Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas House

Here's one I drew from a photo that was lacking in there are areas I would like to have been able to see better. It also had much brush that I had to remove and make it look snowy and wintery.

Holiday Help... the Seasonal work force...

Sometimes you might wonder why your mail looks a little the worse for wear. It is the Holiday seasonal helpers, I am sure.

And I am also sure that some of the help has a distraction or two.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Highlights Magazine

I'm so honored to have illustrated a wonderful Christmas poem by Eileen Spinelli in this month's issue of Highlights Magazine. Highlights - "the world's best-loved magazine" - how sweet is that!

The only thing I didn't realize was how dark and dull my illustration would print on magazine newsprint. The top is what it looks like in the magazine, and the bottom is how it's supposed to look. Hmmm... I'm hoping for more assignments from Highlights, and I'll be sure to up my brightness and colors next time around.

Happy THANKSGIVING ~ The Alternative

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Peahen Pen

If you were a peacock with a desire to become a writer, you wouldn' t have to go to far to find a pen with which to write.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


As I was creating the current episode of Trowbridge, it occurred to me that I make frequent use of the smudge tool in Photoshop. In the event that you rarely, or never use it, I thought I would call it to your attention. I should preface my comments by acknowledging that I am the last one to give instruction on Photoshop. I know it just enough to get by. But I have become quite familiar with the small part of Photoshop that I use. It has literally transformed all of my work.

For many years all of my illustration was done with "wet paint", watercolor, colored inks and Dr. Martin's Dyes. I never imagined myself painting digitally. But our digital wizard son, Eric, who now works for Disney in Los Angeles as a Flash master, had other ideas. He gently nudged me into the digital world. One of my regrets, however, is that I am a slow learner in all things digital. But I do catch on eventually.

Rather than do a literal step-by-step, I thought I would mention the areas in the painting where I used the smudge tool extensively, and how I used it. First to the Trowbridge page:

I used the smudge tool a lot in the rocks in the stream. I used it to sweep the rock color upstream and downstream from the rocks, to softly blend the rock and the water. Ditto with the texture of the trees in the background, the rock that Mrs. T is sitting on, and the foreground rocks that are cast in shadow, and the moss on the side of the stream.

Also, the smudge tool works well if you want to soften a hard edge, as I did with the rock that Mrs. T is sitting on. When I do rock, bark and moss textures I do tiny swirls with the smudge tool to blend colors together. If you experiment with it, as I did, you may find that it really enhances your work.

Sidebar: The "airbrush" brush came in handy (at 50%) to add a vapor effect at the base of the waterfall in the background.

I thought about the smudge tool as I was working on a full-sheet realistic floral watercolor early this morning for my Painting in Paradise. There were so many times when I felt like a smudge tool would come in handy for blending the leaf and petal colors. But that ain't gonna happen when you're working with traditional media.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Humpty Dumpty Magazine

I recently did a project for Humpty Dumpty Magazine which is in their November/December issue. I got my free copies of the magazine a few weeks ago and much to my delight my illustration was on the inside cover! It was a small project, but I had a great time and they were just wonderful to work for. As you can see I used my simplier style for this project.

Monday, November 17, 2008


What am I currently working on? A sweet, trade picture book for Shen's Books. Here's a lil' sneak peek at the main character. I'm still in the sketch phase. It's so much fun to create a personality, a tiny life that exists in this book.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A new direction

I am working on a chapter book and need to do 18 interiors in black and white. Since my main focus is normally full color paintings, this will be a change of pace, a new challenge and also something to which I am looking forward. This illustration isn't going to be part of the new book, but it is an example of one of the styles I like to use in Black and White.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pretty Neat!

I just received this little sneak preview from Teresa Anne Power, author of "The ABC's of Yoga for Kids"! It is so exciting to see the cover of the book now. It makes it seem all the more real to me....even though I still have so many of the illustrations yet to finish before the book can be published! Watch for more details on how you can pre-order the book in upcoming weeks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another place to create an online portfolio

I just found
It's another place to create an online portfolio at no cost. It's well designed. I'm in the process of uploading images now.

Friday, November 7, 2008


What a great feeling it is to finish a project! After a year and a half I've finished one with the USDA. Here is a smaller spot illo from it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

the BugCatchers

Something I have been working on this week.... my efforts this month are concentrated on ethnic studies.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Interview with Stephanie Ruble

Happy Monday Everyone!

Today I am honored to be featured and interviewed on both the blogs of Stephanie Ruble. I had a great time answering her thoughtful and very fun questions. Why not stop on over to one of her blogs and check the interview out?

Here are the links.

Thanks for the interviews Stephanie!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

 I have been working on this one illustration for several days, and wanted it to 'fit' the current subject for Illustration Friday (vacant).  It is the fifth version of a much earlier work. Sometimes when you think you have a good image and look at it a year later you can see a new way to create the mood. That is what happened with my old "duckpond" illustration. I think I may have it where I want it, but who knows it may resurface again at some point.

Somehow I don't find it a waste of time or energy to revisit older paintings and sketches.  Occasionally I will find something in my portfolio and take it right out. Then I say to myself, 
"What was I thinking!"  At that point I either trash it altogether or find a new way to make it work. That is growth for me.  What about the rest of you..... do you do that?

I find so much out about myself and my painting when I redo or revise something that 'almost' works.  I always want it to be the best it can be.  Whether it is traditional painting or digital I do keep a stack of possible 're-dos' just to remind me to work harder.