me, myself and I

site update image

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


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.


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?


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.

three birds

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.

one two line

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


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.


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.


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.


Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies is a card game based on Edwardian societal rules where players attempt to build the legacy of an aristocratic family through smart marriages, having children, hiring servants while crushing rivals with gossip and betrayal.  Designed by Jason Corace, illustrated by myself and published by Gryphon Games, Lords and Ladies will be available this summer.

first landl image


second landlimage


hey ladies












Odds + Ends


Sleepwalker - personal piece

Sleepwalker – personal piece



Anesthesia – Tiny Showcase


The Exquisite Book, Dawn 


The Where, The What & The How: 75 Artists Illustrate the Wondrous Mysteries of the Universe, Beached Whales


Girls Rock Rhode Island, Yoko Ono


Mahar Drygoods, letterpress prints



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.