Blog

Recent Highlights

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Here is some recently published artwork, as seen in various magazines in the Highlights family!

First up is a Find It feature from the December 2013 issue of Highlights Hello magazine:

 

Hello_FindIt_Dec2013_LO

 

This one came in a cute envelope that had a little preview of the feature:

Hello_FindIt_Dec2013_outer_LO

Next is a Look and Look Again feature from January 2014’s issue of Highlights High Five:

HighFive_WhatsCooking_Jan2014_LO(I was really happy o get the chance to do anthropomorphic mice for this one!)

And finally (for now), here’s a rebus feature called “Family Band” that is in the February 2014 issue of Highlights:

Highlights_FamilyBand_Feb2014_LO(I have often done pieces for the younger kids’ magazines, but this is the first time doing a feature page in the “big kids” Highlights.) 

Have I mentioned lately how much I love all the Highlights magazines?

2013 RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors


This year’s Book Festival at Lincoln School in Providence was fabulous- just full to the brim with great presenters, and very well-attended by a huge crowd.


1.2_books

Here’s Jarret Krosoczka with one of his first books, and whipping out a Lunch lady drawing. I like how he is so candid with kids and adults about the non-direct path to publication. And he happens to be a great guy, too.

1.jarrett

Kate Messner was there. I had never heard her talk before- she is truly a natural speaker and I loved her approach to writing and life in general.

3.katemessner

Laurie Keller is a big favorite of ours, and she led the mixed audience of kids and adults in drawing otters.4_keller1
5_keller2(Just check out that concentration!)

Kim Newton Fusco gave a great talk about her path, and finding your own path and voice. She has a beautiful and slow approach to honing her books to be the best they can be. 
6_fuscoThis is Lemony Snicket. I think. Otherwise, he sent some guy named Daniel Handler to handle the ginormous crowd that was there for him.

7_snicket1(he had the crowd in stitches,and also occasional headlocks).  

 

8_snicket2Marin, Steve and Lesley get their book signed- he takes time to harass everyone in the line, it’s sweet!
9_wildWild Thing, I think I looove you.

Here’s Chris Van Allsburg signing one of his amazing books.

10_vanallsburg

 

Susannah Richards “interviewed” Sharon Creech in a casual discussion about her writing path, and getting the Newbury call.

11_creech

 

Dan Santat- the hardest workin’ man in illustration, and one of the best!
12_santat

Some new book loot. What, it’s not like I could just NOT buy SOME books. 🙂


13_loot

As always, a great time- looking forward to next year, already!

 

Well, Hello, Little Highlights!

I got a happy surprise in the mail today- it’s Volume 1, Issue 6 of Highlights Hello magazine for toddlers- with my art on the cover!

I did this piece quite a long time ago, well before the magazine debuted in January 2013. It’s great to finally see it “in action”!

 

hello_cover_lo

 

These nifty little magazines come in a protective sleeve, so they are fresh and ready to be handled by your baby when they arrive. Here’s what the sleeve looks like:

hello_cover2_lo

 

It is a treat and an honor to have my art front and center like this. Thank you Highlights, for always creating quality material for children!

Keepin’ It Glassy in Shanghai!

Here’s something I didn’t ever expect to happen- four of my glass designs are currently on display in Shanghai, China. The Shanghai Museum of Glass contacted me a few months ago for information regarding these glass items (which I designed for the FRED company).

 

glass_4

They are appearing in an exhibit called “Keep It Glassy”, featuring all kinds of glass works from around the world. It’s an honor to have my designs on display there, though I will not likely manage to see them in person! Check out the place:

 

glas_outside

glass_inside

 

Here’s one of the exhibit posters:

glass_poster

There’s me!

You never know where art will end up. It’s exciting to think some of mine is on display on the other side of the earth!

NESCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat 2013


I had the pleasure and luck to attend the New England SCBWI’s most excellent Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat again this year (I believe this is my 5th year). It takes place in paradise (also known as URI’s Alton Jones Campus in W. Greenwich, RI). Lucky for me, this isn’t so far to travel; yet it is like being a world away!

lodge2
     We started with a first night first pages panel…

pages3

…followed by a pleasant Kid Lit Jeopardy deathmatch.

jeopardy

Valkyrie Lynda fields the questions while Julia Boyce writes upside down and backwards to keep score.

Events take place in and around the campus, but mainly here in the Lodge…

group

Retreat Directors Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Mary Pierce got the day rolling on Friday with some shout-outs to the volunteers who make it all work.

giftsAccolades and to Laurie Murphy and Linda Crotta Brennan for their assistance!

The mentors this year were stellar!

mentorsErin Dionne, Shauna Rossano, Mary, Sara Crowe, Lynda, Bethany Strout, and Kelly Murphy up front. Missing from this shot: Leslie Connor!

First up was my amazing illustrator friend Kelly Murphy, who was very up front and realistic about what it’s like to work with authors and publishers. Her work is dynamic and recognizably hers, no matter the subject. She takes a lot of care to do manuscripts justice in her art.
kelly1

kelly2
Some of Kelly’s originals were on display while she signed books.

Erin Dionne is the author of several books that are huge hits in our house. Her talk was about marketing, and it was fun to hear how she makes connections and cultivates community in the real word and online.

erindionne

Author Leslie Connor had some great insight into tapping into the truth when writing. Having that element of truth allows readers to invest in your characters and care about what happens to them. Such a good point.

leslie

Food! The food is incredible at Whispering Pines. And it just keeps coming. And then the plates disappear. It’s a magical way to live for a few days!

dinner_last

Every meal comes with excellent conversation as well!

First pages, second night…
pages2

…followed by FIRE!

fire1

fire2Cameron Kelly Rosenblum stokes the fire and the silly conversation, all with the same stick.

Now pretend that you have stayed up WAY past your bedtime talking, laughing, and having a great time. Good!

Shauna Rossano, Associate Editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, got the last morning started with some great tips on catching an editor’s eye right away by making those important first impressions.

rossano

Sara Crowe, Agent at Harvey Klinger, Inc. gave us some valuable insight into her process of reviewing books for representation. Submissions to her must not only ring true to her, but imply a way she can market it to editors.

crowe

Here’s Bethany Strout, Assistant Editor, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. I had met her at the Blueberry Fields retreat in Maine last year, and she was just as smart and approachable here. She draws from both her knowledge and instincts to choose manuscripts for her publisher.

bethany

 

Alas, all too soon, it comes to a close. I love reconnecting with many of my writer and artist friends in the region here; it really is a charmed event.

4girlsJust a few of the lovely folks as seen at WP… Jennifer Thermes, Janet Costa Bates, Cameron Kelly Rosenblum, and Kim Savage.

A few parting shots, until next time…!


lake

 

chairs

lodge

Blizzards, Then and Now.

So, we have a blizzard occurring at the moment here in RI. Anytime there is a serious quantity of snow, those of us who were alive at the time remember the legendary Blizzard of 1978. I know I do! I was 11 at the time, and it made a huge impression.

So, when asked to come up with a winter themed Newport Creamery kid’s menu, I thought it would be interesting for todays’s kids to hear about the storm that many of their parents lived through. A lot has changed in the meantime, especially the ability to know a storm is coming well in advance. We all have SO much information these days that it’s hard to envision a time where we could literally be caught off guard by weather!

The menu cover shows what I remember it being like (sort of). There were actually no cows or other farm animals at my house then. But snowdrifts halfway up the house? Yes! A mom who barely made it home on time? Yup. A dad who got stuck downtown at the Providence Marriott for 3 days, and then decided to walk home to Scituate? Yup. There was no school for days on end, and no power either. We had a fireplace and could cook some things in it. I remember making impressive snow forts and sculptures after all was said and done.

So, after THIS blizzard passes through, and you find yourself in a Newport Creamery, check out the kid’s menu. Go ahead, just ask for one. Here’s a peek at the inside. J. Joseph Garrahy, the Governor of RI at the time, appears inside since he was the one who had to deal with the situation. I hope kids will like this issue, and that it sparks conversation!

 

Why, Hello, Little Magazine!

I am happy to say that my artwork is currently appearing in a brand NEW little magazine published by our friends at Highlights.

Highlights Hello is designed for the youngest babies and toddlers, and is even printed on rip-proof coated paper and stitched like a little board book.

I love illustrating for this age group. Here is my “Find It” feature, which is like baby’s first Hidden Pictures!

 

 

 

Today Show and New Press!

Well, hello, little blog- so good to see you. I’ve been away for while, mostly getting a kid through an extended hospital stay (she’s good now!), and scrambling to catch up on everything else. But hey! Here’s some stuff that showed up recently!

One of my new FRED items, Mr. Tea (a tea infuser shaped like a little guy), was on the Today Show today. Here’s the mighty Al Roker mocking it now!

 

 

Watch the whole segment HERE, whereby you can hear Al declare, and I quote, “Oh, that’s disturbing. That’s just not right.”  HA! He’s right, you know.

More good stuff:

The December 2012 ELLE Magazine: After you’re done checking out Jennifer Lawrence, perfecting your rosy cheeks and dramatic eyes, check out my Pizza Peddlar on the Gift Guide pages! And now you know how sexy women REALLY think.

 

 

Changing themes, here’s the December 2012 Issue of Family Circle (not to be confused with Family Circus, Little Billy). They have Mr. Tea featured in their 50 Presents Under $50 Gift Guide.

 

 

Ooh, la la! Qu’est ce que c’est? It’s one of my older-but-wiser items, the Chopstick Kids, featured in the Canadian style magazine, Signature. This is the Fall 2012 issue. Très bien!

 

 

Come to RISD in October

I will be coming back to Benefit Street this Fall for the annual RISD Alumni and Student Art Sale, which takes place on Saturday, Oct. 6th, from 10am – 4pm.

It’s always good fun… if you go, find me! I will look something like the photo below… except I will have more books and different stuff!

It’s free, open to the public, rain or shine.

ICON 7- The Illustration Conference, Day 2

All that stuff from my previous post was merely from one day. One giant, LONG day! This post is about the Saturday happenings.

First up in the morning was the “Our Favorite Art Directors” panel. Steven Charny (Rolling Stone), Paul Buckley (Penguin), and Thomas Schmid (Buck TV) were there to show what they do in their respective companies, and the kinds of things they look for in art.

There was a “debate” about whether or not you should get an MFA or not. I nearly skipped this one, due to the fact that I will never get an MFA… but these two guys- Marshall Arisman (Chair, MFA Illustration for the School of Visual Arts) and David Porter (Illustration Professor at RISD) made it an interesting an broader discussion.


They both sort of agree that an MFA isn’t as necessary as life experiences and developing your own conceptual thinking.

Tim O’Brien, a photo-realist with a self-described “aggressive” style, changed the course of his own career when he discovered he kept being hired to do work he wasn’t enthused about. I thought it was a good point- that you have the power to change the course of your career if you want to.


Yes, Tim did the Hunger Games book art, amongst many other unbelievably excellent pieces. Check out his website.

Here is Tommy Lee Edwards, creator of beautiful concept art that is used in all kinds of ways… comics, video games, movies, etc. He likes to help create a feel for the world of each movie or game, something that other people can refer to. I think he’s been successful at that- I definitely connect his art with some of the movies and related media I’ve seen.

Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson started up Idiots’ Books on their own, after ditching the comfort of the real world and moving into a barn. Their story and their collaborations are charming, funny, and mostly weird. They are great role models for doing whatever the heck you want and making it work.

Sketchbooks… what do they mean to you? Here are 3 rampant sketchbookers- Jillian Tamaki, John Cuneo, and Marcellus Hall. Jillian said that her sketchbook is a personal place and a respite from clients. Marcellus likes to use his for “reportage”… bearing witness to everyday life.

Christy Karacas is the guy behind Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim show, ‘Superjail!‘ I have never seen such violent and creepy animation, frankly… and I am pretty sure Christy and team are proud of that! Content-wise, this is not something I would ever watch on my own (sorry, I’m a remorseless bunny-drawer for a reason), but I am glad to have seen their process, which is very hands on, traditional(ish) animation, produced here in the US of A. There is integrity in the way it is made, for sure.

Yuko Shimuzu create covers for DC Comics/Vertigo, which are more artistically sophisticated and adult oriented than typical comics. One of the things she did during the earlier, searching part of her career is make a literal “Dream List” of people and companies she wanted to work with… and has managed to cross off most. She said it’s not important, really, to get everything off the list, but to try for them.

It was fun to hear from some of the masters in the fantasy and sci-fi realm. Irene Gallo (Creative Director for Tor Books), Greg Manchess, and our old RISD classmate Jon Foster were on hand to discuss how fans help drive the excitement in the genre. It really is it’s own world, where fans truly support individual artists. Sci-fi and fantasy conventions are key places for them to connect with their fans, and in turn, to keep them motivated to create great art. And man, they make GREAT art. Check it out.

Another fun and unexpected talk was given by radio producer and storyteller Starlee Kine and illustrator Arthur Jones, who collaborate to make personal, funny and insightful animated and illustrated projects that really capture their spirits.

And then, it was time for closing remarks. Icon president John Hendrix thanked the mountain of volunteers, and then introduced the winner of the first ICON Medal for Collaborative Vision.

Brian Rea and Paul Sahre, the medal winners, took us through the logistics of creating hundreds of designed and illustrated pages from Malcolm Gladwell Collected.

The evening ended with a crazy “Moth Ball” party, and a last loud chance to see everyone. I was happy to run into one of my favorite teachers from RISD, Erminio Pinque, the guy behind the local puppety/costumed/musical phenomenon known as Big Nazo.

All in all, I was very glad this thing came to Providence!