Let’s play catch up, shall we?

Did you have an awesome summer? Didja?

I have been having a good amount of fun coupled with a lot of work, both in and out of the studio. So, I let my blog languish a bit for summer. Now is the time to bring it up to speed as we go into FALL!

Going back a couple of months, I don’t think I ever showed you this fabulous new book called lllustrating Children’s Picture Books:

It’s by my friends Steve Withrow and Lesley Breen Withrow, and I was most happy to contribute a couple of articles to it. This one is about writing and illustrating board books, which is truly one of my favorite subjects:

This page is about the “other” markets you can pursue with your children’s art. If there’s one thing I do know a lot about, it’s “other” markets! This encompasses toys, fabrics, magazines, and stuff like that.

Let’s see… what else? Ah, I have been illustrating almost monthly for Highlights High Five, mainly little snippets of recipe ingredients.

I am continuing to create the Newport Creamery children’s menus. The current one is summer-themed and has Newport’s Cliff Walk on the cover. Next time you’re there, go ahead and ask for the kid’s menu!

I haven’t managed to update my website in a while (it’s on the list), so for now I will show you a few of my recently designed Fred items, now available at a store near YOU! Keep your eyes open for:

Salt ‘n’ Pants! Oh, how happy it makes me to see this one on the market! The little guy is salt, and his pants are pepper. I know it’s weird, but I’ve been trying to get it made for a couple of years now. Huzzah! Hooray for pants!

Another item I am glad to see out there is the Candy Stash. It’s a zip-up wallet shaped like those candy buttons stuck on paper. Mmmm, paper…and candy!

Fresh into the world is the Desk Daisy– a little potted plant that has 3 stems full of paper clip “petals”, held in place by magnets. Perky, huh?

Also new to the market are Chewdrivers…little interchangeable tool handles that can be fitted with a knife, fork, and spoon. This one was challenging to figure out, but it came out well and works like a charm.

Last but not least, I spent a good part of summer ferrying kids to and from the Swamp Meadow Summer Children’s Theatre. They did a very fun musical called “Olivia”, which was something like a female “Oliver” but with all new songs, and a totally different plot. Anyhoo, I did the art that was used for the playbills, t-shirts, and media stuff.

That’s all for now… we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog posts!

The 2008 Highlights Highlights

Finally, a chance to revisit my neglected blog!
I recently got to go to the 2008 Highlights Illustrator’s Party in Pennsylvania. Highlights (the makers of the well-read magazines, and also owners of Boyd’s Mills Press) is a very unusual company that actually puts aside time each year to party with it’s illustrators. Yeeha!

We got lucky with 3 days of great weather:

The stretch of NY/Pennsylvania that we traveled through is beautiful. Unlike last year, there were no 4-hour traffic jams to bog down the trip, and we arrived without incident.
The Highlights folks have the party-throwing thing down to a science, so when we arrived, there was the first of many lovely buffets. We were able to stay in a cottage near everthing, and the next morning began with (yes!) more great food!

The illustrators spent the first half of the day doing illustrator stuff. We got to hear Leonard Marcus speak- he’s a children’s book historian, and author of a fabulous book I have (maybe you do, too) called “Golden Legacy”, all about the cultural and artistic impact of Golden Books. I’m anxious to find some of his other books now.
Then we got to check out each other’s portfolios.

I though the folks coming to this event would have all been east coasters, but I was wrong. Illustrators came from all over the country. Getting to connect the art with the names and faces was a real bonus. Luckily, this was made easier by our big, clear nametags!

While we were doing this, our families were off having a blast at a farm. Check out this beautiful place! Eric and the kids had a great time. The kids were glad to meet other kids who like art (I guess this doesn’t really happen as much as they’d like here at home).

They got to paint and decorate pumpkins:

Beat each other with noodles:

Listen to fiddlin’ kids:

And roast marshmallows:

Later that afternoon, the big event…we all met at the main Highlights building in Honesdale for a costume party! This year’s theme was “The Enchanted Forest”. Needless to say, illustrators are pretty good at coming up with costumes…and so are the Highlights staff.

The entire building is decorated, inside and out. It must take weeks of planning to do this; it’s refreshing to think that it is allowed and encouraged within the company.

I love these mossy tree people.

Inside, the kids got to go on a Timbertoes scavenger hunt with stickers hidden all around the building.

More food…awesomely themed.

Leprechauns! Cloaked Art Directors! Fungi! Dragonlike Photographers!

Fairies! Keebler Elves! Unicorns!

Unbearably Cute Ewoks! Teeny Tinys!

The one and only Joan of Art, hailing from the Columbus, OH office.

Look- it’s a portrait of pure evil!

Wait a minute… it’s Judy Moffatt (who’s not evil at all, really).

Eric and I were apple trees…I guess you can say we didn’t think too hard about this, since we pretty much live in an apple orchard. It was a logical choice.

What’s that? It’s the BloomMobile! This is the Highlights company car (I presume) decorated in the manner of Suzanne Bloom’s adorable Splendid Friend books.

Good times. It’s very fun to see such universal participation in something like this.
Later that day it was time for a lamb roast, (with intro by Christine Clark…)

Can you see the ultra cool, gigantic mural behind her, too? Awesome.
Here’s a closer view:

Then, of course, there was a post-dinner hoedown!
Silly me, I thought the hoedown was part of last year’s “ranch” theme.
It’s not, it’s just hoedowning for hoedowning’s sake!

The next morning was another farewell buffet.
We met so many great people over the weekend…here are two of them:

It’s Phyllis and Brad Harris, all the way from Missouri!
There were cheesy potatoes available this morning in the buffet that were TO DIE FOR.
I need this recipe (let’s put it in High Five- ha!)

Then after a swing:

and a horse-drawn hay ride:

We headed back home.
It was another great driving day.
This road cracked us up…it follows (EXACTLY) the contour of the ledge butting up against the Delaware river. It was like a rollercoaster. Best not to take your eyes off the road here!

Along the river we saw these:

We refer to them as “those things in the water.”
Does anyone know what these things are??

Thanks to everyone at Highlights for such a fun weekend. It’s a real treat to hang out with people who love children’s illustration and writing. Hello to all the new and old friends we met there- and for those of you who couldn’t get there this year, hope to see you next fall!

New Stuff

My poor, ignored blog.
Been busy lately with a million things, and there’s a million more coming!
In the meantime, some of my art has been popping up here and there:

Here’s April 2008’s issue of Highlights High Five, with my Creepy Crawly Dominoes feature (oooh, it’s a fold-out!).

Here’s a little piece in May 2008’s Highlights magazine (the one for bigger kids). It’s a feature they run every month called My Best Self. Hey, look- Roz is on the same page!

The Read, Rhyme and Clap DVD is available from the Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club’s Spring 2008 issue. I did the Muffin Man sequence on it.

Here’s the new, improved children’s menu for the Newport Creamery chain of restaurants. I got to do the whole thing (fun!!) and will continue every so often as they need ’em. I applaud the company for pursuing a more individual approach with these- instead of using the menu equivalent of “clip art” (which they could have easily done), they commissioned me to make something with local appeal and original characters. Yay!

And hey, what’s THIS?
You’re right, I did NOT do this. Eric did!
His design is featured in June 2008’s MacLife Magazine, where his iPOD watch idea came in as a runner-up in their Design-the-Next-Big-Apple-Thing competition.
They had some very nice things to say about it- check it out!

That’s it for now! Back to work!