Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Giveaway at my BLOG!

I am giving away one FREE "The ABCs of Yoga fr Kids" coloring book at my children's illustration blog! Go there for instructions on how to win.

Also check out the cover artwork for my latest book "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too". The book will be published in 2010 by Sylvan Dell Publishing. They have been wonderful to work with!

There are many new updates at my website as well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

These are Christmas cards I illustrated for Christian Collection this year.

May God bless you as you seek the true reason for celebrating Christmas - that little baby born in a manger over 2000 years ago!

Merry Christmas,
Kristi Valiant

Merry Christmas

He's checking his list for the last time before he takes flight.
Merry Christmas to All and to all a Great night.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Picture Bookies!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Shepherd's Play

The Shepherds Play is being performed again this year by the Life Sharing communities of our Monadnock region. With each performance a it is clear that the actors and their assistants are truly touched by the spirit of this Holy season.
There are so many reasons for this. One of the truest meanings of Christmas is found in the love that is given to those who live in the life sharing communities. The residents in these family homes are always excited to perform the play for our community. This year's cast is made up from those who live at Plowshare Farm, Maple Hill, Tobias and Four Winds communities. Director Kimberly Dorn Bay welcomes us each year to witness the wonder of the season as told in this production.
The play itself is an abridged version of the Oberuferer Shepherd's Play which is a medieval religious mystery play. The roles in this play were passed down from generation to generation and involve the simple story of shepherds coming together to follow that all shining star.
Finding no room in any of the inns Mary and Joseph are given rest in a small stable with friendly animals to help keep them warm.
Later in the play as the Angel Gabriel slowly lowers a star on a stick over Mary, Mary slowly forms a cradle with her arms and we know that the Christ Child has been born. Silence at this point in the play is overwhelming and the moment is truly devine.
Children in our audience love to see the shepherds arrive and enjoy their antics and comical performance. Coupled with this is the touching moment when the shepherds give their precious gifts to the Christ Child.
As a bit of background the Oberofer Shepherd's Play: As early as the 16th Century a group of German people migrated to the little ilsnad of Oberufer on the Danube close to the frontiers of Austria and Hungary. With them they carried a cycle of religious plays which had been handed down by oral tradition through the generations. The plays were preserved unaltered to the method of acting and the words and songs and in the 50s and 60s Karl Julius Schroer a professor of folklore transcribed the dialogue from the region's farmers who were the actors. The Shepherds play is performed each year in many languages in many schools and churches worldwide. Audiences are given song sheets to participate in the opening and closing songs and help to lead the actors to and from the stage.
Our local church Union Congregational has the pleasure of hosting the Life Sharing Communities as they perform the play each year. Shepherds are also evident in the form of the helpers who assist the performers in their roles. Quietly holding, leading , singing and speaking with and for the actors, are directors and assistants who dress in subtle costumes and are more of a background than performers. The roles given to the actors from these communities are taken seriously, performed with love and to this day bestow a special blessing upon all who witness the play.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Website Update

From time to time it is good for an illustrator to refresh things. This goes for the studio, the bookshelves, and in today's case, the website. Have a look around if you have time. I kind of like to update from time to time and plug in some of the newer images.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This issue of the SCBWI bulletin

In the current issue of the SCBWI bulletin you will find an informative article about self publishers as they relate to illustrators. And you will also find the illustrations of artists you may know including several spot illustrations from two of our Picture Bookies. Both Nikki (for her first time !!) and Ginger have illustrations in this issue. Past issues have seen the work of other members of the Picture Bookies and it is wonderful to see us represented.

To send in your own spot illustrations you need to follow the guidelines in the SCBWI site and email them to, or send them directly to Aaron Hartzler at: The fee paid is currently $25.00 for each image used and it is for a one time use. You are given credit for the illustration and exposure to an international audience.

You can choose to have the bulletin sent to you or or can opt to read it online. The PDF for each issue is listed in the Online Resource Publications.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


When I work on a book I use a storyboard to keep me on track. In the beginning stages it is mostly concept sketches that I paste into place to see how the rhythm of the piece is flowing. This is a look at the early stage of a book I am working on. Like other illustrators, I don't always go from page to page in order, but skip around depending upon difficulty, use of models, time to get good reference photos and changes in the general tone of what I am trying to achieve.

An occasional image may be in color here and there, but the bulk of all the color finishes is done after the sketches have been approved by the editor.
My storyboard is like a mini dummy. Once I have everything in place, I'll construct a working dummy and submit it to the editor for any changes or suggestions. In the meantime I have a few months... (*weeks) to complete the initial sketches.

For this story I needed to get lots of first hand photos of a nearby town. I photographed stores, parks, streets, vehicles and people for several scenes I need to create. I needed a number of young students as models for characters as well as adults for some crowds in the story. Children in my Sunday School Classes and adults in our church are great subjects because there is a whole community of folks to choose from. I think they will enjoy seeing themselves in a book. The hair color may change, or the face might be a bit different, but I'll be sure to let them see where they are in the book.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lemur Troops & Critter Groups went to print!

A drove of cattle wore bells that rattle.
A leash of foxes hid under boxes.

I wanted to share my latest project. This is my next book to be released, Lemur Troops & Critter Groups, written by Rena Jones and published by 4RV Publishing. This book is the first in a set of three.

It went to print this week and I was told they would be available for purchase before Christmas!

The author, Rena Jones, has put together a series of rhyming sentences that introduce animal congregations to children. The illustrations take those silly sentences a step further and put the animals in humanistic scenarios and provide humor for children and adults.

You will be able to pre-order a copy in the coming days by visiting,

Also, visit Rena or I on Facebook and join the Critter Series fan page!

Monday, November 2, 2009

POSTERS from Overnight Prints

Recently I learned that Overnight prints was offering Poster prints at 11 X 17 inches. I decided to try this out and was rewarded with the most beautiful prints! The color is perfect and the effect is fantastic. Well worth the money spent and there are always coupons available for discounts. If you have a book to promote or artwork you want to sell as posters this might be right for you as well.

Since I photographed this in natural light in the studio, it may not be as vivid as it is in real life, but I am really happy with the quality.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A progression from here to there and back again...

To create this image for a series I am working on, I needed a good sketch. This time instead of using pen and pencil I did a quick sketch in the computer in Painter. I used the Conte Crayon in a soft version and did a general idea of what I wanted. This became a working print out to take to the drawing table where I traced it onto good quality paper.

Next I took some time out from the computer to just play with watercolors, colored pencils and pens to see what I wanted in the way of color. Since this is not archival paper I was able to feel at ease with whatever happened. Knowing it was going back to Painter for the final stages I could relax, experiment and not worry. Having fun is an important part of the illustration process.

With that done I scanned it all back into the computer and this was the result.

I didn't like the sizes being so even so I enlarged the human figure to create a bit more drama. I might even move the human closer to the edge or turn the figure a bit more to the viewer, but for now I like what it happening.

Next I will be finishing this in the computer with these colors and this composition in mind.

That should be ready to post in a day or two. Funny, but sometimes digital painting takes me longer than traditional painting. But either way it is always a joy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Character Studies

I have been working on creating my own desktop reference for characters, young, old, multiracial. Concentrating on facial expressions and features these are the first of my studies. The studies help me to keep consistency within a character from page to page in a picture book. Hopefully it will grow into a reference of my own style that I can go to when I am working on illustrations for stories. In addition to these I also have a backlog of photos of children and adults from those that I work with in Christian Education and the summer theater for children in our town.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Little Black Ant on Park Street

After several delays, the new release date for my illustrated book "Little Black Ant on Park Street" (Soundprints Publishing) is December 2009. I took these photos of the spreads with a pocket camera, and will repost them when I get actually high quality scans. But I was so excited I just had to show you now! It was hard to choose only 2 spreads from the book, but I cannot give away the story. So until December, this will have to satisfy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Picture Bookies are now on Twitter

The Picture Bookies are now on Twitter.
For the members it is a chance to show off to a wider audience. For the viewers it is just another place to find out what's new with the Picture Bookies Group.
The members have been mailed the user info and should be posting whenever possible.

Monday, September 21, 2009


The International Day of Peace has great meaning for our planet.
I first became involved with the movement for Peace on Earth through the first book I illustrated , One Day in Peace, January 1,2000. It was later renamed, Peace Day and then redone with new illustrations I created and has been translated into over 18 languages and is available to read online.
We also collaborated on a small book titled, The Department of Peace and is available as a Two in One Book.
The project was done as a no fee project by the two authors and myself for the benefit of the children of the world.

As today is International Day of Peace, please take ONE minute out of your day today, to say a prayer for Peace.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another Resource-KidLitosphere

I recently revisited this blog and thought it might be of help to some of you.
Take a sec to check out Kidlitosphere, a resource for anyone involved in the field of children's literature. They have a listing of many children's lit bloggers as well as a facebook group and listserve. I'm sure you can have your blog listed there if you blog about the topic of children's lit as an author or illustrator.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Version - older illustration

As I often do this, I thought I would share the reason why. Sometimes I go back to an older illustration and completely redo it. This is one that was originally done in watercolor a few months back. I wanted to created a soft digital version and found it fit very well into the IF theme this week as well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September Issue Stories for Children Magazine

My submission for the September issue of Stories for Children Magazine.
My story was, Bugs to the Rescue!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lots of News!

Thinking about hiring an agent? Before you do, check out my latest article for the column "Illustrator Tips", featured in The Prairie Wind, the online newsletter of the SCBWI-IL.

I am currently illustrating "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids Coloring Book" for author and yoga instructor Teresa Ann Power. This coloring book features yoga poses with corresponding letters of the alphabet, and is meant to accompany the new poster and the original, award winning hardcover book "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids". Teresa and I have had a great time working together and watching the success of the book grow! Check out this review in The US Review of Books.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Black & White

I have been really busy doing all sorts of things to help move myself into the Illustration biz.
I have been illustrating the last two years as a part time deal and now I feel ready to start to take the steps to move forward with it as a career.
I spent the weekend inking and I thought I would share with you two of the illustrations I worked on.
I am trying to build some new images for the website. I took out the B&W page and want to put it back in with new stuff.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Ginger Nielson

I am working on a series of fantasy illustrations. I have a long way to go to find the perfect balance, but these are two of several beginnings.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The author of the book I illustrated, "MY AFRICAN BEDTIME RHYMES", and I were recently interviewed by the Wandering Educators, A global community of educators sharing travel experiences. Every so often they will interview the authors and illustrators of children's books.

Brettell Hone the author, and I were interviewed and the results are on their website at:

I was especially pleased to contribute to this interview because the author has so much to offer children and adults in his tales from his home country. You will enjoy his comments, so I urge you to take a moment to read the interview.

Friday, August 7, 2009


LTNP (long time no post). I've been so busy, it's hard to cover all the bases. I just received these Clubhouse Magazine back cover samples in the mail yesterday from the AD at Focus on the family. Not a moment too soon, since the illustration was for their Christmas issue last December.

I might add, I recently signed onto Twitter ( If you want to follow my daily battles in the war against deadlines, Twitter is an easy way to do it. I like Twitter, as opposed to Facebook, because you can tweet inside of a minute (only 140 characters allowed) so it doesn't eat up as much time as Facebook can. I'm amazed at the exposure Twitter has given me in such a short period of time. I see Amy Moreno everyday on Twitter...we're Twittermates. Oh, thanks, Ginger, for getting me into LinkedIn. That's been helpful too.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Set Design for Summer Theater

Every Summer our community sponsors a Children's Summer Theater Camp through our church. This year the children are performing the Grapevine Connection. As a volunteer I am invited to paint any sets that are needed. This is a portion of our set this summer, The Information Station. The painting is 4feet by 8 feet and is one of the smaller areas I have painted over the past 5 seasons. Little chase lights shine through the holes in the flat when the "station" is activated.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The new 2010 C W I M is out~

The newest issue of the Annual Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market is now available. If your bookstore does not have it you can find it on

One neat feature of the new issue is the 1 year free subscription to the online Writer's Market.
A scratch off code number is in the front of the book that will give you access to the site.

The advantages of the subscription to the Writer's Market are:
Updated market listings for your interest area
A searchable database
Daily updates
Record keeping tools
Industry news
and Professional tips and advice

You will notice some changes in the format, but the strength and professional usefulness of the issue is still there.

GROW IT ~ Amy's Book

To see the USDA cover for GROW IT scroll down a few stops on the Pre School Page.
That is the link to the book Amy finished for the USDA . The preschool series is due out soon. I remember when Amy was working on the cover. The entire book is full of her wonderful work.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thumbs up!

This is an illustration I did for the USDA's preschool series Grow It, Try It Like It. I still haven't seen the final product..and am hoping to get at least one sample in my hands sometime soon. It was a labor intensive project, but a great joy to work on.

"The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" poster

Because of the success of the book "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids", this accompanying poster is being released. I believe it will be sold through the official website, as well as It is meant to be used as a fun poster for kids to hang on their walls, as well as an instructional tool for yoga studios.

Watch for more info on an upcoming "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" coloring book as well.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Children's Dept. Mural at the Hamilton Lane Library

I have spent the last two weeks up on scaffolding, about 15 to 20 ft in the air... PAINTING!

And here is what I was working on... I started in December of 2008 painting the leaves and vines in the Children's Department of the Hamilton Lane Library. I was not able to completely finish the project at that time, because we could not find the right size scaffolding to be donated for use.
Jo and her husband Lionel were able to acquire the scaffolding and even built it for us.. So I would like to send out a special Thank You to those two.

The theme was a very contemporary take on Jack and the Beanstalk.
And now the entire project is finished...


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My First Book Signing in a store

I had my first picture book signing at Barnes & Noble last Saturday for Cora Cooks Pancit. I've done book signings at school visits and conferences before, but I was a little nervous about doing one at a store. What if no one came?

It turned out to be a smashing hit! Barnes & Noble sold out of the books they ordered for the signing, and then they sold 12 of my own copies that I brought in as backup. How fun is that!

The most fun part of it for me was seeing lots of friends from church, neighbors, in-laws, SCBWI friends, and friends of my mother-in-law (she sent the announcement to everyone she's ever known). It was quite the party! I brought a big pot of pancit (the Filipino noodle dish from the story - the recipe is in the book), and my husband handed out samples the whole time while I signed and chatted and hugged and "Wow - I haven't seen you in 2 months!" There was a lot of that, because I've been in bed for 2 months with severe morning sickness and dizziness. Being in the second trimester now rocks!

This is an illustration from the book.

Elizabeth Dulemba just interviewed me about this picture book on her fun blog: Check it out!

Kristi Valiant

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Morning Walk and Research

I needed do to some active research this morning for my current dummy. Because I want to represent leaves, ferns, berries and pond water I took a long walk with my camera and gathered a lot of good info. We have SUN today, so the time was just right in the early morning. Dew is still on the leaves, the grass is wet and the forest is fairly still.

To make the photos work for me I put them all into a separate folder within the current project file and make a little thumbnail photo like this one, so I can easily find what I am looking for.
My work is semi realistic in a painterly style, so these just serve as a reference. My paintings will be accurate, but not photo realistic. I am not sure how a PC handles this kind of file, but I like having the Mac that can show me at a glance where things are and which file I need for a reference as I draw or paint.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July Issue of Stories for Children Magazine

July Cover for
by Nikki Shoemaker
This is the first time I have ever illustrated aliens...

Saturday, July 4, 2009


© Kathleen Rietz
As you celebrate Independence Day 2009, please remember our soldiers and their families who miss them.