saw my friend Joyce, she was propped up in bed just like this... all eighty-five or so pounds of her. It was a chilly February day. Joyce had recently been admitted to a nursing home, and I thought I'd check in on her. Toting a big pot of tulips decorated with red foil for Valentine's Day, I stopped at the nurses' station and was directed to her room. The door was wide open connecting my delicate little friend to all of the cheerful activity, the buzz of the busy nursing home happening in the sunlit hallway. Deaf as could be, she didn't notice me at first. I stood there in the hall and couldn't help but smile as I watched her, happily sipping what looked like a nutritional shake from a clear plastic cup as she watched CNN's headlines zip across the television screen. She was so thin that her body hardly disturbed the clean line of the blanket that covered her; she was completely dwarfed by the hospital bed.

I drank that moment in. It was nice to see her looking well and happy. Joyce, my across-the-street neighbor, had been sick for a long, long time. We had a nice little visit that day; she remembered me and was (mostly) awake the whole time. As I gave her a hug and a kiss on my way out, I wondered if that visit would be our last. Sadly, it was.

Joyce passed away on September 29 in Huntsville, Alabama. Her family had moved her to another nursing home there, to be near them. This afternoon however, we had a little memorial service for her here in Savannah. There weren't many of us in attendance: some family members who had traveled in from Huntsville, a handful of other neighbors and friends, the minister from her church, my son and me. As we sang 'How Great Thou Art,' I cried for my friend Joyce. I will miss her.

It's funny, Joyce and I were great friends, but she really never cared for my illustration work. She was much too polite to ever come out and say that, of course, but she was also too honest to pretend to be a fan. Thought I'd post this little sketch of her, because I think she might actually approve of the style of it... although she'd be upset with me for showing her as she was that day, thinning hair all mussed, and in her jammies.

For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.

You sweep men away in the sleep of death;
they are like the new grass of the morning-

though in the morning it springs up new,
by evening it is dry and withered.

~ Psalm 90:4-6

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Very Frizzy Day

According to my friend Kim's mom, 'frizzy' weather is any humid, misty, or rainy day. If your hair has natural texture or body (a.k.a. is a styling nightmare), I'm sure you know what she's talking about. We had a particularly frizzy day here in Savannah recently and my hair was such a disaster, words were not adequate to describe. For fun I scribbled out the little black and white ink sketch you see here to post on facebook. Hearing comments everywhere I went that day from Savannah ladies who were equally dismayed concerning their frizzy locks, I was inspired to make my little sketch into this color piece.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Farewell, Modern Bride

When I read the news that Conde Nast is shutting down five magazines in order to get their financial house in order, I thought, oooooh, that's too bad. It's not the end of the world, of course, but still, a bit discouraging for people in publishing. I was very sad to learn that one of the magazines they are discontinuing is Modern Bride. I've only worked for them once or twice—they published this image a few years ago (when I was going through a brief and semi-regrettable gouache/collage phase)—but it was a gorgeous magazine and I always enjoyed knowing it was there.

Au revoir, Modern Bride!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Assignment for the Globe and Mail

In the ten years I've been illustrating, somehow or other, until very recently, I had never worked for the Globe and Mail. This is a little odd because AGM (my agency) is based in Montreal, and the Globe and Mail is a Canadian paper. I've worked for plenty of other widely circulated newspapers (The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.), but all here in the states. It's not that the Globe wasn't interested; I've had to turn down several of their offers over the years due to schedule conflicts. When a call came in late last week for me to illustrate a travel article for them, I was thrilled! I accepted the job even though we were on our way out the door for a weekend in Atlanta. Got sketches approved before we left and completed most of the final art in the car on my husband's laptop. Those of you who know me are very impressed right now, aren't you? (I get car sick at the drop of a hat; as a rule I can't look at anything in the car while we're on the road). This time I was so excited about the job that I just decided not to get car sick. I was a little wobbly when we arrived in Atlanta, but felt fine after a good night's sleep. All in all, it wan't too bad.

The article is about traveling without luggage; I posted one of the rejected ideas a few days ago. I'm extremely happy with this image: went for the concept of traveling light, of being as light as a feather.

Here is the image on my website, in case you'd like to see:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Something for the Fellas

Several weeks ago I was working on a full page illustration and two spots for Fitness Magazine. I just finished this image, which was one of the rejected spot sketches. Of the batch (I sent quite a few), it had been my favorite. Because of it's decidedly masculine vibe I thought I'd go ahead and flush it out, as a challenge, and for the sake of balancing out my girly portfolio. In case you haven't noticed, my work tends to be a bit feminine (understatement).

The article was a list of tips for increasing the amount of fat burned during an average day. The tip shown here: climb stairs two at a time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Soaring: Mastering the Art of Traveling Light

This afternoon I found myself with some unexpected time in the middle of a very hectic Monday, and decided to relax by making a new image. I drew this idea last Friday morning (I had accepted a bit of a rush job for the Globe and Mail Thursday evening) and submitted it with a few other sketches; this particular concept didn't make the cut. I like the image though and filed it as a personal project for some future rainy day. I knew it wouldn't take long to realize—just an hour or two—so I gladly sat down in front of the computer and brought up the file to make good use the extra time I'd been given today.

Funny, it's been raining buckets for the past twelve hours here in Savannah. Who knew my rainy day would come so soon!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Christmas Image

Every year I do at least one new holiday image inspired by my love for Christmas in New York. When I lived in Manhattan, I was enthralled by the rows of Christmas trees for sale, lined up on the sidewalks. They smelled sooooo good! For last year's holiday image I drew those very trees. My technique/style has evolved a bit, however, since I created that image early last fall. It was the only remaining 'old' image on my website, and I knew it had to go. A sad realization, as I really love that illustraion. One of my all-time favorites. You can still see it on my altpick page; It's the very last illo in the portfolio:

This year's inspiration relied mostly on color. In my mind's eye I saw a yellow cab contrasted against a rich blue background; in the back seat, a red glove pressed up against the window. I didn't intend to use a primary palette, but that's pretty much how it ended up, isn't it? Oh well... as I tell my students, you can never go wrong with a primary palette. It always satisfies.

Storefronts never fail to bring me joy—I love to draw them—so creating the background was a pleasure. The falling snow ended up contributing quite a bit to the overall atmosphere of the piece, I think, and I'm very pleased with the whole thing. I was a bit sad, removing last year's image of the Christmas tree forest to make room for this one, but I'm quite relieved to have done it. Now my portfolio is consistent, and the new image tells a nice story. As for my beloved Christmas trees, I think I'll make a print to hang in my studio. Any of you who live in the Big Bad Burg, enjoy that evergreen scent for me!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Letter Girl

I've been working on some poster projects lately, for various organizations (more on this to come!). During the sketching phase for one of these groups, I had a foggy idea to do illustrated letters, like the kind you'd see on the first page of a children's book. The idea remained stuck in my head, however... I didn't have any luck at all trying to sketch it out.

Several weeks later, the idea popped up again. It was one of those lightning rod moments (makes me think of Roger Von Oech's book, A Whack on the Side of the Head). I was in the middle of teaching a class, and suddenly, out of the clear blue, I saw this illustrated letter in my head, clear as a bell. I don't get inspired like that very often, but I'm always grateful when it happens! Initially, anyway.

Remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the version that was released in 1977? In that movie, Richard Dryfuss' character has a close encounter, and subsequently becomes obsessed with creating conical shapes. He carves them out of shaving cream, mashed potatoes, any malleable 'medium' he comes in contact with. That's how it feels, I think, in the hours/days/weeks after inspiration hits. It's an obsession, sort of an internal directive given from above, and until a girl is able to realize that vision, to get the inspiration out of her system, it can be quite overwhelming (understatement). It's sort of maniacal, but in a good way. Mostly.

So anyway, I got the inspiration, and thankfully had time to do something about it. Voila! My Capital L Girl came to be.

A few days later, my wonderful agent Anna sent out a group e-mail to tell us all that Nate Williams had posted a link to AGM's Pumpkin Carving Contest on She included a link, which I followed... only to stumble upon Nate's new site:

Two seconds later Anna sent another e-mail, explaining that she had sent the wrong link. But I thought, Wow, that mistake was meant just for me! Ten minutes later, my illustrated letter was posted on the letterplayground site, and I sat back in my studio chair, deeply satisfied. Directive: complete!

Girl Pumpkin, Home from the Salon

During a bout of insomnia the other night, I made a second jack-o-lantern for Anna Goodson's pumpkin carving competition. Got the inspiration from a display of mums outside a shop here in Savannah. I bought the mums and a melon to be on the safe side, in case my first idea (see below) wouldn't work out. The melon is a beautiful bright, clear yellow—a canary melon—but for some reason looks rather 'road-cone' orange in this particular shot. Go figure. The melon was much easier to carve than a pumpkin (easier to eat, too!), which was a nice surprise.

To participate, carve something up and post the photos on flickr or facebook:

October 16th is the deadline!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Run, Gourdy, Run!

Just finished my pumpkin for this year's contest at AGM. Actually, mine is a very small gourd. No pumpkins here in Savannah yet.

For the first time this year, anyone can participate. You should give it a go... it's fun! It's free! Just carve up any big fruit or vegetable. Last year's winning entry was a watermelon.

The deadline is October 16th, so, get busy!

Mail Me Art

I painted this cardboard box for Darren Di Lieto's Mail Me Art project. In this view, you see the back of the box (left) containing most of the art, which wraps around the spine and onto the front (right). The addresses are cropped off.

Anyone can submit to Mail Me Art:

My inspiration for this image was Dejeuner sur l'Herbe, a painting by Edouard Manet. I have a clear memory of the painting from a set of fine art books that my mom bought for me decades ago. Schnucks, the grocery store near my childhood home, ran a promotion during which, every week, you could buy another book from the collection. I loved all of them, but my clearest memories are of Sargant (Madame X), van Gogh (Starry Night), and Manet.

So at first, I decided to simply use Manet's work as a springboard, just for fun. While researching the piece I read that apparently it caused quite a stir when Manet originally exhibited it in 1865 in a Parisian gallery. I hadn't thought about it before, but I guess it is quite odd, arranging a scene of three people (four, if you count the girl in the water), one of whom is completely nude. Some art historians theorize Manet's motive was to pull focus from his rival Monet, by exhibiting such a scandalous scene. I'm sure that was probably part of it. But, I'll bet it started innocently enough: like most artists, he appreciated the nude female form, and just didn't want to muck it up with clothing. Maybe he didn't feel like painting all of that drapey fabric. For whatever reason, there she sits, naked as a jaybird, with two fully clothed gentlemen, and they all seem absolutely and completely comfortable with the arrangement. I never wondered about it before; just thought it was a beautiful painting.

Reading about the scandal, I thought, 'Perfect! Manet was pushing the envelope!' Get it? Mail Me Art... Pushing the Envelope? I know, conceptually it's thin at best, corny at worst. But in it's thin, corny way, it made me happy. To make the whole thing even more deeply perfect, I had used my collection of envelope interiors to make the collage. This, before concocting the 'Pushing the Envelope' theme. Suddenly the whole project seemed to have been divinely inspired; it was all coming together so well. Bliss!

Until... my husband popped in. Fred liked what I'd done well enough, but frankly thought the scene was weird. I explained the whole thing about Manet, showed him the original art and went into great detail about my genius concept, all to no avail. "It's bizarre for a naked chick to be sitting in the park with two guys," said he. Which gave me doubts. I started to wonder what the ladies at the posts office would say, and the customs officials, and Darren, the world at large, etc. I'm a Sunday school teacher, for Pete's sake! What was I thinking? In the end, I was happy to paint some clothes on her; gave me a chance to use my machining stamps with white gouache, which was fun. I like to use them whenever I can (which doesn't happen much at all in my professional illustration work). Crisis averted.

I love your art, Eduoard Manet, and I admire your pluck. As for me, modesty prevails.

well that ends well. Hopefully my box has arrived safely in London; I haven't heard yet.

By the way, the ladies at my post office LOVED it. Ah, sweet relief.