Summer in sketches

I was a pretty steady sketcher this summer. It was a good one — lots of camping and beach and swimming and other good summer stuff. Love having this record of some of our days.


Hammock time

Obstruction pass on a perfect day

Pool chaos

Summer started at the beach

Beach peeps

Bay view


Pool party

Windy day at a mountain lake

View from the lodge



Cards on the beach


My pictures are moving!

My friend Rob and I are making some little ‘lightly animated’ illustrations for short videos to be used in teacher training software. I had never really delved into animation before, and am finding it is really fun to see my drawings move. I might have to start exploring stop motion and other animation techniques myself…


Where the heck does the time go? Not to blog posting, clearly. Well, there’s no point in trying to catch up on over 6 months’ developments and happenings, so I’ll just start where I am right now: hanging out in my newly cleaned up studio (OMG why didn’t I do this months ago?)


Most recently, I’ve been spending way too much time obsessing over the news, painting protesters, and fiddling with my newly posted online stores (prints on ETSY, ; and mugs, t-shirts, totes etc. on  Red Bubble ). This online selling thing is new to me — check out my stores and let me know if you find any glitches!


I was finally motivated to make a shop because I have recently made a bunch of paintings inspired by the Women’s March and other current events. Friends asked for prints and T-shirts, so I decided to look into making some, and voila, my shops were born. I am trying to focus on the hopeful and positive moments in this time of turmoil, and people coming together to fight authoritarianism is the main silver lining I can see at the moment. Thus, paintings of protesters and Elizabeth Warren, and more to come — stay tuned.

In other news, I saw Erin and Philip Stead read their recent books at my favorite local bookstore ( ). Fun and inspirational, and I got my books signed, too.

Gotta get to work. I wish I could claim with certainty that I’ll be here posting more often, but I’ve made that type of promise before…so I’ll just say I HOPE to post a bit more often and leave it at that.




Erin and Philip Stead sharing their stories with a few tiny people and lots of awestruck grown up illustrators



Me, hanging out in my TIDY studio

Oregon SCBWI Spring Conference

Image 12

Matt de la Peña

It was a good one, folks! Wonderful faculty (featuring Newbery Award winners Matt de la Peña and our own dear Victoria Jamieson), lovely participants, and (for once) we missed only a drippy rainy day while ensconced deep inside the Holiday Inn, Wilsonville.

I did not take notes, sadly. I did have the good fortune to participate in a first pages picture book round table with Sylvie Frank. She has a remarkable ability to make a quick, lucid, direct yet kind critique in her very first encounter with a manuscript. I suspect that everyone at the table (myself included) went home with valuable insights from her comments and those of others at the table.

Image 11

Victoria Jamieson


I was also one of twelve participants in a two part workshop with Martha Rago. The homework was an immense challenge: create a wordless dummy, start to finish, and include two pieces of finished art as well as an array of process work (character sketches, storyboards, etc.). We had about two months to complete the homework, which seemed tight enough, but then life intervened, as it does, and, although I had developed my concept and had previously completed a piece of art that served as the starting point that inspired my  characters and finished art, I ended up with very little time to actually create the dummy and finished art. The final process felt kind of like a marathon or college finals week. Grueling, but so satisfying when I was ‘done.’ But of course I am far from done…Martha put in a stunning amount of time making reams of notes for each participant. In the words of our illustration coordinator, Robyn Waters, those notes are GOLD.

I always experience conferences as an emotional roller coaster. It ain’t easy for us introvert artist types to put the work out on tables and screens for the world to view and comment on. The overwhelm can be extreme, and it is difficult to process on the spot. But after a few days or weeks the valuable input begins to rise to the surface while the useless comments drift away.

The hurtful experiences are the hardest to deal with. It’s hard to ignore the stuff that stings and it takes a while to know if it hurts because it’s so true — or because it is so far off the mark. A year ago I had a session with an agent who really crushed me. And I am here to tell you (and by you, I mean anyone who has been through this kind of critique recently and is still feeling the pain) that a year later I can see where he was coming from, and I can really see that the main reason his critique hurt was because he didn’t at all recognize where my art was coming from or what I was trying to do. Which doesn’t mean my art wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. He just couldn’t see it because he was not a good fit for me. And that is good to know before I invest in pitching anything else his way!

This kids’ book business is not for babies, right? Time to put on my kick ass boots and get back to work…

We interrupt our usual programming…

For a glimpse of my secret other life as a very occasional courtroom illustrator.

Oregon has been in the news for the last 4 weeks due to the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge building out on the east side of the Cascades. Yesterday, 7 of the protesters were brought into federal court in Portland after being arrested. I got a call mid-morning from one of the local news channels asking me to go down to the courthouse to draw.

The courtroom experience is always a little fraught for me.The initial procedural hearings happen in a heartbeat — it is a crazy challenge to capture the general appearance of each defendant in less than 10 minutes. Accustomed as I am to working alone in my backyard studio, with no attention and little time pressure, the adrenaline rush of getting to court, angling for a seat where I can see the defendants, setting up a miniature studio around my feet, and cranking out reasonable likenesses of each defendant without knowing how much time I will have to do so — all of this gets my heart beating fast. But once I am drawing, the surroundings slip away and I experience a kind of hyper focus that I rarely achieve in my other work.

But it’s such a relief to return to my hidey-hole!

Ammon Bundy (one of the spokespeople and leaders of the occupying group)


Ryan Bundy


Ryan Payne


Peter Santilli


Joseph O’Shaugnessy


weekend news

I was honored to be asked to create event artwork for the Oregon SCBWI Spring conference — registration is now open at


I did work on my daily sketches over the weekend, but I have decided that from here on out I will accumulate a week of daily drawings and then choose a few to post every Monday. I am finding that while daily posting is good for motivation, it is also a short hop from “a quick post on my blog” over into the crazy time-sucking vortex of social media. Hopefully I can strike a better balance by posting only once a week.