It's official! I am now Director of Graduate Programs!

in Children's Literature and Illustration at Hollins University in gorgeous Roanoke, Virginia; and I'm so looking forward to helping drive exciting opportunities for everyone! Many, many thanks for all the love and well wishes on Facebook!! I love that Hollins made an actual webpage advertising my new position! (Click the image below to see the whole thing.)
     I've moved into a newly renovated ground floor apartment in an old Victorian house in the historic district downtown, close to all sorts of fun stuff, and I even have one of our program students as an upstairs neighbor - it's "Hollins South"!
     It's taking a minute for me to get my feet under me in this new life chapter, but I have exciting things planned, which include getting my newsletter back up and running - so I hope you'll stay tuned! (And subscribe if you haven't already!)

It's been a minute and I have NEWS!!!

It's been a while since I last blogged. After my husband passed, I rather fell out of the habit. But life is offering me a new chapter and this one will put me back on the social media pony... I have taken on a new position! I am now the Director of Graduate Programs in Children's Literature, Writing, and Illustration at Hollins University. We're growing our program from the low-residency summer model to offering a year-round model as well, and I will be spear-heading the endeavor. (If you want to know more about it - please email me at dulembaeo at
     I moved to the gorgeous Roanoke, Virginia this past weekend and am settling into my new home - a ground floor apartment in an old Victorian in the historic district. I'm near all the fun things to do in the city and only a 15 minute commute to campus. The best thing is that Virginia has always felt like home to me. My earliest years were spent in Manasas, Virginia, and I used to visit my grandparents every summer in Lexington, just up the road from Roanoke. The first time I set foot on campus and saw all the bunnies and smelled the boxwoods, I had a deep sense of peace and it has never left me. I'm HOME! After working summer semesters in our low-residency MA/MFA/Certificate programs for ten years, I'm so excited to be on this beautiful campus full-time. I'll get to see the leaves change and maybe even some snow!
     To start off this adventure, yesterday was Convocation - the "welcome back" ceremony for faculty, staff, and students. But this was unlike any Convocation I've ever attended. I felt like Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile as I lined up with my fellow faculty and walked to the chapel.
Here I am with Andrea Martens, our Print Professor, and Amy Gerber-Stroh, our Film Professor.
Seniors have the wonderful tradition of wearing customized robes to Convocation, and they go all out. I wish I could show you more, they were so fun!

President Hinton gave a rousing speech about how living one's true self with JOY is in itself an act of defiance - it was truly fabulous and we gave her a standing ovation. I'm so looking forward to working alongside this Rock Star of a University President!
Students sang Hollins' songs that have been sung since 1842, the year of the University's inception, led by Choral Director, Shelbie Wahl-Fouts.
Finally, we all gathered in the Quad where I was warned to stand back, because the students shake up bottles of champaigne (or bubbly cider) and spray it everywhere! Talk about JOY!

What a way to kick off this new position! I have so much to do, so many meetings to have, and so many book festivals, fairs, and events to attend to help spread the word about our new offerings, it's going to be an exciting ride! I hope you'll stick around to share my adventures with me, because, I'm BACK!!! Here I am with my good friend and the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum Director, Jenine Culligan, looking mighty happy indeed!!!

For those who don't know

If you've wondered where I've been, or why I've been so quiet... my dear husband, Stan Dulemba, passed away on November 2nd. While he hadn't been well for a long time, the end was sudden and unexpected. One is never ready for such loss. One of the best analogies I've read is that losing a spouse is not like breaking a leg - one does not "heal" from such a loss. Rather, it is like having a leg amputated. One must adjust to a new type of life and living. Which is what I am learning to do.
     Grief has created a "before" and "after" in my world, a division that I recognize in the eyes of others. I am now part of a club I never asked to join, but it is one of deep understanding and empathy. Grief is not contagious, it is life. And if we are lucky enough to love, we will experience loss and the associated grief. The alternative is, of course, to either die young, or to never love at all - neither of which is an acceptable alternative to my mind.
     And so, I am learning how to live forward while honoring the wonderful life I had with Stan. We had FUN and so many adventures, many that I've shared with you, dear readers.
     So, here is what I did and am doing to honor my husband. I found a company that turns your loved one's ashes into "Parting Stones," much like river rocks. I plan to leave them in beautiful and significant places around the world. There are so many parting stones in this very heavy box, it will take me the rest of my life to disseminate them all. But they will remind me to live, or as we often said, to live out loud. Stan's adventures will continue with me.
     I took two of his stones to New York City for Christmas to Providence for New Years, and to Scotland in May, which I blogged about (click on the colored text).
     The very first stone throw wasn't planned, though. My friends MJ, Andy, and I followed a path that runs along the ocean called "Cliff Walk" in Newport, Rhode Island. Grief was hitting me pretty hard, so I told MJ and Andy to walk on without me. I found a bench and contemplated... everything.
When they got back to me, I was in tears and had decided this was the perfect spot to throw out Stan's first parting stone. One problem, I have a crap throwing arm; so I asked Andy to do it. Among hugs and tears, Andy chucked Stan's first parting stone WAY out into the sea. It was perfect. It felt right. It felt significant. Here's the spot...
Video link.
     Stan's second parting stone, however, didn't go quite as smoothly.
     I had planned how I wanted the second stone to go. I found a quote from Shakespeare's Two Men of Verona that I wanted to read. (Our wedding rings were engraved with a quote from the play.) MJ and I walked to the end of the beach near her home. There were large cement blocks reaching out like a jetty and I thought it would be lovely to throw Stan's stone from the end.
     As I started to climb out, MJ said, "I don't know, sweetie, that algae looks pretty slippery." I didn't even have time to repond.
     In I went to the ice-cold water. It was deep enough to go up and over and into my new Bogg Boots (waterproof on the outside). Somehow, I held onto my phone and it and the upper half of me stayed dry. But I was still so angry with myself. I felt stupid as I pulled off my boots, dumping out a gallon of water from each one (very I Love Lucy style), and wringing out my soaking wet socks. Once that was done, I attempted to salvage the moment. I read the quote and threw Stan's stone into the sea... but remember that crap throwing arm I mentioned? Yeah.
     It landed about three feet from me. Not what I had in mind. So, in my wet rubber boots, I went to get it and try again.
     At this point, it was obvious this had turned into a complete fiasco, maybe even a message from Stan to stop taking everything so seriously. MJ and I were in tears from laughing so hard as we walked back along the beach and came up with a more colorful quote to add to my "Widow's Toolbox" - a collection of helpful sayings to use to either respond to inapprorpriate comments from well-meaning folks or to just keep me sane.
     At any rate, it felt right in the end and I added the story to my diary where I'm keeping track of all his stones and the GPS coordinates of where I leave him. (The book of hand-made paper was a gift from one of my students - so lovely.)
     So, I am living forward, living OUT LOUD, and I will continue to have grand adventures. I can't think of a better way to honor my dear husband.

      Here is a link to his online tribute and here is a link to his Celebration of Life.

WU 2023 Graduation

You put a bunch of proud parents and graduating seniors in a bowl-shaped coliseum and it gives you JOY SOUP! I love attending graduations! Even if they are bittersweet. I wish my seniors every happiness and success as they fly from our nest!
The professors had fun too! (If you got a picture with me after graduation - please forward it to me!)

WU Senior Show!

Graduation is always a bittersweet time. I'm thrilled to set my students into the world like birds flying from the nest, but it's always sad to see them go. Even so, the Senior Show is a moment to celebrate. Visual Communications students (Graphic Design and Illustration) set up a Show at Lenny Boy Brewing Company in Charlotte to display their accomplishments. It's a moment to show off what they've created, maybe sell a few things, but also for parents, alumni, and any potential employers to connect. It's not graduation but it is our moment as a department. This class is a special one to me, as well. We've been through some tough times together, and for me especially. These are the students who stepped up, showed up, and mean the world to me. I wish them so much joy and success in life; and I hope they stay in touch - even when they think they haven't accomplished enough to share - they are my kids and always will be!
     In all the excitement and hubub, I didn't get photos of everyone but I did get a few good ones. Here are Erin and Adam...
Kaelen, Olivia, and Guye...
Sarah and Maggie...
Senteria (who was my student assistant for Drawing II this semester - thank you, Senteria!) and Israel...
and James (he's holding one of the note cards I write to my seniors)...
Not shown are Amanda, William, Ethan, Clay, Will, Hitomi, and David. If you read this and you have a photo to share - please forward it to me and I'll add it to this post!!
     Meanwhile, Kaelen was awarded our Senior of the Year Award. She led the student Society of Illustrators group and was all around an awesome student. They all were!
I'll miss all of you so much! Go out into the world and BE AWESOME!!!

Master Keys Conference - University of Glasgow

Remember my Pearson Excellence in Teaching Award? Well, it came with a lovely monetary prize to attend the conference of my choice! I chose Scotland! I can visit all my friends who I miss so much, and help share my love of picture books with students at the University of Glasgow while I'm at it. It will be called "Master Keys: Images and words that open doors" and I'll be speaking on "Keys to Understanding How Picture Book IMages Work." I can't wait! (Click the poster to learn more and register.)

Drawing Attention to a Neglected Landmark

Sometimes the smallest things can lead to the biggest things. Remember my drawing class's field trip to the laundromat? While there, we ran into Dr. Ken Alston, retired professor, who works with the Legacy of African American Schools, and had recently moved back to Rock Hill. He had given a talk about Rock Hill history at the university a few weeks earlier. We got to talking and he asked if my class was, by chance, planning to draw any cemeteries.
     As a matter of fact, yes!
     Drawing gravestones is an excellent way to practice drawing one and two-point perspective. So I normally take my classes to a cemetery in walking distance to the University at some point during the semester. But Dr. Alston told me about an old neglected Black cemetery not much farther away. Some important people from Rock Hill history were buried there, but it had been left to fall apart after its last buriel in the 1950s (when another cemetery became the preferred destination). Dr. Alston has been working to repair the cemetery and help it receive an historical marker as the landmark it is.
     I love when school projects can gain legs and do good in the community, so I checked it out. There was some beautiful old statuary and it was evident that many of the families buries there were well off and represented important stories to the community.
     So we headed out to draw...
     What I couldn't have figured is that the head of the Rock Hill Historical Society would join us (along with her son). They would like to use some of the student's drawings to help build a case for the historical marker.
     Soon after, a reporter with Comporium also showed up to take photos and interview us about the project. (I'll share once the broadcast goes live.) We were literally drawing attention to an important community need.
     Meanwhile, students were able to spend a lovely time fine-tuning their craft and reflecting on stories of those buried in the cemetery.

     Here are some of their works-in-progress...

On the last day, it got so hot by the end of class, students were cooling off in the shade, not getting any work done anyhow; so I suggested we stop for ice cream on the way back to the university. All good!

UPDATE!!! Here is the news story from CN2!

Interview on AI in Education

You may recall I recently gave a talk about "AI-Assisted Illustration: This Changes Everything." Well, I was recently interviewed to talk about AI in education by Yili Fan. Yili is a documentary filmmaker, educator, and creator of Fill the Space: A Collective Intelligence Method. Kim Wilson, head of the Arts in Basic Curriculum, which is housed at Winthrop University, connected us, and I'm so glad she did!
     I'm often interviewed by students for class projects, so I have to admit, I was a bit surprised to walk into a seriously professional set up for the interview!
     Yili asked me all kinds of interesting questions, which was fun. I have a lot to say about AI - the good and the bad. It's all very scary and exciting at the same time. While they were filming (her husband is the techie and cameraman), Yili kept giving me the thumbs up and smiling at my answers. Birds of a feather, I suppose!
     I just hope I gave her some good material to use in her new documentary! I'm sure it will take time to put together; but I'll share as I learn more about it. Maybe it will end up with as many kudos as her first documentary, THE LITTLE PRINCE WITH A MASK by East Point Academy!

Picture Book Trends Workshop at Hollins University!

It's back! I'm thrilled to share that I'll be hosting my Picture Book Trends workshop again this summer at Hollins University! Click on the banner to learn more!

Mural Time!

This semester for my Illustration: Persuasion & Propaganda class, we made a mural! You may recall the last mural called "Get Out the Vote" right before the pandemic. Back then, we were addressing an upcoming election. This time, we're dealing with a lot of post-pandemic burn-out, so we decided to go with a Mental Wellness and Selfcare theme for the semester - hence, this year's design.
     There was a lot of prep work that went into this. Students had to decide on a theme (within our theme), a color palette, the image itself, representation, application, etc. That took almost a month to get sorted. Happily, our local paint shop PPG donated the paint and supplies. Once we settled on the design, I had the line art printed onto oversized paper at the UPS store. Then it was a matter of using transfer paper to trace the design onto the mural surface...

It was tight working conditions, but the students worked together brilliantly. In fact, I was surprised at how easily they reached consensus on all the choices they had to make during the planning stages. I suppose it was only natural that would carry over to the actual implementation.
     Painting the mural took several class times (studio classes run 2 hours and 45 minutes each), but the students were diligent.

And the outcome was SPECTACULAR! Check it out! (Click the mural to open it larger in a new window.)

     I was so proud of my students; but better yet, they were proud of themselves and learned a ton! What a lucky teacher I am!

Drawing Outside

I'm extremely behind on blogging about all the awesome things we've been up to at Winthrop this semester, so apologies for sharing them en masse. But share, I must!
     One of the classes I teach is a Beginning Drawing class to Freshmen. It consists of the basics of perspective, still life drawing, and landscape drawing. That's my favorite part because it means drawing outside in our beautiful Hardin Gardens. There's not much else to say other than, what a lovely way to spend a class time! Here are just a few of my students hard at work...