Bharat Babies is a Boston-based publisher and consumer products company. Their mission is simple: design and produce developmentally appropriate books that tell children's stories about India's Heritage. (By the way, I TOTALLY lifted that from their site. I wanted to make sure I got he mission right since the work they do is SO important...and lovely)
When I was tapped by the wonderful folks at Bharat Babies, it was to illustrate their very first book Hanuman and the Orange Sun. This book featured the delightful character of a little girl named Harini. She just MAY have been modeled by the Publisher's daughter, Ojo...one of the cutest kids I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I'm happy to say that the character of Harini caught on and ushered readers through a series of other stories published in the years since. It was an insanely wonderful compliment to hear from the publisher, Sailaja, that I'd captured her daughter's spirit and character with my scribbles! Delighted to get the call to draw Harini in her next tale, Let's Celebrate Diwali! Here's the cover and a peep at few pages:
Drawing this book about how Harini and her friends at school share stories about how they and their families celebrate Diwali was a blast. Loved it! These kids are so sweet. And Ojo...sorry, Harini is quiet the little party host! When Sailaja and her family shared these portraits with me recently, I was over the moon! So amazing to see Ojo and Harini together!
(Click to enlarge)
Ack!!!!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE these pictures!
And last week I found out that my Let's Celebrate Diwali days were NOT over! The book is already in reprints and the team wanted to celebrate THAT with a brand new cover! The Bharat Babies Design Extraordinaire asked me to bring some of Harini's classmates to the cover. I took this as an opportunity to introduce a new title treatment to fit the new art and the BB overarching branding. Ready? Here's the new cover! Hooray!
Be on the lookout for so much great Bharat Babies stuff! And check out their site.
As a kid, one of my most favorite things in the world were my learn-to-draw books. I mean, Ed Emberley! Right?!
As the Art Director for Cantata Learning, I seized and opportunity to illustrate their first series of drawing books. Not only were they Cantata's first learn-to-draw books, they were mine too. It was a little daunting, but an insanely fun project working with our Editor/Author for these books, Blake. This was not a typical book project where I could just await a manuscript with art notes. Nope. Since I was inventing the instructions that readers would use, I worked with Blake every "step" along the way. Get it? Step? Step-by-step? Forget it.
Also, since Cantata Learning books are set to music, we had to work together to make sure that the steps made for good text to make for good music. Super collaborative process...tons of fun.
A few weeks ago...samples arrived! This was such a great experience, they WON'T be my last drawing books!
Even more fun...this weekend I got to bust out a few sample for the kiddos as a party. Few things fill me with more hope and inspiration than watching future artists go for it!
TPC studio got a new wall this week.
It's sketching time for my next Cantata illustration gig! In fact, we're already moving to color. Time flies! Here are some sketches and the first color page (in progress):
Latest poster design. My husband's students are in rehearsals for the annual Spring Review. Time to get the show art and poster going. The original concept was a very rough, painterly treatment of the word love. Sometimes you know right away if a design's going to work. I knew in minutes to try something else. Round 2 happened fast....with just a few changes in direction. Keeping the painted stone texture, I went with a "shape" and form that was more graphically sharp and playful. This mass of swirling textured bubbles feel like a living, breathing thing with lots of energy. Whether you see paint splatters or rose petals, I hope it feels "love"ly to you. Final poster is officially ready for production....I hope the kids like it!
UPDATE! The swell art department at Lynn English High School reproduced my poster design as a huge banner for the cafeteria!
A friend and fellow illustrator just turned me on to Maggie Rogers. I love this song! This video!
Doing a little sketching in front of the tv tonight developing a character for a super-cool secret project.
You guys! Last week was Read Aloud Day. All over the world, it was a call to celebrate the importance of reading and sharing stories. My client, partner and bunch of pals at Cantata Learning were buzzing all week with activities. My part? I'm excited to have created an illustration celebrating the event. Look for it on their blog in the next couple of days. We have a few characters on the team. I, for one, can wait to see pictures and clips from their visits! Keep an eye out on their blog!
My husband, Drama Teacher at Lynn English High School, is bringing his students to the METG Theater Festival with Sturm and Durang, Four Short Plays by Christopher Durang. I've been tapped to design the t-shirt and show poster art. Super fun!
A couple of preliminary, super rough concept sketches for a special project coming up. I'm so excited about this!
So, there’s an old theory that you should never meet your heroes…you’ll just be let down. I’m here to tell you that this is not always the case.
Several weeks ago (I’ve been neglecting this blog terribly), I got to meet the man that drew some of the books that excited me about drawing!
The Worcester Art Museum (in Worcester, MA) opened the “KAHBAHBLOOOM: The Art and Storytelling of Ed Emberley” exhibit. ‘What?! That’s awesome!!!! The Mary Blair exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum and THIS just a few months apart?! Whoo hoo!’
I marked my calendar made a mental note to REALLY TRY to get over there after work. There was gonna be a meet-and-greet with the man himself since it was opening day. The day came and I thought, “Ya know what? The way work's been going, I’ll never get out of here at a reasonable time!” So I took a personal day. I carved out an afternoon for myself at the WAM. I’d never been there. Charming, beautiful place. I loved it from the moment I opened the front door.
The meet-and-greet was to be at about 5:00, so I wandered around the museum…AFTER I made a beeline for the KAHBAHBLOOOM Room (as I'll call it from now on. If you know me, you know I love a good rhyme.)
I gotta say, it was insane to walk through the room and see the actual handwork of the learn-to-draw books that charmed me as a kid…and as an adult. I was flooded with inspiration and nostalgia…especially since I’m drawing learn-to-draw books myself right now! I left and revisited the room three times before 5:00 arrived.
A quick trip to the gift shop for my Emberley swag (including an amazing coffee table book by Todd Oldham and Caleb Neelon), I returned just in time for an impromptu book signing with Ed. Signing, apparently, wasn’t planned. But this man is such a gentleman. He gladly endured us, spent time with everyone, and signed our books! And...BONUS…I have an original Emberley doodle in fresh orange ink on the title page of mine! Such a great moment!
I’d been hitting a wall with work lately. This Fall was PRETTY challenging. It’s been a wonderfully busy time, but also a time with plenty of frustration and LOOOONG days. This was exactly the motivation and battery recharge I needed. I know, I’m gushing. But an artist (I’m ok calling myself this now. I’ve been called a lot worse!) gets inspiration from very specific places. And revisiting this insanely charming world of art, I found my happy place.
If you can get yourself there, I HIGHLY recommend it. Not only did I get to see the books I grew up with, I was able to stand nose-to-nose with some incredible picture book art I’d never seen before. Go. Do it. It’ll be your happy place, too!
Pssst, check out my pics below from the exhibit. Photos were allowed...PROMISE!!!
I'll never tire of the day that samples arrive. Not only did I get my hands on books I designed and art directed today when the UPS guy arrived, but I illustrated these books too!
Jeesh! This holiday season stole me away form the blog! But it's time to post!
Early in December, I had an amazing weekend! Some of my closest friends, Alane and Daniel, are the hosts of the gorgeous North Fork Guest house in Cutchogue, NY. It's an incredible bed and breakfast in the center of the North Fork's wine country. NFGH was one of the organizers and hosts of the annual Cutchogue Holiday House Tour. I was asked to photograph the day-long event...a tour through some of the area's most beautiful homes (and a incredibly charming schoolhouse)! Here are some of the snaps from the day!
Another year, another Inktober successfully completed. If you're new to Inkotober, it's an online ink drawing challenge created by Illustrator Jake Parker. Confession, it was't until the other day that there are daily prompts...if you're playing by the book. Oops. Nonetheless, Inktober here was a success. I created art every day and practice my inking.
Here they are!
It's a really exciting time for my pals at Bharat Babies. And it's so great that their stories are reaching such a huge audience. With the mission to design and produce developmentally appropriate books that tell children's stories about India's Heritage, BB is doing work that is so desperately needed these days. Now is a time to get to know each other globally. And any group of impassioned content creators doing just that through books for infants and elementary school-aged children, well, that's just awesome. In the case of this book, Bharat Babies Founder Sailaja Joshi, saw the need to bring the magic and history of Diwali to very young ready that might not otherwise learn about it.
So...no lie, while I'm putting this blog post together, and wondering what the next exciting bit of news might be fore this book...I got word that our book popped up on the Reading Rainbow Facebook page! Hooray!!!
Now, here's a peep at Let's Celebrate Diwali published by Bharat Babies!
It's been about 10 years since I walked (sometimes sprinted) the halls of ELLE Magazine as Promotions Art Director for ELLEgirl. It was some of the most fun work I've ever done. And it was there that I was reminded of the potency of girl power! That magazine was a really important moment for empowerment girls and young women. And I loved it.
Well, another reminder happened a few days ago, and I'm over the moon about it! I could not be more proud to announce that ELLE just published the article "How to Build a Feminist Library For Your Baby". The article was a short list of recommended books that contributor Raakhee Mirchandani thinks make the perfect library of "powerful titles about powerful ladies that pack a big punch"!
One of the featured books is Padmini is Powerful by Amy Maranville (and illustrated by...ME)!!!!! Hooray! It was really incredible to see this. It's been such a labor of love making books with my friends at Bharat Babies. And to be recognized this way is so incredibly wonderful! Thanks, ELLE!
A little Friday night sketching for a spooky new book project.
An illustration career can be challenging, a ton of long hours, frustrating, full of long nights, and the most rewarding job you could ever ever ever want. Sure, we get paid (usually). But there are moments like this that mean the most. I'd been Art Directing for Cantata Learning for a couple of seasons before I started illustrating a few titles, too. Lots of work and a ton of fun. From time to time, I'd post sketches and images on social media throughout the process. A few weeks ago, a long-time friend of mine that I'd not seen in a hundred years wrote to me on Facebook that she'd seen my illos on Facebook and had gone and purchased a couple of the books I drew for Cantata. She sent me this heart-swelling video of her little ones with Little Billy Bison and Bear Went Over the Mountain. If I illustrate a thousand picture books for kids, I'll never stop being so moved and so happy to see kids leafing through my pages. Thank you, Kerry! This video means the world to me!