Another submission to Mark Mitchell's Guest Group Critiques

If you're an illustrator (working or aspiring) and you haven't heard about Mark Mitchell's Guest Group Critiques, I highly recommend checking it out:

This month's assignment/critique is with children's literary agent and artist's rep Nicole Tugeau of Tugeau2 Illustration. You can check out her assignment here:

Nicole chose 15 of the approximately 50 submissions to critique on May 24th, and I'm very grateful that mine was one of them! Here's my submitted sketch below. Off to work on the final!

Spot Illustration for Mark Mitchell's Critique Group

One of my favorite instructors, Mark Mitchell, now hosts a critique group every month. For a small fee, anyone can submit their work for live, online feedback by a professional in the industry (as well as from Mark and the enrolled members). 

Last month's guest was Peachtree Publishing's former senior art director, Loraine Joyner. She asked us to submit one finished-ish piece, and I chose a spread that I had a few questions about. I thought she did an excellent job all around, and her suggestions for my spread were extremely helpful. 

Loraine will be joining us again this month for another critique. This time she gave us an assignment to create a spot illustration/sketch for a Hans Christian Andersen story. She wanted us to choose a character and/or scene and draw, re-draw and draw some more, to see what personalities and details emerged. 

After reading a few Hans Christian Andersen stories, I decided on The Nightingale, and I chose this passage for my spot illustration: "and even Death himself listened, and said, 'Go on, little nightingale, go on.'"

Below is the collage I submitted...

My first school visit with "You, the Magician"

On Friday night, the authors of "You, the Magician," Jodi and Josh Carothers, came to my little village on the Hudson River to read to the families of our local elementary school. They did an outstanding job speaking with the audience, and I was truly touched by the enthusiasm and questions from the children and their parents. 

After their reading, I offered a coloring/flip book activity for the participants, and it turned out pretty cool. Here's an animated version of that flip book...

It was my first big presentation, and although I'd do a few things differently next time, I'm hoping for another opportunity like this soon!

More bird collaging

I'm currently sketching ideas for an assignment with Mark Mitchell's critique group, and I've been researching the nightingale. In doing so, I ran across this beautiful bird, often called the Pekin Robin or Pekin Nightingale. So for yesterday's #artaday challenge, I created a collage of this wonderful little animal...

Another submission for the Tomie dePaola Award

Yesterday, I submitted another illustration for the Tomie dePaola Award. This is my third year participating — I blogged about the 2013 contest here, and I was a semi-finalist for my 2014 submission, which you can see here.

The assignment was to "illustrate a moment from the following passage from Philip Pullman’s version of “Little Red Riding Hood” from FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM (Viking, 2012)." (You can read the full prompt at

I chose this passage:
"When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him."

Below is my digital collage...

A tiny picture book about a hermit crab (and collage)

I'll be giving a short presentation about illustration and collage to my son's first grade art class today. I plan to bring random textures and objects, my scissors, a glue stick and improvise a little story with their help. The first graders have been learning about hermit crabs for the past few weeks, and they were also required to create their own stories about them, so I will start by cutting out a main character of a hermit crab. From there, I'm hoping the kids can help me shape the story.

My main goal is to show them the fun (and freedom) of constructing a tale with collage – that with simple shapes they can create a character. And by changing elements slightly (eyes looking up or down, changing the mouth shape, moving the character forward), they can even create action and emotion. 

Just in case my improv presentation is a total flop, I also created a takeaway booklet for the students, so they can see the potential of illustrating in this way. This is the takeaway booklet below. If you'd like to download a free PDF, please feel free to do so here. (Please just link back to me if you reference it, and let me know what you think!)

Creating my own scene for MATS Bootcamp

In Lilla Rogers' MATS Bootcamp course, our main assignment this month is to paint a picturesque scene on a round wooden surface.

I started my mini assignment by sketching scenic plates that Lilla had provided (you can see one of them here). I then moved on to create my own scene, using collage. But I decided to eliminate the texture and work toward more of a cinematic, dark effect.

This was my final layout. Now to transfer it on wood....