return to painting

It’s been a long long time but I finally sat myself down and painted something new: mouse girl and her cozy little house, although she prefers fall rain. I’m considering submitting this for a mailer that’s being put together by my agent et al. and it’s supposed to be an illustration for the fall season. But somehow it’s hard to get in the mindset of sweaters and tea and woodsmoke when we’re on the brink of summer.

MouseGirl in the Rain

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where’s mouse girl?

can you find her in the crowd?mouse girl and crew

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little mouse girl

I’ve been scheming over a new book idea that involves this little creature. She’s been popping up in my work for years and maybe it’s time for her to finally have her own story.

Happy Sunday to all!

mouse girl.jpg

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making gifts with a three year old

It’s taken me forever to write this post, since the gifts that I’m mentioning here weren’t actually given until last night. But last November, when I began thinking about what gifts we could make for friends and teachers and secret squirrels (my work version of secret santa), Lucy and I had a succulent potting party. IMG_0588 IMG_0592

Our technique was to 1) find containers at goodwill, 2) fill the bottom with pebbles, 3) fill the rest with potting soil, 4) take clippings from various houseplants and… kind of half-bury them in the soil, 5) water them a bit and 6) decorate with pretty rocks, shells and DINOSAURS!

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If Lucy had her way these would be mostly dinosaurs with barely any plants, so I had to remove a few extras and balance it out a bit. Plus there were a few succulent crushing incidents when the dinos “stomped” on the plants. But when it was all sorted out we set them on a window sill and simply waited for two months to see if any plants would die. Incredibly, they didn’t!

Our other project was to make butterfly ornaments out of rice paper and wire. I cut shapes from a template, then Lucy painted the rice paper with watercolor. Then you fold and secure with wire, the ends of which become the antennae. I’m lucky to have such a willing helper. Thanks Lucy!

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red riding hood

I’ve been working on this assignment for the SCBWI Tomie dePaola award, which is due December 1, and I think I’m just about done. The prompt is to choose a passage from the opening passages of Philip Pullman’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. After reading his version of the story (isn’t he the most amazing storyteller by the way?), I noticed how long winded the mother is when she’s instructing Little Red Riding Hood where to go and what to do. I imagined that, like most young people, Little Red might be distracted and pay less than close attention to her mother.

Here’s my final piece:

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One day her mother said to her: ‘Little Red Riding Hood, I’ve got a job for you. Your grandmother isn’t very well, and I want you to take her this cake and a bottle of wine. They’ll make her feel a lot better. You be polite when you go into her house, and give her a kiss from me. Be careful on the way there, and don’t step off the path or you might trip over and break the bottle and drop the cake, and then there’d be nothing for her. When you go into her parlour don’t forget to say, “Good morning, Granny,” and don’t go peering in all the corners.’

And I couldn’t help but make her Japanese. I know that this probably won’t win me any accuracy points toward this award, but like many people of color and of mixed race, I had the experience of not seeing myself reflected in stories when I was growing up. (Although when I did, I was obsessed. Claudia Kishi? She was the coolest!) So I went with my first instinct, which was to create a character who breaks out of the usual blonde, blue-eyed red riding hood tradition. It was a fun assignment- I’ve been happy to have an excuse to paint again!

 

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Lucy as Clifford

lucy as clifford

For Halloween Lucy decided to go as Clifford the Big Red Dog. Truth be told she isn’t that big of a fan, but she was very clear that she wanted to be a dog and that her favorite color is red, hence Clifford.

She was certainly the only Big Red Dog around. Did anyone else notice the sea of superheroes trick or treating? When I dropped Lucy off at preschool on Friday the superheroes abounded with bright color, fake muscles and energetic poses. Kids in costume is one of my favorite things, but a gaggle of them is the best!

superheroes

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fireflies

Summer is gone but I still have fireflies on the brain. I’m working out some revisions for the dummy of Ada at Night and the spread I’m working on right now shows the characters watching fireflies. This black and white sketch was fun but now I’m looking forward to painting it!

Ada fireflies

Fireflies have been showing up in my work for many years because they’re such a perfect accent to the magical night time scenes I love to illustrate. Like this one. Or this.

Anyhow, I had to share a few of the images I came across while researching fireflies. Hope you enjoy!

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by Jiri Trnka

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by Taeeun Yoo

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by Simone Kurtz

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by Hanuol (from Anne of Green Gables)

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goodbye

Mia sleeping

Goodbye to our

nub wagging

star stamping

stick chasing

nose itching

gentle spirited

friend.

Mia skating

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Mia flying

Mia was the best, and so fun to draw. I believe that many people have Mia shaped holes in their hearts now, but very fond memories of this unforgettable pup.

 

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birds, babies and other little characters

The accordion book project (process really) is finally over, as is my weekend adventuring. These little books made it from Lake Ozette to the Hood Canal and all the way over to Mazama.

Here they are all lined up.

accordian books 4

I admit to a new obsession with birds.

accordian books 2 copy

accordian books 5

I enjoyed copying some interesting characters and then trying to “translate” them into new iterations of themselves.accordion books 3

And lastly, here is a little peek into Aki and Lucy’s favorite things about camping.

accordion books

Have a happy weekend!

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accordion books in progress

Camping was a sweet change of pace- a whole week outside with the kiddos, not to mention a whole week sleeping in a tent with the kiddos. All in all it was wonderful, but not the boon of extra illustration time I was hoping for.

I managed to work on my tiny accordion books here and there so I’ll include a few pictures of the work in progress. We’re headed out of town again tomorrow for a weekend in a cabin in Mazama, so maybe I’ll magically get some time there to keep working on this.

I’ll let you know🙂

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

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