Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Adios, 2008

Well, I wanted to have one more post for the year to reach the annual goal of 100. Unfortunately, I'm clean out of doodles. Yep. I looked everywhere. Zip.

So I thought I'd point you to somebody else's work. I've lately been really digging the work of John S. Goodall. Great, great stuff. Sequential storytelling in a truly innovative fashion.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Preliminaries: Big George 5

...and the final cover. This book was released a week or so ago and should be making its way into bookstores soon. You can read bits of early reviews here. What with Washington and my story about Hoover for Our White House, 2008 was a pretty presidential year for me. 2009 will have more history, but no president books.

Preliminaries: Big George 4

These are the first sketches for my one and only cover idea. It's a fairly rare case of the final cover being pretty close to my initial intention.

Preliminaries: Big George 3

Here's the finished illustration (polychromos pencils and gouache on 300 lb Arches hot press paper).

Preliminaries: Big George 2

This is a small color study (the thumbnail sketch is at the bottom left of the previous post).

Preliminaries: Big George

Here are some sketches for the dummy of Big George: How a Shy Boy Became President Washington by Anne Rockwell (just released).

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Preliminaries: Always 4

We tried the idea of having small framed vignettes for Always, but having it full bleed seemed more appropriate... it gave the little guy room to run around and cause trouble. I still like this little sketch, though.

Preliminaries: Always 3

The sketch phase is definitely my favorite part of the process. This is the time for brainstorming and tossing out any ideas you have, just to see what works. At the beginning, I tried having the boy wear this little animal hat for all of the times he is acting less than good. I guess it was a nod to the Lost Boys and Max. Ultimately it seemed to be too much. Less is more. Simplify, simplify.

Preliminaries: Always 2

One of the early ideas for Always was to have a series of spot illustrations for the title, copyright, and dedication pages that showed the boy getting ready for bed. When the book "started", he would be in bed asking his mother if she loved him. What followed would then be a sort of flashback of his day, ending where we began. This seemed unnecessary and possibly confusing, so it was jettisoned in favor of following the boy from when he wakes up until his bedtime.

Preliminaries: Always

These are some of my first thumbnail sketches for Always by Ann Stott. This initial phase is not shown to the art director or editor. After I "think small" with these scribbles, I'll do a second version in small size, and then usually a cleaned-up version for the dummy which I show to the folks at the publishing house.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Preliminaries: Box Full of Kittens 3

This was my first idea for the cover of Box Full of Kittens. It was deemed too quiet, I think (as are many of my cover suggestions). To see the final cover, click on the title above.

Preliminaries: Box Full of Kittens 2

After the loose thumbnail version of the book is finished, I start working on individual illustrations. Again, I keep the sketches loose but with some essential details. Often I'll jot down notes to myself about each drawing.

Preliminaries: Box Full of Kittens

Every picture book starts with little thumbnail sketches of each spread. These extremely loose drawings are put down quickly but not haphazardly... often they contain the essence of the finished painting. Here's a typical first pass from my sketchbook for A Box Full of Kittens by Sonia Manzano.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Zazzle Shop!

Just in time for belated gift giving! Mostly t-shirts for old and young, plus a mug... and I think you can make other stuff too. Click on the big ol' ad to the right or just click here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lotus Blossom

Miss Lotus "Lottie" Blossom... motion picture star, notorious redhead, alligator enthusiast, and lipstick vandal. From The Luck of the Bodkins by the incomparable P.G. Wodehouse.

Here's Bully's review.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Facial Hair Can Make a Difference

Adam Rex is growing a mustache to raise money for underfunded schools. I've seen the mustache and it is indeed real... although he prefers that you don't a) tug on it or b) call him Ol' Caterpillar Lip Rex.

Every bit helps. Read about the cool funding projects and donate here.

Little Elf

Monday, December 08, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I recently finished reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. It is absolutely wonderful and I enjoyed every moment of it. Go read it. About halfway through, I felt compelled to pick up the ol' moleskine and do a sketch of Nobody Owens' guardian. Mind you, I love Dave McKean's illustrations... I just felt inspired to have a crack at it, too. Pure fan art.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pigeon of the Month #11

Pigeons are built for speed.

Speaking of speed... why not zip over to the fantastic blog of The Longstockings to check out a Q&A with me?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book Signing Party!

Just wanted to tell all in the Greater Philadelphia Area (yay, Phillies!) that next Friday night (11/7) is the 17th Annual Local Author and Illustrator Night at the wonderful Children's Book World in Haverford. This event is the book world equivalent of stuffing clowns into a tiny car but it sure is fun. Check out the list of attendees:

Marc Aronson, Gene Barretta, Alix Berenzy, Jennifer Bryant, Mimi Chapra, Michael Dooling, Ponder Goembel, Vivian Grey, Berit Haar, Lee Harper, Jeffry Johnston, Beth Kephart, Joe Kukla, Donna Jo Napoli, Jeannine Norris, Lisa Papp, Robert Papp, Judy Lalli, E. B. Lewis, Bob Mcleod, Kathye Petrie, Wendy Pfeffer, Matt Phelan, Deborah Kogan Ray, Adam Rex, Mark Rogalski, Roger Roth, Charles Santore, Jerry Spinelli, Nancy Viau, and David Wiesner

The list is subject to change, but any way you look at it, it might be the the biggest one-stop book signing soiree this side of the ALA convention. Plus, there will be snacks. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Here are the quick sketches I made as I worked out IF: Late. As it often happens, I like the thumbnail sketch better. Oh well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

IF: Strings

I'm attempting to take the next four Illustration Friday topics and give them a spooky spin. Tis the season, after all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blog Love

A big thank you to Erik Brooks for including me in the I Love Your Blog thingy that's spreading around the blogosphere. I first saw Erik's work (and I guess he saw mine) last year when I was a weekly participant in the Illustration Friday challenge (all 52 are in my 2007 archives). So, in addition to Erik's great blog, I'll now point you to 5 other blogs that I discovered through IF and continue to check out regularly...

It's a Whimsical Life


Eric Orchard

Middle of Nowhere

Artista Blog

Go! Look!