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Monday, April 18, 2011

Spotlight on: Rosemary Wells

I apologize for my absence. There has been a lot going on in my life personally, and even though I had made a great commitment to this blog, I emotionally could not keep that commitment and still keep the blog as I had originally intended. Life is on the up and up though, and by the grace of God I am ready to continue forward!

One of the best ways to reinspire myself is to consider one of my favorite children's book authors. Someone we have been reading a lot of this month is Rosemary Wells. I'm sure many of you who have children are familiar with the tv show "Max and Ruby"...Rosemary Wells is the author and illustrator of that character series, and many others, including Timothy and Yoko.

Rosemary Wells seems to be one of those amazing author/illustrators who has found wonderful success with endearing characters. One of our favorite characters is Yoko, a young school age cat whose family has come from Japan. We love to learn about the traditions that Yoko shares with her family and the situations that she sometimes finds herself in because of those traditions. Two of our favorite books are "Yoko's World of Kindness", "Yoko's Paper Cranes", and "Yoko's Show and Tell". "Yoko's Show and Tell" is Rosemary Wells newest book of release, and our library was fortunate enough to have a copy. The book is about young Yoko who receives a doll from her mother, who was given to her by HER mother. The doll is called "Miki" and is a family treasure. Without her mother knowing, Yoko decides to take Miki to school for show and tell. Unfortunately, two rough housing boys on the bus damage Miki and Yoko must tell her mother the truth even though she is afraid it will hurt her feelings.

My daughter absolutely loved this book. She loves cats of all kinds, and has always loved Yoko especially because her personality is so similar to my daughters: Caring, quiet, creative. The story is simple and sweet but also endearing, and many readers can probably identify with Yoko's situation. The introduction of the Japanese culture is interesting but not overwhelming for young readers as well. The illustrations are beautiful, with use of a gold ink that seems to co-ordinate with Yoko's culture.

We all loved this book, and as a mother I'm so grateful to writers like Rosemary Wells who treasure children and know how important literature is to them. has an excellent price on this book, so be sure to check it out. It is well worth reading and I know my daughter wants to hear it over and over again.

Yoko's Show-and-Tell

Friday, March 18, 2011

Painting #1 and working on light sources

For this painting I wanted to work on having a stronger light source. This is something that I usually struggle with. Many times my paintings lack a light source and seem too flat. This is my first attempt at creating two subjects bathed in late evening sunlight. This is also an illustration that goes with a short story I'm working on (that would maybe be suitable for publication in Highlights or even Ladybug type children's magazines).

So far I am on track for this month's goals.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Favorite Artist Spotlight on: Marjolein Bastin

One of my most favorite artists would certainly be Marjolein Bastin. If you've ever come across a Hallmark greeting card that you thought was just so naturally beautiful, you'd probably flip it over and see Marjolein's name.

Marjolein has always loved nature, and her love of nature is easily seen in her work. Her art is done in beautifully applied watercolor, where the lightness of the medium is used to its finest. I love the detail in her work. She not only captures nature realistically, but also captures it beautifully when she applies just a bit of whimsy. Check out her Vera the Mouse character (who is so adorable) who has appeared in children's books already. Marjolein is one of those wonderful people who know the value of having children more involved in nature. As a child she remembers lying the grass, soaking up the sights, sounds, and feelings of nature. It is so important for little ones to be outside. It slows down their thinking and relaxes them, opens their mind and teaches them.

It is easy to see that Marjolein loves nature and animals. Her work has been featured mainly on greetings cards, but also in calendars, children's books, scrapbooking items, stickers, and magazines.

I think her work is wonderful! This piece is one of my favorites:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Artists and goals

It's always important to think about goals in life. I think many times I sit and think about goals but I never write them down. Somehow, writing them down concretes them; makes them real and attainable. Here are my short term goals for the next thirty days:

1. Complete three paintings (hopefully more but three is the minimum).
2. Begin constructing my "book" (which is a collection of photocopies of my best work).
3. Begin rough drafts of my design for my promotional postcard.
4. Begin working on coloring pages for my website for people to download/print (for free).
5. Finish my possible publishers list from AGDM.

Long term goals:

1. Print my promotional postcards.
2. Mail out promotional cards to at least 15 possible greeting card companies and children's magazines.
3. Get a greeting card published.
4. Get inside art published in a children's magazine.
5. Have artwork published with Bella Sara (check out

I better get to work!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Artists should paint what they know

As an artist, I think it's important to paint what you like, especially while creating a portfolio. If you're stuck for ideas, try sitting down and making a list of all the subjects that you enjoy. For instance, my list would go like this:

1. Horses
2. Ponies
3. Unicorns
4. Smaller horses
5. Pegasus
6. (okay just kidding)
7. Cats
8. Kittens
9. Fluffy kitties
10. Itty bitty baby fluffy kitties
11. (okay kidding again)
12. Nature
13. Seasons
14. Oceans
15. Trees
16. Sunsets
17. Children

Try to come up with a long list of everything that you love. When you draw or paint what you love, it shows through. It will show in your familiarity with the subject mostly, but it also shows through in ways you really can't put your finger on.

So make your list today and start on some thumbnails. Gather your reference material. Then get to it...but most of all enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Favorite Artist Spotlight on: Jan Brett

Once a week on this blog I would like to post about one of my favorite illustration artists. The artist I would definitely choose first would be Jan Brett. She is a well noted children's book illustrator and author (it is amazingly successful when a person can wear both hats!). Not only is she wonderfully creative, she is also a very sweet, kind person who really has a heart for children. Her website ( has free coloring  pages for children that are really well drawn, print well, and are just really fun. Her books are very engaging not only because of the storyline, but because of the illustrations. In many of her books, the illustration is not only telling one story, but two (or sometimes even three). This engages the viewer and brings them even deeper into the story. Something else very nice about her stories is that they are often folktales or fairy tales with a new spin, so her stories are familiar yet new at the same time.

I would say that my favorite book is "Comet's Nine Lives" by Jan Brett. This book is still in print (as she has over 36 million books in print currently). In this story, a freedom loving cat named Comet gradually loses his lives one by one, until he learns to find safety and friendship in the company of another cat. Comet loses his lives by eating foxglove, falling of the bicycle of a friendly tourist, falling into strawberry milkshake, etc. Each time he becomes increasingly discouraged in trying to find a safe place to reside, until upon his last life, he is washed up onto shore by a hurricane, where a loving calico kitty nurses him back to health at the lighthouse, and they live together happily ever after. What is wonderful about this book is that the tourists on Nantucket Island are all various breeds of dogs. Throughout the illustrations, you can see the story of the calico cat that lives in the lighthouse unfolding in pictures only.

Jan Brett's illustrations are extremely detailed and realistic, but with a story book "touch" that I really can't describe. I've heard Jan Brett say that it takes her "an hour to paint an inch". It's her attention to detail that really brings the spark to her stories.

Check out Comet's Nine Lives and you won't be disappointed.

Comet's Nine Lives

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to be successful as an artist (I hope)

After doing a lot of reading this week, I've concluded that there are really two ways to become a successful artist.

1. Find a technique that you love.
2. Paint subjects that you love.

No wait, let's make that three.

3. Sit down and do it!

As for me, I've always loved the ease and flow I've felt when creating with pen and ink and watercolor. Watercolor is by far my favorite medium, but when I used it with pen and ink, I find there is a freshness to the watercolor that I can't seem to recreate when using it on its own. Therefore, my newest portfolio pieces are going to focus on this medium, because I feel it will show my strengths the best. When I start my self promotion, I want to have twelve very strong pieces that best show my abilities.

Another thing I need to work on is my confidence. :-)

And by the way, I read this great quote in Artists' and Graphic Designers Market:

"Until you try, the answer will always be 'no' ". 

So, are you willing to withstand the many "no's" that you will get in response in order to get that one possible yes?