Monday, January 30, 2012

NY SCBWI Conference

I don't know if I'll write a recap about the NY SCBWI Winter conference. I just want to say that what a treat it is to meet people in person after getting to know them online. How wonderful to have a base line for friendship of common interests, mutual passion and shared dreams. I have a favorite show of all time, Northern Exposure. There's an episode where the young Shaman Ed, takes Dr. Joel Fleischman into the woods at night and shows him a clearing covered with phosphorescent mushrooms. He explains that why they glow is that under the soil- they all share the same root system. - every single SCBWI conference I think of this episode. - Because we are connected we all glow a little brighter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Old Dog - New Tricks

Yes- you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. BUT - expect it to take a long time and lots of treats. I have been trying to learn WordPress with the intent of consolidating my online "presence". Oy to the Vey!! You can watch the carnage over at It's slooowly taking shape. When the time comes, dear Blogger, we shall part. So heads up! Prepare for the move. Start packing up around here. I'll let you know when it's done. - Kelly

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ada walks on.

The back of the picture reads "Ada Boardwalk 1915"

I find stories in old pictures. I rescue these forgotten moments in time.

Was Ada walking away? Was she leaving? Escaping?
Or, was Ada walking towards something?  
From the looks of that sturdy gait and jaunty hat,
Ada had a plan. A goal.
Ada knew where she was going.

I see her as a strong individual. Able to own who she is.
Filled with the confidence that can only come from knowing who you are.
Ready to move on from people, places and things that were
feeding off of her. She would not let them.
She had places to go.

Walk on, Ada.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 arrived- and I could not give 2011 the finger!

Yup. I'm kinda happy 2011 is gone. I felt like crap all year. The holidaze came and found my right hand, the hand I draw with- shriveled. My middle finger decided to turn into a cooked shrimp in my palm. All of the tendons tightened and it locked in and out of place along with a lot of pain.

Thing about the ever useful middle finger is- it drags it's neighbors down with it.

I could not draw. I tried. I got frustrated. I drew the holiday card down below by taping the wacom pen to a splint.

Good times!

Not being able to draw is inconceivable to me.

So - I have had some health issues for a very long time. I have been to many many doctors who have pretty much told me I was nuts. I chose to go to a doctor that was non traditional. She told me I was not nuts. This week I went on thyroid medication. As a result, my finger uncurled.

My finger is now free to flip the bird.

Yes - 3 days and it moves and doesn't lock up! Such a small movement- allows you to do or not do so much. Couldn't braid my daughter's hair, open a jar, go to the gym.... such a small body part caused all kinds of frustration and worry and now.. relief. Ahhhhhhhhh....

If you see me and I flip you the bird, take no offense please. I'm really just rejoicing in the motor skill freedom I have regained!

So I doodled today for the first time.

Who else is watching Downton Abbey!?!?!?  Who else freakin LOVES it?  It has got to be a cut above the average historic costume drama- cause my husband usually runs screaming from them to the safety of his sci fi movies. He's hooked. My Mom's hooked. So many friends are hooked.

And out of all of this Turn of the Century British Greatness- rises the greatest of all. Maggie Smith.

I love her and always have but- she seems to get better and better.

So I doodled her. It's what came out of the hand- maybe I'll take it further, but I am rusty. I usually don't show stuff this rough but- today, I am thrilled by the act of drawing- and don't care a fig about the results!!

I hope we all have healthy , happy, productive, art filled - 2012's !!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Holidaze!!

'Twas the day of Christmas and Santa called down
 Hey Ma- How 'bout dinner in Chinatown?
 There's a movie theatre there, just cross the street,
 if we get a small popcorn we'll leave room to eat"

 The waiters brought dishes of moo shoo and chow fun
 and fortune cookies when the meal was all done.
 They carried their leftovers on the sleigh flight:

 "Good Yom Tov to all - and to all a Good Night!"

My Holiday Wishes to all of you and yours;
may these days bring you 
and joy.
-and a cookie or two.

'Until the New Year!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

PiBoIdMo: Tuning in your station : WKLT

PiBoIdMo?  Tuning in your station?

What do I mean?

I collect old radios. I’m a nut about them. Here’s my favorite.

My radio is a 1940 Zenith 12-s-471 black dial with 3 waves. It sits in my living room. I love it. So much. Sometimes I kiss it... (I digress....)

SO -  It's an old tube radio.
It has a tuning eye. When you turn it on, it takes a minute or two to warm up the tubes and the tuning eye slowly glows as a hum builds. Slowly turning the dial - in and out come the AM radio stations. In between the stations are the crackles and static.

The month of PiBoIdMo - has been all about tuning in to our own stations. Finding that sweet spot on the dial where our imaginations and our uniqueness is loud and clear may be heard amidst the crackle and static of everyday life.

When we sat down to write, we were like an old radio.

As we turned that knob, we heard the usual different distractions that can stop us from creating. The pitch people calling out to us of the status of industry, the odds against us, what is “in” right now in publishing, to write fewer and fewer words and that pink is always the “new pink”. There are also the stand out radio shows that seem to blast at us - crime dramas like ,“The Online Time Burglar” and our own scary mystery... “The Show of DOOM”. (The voice of self doubt sounds kinda like OrsonWelles)

That hum when our tubes are warming up is a perfect time to ask ourselves- "What should I write about?""What do I know for sure? or "What do I want to know more about?" "What do I know I am good at?" and "What do I know I need to work on?""Where can I go today?" "Who is this character going with me?"

How do I find my own station on this crowded dial? I think about what I love to do. What I love to see. What I love to hear. What I loved as a kid and who I loved as a kid. What I wanted as a kid and how badly I wanted it. What was challenging as a kid? What was weird or silly or wacky? All of that stuff feeds my creative soul and my imagination.

I can also tune OUT what I do not want to listen to. I am trying to tune out more and more on that crowded dial, so that my station comes in loud and clear, and through this wonky old radio- I can sound all warm and full and resonate out on those airwaves - uniquely, my own call letters.- WKLT.

I took the month of PiBoIdMo to jot down every single idea that popped into my head and organize them along with the 15 that I already had been playing with. First I scribbled, stream of Consciousness gobbly gook- one idea to a piece of paper. Then I created a journal. I organized them thoughtfully in order of what I felt were viable to create dummies from. The ones that I felt would flow easily are first... the ones that are less clear or not as good are last. Perhaps they just need longer to warm up. I find I have lined up some really good ones and am excited to hit the books- literally and submit fresh with the new year! - I tuned in and found my station this month!

Now that you have found that sweet spot on the dial for yourself - don't lose it. Old radios need to be played. Shut them off and don't use them and the tubes will just stop working. Be sure to turn it on regularly and let it warm up! Your own call letters... write 'em down... make a sign! I can't wait to listen to your station.... Let's crowd the dial.

So all those cool cats can listen....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giving Thanks

It's Turkey Week.

The day of Thanksgiving is a day that is supposed to be filled with family and food and cozy naps when you're exploding from too much food...

I, will be on a ginormous boat on the high seas. My Thanksgiving may be filled with me on the bathroom floor- sea sick. I am going on a week long cruise with my In Laws. It was left in my husband's Grandmother's will- that we should all go, all expenses paid - on Thanksgiving- on this cruise. I know- don't look a gift cruise ship in the mouth. It just feels so wrong to be cruising in the Caribbean so far away from home on the day that defines home.

Yet, when I think of Nana Gerri and her dying wish, it warms my heart.  So, I am going- to reflect on being Thankful for that lovely woman who welcomed me, a shiksa, into her ample Bubelah bosom. She was the member of the family that made me feel loved. For her yiddish, her appliqued effervescence, and her matzoh ball soup,I am truly Thankful.

I do like that we reflect on gratitude for the things that matter this week. There are many things to be thankful for!

This Week I am very Thankful for a new undertaking...


Picture This is a Tumblr blog - one stop blog for all your Kid Lit Link needs!
Casey Girard and Dani Jones were brainstorming this last week and asked me and Diandra Mae to join in the fun. We, along with all the kidlitosphere... will provide content in one, concise stream pertaining to the world of Childrens' Publishing.  We are taking submissions of links, check out the form and read the info. It's a fun, easy way - to gather the "Goings On" and "Gather Together"-you know like that Thanksgiving  song...

While I am riding the Gratitude Train...

Always thankful for my friends over at The Sketchables! - these ladies keep me on my drawing toes. Not that I draw with my toes... but maybe I should try to....

I am also quite, quite thankful for my writing crit group. Just joining them in this journey has boosted my confidence as a writer.  We have had some "hangouts" at night- that tho' we are spread across the country, feel like we are sitting around my coffee table. Thanks Bonnie Adamson, Nina Crittendon, Diandra Mae, Courtney Pippin-Mathur and Angela Matteson.

I am Thankful for the friendships that I have with fellow illustrators - it has filled a void that I don't think I could ever measure. Especially the one I sat down next to by fate's design, I am sure...Kathy Blackmore. We have had some adventures in art together!

Who isn't thankful for NPR? NPR - I love you.
I was listening today driving home from the gym,  to a chef talk about the spiritual fulfillment of everyday chopping onions, "There is a Zen saying, "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.""  

It's always little moments like these - nuggets of knowledge, insights into alternative points of view - that I get from NPR.

I am thankful for the inspired idea that has inspired others to have inspired ideas- Thanks, Tara Lazar for PiBoIdMo. You are doing a lot of work to help others creatively and you are a gem.

At the risk of spraining my arm- I'm gonna pat myself on the back and say thanks- to me- for speaking up at the gym this morning when a woman called another woman a "cow" - because she had put on weight. I am finally able to feel that "OH HELL NO" feeling- and speak it. I have told my daughter from the time she was in a stroller - people are like art- we come in all colors and shapes. We paint the canvas that is life - and that's what makes life beautiful. How do we frame that art? In the way we treat each other. How do we view that art?- thru kind eyes. I can't complain about the direction the world is going if I am a back seat driver. I'll take the wheel.  - look out!

I also - recently chose to not sign with an agent because I listened, hard - to myself. I trusted my own judgement and I am wholly secure that it was the right decision for me. Two years ago, I wore my illustrator's heart on my sleeve. Today- I am willing to wait and make the right move. Thankful for age, experience and clarity. If only it came at 24. 

And most, most of all- I am Thankful for my husband and my daughter. They are the beginning, the middle and the end of everyday of my life. 

Now- The Turkey Cruise doesn't seem so bad!- One week to reflect on being grateful while sippin' the fruity drinks! Pass the frozen cranberry margarita!!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!

Monday, October 31, 2011


I love Ghost Stories. I always have. When I was a kid, I read The Canterbury Ghost over and over. One of my favorite things to watch was the "Creature Feature" on TV.  Don't even get me started on Edgar Allan Poe!...  (they are making a movie- John Cusack as Poe... (Poe is suddenly sexy? I'll go with that, Mr. Cusack... I've been waiting for you to call me for like 30 years)

I am MADLY anticipating Daniel Radcliffe in THIS . - ghost stories... not gore, not slash- I have no interest in "Saw Anything".... but give me a creepy, old, dilapidated house at the end of the block.... and I'm there.

My daughter, Mags, has a best friend who devours the Goose Bumps books. Mags thinks they are too scary- ???? - crazy kid. Last Year for Halloween, I gave her this book:

by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, Antoine Revoy

She loved it.

This year - we will read by the fireplace  in the dark....

by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Brett Helquist

The fun! The Thrills! The Chills!

Give your kid a real TREAT this Halloween... give them a -scary- book! creeps
And leaps and glides and slides...
...Across the floor....
...Right through the door....
....And all around the wall....
...A splotch, a blotch ...

......Be careful of the blob 

Happy Hauntings this Halloween!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

C- Unacceptable! Please Re-do the assignment, I mean, doodle.

Your Crit- should you choose to accept it...
What was going on Kelly? this drawing was all kinds of wonky last night.
You could say it's only the third drawing you have done on your Cintiq- and you are still not used to it. Perhaps you are sitting too close, zooming in too much and not out enough. AND your chair is too low. 

BUT those would all be excuses. No excuses for bad anatomy- not for you.

Please read comments and fix your work .

Much better! I wish you had taken this much time last night to complete your doodle before posting. Remember - needing art for your blog is not a reason for bad art. Whatever you put out there - it's got your name on it.

Her head is still a little big- but it's just a doodle.

Now get back to work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Today's Doodle - Jedi Jane

I am getting out my red pen and critting the hell
out of myself. 
Stay Tuned.
Today's doodle was brought to you by my husband. In a vain attempt to hold on to his Sci-Fi dominance over our child, He told her a mash-up Austen/Star Wars bed time story last night.

As he turned out the light and said "Sweet Dreams".... the 11 year old turned over on her pillow and said, "That was the stupidest thing I have ever heard."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I’m having a dinner party in The Hereafter.

You are cordially invited to a Dinner Party in The Hereafter

Friday Night
5:30 PM cocktails
7:00 PM Dinner

Attire- come as you are for it is just how I like you.

I’m having a dinner party in The Hereafter.

My guest list tickles me so.

There will be such talk and an abundance of laughter and perhaps a bit of friendly debate.

The table will be large and round. The room is lit by the stars.

The menu is of no matter- we each shall have our favorites.

You are all the center pieces of my table.

I shall set our your place cards, if only to be able to write your names- but do, feel free to move about.

There need be no end to our fun, as time no longer matters.

The Guest List to whet your appetite:

John Lennon

Norman Rockwell

Jane Austen

Maxfield Parrish

Charles Schulz

Chuck Jones

Walt Disney

Jesse Wilcox Smith

Harvey Pikar

Steve Jobs

Lucille Ball

Oscar Wilde

George Harrison

Audrey Hepburn

Emily Dickinson

Jimmy Stewart

Billy Holiday

George Gerswhin

Al Hirschfeld

Walt Kelly

Beatrix Potter

Theodor Geisel

Coco Chanel

Katherine Hepburn

Humphrey Bogart

Mel Blanc

Julia Childs

Jackie Gleason

Mrs. Stevens (my first grade teacher- she was a hoot)

I anticipate the evening and imagine the limitless eternity of fun.

Until then, your host, Kelly Light

Who would you invite to your dinner party in The Hereafter?

I did not include family- that would be for Holidays. This is all about selfish, indulgent dreams and desires.

Ahhh... just the thought.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Caught up - my own small protest.

  I wrote a letter to the President today about THIS

It moved me to do something I never do. Write the President. Speak out.

Dear President Obama,

"Starving Artist", ring any bells? Imagine, if you will -  prosperous economic times. I know it's hard to these days, but we have had some. During these prosperous economic times, a middle class father and mother save for their talented child to go to college and study art. They support that child's talent, passion and drive to make themselves the best creator they can be. They know, full well, that their child will never be rich. They hope for the best, but face the reality of the worst- that child will have a huge ,life long struggle to balance the pursuit of art, the thing they love to do and making a living.
These are not prosperous times. Most artists I know, and I am one, struggle more than ever to hold tight to their passion and create not only for themselves but for the enjoyment of others. We face many a client who wishes to convince us to work for little or no money because we will somehow - get exposure through their project.
Exposure - you cannot eat. Exposure does not give you shelter. Exposure is not fair pay. All of those jobless, homeless people out there in 2011, how many are artists?
I am insulted by this project, President Obama. You insult the struggling. How many millions will you raise for your campaign- and from that you can not pay a freelance rate for these posters? You will sell these posters to help that campaign?
This is exploitation of artists. It’s considered kind of unethical in the world of the freelance artist. I did vote for you. I did hope with you. I will not create for you because art, sir, is my job and you -wish me to do it for free. That would make me, jobless.

I don't think there is a problem with asking artists to do this in a different way, for a different reason. certainly not to raise money for your campaign. Yet perhaps- you could pay them a fair hourly freelance rate, as an example of creating jobs. create jobs through creating art for the people. 
Why we as a country are so oblivious to the truly spectacular moments of our past and do not draw inspiration from them- is beyond me. The WPA created such tremendous creations that lifted up the spirits of the people at a time of great "depression". Art, today, could certainly be used to do the same. This could have been handled in a much more "community building" way than in the way it was actually worded and presented. Not so much to create art for the president- but to create art for the people. Drawing, most timely, on the calls of the protesters about our nation. Not so clearly attached to one political agenda, but to the needs and the passion of the people. 

On WPA works: "They stand as a reminder of a time in our country’s history when dreams were not allowed to be destroyed by economic disaster." see -

Respectfully a disappointed American artist,

Kelly Light

I posted it here- inspired by a fellow artist  Susie Ghahremani 

She's fabulously talented- check her out!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

School Picture Day

 In 1964,  Pamela had her junior high school picture taken. She had her Great Aunt's smile.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just Dance....

Yesterday I drew some squirrels dancing for The SKETCHABLES! 

"Fall is for squirrels. The joyous abundance of nuts falling off the trees.. makes them want to dance. You've seen them move- with the ease and lightness of Astaire. Their swooping tails like the chiffon of Ginger's dress...  strike up the band with some sweeping melody and watch the show. It's pretty colorful! I love Autumn."

Today they danced through my brain to that Gershwin tune...

You must look at these and think of this....

I certainly do and did as I drew them.

It is one of my very favorite pieces of Disney Animation.
The squirrels are so perfectly- exactingly, anthropomorphic.
So human in expression and gesture and yet -
so, damn, squirrel like.

I especially love the girl. And her "Gek-oop sound"
And her shuddering cry at the end ------ heart breaking.
Gah! I love it!
It's one of those pieces of art that I watch and grip my hair in my fists and think,
That's how good I wanna be!

Well, House of Mouse.. you never made the sequel
that you were supposed to!!
So in my mind- 
They meet again in an Arthur Murray Studio..
go for coffee after the lesson...
and go all Fred and Ginger- off into
the sunset together.

Ah- L'amour among the acorns...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"My Friend Jane"

"My Friend Jane"

The month of August was spent in quiet - reflective family time.
Early this summer, my 11 year old attempted to read Sense and Sensibility. She was given this lovely edition from Penguin classics as a gift.

She is all too aware of my fervent ardor for all things Austen. I think she was trying to bond but wound up being frustrated. She couldn't get into it. I told her, I read them in college. Wait. You'll get them, you just have to live more.

Then my husband decided this summer was the time to Explore the Final Frontier. A Star Trek marathon that lasted a month. No, no. This would not do.

So - I started a marathon of Jane Austen films 3 weeks ago.

Oh- we are all a flutter in the Light House.

The happy conclusion is we have bonded. The talk is all merriment of balls and bonnets and barouche boxes.
Her long curly blond hair is now her greatest feature and no longer the bane of her existence. She has pulled it to the side with a ribbon and gone off to school in these...

Which she says "Are so Jane..."

When she was 8,  I was writing a PB idea called "My Friend Jane". She had a group of friends that made me think of what it would be like to be young girlfriends, about 11, back in the Regeny period. Girls are girls at that age. All silly and BFF's no matter the language and the dress.
The book was narrated by "Lizzie" - about her friend Jane who preferred the feather of her pen to a feather in her hair. The idea was to be a book about friendship- but in the end- the back page was a letter, telling you it had all been written by your friend Jane, who urged you to take up your own pen.

I abandoned the idea after Jane Austen was paraded about with Zombies and Sea Monsters. I read a book called "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" that made me have to take a cold shower.  I thought Jane had been overexposed and commercialized past the point of tribute. (tribute, homage - I am all for - check out "Lost in Austen" -TVseries- brilliant)

After this month- I am secure in my feelings for Jane. She is a constant. 194 years after her death, the characters she created are still as real to the right reader or viewer as they were when she wrote them. 

She has been a true friend and I am all gratitude for my daughter's introduction into her society.

These illos are all older works.. you can find them back in the blog... way back. I would do them differently now. But I think sharing Jane with my daughter has fulfilled the need to pay tribute to her- just pass Jane on.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

THE SKETCHABLES! are Back from Summer Vacation!

When Dante was writing his Inferno... with those nine circles of Hell -
he forgot one - Middle School.
Maybe he didn't forget.
Maybe he just couldn't bring himself to revisit it.

The lock. The locker. The class changing.
The pimples. The puberty.
The crushes. The heart break.
The bad hair.
The growing pains.
The friendship hop scotch.
The Gym classes.
The way your parents become idiots over night. 

(Or at least "weirdos")
The intensity of feeling that we experienced in middle school- just never happens again. EVERYTHING is the most important thing ever.

They'll get thru it. They'll run that 3 year gauntlet- and cross the finish line.
The prize on the other side- a firmer grasp on knowing who you are- and who you can be.
But - Oh boy, I don't envy them at all. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Forgotten Conference Moments

Sitting here this morning.. I remembered the other things I was supposed to post about the conference.

First: To the lady, seated in the row in front of me who, just before David Small was going to speak - stood up and said "The next person is just an illustrator- so I'm gonna go."

You win the "Loser of the conference Award."

Second: Sometimes, in Thunder Dome... one's eyes drift over to see what action one's portfolio is getting. Mine eyes did just that. There stood a man, elegant, salt and pepper hair and beard.. smiling ear to ear. That made me happy. Then I realized it was author Bruce Coville - that made me spankin' happy. I'd love to have more authors show up to support the illustrators.

Mr. Coville wins the "Elegant Author with wonderful taste Award."

Kid Lit Drink Night happened across the street at the Century City Mall @ the inappropriately named , "Pink Taco". Really. I had to tell my husband , "We went out last night. I ate at the Pink Taco." - C'Mon! 

Pink Taco, You win the ,"Only in L.A.  Award"

At The Pink Taco, Agent Mary Kole was holding a 30 second "Pitch Slam".  We watched the mele. We chatted with an Austrailian Illustrator named Leslie Vamos. I am 40- I am a Mom. I looked at this petite young, little (I can say that- I'm 5' 2"), talented , cute, spit fire of a fantastic drawer and immediately felt maternal. She signed up to do a pitch. She was about to get slammed and she was so confident. I couldn't be afraid to do something that this whipper snapper seemed perfectly cool doing -  like it was as easy as ordering a non-fat, decaf - no whip, caramel macchiatto...

Leslie wins the  "I'm the shit and I know it" Award

I had met Mary Kole a few weeks back in NYC @ the NJ SCBWI networking dinner. Here I was standing 3 feet away - wanting the chance to say, "Hi" - and with the aid of 2 Mojitos and Leslie's bravado, Jim Hill's and Diandre Mae's and Angela Matteson's quick help throwing together my idea.... I signed up and pitched a picture book story. I have never done this before. It was not a pleasant experience. 30 SECONDS GO! I rambled and all I heard was "WHY? WHY SHOULD I CARE? SOUNDS KINDA PREACHY! MAYBE WITH CUTE ART IT COULD WORK! YOU SHOULD TALK TO KELLY LIGHT! (I still don't get that last part- last time I checked, I was Kelly Light)
I was a deer in the headlights that were Mary Kole's eyeballs and she has eyebrows that are extremely expressive... expressing "I will squash you like a tiny illustrator bug". 
But I was able to laugh at it- laugh at her and laugh at myself. Now, at least I've done it. Next time won't be so bad.

I win the "I grew a Ball" Award

I did. Illustrator ball number one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"post conference post" - or "What really matters , like spazzy kids who sing "I like Potatoes""

There's a Beatles song
that goes:
 "It's all too much for me to take
The love that's shining all around here
All the world is birthday cake,
So take a piece
but not too much"

The SCBWI L.A. conference was great. Overwhelmingly great.

It really is almost too much to bear. Like birthday cake- so delicious, so - good...
and always better in small slices.  I'm not gonna do a mega post and go through all of the days in great detail- cause you and I both will get a tummy ache.

I'll give you a taste- of what were my favorite bites.

Truly the best part is seeing friends. Mostly friends that I have online who I have met at other conferences. Three fifths of THE SKETCHABLES were present. Priscilla Burris, Diandre Mae and I. Priscilla did an amazing job of organizing the Illustrators weekend. She is a generous and supportive  and encouraging  spirit. AND she deserves a vacation.

My roommate - my com padre, my conscience, my sister from another mister , Kathy Blackmore and I had a blast.

Everyone else - I loved seeing all of you and await a time I can see you and speak the same language with you again.

The speeches are inspirational. 
Some of the things that hit me square between the eyes, I jot down- in my messy , soundbite filled sketchbook. (if your looking for good notes- you ain't gonna find them on this blog)

Jerry Pinkney:

"My Grandfather worked in a pencil factory"
"I am a drawer at heart"

"I had a friend who was a grown man who got up everyday and made images"

Katie Davis:

"Be Diabolical in your ways to conquer the world"
Gary Paulsen:

"My name on a library card made me "somebody" 

(my beloved)
David Small:
(quoting Phillip Larkin)
"Life is a shit storm and when it rains the only umbrella we have is art."

"I started drawing the way I wanted to draw at 40"
"Make your line breathe"

Kadir Nelson:

"I owe a lot to my wife, she is an OVERTIME Mom"

Oh - and he mentioned Jeremy Lipking painting tutorial videos -who I had as a college prof for watercolors. The man was brilliant and kind.

Richard Jesse Watson:
(quoting Maurice Sendak)
"My art is shit"

"Remember how to play as a kid"
"Do a Q & A with your characters"

Judy Blume:

"The intimacy is in the pencil, not on the screen"

Marla Frazee:
"I get 100% done and think- Oh God, this isn't right"
"Characters, scale and color move the story"

Denise Fleming:
She did Care Bears licensed books before making paper. She said it was all wrong for her because
"I'm not sweet- and I'm not neat"

There's so much more- but you can find so much online about the amazing Richard Peck's speech and Laurie Halse Anderson- go to the SCBWI blog and soak it up - it's wonderful.

What resounded in my soul was the emphasis on drawing. Like Jerry Pinkney- I too am a drawer at heart. David Small did live life drawing. He rattled off more drawing knowledge and displayed more drawing chops than every other artist in that building. Kadir Nelson spoke of painting more from life for more subtletly and nuance.  Get thee to a life drawing class- or get thee to a crowded place- sketch book in hand and draw peeps! Draw!

When I walked up into my studio today- I walked into a room filled with cut paper on the floor and scattered bad prints and the general disheveled pre-conference state that my mind was in. I don't want that anymore.  The freak out is no longer welcome in this studio. I walked Thunder Dome - I saw my work out there, I got an unprecedented amount of good feedback. I did not win anything and that's ok this time. The folks that did deserved it.  I can say publicly now that I predicted a win from John Deininger.- He worked his tucchus off this year- and I love his work to itsy bitsy pieces. I couldn't be happier to have been right!

The time of me fretting over a portfolio is over. No more worrying about creating images from book ideas. It's time for me to create books.This blog may suffer a bit. I hope you'll still be around if I don't post as often. Gotta get quiet for awhile. Quiet in the head and heart so I can hear that inner voice.

The Illustrator Intensive was the singular best day as an SCBWI member that I have ever had. I do hope that they continue along these lines. I also hope that they bring back the Master Class. Now that Tomie DePaola is retired- I nominate Richard Jesse Watson to take the role of teacher. He's pretty damn awesome at being infectious about experimentation and play and open to sharing with other illustrators.

So many people clambered for magic secrets at the Illustrator Intensive. 
"What kind of paper is that? "Where can I get that pen?" 
It made me think that they thought there was a magic pill one can swallow to create at the level we were watching.

Those artists could do beautiful work with a stick in the dirt. 
They do beautiful work, they are successful because they have put in the time. They have done the work. They have done the hard, painful- work to get to where they are today. 

Pencil in hand... or stick in the dirt, I want to get there too.

All in all- the conference gives you the kick in the arse to keep going for another year. This year the goal is to do that real, hard, painful work.

I was sitting at the gate in the airport to come home and the flight was delayed for over an hour. People were miserable. A little clear voice rang out... singing.....

"I like potatoes...I like potatoes...."

She was a spaz. She took over her row of seats and turned it into a stage and put Liza Minnelli to shame in her showmanship. I had to draw her- as fast as I could and scribble down every last word of her song.

Messy - not great drawing. But I captured her spirit. I thought about her on the flight home. She must have fallen asleep because there was no in flight entertainment. So I drew her again...

 It's all about life drawing. I've spent my life drawing. 
Thanks for the 
the reminder SCBWI..
to keep doing it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

David Small - in L.A.

Here in L.A.- it's an inspiration overload. It's hard after 3 days to tell which ways is up or down or out or in. All you  know is what floor you go to next and do I have time to pee and will I cry for the 25th time today?

I enjoyed so many of the talks and I saw Judy Blume with my own eyes and I have so many good books to read when I get home ..... but....

Then there was Small.

When I was a first year illustration major- we were told to go to the store, pick up a kid's book that you really liked- and come to class ready to explain why you like it. And then- try to "emulate" that illustrator's style in an illustration. I picked up "The King has horse's ears"- by David Small. I still have that book and I still have my pretty good David Small impersonation art. I have bought his books over the years - cracked open the cover and felt exactly like I did at 18 looking at his work for the first time. How does he do that? How is he so loose and so good at the same time? How does he flow with that brush and ink? How does it flow across the page and thru the story? I have loved his line- I have worshiped his watercolor - low these many, many years. I was strung out for days after reading "Stitches". I was and still am floored that a person who had such an awful childhood creates such beauty for children.

His is a Transcendent life.

HE is my conference take away.  His line. His watercolor. His spirit. His example.

I have that spot, above my studio door. You know, where I hang the pics of people who inspire me? You can find them in the back catalog of the blog.  I have had an empty spot for 6 years... waiting for someone. I know who is going there when I get home. David Small.

Monday, August 1, 2011

it's almost done. It may look dark- but now it needs to get distressed and put on old postcard paper- and creased.   I have to go to the store!

It's not your eyes- it's intentionally blurry... it's an old photograph...  or maybe it's me.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rome wasn't built in a day......

How are things shaping up.... very slowly. We're seeping Sepia over here...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Smiley Family in action

All day I drew this! Oy Vey!

I have been working on this story for two years. It's near and dear to my heart. It's not an easy family nor an easy story to tell. At it's heart is Baby Gail, the little big eyed girl on the left. It's her story and it's a story of a quiet person who's in the background of a family of very, very aggressive personalities who do big things. The simple act of this little person documenting the family history in a big 'ol photo album and passing it on may just be the biggest thing anyone in The Smiley Family has ever done.

The color in the story changes from sepia to gorgeous black and white to full color- as photography does. It helps the passage of time.

My studio is wall papered with this family. Generation after generation. Til now- I have done portraits mostly. I have some candid pics. The 1960's which I was drawing last, get pretty fun.  Over many years,
I have amassed a huge collection of old photographs and albums. This project grew out of my unending love of old stuff. Old clothes, old photos, times gone by- and the death of my Grandmother.

I hadn't put that last part together until recently. I think it's my way to rewrite the end of her life. My character is not her, but it's a character that is content with the way things play out.

I've gotten a lot of good feedback on the illustrations. It's now my task to finish the story. Baby Gail deserves that much.

 Lower word count - 700 being the sweet spot, means more story in the pictures. This sketch was an attempt at that.

Now to paint!

Color Study:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The 3 P's

The 3 P's of Success!!!

Ok - Passion: CHECK! Got it! 

Persistence! CHECK! - refer to post about Frank Sinatra song below.
I pick myself up and get back in the race.


Patience?... Well, that's harder. That's relative.  I am both patient and impatient. You all get that right?

OK- back to work. End of the illustrator's P.S.A. for


Monday, July 25, 2011

Whadda'ya doin' Kelly?
Tryin' to cram a whole lotta art out in the last week before LA?
Just cause it's new - does that mean it's good?

It's existential art crisis time here in the Light Studio.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hazy Crazy Summer

All Prep for SCBWI  LA was stopped for a week as my computer died, freelance spot illos (above) called and Summer came along and whacked me in the head - literally - migraines.  

My last minute postcard is off to the printer today.Fingers crossed all that it gets here by August 3d!!!

We now return to our regularly scheduled art cram......

Hey!?  Can a girl get some sodas and pretzels and beer?!?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tootsie popping

How many bad drawings does it take to get to a good drawing? The world may never know.

Image of How many licks

Friday, July 8, 2011

Louise Took it

Up there on the header? Louise! - by a landslide...  I decided to keep her name and her hair. She is who she is.  Now, let's tell her story.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Main Character Smack Down! Vote for Winner

Ok- We have reached the pivotal moment. Who will be the main character? Who do you think best represents the character?

Character traits again:

2nd grader
Art enthusiast- like a Pokemon fanatic but with all things artsy fartsy
Needs to come across as kooky yet sweet and appealing

OK! Let me know what you think... as I thumbnail....

Final Contender : Norma

Friday, July 1, 2011

Battle Round!

Louise and Jessie were the clear winners of the first 2 rounds. 
Norma surprised many. Was it the blue hair? The china flats? Watch this one - she may yet take it.
They were not my first choices- but I am trusting in the educated tastes of my com-padres... as I tend to like drawing less appealing  characters. It's a good lesson for me.

Now I will give them each 3 pose suggestions.

1. Exclaiming "I LOVE IT!"

2. In class desk top doodling

3. important pose from double page spread - reveling in art

Off to draw!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Casting Call - Round 2

So Far it Looks like Louise is the winner of Round 1. (named after Louise Nevelson)

The next candidates for your consideration are up.

More about the "part". A second grader who is crazy about art. Crazy as in eats. sleeps, breathes it.
She is a cross between Edna Mode/ Dieter from Sprockets and Tabitha from Salon Takeover on Bravo and the chick from Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.  She's a loveable KOOK. Not sweet - but fun. An individual that maybe not all of the kids "get"- but her passion is infectious.

OK- Here we go on my feelings:

Norma: You have the coolest Mom cause she let you dye your hair. You let your freak flag fly.

Mary: You suffer from the common misconception that art is "fashionable". Tho- nice hair.  I like the mod edge.

Jessie: You are the one doodling on every single scrap of paper and test. Maybe you are the quiet artiste- not the gallery curator.

 The part is for the kid that can lead a group of kids to put on an art show. Pick the character that you can hear yelling, arms in the air...."I LOVE IT!" - over and over. 

OK - Vote someone in or out of the book. The top 3 will come to call backs and I'll do a few character poses for the final pick.

PS She will most likely wear the striped shirt - they all have a thing for striped french sailor tees- it's them, really ;)