IX 2017

Hello All,

I am back from IX 2017. What a trip!

This was the 10th anniversary for this event, created and run by intrepid co-founders Patrick and Jeannie Wilshire. For those not familiar with IX, it is a gathering of world-class fantasy artists from around the globe... who all converge on little Reading, Pennsylvania for a long weekend of crazy amazing fantastical art.

Given that I hadn't been there since IlluXcon 2 & 3, I had much catching up to do. First off, I was one of 130 lucky artist to snag a Showcase table -as these literally sold out in minutes! So I came prepared with a table display to show off my wares for Friday and Saturday evenings. As I hadn't tabled in years, it was a bit of a scramble to figure out "how do I table again?" But I think I got a decent display together in the end. I was certainly glad that I chose a pop-up banner as my backdrop rather than pro panels or other more elaborate setups (though, don't get me wrong, these looked great from other artists!) as my table setup and tear-down was super smooth. No little thanks owed to my husband and "art roadie" Chris.

I spent the lead-up to the Showcase nights, hanging out at the Main Show, ogling at the gorgeous original oil and acrylic paintings for sale from some of the biggest names in my industry. I was also lucky enough to receive advice and encouragements from many of these kind and generous folks. I actually didn't find time to make it to any of the seminars or classes this year, but from what I heard they were useful and interesting to those who did.

Fast forward to Friday night, first night of the Showcase. 5:15pm we loaded our plastic crates from the car to the ballroom and joined the bustle of other artists who were setting up shop. By 6:00pm we were all setup and ready to duck out for a quick bite before the madness. 8:00pm we were back at the table and ready for the doors to open.

Night #1 was a frenzy of people and art. I'm grateful to for Chris' help manning the table, as it allowed me to do some laps around to see all of the other artists and amazing art. My highlights there were getting to buy some prints from other artists whom I admire. My favorite purchase was a set of three space owl prints from Melissa Gay. The night flew by in whirlwind of socializing, sales, and so many kind words from the people who stopped to chat. It was wonderful to have such great booth neighbors namely: Benjamin Davis, Christine Skelly, and Jeszika Le Vye, all of us super different styles, but by the end of our time together we felt like art family.

Night #2 was a bit lower key from a crowd perspective. The highlights for me were visits by illustration masters: Donato Giancola, Dave Seeley, Scott Fischer, and Howard Lyon. All of whom had generous advice and encouragement to offer. The final cap on the evening was winning a gorgeous framed girl and owl print from neighbor Jeszika Le Vye in a mailing list drawing she was doing. The night ended in a mixer in the hotel lobby that may have included Jon Schindehette as a banana, zombies, and other costumed shenanigans. After this amusing and fitting wrap-up we headed to bed feeling like zombies ourselves.

The next day we bid our farewells and packed up the car and started the 3-hour drive back to Northern VA, exhausted but satisfied. I feel energized for a full year to come. There is no doubt in my mind that IX is where it is at for sheer enthusiasm and community in the realm of fantasy and science fiction art. Until next year!

Photos from the event:

From Acorns

Glowing new art for fall:

A young Healer arrives too late to save a dying acorn being. Golden sunlight bathes the enchanted mushroom forest scene as she witnesses its death and rebirth in the form of a fragile new sprout. After all, oak trees come from acorns…

This piece actually started out as a more lighthearted "girl romping in the forest discovers a mushroom castle" and then evolved into a very different image. Part inspired by tragedies in current events, part by other's losses this season. The idea here was to show hope and growth and rebirth arising from death. I also really enjoyed painting theses little acorn beings with their luminous eyes and expressive bodies.

You can buy a print HERE. Thanks!

Blossom Spirits

This new spring piece serves as a long awaited follow-up to my other cherry blossom piece, Dragon Blossom. In this painting I really wanted to play with focus and depth of the ancient tree. I also had a lot of fun arranging the swirling petals and magic to dance and lead the eye around. The story with the sandal evolved as I was painting. Enjoy!

If you love this piece please BUY A PRINT! Thank you.

 

Aegean Princess

This piece is a celebration of a travel memory for me. A few years back (when we lived in Germany) I had the pleasure of traveling to Greece, specifically to the islands of Milos and Santorini before heading down to Western Crete. What stuck with me most vividly was the pervasive and incredible quality to the light there, especially it's interplay with the white-washed traditional stone housing and the sparkling blue of the Mediterranean sea.

Enjoy!

If you'd like a big, beautiful, print of this image, you may BUY ONE HERE. Thanks!

Little Sprout

A little piece I did to celebrate the almost beginnings of Spring. I'd been itching to do a piece that made cute "monsters" out of sprouts for some time... In this one I especially enjoyed creating the Little Sprout sitting in the girl's hand. I also had fun playing with various textures for the sprouts and leafy bits.

Like this piece? You can buy it as a print here. Thanks!

Enjoy!

Podcast Round-up: Comics, Illustration, Picture Books, Storytelling

Painting alone in the studio all day, can be quite lonely (even with an adorable studio dog like Zelda) so I love to put on a good podcast while I'm working. Below are the ones I go back to time and time again, organized roughly by topic.

I think of all these folks are my virtual studio mates and I'm incredibly grateful for the shows they produce.

I will update this list as I find new ones. Enjoy!

If you have a favorite art/illustration/wriitng/creative podcast that I haven't included, please share it in the comments below.

 

Comics

Lean Into Art

Jerzy Drozd and Rob Stenzinger "think hard about visual storytelling so you will too." I enjoy how they dive deep into the topic at hand. Great for some introspective thoughts on complex issues. Awesome to listen to while making art of any kind.

https://www.youtube.com/user/comicsaregreat
 

Comics Coast to Coast

Brian Dunaway, Joel Duggan, and Matthew Ducharme do weekly interviews with comics creators and other illustrators. Their banter and questions always lead to entertaining shows. Also great for discovering new comics/artists!

http://comicscoasttocoast.com/


Make it Then Tell Everybody

Dan Berry interviews mostly alternative comics folks in his charming British accent. I especially enjoy when they get nerdy about the creative process and his infamous question "where do you get your ideas from?"

http://makeitthentelleverybody.com/

 

Coffee Table Comics

Jason Brubaker, creator of Sithrah and ReMind, does a lot of "talk while working" style video casts, sharing his process and inspirations. He's a great listen while you too are working in your studio.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfMrl0S6VFZGbu35Yb7v5xw

 

Jake Parker

Prolific comic and children's book creator shares his wisdom, insight, and practical tips on creating. I especially enjoy his ideas on productivity (not to mention the stunning example he sets!)

https://www.youtube.com/user/jakeparker44



 


Illustration


Creative Pep Talk Podcast

Dr. Pizza puts the pep in your illustration step with his upbeat introspections, encouragements, and interviews with other creative professionals. Leans more toward illustrative graphic designers but no less relevant to other disciplines.

https://soundcloud.com/creativepeptalk


Will Terry

Old hat children's illustrator, co-founder of SVS Learn online school, speaks with hard won wisdom on a variety of relevant topics for students, new professionals, and others in the illustration trenches.

https://www.youtube.com/user/willterryart


One Fantastic Week

A weekly web show where fantasy illustrators Pete Mohrbacher and Sam Flegal interview others in their industry. They have a particular knack for the business of illustration, which makes them an invaluable listen for us less business minded art types.

https://www.youtube.com/user/Bugmeyer


Writing/Storytelling


Round Table Podcast

Authors offer up story works-in-progress for suggestions, critiques, and discussion. Really gets the mental story cogs turning. The best episodes are where the work is fairly unfinished, the author is open to new ideas, and those ideas start flying from all corners.

http://www.roundtablepodcast.com


Writing Excuses

Professional fantasy writers, such as Brandon Sanderson, speak about a themed writing topic. I only wish these were longer than 15 minutes!
http://www.writingexcuses.com/

 

Odyssey Writing Workshop

Not really a podcast, but they will periodically offer up lecture excerpts by professional authors, which can be extremely insightful.


http://www.sff.net/odyssey/podcasts.html

 

Out on the Wire

Storytelling from a journalistic perspective. It uses the format of a hero's journey to talk about the process of writing stories.


http://jessicaabel.com/podcast/

 

Story Wonk

Alastair Stephens and Lani Diane Rich have many an articulate discussion and analysis of books, movies, tv shows, and other story-driven media. Alastair's Scottish accent doesn't hurt either…

https://www.youtube.com/user/StoryWonk



 


KidLit


All the Wonders

Matthew Winner, who sounds precisely how you'd expect the kindest elementary school librarian in the world to sound, interviews authors, illustrations, and author-illustrators of children's books. His warm manner and great questions make for some wonderful discussion.

http://www.allthewonders.com/category/podcasts/


Picturebooking

Author-Illustration Nick Patton interviews other authors and illustrations in the realm of children's books. I like how he asks very illustrator-ly questions of his guests! (Now part of All The Wonders)

http://picturebooking.com/


Publishers Weekly PW KidsCast

Though these podcasts are sponsored by various publishers, the resulting conversations feel very natural and are quite interesting. I especially love these for the interviews with middle grade authors.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/podcasts/index.html?channel=5

Golden Antler

Once upon a time, in the Far North, lived two sisters whose only memento of their father was a broken shard of golden antler…

A sparkly new winter piece! This piece was inspired by northern lights and fairytales. At the start of the new year my thoughts turn toward giving and spreading light to a world that has so much need of it. The antlers as lights unto themselves really appeal to me on a deep and visceral level. I was also happy to paint a new piece set in the snow! As anyone who knows me can tell you, I absolutely adore snowy weather and find a certain magic in it. The story of the piece is not from an existing fairytale, but rather is from a brand new fairytale that I'm writing.

If you'd like to support my art: BUY A PRINT. Thanks!

The Kingdom of Winter - Book Released!

I've been quite busy with another exciting cover + interior client project here, this late fall/early winter. One wrap cover and 27 interiors later, I am pleased to share all of these images with you!

The book is a children's fantasy chapter book titled The Kingdom of Winter by Dorothy Papadakos. The book is newly released and can be found for sale on Amazon HERE.

The printed book turned out beautifully, I especially like the interior design by Lorraine Gelard!

And here is the complete gallery of illustrations for this book:

And the cover file by itself:

Prairie Sea

A brand-new personal piece for late golden summer!

This piece was inspired by my childhood growing up in Oklahoma. It's as much a reflection of the landscape I came from, as my inner landscape as a child. As a young girl I was absorbed by the fantasy world of Narnia and the pioneer life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. This image gives nods to both. My 3 siblings and I were known to engage in fantastical play, so the idea of combining the two into one image -where it's hard to tell where reality stops and fantasy begins- is quite intriguing to me. The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers soaring into the sky are the Oklahoma state bird and the distant house was our first childhood home.

Buy a beautiful gallery-quality print (up to 36" x 24" size): HERE!

Hope you enjoy!

 

Morning Song Book Release!

Client book Morning Song by Sharon Lee Beatty is now available on Amazon. For this book I created a custom wrap cover complete with title text design.

This gripping fable-inspired tale follows an extraordinary young woman named Kimi on a desperate journey across war-torn 19th century China.

As with the book Shi-Lin, I enjoyed illustrating an Eastern dragon for this cover!

 

Book Cover:

 

Process Images:

Starfish Shore

Starfish Shore came about from a series of sketchbook doodles done on actual real paper with pencils. Thanks to my local illustration group, I've just rediscovered my love of toned sketch paper + white Prismacolor pencil. I've been itching to do something "beachy" so I was musing about sea-life that one might find along the shore and what might be magical about it. When this image started off it was just the boy and a lantern, the girl came about when I was painting later and found myself wanting to put something/someone hovering over top of the starfish.

BUY A PRINT - A vibrant, gallery-quality art print, on cotton rag paper -up to 24" x 35" size!

Gravity Falls

After finishing both seasons of Gravity Falls, I was inspired to try my hand at the setting and characters with a fan art piece. As I enjoy both the offbeat humor and mystery of the series, I wanted to include hints of both. I thought it especially important to capture the magic of the Oregon wood in which the story takes place. Though I didn't want to clutter the piece with all of the creatures Dipper and Mabel encounter, I did hide a few of the quirky gnomes in the bottom left corner.

All and all, it was a fun challenge to translate the show's cartoon style into my own! Hopefully fellow fans will get a kick out of seeing these characters illustrated differently.

 

 

Animated GIF of the process:

Narnia Book Cover

For many years now I've wanted to create an fan work to honor of one of my most beloved fantasy series. Narnia was my earliest foray into fantasy. My parent's read The Chronicles of Narnia aloud to my siblings and I for many years before we could read ourselves. Later, I was absolutely swept away by the 1988 BBC production, watching it many times throughout my childhood.

Here we have my fan cover for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Re-reading the book, it was hard to decide what elements to include on the cover -but, ultimately, I felt that the biggest emphasis should be on the four siblings. It was equally important to show the wintry magic of Narnia in the surroundings. The one aspect I did take liberties with was the children's coats. Technically they should all be wearing oversized fur coats (taken from the Wardrobe) -but I really wanted to show them in more eye-catching colors and styles from the 1940s to emphasize that they come from our world.

(Logo used for mock-up purposes only. I did not create it nor do I claim any ownership of the property.)

Enjoy!

Sand Wizard

Here's a brand new personal piece. In 'Sand Wizard' I was interested in exploring a desert environment, as it'd been ages since I painted one. The main inspiration came from a number of beautiful long exposure photos I've seen of night skies above deserts. And the idea of for the color scheme was to do a purple/rose background paired with a golden glow.

For our Moroccan wizard boy, I enjoyed trying my hand at some traditional clothing from the culture. The Fennec foxes seemed like a great fit for an added measure of depth and cuteness -I'm especially happy with the light shinning through their ears. Yes, I did take a fantastical license with their purple eye color.

This whole image was an exceptionally quick process for me once the idea struck, taking only a few days of painting to complete from thumbnail to final.

Enjoy!

If you like this image you can BUY A PRINT in my shop. Thanks so much!

 

 

Below is a quick animation of my process:

Butterfly Magic

I'm finally getting back into the swing of things after the chaos of an international move over the holidays (back from Germany to my home state of Virginia), followed by house hunting. After an amazing three-year-stint aboard in Southern Germany, chalked full of European travel, historic sites, international friends, and incredible food, my husband and I felt it was time to head home -to be closer to our families and move onward to our next life adventure. I will never forget my time spent abroad, nor the awesome friends I made, and I want to continue traveling to other parts of this beautiful world.

I'm now mostly settled into my lovely new home studio -except for wall art- always such a hard decision for an artist! Photos of my new studio space to follow soon!

So: Butterfly Magic. This one popped up when I was doodling around for ideas for a spring promotional piece. I thought it would be neat to do more images in the vein of "Firefly Magic" ...as I could eventually see a small series of magical encounters of kids with critters.

As always, a tremendous thanks to my critique groups and art friends for their great feedback along the way!

I've included several detail shots and a quick animation of the steps. I do want to note that this was created at a nice big resolution of 24" x 36" @300 dpi for making some huge crisp art prints.

If you like this image you can now BUY A PRINT! Thanks so much.

StarSpun: Chapter 9!

Chapter #9 for my webcomic StarSpun releases today. This one is a bit of breather for Poppy after the previous maelstrom, but sets things up for the remaining chapters.

 

Click the image below to read this as an infinite scroll:

Chapter Summary: Desperately worried about her injured cat, Poppy knocks upon the door of the giant glowing conch shell. Here she meets an old hermit named Solomon who heals Amber and tells her his story -their paths are not so dissimilar.

Enchanted Acorns

I just put the finishing sparkles on a brand new personal piece. This one was created for the October 2015 SCBWI Draw This challenge, the theme: Enchanted. This theme meshed nicely with my desire to create a fall-themed illustration for fun and promotion. I was going for something glowing and magical that would fit well into my middle grade fantasy portfolio. In this I challenged myself to create a multi-figure composition with clear leading lines for the viewer.

I have the awesome ladies of my critique groups to thank for the way this one shaped up at the end! You all are wonderful!

 

The Legend of Shi-Lin Releases Today!

The Legend of Shi-Lin by Sharon Lee Beatty has just released in paperback form via Amazon today! For this story I created seven original interior illustrations, one chapter heading illustration, and a custom wrap book cover.

The story of The Legend of Shi-Lin is a brand new tale that is inspired by Chinese legends. It follows the story of a most unusual dragon woman and revolves around her fascination with the human world -and one man in particular.

My favorite part about this cover was getting to try my hand at painting a Chinese dragon.

*Note: text design mock-up may not reflect final cover design by client.

I created the interiors in a mock watercolor digital style. I especially enjoyed playing with Kyle T Webster's Watercolor Brushes for these.