Fun new book and website- DISCOVER AMERICA

I have a new book coming out soon that I’m very excited about… DISCOVER AMERICA: From Sea to Shining Sea.

Visit to discover more about this book, to discover America, and to watch your own virtual balloon travel across the country.
Available in stores everywhere May 6, 2014, available for preorder now HERE 

Writing For Charity 2014 Conference

Saturday March 22nd I was able to volunteer at the Annual WFC Conference again. I think it was the best one yet. And here's why...

Author, Maryrose Wood started off the day with a wonderful keynote address. She talked about ignoring what you think is URGENT (like the dishes, the laundry, facebook) and focusing on the IMPORTANT (your art, your writing, your children and family). I think I often et sidetracked by what I mark as urgent in my day and don't take care of enough important things.

Here are my visual notes from her speech.

 There were many other great points from the day. I also was able to teach a couple workshops and help critique some manuscripts. After a full day, some of us presenters went out to dinner together. It was a wonderful day. Don't miss it next year! Here's a link to the website...

Valentines Day Card and Calendar 2014

For any of you last minute people like me, here's a little valentine printout for you... Slap on a piece of candy and wahlah! :-) Enjoy!!

Just click, save to your desktop and print on cardstock. You can print for personal use.
COPYRIGHT Julie Olson 2014

Here's a little 4x6 calendar as well. For personal use only.
COPYRIGHT Julie Olson 2014

Penguin Book on Sale

"Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica" is on sale for a limited time on

This is one of my favorite books I've illustrated thus far. I love the information contained about penguins because it's told in an interesting story format. I know I certainly learn better through story than through spewing facts, and I think kids do too.

If you are a penguin lover, pick it up and check it out. I believe the Kindle version is free to borrow from their lending library as well.


I did some black and white illustrations for a book on helping kids learn yoga relaxation techniques. It brought me back to the time my now 12 year old son would join me for yoga in my living room every morning (he was 2). He got pretty good at the sun salutation. Here's the book in print. You can get a copy for yourself HERE.

Annual Writing For Charity - 1 day Event

I am once again participating in the annual Writing for Charity event here in Utah. If you are nearby or have any ability to pop into the state for a day, this would be it! The info below is pasted from the Writing for Charity blog that I did the top banner image for. Make sure to sign up. It'll be worth every penny and all the proceeds go to charity.

The 2014 WRITING FOR CHARITY Conference  
Writing for Charity is a seminar/workshop for children's book writers, put on by professional authors in Utah who want to give back to their community and the world.  The conference was founded by Shannon Hale, NYT Bestselling Author and Newberry Honor Recipient.

Please save the date for this year's conference:

MARCH 22nd, 2014 
at the Provo Library at Academy Square
550 North University Avenue
Provo, Utah 84601

We have some amazing new changes and exciting special guests:

Maryrose Wood
Author of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is Maryrose's first series for middle-grade readers. Book 1, The Mysterious Howling, was published in 2010 and received starred reviews in Booklist, Kirkus, SLJ and Publishers Weekly, and was named a Best Children’s Book of 2010 by the Christian Science Monitor, Kirkus, and others. It was followed by The Hidden Gallery in 2011. The third book in the series, The Unseen Guest, was published in March 2012. All three titles were named Junior Library Guild selections.

Joe Monti
Executive Editor of Simon & Schuster's newest sci-fi imprint
Monti has a varied industry background with stops at Barnes & Noble where he was the children’s fiction buyer, Houghton Mifflin where he worked in national account sales, and in editorial spots at Little, Brown. He was an agent at Barry Goldblatt Literary. During his career, he has worked with a number of authors in the sci fi/fantasy market. 

Also, don't forget what makes this conference unique:

LIVE Manuscript Critiques from Published Authors ON SITE!

Come join us - 2014's conference will be unforgettable!

Patriotic Book

So I'm sharing a few sneak peaks at a book I have coming out this June. I've shown a couple of things over the past year but it's all finished and at the printers. I've seen some color proofs and I am sooooo excited about this book. It's been a growing experience for me since I don't think of myself as a wonderful watercolorist...especially in regards to landscapes. But this book had a lot of landscape type backgrounds so what else could I do but stretch and learn (it was all my idea in the first place...crazy me).

So I had this idea. I took a landscape watercolor painting course. I practiced. I sketched. And then...

After a lot of research and looking at pictures and recalling childhood trips across country, out came the book in tiny thumbnail sketch form. I'll show you the art process for one of the book's illustrations.
tiny 1x2 inch thumbnail of Kansas illustration

printed out the sketch I drew onto watercolor paper...ready to paint the foreground elements
main elements painted

now time for the background landscape

cornfields under a  big Kansas sky. 

ready to scan in and join up
You'll have to wait to see the background and foreground all put together in the book. I wish I could show you right now. But...

Here are some peaks at a few more as they were in progress at one stage or another. Bonus points if you can guess where the locations are without seeing the full view. Good luck! (Can't wait to show you the rest!)

So I take the backgrounds I paint and the foreground objects I paint and put them together in Photoshop. 

Kid Parade Portraits

already matted and behind glass so the snapshot isn't that great

I've done a few "Kid Parade Portraits" fairly recently. One shown above was of my own kids (depicted younger than they are) and the other I'm sharing is of a friend's children. I show some of the process on that one too. I did most of the actual painting of it at a School Art Auction night where I auctioned off a custom kid portrait (to be created after the auction) for whoever bid the highest. 

If you are interested in commissioning one for yourself or a friend, Contact Me under the contact button on my website. 

Anywho, here are a few pics...

mock up sketch on the computer to get client approval
final drawing before painting
final painting
me at the school art auction, painting

Sketch Thoughts

Over the Christmas Season, I had a chance to reflect upon some of the more unfortunate children in the world. I felt the responsibility to my own children deeply and at the same time realized that as a creator of children's books I also have a responsibility to children in that capacity. Here is a sketched note of my thoughts.

Thanksgiving Dinner Party Portraits

The day after thanksgiving, we went out to dinner with some family. Where did we go? Out for SUSHI! However, the wait to fill the big order was a little long and tedious so I am glad the kiddos at our table were provided with some crayons. Here's what I did with a little box on the waxy paper placemats. Maybe I could turn it into a restaurant side show...offer my services. What do you think? (Just kidding of course)