Release Date Scheduled

My next picture book to come out is called, "The Happiest Mommy Ever!" by Alice Furniss. It's published by Deseret Book and is their Mother's Day Picture Book for 2009. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. The release date is April 1, 2009. That's plenty of time for you to buy one for your own mom before the May Mother's Day. Here's the cover and one of the interior spreads.

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Happy Happy Holidays

My hubby and I were out walking the mall after a nice dinner date, and we came across this display in a bookstore. And there was my most recent book I illustrated, "Christmas Love." It's a sweet Christmas story about the true meaning of Christmas. It was fun to see it on display and not stuck on a shelf among the millions of other books. It's a great little gift for Christmas. You can order yours HERE.
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Just a little announcement...I'm doing storytime tomorrow November 8th at 11am for all the kiddies in the Children's Book Illustrator Exhibit at the Springville Art Museum. Come on down...
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Chihuahua Time

I got an email from my agent today telling me that FSG (Farrar Straus and Giroux) want me to illustrate a chapter book. Turns out there are chihuahuas in the book and I just happened to have inadvertently sketched a page of them about a month ago in my sketchbook. Looks like it's fate. I told the editor this when I accepted the job and he called up. He asked me to send him a scan of the page. I did. I was a little nervous because sketchbooks often do not show your best work. I was really just doodling these. But it turns out he loved them and made giving me the job all the better to them. I heaved a sigh of relief. I was afraid they'd say...oh wait, we take it back.
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Illustration Friday: Late

Here's a little sketch colored in Painter. Obviously she's late...for class, for a test, for some school related activity. Ahh, those college days.
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Book Signing

Last night I had a successful booksigning at Barnes and Noble bookstore. The author of the Annie McRae books I illustrated was there as well, along with other authors and illustrators in the area. It was educator night so a lot of teachers showed up and bought books. A lot of us went to dinner beforehand together and had a great time. Sometimes booksignings can be a bit slow and's always better to set them up with a group of people. Thanks, Barnes and Noble and its patrons, we had a great night.
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I love all the workspace I have on my new desk. I spent all day yesterday, printing out my drawings of a book I'm working on onto watercolor paper. Today, I laid out and taped down 6 of them and got to work...a little assembly line if you will. I'd do masking on all 6, backgrounds on all 6, skin color on all 6, hair color on all 6, then the rest of the details and ink on all 6. And today, I have 6 paintings done! I do have 34 or so more to do (this book has a lot of images on each page instead of full spreads). But after the smoothness of today's work...I'm excited! Wish me luck. I have 4 weeks to finish the rest.
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FINALLY, a home again!

Since my office flooded this past June from a plumbing mishap, I've been out of a home to call my far as a studio goes that is. This last week, we finally got the replacement flooring in and I completely reorganized and desks and all. I have so much more space now! More floor space AND more working space. I completely LOVE it! Now, I can full-out start the painting on a picture book I'm in the middle of. YeeHA!



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Soon to be an author too!

I just accepted a book deal for a picture book dummy I had my agent shopping around. It's one I wrote and illustrated myself. It's pretty awesome that soon I'll be able to say "WRITTEN AND illustrated by Julie Olson." It's not due out until August 2009 and I haven't officially signed the contract yet...just accepted the verbal offer. But I'm excited non-the-less. I posted sketches from it long ago. I've been working on it on and off for 3 years now. Yes, it's a long process.
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Book Sketches Finished

I finished the sketches for a book I'm working on late last night. Well, I finished them earlier, but then I took the time to put them all in a pdf layout. The art director emailed back that he likes them but that there will be a few changes. There usually are. I just always hope it's nothing major. Fingers crossed.
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Illustrators COOK!

So after the art show and a meeting with a rep from Albert Whitman Publishing, us illustrators and writers gathered at a local park to network and EAT! Illustrator WILL TERRY challenged illustrator GUY FRANCIS to a dutch oven cookoff and Guy's Wife Lorien vowed to sink them both. I can't say who won...they all tasted delicious...but Lorien's meat and presentation looked the prettiest for sure. The rest of us "chefs" brought the sides...potluck style. Fun and food was had by all. Thanks guys!
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UNBOUND: Original Picture Book Art by Utah Illustrators

Here are pictures from the Museum Show Opening. It was great fun! And here's a link to a blog all about the show and the museum. They'll be featuring an illustrator at story time each Saturday so don't miss out.

This is the opening title block...

And here are all the books that have art displayed on the walls. See 2 of mine, one on bottom shelf and one on very top.

My art on the wall...each illustrator showed 3 pieces.

2 of my former teachers back in college Robert Barrett and Will Terry (both showing in the show as well) other professors aren't shown here but he displayed pieces as well...(Richard Hull and James Christensen).
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Illustrator Art Show

Rarely does a museum in the west (not on a coast) get so many illustrators of picture books to participate in a mass art show. It's pretty exciting. I've been asked to hang 3 pieces in the show. I feel honored to do so since there are so many great illustrators participating.

The Springville Art Museum is holding a festive show opening this Saturday, September 13th from 12-3pm where the illustrators will be signing books, there will be activities for the kids and refreshments for all. Not every illustrator will be there in person...but I will be! So come see me.

Here are some more particulars about the show itself...

13 September - 28 December 2008

A collection of children’s books illustrations, this exhibition showcases the work of 27 illustrators that have their roots in Utah. Appealing to both adults and children alike, the show will also display works that explore the process of creating illustrations for books. Each artist has their own unique style, but all add tremendously to the joy of reading! In fact, some illustrators will be at the museum during the opening and throughout the duration of the exhibition to do live readings of their books. The artists shown in the exhibition include:

Ben Sowards
Bethanne Anderson
Brett Helquist
Cambria Evans (Christensen)
Carolyn Fisher
David A. Carter
E.J. Bird
Fumi Kosaka
Greg Newbold
Greg Swearingen
Guy Francis
Hala Wittwer
Howard Fullmer
James Christensen
Julie Olsen
Kevin Hawkes
Lily Toy Hong (Hatch)
Mark Buehner
Mark Graham
Matthew Armstrong
Nathan Hale
Pat Bagley
Richard Hull
Robert (Bob) Barrett
Robert Neubecker
Sherry Meidell
Will Terry
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Illustration Friday: Memories

Memories of Dance Class....actually, the memories came as I watched my daughter in her dance recital. I was never this decked out though. My costumes were much leotard and tights.
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Character Sketch

I did this little doodle as I was working on some black and white line drawings for workbook illustrations. I liked it so I slapped on color in Painter.
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too busy to post?

So, I guess you could say I've been too busy to post. Not all of it illustration...but plenty. We had family vacations and back to school to prepare for. All in all, it's been a busy August. I finished one book and am in the midst of illustrating another. In the meantime, I did a little banner for my hubby's hiking blog "100 Hikes in Utah" that coincides with a hiking book he co-authored.
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The Odd Couple

I love how they say opposites attract. I think it often goes for the physical traits as well as many character traits. Here's a couple I spotted at a ball game not long ago. The image was burned in my brain and I had to sketch it to get it out during the game. Think what you will, but I couldn't help but document it.
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Here's a recent page from my sketchbook...done during my son's Kyukido martial arts class. I also brought along some fun watercolor pencils I've been trying out and added a splash of color.
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Press Check

I've never been able to actually go to the printer where one of my books is being printed because they are usually in CHINA. But the printer for the "There's Always a Way, Annie McRae!" book is actually located only an hour from my house. So I got to go do my first press checks ever on a book. Usually you have to rely on the eye of the printer to match the colors as close as possible. But I was able to go and see for myself with the original paintings in hand, how closely they matched up. You can never get an EXACT match to the originals in a picturebook because they are printed on a glossy paper, a paper with a warmer or cooler undertone, and within the confines of mixing Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black (CMYK). But after a few tries, we were able to find a happy medium. The prints were way to yellow at first, but when you took enough yellow out to make the yellows correct, the reds were too pink. So, all in all, it's turning out great and they should have the first print run bound and ready to hit shelves by August 1st. I'll post when we do and a link to where you can get it.

Me signing off on the final proof sheet.

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Art Representation

Well, all these years (10 since graduation) I've been going it in this business alone. Getting my own work, doing my own advertising, collecting my own payments. But now, I finally signed on with an awesome art rep... Tammy Shannon and Associates. They are pretty well known in the children's book publishing industry. I submitted my work and they accepted me into their group. I'm feelin' kinda good about that. It's nice to be in such good company with really talented illustrators that I admire. Yea!
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Speaking at the Library

This friday, June 27, I'm doing a little dog and pony show at the Orem Public Library at 7pm in the story  telling wing. So, if anyone is looking for something to do, come on by. You'll see how I work, some of my beginning artwork at 6 years old, and how a picture book is made. It's a show for all ages.

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A week long...GONE

I have been away all day every day this week at a Children's Book Writing Conference, hosting author Kathi Appelt. I learned so much from her and from all the other speakers this week. It was amazing. I even met an editor from Greenwillow books and went over a dummy book with her that I wrote and illustrated. She gave me great comments and said to send it to her after I revise. I've been up late, up early and running my but off all day taking care of things for the conference and it's main guests. I also got some great contact with Richard Erickson, art director at Shadow Mountain (publisher of Fablehaven). 
Out to dinner with some of the gals from class, Kathi in blue and me in the hat.
Our class. Kathi taught us well. We had a great week together.

But then I came home after a good but tiring my good husband trying to fix the basement toilet. I started dinner and called him up when i was done. We ate and then he took one of our sons on a motorcycle ride. I decided to go downstairs for some reason or other and found that darn toilet spraying tons of water EVERYWHERE. It'd been going all through dinner it seems. The bathroom floor was soaked, the water went under the baseboards and into both neighboring rooms (my office and an edge my husbands office) and soaked the carpet in the hallway and along the entire edge of part of the playroom. This all happened after a long week but also after our entire playroom flooded from an open sprinkler head a month and a half ago (and $1000 ago). So this is what it looks like down there right now. This really stinks b/c my office floor (laminate) is ruined and I actually have 2 jobs I'm now working on. Not a great workspace anymore. My husband said he's just hiring professionals from now on for any repairs.
Sectioned off to minimize moisture spread in the air.
Dehumidifier to suck up all the moisture.
My lovely office.
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Well, I finally (after 2 years of working on it) submitted my groundhog dummy book to an editor at Simon and the mail today. Now I just need to forget about it so I don't worry about it and wonder about it. I have plenty of other things to keep myself busy so that shouldn't be a problem (shouldn't being the operative word there). It's always hard not to think about a book or art you have out there waiting to be critiqued. Cross your fingers for's the first real actual submission that is me all the and illustrator.
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In the Paper

Well, I had a wonderful time at the Provo Children's Book Fair last Saturday, presenting on a panel, doing an illustration demonstration for kids, reading to the kids, and signing books. My friend is a photographer for the local paper and made sure to put me as the photo op even though there were far more noteworthy authors and illustrators there. Too bad he had to show it from an angle that exaggerates my already thick arms.

It was a fun day. Here's a link to the article DESERET NEWS
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illustration friday: wrinkles

Fast sketch in the sketchbook. I'm getting closer and closer to this myself. Well, I'm still fairly young, but after finishing a triathlon sprint last Saturday, it's taken me longer than I remember to recover in my muscles and bones. Maybe if I keep wearing sunscreen I won't end up like this so soon though...right?
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I sketched these during church on Sunday. Don't ask me why or what they are looking so dazed about. They just came out that way.
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Coming out Soon

So, I heard from the publisher that the new Annie McRae book ("There's Always a Way, Annie McRae!" will be out at the end of May or beginning of June. It was a tough book for me to do because as I've mentioned before, I had to revert to my old style of painting. I hid a boot in every picture and I put a lot of family names on books etc. I love doing that. Here's the opening spread.
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100 mile club

So every once in a while, illustrators need to get off their butts or put down that brush and exercise or you just become stiff, arthritic, flabby, fat and lazy...believe me. I got a nike ipod chip to connect into my nano and started to run. It took me a while, but finally I hit the 100 mile mark. I don't absolutely HATE running anymore but I still don't like it. It shouldn't take me so long to hit 100 next time though.
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Conference update

So, I think I've recovered from the conference craziness (finally). I was on the huge planning committee for it, designed the brochures and the website for it, got the main guest for it, and hosted the main guest for it. Between delayed/late flight pickups, hotel back and forth runs, coffee runs, medication runs, workshops, and lunches and dinners, I wore myself out. But it was all worth it. Illustrator, David Small and his author wife, Sarah Stewart, were the perfect keynote guests and I had a great time hosting them. We also brought in author Kirby Larson and editor Alexandra Penfold (from Simon and Schuster)and they were awesome too. I didn't get to attend as many sessions as I had hoped to but I still felt like it was the best conference EVER and that even the professionals attending learned a lot. But it was some of the end of the day bonding that was the best. A bunch of illustrators went out to dinner with David one night and had a great time learning from such a great artist. Here are some pictures...

I was able to coerce author Brandon Mull to come give the luncheon speech. He did a GREAT job and everyone was impressed. Here he is with illustrator, Will Terry, at our lunch table.

Here is the editor, Alexandra Penfold, during her keynote. She was a young, friendly, refreshing addition to the conference and shared great information with the attendees. I was also able to spend a day with her and 15 other professionals in the industry doing critiques. But most fun was the dinner afterward spent with friends and the editor and her husband who came with her to Utah so he could ski.

Here are Sarah and David signing some of the millions of books people bought during the conference.

Here are Sarah and I in our hats before dinner one night...she had to have a picture. She is a wonderful person and I'm so glad she came with David. I had a great time hosting them.

Here are David and I at the dinner with the illustrators.
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Sketching at the Forum

I'm finally done with the Forum on Children's Literature (until planning starts for next like a month). It was an amazing experience this year...better than ever before. David Small and his wife Sarah Stewart were perfect keynote guests and everyone learned from them and enjoyed their presentations. I'll get more into that in another post. But quickly, I just wanted to post a few sketches/notes I drew up during the conference. The Asian figure is from a figure drawing session we held during the conference this year. I could only stay for 5-10 minutes in between my running around. It was enough to tell me I need/want to spend more time drawing figures from life. Watch for more posts about the conference soon.
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When I near the end of illustrating a picture book, I'm done with it...I mean DONE! In the beginning it's exciting, it's fun, it's fresh, it gets your creative juices flowing. By the end you've thought about it, dreamed about it, spent hours creating it, and more hours changing it, and the ever-nearing deadline just looms over your head until you put on that last brush stroke. Then you have to send it off quickly before you start agonizing over whether or not you could have done ONE more thing. If you don't, you'll keep doing ONE more thing forever. It is fun to see the whole thing finished and imagine it in print...but until it actually IS in print, it's nice to have it out of your mind and off your plate. I don't usually work with an author too closely but this book was different. Luckily the author is wonderful and gave me complete creative freedom. It was nice to work that way for a change. If you want to pre-order the book, go to and click on CONTACT US and just call. It's fun to see Annie come to life again.

Here's one of my favorite illustrations in the book.
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Art Lessons

Someone asked me how to teach someone art lessons and whether or not they should do it. Here's what I told them.

I taught an 11 year old girl in my home for a year (before I moved to Michigan) and this is what I did.

I started with the basics. I taught her the elements of art (line, space, color, texture, shape, form, value, balance). I taught what each one was in different lessons and she did drawings to incorporate each element.

line- line drawings, how thick line comes forward, thin recedes. vertical line means firm and stable, horizontal means peace and rest and diagonal means movement.

space- foreground, middleground, background; perspective; tension points by objects too close, how to measure with the eye and a pencil an object you are drawing

color- color theory lessons, mixing color, colorwheel, monochromatic, polychromatic, achromatic

texture- show how to paint a texture or draw a texture...fuzzy towels, furry animal, smooth metal spoon etc. explain how texture becomes less in shadow and more in light

shape- positive and negative shape drawings, basic shape lessons

form- lighting lessons and shadow lessons, basic drawing an egg lesson, cast shadow, form shadow, reflected light

value- grayscale, tints, shades, monochromatic painting

balance- symmetrical, asymmetrical, positive space, negative space relationship

These lessons take a long time because you may spend more than one lesson on each element. I usually spent a months worth of lessons on an element. Then come up with an assignment where they incorporate a certain number of the elements of art in one work. Following all this, just begin on technique and practice and maybe human proportions etc. My student was a great girl and it was fun to watch her talent develop. I really liked teaching one on one rather than a gaggle of disinterested classmates. There were much better results.

So anyone thinking of teaching, go for it and good luck. It's fun to get back to the roots of art we take for granted. You really start to think about them in your own art again too. Just as Picasso, Monet, and Vangough, you have to learn the rules before you can break them. Only after a solid foundation can you truly express yourself well and show the emotion you desire in your work.
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Illustration Friday: Multiple

My "multiple" is MULTIPLE BOOKS. This is the cover I just finished (without the title of course...and red stitched edging...the graphics team does that) for the second Annie McRae picture book I'm finishing up. I think it'll be out this Fall. I really like how it turned out. Author and illustrator names go in the lasso. The book is called "There's Always a Way, Annie McRae!" (my flatbed scanner isn't quite big enough so it cropped in tight and cut off some edge decoration)
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Doodles on notebook paper

Well, I haven't posted a ton of ACTUAL drawings or art recently because I'm trying to finish up the sequel to the first Annie McRae book I illustrated. I'm about 2 weeks away from finishing. I also illustrated 2 workbooks on the side during this last month of the painting palooza. But the other night I went to a little lecture at my church which was supposed to teach us how to help gather information for Family History records across the world so it can be accessible to everyone (via the internet at They need people to read the old manifests and records and enter the data in a searchable database. Well, there wasn't much instruction, just inspiration to do it instead (which was great and inspiring as it was meant to be...just not so informative as I had hoped it'd be). So, I doodled. Here's the result.
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Already Asleep Video Trailer

So I just found out this cool new advertising thing from another illustrator...a video trailer to promote your book. I put it on Youtube too. But here it is for you...

This is for "Already Asleep" by A.D. Tarbox, illustrated by me and published by Moo Press (Keene Publishing).
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Speaking to Kids

Part of being an author or an illustrator in the publishing world is speaking engagements and book signings. This past Saturday I spoke to a great group of kids and a few adults at the Nebo Young Writers Conference. It was for aspiring authors etc. ages 9-17 and a few of their parents tagged along. I spoke along with 2 YA writers and an editor. I taught the kids the process of making their own dummy picture book. It went over well and I enjoyed it. I only had trouble with the resolution of my images on the projector but nothing too detrimental. After the conference I signed books and sold all that I brought. Here's a picture one of the kids took of us together after the signing. It was fun for all and I hope I helped to inspire a new generation of artists and authors. (notice how short I am compared to this 7th grader, and she was average height of them was kind of funny)
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List of Artists at BYU Alumni Show

Here is a list of all the artists hanging pieces in the BYU Alumni Show at the Utah County Justice Building. I linked everyone's sites to their names if I could FIND a site.

Robert T. Barrett

Bobbie Berendson

Travis Braun

Spencer Budd

David Dibble

Kim Edwards

Amber Erdmann

Joe Flores

Adam Ford

Douglas Fryer

Suzy Gerhart

Emily Gordon

Heather Graham

Shari Griffiths

Darren Gygi

Layne Haacke

Alisa Haggard

Richard Hull

Travis Humphreys

Alvina Kwong

David Malan

Natalie Malan

Jon McNaughton

Jeffrey Merrill

Rebecca Miller

Greg Newbold

Julie Olson

Tyler Pack

Sharae Peterson

Nathan Pinnock

Ron Russon

Sarah Samuelson

Michael Scholes

Bethany Schumann

Jennifer Sheffield

Ben Sowards

Val Paul Taylor

Shawna Tenney

Will Terry

Chantelle Walther

Molly Williams
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I am so excited to be a part of the committee planning this conference. We're bringing in great guests and an editor from Simon and Schuster.



to see details of the conference and register online.

Sponsored by UVSC School of Education, UVSC Bookstore, and UVSC Conferences & Workshops

The annual Forum on Children's Literature features some of the best and the brightest in the industry. The conference is geared to teachers, illustrators, writers and librarians or anyone interesting in children's and young adult literature. For two jam packed days we feature workshops, door prizes, peer critique groups, discounts on featured children's books, book signings and the gallery of illustration. For more information, please call 801-863-8894 or peruse this site. Click here to register online or download the mail-in registration form here


Multiple Caldecott Medalist, Illustrator/Author

We are very fortunate to have David Small, Caldecott Medal Winner and Caldcott Honor Medal Winner, share his talents with us. His booklist includes "Imogene's Antlers," "So You Want to be President," "The Gardener," and many more. His wife, Michigan Author of the Year 2007, Sarah Stewart, will be presenting with him in a workshop session. Don't miss out on this opportunity to hear and learn from one of the great illustrators of our time.

As well as...

Newbery Honor Medalist, Author

We are so pleased to have Kirby Larson, author of
"Hattie Big Sky" which won the Newbery Honor Award
in 2007. Kirby also authored the picture book "The Magic
Kerchief" among others.


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Art Show

I have a couple of pieces from my Already Asleep book in the BYU Alumni Show at the Provo City Justice Building. The show opening is this Friday, February 1st, from 6-9pm (151 S. University Avenue, Provo, UT). Would love to see you there! There will be some amazing talent displayed and beautiful art for sale. Don't miss out! Click here for the Utah County Art Board's website (it needs an artist to design it, that's for sure).
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100th post

Well, in honor of my 100th blog post, I'm posting a sketch from the 2nd page of my current picture book "There's Always a Way, Annie McRae!" which is a sequel to my VERY FIRST picture book "Hip Hip Hooray for Annie McRae!". I'm working hard to finish it sooner than later. I'm trying out a new method to painting acrylics. I'll have to let you know about it IF it works the way I'm hoping. Watch for updates on that process to come.

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Illustration Friday: Plain (+ Paris)

Well, a trip to Paris is anything but PLAIN. but my drawings from it kind of are (...plain...that is). Just some Black and whites for ya today.

My husband and I took a week long trip to Paris for our 11th anniversary. We just got back. I'm still a little jet lagged, but I thought I'd quickly post a few of the sketches I did in my newly purchased adorable sketchbook from a Paris bookbinder. We got some awesome photos too.
Here's the sketchbook...

Here's a sketch from the Louvre where I was able to see the Mona Lisa and many other great works of art. It's a HUGE place.

Here's one from the Musee d'Orsay where all the impressionists hang. It was my favorite museum of the trip. I love the Degas sketches. This is just a light that was hanging in the museum that I liked.

And these are just sketches of people...especially the French and their noses. I never realized how distinguishing that feature was on the French in general. I even saw the quintessential French mustache.

I also learned a few things one would do to blend in to the French culture when visiting...
- wield a cigarette
- parisian scarf - long and expertly wound around the neck
- knee length coat
- knee high flat soled boots
- a hairstyle that doesn't require naturale...wavy and crazy, short, or long and layered
- a thin stick like figure and a long nose (not easily obtained for a visit)
- a small dog on a leash (and don't pick up it's doo doo)
- carry a large bag/purse
- carry a baguette in the other arm
- very little makeup
- a scooter and a crazy driving sense

I had a great time. I'll post more from the trip later. Now, I need sleep. Jetlag has got me beat.
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I'm a freelance illustrator working in the children's book industry. I love kids and raising my own 4 children. They are the inspiration and the passion behind all I do in art and in life. See my website at

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