A Room with a View

A few views from in and around my studio yesterday: First, my daughter and I walked home from the school bus stop under this spectacular December sky. I love these rare sunset reflections on the late afternoon clouds. We're very much in the shadow of the mountains out here. On occassion, under certain light conditions, the early dusk makes for great contrast between the trees/hills and the lighter glowing sky.

And these are simply two new views of my slightly modified studio space. (It was lunch, so please forgive the plate and discarded cola can!) I spent a day or two this summer building a guestbed/loft (on the right) and a new hanging system for sketches/final art above my drawing table. The loft defines the space in a cozy way, and it also gives me third wall for hanging sketches or taping up various inspirations. I'll put some cork on it eventually. The new hanging system on the wall is a major upgrade - in terms of strength and aesthetic appeal - from a similar but far inferior version using thumbtacks and fishing line :) The next photo is a close up:

In the works are final sketches and few painting experiments for my fall 2010 book with Marshall Cavendish. Lots of other stuff too, and that is pretty much the "state" of it. Hardly ever really clean, but it feels good that way :)


Two Birds

Happy Thanksgiving!



A hard frost. Frozen sunrise. Winter on the way!


Considering Covers...

One of the last things that the illustrator and art director do, is to design the cover. Very important when you think about it, because the cover sets the stage for what's inside. It's exciting too, because it means that you are getting close to the finished book. What you see here is the final cover for Dog Diaries, plus a few additional sketches. How did we do? Do you have a favorite?

Cat Diaries is currently "in the works" so stay tuned for more news and a few sneak peeks of that project soon.


Shiver me timbers!

Just a few recent sketches for a book-in-progress. Cold winds a blowin' from the west...


Detritus Part II

And last, but not least, the poster that contains all of these images...

Click on the image to see get a closer look!


The Methow Cycle Wolf Awards

Some quick awards that I whipped up for my U6 soccer team. Go Wolves!


Digital Detritus

In geologic terms, detritus is a rubbing away, a fragmentation - as in rock dust. I've been cleaning up - dusting if you will - my office of late, and came across some excellent detritus of my own.

As my only venture into digitally produced artwork (Adobe Illustrator vector drawings) these samples from the Seattle Public Libary Summer Reading Program c. 2004 seemed like a fun post.



Picture Book People Politicing!

This week, the mud will fly. For a much less nasty version of politics 2008, here are two very excellent sites:

That pretty much tips my hand, but if there is any year for making a personal opinion public... this is it! Get out and vote!


A pat on the blog...

Thanks Jeff! I think...? I've never been singled out like this before (along with six other folks no less) but I'll take the bait.

To wit, here's my nod o' love love to some blogs as well - in no particular order:

No 1. Phil's Good Photo a Day
N0 2. Fox in Socks
N0 3. Planet Ham
No 4. Solidarity*
No 5. Dantat
No 6. Philip Dunn - Olympic Racewalker
No 7. Blue Rose Girls

*Not always kid friendly... not awful though.

PS While"love" is a strong word, I do find each of these blogs to be pretty cool, entertaining, or otherwise informative and/or at times inspiring :)

According to the official rules, as passed on and quoted from the faceless but seemingly affable Mr. Newman, those listed above should:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least seven other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs

If you want to. No pressure. But Really. Thanks!


Autumnal Art

At this point in September, school is well underway and summer a lukewarm memory...

Hooray! The season of school visits :) To celebrate, here are several fine thank you notes that I received during the Humbolt County Author's Festival last October. THANK YOU!

Lots of great detail and some very careful coloring in all of those letters.

Percy never looked so good. Kind of a Stoic, James Dean thing goin' on...

Awesome colors!

My school visit calendar is quickly filling for 2009. If you'd like me to visit, please get in touch ASAP. I am also booking days for 2010 and beyond!

Kids, send your own fan art to:

PO Box 731

Winthrop, WA 98862

Can't wait to see it...


Black & White

Phew, it's been nearly a month since my last post. Lots of end-of-summer-new-school-year excitement, but things are finally getting back to an even keel. I am currently illustrating two new books (one that I wrote as well, hooray!) and trying desperately to get a second new manuscript out the door...

I've also been experimenting with some geometric inspired black and white artwork. I LOVED geometry when we finally got it in school - 9th or 10th grade? - so two thumbs up for the confluence of art and arithmetic!


Too Cool!

I LOVE going to the post office! Because you just never know...

And today, I was rewarded with this super cool Korean language edition of Dog Diaries: Secret Writing of the WOOF Society by Betsy Byars, Laurie Myers, and Betsy Duffey. I illustrated this about 2 years ago, but seeing it with a few design tweaks is giving me goosebumps all over again.

This is the first book that I've worked on to get any kind of foreign language edition (more news in that regard soon) and - please forgive me for saying it again - it is SO COOL!

It's a high quality paper back with lots of great design. Love the paw prints in the title font, the sepia tone rendering of my black & white art, and the little touches like the puppy's head down where our page numbers usually live. A big thanks to Arom Junior Publishing Co. and the Korean Copyright Center in Seoul for making this happen. Thanks again to Betsy & family and the good folks at Holt as well. I'm really looking forward to digging in to that Cat Diaries manuscript! Opps, I've said too much!


On location: Leavenworth, WA

After an excellent early summer break, I returned to work and to Book Camp. Amy and all of the good folks at A Book For All Seasons invited me down for a Sunday book signing and a Monday morning of fun with their 7-8 year old campers.

A great day, with fantastic kids, in a sweet spot on the back porch! Since Edgar Allen Poe and Mystery were the theme of the writing camp, we spent a little time with my own mystery book, Octavius Bloom and the House of Doom -- complete with some Octavius disguises of our own.

Since Leavenworth, WA is also a great polka town, I also finally got around to creating this coloring book page for Polar Polka. Enjoy!

Click the image to enlarge. Print as many as you'd like!


School's Out!

School is out (or almost anyway) and I have just a few updates to share before you hit the pool, the park, or the local library.

For starters, my school visit year for 2007-2008 closed out in style. I took a 3-day mini-tour from June 3rd to June 5th visiting John Newbery Elementary in Wenatchee, Wa, Eagle Rock Elementary in Duvall, Wa, and Silver Ridge Elementary in Silverdale, Wa. Awesome kids, teachers, and librarians in every location! But alas, I was a lame visitor when it came to taking pictures... sigh :(

For those involved, send me some photos and I will post them here.

As usual, we talked about my work as an author/illustrator, but I also imparted some illustrator "wisdom" with a custom art lesson or two in both the Duvall and Silverdale locations. Kids, you'll have to let me know if that was actually worth your time, but thanks very much for the opportunity and I can't wait to see some of your own summer artwork!

Last but not least, a few book sightings. Its alwasy good to see your stuff when you least expect it (and even when you do!)

I haven't technically seen this one yet, but a friend just e-mailed to say that POLAR POLKA is reviewed, or at least mentioned in the current Alaska Airlines in flight magazine. Check it out when you take to the sky this summer, and I will scan in a copy when I have one to share.

And this is the Barnes & Noble book display from my recent trip to Silverdale, WA. It's not everyday that you get a few precious feet of display space in the children's section like this, so I've got it captured for posterity. Thank you as well for helping with the Silver Ridge book orders!

Also from the Silverdale Barnes & Noble: Mama's Little Duckling by an illustrator friend, Mike Wohnoutka. Mike does really great work, and it was cool to see his book front and center several thousand miles from Minneapolis. He was NOT doing a Silverdale school visit, which makes this even cooler :)


A few reviews!

Did Fleming RESUCE Churchill? has been getting some nice coverage of late. Everyone love's Mr. Giblin's timely treatment of the research issues in the internet age. Personally, I couldn't agree more :)

Contending With Culture - Rob Shearer, Francis Schaeffer Study Center, Mt. Juliet, TN


On the drawing board...

...a little girl & her thrill seeking dinosaur!



For an upcoming SCBWI event, we were asked to ponder on an ideal super power... thus, the "Power of the Persuasive Pinky". I know, I should get out more...

And then there's this recent gem:
Thanks so much for visiting :)


Fan Art... and REVOLUTION!

I may have gotten a raw deal in the publisher department of my first book, but at least Percy and his fabulous pajamas still have a lot of fans! I love the bear drawings. Keep em' coming!

...and maybe someday I'll be able to make my case for taking this book to another publisher!

HOLD ON... That's a GREAT idea! Send any additional artwork and your very own Practically Perfect Liberation Ideas to:

PO Box 731
Winthrop, WA 98862

We'll do this grassroots-style for the internet age!



...to you!

Kids III

Nothing narrative about this, but another kids sketch from recent days...


SCBWI Western WA is...Superlative!

To honor a terrific and inspiring weekend of children's book, authors, illustrators, agents, publishers, and librarians... I did this intense little drawing of an angry looking kid??

I'm also going to up the volume on my "spare time" drawing efforts :) I love the work that I'm doing, but I'm currently addicted to a heavier brushstroke-darker-printmakier sort of drawing. Here's to a lifetime of experimentation -- a constant search for superlative -- to throw out one of Mo Willems' words of the weekend. I also liked his "philosophy" for treating the finished book like the work of art -- the sculpture -- and all of the various drawings along the way -- even the finals images -- like just so many shavings of wood. Less in-love with individual drawings. The sum is greater than its parts...

Really, a great conference. From picturebooker Mr. Willems to YA rabble rouser Chris Crutcher, there were many humorous and insightful speakers. I especially enjoyed seeing/hearing Arthur Levine and Librarian Bloggeratti Elizabeth Bird (AKA Fuse # 8) in action -- and Marcia Wernick of the Sheldon Fogelman Agency has me seriously considering the value of such a partnership.

The icing on the cake was a successful effort to emerge from my typical conference bubble -- and to actually talk to people! Usually, when I'm not presenting, I retreat and observe. This time around I did a better job of saying 'hello' and meeting some folks. Not going bonkers mind you, I think I spoke to 3 people at the wine and cheese "social", but way better than usual. Chats with Laini Taylor, Jim Di Bartolo, David Hohn, and Paul Schmid make the shortlist of highlights. A special nod to Simn & Schuster art director Laurent Linn (who I've now met in person - yay!) for the extended conversations beyond our dummy consultation, and to Dial editor Jessica Garrison for the improptu portfolio chat. Thanks to all!