More more ii

Posted by on Sep 8, 2017 in comics, drawing, Illustration, Illustration Institute, Maine College of Art, Peaks Island | 0 comments

The seeds of the recent residencies at the Illustration Institute’s Marilyn Faison Artist Residency were possibly planted in the spring of 2016, when Maine College of Art Illustration faculty Scott Nash invited Emily Flake and Bob Mankoff to a screening of Very Semi Serious, a fantastic documentary in which they both appear, about New Yorker cartoonists. They were like sit-down comedians on the Portland Museum of Art stage afterwards.

Fast forward to this August, when Emily Flake filled the Fifth Maine to capacity, as the setting sun made the audience beautiful.

Emily shared a presentation of her early illustration work and New Yorker cartoons, followed by several that did not make publication. Her ribald humor and salty wit kept the room laughing til way past dark.

When she saw the work of Edward Gorey and Gahan Wilson at the tender age of five, she knew then and there she wanted to be a cartoonist. As New Yorker cartoonists go, she said, “I’m a baby.” Her first one appeared in 2008, and she submits 8 – 12 cartoons a week, with the approach “send in everything to see if it sticks.”

She also read excerpts from her book, Mama Tried. Here’s my sketch.

The following night, fellow Faison resident Wayne White was present for a screening at the Peaks Island Lions Club of Beauty is Embarrassing, a stellar documentary about his life and work.

Three Illustration MECA grads sailed out to Peaks for this illustrious occasion.

Liz Long, Molly Steinmetz, and Andi Croak

The film was properly introduced by Illustration Institute co-directors Scott and Nancy Nash, with the adorable help of Emily’s daughter.

Andi Croak watched while stitching this. Because.

And Molly captured Wayne and his partner, Mimi Pond in her sketchbook, on the spot.

Liz made these paintings to give to Wayne and Mimi.

During Wayne’s heartfelt Q & A after the screening, he admitted the film has been a strange experience, saying “being a public figure is treacherous.” But he added, “Most artists are introverts. I’m not a fragile wierdo. We all have art inside us.”

Liz and Molly were thrilled to meet Wayne at last.

Today I drew Wayne in my sketchbook, but got carried away with a collage appendage in honor of his Dirty Dog puppet character from Pee Wee’s Playhouse. I remain a fan of that crazy show.

Mimi Pond gave a presentation two days later at Maine College of Art to a full house, reading from her latest graphic novel, The Customer is Always Wrong. She is on one bombshell of a book tour, which you can follow here.

Her book is a sequel to Over Easy, a fictionalized memoir of her alter ego, Madge, an art student working in a cafe in Oakland, California in the 70’s. For quite awhile, the story was in manuscript form. Mimi told us she was inspired by Fun Home, by another cartoonist, Alison Bechdel. Women pioneers do matter.

You need to have both books! And strong coffee. Something about the color harmony here, plus Mimi’s hair color, compelled me to draw.

I drew Mimi serving up the hottest cuppa humor in the joint.

These three ii events also coincided with the new semester beginning at MECA. What an all-you-can-eat buffet week!

Last Friday I turned to baking pies. I didn’t want to intrude on the woodsy privacy of the Faison residents, but felt every bit the fan girl dropping off my plates of thanks.

Thanks to Emily, Wayne, and Mimi for the wisdom and creativity y’all brought to our Rock. May Peaks Island and the Illustration Institute feed our souls in need of humor, art, and good books!







Postcards from the Rock

Posted by on Aug 31, 2017 in Charlesbridge Publishing, curious city, drawing, Illustration, Illustration Institute, Maine College of Art, Peaks Island, Portland Stage Company, Tiger Boy, Tilbury House | 1 comment

I have always been a snail mailer. Even when I was growing up at the Red Doors Motel, I cultivated pen pals. Creating post card promotions as an illustrator is one occupational hazard that I enjoy. These are just a handful from many years of mailing out samples.

Here’s the scoop behind my most recent postcard, Summer in the Slow Lane.

I’ve always hankered for little campers and the time to take road trips. I made a sketch on the ferry one day based on a photo I took a few years ago on the way to Stonington, Maine.

Kirsten Cappy happily modeled inside this camper we spied for sale along Route 1.

She recently sent me this photo which sparked an idea.

My sketch got a little more specific, working within the post card proportions.

While I’m awaiting the publication in October of Ana and the Sea Star, I decided to have Ana in the scene, too. Peaks Islander, Zoe, was the model for my Ana illustrations. She showed up for the photo shoot last September in the most adorable dress that I LOVED drawing.

I drew on blue paper, bringing out bright colors, and added a turtle friend.

This is the final illustration.

The truth is, this summer has been anything but slow. I’ve only had a chance to mail out about half my batch. There’s been a bounty of activity on Peaks, thanks to the Illustration Institute. I’ll spill tales about that soon, but right now I am super excited to see Mimi Pond tonight at Osher Hall at Maine College of Art! Her latest graphic novel, The Customer Is Always Wrong, features a waitress facing a cast of characters in Oakland, CA.

I can relate. I waitressed my share during college years. That experience shaped my serving powers in many ways, becoming a visual metaphor in a couple of very early postcards I created.

Drawing on demand is not for everybody!  Yet I tell my illustration students: a bad day illustrating is better than a good day waitressing. This postcard is from ages ago, when I used gouache on regular basis.

In other news, Tiger Boy has been released in Japan! I am thrilled to see how they used one of my interior illustrations from the hard cover version on this one.

Biggest surprise of all: coming home last night to find my illustration for Portland Stage in the New Yorker!

My island neighbor and biggest fan, Ann Hinderer, wasted no time in mailing me her congratulations. I mean, it’s a regional ad placement not a direct job for the New Yorker, but still. That’s life on a big rock in a blue bay.

Summer Days of Daisy

Posted by on Aug 28, 2017 in Peaks Island, Seven Days of Daisy, travels | 4 comments

Summers in Maine are heavenly. If we could bottle them, we would. Here’s my capture of the fleeting flavors we tasted. Now that our daughter is back in Baltimore, it helps to reflect on what a Daisy-full time we had. Beginning with our trip to Ireland, we are thankful for family.

There’s been togetherness and also departures. Here Daisy heads off to visit her beau, which involved a ferry, an Uber, a train, and another ride.

There was fog. And more fog. Ferries vanishing.

Fog veiled the shore of Long Island during our Father’s Day picnic.

Daisy saw plenty of sun hanging out at the dock after work.

Her cousin Cristel and husband Ben joined us for a picnic at Table Rock just after their June anniversary.

Daisy worked hard this summer with Jeremy Sherman’s painting crew.

We all dodged golf carts, which were beyond legion.

We tiptoed around the robins nesting near our back door.

This brave baby was the first to leap from the nest.

Just before the Fourth, we visited Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Jeff while they were camping.

Daisy painted a dreamy view of the dock that sold in the Color of Peaks show at the TEIA.

We strolled with Daisy’s godparents during their visit in mid July when Jojo was on Peaks for a wedding.

Daisy kayaked with them on the most stellar of days.

Even Paloma was ready!

Off they went into the passage between the Diamond islands. They stopped at Cow Island for lunch and paddled back to Peaks for dinner and blueberry pie.

We shared some evening walks to City Point.

Daisy and I enjoyed the annual Peaks Island Musicians concert at the Fifth Maine. Here Ben Tibbetts is on keyboard with Dexter Morse on alto sax, and Joanna Quinn on drums. Their jazz was the best finale.

Daisy biked off to work by 8:15 so many, many mornings.

We met up with cousin Garrett and his girlfriend, Marlee, for fine dining in their new neighborhood at Little Giant.

When our neighbors were on vacation, Daisy tended to their cat, bunny, and lovebird, Lili, who stayed with us for awhile.  Lili’s favorite word: “chuppers.” This is my sketch.

Daisy met visiting artists Henrik Drescher and Wu Wing Yee.

She took adorable photos of their dog, Tofu. How could you not.

Epic skies filled us to the brim.

A highlight of every summer is going to Circus Smirkus with our neighbors, the Moxhays.

We also had a few visits from Jonathan!

And one final picnic, just after the eclipse, with our neighbors.

Boom. A swift summer of sun, fog, and beloved folks and critters.

We packed up a rental van this past Wednesday and got in line for the car ferry early when fog blanketed Portland.

Daisy got this shot of Manhattan flying by on our sixth road trip to Baltimore.

Her first apartment is quite lovely.

We unloaded the van, bought a new bed, an old dresser, and some grocs. Marty yawns while Daisy yaks with roommate, Ellie.

Roommates reunited!

We dined at Cosima where Executive Chef Donna Crivello chatted with the girls about her first apartment in Baltimore, not far from theirs.

Some statues are gladly gone, but this one, dedicated to Francis Scott Key, remains.

We visited the American Visionary Art Museum, where O Say Can You See is their mission.

The main exhibit is Yummm! The History, Fantasy, and Future of Food. From the wacky to the sobering, the show is brilliant. One whole room is bread art.

In another wing, a collection of automata can be activated. For some reason there are several of Anubis.

All of this called for a trip to the Paper Moon Diner, where quirky assemblages watch over the action.

Before we returned the rental van on Saturday, we picked Daisy up for ride to Patterson Park.  The Pagoda was closed 🙁

but rolling greens, dogs chasing balls, and chattering cicadas were just the trick for our final hour in Charm City.

SO HARD to say goodbye, but our Dreamer is ready for junior year at MICA.

We are inspired by her grace and balance. We miss you already, Daisy!








Ocean Park

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in Charlesbridge Publishing, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Here Come the Humpbacks, Illustration, pastels, travels | 5 comments

I first visited Ocean Park in 2013 and delighted in the warm community there. Last week I returned to meet new friends and share a bit of my world and working methods. I spoke in Jordan Hall, and was surprised when Daisy, my daughter who inspires much of my work, showed up with her friend Jonathan, who has spent many fond summers at Ocean Park.

I included this series of photos to show my process of creating a single illustration for Here Come the Humpbacks! by April Pulley Sayre.

First I sketch into the layout provided by the publisher’s designer, in this case Martha Sikkema of Charlesbridge Publishing. I work loosely in pencil but need to work around the text blocks.

Next I trace over the approved sketch, twice. On the back side of the paper, I trace in charcoal pencil.

Then I use orange colored pencil to scribble over the front of the tracing paper so the charcoal line on the back side of the tracing paper will transfer, ever so lightly, to my pastel paper. Think of it as my handmade carbon paper. Then I have a somewhat faint but correctly placed outline of my composition. Because of text placement, I can’t lose track of my areas of lights and darks.

Then I draw the composition again (fourth time if you are counting) onto the pastel paper, which is covered in finely ground cork and feels pretty much like sandpaper.

Next I begin applying pastel in areas. I like to work on colored ground, the cool colors of the ocean pop off the warm background.

I work in the areas of contrast so I keep the whole scene in a balance of light and dark areas.

Notice my octopus reference in the upper right, as I go into final details.

This is the final, which illustrated the hazards migrating humpbacks encounter, including plastics and trash.

After my slideshow, everyone gathered to choose from the drawing materials I brought, along with nature objects and plastic toy sea creatures for observational drawing.

This artist captured the distinct pattern of the turtle shell. She also told me her family drives from Minnesota to Ocean Park and it takes them 21 hours!

Her younger brother drew this lovely full moon reflecting over a blue ocean.

Another little boy was paying close attention to the markings of contrast in a squeaky seal.

His little brother, perhaps 4, had chosen a life-like lobster to draw. His energetic marks have simplified the shapes to their essence!

This artist thoroughly embraced the blending of pigment, making a vigorous drawing of a turtle reaching for the light.

I met Deb Macleod, a preschool teacher in love with giraffes. She captured something adorable here.

I’m always delighted when all ages come together to partake of the joys of drawing. Thank you, Ocean Park Association, for the visit, and to Lori Littlefield, Ocean Park Memorial Library’s summer librarian. She helped set up my display and sold books for me, too!

I waved goodbye to Jon and Daisy so I could make the last ferry to Peaks.


Sketchbooks on Peaks: round 5!

Posted by on Aug 12, 2017 in Art Classes, drawing, Maine College of Art, pastels, Peaks Island | 3 comments

Maine College of Art faculty Judy Labrasca and I led our fifth Peaks Island Sketchbooks Workshop last Saturday. The weather gods dealt us complete fog this year, not necessarily a bad thing. It was like being in a bell jar, with no horizon line and maybe less crowds. We began on the beach with a discussion of sketchbook practices, paper preferences, and handy tools for portability, like this wee watercolor palette Judy brought.

This class is a gently guided tour of sketching spots with permission to find your own point of view. Judy made small sketchbooks for everyone and I supplied Canson and Sennelier pastel papers to add. Without further ado, sketchers found their perches. Doris focused on a composition of stones while another ferry departs.

Janine gave her signature flourish to the water’s edge.

A driftwood seat for Dan and Lisa works just fine!

Cheryl got experimental with both watercolor and natural textures.

There was not much view, really. It’s the power of artistic vision to bring out mood and place.

Doris used a pastel blending stick to achieve this evocative drawing that hints at the distant presence of House Island.

I tried drawing the very complex structure that is the Peaks Island transfer bridge, the portal we pass through every trip.

We witnessed more than a few canines on their morning strolls to the shore.

Molly quickly captured this dog’s personality in her graphic view.

This dog just needs a unicorn horn, right?

We packed up and moved on to Sandy Beach. At high tide, it’s mostly ledge. We found places to draw from the rocks.

Jay’s watercolor of Whitehead Passage is so serene.

Another dog enjoyed a swim while the gnarly tree provided visual interest for some.

Edie began to draw all it’s winding detail.

I sketched the sketchers below me.

We moved on to the Fifth Maine Museum, where we ate our lunches and shared what we had done so far.

In Mary’s sketchbook, she captured the gap between Picnic Point and Cushing Island in lovely strokes.

Mary and Jay are regular drawing companions, and talked about their favorite methods and tools.

We split up again to draw more. A few ventured down into the Fifth Maine’s gardens.

Sudden sprinkles drove us all back onto the porch.

Doris began this bright botanical study. Leave it to an artist to create a buzz of color!

Judy took this photo of Peaks as the class returned to the mainland. The island has been shrouded in fog many times this summer, but I don’t mind. It slows down and gets dreamy, the fog horns muffled by the mist.

Thank you, MECA and Judy, and all the intrepid artists I am honored to meet. Keep filling those mighty sketchbooks!



Story & Craft

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in A Porcupine's Promenade, Charlesbridge Publishing, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Here Come the Humpbacks, Illustration, Illustration Institute, Peaks Island, school visits, Seven Days of Daisy | 1 comment

This summer my cup runneth over with kidlit elixirs. I was pleased as punch to share in one of Pat Crowley Rockwell’s Story and Craft adventures at the Peaks Island library. She is an esteemed educator, the Assistant Principal at King Middle School, and a passionate advocate of children’s books and reading to kids.


She featured A Porcupine’s Promenade by Lyn Smith, how could I not join in? After she read the story, I shared my little pencil dummy and showed one of the original drawings. Kids like to touch the rough sanded paper I use for my pastels. Plus, Pat’s programs always involve a craft, the chance to get little hands on something.


Kids and adults were invited to grab a ball of clay, a box of toothpicks, and some googly eyes. What’s not to love? Just mashing the clay around was a squishy pleasure.


Even with limited materials, plenty of prickly personalities emerged.


I brought mine home to dry and Marty added a finishing touch with airbrush, thank you.


The next day I visited Bright Horizons where my intrepid niece, Cristel, is an award-winning pre-K teacher.


The eager energy of this crowd is a welcome shot in the arm. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm for story always fills me to the brim. I brought my little dummies for Seven Days of Daisy to pass around, along with a few props from the story.


We talked about marking time, and they knew all about it.


At this age (mostly 4 year olds) they are still figuring out the abstraction of time. How long is a week? They’re just getting the hang of the days of the week, sometimes upside down.


They were mighty eager to draw their own stories in the books I brought for them. The parallels can make you giggle.


I noticed some cut paper simpatico in the work of Cristel’s co-worker, Dragona, who makes the room bright.



Some made vigorous color marks while others drew careful lines.


A few took center stage to read their stories, which had no writing but plenty to tell.


Thank you, Bright Horizons, for the book love!

Next up was a Curious City Kidlit Libation outing on the Eastern Prom, where liquid craft was in order.


Witness the rare circle of 2 dogs, 2 librarians, 1 agent, 1 bartender/kidlit wunderkind, 2 authors, and 4 illustrator/authors soaking up the atmosphere.. Best folks to hang with on any dang day.


This week another Illustration Institute adventure unfolded on Peaks Island at Mark Hoffmann’s workshop on Lateral Thinking.

I sketched him while he talked about his background (yay, fellow RISD alum) and methods of working.


He learned the craft of story telling while working after graduation at Soup to Nuts, an animation studio in Boston, and the value of speedy sketching.

I also drew another participant with lovely hair.


He has moved from gouache to painting on the iPad with Procreate, and limits his color palette, while also making copious lists. We divided into groups to tackle lateral brain-storming for five concepts: Secrets, Loss, Danger, Aging, and Chores. Our mission was to create lists of words stemming from words and finding idea combinations that would “push beyond the expected.” Each group went to work, and after half an hour, one spokesperson delivered a story pitch. BOOM. Stories galore!

And then he signed his first book, You Can Read, a wonderful romp in tertiary colors through the wilds where stories can take us.


On Monday, I will be at Ocean Park to share Here Come the Humpbacks and drawing creatures of the sea. The stories and craft cruise on, and I am blessed to be in this kidlit boat.

Vinalhaven adventures

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in drawing, Island Birthday, Tilbury House, travels | 8 comments

Our romance began on two wheels. It’s become tradition to roll the bikes outta the barn to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Because every island is unique in culture and geography, we love exploring other Maine islands, but getting motorcycles on two ferries in the same day can be tricky. We opted to take our time.

After a Friday morning stop at Street Cycles, where Marty’s Versys 650 Kawasaki failed inspection, we kept on. Riding the roundabout way through Pownal, Lisbon Falls, Sabbatus, and Hope, we arrived in Rockland at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.


But we didn’t have time for that. We needed to see Peaks Islander Scott Kelley’s show at Dowling Walsh before it closed!  This year’s collection of huge watercolors featuring Maine animals in Native American dress is downright stunning. If you missed it, you can read his newly published children’s book, Birch. All these characters play a part in a Gluskap legend from Wabanaki stories. Scott’s attention to detail is mesmerizing.


We had just enough time to ride to our lodgings at the Craignair Inn in Spruce Head.


We watched the light fade from our dining spot.


Saturday morning we made an impromptu stop at the Owls Head Transportation Museum. Vintage everything there! SO cool! Just look at this 1935 Indian Scout.


I’ll spare you all the photos I took for future reference, but here’s one fave.


There’s also an excellent display of vintage posters. I love all of this, the typefaces, the color scheme…


We learned the protocol for boarding the Vinalhaven ferry. No reservations left, but were told room can be found for any motorcycle. Otherwise, a vehicle needs a “line number” and we watched lots of car swapping before getting waved on.


The passage to Vinalhaven was sunny and smooth; about an hour and fifteen minutes of tranquility during which we spotted dolphins and seals. It was a short ride to the Tidewater Motel in Carver’s Harbor, which sits over the estuary at the harbor’s north end. The constant burble of the water’s ebb and flow is beyond soothing.

And our deck!


We explored the windy roads for awhile, many of them become gravel and are private. Plenty of pretty coves to pose with, though. My Honda GB500 still looks good.


Compared to Peaks, only a mile long and a mile and a half wide, Vinalhaven has a jagged coastline dotted with tiny islands over about 23 square miles of land, and 145 of water. We rode to several dead ends before returning to our room to watch the changing light.


Vinalhaven’s granite industry has a rich history. Excavated here since the mid 1800’s, it can be seen in the State Department in Washington, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Washington Monument, and many other locations. This eagle stands watch in the center of the village.


The main drag on a Saturday we walked nearby for dinner at the Haven.


Sunday morning we exchanged our hand made anniversary cards and little gifts under a cloudless sky. Any visitor should read Tidewater owner Phil Crossman’s Away Happens. As the “island hotelier” himself wrote in the current issue of the Island Journal, “It’s those simple things, the natural beauty of the island and the vicarious appeal of sitting on the waterfront deck and watching the lobster fleet go about their business that most find fulfilling.”


Indeed! We did a lot of just sitting and watching, and met a guest next door who has fallen in love with Vinalhaven and is plotting her move in the next year. As year-round Peaks Islanders for 25 years, we suggested she try visiting in the winter, at least once.

A sculpture by Robert Indiana says it all. We learned he still lives here, frail but cared for.


Who made this curious folk art monument?


We happened upon a plane waiting for take-off and stopped to chat with the Penobscot Air pilot. Maine islands rely on these intrepid folk!


We had delighted in a 10 minute flight from Matinicus a few years ago when I was working on illustrations like this one for Island Birthday.


Coincidence: Marty posed as the pilot, and Scott Kelley was my model for Harv, on the right.

We returned to our room, got out of our sweaty riding gear, and went strolling. Not much was open on Sunday, but I managed to buy something unwrinkled to wear at Phinneas Fogg.

We walked past charming houses and more scenic views.


Perched near a bridge, I made this quick sketch.


I sketched again from our deck.


Dare I share our amateur selfie? Happy 29 years to my moto martini!


We enjoyed the busy vibe at Salt, and a delicious meal, too.


One full day on Vinalhaven is not enough. We headed back to Peaks on Monday, vowing to return. The Vinalhaven and Rockland boats depart simultaneously six times a day, crossing mid-way on the bay.


We made it back onto the last vehicle ferry to Peaks at 5:35, counting our infinite blessings. Back to work, the drawing table, and the last of summer’s parade of visitors and events. Vroom!






Illustration Institute Inspires

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, Maine College of Art, Peaks Island | 4 comments

This month has been jam-packed with visitors and events. I am inspired and jazzed about the new Illustration Institute’s Marilyn Faison Artist Residency.

There are two houses on Peaks Island available to illustrators and authors for retreats, and they are just up the hill in the woods behind my house. This is the Stone Cottage, nestled in the pines at the top of Tolman Heights.


I brought over a pie to Henrik and Wing, artists/residents for two weeks.


They had decent time to be residential, like take strolls and dunk in the ocean. We showed them our favorite cook-out spot.


The light shifts in lovely ways and the waves almost drown out the conversation.


We brought them back to their cottage just in time for their dog, Tofu, to fall fast asleep.


A few days later, Henrik led a two hour workshop at the Peaks Island branch library.


It was a great crowd of veterans and newcomers to book-making.


Henrik talked about his path to book making. “I went to art school for about five minutes,” he said. He was too restless and more inclined to travel, always drawing in books. “My portfolio was my notebook.” His work was well received, and he got contract offers, doing several books, some of which were in a pile on the table.


Simon’s Book appeared on Reading Rainbow, giving him great visibility beyond publishing. His most recent book, China Days, is a personal chronicle of living in Dali, Yunnan, a mountain town in Southwest China where he and his partner, Wu Wing Yee, enjoyed the benefits of time and space to make their art.

He also said, “Unless you are published, you can’t get published,” which is the current conundrum of today’s publishing landscape. He asked us to choose our paper supplies and begin folding.


Once we had our little books assembled, he gave us various drawing prompts, such as drawing the room and also the other folks. We also passed our books to others.


We cut up two of the pages into three sections for drawing parts of faces, swapping for others to add their bits.


Some observations and awls…


There was more tricky folding directions that required intense focus…


Witness the camaraderie of happy workshop campers.


L to F: Nancy Gibson Nash, James Steinberg, Wu Wing Yee, Michaela Flint, Hal Mayforth, Eda French, Henrik Drescher, Marty Braun

I decided to decorate the cover of my little book appropriately. Thanks to ii, Illustration Institute!


Just two days later, more ii goodness arrived when JooHee Yoon gave a fantastic lecture at Maine College of Art.


She spoke in Osher Hall to an eager crowd about her journey in the illustration field after graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. She explained the rigors of working for the New York Times, when an e-mail arrives in the morning and sketches are due by noon, final by 6 PM.


She was asked to provide a visual that conveyed her feelings after the November election. This is about the “worm of fear” she felt walking the streets in a daze.


She majored in illustration but spent a lot of time making silkscreen prints, which became an approach she has exploited digitally in her work, using separated colors in layers. But as for using Photoshop, she said she uses only three tools: the magic wand, the lasso, and the brush. “It’s better to know less. The infinite options available can make you crazy.”

She admitted she did not have a sketchbook practice in school, but said, “I’ve changed my ways. It’s relaxing to draw just by looking, and not have to have a clever idea.” This is a drawing from her sketchbook done while traveling in Japan, where her fascination for the jumble of signage led to a series of posters featuring food trucks.


Currently she is living in Brooklyn doing a one-year residency at the Lower East Side Printshop, exploring copper plate etching. While on her residency on Peaks Island, she worked on another book project for Enchanted Lion. I only spied her once, riding a bicycle backshore, where I gave her a sweaty hug. JooHee was in the second Faison Residency cottage with her parents, across the road from the Stone Cottage. I owe her a pie, because we took off for our own travels the next day.

There is SO MUCH going on with Illustration Institute events, my head is spinning. Soon, Lyn Smith will be in the Stone Cottage, and we’ll see what prickly trouble we can get into.

Coming up there will be a workshop with Mark Hoffman, talks given by Chris Raschka, Emily Flake, and Mimi Pond, plus a screening of Beauty is Embarrassing with Wayne White. You can keep up with this parade at the Illustration Institute’s Facebook page. Announcements keep coming!

I’ll leave you with my sketch of Mimi, last seen sporting a beard as Mistress of Ceremonies at the beard-heavy ICON in Portland, Oregon in 2014.


Kudos to the Illustration Institute for it’s bold advocacy of the illustration field. I’m off now to Kidlit Libations, another gathering of local folks in book-making hi-jinks. No lazy summer around these parts!


Book friends unite

Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, Peaks Island, Portland Public Library, travels | 0 comments

It’s no secret that most children’s books are about relationships.  Author Lyn Smith and I traveled recently to visit fellow book creator,  Jo Miles Schuman.  Lyn and Jo met via Maine Authors Publishing and I’m always down to meet fellow book makers. We found her homestead along a winding road with acres and acres of rolling woods and wetlands beyond.


We ducked beneath swooping swallows nesting in the dark rafters of her barn and into a sunny studio where Jo served a scrumptious rhubarb pie and carrot cake. Double dessert, yes please.


Her studio is filled with collections of nature objects and art tools.  As a former art teacher and author of Art From Many Hands, she is a strong advocate of drawing directly from the wild.


Out the window, we spied a baby swallow resting between amateur flights.


Jo shared some of the wood block prints she’s done for an evolving book idea. Absolutely stunning!


At one point she wheeled aside a wall to reveal stacks upon stacks of amazing wood block prints from a long chapter in printmaking. Her keen eye for detail and compelling compositions had me gushing.


All too soon it was time to depart. Thanks to Jo for a delicious window into her realm of art practice, book making, and carving a wild life in Maine.


Authors Jo Mile Schuman and Lyn Smith

A week later, I attended the presentation, A Glimpse into North Korea, by long-time friend and Peaks Island neighbor, Anne Sibley O’Brien. With over 35 children’s books published, Annie has been a huge model and mentor for me. She was raised in South Korea as the daughter of medical missionaries and has worked for the last ten years on her latest, In the Shadow of the Sun, a political escape thriller set in North Korea.

The Portland Public Library sponsored event was held in the Peaks Island Branch Community Room, where Annie detailed the saga of her research and travels to a large crowd of neighbors and loyal island readers.  She is pointing here to the spot where her characters find a clue, I think!


She read an early passage from the book and took questions.


What a sweet feeling to buy her book and have her sign it! Book makers know these moments are hard-earned.


In the same spot next week, I’m eager for an upcoming book-making workshop with Henrik Drescher, renowned artist and prolific book creator, thanks to Peaks Island’s own Illustration Institute. I have a small but mighty collection of his adventuresome works which I treasure.


We met back when he did a 3-day workshop with Illustration majors at Maine College of Art, seen here intently assembling their hand-stitched collaboration in 2014.


No doubt the energy will be just as fierce in next week’s workshop, with two hours of intensity. Bring it on!

For two weeks, Henrik and his partner, Wu Wing Yee, are encamped, just up the hill from my house, at the Illustration Institute’s Faison Residency. This secluded artist residency was initiated in memory of Marilyn Faison, an artist and long-time summer resident of Peaks Island, who with her husband, John, invited many artists to share their island retreat. Director Scott Nash is tickled to have a roster of notables in the field of children’s publishing visit Maine, the inspirational source of many classic story books.

Here Wing and Henrik look for inspiration, or maybe just the incoming fog.


Also next week, fellow RISD alum and brave bookmaker JooHee Yoon will be in residency as well. She will  give a lecture at Maine College of Art’s Osher Hall on July 27 at 6:30. Make sure you are there early!


JooHee’s work exuberantly layers unexpected colors, evidence of her joy in printmaking surprises. I met her a couple of years ago at a RISD Reads event. So looking forward to seeing her on Peaks Island!


What a bounty of book making folks in my world. Every one of them is a shot in my drawing arm. Back to work I go!


Book Friends

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in Art Classes, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Here Come the Humpbacks, Illustration, Maine College of Art, pastels, Peaks Island, Seven Days of Daisy, travels | 0 comments

Way back in 2009, I visited the Friends School of Portland to read my first children’s book, Seven Days of Daisy. Friends do make the world go ’round.


Fast forward to a recent sunny Tuesday, when I headed off island to visit their Stories by the Forest program. When I arrived at the Peaks Island dock, it was oddly quiet. Where is everybody? Well, yours truly had missed the boat! The summer schedule change got me! So, I promptly called the trusty water taxi.

Here she comes, zipping across a placid Casco Bay.


I made it to Cumberland Foreside in a timely manner and set up my table of drawing supplies and books, beneath a shady tent. How sweet to find a vase of daisies provided by Summer Program Director, Laura Glendenning!


These events are free and open to the public, and plenty of summer campers gathered, ready to hear what happens in Here Come the Humpbacks! by April Pulley Sayer.


I did a quick bear drawing on request, and one little artist added his curious lines to mine, to everyone’s delight.


Everyone tried out pastels on little pieces of the sanded paper I use.


This loopy drawing echos the snake on another artist’s shirt.


Here is a mini seascape by Michelle Chetwynd, a friend I made at a book visit to Ocean Park a few summers ago. I will be there again this August 14!


Her daughter Claire made a pretty pattern in multiple colors.


I’m always intrigued by the variety of responses to materials. Thanks, Friends School, for a lively encounter with such an engaged group of campers!

Back on Peaks, I made some new friends and saw familiar faces at the recent Color and Pages of Peaks at the TEIA club. This annual community event raises funds with a portion of sales going to summer camp scholarships.


Readers can find plenty of familiar Peaks scenes and friends within the pages of my books. If you’d like to draw with me, join Maine College of Art’s Sketchbooks Workshop, co-taught with Judy Labrasca here on Peaks on August 5. We always have a grand time!