me, myself and I

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Okay … so I am over the moon, pleased to announce two upcoming solo shows.  Back to back!  A double header!  (500 points for a sportsball reference).

The first show, Without, will be at Land Gallery in Portland, OR on September 11th.  I will be there, for the opening … fidgeting.  If you’re in the area please stop by.  I am completely pleasant.

The second show, Within, will be at Art Star in Philadelphia, PA and opens on October 11th.  I will also be there for the opening.  My family will probably be there too as they live all around that area like a bunch of champs.  They are also completely pleasant.

So … east coast, west coast … there are two opportunities to be publicly pleasant with me.  Hope to see y’all!

 

 

my writing process – a blog tour

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Hi and hello.

Melissa Guion asked me to hop on this blog tour about process and I said yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

The first time I met Melissa was on a camping trip, of sorts.  She hula hooped … like a champ.  I am both suspicious of and fascinated by people that can hula hoop.  The second time we crossed paths was the same camping trip one year later.  We slept in a converted van together.  She brought me coffee in the morning.  We fell in love with Portland, OR’s tap water.  Nowadays she just comes to my house and we eat seafood and drink gin drinks and I try to convince her to buy a house in my neighborhood.  Melissa is top notch … many thanks to her for getting me involved here, today.

OKAY!  Questions …

what am i currently working on?

a weed is a plant out of place.web

Currently I am working on something that has nothing to do with writing or professional illustration.  I have two solo shows coming up at the end of summer/beginning of fall (Land Gallery, Portland OR  Sept. 11th/Art Star, Philadelphia, PA  October 11th).  So I am working on pieces for those shows most/all of the time.

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Book-wise, I most recently finished TELEPHONE!, written by Mac Barnett.  TELEPHONE! is a take on the game of telephone/whisper down the lane/grapevine with birds.  Birds with personality.  So.  Much.  Personality.  I loved working on this book … not only because it was a chance to work with Mac, who is a smart, fun, funny fellow, but also because I got to work with Chronicle Books again.

how does my work differ from others of its genre?

My style comes in two flavors:  quiet/moody and loose/perky.  Sometimes people describe my work as “whimsical” … but I truly dislike that word.  Whimsical.  Work of whimsy.  Oddly, I don’t disagree with it’s definition … but the sound and general, quick to draw use of “whimsical” doesn’t sit well with me.

Am I answering this question?  I don’t think I am answering this question.  Not well at least.  I don’t tend to think of my work outside of itself in reference to other work.  I love working on children’s books.  I love visual narratives.  In the end I hope that my sense of atmosphere, love of color and shape-y-ness mixed with my interest in pattern speaks to people … young and old alike.

why do i write what i write?

HA HA HA!  Joke’s on you … I don’t write.  I would like to.  I hope to.  I have some ideas that I am poking around with a pencil.  I think it’s my next thing … but as of yet I don’t/haven’t written a story for publication.

Why do I draw what I draw?

For books like the LITTLE series, MATHILDA AND THE ORANGE BALLOON, I am looking to keep the feeling light and fun.  There’s a merriment to the characters, who are more often than not, anthropomorphic beings, and I love loose line work with bright colors and playing with negative space for those sorts of stories.

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Work that I’ve done with Cynthia Rylant and HUMBLEBEE HUNTER with Deborah Hopkinson felt more meaty and weighty to me.  Darkish fairy tales and stories involving Darwin have a different feel to them than owls who want to go to bed.  The work I generate for these stories I think a bit more about light and depth of field (even though I flatten it out all the same) and I am more precise in my line work.

With TELEPHONE! and I HATCHED! my hope was to begin to bring these two worlds of drawing style closer.  It’s my newest direction to focus on what my brain calls “shapey and patterny.”

how does my process work?

Oof.

I would like to say right from the start that I do not recommend my process for general use.

Okay.  The first phase of my process involves a lot of sitting and thinking and staring.  I usually do this lying on a hardwood floor.  I obliquely and lightly think about the project at hand and then try to think about nothing.   I clear my mind and then let the subconscious rip.

The second phase is a list making phase.  I try my best to catch the wisps and bolts of ideas that came to me as I was lying on the floor.  I make a lot of lists … on scraps of paper, in different sketchbooks … and then I ignore them.

Phase three is loose doodling.  Sometimes it’s doodling that has nothing to do with the work at hand.  Also any reference/inspiration research is done.  I collect a lot of images online.  A total image hoarder.  I love feeding my visual brain.

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Procrastination.  This is a big part of my process.  Sometimes my house has never been cleaner.  All of a sudden, neglected artwork gets hung all at once.  My garden breathes easy with a focused fury of weeding.  Procrastination is worrisome but key.  It gets peppered in throughout the beginning of phase one and two and three.

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After all of this nonsense it’s buckle down time.  And I suspect that I spend so much time in a nebulous, time wasting zone because when I am in the real work zone it’s all encompassing.  I get “in the zone”.  I become serious and near humorless and can’t socialize in ways that maintain warm friendships.  During this time I generally have a solid idea about how the larger ideas will play out.  I figure out color palettes as I go along and will, here and there, make instinctive/inventive decisions.  So within all of this focus and general foundation I like to throw in possibility.  It doesn’t always work out.  Sometimes it creates a problem that forces me to figure out an even better solution … other times I have to scrap a piece.

So it goes.

And now it’s time to pass the mic …

Amy Martin!

The first time I met Amy was on a camping trip, of sorts.  We slept in the converted van that Melissa and I would share a year later.  When I am in Portland, OR I get to stay with her and she brings me coffee in the morning. Amy is the author illustrator of SYMPHONY CITY and the forthcoming NIGHT LIFE.  Amy is a genius.  A real raw dog.

Liz Wong!

The first time I met Liz Wong was never … I only know her via the interwebs and through Twitter.  But I like her style … art-wise and sass-wise.  Her book, QUACKERS, makes its way out into the world in 2015.  Until then, peep more stuff here (psst … she’s a gem).

Follow the tour on Twitter:  #mywritingprocess

v is for victory

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The super talented, super lovely Carson Ellis has organized an online auction in support of Victory Academy … the only non profit, private school in Oregon that serves kids on the Autism Spectrum.  Pieces in the auction come from many many many talented children’s book illustrators, including originals, prints and even a custom pet portrait by Laura Park.

I’ve donated a piece from Little Hoot … it’s extremely rare that I ever let a book piece go, so now’s your chance to up and grab one.

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Please consider supporting this amazing institution.

In Carson’s words, here is why Victory Academy is so important to her and her family.  Here is a link to the auction itself.  And here is a link to more information about Victory Academy’s Capital Campaign.

Best!

freshen up

news update

So, I’ve spent most of my day prepping files and updating this here website just for you!  Okay … I did it a little bit for myself as well.  It’s the gift that gives both ways.  There’s artwork for I Hatched (I’ll post a sketch process over on my Tumblr soon), images from Lords and Ladies, and some new freelance, gallery and personal pieces.

I recently had a studio visit from The Crooked Cottage.  A pop-in!  If you have any curiosity about what my creative cave looks like take a hop over.  There are also several other studio visits you can check out.  Good, peeping Tom times.

 

back from the dead

Child in Red Apron

 

And by “the dead” I mean the holidays.  For folks who may not know I help organize Craftland … a DIY, handmade gift store in Providence.  We start gearing up for December in August and then become completely in over our heads by December 24th.  It’s a mighty experience.  One that takes until the end of the January to feel fully recuperated.

I am alive and well.

Today I spent part of my day at the RISD Museum as a part of a program that records local designers and artists’ insights on assigned pieces in the museum’s collection.  The interesting part of this experience is that we were asked to not do any research on the work or the artist, but to give our first impressions … completely fresh, unrehearsed and spontaneous.  It was a great half hour talking about the above painting, “Child In A Red Apron.”  At some point in the future all the recordings will be up online at the RISD Museum site … I’ll let you all know when that goes live.

Last week, on the 23rd, my most recent book, I Hatched by Jill Esbaum, was released.  It’s out on bookshelves now.  And the week before that I turned in the work for my next book, Telephone with Mac Barnett.  They are both exciting books about birds.  Different kinds of birds.  Different kinds of excitement.

I have two solo shows this year … in the summer … dates soon soon soon.

For the holidays I got you all proper capitalization in my posts.  Yay!  Okay, that’s all I have for now … but I will be posting more often now that we are ankle deep in the new year.

 

time out, time in

happy house

whew.

kickstarter kicked my ass a little bit.  in an awesome way but also in the way where operating two different social media identities and creating content for the web is tiring.  soooo tiring.  but, like i said, awesome as well.  but i had to take an internet time out.

the campaign wrapped up wonderfully.  we made the Foreign Affairs expansion deck.  we made new internet friends.  and now the gears are cranking to finish the game art and move everything, including rewards, into production.

in the world of new news … ornaments that i designed for Crate & Barrel are now available.  i cannot express how excited i am to have done work for the ol C&B and to have that work be ornaments.  two of my favorite things coming together.

quirky house ornaments

there are two sets of ornaments … the house set seen above and then a set of six circular ornaments … and one individual, “happy house” ornament.  part of the proceeds raised by the sale of “happy house” will benefit Rebuilding Together, a non profit organization whose work help renovate and repair the homes of low income home owners.

SUPER.

there will be more things and more things and more things … but right now i need a sandwich.

 

 

the end is near

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thirty seven hours from now our Kickstarter campaign for Lords and Ladies comes to an end.  it’s been a heck of a month … an amazing month of amazing supporters, new internet friends and a greater appreciation for anyone that has to socially network as more than one entity.

we are so close to funding our second stretch goal … the Foreign Affairs expansion deck … which will feature unique art for eight new, non-English suitors by a select group of artists:

grid smaller(left to right, top to bottom:  marci washington, evah fan, carson ellis, alec thibodeau, eleanor davis, vivienne strauss, cw roelle, matte stephens)

i am hoping that we reach this goal because i am so curious as to where these artists will take the game.  and if you are just coming across this project you can follow our progress at the Kickstarter page, the Lords and Ladies website, our Twitter feed, our Pinterest board and our Facebook page.

happy weekend and high fives y’all!

 

introducing … lords & ladies!!!

legacyfor the past year my brother and I have been working on Lords & Ladies.  Lords & Ladies is a strategy card game based on Edwardian era societal rules.  There’s a lot of marriage, servant hiring, baby having, baby not having and gossip, gossip, gossip.  even if i wasn’t involved, i’d love this game.

today we launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the production of Lords & Ladies.  we want it in the real world and we want it in people’s homes.  there are a lot of good rewards and even more excellent stretch goals.

so, please, check out Lords & Ladies.  it would make me the happiest illustrator in the world.

(also:  high fives to myself for not spilling the beans ahead of time)