Monday, December 2, 2013

Isabella in the Savannah Morning News

This past Sunday (December 1), The Savannah Morning News included Isabella's Shoe Studio in the following article by Linda Sickler, called "Put books by authors with Savannah ties under your tree this year."

"Isabella's Shoe Studio" by Violet Lemay. $12.95, duopress. Available at Shop SCAD, Ex Librirs, and

Savannah College of Art and Design professor Violet Lemay is the art director of duopress and an award-winning children's book illustrator.

Her latest juvenile nonfiction book, released in September, is a whimsical introduction to the process of design. Children don't just read the book, they're encouraged to doodle and create their own art.

"'Isabella's Shoe Studio' is a Doodle Storybook about 8-year-old Isabella, a budding artist with a charitable heart, who dreams of becoming a famous shoe designer," Lemay says.

"The daughter of a hat designer and the granddaughter of a dress designer, Isabella's bent toward art and design is in her DNA," she says. "Through a series of fun interactive activities, Isabella encourages young readers to try their hand at drawing and design, while teaching them about artistic inspiration."

Lemay moved to Saratoga Springs, NY in August 2012, but she still teaches classes online for SCAD. "To date, I have illustrated 18 books for children, with more on the way, mostly for duopress, my favorite publisher, for whom I now act as art director, "Lemay says.

An award-winning illustrator, Lemay's other children's books include "Beach Doodles" (which she co-illustrated with SCAD alumna Paige Garrison), "Doodle Chicago," "Doodle New York," "My Foodie ABC" and "New York Baby."

"'Isabella's Shoe Studio' is unique, fun, educational and adorable," Lemay says. "While most other books for children about fashion are filled with illustrations of designs for grown-ups, 'Isabella's Shoe Studio' is very down to earth, focusing on fun but practical shoes for little girls.

"The shoes are merely a vehicle to teach about artistic inspiration and the process of design.

For example, Isabella asks readers to look at the night sky and at their breakfast table to find inspirations for new shoe designs."*

To see the complete article, click here.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Violet's of Saratoga

My family moved from Savannah, Georgia to Saratoga Springs, New York, just over a year ago. The move happened quickly—my husband Fred took a job offer up here—and we were excited to migrate north, but it was a huge decision. Despite being in the middle of a busy season of making art for duopress (including Chicago Baby, which I painted all throughout the move), he flew me up to Saratoga Springs to show me around, so that we could decide together whether or not to leave our long-time home of Savannah.

Saratoga Springs' bustling, historic down-town is actually a lot like Savannah, minus the heat and that special Southern je ne sais qois. (Fred blames humidity. I think the likes of Flannery O'Connor and Tennessee Williams would argue that the issue is more complex than weather, but what do I know.) The South has its charms, but this small northern town is absolutely lovely. You'll never guess the name of the first shop that caught my eye as soon as we rolled in: "Violet's of Saratoga!" I saw Violet's, and knew I was home.

I also knew that once Isabella's Shoe Studio was in print, I would see about getting it into Violet's.  Violet's is a chic, up-scale ladies' boutique with an amazing staff, featuring an array of to-die-for shoes as well as everything fashion. Between the name and the content, it seemed a match made in heaven.

Shop owner Laura Farrar couldn't have been more gracious. She embraced Isabella with open arms, and features a stack of books in a place of honor on the counter.

If you're in the area, check out Violet's and of Saratoga. The shop is right down town at 494 Broadway, and there is a parking lot adjacent to the store, right off the street. Tomorrow is SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY—a good excuse to get out support a wonderful, local small business! 


If you look closely you can see Yours Truly in the top photo, and again in this interior shot. (Yes, I am bundled up to my eyeballs in a gigantic woman-eating parka. I've been up here over a year but am still not quite used to the cold.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

SUNY Adirondack

I spent a lovely Saturday morning and afternoon at SUNY Adirondack yesterday, selling copies of a variety of duopress books, including Isabella's Shoe Studio.

The event—a conference sponsored by the Iroquois Reading Council and SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury—featured sessions all day long for grad student educators, focusing on vocabulary. 

As for me, I sat in the airy, sunlit hall at a table full of books with a handful of other local authors and illustrators who were doing the same, including Dale Christopher, Lisa Potocar, and Arthur Gonzalez. Great company, to be sure.

Between sessions we chatted it up with the attendees, who browsed the books on the tables as they ate cookies and drank tea. (There was delicious food available throughout the entire event. So nice!) 

duopress books are fun, interactive, AND educational, so they are always a big hit with educators, and Saturday was no exception. I sold every copy that I had of Yummy Food Doodles, Doodle America, Doodle New YorkNew York Baby, and Isabella's Shoe Studio! I even sold the single copies of Doodle Washington DC, Doodle Texas, and Chicago Baby that I brought along, just in case. It was a great day.

A very special thanks to Bonnie Yanklowitz (that's Bonnie in the photo), who took me under her wing at the Glens Falls Chronicle Book Fair last November, and again this year. Bonnie and Mary Anne Flanders, co-chairs of the Iroquois Reading Council (our local chapter of the New York State Reading Association) were extremely gracious to me—as was a dashing silver-haired gentleman who was so busy helping people all day that I never caught his name. (Stan, perhaps?) The Iroquois Reading Council is a lovely group full of smart, friendly people who love to read and who volunteer their time to promote literacy. What's not to like about that?

Click here to become a fan of the Iroquois Reading Council on Facebook.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bella Gets Dressed

Late last spring I was commissioned by Highlights High-Five to make four images for a sweet little story called Bella Gets Dressed. The art was published in the September 2013 issue. If you'd like to see the other three illos, click here to be redirected to my website.

Art Director, Kelley Cunningham

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Modern Woman

Last month I made an illustration for USA Today's MODERN WOMAN magazine, which is out today in the fall/winter 2013 issue. On the very last page, the essay "Let's Get Real" (by Allison Weiss Entrekin) discusses reality vs. the images we project via social media. Very interesting topic, excellently written.

Art direction by Erin Aulov.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Isabella's Shoe Studio Photo Contest!

Here is your chance to win a hand-made felt Isabella doll, and/or other cool stuff. Look at all of these little Isabellas—one of them is calling your name!

This contest is soooooooo easy!

Follow this link and click the Isabella doll. A larger, 2-page PDF will appear on your screen. Print the paper Isabella doll (front and back), and cut her out. For a more durable doll, print on card stock. Use a glue stick or double-sided tape to attach the front and back pieces together.

Carry your paper Isabella around town with you, and take her photo! My friend Vikki sent this cool pagoda shot all the way from China. Go, Vikki!

Post your favorite photo on Isabella Shoe Studio's Facebook page to have your name entered for a chance to win fun prizes.

Contest ends on December 31, 2013, so don't delay! You know Christmas will come and go before you can say "Isabella's Shoe Studio."


Isabella is the cute and funny star of Isabella's Shoe Studio (duopress 2013), an adorable Doodle Storybook™. Isabella dreams of becoming a famous shoe designer. The book is full of clever educational activities that teach kids about the processes of design and artistic inspiration.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mail Me Art: Short & Sweet

In early August, my copy of the book Mail Me Art: Short & Sweet arrived, all the way from London. The book accompanied and chronicled a monumental gallery exhibit organized by my friends Darren and Jane DiLieto, founders of the illustration sites Hire an Illustrator and The Little Chimp Society. (If you don't know Darren and Jane, click here to read more.)

Mail Me Art, a charity event, is a monumental undertaking. This year's show featured illustrations from 240 artists around the world, all created on envelopes and sent through the mail.

Every piece of art is represented in the book; in addition, a handful of especially blessed illustrators contributed the stories behind their projects as well. Darren asked me to submit mine, and I was happy to oblige.

The show is over, but the book lives on, and is in fact available at Would you do me a favor? Stop by (click this link) and submit a review of the book. The more copies that sell, the more people are helped. Also, it's a nice way to support Darren and Jane, who do so very much for the world of illustration.

If you'd like to read Professor Violet's thoughts on the promotion/marketing angle of Mail Me Art, click here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

blast from the past

A few weeks ago I got a call from a kind soul at Wizards of the Coast (Hazbro Wizard). While cleaning out a closet or something, he found a pack of artwork that I had submitted ten years ago. Ten years!

My son, now twelve and only an inch or two shorter than me, was a toddler then, and the now-famous Kim Rosen was my intern. Kim took this photo of Gray on the beach at Tybee Island, GA.

If you don't know Kim, be sure to check out her stuff. She is an illustration rock star, with a keen side-interest in pattern design. Also: stellar person. Follow her on facebook and Tumblr, and tell her that Violet sent ya.

I made almost two hundred illustrations in two installments for this job, which was a proposed trading-card project for 'tween girls. The project didn't fly, despite lots of money spent—I certainly cashed in, and I was only one of several artists involved.

Looking at all of that work, I am amazed: they are tiny gouache paintings, incredibly fine and detailed. It wasn't long after this job that I left my paint pots behind for the *speed* (ha!) of illustrating digitally.

Anyway, it was such a gigantic project and it's so odd the way it resurfaced yesterday when the postman rang my bell, I decided I had to share it with you.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Isabella Paper Doll

In honor of fashion week, duopress is offering a totally *free* and super cute page to download: Isabella as a paper doll, with three outfits to wear!

Click here! Isabella and her paper wardrobe will pop up in a new window.

Cut carefully on the dotted lines. Because of all of the tiny tabs, this may be a job for a grown-up or older sibling.

To make this straw hat fit on Isabella's head, you have to cut the dotted line on the inside, just below the rim. In order for the hat to fit properly and stay in place, be careful not to cut through to the edge! If that happens, don't worry: repair with a tiny piece of Scotch tape. Isabella won't mind. In fact, she is a pro at fixing things with tape. 

Color Isabella's outfits, and post photos of your hard work on her facebook fan page. *Like* the page while you're there, any perhaps she will send you a few more outfits for your Isabella paper doll collection!

Isabella is the cute and funny star of  the new Doodle Storybook™ Isabella's Shoe Studio (Violet Lemay/duopress 2013), available on-line and at your local bookstore. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Doodle America

Last winter I was busy making art for a slew of books for duopress, all of which are about to be released in bookstores.

Doodle America was written by the highly prolific Jerome Pohlen, whose Author Profile Page at is extremely impressive—click here, and prepare to be awed! Doodle America is fun and educational, with directives to doodle everything from Ben Franklin's kite in a thunderstorm, to kudzu covering a sleepy southern town. The 180-page activity book is divided regionally, and is ideal for rainy days, road trips, and everything in between.
My son Gray (who is almost twelve already!) still loves duporess Doodle Books, and his friends do, too.

 It's a good thing, since most of them have unwrapped books from the Doodle series at their birthday parties. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

facebook FAN DRIVE = free books!


Click here to *like* Isabella's Shoe Studio.

Copy and paste the URL at the top of Isabella's fan page and send it to your friends, to participate.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Chalkstone Ave, Providence

There are three people in my family: my husband Fred(erick), our eleven-year-old son Gray, and, of course, ME—Violet. This week we took a quick trip to Rhode Island. Fred had business, so Gray and I occupied ourselves searching for lighthouses along the rocky coast. There are something like a million Rhode Island lighthouses. (Go, Ocean State!)

As we were driving along Chalkstone Avenue in Providence, scanning street names to find our way to the highway, we passed Gray Street, over which I made a small amount of fuss, while Gray himself pretended not to care.

A quarter mile or so down the road, we passed Frederick Street. "Oh come ON, Gray! You've gotta admit, that is pretty cool." Still, nothing.

Just as I was thinking, Wouldn't it be amazing to look up and see Violet Street right now? I did look up and there it was, just a few blocks past Frederick: Violet Street! Gray remained unimpressed. In fact, he actually groaned (impatient to get to the lighthouses); however, he was completely patient the following day when I made him ride with me to retrace our steps so I could take these photos.

Violet Street, Providence RI

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ronnie Herman

In NYC a few weeks ago, I took a break from Book Expo America to spend an hour chatting with my new agent, the marvelous Ronnie Ann Herman (The Herman Agency). We celebrated our partnership in a 10th Avenue coffee shop over thumbprint cookies and iced tea.

It was a hot and energetic weekend to be sure; sitting still in this little air conditioned oasis with a woman of such grace and wisdom was a memorable highlight. Lovely.

Sunday, June 9, 2013



My family drove to Boston yesterday to watch the Sox beat the Angels, and we brought Isabella along for fun. This video (a series of still shots transformed into video using recaps our day.


Isabella is the star of the soon-to-be-released Doodle Storybook, Isabella's Shoe Studio (duopress 2013), written and illustrated by Yours Truly.

Friday, June 7, 2013

pjn photography + duopress = adorable

My friends Courtney and Pete Nettleton, owners of PJN Photography in Glens Falls, NY, are using duopress books as props in their sessions with babies. On behalf of the babies of New York and the tri-state area, Sadie (above) finds My Foodie ABC "delicious."

 Click here to read more about this unexpected and wonderful collaboration.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Expo America

I spent the weekend in NYC at Book Expo America wandering around the massive Javits Convention Center, alternately alone, or with my one of my wonderful friends Marsha (a writer in from Savannah, GA) or Mauricio (owner of duopress). That's Mauricio standing to my right. Marsha took the photo.

They let me sit for fifteen minutes to sign advance copies of the soon-to-be-released Doodle Storybook™ Isabella's Shoe Studio, which by the way looks spectacular. It's a 2-color book which we separated manually, a process about which I will write at length when the books are available and I can get some good photos of the interior. The color leaps, I tell you—it is so vibrant and beautiful. Can't wait for you to see.

If you read the post I wrote before I left, the one right before this one—all about my shoe wardrobe for the trip—and are curious about how everything panned out, rest assured, I wore every shoe that I packed and have no post-shopping regrets. My facebook stream is full of footwear updates, if you care to see them.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

SHOES: a memoir of recent days

This weekend I will have the distinct pleasure of attending Book Expo America in NYC, to sign copies of a brand-new book that I not only illustrated, but also wrote: Isabella's Shoe Studio! (To read more about how all of that went down, click here—it's a good story.)

Mauricio Velázquez de León (a.k.a Puck), leader of Team Duopress, will be there as well, with two other new books. I'll fill you in on the other books in coming weeks. They are awesome and I can't wait to share.

This post, however, is all about SHOES.

Now. A girl can spend a weekend in NYC shod in her tried-and-trues, and normally I would. However. A string of recent events forced me to shop for new shoes. I am merely a victim of circumstance.

First of all, a year and a half ago, I broke my foot again, meriting a stern talking-to from my doctor. His instruction against high heels was accompanied by a very significant look over the top of his glasses, raised eyebrow and all. He meant business. Depressed about having to wear that unsightly and all-too-familiar blue boot, I decided I had better listen, and hobbled obediently into a flats-only future. (In the spirit of honesty, dear reader, I must confess to pulling my favorite BCBG wedges out of the closet once or twice since my foot has healed, but only for occasions at which I was allowed to sit.)

Then, this past year, Isabella's Shoe Studio happened. Suddenly I had written a shoe book, and would be traveling to the Big Bad Burg to promote it. Call me crazy for paying special consideration to my feet, but the event in question hovers around a shoe book. In New York City. Perhaps my opinion had been shaped by years spent designing costumes in New York, or illustrating fashion essays for Elle. Whatever the case, it seemed to me that my shoes for this 4-day event needed to represent!

As winter melted into spring, I pulled my trusty flats out of storage and was dismayed at their various states of disrepair. (Don't be fooled: I love shoes, but don't have that many in my closet. I'm the kind of girl who finds a pair she likes and wears them for a decade. It's true. Once I even had a pair of flip-flops re-soled. They were Nikes, but still—flip flops!)

Alas, my very favorite black flats, the ones I wore everywhere and with everything, were literally falling apart at the seams. The leather was torn; there was no hope for repair.

To make matters worse, the soles of the Campers that I bought in NYC ten years ago—my sure-fire-city-stomping shoes—were crumbling, and their unusual design prohibited a re-tread. I had to let them go. Never thought I'd see the day.

So. I had to buy new shoes, and they had to be not only beautiful, but flat and comfortable, because trade shows = walking.


Now. The main character in the book that I wrote, Isabella, is a little girl who loves all kinds of shoes, and aspires to design them. Keeping her in mind, I began the laborious task of replacing my old friends. Tough work, I know, but I'm a trooper. :o) Figured I'd need some cool sneaks, and maybe a ballet flat as well—both, styles featured heavily in the book. I began my search on-line, and have a fun Pinterest board to show for my effort.


I bought these silver sneakers by Gotta Flurt on a whim but couldn't bring myself to wear them. They'd be great for little Isabella, but not for an old lady like me. Too sparkly. My husband said they made me look like a member of a boy band—even more than usual. Ha. (He was right.)

Using a DSW promo code I ordered these vibrant blue Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, an American classic, but they didn't fit at all: too long. 

Eventually I found this AMAZING, slightly metallic version of the CTAS on sale at a local shoe discount store, which came with multiple laces. They fit like a glove, and are comfortable. And yes, they sparkle—but not too much. I think Isabella would approve. 


If this Mia ballet flat hadn't been so deeply discounted, I probably would never have bought it, because it is quite delicate. Yes, I snagged a pair, but needed something sturdier for the Big City.

After hours spent researching on-line I literally stumbled over my top choice in a local discount store a few weeks later: these comfortable, stylish Dr. Scholl's. Perfect!


The interior of Isabella's Shoe Studio is printed in 2-colors: black, and Pantone 196, the blushest of blush pinks. So obviously, I had to try on (and buy!) this dress which Donna Karan must have designed with Isabelle's Shoe Studio in mind...  and, these chic and adorable petal pink BCBG flats—see the close-up at the top of this post for a better look. 

(Marsha, I know, I know.... they're not the most comfortable, but I had to get them. And I'll find someplace to wear them, for sure.)

So, friends, I think I'm set. I'll be back next week with a full report, and will definitely let you know how it goes with the shoes.

best always and wish me luck,