Sunday, December 16, 2012

Spa La La La La

New, for the Baltimore Sun. Art direction by Leeann Adams, with Jay Judge.

The article describes spa offerings in Baltimore designed to combat holiday stress. Treatments like "Hot Toddy for the Body" and "Chocolate Brownie a la Mode" are surely as delicious as they are relaxing. Yum!

Happy Holidays from VLI.

Here's to a peaceful 2013.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Original Art, Wonderful People

I spent this past Friday engaged in three basic activities: rushing to train stations, looking at beautiful children's book illustration, and meeting amazing people.

The day was organized by Ronnie Herman (that's the back of her lovely head in the photo, above) who has been my e-mail pal for many months. Ronnie is elegant and beautiful, inside and out. Representing children's book artists and authors after many years as an art director in children's publishing, she radiates wisdom. Also, she knows everybody. Meeting her in person was nothing short of delightful. Ronnie appreciates art, and is an advocate for artists. What's not to like?

Several illustrators from Ronnie's group The Herman Agency met Friday at the Society of Illustrators to peruse the Original Art Show, an activity which did not disappoint. My former student Joe Rouse works at the Society, so he was there, too. We spent a few minutes catching up. Joe is awesome as ever. NYC is treating him well.

I expected to see lots of glorious artwork, but it never occurred to me that I would be standing inches away from paintings made by Calef BrownGiselle Potter, and Jessie Hartland (this is her painting from Bon Appétit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child), all names on my short list of illustration heros. I probably should have known that I would see their work in the show, but ignorance really is bliss. What a nice surprise! It was definitely a kid-in-a-candy-shop moment. I probably looked ridiculous, gawking as I was, but who cares. I also mis-buttoned my coat and knocked my own glasses off of my head while adjusting the strap of my bag. That's just me.

Between time spent at the gallery and at lunch after, I got to know these extremely bright and talented artists, all very cool people, and it was SO MUCH FUN: Paulette Bogan, Lisa Thiesing, Biljana AllyGideon Kendall, and his wife Julie Peppito. (Julie is a fine artist who also designs playgrounds; it was decided that she was the most interesting person at the table—quite an achievement. You should probably check out her stuff.)

If I hand't lost track of the time, I would have taken pictures of my new friends. As it was, I ran from the Society of Illustrators on East 63rd Street all the way to Penn Station at 31st and 7th Ave (on the WEST side), through the drizzle, dodging pedestrians all the while.

After picking up a treat from the Krispy Kreme donut stand for my son, I made it to my train with two minutes to spare.

All in all, a good day.

Monday, December 3, 2012

meeting Mauricio

Thanks to the wonders of technology and the world wide web, illustrators can live anywhere, which is fantastic! Our field is e-mail driven. I've worked with people all over the world, but have never even spoken to most of my clients; seeing them at all, even two-dimensionally, is rare.  

In the past three years, I have made art for ten books, all with a super nice guy named Mauricio. After countless Skype conferences and e-mail messages reaching into the billions, this past Saturday, we finally met in person. And for a brief moment, the earth stood still.

Mauricio Velázquez de León owns Duopress, a small children's book publishing house specializing in "innovative books for curious children." (Duopress is five years old this year, by the way. Happy b-day, Duopress!) Using the pseudonym "Puck," Mauricio writes books for kids, several of which I had the distinct pleasure of illustrating. He also wrote the book Twenty Soccer Legends, and is a regular contributor at Saveur Magazine.

Jet-setting M had a five o'clock appointment in NYC with IPG (Duopress's distributor); we planned to meet for lunch at two. I took the train south from snowy Saratoga Springs and enjoyed a chilly walk from Penn Station to bustling Grand Central, while he was on a train coming in from Baltimore. I got to see the lions at the public library and the windows at Lord and Taylor, and still had time to sneak in a little work at the end of a crowded bench at beautiful Grand Central station, before claiming a couple of seats for us at the Oyster Bar. M joined me shortly after, and we ate soup—clam chowder and split pea with shrimp, if you're interested—and wrapped things up over coffee at the Waldorf.

I got to see dummies of the books my newly three-dimensional friend was about to present to IPG—especially exciting, since I had a little something to do with most of them.

Was it worth it? I could write a book about all of the reasons why, but I'll give you the short answer instead: YES!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Autumn Leaves Book Fair

Yesterday was The Chronicle's Autumn Leaves Book Fair at the Queensbury Hotel in lovely Glens Falls, New York.

It was a big event—4 or 5 ballrooms full of authors and publishers selling books—and there was a steady stream of shoppers perusing the tables, all day long. The spread of duopress books at my table was a big hit. The bowl of Dove chocolates? Also, popular.

I wouldn't have known about the this book fair if not for a flier given to me by the community events coordinator who organized the last signing event I attended, at my local Barnes and Noble. One thing leads to another.


Thanks to author Jean Akin who shared this table and the day with me, and who graciously snapped this photo.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Saturday my family took a trip south to NYC. We spent most of the day at the Museum of Modern Art. (Yes folks, Starry Night made me cry. Happens every time. Oh, Vincent.)

If you can, get there to see MoMA's current special exhibit, "Century of the Child." Wow. Amazing.

On our way out we popped into the MoMA store to find the books I've done for Duopress. I saw them literally the moment we walked through the front door. I would say that having books in the MoMA bookstore is a dream come true, if I had ever dreamed such a thing.
What a glorious day.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book Signing at Barnes and Noble

This afternoon, Saratoga Springs' Barnes and Noble celebrated local authors. Community Relations Manager Beth Austin, who organized the event, was kind enough invite me to join them. She stocked the store with all of my Duopress books. The event was a huge success, and lots of fun. Here I am with Jean Foster Akin, author of The Filigree Slippers (Tate Publishing).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

moo mini cards

In anticipation of an upcoming promotional event at my new local Barnes and Noble, I just had these adorable mini-cards printed at I couldn't be happier with them. Even the box in which they came is a delight.

Moo minis are the same width as a standard business card, but are half as tall. As with all moo cards, you can load different images for each card in the box if you like. I didn't do that this time, but some day, for sure!

Monday, September 17, 2012

icy editorial

I made this image recently for Jay Judge, head of visuals at the Baltimore Sun. The article was about a new type of plastic surgery that freezes off those last few stubborn pounds. The procedure is recommended only for those who don't have tons of body fat to lose.

In other news: The image is so tall and thin, I tried to pair it with another similarly shaped illustration on my website. Twice. It didn't work, and my husband suggested adding a dress. What do you think? Click here to see, then come back and let me know.




Thursday, September 13, 2012

From Chicago to San Francisco

Last winter I inked 240 pages worth of drawings for 2 new Duopress titles: Doodle Chicago (by Jerome Pohlen), and Doodle San Francisco (by Puck). They are finally available, and they look amazing! Designer Charla Pettinglill did a fantastic job on both books.

Doodle Chicago and Doodle San Francisco are available in various sites around the cities they feature, and can be ordered on-line at both Amazon and B & N.

Check out Duopress's website for more info.

And yes, those are the Blues Brothers at the bottom of the photo. They are waiting in line very patiently, because everyone in Chicago is polite.

Friday, September 7, 2012

doodle box

Late last summer I wrote a post titled 1000 sheets of paper, in honor of my first Doodle books (and all of the paper it took to create them) for Duopress. This week we are wrapping up our sixth joint Doodle endeavor.

I had to find a bigger box.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

thank you, AGM!

Late in the summer of 2002, I got my first e-mail from Anna Goodson. Her note asked why I hadn't responded to an earlier inquiry (which got lost in cyberspace): Was I not interested in representation by AGM, Inc.? I almost fell out of my chair. Smoke rose as my fingers flew, typing out my reply: OF COURSE I AM INTERESTED!

That was ten years ago. Since then, Anna has become a trusted friend. She and her partner Sylvie (and MJ and Joanne, in the office) worked hard to promote me and the entire AGM gang—which, back then, included photographers. The snapshot above shows a tiny sample of all of the printed promos I have from AGM, and does not include the books Anna used to make every year, or any hint of her vast on-line presence.

After a decade-long partnership with AGM, my job log is crammed with nearly a thousand entries, so I'd say it was all a huge success. :o)

Anna not only gave me a wonderful illustration career, she also generously showed up via Skype to help me teach countless Self-Promotion classes at the Savannah College of Art and Design. In the area of self-promo, she taught me almost everything I know. I never could have taught that class, if not for my experience with AGM and my friendship with Anna. She is very, very good at what she does, and countless students have benefitted from her wealth of knowledge.

After ten amazing years, I am moving on to pursue the children's book market more exclusively. I will be working with a new agency (soon to be announced), and am very excited about what the future holds—including a continued friendship with the awesome Anna Goodson, illustration rep par excellence.

To see Anna's amazing group of artists, click here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Greetings from the Holiday Inn

My family recently moved. Today we are getting settled in our new house in Gansevoort, NY, a suburb of Saratoga Springs... a long way from Savannah, GA! For a variety of reasons, en route, we spent a week or so living in hotels. I've got several deadlines for duopress this summer, so I kept my laptop and scanner handy.

This was my one of my work stations at the Holiday Inn, Albany. (Not too shabby, I know.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chicago, Chicago!

I painted this skyline as a style sample waaaaaaay back in February, for a book I am finishing up right now for duopress.

Although the sample inspired the art for the book, it didn't make the final cut, because the composition of this particular spread changed as the manuscript developed. That's okay, though. If not for the change, I wouldn't be able to share this painting with you now. And the new spread, which will be published eventually, is super nice too.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Splash

I made this image for Jay Judge, Head of Visuals at the Baltimore Sun. The article (published July 5) describes how frustrating it is for lifeguards, who tend to be ignored by kids and parents alike. With Jay's approval, I painted this one with watercolor—"training" to paint an upcoming book for Duopress.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Have Pentel Brush Pen, Will Travel

My husband Fred and I are traveling in gorgeous upstate New York. There are four big deadlines looming in my future, but it's okay! I packed my Pentel brush pen, a few pencils, and a stack of printer paper—everything I need to keep making line art for Duopress.

Today we swam in Lake George, which required courage (oh man, is that lake cold!), and stamina. We're used to the buoyant salty water off the Georgia coast. Lake swimming definitely requires more upper body strength than I possess, but it was wonderful exercise, and very refreshing.

Back in our sweet little room, I found some time to work. The beauty of this place is astounding. Inspirational! Makes me want to paint farmland and Holstein cows. Some day.

Happy Summer, everyone!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chapter Titles

My son Gray and I have been enjoying the words and art of The Mysterious Benedict Society. The beautifully done chapter headings inspired me to try my hand at a similar assignment. This is one of three black and white pieces I made recently, to be used as chapter headings.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Beauty, Less Beast

I illustrated this book cover several months ago; the book, published by Barbour, is now available. Ashley Schrock provided art direction.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Earlier this year I made these little paintings for my publisher / author friend Mauricio Velázquez de León (duopress), for him to leave behind as thank you gifts after events at various bookstores. Mauricio, a.k.a. "Puck," wrote Doodle New York, the book he was promoting. The cab image was inspired by a doodle activity in the book, which I illustrated.

All of the paintings were done on small wooden plaques, ready for hanging. The top one, in acrylic, was a gift for Mauricio and his family—that's them, in the cab. We've made so many books together, I've lost count.

My Self-Promo Students

Every time I teach self-promotion to illustration students at the Savannah College of Art and Design, we have Skype chats with some of my amazing friends. Recently, my classes spent a marvelous forty-five minutes chatting with Darren Di Lieto, the brilliant mind behind Hire an Illustrator!, The Little Chimp Society, and Mail Me Art. Darren is also manages, which is how we met.

As a thank-you to Darren, my students made this accordian-folded card, complete with a custom envelope. (The magic of Photoshop shows both sides at once in the above image; in reality, the card is double-sided.)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Premiere Guest on The Creative Stir

My studio is featured this week at The Creative Stir. Such an honor, being the first contributor! The site is designed and maintained by a good friend, whose amazing illustrations you can see over at Margie and Jimbo's.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Playing With Paint...

...experimenting, for an upcoming book project. :o)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Live Drawing at WORD Book Store

I tried my hand at iMovie to edit this video, which shows me making a drawing in my studio in Savannah, Georgia for a group of kids at WORD Book Store in Brooklyn, NY. Three cheers for Skype!

Although in this video you can't see the folks on the other end, you can hear their voices. Puck (Mauricio Velázquez de León) was there, because he wrote Doodle New York and was the star of the show that day at Word. Jenn Northington, who organized the event, was there as well, directing the whole thing. And of course, there were lots of kids.

Thanks to my friend Brett Wilkes, who shot the video, and... thank you, WORD!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Her Shoes Sing

I recently illustrated a mini-book for Highlights, a poem called "My Shoes Sing," by Joy Acey. What a fun project! A dream for me: twelve images featuring this adorable little girl, as she wears her favorite shoes throughout every season. The book (which you cut out and staple yourself) is at the very end of the January issue of Highlights High Five. Art Direction excellently provided by Kelley Cunningham.

To see a few more samples, click here.