20 February 2017

The Pitt

I've shared The Pitt with you before, but it has been a while since we've been there. Winter and all that. But days are starting to get longer here, and the weekend was nice. So we wandered the lovely path to the Pitt. Gourmet food trucks were gathered all around with big barrels burning fires to keep us warm. This is one reason why we go. This was a mussel chowder and a lovely red wine.

Of course, the other reason we go is that we often run into fellow foodie friends there. Here is Stan, Georgia and me.

and Georgia, me and Connie.

In the background, Dave B Mac is playing his awesome slap guitar (the third reason we go).
     And they've been fixing up the joint, with wall art.

Random sculptures.

And bathrooms that now actually feature stalls! Hehe. It's a big rough around the edges, but that's part of what we love about it.
     And truly, the walk home is on a converted train trail through woods - so relaxing. Although, just before we got that far, we happened across this happy truck.

And a sign that struck me as funny.

That was my play day this week. Otherwise, I've been plugging away at uni. Only a few months left until graduation. OMG!

19 February 2017

VIDEO: Wise words from Neil Gaiman

I love Neil's message - why the world needs YOU to create! Click the image to watch on Youtube:

16 February 2017

Kate Forrester's CELTIC TALES

I've been passing around a book lately called CELTIC TALES: FAIRY TALES AND STORIES OF ENCHANTMENT FROM IRELAND, SCOTLAND, BRITTANY, AND WALES. We've all been drooling over the textures and patterns, and how lovely the overall design is (along with the stories and the illustrations). It's by author/illustrator Kate Forrester. Happily, she is here today to talk to us about it!

by Kate Forrester
e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
Firstly I read the text and jot down a few ideas. If lettering is involved, I then tend to start by sketching out the words and then I build the illustration around it. If there is no lettering, I start with the key object or character and make a messy pencil sketch to work out the composition and balance of the page.
      Then I scan in the sketches and block out darker sections and greys using Photoshop. This is the stage you see in the roughs below. After that i rejig bits digitally, print the sketch again and redraw using layout paper, brush pens and fine liners. My drawings are almost always rendered in black pen and coloured in Photoshop.
      I like the combination of intricate, hand drawn line work and flat colour.

e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
I think anything hand drawn has a touch of magic automatically. And I like to think that my clients and readers can recognize my hand and are drawn to my ornate style.

e: Why did you choose to gather and illustrate these stories?
I was sent the brief by Chronicle - I had met the art director in San Francisco a few years ago and apparently she had been looking out for the perfect project for me ever since!

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
My favorite part is the first stage of the creative process. The blank piece of paper and the first ideas and imaginings.

The biggest challenge is when you disagree with the client feedback - but luckily that didn't happen on this project!

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I have just completed one dream project very recently. It was a really huge mural for a publishing house in London. I had to hand letter almost 4000 author names in the form of an illustrated river of words which wrapped around the interior of a 5 story building! (More info here.) So pretty different from book covers! I love the diversity that my job brings.

15 February 2017

How my Hubbie loves me...

For Valentine's Day, my hubbie has figured out that he doesn't need to go to the jewelry store. Instead, he goes to the art supply store. How wonderful! Yesterday, he surprised me with a lovely hand-screen-printed card (not shown) and an ink brush pen (an ORANGE one!), which I've been having a lovely time playing with. How much does he love me? :)

14 February 2017

Coloring Page Tuesday - I LOVE BOOKS!

     Happy Valentine's Day! This year I'm celebrating how much I LOVE BOOKS!!! I hope you will too! CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of over a dozen literary awards, including Georgia Author of the Year. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

13 February 2017

Making Marginal Books

It's my last semester of my MFA in Illustration at the University of Edinburgh College of Art. Can you believe it? This is the semester I pull together projects to display in our graduation show. No works-in-progress there - it will be a super-slick presentation of finished pieces. So, I have lots of work to do.
     The first project I decided to tackle was to bind my Marginal Creatures into home-made books. Doing this requires several steps, each of which has its own challenges.
     First, I cut 2mil cardboard to my template, glued and wrapped them with book cloth. To this, I screen printed my titles. I mixed white and silver acrylic paint in the hopes that I could mimic the cover of my inspiration book, Debi Gliori's NIGHT SHIFT (that inspired another project I'll share soon).

     This was a lot of work for a very small image. So small, in fact, I had to share a screen with somebody else's work.

     Screen-printing is a finicky method, so my heart was in my throat as I made a few test prints and then applied it to my already assembled book covers. It so easily could have gone wrong. Happily, four of the five that I did turned out great. I'll take those numbers!

I tried several different combinations. White on black, silver on black, and white on grey. The black on grey was the fail - the ink spread outside the parameters of the burn area - fuzzy. PAH. But the white on grey worked.

It took a day for these to dry. With that time, I printed my interiors. The pages alternate between Strathmore book paper and vellum (with the haikus). I had to fernangle a printer to take my hand-cut papers with deckle edges, but I finally got it to work. I collated them with their covers.

     I cut down the pages then sewed them together with Japanese punch binding.

     Here you can see the red endpaper too.

Almost done! Next I'll secure the pages into their covers and VOILA! I'm looking into how to share it with you as a flip-through. More soon!

12 February 2017

VIDEO: Benjamin Von Wong's Mermaids

"Mermaids Hate Plastic Pollution" is the gorgeous series of new photographs by artist Benjamin Von Wong. Not only do they send a beautiful message, the process of making them brought together a community. Click the image to watch.

All of his photography is truly stunning - go see here: http://www.vonwong.com/

11 February 2017

Cold and Rainy March in February

I must admit, it's exciting to be a college student amidst the buzz of political activism. And being an art student means we put time and care into our signs. I told you about the fervor over the sign I painted for a recent march in "I'm With Her." One of those reporter images is still a front-page image for the online version of The Edinburgh Evening News! In fact, one of my tutors suggested my original sign might be a collector's item, so rather than ruin it in bad weather, I had it scanned and turned into products through my online store. I'm proud to say folks are buying shirts, signs and bags with my Lady Liberty image on them from Edinburgh to Seattle! (A portion of sales will be donated to the ACLU.) I also had two more-weather-resistant signs made for Stan and me to use at today's march.
     That said, my friend Karin's poster was the hit of today's march. She made a hand-letterpress sign that reads "No to Fear, Hate, Greed." If you know anything about letterpress, you know the time and care that went into these. Gorgeous.

     Of course, we weren't the only ones who put thought into our signs. While I hate that we need to make these signs at all, the more marches we have, the more creative the signs get. I especially loved the Scottish DT model cheet-o.

     And this group took the pussy hat to new extremes.

     It was amazing to see this outpouring of creativity despite the weather forecast of cold, rain, wind, and snow. Somehow, the weather stayed just clear enough for us to stand it as an enormous crowd grew at The Meadows (Edinburgh's version of Central Park). We were surrounded by wonderful signs in all directions:

Despite its fame, Edinburgh is a small town - the murals in the background are by one of my tutors at uni, Astrid Jaekel.

     We loved enjoying all the clever displays of people's thoughts, however, we were also freezing cold standing in one spot on wet ground. So we were especially excited when we began to actually march. The wind made pictures hard to take as we held onto our signs tightly - they became sails! As we got to the Royal Mile, it wasn't so bad. We chanted and smiled at the folks who stopped to watch our parade. What a way to experience this ancient city! (That's St. Giles Cathedral on the right.)

     We really were marching in the middle of a cold snap, probably the worst weather we've had all winter. Most of us couldn't feel our toes or fingers anymore. We were also hungry. So, about half way down the Royal Mile, we cut left to have lunch at Viva Mexico. (Yes, there is great Mexican food to be found in Edinburgh!) We fell apart with hot chocolate and home-made tortilla chips. Here are Antii and Stan.

and me and my girls, Karin and Amandine.

What a great crowd (I'll share numbers when I know them), what great day! There's nothing like a powerful message and bad weather to pull people together! I leave you with the protest singer at The Meadows. Sorry I couldn't get the whole thing, he was great too! (Click the image to play on Youtube.)

     Here's the coverage in the Edinburgh Evening News.

09 February 2017


Must admit I've never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day. Monsters on the other hand... the fuzzy, huggable kind... I ADORE monsters. Put the two together, and now we have a Valentine's Day Book I can get behind! Illustrator Bats Langley dropped by to tell us more about GROGGLE'S MONSTER VALENTINE (written by Diana Murray, Sky Pony Press).

e: What is your creative ghastly process, can you walk us through it?
Every project is different. For Groggle, I was given Diana's wonderful text, and from there, I created the characters of Groggle and Snarlina. We went back and forth on what we both hoped to see in the final illustrations. Then I created black and white watercolors, a few of which are actually available to purchase at the AFA Gallery in New York. Then I scanned them and colored them in digitally. e: What is your favourite monster medium?
Anything I can get my hands on! I love all mediums, but my favorites are acrylics, watercolors and colored pencils. Sometimes if I'm completely without a pen or pencil, I use what's around me. I'm very fidgety, and when I'm in a restaurant, waiting for my meal, I keep myself busy by painting a portrait in pizza grease, or making a watercolor using coffee. The other day I was in a sushi restaurant, and while I was waiting for my sashimi, I created a landscape with smudged wasabi and washes of soy sauce.

e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
An illustration becomes magical when you want to see what's just outside the frame. When you are so immersed that the page feels like it has no borders. When the artist's passion shines through, and you can almost feel, hear, taste, and smell whatever is inside the world that they've created for you.

e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Google’s Monster Valentine?
Diana Murray, the author, and I are represented by the same agent, Brianne Johnson. At the start of this project, Bri had just taken me on as an illustrator and was looking for one of her writers to help create a vehicle to showcase my art. Diana looked around www.BatsLangley.com and was inspired by a piece called The Love Nibbler, a pink one eyed monster nibbling a heart that simply said "LOVE." It was originally created for my fiancé as a Valentine's Day gift. Both Groggle and I love making Valentines to show our affection—but thankfully, my fiancé didn't eat the painting!
      Groggle actually looks a lot like my fiancé, and it didn't dawn on me until I saw the two of them side by side. I had a bunch of version of Groggle that I had been toying with, but once I saw the similarity, I knew that version was the one I had to move forward with.

e: What was your path to publication?
For Groggle, it took a little time until we found the right home for him, where he could flourish, and be his own kind of monster. When Sky Pony Press signed the project, both Diana and I were thrilled to be working together. Diana was actually the first author I had the honor to illustrate. She wrote this wacky poem for Spider Magazine about a girl who wildly imagined what her mother was making for a mystery dinner. The girl pondered her mother using slimy slugs and slithering snakes as ingredients. It was filled with the kind of fun, icky text Diana is so talented at writing. It was a great combination with my monster work.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
My absolute favorite part of being a creator is that magical moment when you've worked really hard on something really difficult, and the final product works out so well you impress yourself. It doesn't happen every day, but when it does, it feels incredible.

e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
When I designed Groggle and Snarlina, I wanted them to be the reverse of what people might expect. Snarlina, the girl monster, is big, strong, and loud. Groggle, the boy monster, is small and cute. I think there are so many types of boys and girls in the world, it's important we show them that whatever way they happen to be is just fantastic.

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
At the moment I have a few picture books that I have written that I'm still trying to find the right publishing home for. As I shop things around, I'm usually painting and showing in galleries. Most recently I've shown in Los Angeles at Gallery Nucleus, and at the AFA Gallery in NYC and Las Vegas.
      A dream project would be creating either a short or feature length animation. It's something I have always wanted to do, but other fabulous adventures have always gotten in the way. Hopefully, in the near future, I find the right person or some company to work with.

e: Thanks Bats! By the way, folks, Bats has some Groggle Monster coloring pages on his website!

08 February 2017

Harvey Nicks

On my walk home I pass one of the more posh shopping centers in Edinburgh, Harvey Nichols, called "Harvey Nicks." I've been inside once or twice. It's where you buy very expensive, unique fashions, or gourmet chocolates and sushi. What's most fun about it is the window displays. They're always creative and fun. But I thought these latest were especially unique...

And my fave...

They look great at night.


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