Tag Archives: characters

Crowds of Characters

My current obsession is crowds of characters. Is there anything that can draw you in like a mass of characters full of fun details? Did anyone else examine every inch of Where’s Waldo as a kid?

Here is the illustration I’ve been working on for the past few days:

mouse crowd.jpeg

Recently my illustration group pointed out the crowds in my new story and I realized that they are there as contrast to the main character, a book loving, timid, mousey… mouse. But aside from that they’re just fun to draw.

Here are a few more crowds that have caught my eye recently:

julia kuo.jpg

I just posted about this book the other day- Julia Kuo’s The Sound of Silence.

ben clanton.jpg

One of Ben Clanton‘s swarms of delightful characters.

Sophie Blackall.jpg

Sophie Blackall‘s subway riding crowd.

gyo fujikawa.jpg

Gyo Fujikawa‘s fairies from Come Follow Me.


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Filed under favorite things, my artwork

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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Filed under my artwork, sketches

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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characters, camping and accordion books

Hello! It’s been a skimpy summer for my blog. I’ve been working a lot, all at my other job. I’m managing an arts integration program that’s rolling out in Highline Public Schools this fall, and it’s about to serve 650 5th and 6th grade students in the first year. Not a small feat. But as of now, four incredible teaching artist are hired, the curriculum is developed and the PD is over, so I’m going camping for a week!

I had a goal for myself this summer: to work on characters. Drawing them, developing them, making them more consistent. But work was crazy and now here I am at the end of the summer hardly having worked on illustration at all. So I’m thinking of the next week as my character boot camp.

Here’s my plan:

  1. Check out some inspiration from the library: Marla Frazee, Lisbeth Zwerger, Jimmy Liao, Robert Munsch and I also grabbed The Blue Whale, by Jenni Desmond. Not many characters, but WOW!
  2. Make accordion books out of watercolor paper for portable drawing and painting surfaces (see below)
  3. Pack up my pens and pencils and portable watercolor set
  4. Try my hardest, over this next week, to fill up these 9 tiny books with sketches, ideas, and characters of all sorts

These accordion books are simply long strips of watercolor paper folded back and forth like a fan. I’m excited for how they are small and portable. Each little page could hold a different character. Or, when spread out it could hold an image that crosses into multiple pages. Here are a few images…

accordian books

folding paper

art supplies for camping

setting out supplies

aki in the highchair

and my little helper.

OK, I’m off to pack and then draw. See you in a week!


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who’s your favorite hedgehog?

hedgehog one


hedgehog two


hedgehog three

One, two, or three? I’d love to know if anyone out there has a favorite.




Filed under sketches

a new crowd

I was hanging out with these characters all weekend.

triangle crowd

They came from an assignment that I’ve been working on for the upcoming SCBWI conference, where I’ll be doing a workshop with Patti Ann Harris, senior art director at Little Brown. For homework she gave us a manuscript to develop a sketch for, then we submit it and get feedback from her, and finally we develop a final piece to bring to the workshop. This wasn’t the piece that I decided to submit, but I went ahead and painted it as a portfolio builder anyway.


Filed under my artwork

Illustration Inspiration: an air-bending avatar

Since Lucy was born I’ve watched WAY more TV than usual. In the evenings, after hours of bouncing and singing and diaper changing, TV is often the only thing I have energy for.

Lately I have to admit that I’ve been passing up shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad for an anime series that, surprisingly, has some lovely illustrative elements. It’s called Avatar: The Last Airbender and it takes place in a world where people have the power to bend the elements of water, air, earth and fire.

Honestly, I am not an anime person. But I do have a giant soft spot for two genius animators:  Hayao Miyazaki and Samauri Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky. If those two had a love child it might just be Avatar. The characters are stylistically excellent, with great depth and humor. And all of the scenery is highly imaginative and asian inspired… I’m such a sucker for scenery! So we’ll see how this influences my latest work. It already seems as though the Owl and the Pussycat are traveling through a Japan-inspired world of willowy trees and patterned waves.


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