Tuesday, April 28, 2009

don't worry, be happy

In one month I have to turn in the final art for my first self-authored children's book.

This is my least favorite stage of the process. The concepting is done, the design has been worked out, the only thing left is to deliver on the promise. To draw the dang thing. Turning the vision into the visible. This is where the art ends up being great or less than I had hoped. It never is as good as one imagined it would be.

So I've become anxious. And tight.

I suppose that is why at this crucial point, with time running out, that I dropped everything to write a new story. Delaying the inevitable, avoiding the difficult.

This is where I need to pull out all the tricks to fool myself that everything is fine and dandy, there's no rush, the art'll be brilliant. If I can regain a relaxed confidence, things will flow along nicely with less effort.

The art of warring with oneself. It's a mind game.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Although it has been more than 25 years since my grandfather died, at times I still miss him deeply.

Albert Schmid was an artist of many talents. Landscape painter, engraver, wood carver, in the 20's he owned and ran his own commercial art studio in Chicago. During the depression the number of artists in his studio gradually declined from around 20 to just 'Papa' himself. Hard times.

He was an accomplished watercolorist. One of his buddies on weekend outdoor painting trips was the famed Haddon Sundblom of the Coca-Cola Santa Claus fame.

I remember him as a gentle, quiet, wise man. He was one of those 'Good Men'. I was in my early 20's and in art school when he died. In the course of my own life and career there has been many times I've wished him at my side to lend advice or just a understanding ear.

As a child I had so much admiration for the man he was and the things he accomplished. I still use the easel you see in the picture of him. I hope to pass it on to my daughter when the time is right.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the good life

I've been watching 4 of these guys frolicking in the big maple outside my studio window for the last few days.

Being able to nap high in a tree while wearing a soft coat of fur sounds pretty darn nice.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

the way to do is to be.

I wish I had time for painting outside. I love weather, and pure painting like this is bliss.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I had not heard anything about the uber-genius Freeman Dyson since reading 'The Starship and the Canoe' about a decade ago.

The New York Times Magazine had a feature story about the venerable heterodox's take on global warming and other things.

His belief that creativity is subversive hit me where I live. As I'm working on designing and illustrating my first manuscript for Harper, I've been running along that razor's edge between creating something novel and daring, subversive if you like, or going with what I know to be successful, since I ardently desire this book to be successful itself. (Successful enough to keep me in funds so that I can continue to write and illustrate books--it's rather fun.)

I've lived long enough to know that necessity is the mother of convention, and having a mortgage to pay and a kid to raise is a powerful pile of necessity.

So. Risk or safe?

Why, compromise of course! But if what you produce is not NEW and INTERESTING, it will be overlooked or quickly forgotten. So risk is safer, yes?

Safety can be risky, but risk is not always the sure route either. So I'm risking no matter which route I take. Therefore I might as well risk, since there is always risk. Risk is not truly risky, since nothing is safe.

I have to lay down now...

Thursday, April 2, 2009


After nearly two months of work, I finally have the design for my book 'Hugs from Pearl' roughed out.

Once the manuscript was completed, there were about a thousand ways for the art and design to go. Watercolors, pastels, fully rendered, cartoon, pencil line, ink line, saturated colors, pale color. Uff-da! A lot of decision making. My brain feels it's gone 15 rounds with Rocky Graziano.

Now I just have to send it to my lovely, keenly perceptive and awesomely brilliant editor at Harper. Wish me luck.