Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wishing all a very Happy New Year

And much success for each of us in the New Year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

For the children and the child in all of us...

For years we used to make these flour/salt dough angels, snowmen, cookie shapes,
 and ornaments. Here is the recipe and some hints for creating your own angels.  To see any of these charts larger, just click on the image.
After you knead the dough cover the dough with a wet paper towel to preserve the mositure.  If you don't do this the dough will become too dry.  If your dough is too wet you can put a little flour on your hands before you begin to roll out the body parts.  Create 11 balls of dough in sizes similar to those above.
Once you have them all ready you can begin with the wings and place the head between the two wings.
 Next you will begin to assemble the angel.

Once the angels and ornaments have baked to a nice hard finish you can paint them with food color, watercolors, acrylics, or just leave them plain.    When you pack them away after the Holiday season, you can store them in air tight containers for the next year.  Our collection grew over the years.

Here is a hint.... the smaller the object the less time it takes to bake. So check your creations after the first 20 minutes or so.  These are about 3 inches high and maybe an inch and one half wide.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flying Poodles Soars~

An interactive story, written by Karen Morss and illustrated in a traditional style with children in mind, the APP is only 1.99 at the Apple APPs store.



Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Oceanhouse Media

The book is also available at any and all bookstores with the ISBN ( 978-0-615-38490-0) reference and on Amazon.com for the full book price.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Preview of "Prairie Storms" by Sylvan Dell Publishing

This is the spread I created for the month of September in the upcoming picture book "Prairie Storms", by Sylvan Dell Publishing.  The book is due for release in 2011.  I am enjoying illustrating this book IMMENSELY!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A nice review... and a teaching moment

I am always happy to see great reviews for books and when they happen to be for authors for whom I have illustrated, I am even happier.  Here is a great review for Flying Poodles, A Christmas Story.  Karen Morss is the talented Renaiassance Woman who created the story.

Karen's own personal story is just as exciting and entertaining.

I was able to include the northern lights in some of the illustrations.  My mother grew up north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. Her stories about the Aurora Borealis always intrigued me.  I did visit Alaska, but only in the summer, so I have never seen these first hand, but hopefully I will return to either Norway or Alaska and view them for myself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Life is happening
I must go away
To get some peace and solace
Just sometime to lay
Around and rest while
To strengthen my weary soul
I'll come back refreshed
and ready to go
Just wanted to let everyone know that I have
to take a break and catch my breathe. Get
a second wind. I wish each one of You a
a very Happy and blessed Holiday Season
Looking for good things in the New Year too!
Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What came first? The children's book or the calendar?

Long before I had dreams of targeting the children's book market, I dabbled in the calendar market. You see, back in the early 90's calendars were all the rage. So I came up with a silly golf character, entitled it Shank A Muligan's Golf and sent out 43 sample copies to 43 various publishers. I waited for 6 months and eventually got back 44 rejection letters. Yep. 44 when I only sent out 43. One publisher reeeaaaalllly wanted to make sure that I knew they weren't interested so they sent me two rejection letters. That aside, I eventually did sell the Shank calendar and it did really well.

During this same time frame I came up with an additional calendar concept about my favorite sport--- Bicycling. For some reason I didn't push as hard as I did with my Golf concept and it didn't sell. But years later here it is!!! My style has certainly changed but I still enjoy some of the concepts. If you're interested, check out all 12 illustrations at http://www.zazzle.com/retro_biking_calendar-158316781644169417

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shhhh! We're sleeping!

Here's a peek at my first book coming out in the spring of 2011!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Poster for Little Charley Thornpaws

I created some posters for the book promotions for Little Charley Thornpaws.  We are only allowed to show three images from the book for promotional purposes and this is one of my favorite pieces.  To make the poster the correct size for the printer I needed to add the border.  The border is similar to some of the areas in the book and I had fun with all that color!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finally! I have been wanting to show you the cover of the latest book I am illustrating for Sylvan Dell, titled "Prairie Storms". Here it is! Ta-daaaaa! It is due to be released in summer of 2011. I am currently illustrating the inside spreads.  I wish I could show them to you, but I have not even shown the publisher yet!  It has been such an interesting project to research. This past weekend I went on a photo excursion at the Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary near my home to photograph prairie plants, trees, the sky, etc. Each of the 12 spreads inside "Prairie Storms" will feature a different month, different animal, and different storm.  I just illustrated a pair of owls flying over a farm with a cloudburst and rainbow forming in the sky, and today I am painting a lizard scurrying from a flash of lightning.

Artist of the Week on Public Republic - Bulgaria

I had the rare opportunity to be featured as the artist of the week on the Bulgarian Art Blog, Public-Rebpublic which is now being shared in English. It features artists from around the world on a weekly basis. I hope you will take time to have a look at the article and the other amazing artists featured on the blog. The interview was conducted by Galya Mladenova.
If you look to the right side bar on that blog you can click on and access the other artists that have been featured.  Many different approaches to art are displayed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The newest book... Little Charley Thornpaws is now available

Little Charley is waiting to surprise you.  The storybook is perfect for preschoolers and K-1 and any adult who loves cats.  Each spread features Charley doing what he does best.
Caelaach McKinna has captured some of Charley's best moments and I was happy to have the fun of illustrating them.
Here is a sneak peek.

Illustrations copyright Ginger Nielson and 4RV Publishing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My first ever book signing *:)

The book signing for Daniel and the Harmonica, by Rob Dubreuil was a fun event today. I received a beautiful birthday card from Bethany Dubrueuil. She made it herself and I will always treasure it. We had a great time today. Rob played the harmonica with great flair! I tried a little, and will practice more. The book contains a lot of harmonica notation, so every book sold was accompanied by a harmonica. Thanks to all who came, and to Rob and his family and the great people at the Toadstool in Milford, NH

This is Rob reading his book to the group. He shared his journey from writer to published author with us and even played a fantastic harmonica solo.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Get ready for the FLYING POODLES

The books are in. Flying Poodles, A Christmas Story can be ordered from the website, and soon for your iPad or iPhone.  That is little MAX sitting on top of the stack of signed and numbered books in this limited edition.  This makes a great holiday gift *:)

Illustrated by Karen Morss, the story tells of an emergency, a rescue and the adorable heros who save Christmas Eve for the children of the world.

Flying Poodles ~ A Christmas Story

from "Flying Poodles ~ A Christmas Story" written by 
Karen Morss and illustrated by 
Ginger Nielson.
Miss Sally helps harness little Max, who wears a hand knitted nose warmer as he prepares for the adventure of a lifetime.
The book is available from Flying Poodles and will soon be listed as an iPad/iPhone app.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Grand Adventure

My book about John Wesley Powell is now available at Amazon and other outlets. It's called The Grand Adventure, and it's the true story of Powell's first expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon in 1869. This daring 1,000-mile journey is one of the great exploration adventures of the American West.

Originally copyrighted in September 2000, the journey to publish this book, not unlike Powell's expedition, was a challenge. First there were numerous query submissions to publishers that were rejected because, believe this or not, they "only want to publish true stories about history*." Many other publishers just weren't interested in picture books about historical events. And while waiting (and waiting) for publishers to review the book idea, I reworked the text several times and experimented for years with different styles for the illustrations and format - from very realistic to graphic-novel style until I finally settled on my own watercolor and pencil style. Eventually, out of frustration, I threw it back into the idea file and worked on other projects.

A couple months ago I decided to revive it and get it published through non-traditional avenues. When I first started shopping the idea around to publishers in 2000 -01 there were no other John Wesley Powell children's books on the market, now, amazingly, there are several. So, I think it's only fair, that since I have been fascinated by John Wesley Powell's trips down the Canyon since I was quite young, and because I'm a native Arizonan and have actually experienced the mystique and grandeur of the Canyon, I should share my vision of Powell's story too.

* I still have the rejection letters.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My new books have arrived!

It's so fun receiving first copies of a book. Or two books! I received my first copies of Dancing Dreams and Oliver's First Christmas from Accord Publishing. I turned in the final illustrations for Dancing Dreams days before I had my baby in January, and the finals for Oliver's First Christmas were due in April. Both of these will be released within the next month.

They both use AniMotion(tm) technology, which is a fancy way of saying that there are action windows which look like animations as you turn the page. You can see the dancer in the red dress is in two different poses above. Super fun!

Kristi Valiant

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tori Spelling at Park Ave Borders Book for Signing

Hello Picture Bookies,
I got wonderful news on yesterday that Tori Spelling will be
in NYC doing her first book signing for, " Presenting Talluah"
her very first children's book!!! I had fun illustrating the
book. The signing will be on Sept 22, 2010, at the Park Ave.
Borders Book Store. I have only spoken to Mrs. Spelling on the phone,
so it will be a real pleasure to meet her in person. Last week I got to
be a part of Drawn for the
Brooklyn Book Festival! IT WAS AWESOME!! I had so much fun
meeting the other artist like Darren Farrell, Shane Evans,
and Mike Carvallaro.
The four of us got to draw before a large audience
while both adults and children called out things for us to
illustrate! It was crazy, but a good time was had by all.
I would love to do something like this with fellow talented
Picture Bookies! It's amazing what a little music, large pads
of paper, crayons and marker and a fun crowd can do for the
spirit! There where smiles and giggles and free artwork to take
home. I was left feeling more inspired then ever. Hopefully we
can do something like one day! That would be so grand!!!!
Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Fall is certainly in the air, here in Ohio...
And I am welcoming it as a time for change!!!

My life has been chaotic and stressful in the last year and I am hoping that I can use fall to put all that in the past and look forward to a lot of great opportunities and positive changes!!!

This past week, I took an entire week off from the day job and freelance work... I haven't had an entire week off, since, well, never! And during that week I stayed home with my dog Ananke, watched movies, sports, cleaned, de-cluttered and did a few pieces of "for fun" art!!!!

Above is the one I finished this weekend.
This sketch has been in a sketchbook for a LONG time and is one that I have always wanted to put color into...

Well, here he is... A squirrel admiring the hoard he has gathering so far...

Enjoy! And here's a wish that we each have a wonderful September!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Discussion forum on facebook for the Picture Bookies

There is a tab at the top of our Picture Bookies page on facebook..... DISCUSSIONS.
This is the place to have an open forum of sorts to discuss topics related to children's book illustration and products. I hope you will all take advantage of the space to sound off, vent if you wish and start a discussion on a topic that you feel is timely and appropriate.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grow It, Try It, Like It finally out

The USDA series I illustrated over 2 years ago for a series for preschoolers is finally out in print. I haven't seen it in a hard copy yet, but it can be seen online.
It was a series of several teaching booklets and workbooks for kids to use for crafts and teachers to use to help children learn to grown fruits and veggies and eat and enjoy them. It was a joy to create.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A shiny sticker on my book!

Gotta love shiny stickers!

CORA COOKS PANCIT was the Picture Book Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.

The awards gala was during the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. in June. I loved getting to meet the author of Cora Cooks Pancit at the awards gala; she's a wonderful woman. Most of the time as an illustrator I don't have any contact with my authors; the publishers like to keep us separate so we can work more creatively in telling our own half of the picture book story.

In this book, Cora loves the kitchen but her older brother and sisters always get to help with the real cooking while she gets stuck with kid jobs like licking the spoon. When her older siblings head out for the day, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama's assistant chef. She chooses to make her Grandpa's pancit recipe, a Filipino noodle dish. The recipe is in the book and it's yummy.

This has been a busy and wonderful year for me. Cora won this award, I had a baby girl, and I've illustrated 4 more picture books for great publishers: Albert Whitman & Co, Accord/Andrews McMeel, and Standard Publishing.

Kristi Valiant

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Proofs have arrived

It is really exciting when you get to see the galley proofs of a book you just illustrated and they look great!

So many times the color can be a bit off, or some spreads don't match perfectly, but this time I am just thrilled that the proofs look great in all respects: color, design, and alignment.  The book, "Flying Poodles, A Christmas Story" by Karen Morss is due out later this fall in time for Christmas.  Her vision and her story are a combination of fantasy and reality and I know children and adults will enjoy her version of a Christmas Eve miracle.

In addition to the book an iPad version is also being finalized and will include audio featuring some of Karen's young neighbors as the voices of the poodles.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My web page just got an entire overhaul. Stop by and visit WWW.ScottNelsonandSon.com if you get a second.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Please Welcome Korey Scott to the Picture Bookies

The PICTURE BOOKIES members welcome, KOREY SCOTT to the GROUP.

 Korey Scott is an illustrator who specializes in children's books, educational material, and funny characters.   His work is currently a "featured portfolio" on Hire an Illustrator.

    His illustration style is perfect for capturing the attention of children and adults. Korey is proud to say that his illustrations and children's books not only are fun to look at, but they provide a beneficial resource to a child's education. Children love the playful details and silly characters while adults enjoy how the illustrations encourage children to read, learn, and have fun. His illustrations can help your company by teaching children how to improve reading skills, pronunciation, and even learn English, Spanish, and other languages. 

    His work has won awards such as "Best Children's Book" at the 2007 North Texas Book Festival and the Golden Spur Honor Award from the Texas State Reading Association (TSRA) 2005.  Teachers also enjoy using his material for class projects. 

You can view more of Korey's work on his website and on his blog.

Hello Picture Bookies!

Hi Picture Bookies! I look forward to sharing more of my work with everyone here. It is nice to see a lot of friends on here already. I am an illustrator in the educational, children's book market.

Right now, I am working on a couple children's books for self publishing clients as well as finishing up Kit 4 of the Literacy Speaks program by Northern Speech Services. Also, I am working with an organics company designing characters for plush animals, picture books, and all kinds of merchandise.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Champ's Story" gets 5-Star review on Amazon.com!

I have received such an overwhelming response ever since the release of my new book "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", I can barely keep up. I wanted to share with you this customer review I saw posted at Amazon.com today. It made my day:

This review is from: Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! (Hardcover)
I do wish there were more books of this ilk and this quality available for children.

For adults, "cancer" has become one of the most terrifying words in our language. Most adults have some understanding of this disease, and after the initial shock of the diagnosis, can rely on knowledge, maturity and practiced emotions to deal with it...on some level at least. Children on the other hand know from a very early age that fear is involved but so often do not know why. They not only have fear of something they know is "not good," but they also have a fear of the unknown, which is indeed just as traumatic.

The author, Sherry North has used the story of a young boy and his beloved pet dog to inform the younger set just what it is they are dealing with when cancer; either of a family member, loved one, friend or pet, enters their life.

Cody and his pet Champ are preparing for an agility show and Champ is running through her paces. While petting Champ, Cody discovers a lump on her side. Cody makes a good choice in telling Champ she needs to see a doctor. Cody knows there is something wrong.

The author and illustrator, Kathleen Rietz then take us upon a journey; a journey of a victim of cancer. From the visit to the doctor's office, testing and on to the diagnosis of cancer and the treatment, the reader follows step by step. The child learns what to expect and when to expect it. The young boy shows the typical emotions of a child in this situation; shares his thoughts with his friends, and above all, becomes Champ's caregiver. You can see the care and love radiating out form the illustrations and words.

The author has used straight forward simply language to tell a complex story. Her tone is matter of fact but extremely tender, loving and understanding throughout the entire work. There is nothing scary or heart wrenchingly sad about the story; it just explains in a very understandable way what a child might well face. Information will quite often take away a lot of fear and the author certainly supplies quite a lot of good and valid facts in a relatively short book. Truthfully, I was amazed at just how much information she was able to pack into so few pages.

The last four pages of the book are sort of a "cancer fact primer" for adults to use in teaching children of this subject. Facts are given so that the reader can understand just what cancer is, how it is treated, fact and fiction surrounding this disease, coping with cancer and chemo and a page on what you can do to prevent cancer as you grow up.

The art work in this book by Kathleen Rietz is extremely well executed. Each of the frames, which cover two pages each, are done in mellow and soothing colors. Each illustration fits the text perfectly. The artist has captured the mood of each picture perfectly on the face of the dog without overly anthropomorphizing her subject...I like this...it adds much to the overall message of the book. This is a very skillful writer and skillful artist that have teamed up here!

This is an ideal work to be used in a classroom. Giving children knowledge of this disease before he or she has to actually face it, as many, many will, gives them a bit of a head start in the process of learning to deal with the many issues they will be faced.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks

Monday, August 9, 2010

Coming Soon ... drum roll please.... An Interveiw with Kate *:)

An Interview with Kathleen Rietz will be posted shortly.  Her new book “Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too” was released last week.

Comment moderation for our visitors

We get a number of Chinese proverbs with each post, however some of those link back to porn sites.

So we must continue to moderate all comments. Sorry but viewers will still have to wait for us to check the comments. Almost all are great comments from people we love to see here, so just be patient if you don't see your comment right away.... it is coming as soon as we receive the notice.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Project in the Works...

Yes, okay it's a carrot....
But I needed to have an image to go along with my news...

At the end of 2009, I teamed up with an Agent, Anna Johnson of AJ & Associates. And shortly after she started emailing me about a future project that she was trying to get for me (that was November). After a few months and a few design samples I was chosen to embark on this journey. Horribly, I cannot tell you anything about the project specifically, but what I can tell you is that it is for an educational publisher and it is going to take me a few years to complete.

The cool thing about this project so far is, I have been able to be apart of the evolution of the project, which is not something I would have ever expected to get to do.
We have gone through character development already and have gotten the go ahead this week to start design templates for lots of neat extras that will go along with the books that will be produced.

Okay, so why the carrot...?
Well, a large part of this project is going to challenge me. I will be designing layouts, covers, packaging & more. And a big part of the art needs to be Vector... I rarely work in Vector... It just doesn't follow how I normally paint. So, now I am trying to do little illustrations of just random things and then turn them into Vector images... Which is the reason for the carrot...

I am very excited about this opportunity to not only be illustrating books, but to also be doing a large portion of the graphic design work too. I just hope I don't go too long without being able to show you a smidge of what it is I am working on...

Here's to 2010!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Up, Up and Away

I've done a few things in the past, from theatrical set designer and muralist  to Montessori teacher... but always in the background I pursued illustration. Not always as diligently I wanted to... but always trying to learn more and hone my skills.
Now that I have the ability to work at my craft full time, I'm trying to step up the promotional send outs to one every other month. Hopefully the persistence and crossed fingers pays off in the end! So that's what I've devoted this year to.... holding up my hand, waving my flag, Ill even dance if need be..... OK I have two left feet so that won't work!

This is the next one in the lineup! Up, up and away!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Back When We Were New

After reading Kate's insightful post I got to thinking about how we all came to be here as a group.  The
was started by three artists who had a vision of a lifetime of creating art for children's books. Sherry Rogers, Ginger Nielson and Amy Moreno got together and formed the core of a group that has now grown to 12 talented and dedicated children's book Illustrators.  It was just about this time in 2006 that the group created a website with images, interviews and bio pages for the core and 5 more artists.

Since that time we have changed a bit, grown some, and seen successes on many levels.  The group that inhabits this space today is a team of individuals who are still dedicated to their craft. The goal is the same, to inspire and motivate children to love and read books for life.  The illustrations we create are meant to expand the pleasure of the journey and enrich the written word with treasures for the mind.

Weather creating in a traditional, digital, or something of a hybird media,  each artist brings a special gift to the children who read and enjoy our books.  So today ~


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Your Stand-out Moment

Hi Picture Bookies! This morning, as I work on my 4th picture book in less than 2 years, I am thinking back on my other books and my career as a children's book illustrator, and my favorite "stand-out" moments. As you may relate, illustrating a children's book is not a job as much as a journey. As artists, we give ourselves as we give our art, and lend our talents to a story in a way that is unique from any other artist.

So as I am reminiscing, certain "stand-out" moments come to mind, moments I am proud of or made me especially happy to be a picture book illustrator.

One of those moments was when I finished "The ABCs of yoga for Kids" and flew to CA for 2 book signings and a school visit. I was so proud! I felt as though I had accomplished something. Kids have been amazingly receptive to the book, and it has won 6 awards now. Every time I have ever handed the book to a child - even a child who is not old enough to read - I see them delight in trying out the poses they see illustrated in my book. they love pretending that they are frogs, dolphins, warriors...and I feel my job is done! You see, I grew up in a chaotic environment, and my "safe place" was found in the pages of my favorite children's book illustrations. Even before I could read, the pictures inside books sucked me in. I remember "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Patchwork Elephant" were two books that deeply engaged me and helped the world make sense to me. I don't know that "The ABCs of yoga for Kids" has the same exact meaning for kids that my favorite books meant to me as a kid, but in this age of video games, electronic over-stimulation and texting, I think that any book that can evoke a kid play an active role in "pretending" is accomplishing something grand! I am so grateful I was chosen to be a part of that experience.

The other "stand-out" moments for me have been choosing the people to whom I want to dedicate my books. That is an important decision, I think, a chance to publicly thank and acknowledge the people who have propelled me toward where I am today, played an important part in my past or my present, or offered support and guidance. I dedicated "Little Black Ant on Park Street" to my mother, who gave me a love for art, nature and God. I would not be the artist I am today if not for her influence.

What are your "stand-out" moments as a children's book illustrator?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sneak Peek to my next book!

Here is a sneak peek inside my next book, Stork Musters& Critter Clusters...

A cloud of grasshoppers rode noisy choppers.

This is book 2 in a set of 3 of the Critter Series.
Book 1 was released in January, Lemur Troops & Critter Groups, can
be purchased via 4RV Publishing's site, Amazon or Barnes and Noble.com.

If you use Facebook to keep in touch with what your friends are doing,
I would like to invite you to stop by my fan page, Nikki Boetger Illustrations!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In My Bath, and Author interview

Beth Bence Reinke, the author of In My Bath has a lovely interview posted here on Beverly Stowe McClure's Blog. I think you will really enjoy how she arrived at the story and the inspirations that helped her create such a winning work.
I was pleased to have been chosen to illustrate her story. The images she describes can only contribute more fun to bathtime.
          Beth Bence Reinke

Look what I got!

Last week I received my first copy of my latest illustrated children's book "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", by Sylvan Dell Publishing, written by Sherry North. The book is due to be released this August.

It's such a great feeling holding a new book in my hand. It always brings back memories of all of the hard work that goes into illustrating a children's book.

I dedicated the book to my dog, Sunshine. :)