Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sandy Foster's Shabby Streamside Studio

My beautiful, gifted sister Sandy has been featured in the New York Times!

Want to get in touch with Sandy? Email her: zuzudotfosteratgmaildotcom

Visit her blog here, it's incredible. For even more behind-the-scenes, visit here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My New Portfolio Book

For once I am happy with my most recent portfolio book! For a long time I've wanted to do something really different, and I was so tired and bored with the typical glossy-paged, spiral-bound black portfolio cases that most artists carry around. I have several of them! The glossy pages get scratched and bent, and create a glare that is off-putting for me. The black paper inside gets marred and torn from adhesive corner holders or tape.

I considered making my own book using fabric, cardboard, and ribbon - a technique I learned years ago. However,  the result has a "craft" look - great for wedding guest books and keepsakes, not for showing art to potential buyers.

My husband volunteered to make a custom wood cover, with rivets to bind the pages together. It would be gorgeous and unique. Either way, I couldn't easily replace the pages. A portfolio should be updated frequently - and I change my mind about what I want in it constantly.

I wanted something that looked more like a real book. I've seen a lot of portfolios - at previous SCBWI conferences, there would be a room where you can view other artists portfolios. At work, we had a client who wanted to put together a binder of work he could show to his customers. So we asked a representative of AI Friedman to come down and show what is available out there. Some of it I'd seen in Michael's or CC Lowell (my local art store), and some of it I'd seen in the ASW or Dick Blick catalog. But when he mentioned that we should be using the UniBind system, and showed the hardboard covers available, that's when I said "a-ha!".

I can print my pages (two-sided, even!), slip them into the cover and set it on the UniBind machine. By re-heating the spine, I can re-arrange, remove, and change my mind as often as I want!

It's perfect for me. The covers come in standard and unique sizes - I chose the white linen 12x12. The window cutout is charming for my "silly me" painting to peek out of.

Another use I can do is create layouts of family photos, with a selected image for the window or even a type header. I could even paint on the white linen covers. The only snag is that I had to buy 10 of them, and they are all the same. The die cut window was extra, too. The window iss customizable, as well. Oval, square, rectangular, round. Positioning can be pretty much anywhere, too.)

These pics were taken from my little point-and-shoot camera. I'll upload better pics soon, this gives you an idea of how it looks "in real life". :)

The previous two images are from LUCKY BEANS by Becky Birtha, published by Albert Whitman and Co. just this spring.

"Start strong, end strong" is the motto of any good portfolio. Usually means that what is in the middle isn't as strong. For me, the middle is the place I put images I couldn't decided on. In this case, I put in pieces that are my "favorites". Fantasy, or watercolors that turned out well. Friends, family, colleagues, and art directors agree that many of my personal favorites just don't belong here! "If you hear the same comments three times or more, there's the truth" is another well-known saying. So I listened, and have since taken those out. Some of the fantasy pieces should have their own page, though, many people said.

Here's a sneak peek at my new book IN THE GARDEN WITH DR.CARVER by Susan Grigsby. Watch for it this fall, also from Albert Whitman and Co.

Overall, I'm pleased with the result! Until I make new art, of course. Then I'll agonize over what to put in and what to take out.:)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Day with Daddy by Nikki Grimes

Happy Father's Day!

A Day with Daddy by Nikki Grimes is a Scholastic "Just for You" title published by Color-Bridge Books.
Here's a great review from Booklist.

I had a very enjoyable time working on this book. My younger brother John posed as the Daddy in this story (he isn't a Daddy in real life yet). Here are a few behind-the-scenes images you might enjoy:

After the rough sketches are approved, I took photos for references for the daddy character;
Then I drew tight pencils:

And then final color paintings:

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I'm always on the lookout for a better pencil. Recently on a discussion list I'm on, the topic of pencils came up, with lots of suggestions about which ones were liked or preferred. So of course, I had to try some of the favorites!
The turqoise ones were my favorites for a long time. You can see the pencil extender on one of them.

Even though I've spent a lot on pencils, trying to find the "perfect" one, I still go back to this one: a Sanford EarthWrite number 2 HB. From OfficeMax. Go figure. It's smooth (no grittiness in the middle of a line like the Raffines do), sharpens well, doesn't smudge too much and the color is nice and dark. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

Very interesting topic of conversation spurred by Elizabeth Bluemle at the Shelftalker blog. Check out the illustrations, too!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Warm-up sketch: 3 preteens

I saw a stock photo of three preteen kids walking along in a field. Two were close together, one was a little further back. Why? Maybe the two forward characters were in a fight with the third? Or is the third one harassing the two? What's unique about number three?

These were the questions running through my head as I sketched them. I noticed also that I didn't "study" the reference photo and try to make the drawing look like it. I rarely do that unless they are photos I took myself. It's like I use the photos as a launching pad for ideas.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Warm up sketches

Often I like to sketch "warm-up" drawings before doing "serious" drawings. Shakes the cobwebs off, reminds me how to coordinate my hand/eyes/brain.

Sometimes I use photo references to get started, sometimes not. Here's one from a stock photo reference, of a preteen girl with her guitar: