Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 2014 Desktop Calendar and some BIG news.

Hello Spring!
I don't know about you, but  here in Ontario we are most definitely ready for Spring. We've collectively "had it" with polar vortices,  never ending snow shovelling, and the ritual morning kiddo snow-pant battle. But, even after just a few days of above zero temps the snow is quickly melting away. I think I even heard some chirping birds this morning. Yay!
So, to welcome Spring, I decided to create this month's desktop calendar from one of my all-time favorite illustrations from Skink on the Brink(Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2013). Yes, there it is up in my header- I do LOVE this illo. To download a copy please select the required screen resolution above, then right click and "save to desktop". Enjoy!

I also wanted to share some BIG news. I now am represented by Patricia Ocampo  at Transatlantic Agency. I am honoured and SUPER excited to be working with Patricia. We are already working on some of my manuscript WIPs ( yes, I am writing now too!).  We got together last week for coffee to get to know each other better. Gosh, my cheeks were sore from smiling so much, it was a fabulous first meeting!  I love the collaborative process and I truly believe that the best ideas often come from a great brainstorming session- it's where the magic happens. :)  I think we will make a great team.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Desktop Calendar

This month's calendar features some groundhog pirate characters and a stowaway orangutan (but of course!).  I was sketching on Groundhog Day and these cute little guys ( and a few others) popped into my head. My kiddos have been watching Pirates of the Caribbean on Netflix, so I have had pirates on the brain lately too. 
Sorry to keep this short and sweet today but with it being Saturday, all 4 kiddos have hockey games and/or practices, which translates into 8 hockey rinks/weekend- BRRRR! Yes, I'm usually a little hoarse on Mondays, form all my cheering. ;)
To download this desktop calendar simply click on the desired screen resolution above and right click on "Save to desktop".
 Have a great March everyone. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 2014 Desktop Calendar and OLA Superconference highlights

This months desktop was my submission for the HarperCollins Canada 40th Anniversary Alligator Pie Contest. The winner of the contest was the very talented Sandy Nicols. Congratulations Sandy!  This contest gave me the great opportunity to brainstorm and stretch my imagination to put together a proposal for a true "dream project". It  provided the chance to have my proposal (consisting of  2 sketches, one final art, and my written vision for the project) considered by the HarperCollins Canada executives- an amazing opportunity I did not want to miss. So, even though I didn't win the contest, I did get my work seen, and who knows, maybe sometime in the future another project will come across their desk, and my work will be the right fit.  I am proud of my proposal and now I have a new portfolio piece that  reflects a fresh and interesting twist on Dennis Lee's iconic poem. Plus, it gave me the chance to incorporate my favorite purple Converse sneakers into an illo! LOL :) Can you guess which verse inspired this illustration?

To download this desktop calendar, please select the screen resolution you require above, and right click, then "Save to Desktop". Enjoy!

I had the opportunity to attend the OLA Superconference this week.  Lisa Dalrymple and myself, signed free give-away copies of Skink on the Brink at the Fitzhenry & Whiteside booth this past Thursday. Then on the Friday we both took part in the CANSCAIP mass book launch. It was the first time I had attended this conference, and I can't wait to go again next year. Not only did I meet up with many  kidlit friends and a few I had only previously met online, but I was super thrilled to lay my hands on some of the newest titles I'd been waiting to read. Canada has some truly remarkable kidlit talent!   It was a fun two days. I will try to post some pictures once I get them. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello 2014!!!

Happy New Year!!! 

It's been a whirlwind of a year, both personally and  professionally. The kids are growing up so fast, with all the hockey/sports and activities sometimes I feel like, in the blink of an eye, another year has passed. It's times like these that I want to take a moment to reflect on all the awesome that I am blessed with - a wonderful hubby, 4 adorable kiddos, loving and supportive extended family, fantastic friends, and health and happiness.Yes, I guess I am feeling a little sappy and reflective, but due to recent events,  like the sudden and tremendously sad loss of my cousin, in a freak car accident, just days before Christmas, it really puts things into perspective, you know?  I am very thankful, and plan to live  in the moment even more, hug more, snuggle my kiddos more, and just "make more time" for the important  little things. 

 On the professional side things are moving forward in great directions. I illustrated my first picture book, Skink on the Brink, and had a fantastically fun Summer and Fall with Lisa Dalrymple travelling all over southern Ontario doing our  "Stewie and the Plasticine road show" to promote our book. We had a blast presenting at Word on the Street, Pinery Park's Savannah Festival, and Lisa and her husband Marc even drove down from Fergus to join me at the opening reception of CANSCAIP's PYI Gallery Show at Humber's L Space Gallery, where a few of my original illustrations from our book were on display.   I illustrated cover art for Marty Chan's awesome steampunk novel The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles, Demon Gate. I have an illustration contract for another picture book, and some awesome stuff going on behind the scenes that I can't share yet, so cross your fingers for me please ;).

 I feel so lucky to be able to work from home in my little studio, so I am available if a kiddo needs homework assistance or just wants to chat and hangout on the floor while I work. 

So, overall it's been a great year, thank you 2013!
2014, Bring it!!

To download a copy of this desktop calendar, simply click on the screen resolution you require then right click and "save to desktop". Enjoy! 
Wishing everyone a great 2014. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 2013 Desktop Calendar

Our first snowfall of this season arrived last weekend. Well...perhaps I should say snow "dusting", as we were spared the brunt of the huge storm that walloped most of Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the Eastern US. 
 I don't know about you, but the first snow always gets me thinking about previous winters and how much fun we have in the snow. So, for my December calendar I decided to return to an older illustration, one that hold a special place in my heart- my daughter making a snow angel. She must have been about 4 at the time, and this illustration remains on of my husband's favorites. 

To download this calendar simply click on the above screen resolution you require, and then right click and "save to desktop". Enjoy! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Process Post: The making of the Infinity Coil medallion's for Marty Chan's novel The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Demon Gate

This summer I had the opportunity to step outside of the box and create my first novel cover art. Not only was it my first project for a more mature audience(think older MG) but it was also Steampunk! I had been experimenting with some Steampunk ideas behind the scenes and I happened to mention this to my editor, Christie Harkin, while I was in her office going over the proofs for the final art for Skink on the Brink. As luck would have it, Christie just happened to be working on edits with Marty Chan for his new novel The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Demon Gate. The main character, Ehrich Weisz has this mysterious Infinity Coil medallion hidden beneath his shirt, given to him by his brother Dash...well, I don't want to give anything away, but lets just say its REEEEEEEALLY important. Anyway, we thought that the Infinity Coil would look awesome created in 3D. So after lots of discussion with Marty, I got to work on some sketches.

 At first we thought I'd just be creating the front of the medallion, with the Infinity coil, for the front cover. But after reading Marty's marvelous description, I just had to create both sides of it because both sides were so distinctive.
Here is the description from the book:

 "Two gear wheels soldered together to form a figure-eight. Inside the twin loops, smaller gears connected to each other, getting smaller and smaller as if they could extend to infinity. An image of a lion with the head of a goat on its shoulders and a snake for a tail was engraved on the medallion’s back cover. What the Chimera meant, where Dash had gotten this strange medallion from, and why he had been wearing it around his neck, Ehrich had no idea."

Tight sketches for Infinity Coil medallions

From here I began the final art. Because this was going to be a mixed media project, using actual watch components, I decided to use metallic polymer clay so that I could bake and harden the medallions before  gluing on the watch components. And yes, those watch gear Infinity Coils are exact mirror images of each other!  I then went a step further by rubbing a glaze of acrylic paint on top to give the medallions a rich, old-world patina. 

Here are a series of pics of my process for the front side of the Infinity Coil medallion:

And here is the final art for the front cover:

Here it is on the designed cover. So Steampunk-y goooooood!

The back of the medallion features a chimera- a beast with the body of a lion, the head of a goat on it's shoulders and a tail of a snake. How fun was that to create? 

Here are a series of process pics of the back of the medallion:

And here is the final art:

And on the back cover:

This project was an exciting challenge, and I enjoyed working with Marty Chan very much. He has the official book launch for The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Demon Gate on November 26th at 7pm, at Aubreys Books in Edmonton. He'll have the final art medallions at the launch and he'll even be sporting his funky Steampunk bowler and full Steampunk attire. Seriously, you know you want an excuse to get dressed up in your finest Steampunk outfit! I wish I lived closer.

I asked Marty for a few words to include in this process post. Here is what he had to say:

The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Demon Gate

The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles is one of my childhood dreams realized. When I was a kid, I was fascinated with stage magic. I remember buying books on card tricks so I could learn how to cut a deck of cards with one hand or magically find someone’s card. I wanted to learn the magicians’ secrets so I could one day join their society. I could never quite pull off all the tricks in the books, but I never forgot about the magicians I admired, especially Harry Houdini.

A few years ago, I stumbled across The Bowery Boys, a podcast about New York History. One of their podcasts featured Harry Houdini, which reignited my interest in magic. I started researching Houdini’s background and discovered some interesting information. His real name was Ehrich Weisz. He debunked con artists posing as spiritualists. He ran away from home when he was twelve. I thought about the year he had spent away from home, and I thought it would be cool if he didn’t run away but fell through a portal that transported him to an alternate dimension. That was the spark for the novel.


- My first crack at the novel was the “zero draft” I wrote during the 2011 National Novel Writing Month. That’s when people around the world try to write 50,000 words of a novel in November.

- To research the novel, I spent 4 days in the New York-Historical Society archives to get a sense of what New York was like in 1890.

- The original title for the first novel was Devil’s Island.

Working with Christie Harkin on the novel was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had as a writer. She had a way of telling me what was wrong with the manuscript without dousing my creative spark. We have a running gag about Star Wars because a plot point in the novel reminded her of Han Solo being frozen in carbonite.

Thanks Marty!

The book is in stores now. I am in the midst of reading it myself. It's fantastic!  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

November 2013 Desktop Calendar featuring art for the cover of Marty Chan's The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Demon Gate!

Yes, you guess it- I'm going Steampunk for my November calendar, to celebrate the launch of  Marty Chan's  newest book, The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Demon Gate. And if you happen to live in Edmonton, Marty's launch takes place November 26th, at Audry's Books at 7pm.  
I created  the Infinity Coil medallion artwork for the cover and back cover. What the heck is an Infinity Coil, you ask? Well, you'll have to grab a copy of the book and read it to find out. I'd lend you mine but I'm still happily immersed. And boy is it gooooood! :)
 The medallions are on the bottom left of the calendar. And I had to include the book, of course. Tanya Montini, the cover designer and Christie Harkin, our editor, did a smashing job on the cover- it's spectacular!  And if you flip over Marty's book you'll see the chimera side of the Infinity Coil medallion. Mmmm... "chimera" such a cool word...I haven't gotten a change to say that word much since my days in the lab. LOL!
 If your wondering... noooo, this isn't made in plasticine.  I created both of these medallions in metallic polymer clay with actual watch pieces inlaid on various levels. Yup, mixed media!
 Marty's description of the Infinity Coil in the book is fantastic, and it took me and Christie a few attempts to wrap our brain around  his idea. But I think, after lots of sketching and discussions with Marty, I was successful in creating a visual representation of his idea. It was a such a fun project that I am now totally addicted to Steampunk. Maybe I'll do a Steampunk picture book one of these days? My sketch book is brimming with ideas...
 I am thankful to Christie for running with my ideas, and giving me the opportunity to show that I can do edgy, MG or YA artwork too.
Later this month, I plan to do a proper  process post of how I created the artwork. This post will also feature a few words from the man himself, Marty Chan and lots of process pics. So please check back again soon.
To download your snazzy Steampunk desktop calendar, just click on the screen resolution you require above. Then right click and "save to desktop". Enjoy :)


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