Funk.

Hellooooo blog!

You may notice I haven’t been around in awhile, and it’s not because I shut down my business, pushed it to the back burner because of the hair business, nothing like that at all.

I’m just in a funk and have no idea how to get out of it.

There’s a lot going on with my art that I just don’t share. But in order to fully understand where I’ve been and what’s going on in my brain, I have to share some of it.

Continue reading “Funk.”

Hey There Little Buddy!

Look whooooo’s heeeeeeerrreeee!!!!

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For those of you who are new to the blog, when I’m not doing crazy drawing challenges, I have the priviledge of illustrating a children’s book series called The Adventures of Boathouse Mouse. I work on them with the amazingly talented author RV Hodge, and after a very long break (aka the illustrator, aka me, took almost a year off for moving), we’re back at it! Book 4 is IN MY HANDS!

Continue reading “Hey There Little Buddy!”

Sick Day Painting

My youngest was home for a couple days this past week with a fever. After what felt like his thousandth movie, he decided he was bored and was looking for a change of scenery. He loves to paint, and as I was behind in Boathouse illustrating, I suggested breaking out our watercolors. He jumped at the chance, and we got to work.

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Sick day snuggles

It was so much fun watching him be creative! He puts colors together that I wouldn’t think of, puts more detail and thought into each painting than I would imagine, and even watching him try to work through his struggles inspires me.

Continue reading “Sick Day Painting”

Our First Book Signing

Life is a funny thing.

We make choices every day, but we never know what the outcome will be later in life, what relationships will be made, or where we will be living or working.

RV and I were discussing this briefly this past weekend after our book signing. If his daughter had never met her husband, they never would have moved to New York, would never have gone to our church, would have never met me. RV and I may not have ever met, and if I hadn’t opened my business, Boathouse may still just be an idea in his head.

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RV’s daughter, Vanessa, and I

A world without Boathouse is a sad world that I don’t want to live in.

But on to the book signing!

Continue reading “Our First Book Signing”

The Cat and the River Thames Easter Eggs

I LOOOOVE Easter Eggs in movies. They’re little inside jokes, references, or messages hidden in a movie, and I just find them to be a fun little treat.

Well, I hid a few Easter Eggs in the second Boathouse Mouse book this time, and I’d like to share them with you.

And, because I’m silly, I just so happened to put them all on the same page, rather than spread out through the entire book.

To start off, here is Mozzie:

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Mozzie is my kitty, and he was jealous that Magnus gets to be the star of the book.

The next kitty is Lily:

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Lily is Magnus’s sister, and well, he couldn’t be in the book if she wasn’t included as well!

And the last kitty is Moe:

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Moe was my daughter’s cat. He ran away almost 2 years ago, and although it wasn’t unusual for him to escape and be gone for days on end, we fear the worst as he never returned. I have him sleeping because we’re assuming he’s sleeping eternally now.

The last Easter Egg is this fishmonger and customer:

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I’m starting something new with this book; whoever I dedicate the book to will be snuck into an illustration. I dedicated this book to my parents, so my dad is here as the fishmonger, and my mom is the customer. My mom hates having her picture taken, hence the customer facing away from the viewer (you’re welcome, mom!).

 

I hope you enjoyed these Easter Eggs! What has been your favorite Easter Egg in a movie? I love how in Disney and Pixar movies they always sneak characters from previous movies into other movies as toys, posters, or background characters!

Character Design: Commodore Thomas

Designing characters for the Boathouse series is challenging. Not only do you have to figure out what exactly they’re going to look like, but you have to design all the expressions, physical movements and limitations, and then take all of that information and be able to reproduce that look for consistency throughout the whole book.

I think it’s my favorite part of illustrating!

The Cat and the River Thames introduces a new location and various new characters, including some pirate rats and another boat builder. These were fairly easy to design; okay, so the rats gave me a little trouble, but it only took me a day or so to really get them where I wanted them.

But the book also introduces a bigger character, and let me just say, it was not easy designing him.

Continue reading “Character Design: Commodore Thomas”

Behind the Scenes: Illustration Steps

In honor of the release of The Cat and the River Thames, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

You ready for it?

Okay. Here it is: illustrating, although fun, is very time consuming.

There are so many steps for each illustration, and if I were to rush them or skip them, the picture would look…well…awful.

As many people have asked me questions on how much work really goes into an illustration, I thought I’d break it down visually for you all by sharing a step by step process of part of a final illustration. I say part only because the book just came out, and if I shared the whole picture I’d give away some things 🙂

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: Illustration Steps”

Boathouse, School, and Public Speaking, Oh My!

Can I let you guys in on a little secret?

I hate public speaking.

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Okay, so maybe hate is too strong of a word….how about I thoroughly dislike public speaking?

Being in front of people and having them look at me gives me the heebie jeebies. I break out into splotchy hives under my neck like this:

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HIVES!!!! In my WEDDING pictures!!!! Thankfully this is just a mild case…

I’m always afraid I’m going to say something wrong and make a fool out of myself, and being the center of attention is not my cup of tea.

But I love my job and Boathouse Mouse more than I hate speaking in front of people. So when my son’s fourth grade teacher asked if I’d be willing to come in and talk to them and the fifth graders about being an illustrator, I jumped at the chance!

It was a lot of fun visiting with the kids this morning. I spoke for about 40 minutes (which flew by!) and then there was Q&A time for about 10 – 15 minutes afterwards.

Some things we talked about were:

  • Who makes up the team that makes the Boathouse books (there are four of us!)
  • How long it takes to make each book (about 6 months for the whole book, with about 5-10 hours on each page)
  • How I come up with each illustration idea
  • How I design each character; we walked through the process of designing Boathouse and learned what ‘anthropomorphic’ means

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Explaining which parts of Boathouse are made up and which are real mouse based

  • What supplies I use; they got to see the difference between the watercolor paper they use in school vs. what I use for illustrations, see my special graphite paper, and hear why I use three different mediums for coloring

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I’m showing them where the graphite is gone from being transferred to the final paper

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One of the kids feeling the difference between cold press and hot press watercolor paper

  • How the skills they’re gaining in school help with publishing a book (reading, math, public speaking, computer, etc.)
  • I broke down each step of the process; they were surprised at how much work really goes into a book!
  • Aaaand they may or may not have gotten to hear an excerpt from Book 2! But oh man, they were not too happy with me when I wouldn’t read any more!

I had to be careful about what pictures I included; I wish I could include some pictures of the kids getting excited about Book 2, but I don’t have permission to include any kiddos in my blog. I do have permission to include the boy’s head in some of these pictures, but it also helps he belongs to me 😉 My eldest was also at the presentation, but she was my photographer extraordinaire (aka she took over 1,200 pictures!).

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Q&A time!

I had such a great time that when the fourth grade teacher asked if she could tell other teachers about the presentation and see if any of them want me to come talk to their classes, I of course said yes 🙂

Maybe public speaking isn’t so bad after all? Or maybe it’s not so bad because it’s over and I don’t have another engagement lined up at the moment 😉

 

Do you like public speaking? Give me your best tips for feeling comfortable in front of a group! And let me know if you have any questions about the illustrating/book making process!

Boathouse Goes to School

Back in November, a woman from my church approached RV and me about buying Boathouse books for a preschool class that she helps to teach. They were going to be doing an author/illustrator unit, and would love to use Boathouse as their featured book. It was exciting to hear that a school was going to be using our book for a project, and we looked forward to seeing pictures of what they did.

About a week ago, Kim called me out of the blue. The school was going to be having an open house/exhibition night, and would I be interested in coming in to see the kids’ projects and hand out the books to the kids in person.

Um, YES!!!!!

It was so much fun meeting all of the kids, hearing about their favorite parts of the book, and seeing their Wanderer projects.

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They made little Boathouse figures, almost like a paper doll. He has his hat, his marlinspike on a cord, his tool box, boat plans, and Wanderer for them all to fit in! It’s even laminated, so the kids can play with them and not worry about them ripping. They even made an extra one for me, which I am going to frame for my office.

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They also drew pictures of their favorite parts of the book! Most of them loved the seagull and when Boathouse was on Wanderer.

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The kids and parents were all excited about having their own copies of the book; kids have been going home and talking about the book and the projects, and the parents had no reference of what book they were talking about. The principal even came in and bought a couple copies for kids in her life as she was excited about the book as well.

Just seeing how loved this character and book are takes my breath away. I love being part of this project, and seeing others excited gets me all that more excited as well!

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However, the overall experience was a little strange. Parents were taking pictures of me talking to their kids and even having me pose with them. Kids were squealing when they met me, and I even had one little boy who kept coming back to talk about the book and was giving me hugs when he had his picture taken with me! I am just not used to that kind of attention!

 

A huge thank you to Kim and the school for a wonderful night, it was such an honor to be invited!

And stay tuned….Book 2 is close to being finished and will be available soon!