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Being You

You guys! A thing I did! Here's the trailer I created for the book I'm also Art Directing and Designing. "Being You" (written by Alexs Pate, Illustrated by Soud and pub'ing in August by Capstone) encourages children to be seen for who they really are—not just who they’re told to be—and challenges adults to respond with clear eyes. It's been a labour of love for everyone involved. We can't wait to share it with you!

When you're a kid, it can be hard to be who you really are. In the picture book, Being You, two kids learn that they have a choice about how the world sees them. They can accept the labels that others put on them, or they can let their inner selves shine.

Recommended! Yay!

This was some super fun news! Completely delighted to see that the Midwest Book Review Children's Book watch recommends my learn-to-draw book I illustrated and created with Blake Hoena for Cantata Learning!!!!! I love this series and this book was one of my favorites! 

animla safari cover 3D.jpg

Book Stop!

Today was a fun one. The Bharat Babies gang and I were at Annies Book Stop in Worcester, MA for a reading and quick book signing. It's always really sweet to share the stories and pictures with little ones. Fun day, Thanks to Sailaja Joshi for setting this up! 

Author Amy Maranville in the book-signing trenches with me!

Amy Maranville sharing the story Hanuman Moves a Mountain.

The Making of a Crow

The Making of a Crow

I'm BEYOND excited that my next book is an Aesop fable. Really?! For Cantata Learning, I'm illustrating an upcoming edition of The Crow and the Pitcher.

For this book, the fist step I took was to create the crow character. A strong series of poses from the beginning will help ensure character consistency later. References are always good. But they're best when you create your own!!! The evolution of the crow himself has actually come together easily. I fell in love with him immediately. It's almost like he's drawing himself.

"Thanks, crow!"

Here's the character sheet for this project. 

Now, it's time for the work! First step here is to start sketching on the blank layout with text in place. 

First page sketch for the moment when Crow get is is big, brilliant idea!

Sshhh. Don't tell the Editor, but I one to color before we even reviewed the sketches together. What can I say? I just couldn't wait!

First color test.

So, what I know about myself as an illustrator is that I can easily overwork something. So, my first color test (above) was an attempt to lay down some style and let it sit for a day or two...or three to see how I thought things were shaping up. Don't overwork it. Don't look to closely. Day 1, "Cool!" Day two, "Meh, alright, but I'll give it another day." Day three, "We are NOT there yet." I took down' some line weight, loosened up on shapes, and played with more color. Most importantly, I went back to what feels good and natural for me. I admittedly struggle with this idea that illustration should come so easily that I can do it blindfolded. Not the case. The is work, a craft. There's a balance between "what feels right naturally" and "what is successful after focused effort". I feel like I got there. I'm happy...happy to move on with this crazy, determined bird. Now, with this out of the way, I can be as focused as this crafty little corvus!

Crow and I are ready! Let's make a book!!!!

Learn to Draw

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!

The Race is On

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):

March on!

I can't tell you how much fun it is to see this book I illustrated for Cantata Learning animated and read by my pal, Shannon McClintock Miller!

Sample Day!

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!


Wait! WHAT?! NBC News?

Another press thrill has happened! NBC News just celebrated Let's Celebrate Diwali published by Bharat Babies, written by Anjali Joshi and written! Check out the article here.

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. 

We really wanted to focus on the fact that there is more than one religion that celebrates the holiday ... If you Google Diwali, you’ll see a Hindu holiday ... but it’s also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists.
— Sailaja Joshi

Sailaja N. Joshi, founder of Bharat Babies, reads "Padmini is Powerful" written by Amy Maryville and illustrated by Tim Palin from the publishing company's collection. 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!

Exciting News! Thanks ELLE!

Exciting News! Thanks ELLE!

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!

One of the great joys in the life of a book illustrator

One of the great joys in the life of a book illustrator

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!

Very Special

This summer, I had the pleasure of art directing another Sparkhouse Family publishing project. Rufus and the Very Special Baby is the first Christmas story from the publisher's new imprint, Frolic. Just the first season of books was, this title was a complete joy to art direct and design with the Sparkhouse team and the incredible illustration talent of Natasha Rimmington. We were so happy that Natasha was on board for more adventures with the fantastic characters she created last year. With another complete season ahead, we snuck this book in as a mid-season project.

Check out the Frolic site

...samples arrived!

...samples arrived!

...and it's always fun to see your project in PW!


How to make a dolly

Step-by-step, this book for Bharat Babies is coming together. Labor of love? Yep. It takes so many steps (SOME of them shown here) to get to pictures to match the charm of the stories . . . I hope!

I gotta hand it to ya

When I did this sketch a few weeks ago, I knew it was gonna be one of my favorite color pieces when I got to it. This spread for an upcoming Bharat Babies project is making me so happyI I'm having a ball with this style.

A handful af sanjeevani

Round 1 Edits

It's always a little bit of a nail-biter moment when you get that email from a client asking for changes to your art. Luckily, most of the changes happen in "sketches" or "pencils". This was the case when Bharat Babies asked for a significant change to one of my favorite sketches for a new book coming soon. At first, I was a little sad to make the change. I loved the spread so much. But with a little explanation from the team, I knew what the sketch would look like. And guess what...I love IT as well! This is one of my favorite moments in the book. I can't wait to show you the color! Keep an eye out!

Sketch #1

Sketch #2. The Client asked to take Seeta to place a little less secluded.

Drawing kids drawing

A little work-in-progress for my pals at Cantata Learning. I grew up with learn-to-draw I'm making them! Keep an eye out for lots of updates. Super excited about this series.

Tight Sketches

I've learned that tighter sketches yield better, more clearly envisioned results. Time for bed...but tonight was a good drawing night.  Sweet Dreams. Moooo....

Who Lives in a Tree?!

I'm not gonna lie. Whether I art directed, designed, produced, or illustrated a book, I am always super excited about that day that my samples arrive! Days like today are extra special. As the Art Director for Cantata Learning, I art direct, design and produce anywhere from 35 to 50 books per pub season....twice a year! Today, the entire Cantata Learning Fall 2016 set of books landed at my doorstep...50 books! There's so much to be excited about here. But, I'll confess, I'm most excited to see 4 books in particular. This season, I also illustrated a 4-book series of books about where animals live...hee hee, and where they don't! Who Lives in a Tree? Who Lives by a Pond? Who Lives in a Cave? Who Lives Underground? Squeeee!!!!!


They're here!

Ah, the Queen Bee.

Watch those antlers, dude.