PPBF: Hector Protector and As I Went Over theWater

Illustrator: Maurice Sendalk
Publisher: Harper & Row, 1963
Age: 2-5
Themes: Mother Goose rhymes, behavior
OpeningHector Protector was dressed all in green.
Summary: (from the publisher) Maurice Sendak has interpreted these old’ Mother Goose rhymes in animated sequences that have the aliveness and immediacy of a child’s own imaginings. There is little in these verses to suggest the settings, the characterizations, the unforeseen twists and turns of Mr. Sendak’s fantastical picture-stories. They extend the boundaries of the short rhymes and add surprising dimension.

HectorProtectorendpapersWhy I like this book: The visual interpretations are stories themselves, perfect examples of what an illustrator can bring to the text, especially to something so familiar and seemingly ‘non-illustratable’.

HectorProtector1Resources/Activities: For any age group: pick a Mother Goose rhyme and bring it to life: with hand-drawn pictures, a collage, puppet show or cartoon. This book can be put to good use in a high school classroom to introduce illustration as a profession. Check out this page for more info on nursery rhymes and their origins.

HectorProtector4For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.


PPBF: Bookmaker’s Studio

TheBookmaker'sStudioCoverAuthor: Photography: Jake Green; Art Direction: Melanie Mues; Editor: James Cartwright
Publisher: The Bookmaker’s Studio, 2015; Printers: Hacksmith Press
Ages: all
Themes: children’s picture book illustrators, illustration, design
Opening/Introduction: Making books for kids is a humbling profession; months and years of character developing, story refining, composition adjusting, and dummy approving to which your audience will be forever indifferent.

TheBookmaker'sStudio2Summary: (from the kickstarter page) A glimpse inside the studios and minds of some of the world’s best living children’s picturebook makers. A limited edition photo book.

TheBookmaker'sStudioInhaltI supported this kickstarter project because: I am curious, nosy, interested and delighted to have a glimpse into the working spaces of other artists. TheBookmaker'sStudio3

TheBookmaker'sStudio4Resources/activities: Have children list all the things they recognize in the artist’s studios as tools they know or own themselves, then make a second list of things they are surprised to see in an artist’s studio; Discuss how picture books are made.

TheBookmaker'sStudio5For existing PPBF selections, including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE; for todays’ fresh picks, click HERE



PPBF: 100 Great Children’s Picturebooks

100GreatPBsCoverAuthor: Martin Salisbury
Publisher: Lawrence King, 2015
Ages: all
Themes: great children’s picture books, illustration, design
Opening: Having had the impertinence to make a selection under the banner of 100 Great Children’s Picturebooks, I am anxious to make a few things clear in my defense at the outset. First, I am of course very aware that, as a multi-modal form of communication, the the successful picturebook is about much more than good art and design. This selection, however, first and foremost about good art and design, and is made entirely on that basis. It aspires to deliver a visual feast for those who love the picturebook.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Each book is a creation of genius and inventiveness, and their design and illustration represent such diverse trends as the Russian Constructivists, Italian Futurists and Postwar Neo-romantics. They are also mirrors of their times reflecting social concerns from a child’s and family’s perspectives throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. Fearlessly confronting the frontiers between a child’s picturebook and art, this is a collection of books that anyone with an interest in design, illustration or simply children’s literature should know about.

100GPBs4I like this book because: no comment! Just look at these spreads!


100GPBs7Resources/activities: read this book; look for some of the selections and read them; make a list of some of your own favorites and discuss the reasons behind your choices; read some more!

100GPBs6For existing PPBF selections, including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE


From THE THORN MOUNTAIN, Paul Sunmi, Some Books, 2012

Thinking about Visual Thinking

…and character development. By sketching, doodling, drawing every day (thanks to SkADaMo challenges with Linda Silvestri and Alison Kipnis Hertz’s Doodle Day fb group) I have become aware that a lot of my creative process does not take place in my head, but though visual communication with my hand. Sound crazy to anyone? The shape of one curve often interests me enough to change the way I’m drawing a character from the visual I had in my head. Often ‘accidents’ happen that are more appealing than what I was attempting. I thought I’d share an example – how I came upon an alpaca while trying to draw a dog!

PQradade Dog_03(2)-1So here was one attempt at a dog, utilizing black so that I could concentrate more on the shape and how it was working for me. It wasn’t. Do I want this dog to have more anthropomorphic qualities? Should he be able to stand on two legs? Hold on to it, but create a new file.

PQradade Dog_04-1Fun lines, but this did NOT look like a dog to me! Nope! Next…

PQradade Dog_05-1Now I have really taken a departure form the canine world! but now I see something quite different, a different species altogether…’follow your nose, Julie’…another file!

PQradade Dog_06-1Now I see, it’s an alpaca! But so stiff! I’ll play, and add color too…

PQradade Dog_07(1)-1

No dog created, but I found this delightful creature! So I allow myself to write a crappy story draft, and draw crappy sketches – a workable piece could be in the next file!

Mole: character development

MolePostONEJust for practice, I am developing my own characters while reading Wind In the Willows (I honestly didn’t care for the overtly poetic descriptions enough to finish reading it in the past).


While I may have missed the boat attempting to give a water rat a long pointy nose, when in fact the European water vole, commonly known as a water rat,  has a rounded one, I wanted to give Mole a better chance.

MolePostTHREEHere are some of the sketches I made while ‘looking’ for the real Mole with my stylus.

MolePostFOURRStill not sure I’ve got him, but I’m having fun trying! Enjoy Thanksgiving, everyone!



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

Friends and Benefits: SCBWI Workshops and Schmoozes

scbwi-loveThanks to the RMCSCBWI illustration coordinators, Bobbi Collier-Moralles and Karen Windness, regional illustrators had the opportunity to take an Illustrators Intensive with Will Terry (yes, the REAL WILL TERRY!) this past weekend on the RMCAD campus – and the price was right! I missed the opening talk, also open to RMCAD students for free on Friday evening, but was there bright and early Saturday to catch every word and catch up with illustrators I had met at previous regional conferences. (any text in red – click for more info!)

My favorite roomie – Stacy

We spent the first part of the day learning about the importance of good composition. Simple but important takeaways: start with very small thumbnails and use the 33 rule – the thumbnail should have an interesting composition at a distance of 3′ and 30′, as should the finished piece. Next, through Photoshop, Will demonstrated the use of underpainting, the importance of emphasizing points of interest, and multiple techniques to achieve a captivating piece – including creating texture brushes. After lunch, Will’s son Aaron gave us the 411 on creating apps: he was very frank about the ‘dark side of digital’ and the  learning curve, but also inspiring. Believe me, we were at the edge of our seats! Aaron encouraged us to create products that people will want to turn around share.

Had to get a picture with ‘der Meister’ – Will Terry!

Participants could put forward up to two of our own illustrations for an anonymous review, (no, Will did not wear a mask for this, silly!) which was a great method of reinforcing all we had heard earlier in the day. The workshop was invigorating! I just wanted to rush home and work – and that after a full day in a dark room!

On Monday evening I was back with my local SCBWI Schmooze group for a 2hr session on social media and online marketing with Mary Walewski (socialmediaexpress.biz), a former librarian turned marketing consultant. Our Schmooze coordinator, Teresa Funke (teresafunke.com) works hard to bring us great presenters for our bi-monthly meetings. Quick takeaways: Make a plan! Social media profiles are the center of an author/illustrators online marketing strategy, and the proper maintenance of a blog is the best way to get information to your audience. Don’t just make goals, check your progress! ‘Insights’ on facebook pages, your status data on your blogs should help you to determine where you can maximize your efforts.

Tonight, Tuesday, I will meet with my local picture-book writer’s critique group. We all  met through a Schmooze or a regional conference organized through – you guessed it – SCBWI!

Before signing off, here is a logo I recently designed for our Schmooze group… “Let’s go fly a kite!”



Loss of Legend: Leo Dillon

Leo Dillon: 3.2.1933-5.26.2012

I knew what I had before it was gone. Leo Dillon and his wife Diane are not only one of the most successful illustrator partnerships but also among the most influential. I never knew Leo Dillon personally, but his work has guided mine and inspired countless others by striving for beauty and perfection in the world of picture book illustration. And will continue to uplift the hearts of children, and the child in our hearts, all over the world. Thank you Leo.

The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon: An online archive dedicated to sharing the work of Leo and Diane Dillon