Friday, December 6, 2013


I miss my dog. It's been a couple months now since his passing, but it still hurts so much. Anyone who has lost a pet knows what I am talking about. I feel like he is with us still, everywhere I turn I feel his presence. I even think I can smell his ghost farts in my studio- (I'm serious)- I'm pretty sure it is not me.

He was a wonderful, one of a kind dog. He was a true friend and companion. He taught me so much about life. I know I am a better person because of him and I know he loved being part of our family. He is forever irreplaceable.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Oh- What's That?- A Children's Book App?

I can unleash the news now that in the little old Apple App store/ iTunes store you can find a children's book app called "My Day" which was conceived of by John Romano at Egads Press, co-written by he and I, and illustrated by me.

"My Day" is an end of the day story kids can personalize with their own photos. The story takes one through the happenings of what we thought are universal and cross-cultural in the lives of many children. This was one of the challenges of illustrating such a story; where the main character is the user. Each user is a unique individual with a different family and life than the next. With that in mind as I illustrated, I sought to get a wider scope of a child's life. How they are connected with everything on planet earth.

"My Day" is a reminiscing of a day passed- it is meant to relax and settle a child, they can mentally prepare for the next sun up and all of the possibilities that await. Going through daily events can help with visualizing the "arc" in activity level, and resigning into the natural lull of the evening.

 I also made activity pages that are in the app, they can be colored and drawn on a device or printed out for use. Any pages of the book or activities can be shared by e-mail or social networking sites.

Check out the publisher's website (Egad's Press) page for "My Day:

and in the iTunes/Apple store:

Here are a few of the illustrations in "My Day"...

Friday, November 1, 2013

SCBWI Illustrator Show downtown Seattle: October 2013- January 2014

If you are downtown Seattle and like illustration, children's books and/or art; you really ought to head to the Washington State Convention center. This show is great, and your friend here (me) has a piece on the wall too!

Hats off to the wondrous Jessixa Bagley for her piece above on show poster- and to ALL the illustrators in the exhibit.

In the mean time- my advice: throw a party, invite the fall leaves and go crazy.

Koalas Chillin' in the SCBWI Bulletin

It's November- difficult to believe but true. My koalas found their way into the 2013 November/ December Society of Children's Book Writer's & Illustrators' Bulletin newsletter. Here are the five.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sea Captain

The old sea captain and his friend have an after dinner conversation

Most of the time my illustrations require black&white sketches and color sketches. These below are how I mapped out what to do with this idea:

B&W sketch (with notes to self)

I like this candle better than in the final, but the cat looks like a monster.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Big Brother's in a Scooter Gang

Here is a new illustration. I am playing with different characters for this picture book idea I've had for a few years. (Project 30,789 or so down the line).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Talk: A PLACE TO CALL HOME by Alexis Deacon, Illustrated by Viviane Schwarz

Hey everybody, I have a book to share with you:  A PLACE TO CALL HOME written by Alexis Deacon and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz. (Published by Walker Books 2011). 

I am so happy to have stumbled upon this book because it reminded me how I had intended to look up more of author/illustrator Viviane Schwarz's work after reading THERE ARE CATS IN THIS BOOK. I love the expressions she gives her characters, and the over all life in her pictures.
The author of A PLACE TO CALL HOME,  Alexis Deacon has been a great discovery for me as well, he is a very good author and illustrator.

This book is cute, it's funny, it's about a crew of (gopher? hamster?) siblings who out grow their cozy hole. They are a bit disoriented as they embark upon a search for a new home. Things like this happen:

This book cracks me up. I am sure you would enjoy it too.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What I've been doing lately

Life's been hopping.
There is the business of this secret project I am collaborating on. I will share news as soon as I can- it's children's book related and will be something for purchase in a store.
The sun has been blessing Seattle by showing up, so we've been gardening and playing outside.
My mom and my sister Eleni were in town for Eleni's graduation- my little sis now has a PHD! Woah. I am  proud of her, she worked so hard for this.
We are in the last week of preschool for my oldest daughter and next week her new kindergarten has an orientation before summer starts. Big stuff.
So much has happened in 2013 already. I am happy to feel productive so far.
Bring it summer.

I also wanted to share a very non-summer photo my sister Jenny dug up for my mom's mother's day. These are 3 of 4 Romano sisters with my mom in the log house (mid- construction) my dad built for us in upstate NY. Good memories. That's me in the purple jacket.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

1st Interview on this New Blog: Michaele Razi!

I am pleased to share today, an interview with my friend Michaele Razi, a Seattle based illustrator whom I very much admire. Her work is beautiful and fun. I am always amazed at the clean balanced look of her illustrations, among many other things.

Me: Michaele, your first book is PLAYFUL MOON with words by Michelle Leclaire O'Neil- illustrated by yourself- (all proceeds of which go to the nonprofit Smart Beginnings/Easy Preventions- an organization in California that gives resources to pregnant teens and for preventing teen pregnancy) what a beautiful book and wonderful organization! Do you have any bits to share about how you decided to portray the images for this lovely story?

Michaele:  Well, Michelle and I brainstormed a bit about the visuals of the book. Her text was so lyrical and rich, with some traditional overtones, that I wanted to reflect that in the artwork. In Michelle's mind, when she was writing Playful Moon, her story was this burst of color and sweetness and I wanted to really drive that feeling. The illustrations I did were different from my usual style which is more of a subdued color palette with lots of white space, but since the majority of Playful Moon happens at night, I had to change it up. We also discussed how we wanted the character to look and we both agreed we wanted her to be a little girl of color and being a mixed girl myself, I wanted it  ambiguous enough so any girl reading the book could potentially see themselves. I also added a puppy as an additional character (I couldn't help myself)  in honor of my old, awesome dog, Sobee.


Me: What is your typical medium?

Michaele: My typical medium has changed! Originally, it was watercolor and pencil (sometimes I say graphite to sound artsy--Ha!). I've dabbled in oils and gouache, but the medium I use primarily is digital right now (Photoshop CS6). With a six year old son and 10 month old daughter, I have very little time and I can get so much done faster when I work digitally.

Me: When did you know you wanted to illustrate for children?

Michaele: I feel like I've known I wanted to do art since I was very little. I was constantly drawing and reading--two of my favorite things--and I guess I wanted to merge those two things together instinctively. I wasn't sure exactly what that would look like but I knew creating artwork was my thing, my lifestyle. I LOVED (still do) my children's books, but I also read comic books too and poured over the artwork. As I got older, I just put those thoughts away and did more fine art, then design, and I really didn't think about children's art for awhile, though it felt like it was always in the back of my mind. Then, when I had my son and a few serious health scares, my priorities shifted. I asked myself what was it that I wanted in my life? What was my most basic dream? The answer was crystal clear; I wanted to make children's books.

Me: Who/what do you think are your biggest influences?

Michaele:  The first thing that popped in my mind were all my old children's books. My top three that I still have: Favorite Japanese Children's Stories written by Florence Sakade and illustrated by Yoshisuke Kurosaki (my favorite artist), Twice Upon a Time written by Irwin Shapiro and illustrated by Adrienne Adams and, last but not least, Heidi by written by Johanna Spyri and illustrated by Corinne Malvern. Kurosaki's work is fresh, playful and light. There's just enough detail but never too much and there's also this element of Japanese calligraphy that I absolutely adore. Adrienne Adams is just wonderful, her line quality and style are gorgeous. Her work is sweet but there's an element of darkness that adds a seriousness (but never creepy) to her art. Malvern is just old school goodness--traditional watercolor with gorgeous colors and aesthetic that still feels modern and relevant (actually, her style reminds me of your work, Sarah). But those artists barely scratch the surface when it comes to influences. I'm looking at a lot of 1800s Persian art right now and illustrations from the 1920s as well. Of course, I scour the internet for other artists that inspire me (thank you Pinterest!) and follow a ton of artist blogs too. Last but not least, my critique group has been invaluable! Each person brings serious talent to the table and different perspectives that has helped me more than anything!

Me: Any advice you've received in the past or have come up with on your own that you think is most valuable?

Michaele: Hmmm...advice. There's probably a gazillion things different people have said to me over the years that has helped me immensely but the one thing that pops in my head was from one of my painting professors. She said when we feel stuck, or lost, or frustrated that was usually when we are going to make a big break through, when we were going to improve in those quick bursts of creativity, we just have to keep going. I have to remind myself of that all the time!

Me: What do you love most about illustration?

Michaele: My favorite thing about illustration has to be the infinite amount of styles and interpretations there are. Two artist can draw the same subject and they will be COMPLETELY different in style and tone and everything! It's just so cool. When I see other artists' work, I'm just blown away most of the time. I'm feel like I'm always thinking, "I'm surrounded my geniuses!" And I feel so grateful for that.

Me: Thank you again for your time! I can't wait to see your future projects unfold. One more question: if you had 
to choose, which would it be- pen, pencil, or crayon?

Michaele: Pencil! Actually, mechanical pencil (my art teachers would throttle me)--I get too lazy to sharpen them!

You can see more of Michaele's beautiful work on her blog: Razi Ink. Do that, and you should definitely purchase her book PLAYFUL MOON- don't forget 100% of proceeds go to Smart Beginnings/Easy Preventions and you will be getting a wonderful book for doing something good!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Little League, Big League

Springtime reminds me of my little league days. I sketched this last night, a self portrait of my stint on the Schuylerville Allstars.

I feel like reminiscing a little more, if you don't mind. I would also love to hear about any memories you have of little league- or just something of spring.
Some of my best/ most vivid little league memories: 

1. At the beginning of each season we got man sized trucker hats with our uniforms. We always wondered why. Maybe the trucker hats were more affordable.

2. Big League Chew was the coolest- but actually gross- it lost all flavor before you could count the third pitch.

3. One time a big game was about to start but I was starving so I ate a hot dog really fast and choked. My mom's friend Faith tried the heimlich maneuver which didn't work so she had to stick her fingers down my throat to sweep the hot dog out. This in front of a lot of people, and I didn't feel like such a hot shot anymore. It was nice to breathe again.

4. There was a giant mulberry tree next to my team's home field. We'd make ourselves sick off berries.

5. It was fun to play baseball! 

Do you have any memories to share of little league or spring traditions?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Taking Some Time

It feels like it has been a while since I posted much, but I have been working a lot. I will be excited to share news of my projects when I can. For now here is a warm up exercise from last night.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Sigh of Relief

I sent in my Don Freeman Award application and dummy book yesterday. It feels good to have that behind me now. I had initially thought I would apply with my portfolio, so I spent a couple months re-doing my portfolio. It was a good thing, I needed knew pieces in there.  Then, last minute I decided to instead submit a dummy book I have been working on, so re-did that thing up to the wire. I have to say it was great to have the urgent need to work on all that stuff, and it is good to know I can now move on to the next thing!  
Anybody else in this same "sigh of relief" state?

Here is a spread from my dummy book about a little cactus:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

GAY-NECK The Story of a Pigeon

I found this book GAY-NECK The Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji and illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff at the library the other day. I was drawn to the decorative cover. It was first published in1927 by Dutton Children's Books. It has beautifully ornate illustrations inside. I was puzzled by the title, why a pigeon would be named "Gay-neck", but it is a translation because Gay-neck is from India. His name was Chitra-griva; Chitra meaning "painted in gay colors," and Griva, "neck". Sometimes he was called "Iridescence-throated."

I only had time to skim some, but it looks like a great read, lots of adventure.

I am also drawn to these because I have been thinking I need to work more on the balance of my compositions, the balance of dark and light.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hot Springs

Ever hike to a secluded hot spring looking forward to a nice quiet soak- only to discover a bunch of naked strangers? This is a slightly different scenario, similar kind of awkward.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Congratulations to Jon Klassen

Some of you are likely aware that Jon Klassen recently won a Caldecott medal for his book This is Not My Hat at the 2013 ALA Mid-Winter Convention which was held at Seattle Public Library this past weekend.  He and Mac Barnett also received an honor for their book Extra YarnI am very happy for Mr. Klassen, - his books are so enjoyable and beautiful (and congrats to all of the other winners!)

 Jon Klassen made a library visit in Seattle earlier in 2012 for the release of This is Not My Hat which I took my 2 little ones to. I made a sketch of Jon and his bear from I Want My Hat Back while he was reading the book

Yeah, when I flipped back to this sketch entry I noticed my random note: "So I guess this answers your first question: did he have a hat on? Yes."- Which he did, which I had wondered.

Anyway, just cool. This and getting books signed while trying to chit chat and then the knowledge that he was back in this great city to get the award. Kinda nice.

Some of my favorite Klassen pictures: