This past year I worked on a fantastic private commission for a lovely couple looking to create a book for their young son. The story they wrote is entitled Pipistrello.... which is Italian for bat. It's a tale about Divvy, a tiny bat whose quest involves problem-solving, creativity, and traveling around the globe.

A peak at some of the many pencil sketches

A peak at some of the many pencil sketches

The final art was done in watercolor. Here's one of the spreads WIP.

The final art was done in watercolor. Here's one of the spreads WIP.

I'm so pleased with how the final printed book came out. It was great to help make the client's vision come to life - and to learn so many different words for "bat"!  I hope they enjoy their book for years to come.


A couple weekends ago I was at the fun-filled, inspiration-filled annual NESCBWI conference in Springfield, MA. It was a great 3 days of seeing old friends, making new ones, learning, discussing and reveling in the art of children's literature. And staying up late, having a couple beers.

This year's theme spoke a lot about diversity, and featured Keynote presentations by Melissa Sweet and Jane Yolen (both such amazing women), and I took home nuggets of wisdom from both.... along with a few of their books. I couldn't resist these two by Melissa Sweet.... her art is simply amazing. Do you think she'd notice if I snuck into her studio and just lived there? I just finished "Some Writer" and loved it - I'll be starting it again immediately.

This time I took a few writing workshops - scary and fun! I had a fantastic Portfolio Critique with Lucy Ruth Cummins, Art Director from Simon & Schuster. She gave me very constructive feedback that I am excited to try to implement right away in my work. I exhibited my portfolio in the Portfolio Showcase on Friday night - it was so inspiring to see everyone's work...the New England area has many talented artists! And I took the Illustrator's Intensive on Sunday - an all-day workshop run by Giuseppe Castellano, the Executive Art Director of Penguin Random House.

He gave us a pre-conference homework assignment which was critiqued once at the pencil sketch stage (before the conference), and then again at the final art stage (at the conference.) Hello flashbacks to art school! Yours truly went first.... thanks to reverse-alphabetical-order-by-first-name. The assignment was to interpret in your own style, a character from a Beatrix Potter story. I chose the story "The Tale of Little Pig Robinson", and illustrated a line from the very end of the story, where the Cat and Owl come to visit Pig Robinson on his island.

Part of the feedback I got at the pencil sketch stage (shown below left), was that Giuseppe was unsure why the Owl was sweating, and seemed to be looking at the Pig.... in the story it was written that the Owl was uncomfortable by the heat of the island, so for the final I moved her closer to the fire. The final art (shown below right) was done in watercolor, with small final details tweaked digitally.

It was suggested at the final critique that I work a little more on the color - specifically color that the light from the campfire casts on the surrounding area. Giuseppe felt it should be a bit warmer. So I did.

All in all, it was a great weekend, and I'm happy to be home in my studio, ready to get back to work with fresh eyes and ideas.

Goings on at the Children's Museum

I had the pleasure of illustrating the latest newsletter from the Children's Museum of New Hampshire. The reverse side of their newsletter is large fold-out coloring and activity page for kids, and for this project, I drew a maze! 

The museum is currently featuring an exhibit about the Abenaki culture before European contact, and the illustration I created for the newsletter is based on the 13 Turtle Moons lunar calendar. Each scale of the turtle's shell represents a month, and the maze follows the year of a Abenaki child.

Also at the museum right now, I have a painting in their gallery, along with several other local illustrators. My painting is from the story of the Abenaki people, How Rabbit Got His Long Ears. The art exhibit will be on display through September, so if you're in Dover, Nh, please come visit.

Inspiration from WOW

A couple weeks ago I went to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, and became captivated with the WOW World of Wearable Art exhibit. WOW is an annual design competition from New Zealand where competitors create the most unique and amazing works of art that are all wearable... they aren't clothes, but they are amazing! So many different materials were used - wood, plastic, fabrics, metal, etc - and the results were beautiful.

Here are a few of my favorites from the exhibit.

Doesn't it just make you want to start sculpting and sewing? The exhibit is at PEM through June 11 - go and take a look!

Blue Night (part two)

In my last post I talked about the beginning stages of creating the music video Blue Night for Elissa Margolin. Today I'd like to show you what things started looking like once I picked up my paintbrush.

95% of the art for Blue Night was created with watercolor paints. The rest was digitally added. All of this painting was quite different than my normal painting process - for the animation I had to paint everything in pieces. The Girl's hair was a separate piece from her arm, which was a separate piece from her dress, etc. Backgrounds were their own paintings, and sky was a separate piece from land. All this was necessary for Andy ( A.J. Smith) to work his animation magic.

Portsmouth, NH makes a appearance in the video.

Portsmouth, NH makes a appearance in the video.

Andy gave me a crash-course in Adobe Animate on the basics, and setting up all the pieces of art into the files he needed. After I scanned in all the paintings, color-corrected, resized them, and added the digital details that were needed, it was a very happy day for me when I got to pass everything over to him, so he would work his magic! And he did an amazing job.

Thank you to Elissa for this wonderful opportunity, and to Andy for all of his help and support and guidance. I am so happy with how it all turned out.

Blue Night by Elissa Margolin. Illustration by Vita Lane. Animation by A.J. Smith. http://vevo.ly/oA1VZh