Friday, December 21, 2012

Map Time

Town Map
Project 51 of 365

Town Map - detail

I went to the Western Washington Scrapbooking Retreat last October and won a big door prize: a photo album, extra top-loading sheet protectors, 12x12 paper, stickers, ribbon, and double sided tape. How lucky!

Since I don't scrapbook pages for photo albums, I briefly wondered about giving my prize album to someone else. Instead, I had an idea to use the album as a way to organize my fiction writing ideas. I made a couple pages dedicated to interesting first and last names that have potential for sprouting into new characters.

Then...I've always been interested in maps. So after having drawn up the initial pencil sketch for my fictional town, I decided to collage it and make it an official part of my compilation.

Needless to say, I dedicated some serious hours to researching various components for my map, cutting out buildings, getting the streets lined up...and, the biggest time consumer of all, stamping the names with my ultra tiny stamp set I recently bought from Office Depot. I loved it! Tinkering at its best.

Office Depot Stamp Set

Nimble Fingers and Strong Vision Need Apply!

Amazingly enough, I have not lost a stamp yet, although many have sprung off my tweezers and bounced hither and yon around my studio. Thankfully, I have light colored carpet and can spot them somewhat easily.

Now, I can't wait for new characters to move into my fictional town so I can whip out my stamp set and help them get settled. Cray cray, I know.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

More Square Bears

Square Bears
Cat and Bunny
Project 49 and 50 of 365

The green fabric used for the cat's body is from a valance I had in my living room windows in my old house. See? Why throw fabric away when it can be used again? The other remnants used probably came from the bags of old quilting pieces that I bought at a garage sale. I accessorized the two square bears with scraps of ribbon and vintage buttons. Ya know. Old stuff.

Each square bear has a sewn and stuffed heart inside. Awwww.

The other square bears I made, a dog and a panda bear, are here.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Square Bears

Square Bears
Dog, Panda Bear and Heart
Project 47 and 48 of 365

The girls missed a birthday party their friend was having at Build-a-Bear in the mall last weekend, so I thought a fun project could be to build our own! I looked up some easy ideas on Pinterest and found some stuffies called Square Bears. Cute and easy! A great way to recycle those ribbon strands, fabric scraps and left over buttons. 

The dog is all new fabric that I've had in my bin for a long while. The plaid ribbon was on a Christmas present last year and I removed the wire, ironed it and stitched it into place. I recycled my dog's old collar tag from our previous address and flipped it over to write "Jack" on the backside, now front.

The panda bear has flower-shaped turquoise buttons that I cut off a ratty pair of kids pants, the ribbon is a sample from my design days at JanSport, Inc., and the fabric pieces are left over quilting scraps that I bought at a garage sale.

I really enjoy that so much history is incorporated into our projects. That dog collar is going to be very sentimental one of these days.

The girls stuffed their animals with pillow bunting from random throw pillows and added celestial hearts that I stitched together for added measure.

Two more square bears are in the works...a green cat and a rusty red rabbit.

Check out these sites for other ideas:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Western Washington Scrapbooking Retreat 2012

It's that time of year again!  Like minded souls meeting at Fort Worden in Washington to create with paper. This year was very low key with only about 85 participants, less than last year. It was also earlier than last year. We met the last weekend in October instead of the mid-November time frame.

I was sick right before so I had a hard time planning and packing for this annual event. I also didn't feel like volunteering for anything. I just brought my paper and dove in without a plan.

It turned out nice! I felt better once I had gotten there and was settled...tissues to my left, tea to my right. I had signed up for the card swap and dug right in. Fourteen cards were needed to participate, and I new I wanted to use my new honeycomb paper.

"Happy Everything" - Front
Project 45 of 365

"Happy Everything"
Back and Front

I didn't get as much done this year, but I had a great time regardless. I finished my card swap cards on the first day, Friday. On Saturday, I did some writing in the morning and finished about four pages in my latest chapter book, then slowly poked around my bins for a Christmas card idea. For some reason it took me two days to make eighteen cards, but there was food to be eaten, laughs to be had, and creativity to be reigned.

Project 46 of 365

Oh, and before I forget, I won a really nice door prize! A top loading 12x12 Photo album with paper, double stick tape, brads, stickers, extra album sheets, all tied with two strands of ribbon. Sweet!

Here are the cards I've done for the past couple retreats:
A Single Daisy Can Be My Garden (2010)
Just a Note (2009)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Story Map

Town Map
Project 44 of 365

I've been writing and writing...and writing. I'm loving it! Now that I have my characters figured out, I start to see story arcs where before I saw blank paper. I'm just going with it.

My first story is done with one major revision under my belt. I have sent it to another peer group for review and will learn their feedback at the SCBWI retreat set for the beginning of November.

My second story is finished with no real revisions made. I still have the last chapter to share with my regular writ crit group, then I will turn it over to a friend who is an exceptional editor. 

Now, I'm two chapters into my third book. At this time I was wondering about street names and how long travel would take between two set points. 

I had been using The Sims 2 Double Deluxe EA game to create my characters and their families. Then I was building some of the houses to match layouts with what I was envisioning. I laid out the town and added commercial lots...but then I found it tedious to flip back and forth between the game and writing. I also cannot label things, like street names for easy organization.

So, even though the game has helped me to this point, I had to turn old school and just draw out a map. I got a little carried away researching cool surnames and started adding them to my neighborhood. That's the creative mind for you...leads you down a rat hole when you least expect it. At least now, I have character last names at the ready :) 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fiction Notes!

While trying to find editor names to put on my query letters, I found another gem. Darcy Pattison offers some great insight into writing and submitting!

Cynthea Lui also has a list of editors that may or may not be up to date...a starting point at least!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Project 43 of 365

Choose Your Burden
Project 43 of 365

I was thinking about things that people don't usually like about themselves...shy, short, bald, big toes. Then I wondered if people shouldn't just be happy with whatever their burden is...because they probably took it from someone else...they SAVED someone from that particular burden. There are only so many burdens available...and someone had to have it. Own it!

Made me think of shopping in a shoe store, picking one that you could live with...and, hey! Wouldn't you know it? They're on sale.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Literary Agents

Simon & Schuster only accepts submissions from an agent, yet, on their site they were kind enough to post a list of where to start looking for this type of creature. Here is the list of resources:

Literary Marketplace
Book Pitch
Writer Space
Writers Net
Poets & Writers
Writer's Digest

Monday, August 06, 2012

Writing the Dreaded Query Letter

I wrapped up my synopsis, a double spaced one page summary of my 12-chapter book in 5 easy paragraphs. OY! I feel like a whittler, carving out text. I just hope I succeeded. I'll let my writ-crit group have first whack at it, then I'll probably do the whole thing over again. I found Jan Field's article, "The Pain Free Synopsis" helpful.

But, while that's waiting in the wings, I need to work on a query letter. I found some great resources:

Nathan Bransford's blog
Harold Underdown's blog: The Purple Crayon
Writing for Children & Teens by Cynthea Liu

Monday, July 30, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Writing Away

I've been reading up on screenwriting and story development to help me layout a good story arc for my children's chapter book stories. I've read several books that are worth mentioning:
Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Raymond Frensham
How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James Frey
Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella
I just finished Save the Cat! and Mr. Snyder mentioned that having a board to pin story elements to helps identify where the holes are. He suggests to tack as much to the board as you can, so you can delve into writing with know where to start and where it's going.

He also urges screenwriters to write a logline before they get started. This is a VERY short summary (28 words or less) of your story. The Cracking Yarns blog was very helpful in this area and contains lots of other useful information too.

The Board

The Board - details

I've written and revised my first chapter book and will be sending it out to agents/editors that visited the last SCBWI Western WA conference last April and are accepting solicitations from attendees. While that's in the cooker, I've already started my second book and wanted to try using the board as Mr. Snyder suggested.

I have it all tacked I need to start writing. Once I get cracking on that, then I'll know if spending the time writing, tacking, moving, and eliminating index cards was worth it. So far, I'd say it was a worthwhile exercise.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guaca Mole

Guaca Mole sketch
Project 40 of 365

Memories like elephants! My girls were reminding me that I had told them about some of the stuffed animals I had when I was a kid. They are going through the stuffed animal phase right now. Anyway, they wanted to know more about Guaca Mole, a stuffed animal I had that squeaked when I shook it.

I told them I didn't know why I had gotten rid of Guaca Mole. He used to be one of my favorites, even when  his squeaker stopped working. But for some reason, he has moved on. I drew them a quick sketch of what he used to look like.

Guaca Mole
Project 41 of 365

Later, Guaca Mole still on my mind, I digitally dabbed on some color and texture. I wonder where Guaca's adventures took him?

Project 39 of 365

Fairy House
Repair and Painting Project - #39

A month ago, this little house sported bare weathered wood and a missing shingle. Back in its hay-day, it was painted all white with a green roof, sitting on a white post.

To fix the missing shingle, I sawed an old paint stirring stick to the correct length and nailed it in place. I coated the house and roof with primer, then dug through my house paint stash. I pulled out the cans labeled shutter paint, master bathroom walls, and fireplace. I up-cycled the latex paint and gave the fairy house a fresh look.

Fairy House

Friday, July 20, 2012

Project 38 of 365

Project 38

I bought Creating Characters with Personality by Tom Bancroft and reviewed it last night. I puttered with a few doodles from the book.

Project 37 of 365

Ballerina Bunny
Project 37

I'm very behind in my illustrating projects, but for a very good reason. My writing has been in the front of my mind. I'm still working through revisions and having my book reviewed by a few readers for feedback. And, I'm already thinking of my next chapter book! Writing has become my latest addiction. When I sit at my computer, I write!

Back to the task at hand, illustrating! We went camping last weekend, so to honor my 365 project, I drew a ballerina bunny in the sand. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Project 36 of 365

Heart Floating Shelves
Painting Projects


I bought some unfinished floating shelves off Craigslist for a mere $25 and eagerly set out to primer and paint. Today, the paint was dry so I decided it was high time to get these things installed. Come to find out there is a huge space between the wall and the shelf unit so hanging proved to be a challenge.

I was amazed at all the tools I had to drag up from the basement shop for this seemingly simple project. Why is it, that house projects never go as smoothly as you think? Some kind of Murphy's Law on that one, I'm sure.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Project 35 of 365

Squirrel Ahead
Painting Project

I'm behind on my list of projects, so I decided some of my house painting projects could suffice. I painted this birdhouse about a month ago and cut a stand for it for my front yard. Just the other day I noticed that a squirrel (or a rat...gulp!) had chewed the bottom of the house and even the corner of the post itself. Ahem, that is treated wood, you rodent! That can't be healthy.

Frowny face.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Revision Time

Robot and Mohawk
Project 33 and 34 of 365

My daughter came in while I was sketching a galloping horse. I was drawing circles and trying to get a feel for what the skeleton was doing. She said, "You're not very good at drawing robot horses, are you mommy? But you are good at drawing bunnies and kittens."

Then she proceeded to give me advice about either sticking with it until I get better or forgetting the whole thing. The way she said it was pure genius, of course.

I know I'm "nickel and diming" my sketches here...but I have been working on the revision portion of my childrens chapter book. Over the weekend, I went through all 11 chapters and feel like I have it buttoned up as tight as I can without outside input. I'm so looking forward to my crit group tomorrow to get some fresh eyes on my work.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Project 32 of 365

New Boots
Project 32

It was cloudy with no rain, so the girls and I took the opportunity to get creative. What brings on a sudden rain storm aside from washing your car? Sidewalk chalk!

It's a wash!

"Run little artists. Run!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Project 31 of 365

Flower Patch

Playing with digital colors. No textures this time. Fun just to dabble. Roger that.

Wee! A Writing Spree!

I'm behind on my 365 project because I've been deep in writing land. I have completed my children's chapter book, 11 chapters, and decided to forgive myself for my illustrating lapse.

Clip Clop Karate Chop
Project 28

I still think horses are hard to draw...all those extra limbs and hooves that have to be shaped just right. Still working it.
Three Floating Heads
Just a doodle - Project 29

Love the Bear
Project 30

While I was doodling a cartoon bear face, my daughter asked me, "What's the bear's name?" Everything needs a name! So I asked her what his name should be, and she said, "Love." There you have it. Love, the bear.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Project 27 of 365

You Complete Me.

On a skull and bones kick, so thought I would stick with it. A great Valentine, no?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Project 26 of 365

Afro Circus Polkadot

Took my kids to Madagascar 3 this afternoon, and they loved it! Naturally, there were requests for the Afro Circus Polkadot song, and I obliged. I downloaded the song by Cotton & Gin (a remix), and it's been playing on repeat

While I researched skulls--let's see, there's one for the Jolly Roger, one for hazardous materials...and...what?

Afro, afro, afro circus!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Project 25 of 365


I just finished working on chapter 7 of my children's chapter book and will be starting on chapter 8. Three more chapters to write before editing!

Back to the art front...I need to start thinking about my horses in action. Upright horses would be funny.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Project 24 of 365

Standing Horse

Today, I worked feverishly on my children's chapter book. I completed chapter 6 and started chapter 7. I didn't want to quit, but alas, life interjected itself, and I had to step away. I think I'm really finding my groove. As I've gotten to know my characters more intimately, I'm now excited to write about them and tell their story. I'm over half way done!

Horses play a small part (minuscule, really) in the book I'm writing so maybe that's why I'm a little obsessed right now. I'm not doing a picture book...but I would like some pictures included. Maybe at chapter sections? If so, there would be around 12 or 13 pictures, plus the cover needed.

Tomorrow, I'll throw some color on this guy and see what happens.

Until then, g'night!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Project 23 of 365

Just a Bunny

I played around with just painting it digitally but, ultimately, I couldn't get away from adding texture. So it changed from solid digital color to a partial collage. It's a process.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Project 22 of 365

Character Idea

I'm currently writing a children's chapter book, and the very first chapter written no longer fits. I am wondering if I can take this chapter and turn it into a stand alone picture book...There is a lot of dialogue, so it will take some work to make the illustrations compelling. While waiting for my daughters at their piano lessons today, I thought about the stuffed animal in my story...a lop eared bunny rabbit.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Catching up on Projects!

Projects 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

Doesn't take too many days of being off schedule, for whatever the reasons, before the days slip on by. I suddenly found myself 4 creative projects behind on my 365 challenge. Decided to buckle down and sketch some elephants to get my mind back in the game.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Project 16 of 365

Simply the Best
Thank you card

I need to send out a few thank you cards, so I took this opportunity to pilfer my studio and create a card that would also be a notch in my project belt. I used scrapbook paper, stamps, decorative tape, dimensional metallic paint (dots!) and recycled card stock.

Monday, June 04, 2012

A Weekend of Mini Collages

Project 13 of 365

Project 14 of 365

Project 15 of 365

I love making these minis. They are small and quick...and most important, not precious! This kind of freedom lets me play and explore without the stress of being a perfectionist. I see the mistakes and chalk them up to lessons learned. I see what's working and now have a reminder for the future.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Project 12 of 365

Shadowed with black and white

Horse Sketches

The top picture is shadowed with black and white, while Horse, Project 11 of 365, is shadowed with green and yellow (with minimal use of black and white). Nice to see the comparison. Project 11 is definitely warmer, but, IMHO, not necessarily better. Just different.

I worked on some more horse sketches today. I'd like to get a feel for facial expressions and anatomy so I can create a unique character. Not feeling it yet...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Project 11 of 365


Tonight, I decided to dabble in digital collage. I experimented with using contrasting colors for my shadows and this case green for the shadows and yellow for the highlights. I couldn't get away from my usual black and white entirely and used these colors sparingly to punch up certain areas.

Tomorrow, I will go back and add my usual black shadows and white highlights so I can see the difference more clearly.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Project 10 of 365


I made it to double digits! Yippee!

I still need to get a schedule would be great if I could get up before the kids, work on my writing and artwork, then get on with the flow of the day. If only I were a morning person. If only...

Another quickie collage on recycled beer box divider cardboard. I looked up other three to five letter animal sounds for other ideas and came up with a list:

1.) Snake - hiss
2.) Bee - buzz
3.) Chicken - cluck
4.) Frog - croak
5.) Cow - moo
6.) Donkey - bray
7.) Baby chick - peep
8.) Crow - caw
9.) Fish - blub
10.) Coyote - howl
11.) Lion - growl
12.) Sheep - bleat
13.) Horse - neigh
14.) Rooster - crow
15.) Doves - coo
16.) Cricket - chirp
17.) Hummingbird - hum
18.) Goose - honk
19.) Person - talk

Other sounds that a relatively short and worth considering for this project: purr, bark, sing, ribbit, squeak, whinny, cackle, gobble.

Now, if I ever get stuck...I have a healthy list to ponder.

Recycled elements: cardboard, music sheets, magazine paper

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Project 9 of 365


Another quick collage on recycled cardboard. It's small, simple and fun!

Recycled elements: cardboard and scrap paper

Monday, May 28, 2012

Project 8 of 365

A Room of My Own

It's late so I chose art prompt number 5*, "Allow yourself to sit at your worktable for five minutes. Sometimes just getting to the table is the challenge, the rest is easy."

I combined this with a project from Melissa Sweet's Drawing Book for Kids. The book was a freebie from the SCBWI conference and has been sitting on my desk. I flipped through it and chose a project of creating quick sketches of objects in my room. Easy enough.

Cloth Paper Scissors magazine (Jan/Feb 2012, page 80).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Project 7 of 365
Illustration Friday: Faded

Bye Breezy

Bye Breezy - detail


Great. It’s about time. It’s weird how over the past
two weeks life’s gotten much more exciting. I’m
still trying to figure out why John was kissing
my hand. Anyway it’s been raining here and I’m
getting mad because I want to sun bleach
my hair. After all, I am a Californian. So when are 
you coming back? To California of course. Well
I gotta run. Since it’s been so long you’ll have
to fill me in on your adventures. It’s been live.

Bye, Breezy

 Today, I used Project 6: Just Relaxing as my inspiration; the second part of Cloth Paper Scissors' (Jan/Feb 2012, page 80) art prompt number 23. "Create a doodle on a piece of paper and then use it to create a piece of art."

After reading about Breezy's adventures with hand kissing and hair coloring, her thoughts faded into the night.