Sunday, March 30, 2008


This past Friday, my cat Anakin past away. It's been a slow decline for him since this past November. He was 11 years young. Nowhere near old enough for me. I adopted him from a rescue society in 1997. Newly married, he was my "test baby". Could I care for another life... actually be a Mom? He was my baby then and until Friday morning when I swaddled him in a towel and held him until his eyes closed.
Through the years he was a GREAT cat. Full of personality. When I was pregnant with Maggie and having pain, he would climb onto my belly and pat it with his paws. Maybe he knew then that Maggie would be his best friend. He kept his distance from her through her toddler years until she turned four, he chose her, and that was just fine with me. She called him her big brother. She's gonna miss him a lot.

Why have pets if you feel this pain when they die? Because the love we feel for them makes us feel more alive.

Red, your Spanx are showing....

IF topic this week: "Homage". So this is my homage to Preston Blair and Red Hot Riding Hood. As the animator of one of most memorable "hotties" of classic cartoons, and the author of several books, I think Preston Blair has posthumously guided countless young artists into the world of cartoon drawing. I purchased my Walter Foster "How to draw Cartoon Animation" book when I was in high school. When young(er) artists ask me where they can learn to draw "cartoons" , I tell them to buy this book. I had one young woman ask to borrow my book, only to see my reaction of sheer horror at the thought of letting it out of my hands that she said "Sorry.. sorry... where can I buy one?"

I've added some meat to her bones. I've personalized her (very personally personalized her) in a moment a lot of 37 year olds can relate to. Trying on clothes(persona) from your youth and having it just not fit anymore. No amount of Spanx or "sucker-inners"(as I call them).. are gonna get you back there. Let go of it and revel in what the years have wrought upon your person. She still looks good- just more to love.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

IF and Easter

Happy Illustration Friday/Easter...

Topic this week; "Heavy". By Sunday, I will have eaten 5,342 cadbury mini eggs, so don't tell me after all of these years the bunny hasn't been hittin' that chocolate! And feeling the effects- we all do. Let's hear it for sugar highs! Thanks Easter Bunny- Boc Boc!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Missed another I.F.

I got caught up in the BNL illustration, missed "Garden" as an Illustration Friday topic... This was my quickie sketch... New topic "Heavy".. will have to get this one in on time.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Poodles in Blu

Today, while up in the attic, the phone rang. The machine didn't pick up. After 9 rings, I reached the phone only to hear it click-hang up. I checked the caller I.D. and it said "Poodles in BLU".

I kid you not. "Poodles in Blu"!  How funny! It was a Long Island number. I said "Jabba- it was for you- Poodles in Blu called!"  All day, I've been thinking about poodles in blu. Could it be a canine secret law inforcement agency? A puppy jazz quintet?  ... But as I  thought on.. hmmm...I decided it was a call girl agency! "Poodles in Blu Doggie Escort Service" was calling  and my golden retriever was client number 9! He 's been so secretive lately, carefully hiding treats in holes all over the yard. I'll stop there.. it's too funny and your minds can do the rest.. Funny..

Thursday, March 13, 2008

BNL Contest

Another BNL Contest. I tried to stay away..I tried to resist.. must.. put.. down ..the pencil..

They have a new kid's CD coming out May 6th! Called "Snack Time". So, here's my imagining them @ around 9 years old. I tried to make it portfolio appropriate too. 

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"What is Art?"

This was a discussion over on the SCBWI board. I thought it was a great discourse, but even more.. this amazingly brilliant video of Creature Comforts (click on title) totally answers the question posed by the poster in the first place.  Art is completely subjective-differently defined by different people. (or animals- love the penis line, so my husband) I truly wish artists would stop trying to divide and conquer eachother with their own narrow views of what makes real art and what does not- and just respect the act of making art in all of it's various forms. Then again- I want world peace also.... Let me know when the temperature starts dropping in hell. Anyway, I'm cross posting my opinion here, cause I can.

I will speak from my own experience. My background is in animation, my heart in cartoons. I spent the 4 years of my college education defending the value of my work to my illustration professors who drew lines defining what was good art and what was not. So this discussion struck a chord with me.

Every year, I go on a weekend trip all alone. I call it my "sanity break". I leave the life of a stay at home Mom behind and go to emerse myself in "art". I believe without great input, one can not have great output. I drive 3 1/2 hours north of L.I. to the Berkshires- first stop, The Norman Rockwell Museum. It's like a pilgrimage to Mecca for me. If I am lucky there will be another artist on display there, I have seen Jesse Wilcox Smith, Maxfield Parrish, JC Leyendecker. I have been known to cry and have the little old lady volunteers bring me kleenex. Afterwards I drive on...45 minutes north to North Adams, Ma, sleep and in the morning walk to Mass Moca. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.( Until 6 years ago, I never even knew what "contemporary art" was or cared to, I dimissed it as.. well, crap actually. I decided it was crap with out really exposing myself to it. Because in my mind, to be a real artist, - you had to draw- and I mean DRAW. That was MY criteria for art... show me how well you can draw.) Anyway, my first step into the first gallery was like falling down the rabbit hole, dizzying, thrilling... nauseating... and I loved it. There was stuff that I loved! And stuff that I hated! And I loved the feeling of having those reactions! There was photography, installations, video art.. crazy brilliant stuff.. and brilliantly crazy stuff!
My last day is spent at The Clark. Bastion of academic beauty. Here you can see within an hour a Renoir, a Sargent, a Reubens , a Durer... and I can get lost in how one brush stroke at the tip of a nose makes it pop off of the canvas. Or how paint becomes velvet so soft you want reach out and touch it, alarm or no alarm..
so blah, blah, blah,.. what I'm getting at is that I have decided to draw no lines. I think the artist who studies his/her whole life to paint the most realistic jug of water or the most translucent skin feels the same thing as I do when I drag my blue pencil across a piece of vellum to create the perfect weighted line around a cartoon characters eye's to give it that illusion of life. I think an artist who plants trees upside down, suspended from a wire feels that same feeling, perhaps to a different end, maybe it's more external in the hopes of the reaction viewers will have but it's still that need to, express, create, move, share, leave a trace of yourself behind.. share an experience. Be human. And I do believe all children are "natural" artists and many do unlearn that carefree need to create and express, but the few, who refuse to put down they're crayons.. go on to become true artists. My wish is that more people would spend time taking it all in and less time counting some of it out. It's not all going to be your cup of tea, but it's all there to learn from.- Ok, I'm done. -'nuff said.

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."- Anna Quindlen

Monday, March 3, 2008

Trust your pencil, it won't lead you wrong...

Stuck on a sandy beach in the Caribbean- sounds like heaven to most people, to me... an offering to the sun God.. it can be an uncomfortable place. I don't do well in sun and heat... I burn..I faint... I shrivel from dehydration. So, for the last week, I hid under the shade of a lime green umbrella and drew. Some good stuff came out. Some fun characters were on the beach. I forced myself to stare into a mirror and draw my 37 year old bed headed face.
I came up with 1 new idea for a book. And some sketches of an existing idea for a book.  "Undercover Hippo"- a film noir picture book. Undercover Hippo solves animal mysteries. The first being for a giraffe. Hippo: "She walked in, her legs went on forever..." I will be watching a lot of old movies for ideas and dialogue. I thought it was funny to imagine a Hippo going undercover..trying to blend in as a giraffe or monkey or bird...  This was inspired by a story I heard on NPR of an actual guy who wore a hippo suit to study hippos... seems hippos are quite ornery.
The other book, a graphic novel for kids 8-12, is, obviously a take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/through the Looking Glass. So dear to  my heart is this book and these characters, that I am trying to dig deep and find a new way to spread the love of imagination and nonsense this book gave to me. My brother, a fourth grade teacher informed me , no kids today would ever read or relate to the original text. So, it is my goal to build a bridge from 2008 to 1865 . Not to be so bold to think I could attempt to rewrite, retell, or re-illustrate. That has been tried by much more talented and notable artists than I. And in my opinion.. they all pale in comparison to the original. My hope is to create a new story that is fun and gets kids interested enough to read the originals. So, I'm gonna get to work.