Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Blessed Yule, Happy Kwanzaa to all!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


I love the words "What if?". Here's a boy out with his dogs flying a kite. What if...he came across a broken kite? What if it's exactly like the kite he's flying? What if this is a picture about a time travelling adventure?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

School Library Journal reviews In the Garden with Dr. Carver

K-Gr 3–In this story set in the early 1900s, African-American elementary-school students Sally and her classmates get scientific lessons from Dr. George Washington Carver, who arrives in a “funny-looking wagon” pulled by an old mule, his “movable school.” Everyone in the small Alabama town has heard of the famous plant scientist, however, and pays attention to what he has to say. The setting seems slightly idealized. The characters look healthy and well-dressed, although they do talk about the difficulties of farming land depleted by years of growing cotton. The focus of the story is on Carver teaching the children about plants though, not economic conditions, so Tadgell’s sunny color palette, rich with earth tones, is appropriate. Sally, in a bright red dress and white pinafore, stands out in the gardening spreads. The watercolor illustrations include many humorous asides of children acting like children–making horrified faces as they taste Dr. Carver’s menu of “chicken” made from peanuts and wild-weed salad, or being silly with friends when they are supposed to be listening. Scientific and historical information is well-presented through the gentle text and lighthearted illustrations. Teachers will find many uses for this appealing book.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, VA

October SLJ review

GRIGSBY, Susan. In the Garden with Dr. Carver. illus. by Nicole Tadgell. unpaged. notes. CIP. Albert Whitman. 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-3630-8. LC 2009048124.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A is for Anansi Conference

At NYU this weekend! I'll be there. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rutgers University Reviews: In the Garden with Dr. Carver

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children, September 3, 2010
In the Garden with Dr. Carver (Hardcover)
Botanist and inventor George Washington Carver achieved professional acclaim with his scholarship in plant pathology and agriculture at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. His strong desire to use hands-on methods in teaching farmers and mentoring children led him to travel across the South in a wagon specially equipped with extension materials and pulled by a mule.

Carver's novel use of the movable school contributed to improved understanding of how alternative crops such as peanuts and sweet potatoes could improve soil quality and diversify people's diets. As a highly educated and successful African American scientist, he also served as an important role model for children at a time of rampant discrimination and racial segregation.

This work of historical fiction presents young learners with a snapshot of George Washington Carver's extension work with children. Although the text and illustrations have a botanical focus, the story can motivate some useful economics-oriented discussions related to natural resources, innovation, and agricultural production. As one of the most famous African American inventors in U.S. history, Carver has left a rich legacy that is clearly presented in this appealing children's book.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Booklist Reviews In the Garden with Dr. Carver

Booklist Review
Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: September 1, 2010

In the Garden with Dr. Carver
Grigsby, Susan (Author) , Tadgell, Nicole (Illustrator)
Sep 2010. 32 p. Albert Whitman, hardcover, $16.99. (9780807536308).

In this charming historical-fiction picture book, a young girl relates an educational and inspirational visit by Dr. George Washington Carver to her Alabama town. When Carver visits Sally’s school, his child friendly explanations (“Plants, like people, need nutritious food to help them grow”) and hands-on demonstrations invite the students’ curiosity and participation, as they learn about gardening, including the importance of respecting nature, and plant a school “kitchen” garden of their own. Concepts like composting and planting are well conveyed through Sally’s descriptive, sometimes lyrical narrative, which includes fun details like a school picnic filled with Carver’s recipes, such as sweet-potato-flour bread. The colorful watercolor illustrations, featuring soft touches and historical details, depict the rural setting and expressive characters; and attractive renderings of garden flora and fauna, labeled with scientific and common-use names, decorate the endpapers. Overall, this is an enjoyable, accessible, and informative
introduction to Carver’s work and philosophies as well as gardening basics. A brief endnote provides additional information on Carver.

— Shelle Rosenfeld

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I've been interviewed at the Cynsations blog! Check it out HERE. It's great sharing the illustration experience. Only one small snag: although I was born in Detroit, I didn't grow up there. Mostly Texas, on Long Island, and in Massachusetts. I'm still growing up in Massachusetts. ;)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Here's my very first audio interview! The author, Becky Birtha, and I were interviewed about Lucky Beans here on Albert Whitman's website:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kirkus Review - In the Garden with Dr. Carver

Here's a wonderful review from none other than Kirkus!!

"Tadgell’s watercolors add both playful side business and accurate botanical illustration to this admiring child’s account of the famous scientist’s stopover in a rural community. George Washington Carver often spent weekends visiting settlements around Tuskegee with his "movable school" to dispense information about reclaiming depleted farmland, recycling and good agricultural practices. Avidly absorbing his injunctions to look closely at the natural world and to understand its interrelationships before changing or destroying anything, the young narrator and other children move a rose bush to a sunnier spot, make nature drawings, sample ice cream and other foods made from peanuts and “strange wild weeds,” then help dig and plant a garden outside their schoolhouse. Though fictionalized, the encounter presents Carver’s work and ideas in a simple, engaging way that will stay with young readers until they're ready for Marilyn Nelson's soaring Carver: A Life in Poems (2001). The endpapers present lovely illustrations of flora and fauna, complete with common and Latin names, and an author's note provides additional background on Carver's career. (Picture book. 7-9)"

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: