Random Tandem with Catherine!

Drew a sheep with its tongue sticking out ready to go on @jrzoch blog this coming week. We used to do a poem of mine with an illustration of hers all the time so this is special starting up again. ❤ #sheep #ewe #oilpastelpainting #oilpastels #drawing #sketchbook #society6 #farmdecor #interiors #wallart #nurserydecor
Julie skipped passed the billy goats and gave them her signature facial expression.
They laughed and said, Mornin’ Julie, good day to ya.
– Catherine M. Johnson
We are at it again! It’s been far too long since Catherine and I did a tandem post, pairing either drawing, paintings, or verse – or all of the above! This time Catherine suggested the animal and the gesture. Come to think of it, I think Catherine has made most of the suggestions, and I have profited from them immensely. Some have gone on to become full fledged picture book manuscripts. Fingers crossed that it happens again!
I also had to nab this painting of Catherine’s (off Instagram) to show you too. I love the colors and its sweet hugable face!
Updated an oldie. Missed painting in acrylics. Anyone watch the royal redding? 😊😍🇬🇧 #sheepoftheday #ewe #acrylicpainting #abstractpainter #abstractaddicts #abstraction #contemporaryartist #painting #baaa #worldofartists


FrogSleepwalkingWelcome to this wandering tour of blogs by artists – writers, musicians, painters, photographers, and more. Catherine Johnson invited me to hop-along.


Catherine is a female Dickon (Secret Garden clue for kid-lit lovers), currently swinging a maple stick in a hockey tree –  with a worrisome weakness for fried Kiwi and chips, or was it fishlips? In any case she writes and paints funny stuff – check out her blog and books at catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com

Now to blog-hop questions, and the stuff I am currently working on: portfolio pieces in preparation for the regional SCBWI conference in September; a fish-out-of-water picture book dummy; a ms based on a folk song; a rhyming board book (yeah, me – a rhymer – go figure!), and a slew of others in need of further polish. Also excited about 3 board books I illustrated for Bailiwick Press, due out in October.

Idea note_20140803_191134_06(2) (1)

How my work differs from others of its genre: With illustration, I try to harness the energy of an initial sketch; I scrap what isn’t working and start fresh numerous times. Maybe that is why my work is simpler, less detailed, but that doesn’t mean the process is any less complicated (that’s what I tell myself!). I spend a lot of time on the emotional connection in the face or posture of my characters. Humor and imagination are what I hope to convey and promote in both my illustrations and writing.


Why do I write/create what I do? I am a picture book junkie. The way the words and pictures meld together with the imagination of the readers elevates my spirit. The desire to make them has not always been there, but I have always found creative outlets, and still cannot understand how anyone gets bored.

How does your writing/creating process work? A snippet of a word, a scent in the air, a memory released by the shape of a cloud  – anything, essentially, can spark the process of writing or illustrating. I trust my gut to take me on it’s own journey, then later apply skills to shape, restructure and refine. When I feel good about it I will send a manuscript draft to my AWESOME online and local critique partners (sometimes 27 times – sorry, pals). Doodling every day has improved my drawing skills tremendously – I am truly grateful for the Doodle Day facebook group for the support, encouragement and super silly fun.


Passing the baton to fellow artist Dani Duck at Dani Duck: Artist ObscureMarried, toddlered and reluctant cat owner. Writes, Illustrates and Moms. Basically awesome. Seldom boring. Avid coffee drinker and chocolate fan …

photoCheck out Dani’s post on Monday, Aug.25th – HERE

Not So Random Tandem and Fish for Supper

Catherine Johnson is writing a poem (HERE), prompt word ‘lighthouse’ (in cahoots with Jody Hedlund’s lighthouse series) and I doodled these images, because sometimes we like to push each other around, I mean, to motivate each other. But my lighthouse just would not come on it’s own. Finally a lighthouse keeper appeared…then a cat. I’m interested to see what will happen next!

Idea note_20140803_191134_06


Now for a PPBF selection (yes, I know Susanna’s blog is on vacation, but I can’t help myself – love sharing great picture books!).


Author/Illustrator: M.B. Goffstein
Publisher: Dial Press, 1976
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: humorous stories, grandmothers, retired life
Opening: When my grandmother went fishing, she would get up at five o’clock in the morning, and make herself breakfast,…
Summary/I like this book because: (from my library catalog) “Describes Grandmother’s typical day of fishing.” What? I think that was the shortest off-the-wall summary I’ve found yet! Let me do a little ‘splainin’. I didn’t have a single selection for today in my book bag. I picked this one off the shelf, that one of my kids chose as the elementary school library was getting rid of a slew of too well-loved books, to make room for new ones. I read it again, thought, this is not really a story that would be considered publishable today (no complication, no resolution), but it grabbed me, like a one-liner sticks long after you’ve left the scene. So, I googled, and found that this little smirk won a Caldecott Honor in 1977, and that this author I had not otherwise read (surprising only because I was averaging 100/wk for yrs), is famous – AND has a fabulous quirky website – HERE.


Resources/activities: check out M.B. Goffsteins’ post: How to Write and Illustrate a Picture Book. Now. HERE

Fish2You can still head over to Susanna’s blog for a wonderful list of titles with resources. She keeps the back door unlocked!


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. -Henry David Thoreau





Patriotic Pup

Inspired by Catherine Johnson’s Metaphor Monday prompt and photos today HERE, I whipped up a Memorial Day poem and sketch (or, a ditty ‘n a doodle!).

PatrioticPupHot pavement and excitement took it’s toll on the brigade

As they trotted down the sidewalk in the Veteran’s Parade.

All spangled up in stars and stripes, a patriotic pup

Dropped to cool off in the shade and drink from Sarge’s cup.


– Thanks, Catherine!


Take a moment to remember while you enjoy family and friends today.


Food Fight Finale

This is how it began…



It was a lunch hour like any other at Bacon Elementary, when a chill ran up Mateo’s spine. His hair stood at attention down his bony arms. Cautiously he lifted his gaze, millimeter by millimeter. He dreaded the worst. And sure as a pop-tart is sugary, there she was, staring straight at him. Priscilla Weatherspoon – the meanest, leanest prankster this side of the Mississippi. Her eyes grew smaller as they locked onto his. Slowly, slowly but sure as a mosquito bite, she drew her chin towards her chest and that’s when Mateo saw The Intent, right there under her thick, dark caterpillar eyebrows knit between her tightly pulled braids. Those chesnut-brown peepers were. not. cute. He knew then and there. He had just become her business. It was a speck of a second, but felt like slow-motion sickness. As the sweat started to gather in his armpits, and a heat rose to his ears, he lowered his sandwich with his left hand as he went for the juice box with his right…

This is what happened next…

..hand, juice squelched right into meanie Priscilla’s sour face. SPLISH! Wiping sticky juice from her eyes, she fired back an apple and struck Mateo square on the noggin. She didn’t even need to aim! KATHUNK! It bounced off Mateo’s head, and hit Jamie Frank in the back, and rolled to the feet of the lunch lady! Jamie, picking up today’s special (meatball sandwich)… SPLIT, SPLOT, SPLAT meatballs fell from the soggy sandwich as Jamie catapulted the wet mess toward… Emily Krump PLOP the soggy sandwich landed across her forehead. Taking her pudding cup firmly in her hand she… launched the SQUISHY, QUIVERING treat across the table into Mateo’s no longer SQUEAKY lunch box. Mateo responded quickly by… slammed it down as hard as she could. SHKLAP chocolate rain came down on all the near by tables. Jamie slipped on the droplets sending… . . . placed the small spoon into the cup, tasted a bit of the chocolate glop and thinking, “Mm, this is good. Such a shame to waste it,” Emily picked up Andy’s applesauce instead, dumping it on top Jamie’s head SMOOSH! it drained down his face. Red applesauce faced, Jamie … grabbed up one of the meatballs rolling across the floor and flinged it at Priscilla’s ear. DONG! it rang as Priscilla paused to reach for more ammunition. jumped on top the table, ripped the top off his Hostess cupcakes, balled them tightly and aimed at the back of Mrs. Huntley’s three foot high beehive hair do. WHING, FLING, DING!…Contact! Mrs. Huntley turned… . . . around quickly to see who was responsible for such rude behavior in the lunchroom. As she made a pirouette, to reprimand the rascle, Mrs. Huntley’s now one foot beehive hair do, adorned with sticky chocolate crumbs and sweet vanilla goo wooshed about smacking Mr. Ham, the principal . . . in the face. WHACK! Mr. Ham hit the floor, dazed and sticky. Just then, Jamie, still oozing applesauce down his chin, slid into Mr. Ham, landing with an OOF! atop the heavy-set principal. Mr. Ham rolled Jamie off of his wide belly and said, . . . nothing anyone could understand because much like a roast pig (his namesake), his face was hot-red and one of the meatballs plugged his mouth. Sounding much like the adults in “Peanuts” animation, Mr. Ham yelled, “Mwooo mwamwamwamwa mwaw mweh?!” He then bit into the meatball and chewed. “Not bad,” he said, then ate the other half. “OK, WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS CULINARY CARNAGE?” Mateo ducked out of sight, hoping he would not be blamed. It WAS Priscilla’s fault, after all. Then he saw the juice box, meant for him explode against Mr. Ham’s chest with a loud SPLORT! All heads swiveled accusingly to face Mateo. Mateo tried to quickly duck under the table but it was too late. A laughing Mr Ham grabbed the last remaining meatball and lobbed it across the room. KERPLUNK, SLURP, it hit Mateo in the forehead and SLITHERED… to the lunchroom floor. Oh, no! Mateo was out of ammunition! Then he spied Emily’s cup of lime jello, untouched. So far. Sliding across the table, Mateo grabbed it and SPLOOK! lobbed it at …into Priscilla’s outstretched hand. She closed her fist SQUISHing the meatball. “Hey, Mr. Ham. Why don’t you pick on someone your own size,” she yelled. “Besides it was Jamie Frank who started the whole thing.” Mateo’s mouth fell open… and so did Jamie’s. He remembered being hit by Priscilla’s apple. “NOT TRUE!” he yelled, as he tossed a handful of spaghetti BLORSH covering everyone between him and Priscilla. Which now included the Lunch Lady and the Custodian who were both SIZZLING mad. “Who’s going to clean up this mess?” BLURTED the Custodian as spaghetti streamed down his face.

And this is how it ended…

WWWOOIIIIEEEEEHHH! It was Mrs. Georgakis, the PE teacher, blowing on the trusty whistle hanging ’round her neck! The sudden silence was dizzying, but for the SLURPs, GOOPs and SPLATs as bits dripped down to the floor. Mrs. Georgakis stood measuring, feet apart, hands on her hips, as always. “Fourth graders to the left. Fifth graders to the right. Mr. Ellis, buckets and rags, please. We start work top to bottom,” she ordered. “Not a word.” And they didn’t dare.

Once the tables and benches, walls and floor were wiped, they marched solemnly, single file out to the playground. There were smiles of hope, because no one expected the hose-down. And. It. Was. Cold. The air was warm, but students stood like popsicles. They were meant to shake it off and dry out a bit before heading back to class, but moved like molasses straight from the fridge. Mateo felt a poke in his back. Yep. Priscilla Weatherspoon. “You may have had the first move today, but we have a whole school year ahead of us,” she muttered. He could feel her bitter breath on his neck. “Plenty of time. Plenty.”  GULP!

Priscilla Weather spoon_01-1

Thanks to all who participated: Catherine Johnson, daynesislendesign, Donna L. Sadd, Jacquesartandbooks, KidLitReviews, Lauri Meyers, Lee Braff, Louann Brown, Mary Flynn, Prairie Garden Girl, Sarah Maynard, Sue Poduska, thiskidreviewsbooks, and writersideup! Check out all the wrap ups on Marcie Colleen’s blog – HERE


What’s Sochi? Yep, that happens when you don’t have TV reception, don’t get the local paper (the writing could be better), and listen to public radio – obviously with beans in my ears!But Catherine asked to tandem another post (check hers out – HERE), so I googled ‘Sochi’ for inspiration, and found some! Heres the article. And how is it pronounced – by Russians? The -o in Sochi is somewhere in between the English “law” vowel and the English ‘lot’ vowel (so somewhere between SAW-chi and SOTCH-i).

borrowed from ftw.usatoday.com (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

FYI: Who came up with ‘curling’? According to wikipedia (source of all knowledge when you haven’t got a clue!), ‘the verbal noun curling is formed from the Scottish (and English) verb curl, which describes the motion of the stone.’ Got that? But wait – it’s also known as ‘the roaring game’, because of the sound the stones make while traveling over the pebble (droplets of water applied to the playing surface). Uhhh, okay.  Anyway – now for a poem, because that’s what you’re here for, the word crafting and the pictures. Right? (pssst – now is a good time to agree!)


This is what the Curling Fox says:

Høyer, høyer, pants on fire!
Crowds are trilling like a choir!
They cheer and cry – I don’t know why
Norway’s stones fall cruelly shy

Thanks for popping in!