How was the Regional Conference?

This past weekend was the Western Pennsylvania SCBWI conference. It was a really nice weekend and I got to spend time with friends and make new ones!

Friday night I attended an illustrator intensive that was all about illustrating book covers. Maria Middleton led the workshop and it was a good exercise in not over thinking your drawing, and finding the joy in creating that I felt as a kid. Instead of focusing on what wasn’t working, the general attitude of the evening was “What if we did THIS?!” Exploration instead of criticism.

Conference day, there were four workshop sessions and attendees had several options for each session, giving the conference a “Choose Your Own Adventure” feel. We had a really nice group of guest faculty for the conference:


  • Kelly Delaney , Assistant Editor at Alfred. A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Susan Hawk, Agent at The Bent Agency
  • Deirdre Jones, Associate Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Maria Middleton, Associate Art Director at Abrams Kids
  • Rotem Moscovich, Senior Editor at Disney-Hyperion
  • Ammi-Joan Paquette, Senior Agent at Erin Murphy Literary
  • Alexandra Penfold, Agent at Upstart Crow Literary
  • Ariel Richardson, Associate Editor at Chronicle Books

At lunchtime, winners for the bookmark challenge were announced. Pat Lewis and I won! Here is my bookmark design. You’ve seen it :) It’s also now my website header! bookmark-2inx8in-h-round-front

I can’t go into too many details about the sessions I attended because the presenters worked really hard to develop them, and I can’t steal their work and give it away. Some of the sessions I attended were about what an agent does, the process of a book dummy becoming a published book, and embracing creative ideas for a book.  I can tell you that if you want to learn more about the ins and outs of children’s book publishing and getting to know some great people, attending a conference is a great idea. If you are looking for work, this isn’t that sort of event.  Sometimes people can get work from conferences, but it’s very rare.

If you are thinking about attending a conference, I have some points of etiquette to share:

  • Don’t try to start a lengthy conversation with someone who is walking into the restroom.
  • Do introduce yourself before and after the workshop/presentations to the presenter.
  • Don’t interrupt someone constantly. Everyone accidentally does this, especially when nervous, but there’s a difference between once or twice and never letting the person finish a sentence.
  • Do ask questions that are relevant to the presentation.
  • Don’t play games on your phone or laptop while someone is presenting. If you are that bored, then politely excuse yourself and leave the session.
  • Do turn your ringer off on your cell phone while at the conference. You can leave it on vibrate if you are expecting an important call.

Thanks for reading! Next week, I’ll share some peeks at my picture book dummy in progress, and some sketches too. :) Have a great week!

From Sketch to Finish

Two posts in one day! I wanted to share with you some new art I did this week!

I decided to start taking some of my #inktober sketches from last month, and finish them. I sketched these using Copic and Micron ink pens and Copic Markers for the color. I completed the images using Photoshop CS5.  I hope you enjoy them!!

Inktober Day 14 Girl-Playing-the-Cello Inktober Day 9 Boy-sleeping

A Month for Dummies

I’ve decided to create a picture book dummy for November.

Too often I say “I’m going to make a dummy!” and then something comes up in life, or I get insecure and afraid of failure. It’s so easy to say “I’ll wait until next week, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll just do it later tonight” and then POOF! Time has disappeared and the dummy has never happened.

NO LONGER, I SAY! It’s going to happen. I’ll share bit and snippets of my progress, but I can’t share TOO much about it because I want to get it published someday. My mother and I have been working as a team, and she’s been writing stories, and we want to make a go of trying to get published together, although we both agree that if one of us gets picked up but the other doesn’t, there will be no hard feelings.

If you are interested in creating a picture book dummy, or you just want to know more about them, there are some wonderful online resources available. I’ve listed them below. As the month goes on, I’ll share bits of my progress during our usual Wednesday post, and also new sketches :-)

Resources for Picture Book Dummy Making:

#Inktober 2015 is complete!!

Inktober is over! I really enjoyed drawing with pens and markers this month. When you can’t hit ctrl z, you really have to think about where the lines are going.  Even though you can’t delete your ink lines, I didn’t feel like I needed to erase as much because I was just focused on drawing. I spend less time clicking and looking for the right keys or rebooting because the stylus is lagging. Traditional tools, it’s just place pen on paper, and BEND IT TO MY WILL.  Sorta :)

I think one of the biggest lessons I learned this month about art is to appreciate where I am today in this journey.  Having goals and moving forward is really important, but also just stopping, looking around and saying “Wow, this is a nice place too!”  I know that as an artist, there’s always going to be a part of me that thinks “I can do better”, even when I’m 90 years old. Also when I’m 90 years old, I’m going to eat cake every day. But that’s a different sort of goal :) Appreciating the now makes the journey seem less like trudging forward through snow and more like a scenic roadtrip across the country. The final spot isn’t really the point as much as seeing all the weird sights along the way.

Next stop: Our regional conference next weekend. I’ll be preparing myself for that, and also working on the family christmas card, which you know I can’t show you until December so I’m SO MEAN for even bringing it up. But I’ll share with you some sneak peeks, okay?

Here are all the Inktober drawings, including the ones I haven’t shared yet from this week

Inktober Day 22-27

Oh my goodness! Can you believe it’s Wednesday already? Can you believe it’s the 28th of October already? Time is flying by this month!! I keep thinking it’s Tuesday.

This week was a difficult one. I didn’t have the time to draw as much as I wanted, and when I did have the time, life events had my full attention. All that matters is today, everyone is healthy, happy and there is much to be grateful for. Sometimes that’s just how things happen, and we move forward. :)

This Sunday, I’ll share a final #Inktober post in a gallery format with all the drawings in one place along with final reflections about the experience, and plans for the future

Day 22: I loved this girl’s expression. I think I captured her joy, but the reference photo was even cuter. Filed under “Try, try again.”

Inktober Day 22

Day 23: I LOVE this girl’s ears. This wasn’t a study, but just something I drew from my head. Simple, but direct.

Inktober day 23

Day 24: Halloween Witches are out! I liked this girl. I noticed this week I got a bit iffy with the feet, so that’s something I’m going to pay closer attention to in the future.

Inktober Day 24

Day 25: Medusa takes a dance class. I LOVE Medusa. I have such a soft spot for her, and loved the idea of her taking a dance class and not having it work out so well.

Inktober day 25

Day 26 Mom and I met this girl in line at a store, and she was SO friendly, charming and I wish I had all my pens with me. She had on ALL the colors and I think the world is a brighter place with her in it. :)

Inktober day 26

Day 27- My favorite baby. I often draw this little baby or a version of him when I’m feeling a little stressed out. Something about the roundness of him, and all his little shapes and well. I love drawing him!

Inktober Day 27

That’s it for this week! Today through Saturday I’ll post daily updates on Instagram, and then Sunday you’ll see all the drawings. :) Thank you for being here!

#Inktober Day 15-21

Here are all the #inktober drawings from this week:

Day 15: I loved drawing this one! I have naturally straight/wavy hair, so I love drawing curly hair! This was a great opportunity to practice drawing a face in full profile too, something that often leads to my ripping the paper from vigorous erasing.

Inktober Day 15

Day 16: I had a terrific migraine this day. I drew this quickly after the Excedrin had kicked in, posted it and then retreated back into a dim room and rested. Migraines are the pits!

Inktober Day 16

Bonus Inktober: I drew this the next day. My head still ached, but the migraine had passed :) There was much (quiet) celebrating!

Inktober Day Bonus 17

Day 17: Decorating Cookies. I don’t know about you, but half the fun of decorating cookies as a kid was trying to eat most of the ingredients. And of course eating the cookies that broke in the oven. “Oh nooo, we can’t give these to company!” Mom would say “I guess we’ll just have to eat them!” Best Mom ever. I “break” cookies coming out of the oven as an adult now. “Oh noooo” :D

Inktober Day 17

Day 18: This is my friend’s son Wyatt. I really enjoyed sketching him because he looks SO MUCH like my friend. Plus, how cute is his bowtie?

inktober day 18

Day 19: This was the only one I forgot to label! Remember what it was like to draw with your face RIGHT UP near the drawing? As a kid, you have to get as close as possible to the paper so the image in your head has a better chance of showing up on the paper. Plus you could smell the crayons on paper and that’s a wonderful smell, right?

Inktober Day 19

Day 20: I was really happy with how this turned out. Its’ not perfect, but I feel like I am getting the hang of blending colors better with the copics. Plus, I just like the way he’s looking at someone off the page.

inktober Day 20

Day 21: Bubbles in the Wind. I had a lot of fun with this one. There are some proportion issues (I’m looking at you arm!) but I loved drawing bubbles, wind blown hair and getting the expression for blowing bubbles.

inktober Day 21

That is it for this week! :D Thanks for stopping by and checking out my work! See you again next week :D

Inktober Day 8-14

Another week of #inktober is gone, and again I’m just delighted with the daily drawing exercise. I feel like I’m getting a lot of experience points in drawing children. I’ve also had more parents send me pictures of their children saying “Would you sketch mine?” I don’t think there’s a nicer compliment. Here are the drawings:

Day 8: This is one of my favorites, not just because of the result, but because of the process in drawing this boy. I loved his pose and expression in the reference photo, and it was an exciting challenge to capture that.

inktober day 8

Day 9: I remember wishing I could take a nap, so this image really captured my wish for napping that day :) I also have a soft spot for teddy bears.

Inktober Day 9

Day 10: I was very grouchy on this day, and I had a LOT on my plate that day so this was drawn at breakfast on the back of my grocery list. I made faces while I drew. :-P

Inktober Day 10

Day 11: I almost forgot to draw for inktober on day 11! I was so busy working on Warrior Cat that I drew this at the end of the day. I used 3 different photos of different girls to come up with this one. In the end she reminds me of a friend’s daughter, and I thought “I could’ve just looked at a photo of her!” :-D Funny how our subconscious minds work!

Inktober Day 11

Day 12: This one is another favorite of mine. Profiles are a challenge for me, so I was really pleased to make progress with this one. Plus the boys are relatives of mine, so I have a little bias when it comes to the warm fuzzies :)

Inktober Day 12

Day 13: I loved this photo sent to me. His sippy cup was HUGE and his book is HUGE and he carried them around like a boss.

Inktober Day 13

Day 14: Drawing this girl was a wonderful experience :) Thanks for waiting while I worked on it.

Inktober Day 14

#Inktober Day 1-7

I am really having a ball drawing children this week! It’s been such a good exercise to study faces, proportions, and try to figure out markers and pens.  Using a topic theme like “Children” and just drawing every day reminds me how much I enjoy drawing. Even the days when I don’t love the results, I learn a lot, and it unlocks that determination of “I’m gonna keep going until I get it right!” mentality I had when I was a kid drawing horses.

Here’s the week of drawings:

Inktober Day 1: I drew a small boy holding cookies. Using a Micron Pen and Copic Markers.. I don’t have an extensive Copic collection, most of mine are just shades of grey, but even with a few colors, I find I can push it pretty far.

Inktober Day 1

Day 2 Girl looks up. Ah perspective, my old enemy. I really enjoyed drawing this one. Thank heavens for photo references. I’m going to keep practicing this sort of perspective until we’re good friends.

Inktober Day 2

Day 3 Baby wearing Headphones. This one I did in the wee hours of the night. I couldn’t sleep and after staring at my ceiling, I decided to draw. The headphones are wonky in this drawing, but considering the circumstances, I gave myself a pass. If I was drawing this for a client though, I would’ve redrawn this until it was proportionally correct.

Inktober Day 3

Day 4: Girl Running: This one I did have to redraw several times until I got it right. Chins in profile. This poor girl had many, many chins. Not all at once, but oh the sadness of her chins before this one.

Inktober Day 4

Day 5: Boy with screen. This one was fun too. I liked showing him from a different angle and drawing chubby cheeks.

Inktober Day 5

Day 6: Children’s Choir.  This was the one that I wish I had more markers to work with. But I  loved working on this one and showing a group of kids together. I plan on finishing this one in Photoshop and sharing it with you next week here on the blog.

Inktober Day 6 Kids singing

Day 7: Blowing out the candles.

Inktober day 7


October is “Inktober”


Inktober is a fun time for a lot of artists because it’s an excuse to draw anything every day and share it! How it works is easy! You draw something with pen or ink, share it online with the hashtag #inktober. You can draw everyday, once a week, however often you wish! It’s a great drawing exercise and fun. 

This #inktober, I’ll be drawing children, You don’t have to pick a theme, but for me, drawing children isn’t as easy as I’d like it, and this is a fun opportunity to try on different techniques and get a lot of good practice in. I’ll share my #inktober drawings on Instagram daily, and continue to update weekly* on this blog each Wednesday.

Read about Inktober from the creator, Mr. Jake Parker and download some cool templates and icons like the one you see in this post!

*Provided the internet is working and I am able to post. Apparently country living has some downsides :) I think the cows in the neighboring farm are messing with the Wi-Fi


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