Well, I seem to be all about movies suddenly but I have to share. Pixar has done it again, they've created a masterpiece. Hubbie and I just got back from seeing WALL•E and it was fabulous. Sci Fi junkies will love the references to 2001, Idiocracy, and Star Wars. Inside jokes abound. But more amazing than anything is how they animated this little robot and make you fall in love with him . . . AND his pet cockroach. I never thought I'd say a cockroach is cute. Superb, truly superb.
     Click the banner to visit the official website.

Tale of Despereaux!!

     It's coming! The trailer looks hilarious. Anybody have any idea how Kate DiCamillo feels about it? I hope the movie is as good as the book!
     Thanks to Dotti Enderle for the link - she's always in the know where movies are concerned! Click the image to visit the main site and watch the trailer.

Illustration Friday: Fierce

     Another image from my latest picture book "Ready for Bed," part of the ParentSmart/KidHappy series written by Stacey Kaye, illustrated by Yours Truly, Free Spirit Publishing.
     Marco needs to brush his teeth and declares that he is "a very hungry crocodile!" Fierce indeed.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Ballet Slippers

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     Still feeling swirly and romantic so what could be better than ribbons on ballet slippers? I was a budding ballerina when I was young. I guess it didn't take them long to figure out I'm about as graceful as an ox. Oh well.
     So, I didn't get any feedback on coloring page ideas, although I see all you people downloading my coloring pages in my stats! Be brave! What would you like to color? Let me know.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

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

Illustration Friday: Hoard

     Despite hoarding toys, kids usually have only one or two favorites.
     This is from "Ready for the Day" - part of the ParentSmart/KidHappy series which was just released!

Orphan Works Bill

Update (April 2010):
     Education is our best defense against the illegal use of our images. And apparently even the well-educated have a hard time grasping the concept of why using images without permission is stealing.
     Read the comments in "Big Mother gets her shot at cutting health costs" by Dana Blankenhorn. He originally used an image by a famous illustrator without permission. When called out on it, he actually defended his position! (And he admitted to doing the same thing countless times in the past.) I'm not sure how he could feel justified after the slew of thoughtful and passionate comments from people who make their living as illustrators - people who were completely horrified.
     The reason I bring up this example is because it's important to know this happens all the time. It's also important to know that the internet has created ways for illustrators to find the infringers - through Google Alerts and such. I have personally had to go after businesses who have used my images without permission or compensation. (They get paid to do their job, why shouldn't I?) It places me in an awkward and difficult position, along with cutting into my ability to make a living. That's a very real threat to me.
     So, on to the discussion of Orphan Works...

     I don't usually talk about politics on my blog, but this particular issue directly affects me as a freelance illustrator.
     Have you heard of the Orphan Works Legislation that's been sneaking through the House of Representatives? Well, if this Bill goes through, it could directly affect my business - not in a good way. Right now, when I create, I own my creation. It's an automatic copyright. Seems logical. I created it so I own it.
     I make my living by people paying me to use my art.
     But sometimes when a person wants to use a piece of art, nobody knows who the artist is, or they can't find them. That's an Orphan work - a creation (music, art, a photograph, etc.) who's creator can no longer be located and therefore permission cannot be saught or compensation offered for usage of their work. Orphan works do exist, and libraries and schools do have legitimate reasons for wanting access to be able to use these works.
     But that's not what this Bill is about. It started out that way but quickly morphed into a way for commercial businesses to use artwork without much research and without much recourse for the artist.
     Here's the gist: Let's say there's a big t-shirt company (I mean really big) - that wants to use a piece of art for their company logo which they found on Google Images - a great sketch of a happy sun - they want to use it on everything they produce.
     They can do what they call "due diligence" (this term has not been defined in the Bill) to find the artist, and if they can't find the artist, they can declare it an orphan work and use it anyway.
     Say the artist finds out, because the image is now in every store in America. The artist can sue the company for damages, but there's a cap on how much the artist can sue for (not a very high cap).
     And here's where the Bill protects the abuser and not the artist: the Bill is so loosely defined, loop-holes abound, and if the big corporate lawyer is better, and more powerful than the lawyer a poor little freelancer can afford - the company doesn't have to pay the artist a dime and the artist is out the legal fees they spent and time wasted (which translates to income in a freelancer's world). Most of the time it will literally makes no sense for an artist to go after an abuser (this is true even in today's system).
     One argument to protect artists against abuses is to create a database for all works to be registered. Sounds logical? Well, this database does not exist yet. The software to search the work in a database does not exist yet. (I'd like to see it search for abstract art.) Whether or not this would be a non-profit or profit driven database has not been determined.
     In other words it could cost me money to register every single thing I draw or I don't have any rights to my own creations.
     Let's say that unlucky artist drew that happy sun on a cocktail napkin - there's nothing in this Bill saying how much that artist would have to pay to register that cocktail napkin.
     Reality check - people illegally download my work for their personal use all the time. Yes, I make my coloring pages available and free for non-profit uses, but I have other images on my website that have been downloaded literally hundreds of times (I can follow this in my stats) - work that I never gave permission for and was never compensated for.
     So why do I have my artwork online? Because I'm a freelance illustrator and to get new work, I have to advertise myself with an online portfolio. So while it's really rotten, theft happens.
     Beginning to get the picture? This Bill protects the abuser, not the creator. It could severely cut into my ability to charge for what I do and how I make my living.
     So what can you do to help stop this Bill from going through? SIGN HERE. Our biggest enemy on this legislation is that nobody has heard of it. One Congressman supposedly thought it was about orphan children. Another was quoted as saying "we must protect the consumer" (implied: not the creator). What!?
     So, please SIGN HERE. It's time to get as many people aware of this bad legislation as possible and start shouting about it to our representatives. The ability for me to continue creating art could hang on this - so please go SIGN.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Gazelle

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     I'm getting all romantic-like on you this week. I just love drawing antelope-type creatures, deer and gazelles. They are so graceful, every bit of them moves like a ribbon twisting in the wind. *sigh*
     So, not that I'm running out of ideas or anything (I never could), but I thought I'd try an experiment and let you guys tell me what you'd like to color for a change. I've received some pretty odd requests when I've done this in the past, so no promises or anything . . . but maybe I'll create a coloring page for you. Leave your suggestion in my comments below.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

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

As it should be...

     I've told y'all I used to hang-glide, yes? Still have dreams about it. You think chickens and penguins dream of flying too?
     In this bizarre business of children's books, do you sometimes feel like a bird that can't fly? Like if somebody could just give you a hand or cut you a break, you'd be soaring? Yeah...

It's TWO new books!!

Drum Roll Please . . .
     I am proud to announce the release of Ready for the Day and Ready for Bed, the first two books in the ParentSmart/KidHappy series written by Stacey Kaye, illustrated by Yours Truly, brought to you by Free Spirit Publishing!!

     ParentSmart/KidHappy is a series of kid-friendly picture books that use stories about families dealing with common parent-child struggles - such as going to bed and getting ready in the morning - to model positive parenting techniques. To learn more and watch an interview with the series' creator, Stacey Kaye, go to ParentSmartKidHappy.com.
     To download free ParentSmart/KidHappy wallpaper for your computer, go to my launch page.

     Want to be the first to receive my big announcements? Sign up for my newsletter by clicking Ugh:

Illustration Friday: Punchline

From my forthcoming, "Oscar the Badger," (Fall '08) - Oscar is convinced he is turning into a badger...

Office Redo



     So I had another one of those pesky birthdays recently, but instead of jewelry or some such, I asked hubbie for bookshelves and some hard labor. I wanted to redo my office. It was starting to close in on me - with piles of books everywhere. I just knew storage could be handled more efficiently. But really the whole thing started with a shoebox. This fabulous lime green interior:

I propped it up on my old bookcase and stared at it for months wanting to pull that incredible lime into my office. And then I came across these awesome orange bookshelves from West Elm (the 3x4 set in Saffron!). Had to have 'em! Aren't they purty?

     So hubbie and I pulled everything out of my office and started over. We painted the walls a pale yellow, called "Cornbread." With the orange shelves, I wanted the shoebox lime and some teal as an accent - it happens to be my personal color palette.
     What? Don't you know what your personal color palette is? I've found most people have one - especially illustrators. And it really helps to identify what that palette is and play up on the strengths of that knowledge. If you look at my website, you can see it in my main design. And here it is in swatches: The pale yellow is my neutral, the main colors are Orange, Lime and Teal.
     To find your own palette - lay a bunch of your art on the floor and stare at it. Are there certain colors you seem to use again and again? See if you can narrow it down to three.

     The hardest things to paint turned out to be my filing cabinet and stereo cabinet, four coats of paint later they were a lovely shoebox lime - a perfect match. The cool thing was the stereo cabinet ended up fitting perfectly underneath a parsons table I dug out of my parents basement. It was my grandfather's, and I couldn't get it out of my head when I first saw it. I loved its clean sqare lines and modern sensibility. Stylistically, it's a perfect match to my new orange shelves, and the color is a dead on match for the walls - sometimes I scare myself. By sliding the stereo cabinet underneath I ended up with an awesome credenza. And kismet - the orange magazine boxes slid into the album slots so perfectly, I couldn't have planned it any better. This kind of thing downright excites me:

To top it all off, I painted my old wooden chair aqua. It ended up lighter than I planned (teal), but it's growing on me.
     Now with my lovely orange shelves and the black bookshelf by the door, I finally have enough storage for all my books - yippee!! (Ooo, I wonder if hubbie noticed his shirt matched the shoebox?)
     The only thing missing now is my ego wall like in my old office. I think I'm going to reign it in just a tad (that was a lot of holes to spackle) and put two pin boards over my credenza. Maybe this weekend.
     Honestly, the biggest experiment in my new space was the removal of my drawing table. I've never been without one and I hemmed and hawed. But since I went digital, I was really only using it as a cutting surface and not often enough to warrant the enormous space it was taking up. We'll see if I miss it too much, but so far, so good.
     So, can I tell you what a good giftie this was? We purged, we scrubbed, we reorganized (and we're both still sore). But my soul just feels calm and content now when I sit down to work in my new space. Of course, that's when my men let me use it...

UPDATE! There's MORE! You gotta go see my new Danish stools!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Pretty Pony

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     Still following the advice of a New York children's book editor, this week's coloring page is a Pretty Pony!
     Y'know, I can't believe I haven't drawn you a horse (of sorts) before now, because I was definitely horse crazy as a little girl and drew them all the time! So, it's about time I shared!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

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

Blog Book Tour for . . . Terry Pierce!

     I have a treat for y'all today! It's been a while since I've hosted an author on my blog, and today I'd like to introduce you to Terry Pierce, author of the new BLACKBERRY BANQUET, illustrated by Lisa Downey and published by Sylvan Dell. (They also publish my friend Karen Lee's books.)
    When Sylvan Dell approached me to host Terry, I couldn't resist. I mean, Blackberries!? I have spent many a summer picking blackberries. I had to ask Terry about her inspiration:

Hi Terry!
     I love picking blackberries, so you're new picture book BLACKBERRY BANQUET immediately resonated with me. Do you have a history involving blackberries? What was the inspiration for your story?

     Ahh, a fellow blackberry-lover! Yes, I’ve always loved picking wild blackberries, which started as a kid living in Washington State (who would have known I’d end up writing a book about them!). My mom would send my brother and me to pick berries with the promise of a blackberry pie as our reward.
     As an adult, I carried on the tradition and picked berries with my son (also with the promise of a pie :-). I always thought it would be a fun topic for a book. I tinkered with a couple of ideas, including an easy reader, but it wasn’t until one day, when I was approaching my favorite berry bush near Hood River, Oregon, that the muse struck. As a flurry of animals fled from the bush, I imagined what it would be like if a bear had approached the bush instead. I immediately started writing the story, although it took a couple of years for it all to come to fruition.

“To fruition” Terry? Oh, you did not - LOL! Where were the best blackberry patches in your memory?

     Anywhere in the Pacific Northwest! As a child, there was a huge field of berry bushes on the hill below where I lived on Mercer Island, Washington. My favorite spot, as an adult, is near Viento State Park in Oregon, where my family vacations annually. There was a fabulous bush in open sunshine that had the plumpest, sweetest berries. Sadly, the state tore it out when they decided to develop a parking area for the windsurfers to have easier access to the Columbia River (but there are still others nearby, so I don’t hold it against them).

I once stepped on a copperhead while picking blackberries, but we were both so relaxed, I just lifted up my foot and he slithered on his way. Tell us more about some of the critters you've run into while picking blackberries.

     Oh my! I’m glad berry picking is so relaxing and nobody got hurt! I often hear small critters rustling around in the bushes—mostly birds, chipmunks, squirrels or mice. The incident I mentioned above, though, was particularly funny because there were so many animals fleeing from the bush. I felt like I had crashed a party.

I love the scenes of pandemonium in BLACKBERRY BANQUET when the bear appears. How did you feel about the illustrations when you saw them for the first time?

     Didn’t Lisa Downey do a great job with the illustrations? Well, as corny as this seems, I actually teared up when I saw them for the first time. It’s an amazing feeling to see your words turn into art. To me, it’s an extraordinary process. One of my favorite scenes is when the bear and deer are facing each other. Lisa mastered catching their facial expressions. She carried this throughout the book, which is wonderful because very young children can still see the story through the art, even if they’re just looking at the pictures.

Have you read BLACKBERRY BANQUET to many kids yet? Do they just love all the sound effects?

     Not yet! The book just came out in late May, so I haven’t had a chance to read it to any children. However, I’m looking forward to quite a few signings this summer and school visits next year. The story has great read-aloud potential with the repetition and animal sounds, so it should be a hoot to read.

What is your favorite thing to make with blackberries? Mind sharing the recipe if there is one?

     No doubt, it’s blackberry pie, à la mode. I LOVE blackberry pie. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I’ve spent hours, no years, perfecting the art of making the perfect blackberry pie. It’s a classic fruit pie—I mean, blackberries are so delicious, why add cream fillings or other such things?
     I also have some other fun recipes that I’ve posted on my blog on behalf of my book’s characters (you know how those forest animals always want to be in the limelight). If you go to my blog at http://www.terrypierce.blogspot.com and look in the Categories on the right side, click on Recipes and they’ll come up. In fact, this week is when Bear is sharing his recipe for Bear’s Blackberry Pie. Okay, I’ll fess up—it’s MY recipe but that rascally ol’ bear stole it from me! Top a warm piece with some vanilla ice cream and you’ve got one of the best things about summer ;-).

YUM! Well, we obviously share a passion for blackberries, Terry. And I think anybody else who has fond memories of picking blackberries, or blueberries, or raspberries, or . . . will get a real kick out of BLACKBERRY BANQUET. Thanks for being a guest on dulemba.com!

     Thanks so much, Elizabeth! These were fun questions to answer.

To learn more about Terry, visit the other stops on her blog book tour:
Karen Lee's Blog (Monday)
BookBuds (Wednesday)
Anastasia Suen's Blog (Thursday)
Picture Book of the Day (Friday)

Illustration Friday: Forgotten

Maya found her sandal, which hid forgotten under her bed.
This is from the one of my two latest picture books, "Ready for the Day," part of the ParentSmart/KidHappy series written by Stacey Kaye (Free Spirit Publishing). Expect a big ta-da soon! :)

The Georgia, Tennessee Line

     There's a debate going on in Georgia right now. Y'all may have heard we're suffering from quite the drought. It's bad enough that they almost didn't let people fill their pools this summer - but threats of riot and a few thunderstorms later, they backed off that idea.
     So, another idea is to go back to the 1818 survey of the state when the map makers flubbed up and drew the Georgia line just short of the natural border of the Tennessee River - water we could sorely use today.
     But this would affect a town near and dear to my heart - two towns really, McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee. Along with living nearby for four years and enjoying the quirks of living on a state line, this is the home of my first novel (and my second work in progress). In fact, my protagonist and his best friend do exactly what so many visitors have done - straddle the state line with a foot in each state. I've done it too.
     Anyhow, there's a cute video accompanying this AP news story. Have a looksie (click the image).

Carnival Time!

Do y'all know about the Carnivals of Children's Literature? Well, May's Carnival is hosted at Bonny Glen and they link to my post about the Illustrator's Show opening night! Groovy. If you've got some time to kill reading about all things kidslit, go check it out!

Coloring Page Tuesday - This Little Piggy!

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     Still following the advice of a New York children's book editor, this week's coloring page is a little piggy!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     And as a bonus, check out these adorable mini-piggies (min-pigs?) they're breeding in the UK (thanks to cute overload for the link):

     For more coloring pages, go here.

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

Making a Repeat Pattern

     I used to make simple repeats when I worked for a children's clothing company (wayyyy back when). I occassionally still do it, like for the endpapers for Paco and the Giant Chile Plant (which I am using as the background for my website right now). But this is the best tutorial I've ever seen on making a complicated pattern in repeat. Check it out at Design Sponge!