December 24, 2014

The black & white photo challenge...

Friend & fellow illustrator Patrick Girouard challenged me to post five black and white photos in five days.  So here are some snaps from my Lumix.

I think photography is fun - you just have to know what might be interesting and choose how to fit the subject into the frame.  

Often it seems that it's just a fluke of chance that makes an interesting photo.  

I like photography because it gets me out of the studio and into the real world - where wonders often await.

December 17, 2014

Have a Dickens of a Holiday

Happy Holidays!
May your Joys be simple & bright and safe in the night...

December 13, 2014

Seattle's Black Dog Forge

It was the holiday sale at Seattle's Black Dog Forge (where my sister-in-law Mary is a blacksmith).

It gets hotter the further inside you go...

Mossy-babies in abundance - require misting.

Tatts, piercings and gnarly beards & styling everywhere.

One of the smithys at work.

Busy with holiday shoppers!

December 11, 2014

Hollywood... pinch me!

What's John been doing?  A lot! 

If you said John has been shooting photos for a Hollywood movie poster, signing a new book contract, drawing pictures for a magazine spread, getting to know a new children's book agent and shoveling snow... you'd only be wrong about the snow. I over-exaggerated about the snow. Whew!

The photo is from last night's photo shoot. I didn't realize one could actually have a Hollywood photo shoot from a bicycle with a basket in the dark, but I guess you can. I wore my beret instead of my helmet since I'm an artist.

I quite enjoy the panache of dropping the name 'Hollywood' into a sentence.... it adds glamour.  Pinch me... did that all really happen?

December 8, 2014

Studio Guests...

I have this new ladder and lamp... and now they both seem to be indispensable.  Once I had a new bicycle that I liked keeping in my studio... but a ladder?  I like how it 'clicks' and has big buttons.  The lamp is great too - nothing like a new cast of light.

December 2, 2014

What people think I do all day...

What people think I do all day...

What my cat thinks I do all day...

What I really do all day...

November 30, 2014

Accidental book sighting - it must be christmas!

I went to Ace Hardware in Seattle (City People's ) to buy a plumbing part for my sink... but was delighted and surprised to see that they had a dozen copies of my book 'The 12 Days of Christmas in Washington' on the shelf. I like it when that happens in the middle of plumbing repair. 

I had to go back and take a picture, a lovely pile of my books in the Ace Hardware - albeit in the gift department. A few years ago the book was in Metropolitan Market - it was so much fun when I was there I ran into Mrs. Harlan, one of our kindergarten teachers, and I got to show her my pile of books. Usually the dairy case isn't that much fun.

November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Some Thanksgiving colors... cranberry sauce a bubbling. I'm thankful I have so many online friends, old and new.

November 19, 2014

A boy and his dog...

Snowy day, at least in the studio... otherwise just plain COLD! It's fun using every sort of feathery brush to paint snow.

November 13, 2014

Only the very best furry guests...

A bubbly woodland party brings out only the very best furry guests. From an upcoming book that I had a wonderful time painting.

November 12, 2014

The season of the magnetic cat ...

The season of the magnetic cat has arrived - with the cat being firmly attached to the heat vent. Brrrrrr!

November 7, 2014

And just like magic...

In this day and age a little photoshop magic is always a handy thing to have. But the charm of the pencil remains - that's the main thing.  And just like magic, the full moon in Taurus seems to have been the just right thing for this old illustrator.

November 3, 2014

The rainy day studio...

The rainy day studio - no shortage of rainy days around here lately. In fact I'd venture the best word to describe of this Fall might be 'sodden'. Good weather for escaping to work.

October 31, 2014

A fun Halloween party

Here's my idea of a fun Halloween party. This story was inspired one November morning by too much leftover halloween candy and coffee.

October 18, 2014

#inktober line technique

For ‪#‎inktober‬ here's another experiment in line that I once did. I read about a technique that Andy Warhol used, where he'd tape two sheets of paper together and draw on one with really wet ink and then while the ink was still wet, fold it back to make the reverse print. It does give a really sloppy line quality.

October 15, 2014

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa is coming to FedEx this Holiday season.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa is coming to FedEx this Holiday season. My book, 'Mouse's Christmas Cookie' will be appearing nationwide this season at 420 FedEx outlets. So shoppers who are desperate for that last minute gift might want to make that impulse purchase and grab a copy.

I scarcely ever set foot in my old FedEx (Kinko's) since I got my own wide format printer. And I miss having my regular FedEx driver who used to drop by twice a week. Those were the days.

October 9, 2014

Experiment, experiment and try things out

Experiment, experiment and try things out. I tend to do a LOT of that in looking for new styles and techniques.  So I was delighted to try this new combination of ink on watercolor and watercolor and photoshop.

I wanted the image to keep moving but I also wanted it to be bright colors - not muted monotones. (I can do a monotone version easily, but keeping bright colors is usually harder to do).

So I was pleased with how it came out.

A Halloweeny ‪#‎inktober‬ sketch

Here's a Halloweeny ‪#‎inktober‬ sketch for me... from a book I wrote years ago. Mostly I was trying to capture that Halloween magical feeling. As I recall I started writing it one chilly moody morning after too much french roast and a hershey bar.

October 7, 2014

My Cherry Tree - my first authored book

'My Cherry Tree' was my first authored published book - by a Korean publisher a long time ago. It was quite poetic and they scarcely made any changes to the text. Here's a sample of the writing:

On hot days I lie on the grass under my
cherry tree and watch the clouds .
Some look like elephants.. some look like horses.
The robins learned to fly. They all flew away.
It feels lonesome without them.

Summer has turned into autumn.
The leaves on my cherry tree turn golden and red.
They dance away like fire in the wind.
I help mother rake a pile of leaves as tall as me!
I get to jump right in and play.

October 6, 2014

'We could have our lunch together, here in my backyard'

'I think it's fun to just pretend a dinosaur could be my friend, and we could have our lunch together, here in my backyard'. An old painting on textured gesso.

October 3, 2014

Today's sketch...

Today's sketch... I saw these three friends walking home from school yesterday and I thought I'd try to capture it in a drawing.  They had such a spirit of happiness about their own company. 

October 1, 2014

So is it Halloween yet?

So is it Halloween yet? This fun illustration goes along with a story I wrote that I always liked. Somehow it feels like it's almost time - dark, cold mornings, it takes forever for the sun to come up. I don't know if we're getting an Indian Summer or not this year in Seattle.

September 30, 2014

I get to hang in a museum!

Oh joy... I get to hang in a museum!  One of my book spreads was chosen to be in the upcoming exhibit at the 2014 SCBWI WWA Illustrator exhibit at the Washington State Historical Society. Now... all I need is a frame. It's a great museum, only I don't get down to Tacoma very often.

September 23, 2014

Back to School

There's just something about new stationary. Going back to school used to mean all those fun new things - new peachy folders (with that eternal sports design in a yellowy tone), new pencils and a new blue canvas snap-ring binder. Now it mostly just means a new computer class for my kids. But these critters are having fun regardless. They probably like that new school smell as much as I did.

September 1, 2014

Little Fox is Sad...

The once happy little red fox thinks she isn't good enough... but Grandfather fox knows better. I liked the folk tale nature that these characters allowed.  And I like the mountain meadow setting.

August 24, 2014

A sunny secret garden...

I discovered the most wonderful walled in garden on my bike ride.  It's been there for years, but I only happened through there this summer.

A burst of morning glory color signals the beginning of the end of summer.

The sun filling the green walled garden makes for a very peaceful place. A gravel walk, an interesting collection of medicinal herbs...  a lovely quiet space on a sunny sunday morning.

August 23, 2014

August 19, 2014

Poor little Foxy

Poor little Foxy is being belittled for her poor penmanship. I can so relate since my penmanship is now completely destroyed by years of drawing.

When I write a grocery list I can't even make out half the things I wrote... it's that bad!  Oh, and I'm lucky if I don't lose the list between leaving the house and arriving at the grocery store.

August 15, 2014

That art business can lead youth astray!

Before I ran away to New York City, I'd spend my days drawing scenes like this - all from scratch, no sketches, just pen on newsprint. I'd draw away for hours and hours listening to the radio. 

Somehow I got hooked on how the ink lines sank into the newsprint. I couldn't stop drawing. That art business can lead youth astray!

August 13, 2014

Mr. Bunny has delivered new postcards!

Mr. Bunny has delivered new boxes of postcards! Art Directors will want to keep on the lookout.  I've always liked to print things and look at them - so I was especially chuffed to open these boxes.

WOW! I just discovered that has been billing my credit card $15.99 a month for years ... even though I don't even use it!  I only used once out of curiosity and purchased just $25 the one time I tried it. But I discovered I owe them an Account Fee of $367!

Wow... be warned!!!  Go with the - they are honest and trustworthy and their stamps look way better. And you can pick from their vast online selections to get the best design for you mailing campaign.

I was hoodwinked into thinking that was a service where I purchased a little postage and then used it when I needed. At no time did I understand that I was secretly being billed $15.99 every month - without ever receiving a single emailed bill notification.  I'm not used to paying a secret monthly fee for my stamps sitting in the drawer.

I see there are 400 similar complaints to mine at - matching the same sense of outrage that has duped them and is quietly billing them every month for no services rendered and never producing any yearly notice that I was ever aware of.  So BEWARE of!  How many people ever read the pages of microscopic type in the user agreements on most web sites?  Very few I'd guess. relies on complacency to rake in profits.

August 8, 2014

Choosing the cast and characters...

Sometimes in choosing the cast and characters, different choices pop up. I think the with original sketches for a book I tried I had a hippo, an alligator and this charming elephant family. But the chair stayed the same!

July 30, 2014

A Foxy Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek from my new book.

I liked the storybook feeling that turned out on this page. There's an old fashioned decorative quality somehow. The fabrics are hand made... maybe that's it. 

I think in general the world longs for storybook worlds to live in. I know I do...

July 28, 2014

First comes the pencil...

First comes the pencil, which is the most important... and next a suitable color with texture is added. What you don't see is me making about 147 changes to every combination of colors, shapes, patterns and textures.

And then it's done!