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!