Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Creative New Year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SideShow Books - A Little Bookstore With Big Style

The next time you catch a film at the Nuart Theater, be sure to make the time to stroll around the corner and pay a visit to SideShow Books.

If you blink, you might miss the tiny box of a building with its crisp green awning. But once you step inside you'll discover a book lover's paradise, a used bookstore full of mystery and surprises, an Aladdin's cave packed with treasures and curiosities (not to mention the world's smallest movie theater). Inch for inch it's the most comprehensive bookstore in town. The tiny space is packed with books: books stacked floor-to-ceiling, books laid wall-to-wall, books resting on benches and chairs, books arranged in neat piles on the floor, books scattered across counters, and books nestled neatly on shelves.

You'll be sure to find something you always wanted or didn't even realize you needed. The only problem is deciding where to look first. My advice is to dive right in. On closer inspection, you'll discover that the store is parceled into well-marked sections, making browsing easy. Categories include the cinema, the theater, biographies, collectible magazines, vintage comic books, children's books, entertainment and publishing ephemera, pulp fiction, trashy paperbacks, literature, mysteries, art, and science fiction. The whole place is chock-a-block with posters and kitschy art, antique cameras, old board games, dolls, toys, and incredible amounts of stuff, all artfully arranged with a kind of kooky logic and a quirky sense of style.

It's plain to see that a book lover runs this store. The owner sits like a sultan among his treasures, where he's happy just to chat or answer any questions you might have. He plays great music, too. The last time I stopped by the sweet, soulful voice of Gram Parsons was drifting from the stereo.

The big box bookstores are all packing up and moving out, leaving Westside book lovers with very few choices. The Westwood Borders shut their doors last year and Barnes and Noble in the Westside Pavilion will close at the end of this year. If you're looking for a cool place to hang out, just browse, or to pick up a unique or hard-to-find book, I suggest you head straight to SideShow Books. You can find them at 11323 Idaho Avenue in West LA.

And don't forget to check out the world's smallest movie theater tucked away back in the cinema section. It's a great place to catch a classic film, but you might have to bring your own tiny box of popcorn.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Illustration Friday: "Scary"

Ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night . . .

Monday, October 24, 2011

Illustrating "The Ice Castle" Part 2: Production Schedule

When you're a freelancer, juggling multiple assignments can be tricky. For some reason jobs tend to come in a tangle and a rush, all clumped together. I'm sure it's some kind of cosmic law - the same one that dictates that when you drop a slice of buttered bread, it always has to fall face down.

One of the benefits of working on a long-term project like a book is that you're given a production schedule that sets out the project milestones clearly and precisely. And although the dates aren't set in stone (publishing is a lot like the army - sometimes you have to hurry up and wait) you still have a pretty good gauge of how to pace yourself and when you can accept other assignments.

It also doesn't hurt if you stick to the schedule and try not to wait until the last minute to do your work -- unless you don't mind 24 hour days and being glued to your chair somehow feels nautral to you. Sometimes you can't help that - you're thrown a last minute change or the editor or art director decides something extra is needed. There can (and most likely will) always be emergencies, so, as my old girl scout leader used to say, be prepared.

I've included a copy of the production schedule for "The Ice Castle" (above). So far things have gone smoothly and with one exception we've stuck pretty close to the schedule. As you can see, even though the pub date isn't until August 2012, a lot of the work is due way in advance so that all of the elements: editing, illustration, book design, marketing, and sales can all come together to make a great book.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Illustrating "The Ice Castle" -- Initial Sketches

I'm in the midst of illustrating The Ice Castle, a middle grade fantasy adventure written by Pendred Noyce. I thought it might be interesting to share the behind-the-scenes process of creating a book from the illustrator's point of view.

Of course, it all starts with the manuscript. Once I get those, crisp, new pages in my hands, I read the manuscript several times. The initial reading is done quickly so that I can get the overall feel of the book. The second time, I go through the text more carefully, marking up the typescript and making notes to myself about possible illustrations. During the third review, I refine my list and make visual and written notes about the look and feel of the characters, costumes, and the settings. Most of The Ice Castle takes place in the imaginary "Land of Winter", so creating a fantasy world that is grounded in reality is very important to the integrity of this story.

During my initial conversations with the art director, we agreed that the book should contain about thirty black and white interior illustrations, a frontispiece, one iconic image that will appear at the top of each chapter, and of course, a color cover illustration. Working with the author, we each came up with a list of possible illustrations. Once those three lists were combined and edited, I had my working illustration list, although I was free to add or subtract scenes if I thought another would serve the story more effectively.

I was given a lot of leeway and creative freedom by the art director. She did urge me to tell the author's story visually -- in other words, it should be clear what the story was about without reading the prose. The Ice Castle is full of action, mystery and rip-roaring adventure, so it really lends itself to a cinematic illustration style. I was able to exploit unusual angles, close and medium shots and interesting POVs to underscore and heighten the action and emotion of the scenes.

Once I completed the initial sketches, the illustrations were reviewed and most of them were accepted as submitted. Some changes were suggested for existing scenes, one scene was eliminated, and two more were added.

The next step will be to submit those edited sketches and, once they are approved, I'll be able to begin on the finished illustrations.

In my next entry, I'll talk about deadlines and timelines.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lost in Lexicon: Second Edition

The second edition of Lost in Lexicon, written by Penny Noyce, made its debut just this week. The book, featuring a new cover, is the first in a series of four "Lexicon" adventures that will be published by Scarletta Press.

It's been just about a year since I finished the illustrations for the first edition, which came out in Fall of 2010 under the Tumblehome Press imprint. It was an auspicious beginning for first-time author Penny Noyce; the book received glowing reviews, won several awards, and then, to top it all off, was chosen to serve as the debut novel for Scarletta's new line of books for children.

Now the fun begins again - we're off and running on the second installment in the series: The Ice Castle. Penny has turned in the final draft of the manuscript and I've finished the first round of sketches and have made a tentative start on the cover. The Ice Castle will be published in the Fall of 2012.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Illustration in the LA Times

My illustration for the children's story "The Errand", by Anne Loader McGee, will in the Sunday, July 17 edition of the LA Times. You can read the story by clicking on the title above.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Illustration Friday - Stay

This little character has been floating around in my head for awhile. This week's topic -Stay - seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring her to life.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Illustration Friday - Shadows

Sometimes even the fluffiest bunny has a raging beast inside.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Ice Castle

I've just started working on the preliminary sketches for The Ice Castle, the second in the "Lexicon" series of middle grade mystery/adventures written by Pendred Noyce. It's exciting to be revisiting characters from the first book, Lost in Lexicon, and to create new ones, like Daphne and Ivan's cousin, Lila. The series (there will be four books in all) is published by Scarletta Press.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'm the Small Wall Artist at the Hive's 6th Anniversary Show

I'm one of the featured artists at the Hive during the month of April. The 6th Anniversary Exhibit opened April 2nd and runs through the end of the month. The gallery is open Wednesday through from 1-6pm, and is part of the Downtown Art Walk on Thursday, April 7th. Hope you'll have the chance to drop in!

From the Corner of My Eye

Into the Woods (sold)

Kings in Golden Suits

Mirror, Mirror (sold)

The Tenderness of Wolves (sold)

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Hive Gallery Sixth Anniversary Show

I'll be the "Small Wall" Artist (there are no small walls - only small artists?) at the Hive's 6th Anniversary Show. The exhibit opens on April 2nd and runs through the entire month.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Lost in Lexicon" To Be Released by Scarletta Press

Publishers Weekly announced last week that Lost in Lexicon (written by the fabulous Penny Noyce and illustrated by yours truly) will be published by Scarletta Press as the first title in their new line of children's fiction. Lost in Lexicon is the first in a series of four books featuring teen cousins Ivan and Daphne, and will be published in August of this year. Read the complete announcement at

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tarot Show at The Hive Gallery

I'll be participating in the Hive Gallery's 2nd Annual Tarot show, opening Saturday, January 8th and running through the end of the month. Participating artists were asked to submit a piece representing a particular card in the Tarot deck. I chose to illustrate the Page of Cups, part of the Minor Arcana. Since I know nothing about the Tarot, I had a lot of fun researching the symbolism and meaning behind the card. After a process that included a lot of sketching, erasing, crumpling of paper, tossing of paper, and sketching some more, I finally decided upon my final design. I incorporated many of the symbols representing the Page of Cups, including the color blue (expression and communication), feathers (higher thought), fish (emotion, intuition and creativity), and flowers (joy, beauty, and sensitivity). According to my research, the Page of Cups encourages you "to embrace your childlike sense of wonder, because when you do this, there is no limit to your creative flow".