A Little Bit Of Ink

I have found a place to do art where ever I have lived. That included when I was living at home with my parents. Higgins indelible black ink came in these great looking bottles with droppers on the top. Drawing in ink with indelible, permanent black ink on a little lamp table might not have been the best idea. Eventually the indelible ink became a indelible spot on the living room rug. My parents were very supportive of my art. We moved the table a little to the right and covered the spot.

This month is inktober, thanks to Jake Parker so every day I will be putting up an ink drawing and yes I will still be dipping a quill tipped pen into some ink. I hope it will not involve moving any furniture.


#inktober Day 1

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To Puppet or Not to Puppet


A book on how to make puppets

Sometimes when you are doing one thing, you get thrown something else that sends you off on a new adventure or project. This happened to me when I was presenting at the WIFYR, Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference this year. Amy White met me at the door, helped me with my class and and took care of me. I got a chance to see her book, “ Dressing the Naked Hand” by Amy White, Mark H. Pulham & Dallin Blankenship. It was one of those books that you like the looks of, so you buy it and later on it sucks you into a project with both feet.



Hauling out the old Singer sewing machine

I have many different ideas blowing around in my head and when two of those ideas collide, look out. “Dressing the Naked Hand” tells you how to make puppets and that idea collided with our family camp out trip. Wouldn’t it be nice to make puppets for all the grandkids so they could finish putting on hair and clothes up at the cabin? It seemed like a fairly harmless idea to begin with. At some point you realize that you have 12 grandkids and it’s going to take a long time to make puppets and you only have so many days left before you leave for the family adventure. By this time your only choice is to buckle down and bring out your old sewing skills which have lain dormant since junior high home economics class where your teacher said to the whole class, “I don’t know how to grade Sherry because her work is exact but it takes her too long to do it.” You don’t have “too long to do it“ because you can’t give one grandkid a puppet while the next grandkid looks up at you with those big eyes and says, “But grandmother, where is my puppet?”


Puppet mania

You can get a lot of sewing done between 10 p.m. and midnight. My husband could hear raucous laughter coming from the kitchen. When you put eyes on those puppets they come to life. I was tending a three year old grandchild who was watching TV. I put a puppet on my hand and held it behind her right shoulder and in my best high puppet voice (which in retrospect might have been a bit creepy) said, “Hi, little girl.” She took one sideways glance, stiffened up, stood up, and looking straight ahead walked down to grandpa who couldn’t understand all the words but understood “Grandma, creepy, puppet.” Well now I only had 11 puppets to make.


The reward

It is fun to stuff twelve puppets in a box with blue hair, odd buttons and an assortment of clothes. It is even more fun to watch the creativity that occurs once the grandkids get their hands on the puppets. And the greatest of all joys is seeing a grandchild with one of your creepy little puppets on his hand and a smile on his face.

My sister said, “Oh how fun. I think I would like to do that.” I told her. “Great. It takes hardly any time at all. I’ll lend you the book.”

Above is the video of the finished project.


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Who Knew at the End of the Day


I woke up early on Saturday. I had to head out to the SCBWI and WIFYR Pro Day. I had my ipad and had prepared my presentation on Picture Books from Spark to Book Dummy or from Spark to Book, Dummy.


Who knew that at the end of the day I would end up at the Great Salt Lake with two people I didn’t know, and hadn’t met until that morning. But here we are at the Great Salt Lake: Rotem Moscovich, the Senior Editor from Disney-Hyperion, in New York City, Claudia Mills, a great chapter book writer from Colorado, and me, a children’s book illustrator from Utah. To make things even more interesting, the picture was taken by a Navajo from the four corners area who said he had given up his canoe and had bought a yacht.


Rotem and Claudia wanted to go to the Great Salt Lake. They just wanted to touch it …until they saw the swarm of brine flies that covered the shore line. So I touched the lake, and they touched the hand that touched the lake, then quickly washed their hands. Sometimes you get connected to people. You hear them talk about their publishing house. You hear them read from one of their chapter books and you chat while you are driving out to touch the Great Salt Lake.

Posted in Children's Book Illustration, SCBWI Conference, SCBWI Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI Utah/So.Idaho Region, Uncategorized, Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers | Tagged | 6 Comments

Ideas and Road Blocks – The Spark


The spark of an idea can come at any time and we as artists need to be ready to catch them. We can store them in sketch books or note books but if we store them for too long, they can become lost.
I did a video about catching one idea and how I’m going to put it into a watercolor picture. There are a few things that I consider before jumping off and acquiring one more project.
1. Do I have the time to do this?
2. Is this something I want to participate in?
3. Can I come up with a good idea for the painting I want to do?


Ideas seem to pop into my head. Pictures seem to pop into my head and then I need to walk around the idea in my brain and see if it would be a good project. The trick becomes trying to match or make the finished painting better than what I see in my mind. The beauty of painting with watercolor is that some parts of the painting, paints itself and you have to recognize the beauty when you see it on the paper before you and keep it even if it’s not what you have planned.


We had a big wind storm a couple of days ago and while I was riding my bike along the trail, I looked up and there blocking the whole trail was a tree top that had fallen over and blocked the whole trail. I had to stop quickly and pick up my bike and hike around the tree and get back on the trail. Projects are like the bike ride, you have things that get in the way of your projects but you have to pick up your paints, walk around the road block and keep painting on the other side.


Here are a couple of upcoming events:
Utah Watercolor Society Spring Show at the Ogden Eccles Community Art Center, Ogden Utah from May 6 – May 28th 2016.
3rd Annual Arts and the Park Light on the Reef Watercolor Plein Air competition at Capitol Reef with the Entrada Institute and the Utah Watercolor Society. June 1 – June 4th, 2016. The auction will be Saturday night June 4th. It is a great event. Get out in the spring sunshine and watch the painters paint in the park and surrounding area. Check out the Auction and go home with a great painting from the event.


Eccles Community Art Center

Entrada Institute


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Three Internet Sensations The 2016 SCBWI Utah Southern Idaho Illustrator’s Conference

Sensation #1: You get to hear about some people before you meet them in person. They have a presence on the web. Giuseppe Castellano the art director from Penguin Random House does a good job on social media. He also did a great job presenting. He talked about putting your personality into your art and gave information to help us raise the quality of our illustrations. He also gave great advice on web sites and getting your art out there. He was introduced by Shawna Tenney who had previously interviewed Giuseppe on the Oatley Academy podcast, Stories Unbound.


The Illustrator’s at the Utah Southern Idaho SCBWI 2016 Illustrator’s Conference

Sensation #2 and #3: Will Terry and Jake Parker presented together with some friendly banter back and forth. They talked about four ways to improve your art. The good thing about Will’s presentation was the visual examples he used to really show what he was talking about. He taught in such a way that you really got it.

Jake Parker put his money where his mouth was. He put us all on snap chat before he started his presentation. Jake has come up with some of the most ingenious ways to use social media. He demonstrated how he does thumbnails and drew a double spread from prompts from the audience. It was great to see his thought process and principles of art as he created the spread.


Giuseppe Castellano, Will Terry and Jake Parker during First Look

Giuseppe, Will and Jake participated in critiquing first look. You could see your art flash on the screen and get their first impressions of your art. You learned not only from your own critique but also from the others put up front.

We were excited to have Bob Cross from Gibb Smith, Margaret Weber from Covenant Communications, Mckell G. from Jolly Fish and Richard Ericksen and his wife Gorgeous from Shadow Mountain attend and take a look at the portfolios. There were chances to visit with the other illustrators who attended. There were also chances to ask questions of the presenters. I had things that I needed reminding of and learned things that will improve my illustrations.


Checking out the portfolios

It is great for us illustrators to get out of our studios and get around others who are working and creating art. It helps to improve not only our art work but the ways we work. A big thank you to the illustrating committee, Manelle Oliphant, Jennifer Eichelberger and Shawna Tenney, our presenters and to all the illustrators who joined us for the day. Keep on creating.

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Becoming a Seasoned Traveler


Lin Oliver in 9 ink strokes 

I’ve drawn Lin Oliver at the last few SCBWI Winter conferences at New York. I’ve got it down to 12 lines.


Lin Oliver waiting to take the stand.


Priscilla Burris chatted with William Joyce in the Illustrator Intensive

I learned more than how to draw Lin Oliver with 12 ink lines. William Joyce said he didn’t want to be the old dude always doing the same thing. He wanted to take time to work on his own stuff. You get one chance to get it right.


James Ransom talked about being involved and going places.
Mike Curator talked about how children feel invisible. Paul Zolinsky said It’s not about you, it’s not about them, it’s about the book. Peter Brown said so I’m not the only one with crippling self-doubt.


Rita William Garcia

I love to hear good writers speak. Where I use art to hold people’s attention, they can weave a story with the words. Jackie Mitchard spoke of endings and Gary D Schmidt had us sitting on logs , telling stories to kids.


Sketch of Jackie Mitchard


Gary D. Schmidt, Author

At the illustrators mingle, I talked to Lisa Cinelli who won the Tomie Depoalo Award this year. We both got excited talking bout Charles Reid and his books and my chance to go to his workshop. Michael Hale and I chatted with Fred Harper about UFO’s and his tattooed sleeve that he traded for art work and the caricatures he painted and how the president’s eyebrows kept changing as they got older.


A sketch of the audience


Sketch of Jane Yolen

I stood in a long line waiting to get my book signed by William Joyce. Dave and I had to catch the bus back to Laguardia. I shuffled forward a few steps every 10 minutes and finally could tell that I wouldn’t make it by my self assigned deadline to leave the hotel and make the bus to the airport in time for the flight. Because that’s what you want to do after a conference, you want to get back home to your studio and your water color brushes and a grand kid running up the stairs and giving you a hug.


A sketch of the Food Court down under Grand Central Station. It’s nice to get some quotes down in my sketch book.

They have all these modern conveniences these days and you can instantly tell when a flight is delayed. When it’s delayed again then you know it’s going to be a long night especially if you have to make a connecting flight in Chicago and Chicago’s the problem. It’s snowing in Chicago. We made it into Chicago in time to make our delayed flight connection. We sat on the runway because there was no where to park til we could have made our connection running down the concourses dragging our bags. And then we were delayed again until long after our flight had left.


Sketching at the LaGuardia Airport

Are you seasoned travelers? That’s what the customer service man at the Chicago Airport  asked Dave and me. It’s 11:30 at night.


Are you seasoned travelers? What happened in Laguardia? What was the weather like?

Well it was sunny. Things were backed up in Chicago.

You know it’s not our fault. It’s not your fault either but it’s not our fault. Here is a pink paper. You can call these hotels that we partner with and negotiate a price if they have any rooms available at this late hour. You can wander over to our sister airline, I hear they have cots. I can’t guarantee how clean they are, he scrunched up his face like a third grader looking at canned peas. There’s always the option of staying in our lovely airport. Here is a bag with some deodorant to freshen up in the morning.


Another sketch at Laguardia

Dave and I wandered from Terminal A, down the escalator onto the moving walkway and up the other side to Terminal B. There was food still opened in terminal 3 if we wanted a long walk. Dave was looking for the ideal couch but the three of them in the entire Chicago airport were taken. We decided to walk until we found a nice airport chair with no dividers close to a bathroom. Quiet is relative in an airport at night but we’ve joined the ranks of Tom Hanks. We are seasoned travelers and we’ve slept overnight in an airport. (On Valentines Night.)


This was the view from the plane.


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The Clandestine Life of a Children’s Book Illustrator



I was out as evening broke, when car lights had to be on but it was still light enough to see the color of things. I was snapping pictures of cars as they drove by. I could see drivers inside the vehicles with questioning looks. What is she up to? Why is she taking pictures of my car? She doesn’t look like James Bond. I wanted to see the effects of headlights on the back of the vehicles in front of them.


It’s just one of those activities that I get involved with because of illustrating children’s books. I run home to get my camera when I walk by a field of sheep with curly horns. I’m sure I can use those sheep in some illustration I’m working on. And more often than not, it will end up in a book.


Other times I just happen to have my watercolors in the back of my car and I get a call that says your mom is upset, can you come over here. I’ll head over to mom’s and she watches me paint one of the other ladies. She is fascinated with the process. She asks me how long those paints last. She asks me where do you start when you draw a face. She tries to get the lady to sit still because I’m painting her. I tell mom it’s ok. People move. That’s all part of painting from life.


The cows come home


So how long was I out their taking pictures of cars? Well I was out there long enough to see the cows come home.


Detail of When the cows come home.



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Art in Transit


Using Japanese Dyes for Feathers

I just received a video from Aurora Hughes Villa who is the Cache Valley School District’s Art Coordinator, about the artist-in-residence that I was invited to participate in at Evergreen Elementary School. The student art was put into a city bus up in Logan, Utah.

Here are a few of the things that I thought the students got out of the experience:
Students witnessed the creation of art in person and the fun an artist can have creating art.
It gave kids confidence in their own decisions.
It helped teachers be ok with a little creative chaos.
How to begin and how to end their own project.
How to take a risk.
How to follow directions.
Helped kids go beyond the directions.
Helped kids to reach out and ask questions.
Students had the joy in seeing something they created, displayed for others to see.
One boy that never commented in class before, raised his hand excitedly and contributed his answer to the group.
Art really did become a way to communicate.
Here is a link to the Video

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A Weekend of Show Openings

The Cocks Comb by Torrey Utah

The Cocks Comb by Torrey Utah

This last weekend was a weekend of show openings. Friday was the opening for the Utah Images, Equitable Life show, down stairs in the City County Building at Salt Lake. I have a painting of the Cocks Comb close to Torrey Utah in the show. As you come down the stairs, it is to your left. That is if you go down the same stairs I came down.
Two watercolors painted in the Second Annual Watercolor Plein Air Painting Competition at Capitol Reef

Two watercolors painted in the Second Annual Watercolor Plein Air Painting Competition at Capitol Reef

Later that night was the displays of the paintings from the Plein Air Watercolor Society Show in Conjunction with Entrada Institute and Capitol Reef National Park at the Concept Gallery. It was fun to see all those paintings again. They were there for one night only.
"A Little Child Shall Lead Them"

“A Little Child Shall Lead Them”

Saturday Night was the opening for the Show “Prophetic Visions of Peace and Justice” Artists took inspiration from Isaiah 11:6 Here is my artists statement from the show:
Artist Statement
I love Isaiah and the beautiful images that come into my mind as I read “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. I pictured a child leading all these animals but didn’t know what the child should carry. It seems very appropriate that I asked my granddaughter what should I put in the child’s arms? She said a baby lion. It was the perfect image. The adult male lion trusts his offspring to the little child.
I love the promise of righteousness and peace that Christ will bring to the world when he comes again and the love and peace that He brings to us as we invite him into our lives.

This painting can be seen at the the Cottonwood Presbyterian Church 1580 E. Vine (6100 S.) Murray, Utah. I believe it’s open 3 p.m. til 5 p.m. but I would call to double check on that.

"Dear Santa"

“Dear Santa”

"Tulips 1"

“Tulips 1”

Finally I have 15 paintings on display at the Centerpoint Theater at 524 N. 400 W., Centerville, Utah 84014 with Robert Mackay for about a month. They are on the second floor of the lobby and can be seen from 10 a.m. until show time. This is a fine show. So if you would like to see some of the paintings I’ve been working on lately, head to these shows.
My next watercolor class will start at Bountiful Davis Art Center January 6th 10 a.m. Go to http://www.bdac.org to register
Robert McKay http://www.robertmckayart.com

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Controlled Spontaneity

There is some anticipation when you sign up for a workshop. I have heard the name Charles Reid from the time I started painting with watercolor and he was coming to Utah.

Charles Reid in Cache Valley

Charles Reid in Cache Valley

There is so much to learn in a week. I tried to capture all the information in my sketch book and watch how he painted through binoculars. It was suggested in the equipment list for the workshop and proved very helpful. I could see how he mixed the paint on his paper and made his washes and how he used his brush even from the back row.
Charles Reid painting still life.

Charles Reid painting still life.

I love to see people work who have worked for a long time. There is an expertise in motion, flick and spatter of brush. You can learn a lot from watching how painters put color on the paper and use their brush. You learn from watching how they work and you learn things that can’t be taught from a book.
Charles Reid painting at worshop in Cache Valley

Charles Reid painting at worshop in Cache Valley

There is also what you learn when you try to apply what you’ve watched and incorporate it into your technique of painting and bring it in to enhance how you paint. I have noticed that some of the painters who look like they attack the paper and fling paint around on their paper also are very careful and controlled in some areas, much more controlled than you would realize.
Charles Reid's palette filled with fresh paint. He dipped his brush in and put it on the paper.

Charles Reid’s palette filled with fresh paint. He dipped his brush in and put it on the paper.

People want to capture that loose free feeling in their paintings. Charles Reid called it controlled spontaneity. So even though Charles’ paintings look free and loose there were times when he was very slow and controlled and careful when he puts paint onto the paper. At other times he flicked his brush and the spatter went out and around making a perfect shape of the feather. Now that is controlled spontaneity.
Charles Reid painting from the model in Cache Valley

Charles Reid painting from the model in Cache Valley

A couple of things that I personally learned from the workshop were don’t be afraid of the white of the paper. It can enhance your paintings and make them vibrant. It is a great advantage to be continually sketching in your sketch book. It helps you to see angles and shapes quickly and put them down on paper.
Here is my painting from the model at the Charles Reid Workshop.

Here is my painting from the model at the Charles Reid Workshop.

And last of all don’t be afraid of pure pigment. Thanks to Charles Reid and his wife for a great week of learning and getting to know them both better.
This is my painting from the Plein Air Day of the Charles Reid Watercolor Workshop in Cache Valley

This is my painting from the Plein Air Day of the Charles Reid Watercolor Workshop in Cache Valley

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