Coloring Page Tuesday! - Ready to Swim

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     Here's a coloring page to suit the weather. I hope you're near water!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send it back (small and low res) and I'll post it!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

Little Shop of Stories and the NY Times!

Wow, wow! My favorite independent bookseller, Little Shop of Stories, made the New York Times with their INCREDIBLE Harry Potter release party. I can't believe I didn't bring my camera, it was Such a great time, but at least the photographer from the New York Times did! Congratulations to Little Shop of Stories!

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Teddy Bear Reading Harry

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     Word is getting out about my Coloring Page Tuesdays! Check out this great feature at another groovy site: Free Stuff 4 Kids. You can subscribe and get new ideas for your kids emailed to your in-box every day!

     So as promised, here is today's coloring page. I'm about half-way through reading my copy of "The Deathly Hallows," how about you? In honor of the last Potter book, here's a teddy-bear to read along with you!(Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send it back - small and low res - and I'll post it!)
     To see other available coloring pages, follow this LINK.

     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

Look what Sharon made!

My snowflake for Robert's Snow

     I have the honor of creating a snowflake for Robert's Snow this year to help raise money for cancer research. This is the third year illustrators have pitched in to help with this cause, and for good reason. One of our own has been too closely affected by this horrible disease. The story is worth reading about, and the snowflakes, which are auctioned off, are a joy to see. So, needless to say, I'm so happy to be involved.

     The snowflakes are all original pieces of art. However I work digitally (the most original art I create is a first run giclee), so what did that mean to me? To the matresses . . . I mean, pull out the paints and see if I can get these muscles to do what I want!
     The great thing is, while I was improving with my digital art, I was learning a lot about traditional media. I never claimed to be good at mixing colors (which is part of why I went digital). Who knew that mixing colors onscreen would teach me how to mix colors off? Well, that's what happened, and I was very pleased with the results.
     I didn't think to take pictures until I was well into the project, so I jump around a bit, but I'll walk you through my process:
     I had to practice to get my hands used to working with a brush rather than a pen-mouse, and experiment with how the acrylics would react. I certainly didn't want to practice on my snowflake! So, I bought a piece of masonite similar to the material from which the snowflake was made and cut it down to small pieces (about 8.5"x11"). I prepared the surface by layering it with gesso.
     One of the things I always try to achieve with my digital work is that wonderful rich texture and transparency you get with paint. So, layer after layer of gesso, I used a dry brush to cross hatch when it was close to dry. After four or five layers, I had a nice solid white with a rich texture. I then used Saral paper to transfer my art to the masonite. It worked very well as you can see the back design on the left.

     I also wanted to experiment with "scumbling." It's a fancy word for painting the darks first, letting them dry, then layering thin, lighter colors on top. (This is where the transparency comes in.) It's also about the only way to get gentle shading with acrylics - they just dry so darned fast! (They do make solutions to extend the drying time if you want to experiment, but I didn't want to go there.) So I went in with the darks first. Here you can see I've already started to layer in the turquoise sky and vermillion santa suit.

    I especially liked the way my workspace came together through this. I bought a set of small tubes of acrylics. Because they dry so quickly, smaller tubes encourage you to squeeze out less and therefore lose less to drying (okay, and after much digging, I couldn't find my acrylics!). It's also amazing how little paint you actually need. I saved plastic egg crates and used them as my palettes. (I can't tell you how many expensive palettes I've thrown away that I could never get clean - this worked GREAT.)
    By the way, my brushes did not sit above my art while I worked - I've heard horror stories about that kind of thing. I moved them over for the photo so you could see the size brushes I used.
    So the main things I learned: there are major advantages to working small; use egg crates for palettes; take your time and let the layers build.
    I have to say, I really enjoyed this. I may actually try to do more projects in the future just for fun.
    Here is my finished snowflake front and back:

I sure hope whoever purchases my snowflake gets in touch!

Illustration Friday: Poem, An Ode to Harry

An Ode to Harry
by Elizabeth O. Dulemba

‘Twas release night of Harry
and all through the town
not a reader could sleep
or put the book down.

We went to the party
and claimed our great tome.
We mingled with muggles
then took our book home.

We argued and fought
o’er who would read first,
and find out who died
as the other one cursed,

“Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me!
And hide the reviews.
I’ll read for myself
the terrible news

Of who doesn’t leave
the Hallows alive.
I can’t wait to know
who doesn’t survive.”

But once I’ve found out
the journey will end.
I’ll miss my dear Harry.
He’s been a good friend.

Since Sorcerer’s Stone,
I’ve found the books groovy.
There’s no more to wait for,
except for . . . the movie!

(Feel free to share, but please include credit.)

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Dragon

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This is one of my favorite coloring pages to share - my happy dragon!
Click to download, color it, send it back, and I'll post it. Enjoy!
To see other available coloring pages, follow this LINK.

     To learn more about my picture book, The Prince's Diary, click the cover.

First Book, What book got you hooked?

There are several organizations around the country that work to get books into the hands of children in lower income communities. First Book is one of the best. In fact, they're about to celebrate the distribution of their 50 millionth book! To celebrate, they are asking you what book got you hooked on reading? You can vote at their website (click the logo) and choose the state you'd like to receive 50,000 brand new books for children in need. So go vote!
Thanks to Reading Rocket for the heads up!

illustration Friday: Discovery & Postcard Demo

Little Yella riding hood went to visit her Grandma (with a bag full of bagels from Zabar's and a Starbucks Chai Latte) only to discover . . .

     A while back, somebody asked if I would talk about my process with promotional postcard mailings. Since I'm using my latest postcard art for IF this week, I thought it would be a perfect time.
     I like to use Premium Postcard for my printing. They have no minimum print requirements which means I can send out a very targeted mailing list for less money. They are also run through the US Postal Service, so postage is included in their prices, and I can do everything online, including build my mailing list.
     When I'm ready to send my postcards, I just upload my art, click the names I want to mail to, and voila! I do, however, mail myself a proof postcard first. PP uses a coated glossy stock which holds up great in the mail and looks very professional, however, it tends to blow out the saturation of my art. So I usually send a very dummed down version of my art colorwise to get a good result.
     I build my postcards in Photoshop and save them as .jpgs to upload.
     Here's the front of my latest:

     Notice I have my name and contact information on the front. Art Directors will often pin postcards they like to a bulletin board. You never know what could sway an Art Director to hire you over somebody else, so make things easy for them. Include your contact information on the front so they don't have to fumble with your postcard to get in touch with you.
     Here's the back of my postcard:

     On the back I include my name, relevant title (children's book illustrator), a list of books I've illustrated with the publisher's name and any accolades they've received. I have my website address so they can see more of my art at my online portfolio (this is important and what makes the postcard/website advertsing technique so effective.) I include contact information for me and my agent. The art for this particular postcard is also published in this year's Picture-Book annual, so I included the page number. PP also has room for a small vignette of art - I included the "snout cream" from the bedside table. (This is an actual mailed postcard, so you can see the USPS logo and mailing strip.)
     I mail different art out three to four times a year to a mailing list I've pulled together by studying trade magazines and researching online. It's down to a select group of Art Directors and Editors with whom I'd especially like to work.
     And that's it! Hope you find this helpful.

I'm the SmartWriters 2007 Grand Prize Winner!!!

     OMG OMG OMG I'm still reeling!!! The email came in about 6:00 this evening - silly me didn't put my phone number on the entry form. I honestly didn't think I'd win! At first I thought Roxyanne meant I'd won the illustration category (which would have been good enough!). But no!!! I won the SmartWriters 2007 W.I.N. Competition Grand Prize!! OMG.
     I can't tell y'all how much this means to me. I started in this business cold turkey right before 9/11. Like everybody else, I had all the stereotypical misconceptions about how it all works, and I have learned just about every lesson the hard way. But with every failure, I just grew more and more determined to keep trying. (Yes, I'm a bit stubborn).
     Things have been going well lately, I must admit. But I work so hard, no violins, just truth. I needed some reassurance that this was all going somewhere. And my dream is to write and illustate my own books. That's the goal. It's so frustrating to know what you want sometimes, and know that you have a lot of work ahead of you to jump the hurdles that need jumping. Sometimes it flat out gets you down.
     One of the things I find I have in common with others on this crazy journey is the conscious decision to stay positive, move forward, and not resent the need for growth.
     But it's a much needed shot in the arm to receive recognition like this. It's confirmation that you are supposed to be on this path, that it's the right one.
     I'm so pleased, so thrilled, so honored to be on this journey with all of you. What a funny quest to embark upon, but somehow it is so, so worth it.
     Thank you to Roxyanne Young, Verla Kay, Kelly Milner Halls and SmartWriters for such a well respected competition, but especially for everybody's kind comments and support. This is not a stand-alone honor, I assure you. I am on the shoulders of so many friends.

     Btw, one of the prizes in this year's competition is a copy of Anastasia Suen's "Picture Book Writing." I already have a copy, dogeared from the treasure it's been to me. Reading it at different stages of my career has revealed new and just as relevant information. So, I am "paying it forward." Email me below if you'd like me to forward you my winning copy. I'll hold a drawing at the end of the month. (Make sure you don't sign anonymously so I can get in touch with you if I draw your name.)
     Keep writing, keep dreaming, don't give up!!

Here's my winning entry (click to see it larger):

Coloring Page Tuesday!

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Here's the second offering for Coloring Page Tuesday. Download the image to color (500k). If you send it back (low res .jpgs please) I'll post some of them. Have fun!
To see other available coloring pages, follow this LINK.

Learn about my good parenting picture books, Ready for Bed and Ready for the Day - click the covers!

Please follow my copyright policy when you use my images! And share your creation on the Coloring Page Tuesday facebook page!

Illustration Friday: Geeky

I created this for the River Eves Kick-off to Summer Reading party and it was published in the latest SCBWI Bulletin, so you might have seen it before, but it fits the bill, eh? This was me - was it you? Well, except for the glasses. Of course, now I wear glasses, but not back then. Still have my nose buried in a book most of the time though.

Coloring Page Tuesday - the Launch!

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     Okay kiddies, here we go! This is the first of the Coloring Page Tuesdays.
     Every Tuesday, I will offer a free coloring page for you to download and color. If you send it back to me (small .jpgs only please), I'll post 'em (or a reasonable number of them).
     So let's kick the tires and see how this baby rolls!
     Here is your first coloring page - a strawberry for the season.
     Click the image to download. (500k .jpg)
To see other available coloring pages, follow this LINK.

Here we go! Jasmin, age 4 (going on 5) is the first contributor to "Coloring Page Tuesdays!" Seeing as this is such a momentous occassion, here's a bit about Jasmin: She loves books, being at the library, storytellers, healthy foods, and learned to read at 4 years old and 2 month. She can't wait to start Kindergarten and has a very proud madre.
Thank you for coloring the first strawberry, Jasmin!

     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

Visit at the Scottdale Child Development Center

     Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting the teachers and children at the Scottdale Child Development and Family Resource Center of Central Dekalb.
     I spoke to two groups of the most well-behaved children I have ever visited in that age group. We talked about simple shapes and I walked the children through putting them together to draw their own versions of Glitter Girl from GLITTER GIRL AND THE CRAZY CHEESE. I was so pleased with the results - lots of budding artists.
     Best of all, before I left, we gathered for a group picture on the floor. Instead of saying "cheese" I had everybody yell, "SMOOSH!" because that's what was happening!
     We had a great time, and the Scottdale CDC is a wonderful resource for our community. I look forward to visiting again.

New Idea: Coloring Page Tuesdays!

     Tomorrow I'm going to start a new feature at - I'll post a free coloring page every Tuesday which you can download and color.
     And if you send you're colored image back to me (please send them as small .jpg's), I'll post 'em. Well, at least three of them - we'll have to see how many I get. Seeing as this is a new thing, we'll play that one by ear.
     I've done a little bit of this kind of thing already with my birthday cake (thanks to all who sent back a colored cake!) and it was so much fun. I love seeing what all you creative people come up with.
     So check back tomorrow for the first Coloring Page Tuesday download!