Tuesday, January 23, 2018

2018: 23/365

A quick icicle-inspired party bear.

Monday, January 22, 2018

2018: 22/365

A mystery...

This is a series of illustrations I did for the 2017 SCBWI Narrative Art Award:

Create three illustrations from the same story that display Dilemma/Conflict/Resolution
– There must be three different characters in the story 

– Your art style must be appropriate for one of these two specific audience/book genres (Choose one):

 Full color, intended for a picture book for 4 to 7-year-olds
 -OR -
Black and white, intended for a MiddleGrade book for 8 to 11-year-olds

– Do not include text in your images

In honor of the 125th anniversary of Sherlock Holmes, depict a mystery appropriate for your audience. 

I didn't win, but it was A LOT of fun to do!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018: 21/365

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

I've had squirrels on my mind a lot these days!
I even "saw" a squirrel in the very first 
@3yroldscribble #finishthescribble I did...

And, I bought a squirrel messenger bag from Bolsa Bonita 
(one of my favorite Etsy shops)...

It appears I'm a bit "nuts" about them... Don't be surprised if more squirrel characters make their way onto the blog this year!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018

2018: 19/365

Another @3yroldscribble #finishthescribble from Twitter.
(This challenge is so much fun!)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018: 18/365

I often joke that if brushes could talk, mine would scream!  Sometimes they sit in water for weeks, some of them sit in water that eventually dries up, they get crusty...  To say that I am hard on them is quite an understatement.  Today, I'd like to let you in on a brush-saving secret...

I have been using this brush cleaner since art school, and it is amazing... Brushes that I thought were goners are miraculously transformed!  Because of this product, I still use a few brushes that I bought almost 20 years ago!
(I am not getting paid to say this, I just wanted to share.)

Do you have any products you can't live without?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018: 16/365

Mr.Sketch Pinata

I love Mr.Sketch scented markers!  (Playing with them always reminds me of the best parts of my childhood.)  Today, while I was taking a break from the project I'm currently working on, I decided to have some fun and create a super sweet smelling pinata.

I've found that placing limits (like only using a certain type of marker)
can really help push my creativity and set the scene for
new inspiration and fresh ideas.  The markers bled through the cheap paper in the sketchbook I drew it in.  But...

Sometimes the things that aren't planned can provide the nicest surprises.

Monday, January 15, 2018

2018: 15/365

Just a little sketchbook silliness today...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2018: 14/365

I believe that in order to keep the creative well full, it's important to spend some time outside the studio.  Today I wandered around Buffalo ReUse gathering inspiration.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018: 13/365

As an artist, one of my favorite things to do is 
create handmade & heartfelt gifts!

In this case, personalized note cards with matching stickers 
for the newly engaged couple!

Friday, January 12, 2018

2018: 12/365

Sometimes creativity is splashing paint across a canvas, drawing in my sketchbook, writing a new story, looking through the lens of a camera...
SO many possibilities!

Today, creativity was tweaking an old chocolate chip cookie recipe
to suit new dietary needs!

In case you're interested...

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Everyone
(vegan, gluten-free, and delicious!)
makes 5 dozen cookies

cream together:
1 cup organic sugar
1 cup brown sugar

then add:
6 tablespoons aquafaba
1 teaspoon vanilla

then slowly mix in:
2 cups gluten-free 1-to-1 flour 
(I use Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free)
2 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (pulsed until a coarse flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

finally, mix-in:
1, 12oz. bag (vegan) chocolate chips

Roll dough into 1" balls and place 2 " apart on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes.  (If baking 2 cookie sheets at a time, switch racks halfway through.) 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2018: 11/365

I spent most of my day working on a project that I can't share yet.  But, even when I'm busy working on one thing in particular, I always try to keep my eyes open for new and different things that might be a source of inspiration for a "rainy day".  Some say I'm easily distra... ooh, something shiny! ...cted,
but I say I'm just gathering resources.

While taking a break this afternoon, I looked out the window and saw the ice formation pictured above.  I was fascinated by the warped landscape created within the curves of the ice.  And, although I'm not sure what this photo will inspire, I know there is possibility trapped in that ice just waiting to be let out.  So, for now I will put it in a folder I keep on my computer labeled "inspiration".  Then, when the time is right and the icy idea has had time to thaw and percolate, I'll be ready.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018: 10/365

It's a snowgator!

Recently, a friend sent me a video of an artist using a stick to create snow calligraphy and then suggested I try snow painting.  Since I love a good challenge, I grabbed some watercolors (since I thought they would be the most environmentally friendly option) and decided to give it a try.

Things I discovered:
1. Snow painting is not easy.  Lol!
2. The colors don't spread easily with the brush,
but they do have a tendency to bleed some.
3. You have to work quickly because the colors seep into the snow
and start to fade away.

Things I will try next time:
1. Filling a spray bottle with premixed watercolor to fill in larger areas.
2. Using less watery watercolor for more detailed areas
(to try and avoid bleed).
3. Experimenting with "splatter".

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2018: 9/365

I made this drawing for a friend tonight, but I thought that I'd post it here
just in case you could use a little encourage-mint too!

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018: 8/365

Today's I am implementing some advice from Jess Keating's Storystorm post.  It was a fantastic post filled with so much useful information.  (I would highly recommend reading it if you're interested in learning more about tapping into the inspiration that is all around you.)  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Saturday, January 6, 2018

2018: 6/365

The making of a mascot...

Binkwee the BNCWI mascot

If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I am very interested in writing and illustrating children's books.  And, you may have noticed from my sidebar that I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Bink-Oui (Binkwee's artist counterpart)

Well, in addition to SCBWI, I belong to a local writing group called BNCWI (Buffalo Niagara Children's Writers and Illustrators).  I have discovered that the kidlit community is very welcoming, supportive, encouraging, and helpful.  I have met so many wonderful writers and illustrators, and have made so many friends through both groups!   So, when one of BNCWI's founders asked me if I would like to help out and freshen up the group's website, it was a no-brainer... I was thrilled.  The first thing I decided to do was create a BNCWI (pronounced Binkwee) mascot...

I started by sketching some book loving buffaloes.  Once I had decided on one, I named him Binkwee and drew him reading in a barrel headed for the edge of Niagara Falls.  

If you love reading as much as Binkwee does, I'm sure you can relate to being so engrossed in a book that you lose sight of everything else going on around you!

I first created Binkwee (and Bink-Oui) almost a year ago, and since then they have been very busy celebrating friend's book launches...

Encouraging people to vote...

Decorating for the holidays...

And tomorrow, Binkwee (and the rest of our very excited city) will be cheering for our home team, The Buffalo Bills, as they play in their first play-off game in 17 years...

Go Bills!!!

Friday, January 5, 2018

2018: 5/365

Today I'd like to introduce you to...


She arrived on Christmas morning and has been a huge help ever since.
She works tirelessly so that instead of sweeping and vacuuming, I can spend more time drawing, painting, writing...

And in today's case, researching picture book agents!

How did you spend your day?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018: 4/365

"Thinking of Ewe"

It's nice to know that you're not alone...

I am still in the rosy honeymoon phase of my 2018 Creative Every Day challenge.  But... I can already feel some of the old anxiety about sharing unfinished, warm-ups, exercises, and sometimes just plain crappy artwork.

I really want to stick with it (giving up is not an option!), not just because it will push me out of my comfort zone, but because I think it might help other hesitant artists decide to put themselves out there more...  I love the community of artists I've found online, and I really think we have so much to learn from one another.

There are so many artists that I find inspiring for so many reasons, and I'm looking forward to sharing some of them with you.  One artist who I am currently drawing motivation from is Erika Lee Sears.  Erika is beginning her fourth year of making art every day, and she has a lot of useful advice for anyone embarking on a similar journey.
Her rules for the Art Every Day project are:

1. Make art every day, no matter how big or small. Any medium counts. Even if I draw a stick person or just snap a blurry photo, the point is just to make art.
2.  I am not allowed to give up. This is very important.
3.  I am not allowed to throw away any artwork or rip out any pages in my sketch book. I am allowed to start over. I am not allowed to start painting over canvases or ripping out pages in my sketchbook.

That sounds good to me!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018: 3/365

One thing leads to another...

abstract collage, 1-3-2018

Yesterday I shared pictures from (and art inspired by) my New Years Day adventure at frozen Niagara Falls.  After I wrote that post, I was inspired to look through some old family photos because I remembered that when my uncle was little, they "shut off" the American side of the falls.  I was very excited to find the photos I was looking for:

Niagara Falls, 1969 (American side "shut off", Canadian side still "on")

These photos lead to some loose drawing exercises for my
morning warm-up...

Techniques I used include:
- Contour drawing/ Blind contour drawing
- Non-dominant hand drawing
- One-liners

(I used one of today's drawings combined with yesterday's textured papers to create the abstract collage at the top of the post.)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018: 2/365

Sometimes you just need to see things with fresh frozen eyes...

Yesterday, my uncle sent me a link to an article in The Washington Post about how spectacular Niagara Falls looks right now.
I have lived a short car ride away from the falls my entire life, and like many things that are in our own backyard, I have come to take the magnificence of this natural wonder for granted.  Reading a national news article about it was just the wake-up call I needed.  So, late yesterday afternoon the boys and I bundled up and headed north...

Now, I think I need to express how intensely I dislike cold weather... So much so, that when I asked Bob if we could go check out the frozen falls he said, "Who are you?!?"  But, there is something about the start of a new year that makes me want to shake things up and get out of my comfort zone.  
And, I'm so glad I did... The view was breathtaking!  
(Literally.  Record low temperatures combined with mist that freezes in the air and turns to mini-ice-daggers-that-stab-at-your-face will actually take your breath away!  Hahaha!)

It turns out that once I got past the extreme cold,
I was left with some pretty remarkable inspiration...
Today I played with textures based on yesterday's view.

Things I experimented with:
- Scratching into the paper before applying a watercolor wash
- Using a glue stick, and white crayon as a resist (to keep white areas) before applying a watercolor wash
- Torn paper as relief
- Using torn paper edges as a "stencil" for pastel application
- Applying paint with plastic wrap
- Layering all of the different techniques

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018: 1/365

Happy New Year, Friends!

Whaaat? The subject line from an email I received today. (My name is not Jeff.) Hahaha!

It is probably no surprise that I've been doing some reflection the past few days.  I love beginnings (especially the start of a new year)... but, as a recovering perfectionist I also have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself.  This year, I've decided to approach 2018 a little differently...

My (very well-timed) fortune!

The new year is usually about putting your best foot forward and trying to fix imperfections...  But now I'm wondering what if...

I decide to accept that life doesn't have to be perfect to be good?
I find a way to accept the wonky bits & maybe even enjoy them?
I share more?  (Even the not-so-pretty stuff.)

Pulling back the curtain...

This is scary for me, folks.  In a carefully curated internet world, it can appear that you're the only one who doesn't have it all together.  As I write this and commit myself to sharing more, I feel nervous.  But... I'm hoping that you can relate to my desire for authenticity, and that you'll join me as I journey into 2018 (messy parts, and all)!

p.s.  I have decided to *try* and share something about what I'm up to every day (Creative Every Day style).  In order to take some of the pressure off and set myself up for success, I've decided to keep my post titles simple to reduce "decision fatigue".

p.p.s.  You can click here for an article I found very interesting about "decision fatigue" and "the science of simplicity" 


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