Dec 18, 2007

Merry Merry!


Oh, how the year just passes me by! It's been one really hectic holiday season and somehow I'm still not quite done with all the preparations. Sadly, this may be my only December entry so while I'm at it, I wish everyone a very Happy Christmas (that's the British way, and I always loved that expression)! Cheers to a prosperous New Year!

Nov 22, 2007

What I'm Thankful For


November's come and almost gone. In that blurred span of time life happens faster than I can jot a blog. I've been so busy with work and trying to orchestrate the construction of our finished basement. So I'm taking a moment, this first entry of November, the 22nd day of the month, to reflect.

I enjoy my husband,
friends and family,
my dog.
I enjoy what I do,
I enjoy where I live
and I enjoy what I have
and then I can recount the days
and share them with you--
without consequence.
I can reflect on the world
in the comfort of my Good Form chair
behind my black Pottery Barn desk,
and be thankful for what I am priviledged
to do, be, act, love
In the grand scheme of things
It's a lot to be thankful for.
And soon, very soon, my basement will
be finished. Thank God!

In honor of the poor bird that I will be consuming tonight, I drew a portrait to commemorate his sacrifice for our American tradition. Happy Thanksgiving!

Oct 29, 2007

French Crêpes

Vive la French crêpe! Yes, a warm, Nutella crêpe sprinked with powdered sugar is God's gift to the taste buds. French Crêpe is also a piece that was inspired by my last post. After working on "Open House" for Illustration Friday, I wanted to do more experimenting mixing my drawing, painting and stitching, so I created this piece to get warmed up. Doesn't make much sense but it does make me hungry.

Oct 24, 2007

OPEN Preparation


My house is in disarray right now since my husband and I are finishing our basement to make room for a bigger, more open studio space. My matte cutter is also disassembled and there is hardly a surface free of dog hair that I could cut a clean matte on. So in the spirit of cool untidiness and that fashionable unkempt look, I decided to frame my "Open" entry in a shadowbox, preserving the raw edges of the piece with no matte and no tape, but a few silk pins in each corner of the original piece. I hope any potential buyer will see the same playfulness in its presentation that I do, otherwise, I will definitely enjoy the piece for myself should it not get sold.


Oct 19, 2007

Thanks for Voting!!!

To all those who voted for my entry for Illustration Friday's first ever "Open" show, whether you liked or enjoyed it, sensed an obligation to vote as a family member or friend, THANK YOU! Your votes paid off. My piece was one of 25 selected for the show. Yay! I'm happy to be among such talented individuals.

P.S. Thank you for all the kind comments about my piece! I'm very honored.

Oct 10, 2007

IF: Open

In the spirit of Halloween, and my previously obsessive attempts at house hunting all summer, I decided to create this piece: an open house to a somewhat creepy castle. The woman looks a little reticent about selling, but even in a soft real estate market, her castle stands apart. I'm sure she would get top dollar!

Oct 4, 2007

IF: The Blues

I decided to do this really experimental, free form "blues" piece last minute. When I think of the blues I think red, energetic, and soulful.

Oct 1, 2007

Yee-Haw!

Highlights Editorial Offices

Let me clarify. That was the theme this weekend, not a mating call. Highlights for Children hosted a wonderful "Western" themed weekend event at their Boyds Mills farm and their Happy "H" Ranch, the editorial headquarters of Highlights, for illustrators such as myself that have contributed to their publications. It was a weekend of dee-licious country fresh food, dancing and socializing with other illustrators and meeting the nice folks that make up the editorial staff of Highlights and Boyds Mills.


Creative Table Centerpiece

It was nice to put faces behind the emails and business cards. They hosted a conference with guest lecturer and designer, Pash, who defined Inspirability, or thoughts on the ability to inspire in order to re-charge our creative batteries. He also penned a book entitled "Inspiribility" and raffled 20 copies. I was one of the lucky winners! We shared our portfolios, traded contact information and discussed illustration and our work processes like excited children talking about how we spent our summer vacations.

Inspirability by Pash

The other highlight of the weekend, so to speak, was the lamb roast and the dancing. Everyone came dressed in western garb, walked and talked like the Old West and had a grand time. We burned off all the food we ate, square dancing, line dancing and square dancing some more 'til well past midnight. The Highlights staff ran the event with every detail in check and spared no expense making the weekend fun and memorable, all to show their appreciation for us illustrators and possibly hire us for more work. I met so many talented artists that I hope to continue to correspond with, long after the conference. It was extraordinary really. My hat's off to Highlights.


Sep 19, 2007

IF: Wedding!


I love weddings! Here's a card I made for my friend's wedding shower this past summer.

Mid-September Ramblings

Mama Mouse's Birthday © High Five Magazine

Noticed any cobwebs on my blog? Been a while since my last entry. Maybe I'm just sad that summer's close to an end. September is more than halfway over and the nighttime temperatures are dropping. Thankfully, middays are still sunny and warm. Anyway, next weekend I'll be going to the Annual Highlights Illustrator's Party. I used to read their magazines as a kid and leaf through drawing submissions done by real kids, impressed by the skills of other 8 year olds. This year, I had the opportunity to do work for High Five, Highlights' new imprint which caters to a much younger audience. Because of it, I was invited, among their many other illustrators who have contributed to their publications, to the Highlights Ranch in Honesdale, PA. Didn't know such a thing existed did ya'? Neither did I, so I'm very curious to see what it's about and meet all the other illustrators!

Aug 27, 2007

Black and White All Over


Today I decided that I needed to keep to the consistent black and white elements in my studio, whipped out the white paint and went nuts.

I painted my bulletin board, a few frames, a mirror and my wooden paint drawers...white. Even my ratty pencil sharpener got the white paint treatment. But my bulletin board was calling for more than that, because it was staring at me like a blank canvas. I pulled out the acrylics and painted, well, something black.



Aug 20, 2007

Just Hangin' Out

Every so often I will post pictures of my dog, particularly when I think he acts out of character. My husband took this shot in my studio while I was sitting in this chair. Here, he's hanging out while I work. Notice the delicate way he rests his paw on the base of the chair, very cool and laid back. Okay, it's cute, it's my dog, so there.

Aug 18, 2007

Sparky's, The Frick & San Ambroeus

As usual, we had our first meal of the day at our extended kitchen, Sparky's. Sparky's is a true neighborhood place where everyone knows each other. If the waitresses are too busy, just serve yourself a cup of coffee or glass of water, and if you really have to, clean up your own table to make room for the next family. We manage to have a well-rounded meal at $10-15 a day for 2 people. So I've taken to doing more life drawing there since I've started freelancing. Since drawing on a subway commute is no longer an option, Sparky's is the next best thing. As I was drawing, I was struck by all the logos everywhere. 24/7 we're bombarded with product placement even in the most unsuspecting places. I didn't draw them all, but you'll see four of them here.
Sparky's

I was in a drawing mood and it couldn't be a more beautiful day. We decided to head to the city and visit the Frick. We weren't sure where it was exactly, but we headed to Museum Mile (which runs on the east side of Central Park), hoping we'd run into it. Instead we ran into a young English gentleman sitting in front of The Met. He was kind enough to let us borrow his copy of Time Out New York which told us that we were only 10 blocks away. Once we finally made it to the Frick we did a bit of drawing there. I don't know what it was, perhaps because it was literally a house full of accomplished masters, but my drawing was feeling a bit lifeless. I was drawing a few statues that came out stiff and mannered, as good as a student exercise.

A very mannered sketch

Not exactly the ego boost I was looking for. So I just decided to enjoy the paintings as accomplished works and draw the people looking at the paintings. Afterwards, we went to a snooty, Upper East Side brunch place called Sant Ambroeus, where I had a perfect salad of thinly sliced Parmesan on a bed of artichokes. I drew Dennis and cleaned my plate. Then we had some wonderful gelato and a strawberry and white chocolate dessert. The service was excellent, despite the upper crusty clientele. We managed to avoid most of it until, close to the end of our meal, two young women, maybe fresh out of college, were seated next to us.

A slightly disheveled Dennis (lovingly colored)

They spoke one decibel over earshot, which wasn't difficult since their table was less than a foot away. Each name-dropped designers and actors like they were going out of style. We learned that one of them, the louder of the two, has a family friend who designs jewelry for Gwyneth and several other famous women, and that her father made an enormous amount of money on side jobs editing music videos. In short, she was basking in the success that was her father. Actually, I was very impressed by her father, even though I've never met him, let alone his daughter. But really, I almost wanted to erase them from my memory (my husband's smarter technique) but the situation was in such poor taste, I had to pen it here. Well, suffice it to say, we left rather irritated, exchanged snide comments a few decibels above earshot, turned our noses up and walked out.

Aug 15, 2007

Simple Drawings and Photoshop



I love to draw. I always love to go to museums that explore the stages behind the finished painting, the energy of the artist's first ideas before she makes the commitment in oils. Photoshop allows me to explore that energy and realize it in color. Granted, it may not be as lush in color, texture or detail. You don't get that buttery quality that makes you want to reach past that velvet rope and touch it. But you can bring it to life in an instant using digital colors and textures of your own design. You can move the picture around until you get the result you want or at least close to what you want in a matter of minutes. If you build in more time, as with any painting, the result is a rich, lively image.

Above, I created simple drawings and brought them to life in Photoshop for a surface pattern that retains the original spontaneity of the original drawing.

Aug 14, 2007

Aug 13, 2007

The DMV

Click on image for larger view.

My husband's wallet was stolen at Chicago's O'Hare Airport last night. Right away we canceled his card. This morning we headed over to the DMV to replace his license. One would think it to be a lousy day, but we had a fine time sketching all the personalities that were waiting around for their number to be called. We waited so long we decided to take a quick lunch break in between, gambling our number wouldn't be called in the time we were gone. We headed over to Sparky's, our favorite diner, grabbed a couple burgers and headed back in time for my husband to file for a duplicate driver's license. When all was said and done, it was a 3 hour wait. That's about as long as one of my old college studio illustration classes. Then we headed over to the police station to file a report in case of stolen identity. We found out his credit card was used at a local Chicago gas station after it was canceled. We smiled knowing that the thief didn't get what he wanted, plus I got some precious life drawing time.

Aug 9, 2007

IF theme: Missing

I want to call this "Something Missing." I needed to play around and have some sort of creative release and then I came up with this creepy background and took a figure I had already illustrated and plopped her down. She seemed to fit...sort of. So she looks like a ghost, a person that will be missing or missed. Or it can be interpreted as, something is missing about this piece. Can you tell my brain is fried? Another something missing. The theme is like a plague.

Aug 4, 2007

Just Great.




Please excuse this short lapse of non-illustration-related material and allow me to share my greatest concert experience to date.

Our handy but not so dandy cameraphone captured enough of our 2nd row view of The Police Concert for someone to almost believe that those bright, ghostly images are the actual members of the band (objects in cameraphone are closer than they appear--really!). Oh well, thank goodness for WireImage. Please note the prettier, much clearer photo of The Police, as seen through a professional's lense. That's about what we saw.

OK, so now that you get the idea of our proximity, I will say it was the most memorable and definitely the greatest concert experience I've had so far. How can it not be? We had an amazing time singing and dancing to all of their hits, jumping up and down like it was the eighties all over again, especially when they played Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, but without the big shoulder pads, rolled-up pants and awkward haircuts. One song, forgive me for not remembering which one it was, but after Sting sang a line, the audience reverberated with "eyo weyo weyo yo" pitch perfect. Sting's look of surprise was wonderfully genuine. Did I say 2nd row was amazing?

If you've seen Sting on TV recently, the cameras don't lie. He really looks AMAZING in person. When he sang, he SOUNDED terrific. His star presence on stage was a force. Stewart Copeland played powerful drums, booming in Driven To Tears, and Andy Summers played guitar like he invented it (no pun intended--yes, he is the oldest of the 3, but it was clear he was having fun). They played effortlessly in sync, and as cliche as it sounds...ROCKED the house to the end. The magic lasted a little over 90 minutes ending with Roxanne and two encores. The entire performance was just under 2 hours which, for Sting, is long. I wish it could have lasted another 2. We knew it finally ended when the three of them took their final bows and Andy Summers proceeded to photograph the screaming crowd. If you want to read more about it, a reviewer pretty much sums it up here: Newsday: The Police as Fresh as Ever

Now back to the board. Ho hum.

Aug 3, 2007

Don't Stand So Close to Me


Today is one of those really hot days when you can crack an egg on the sidewalk and watch it fry. It's one of those days where you start sweating with one foot out of an air-conditioned room. It'll be one of those days I'll reminisce about and say, "I remember when we saw The Police in concert. It was a really hot day."

Thankfully, we'll be inside most of the night watching The Police in concert. We'll be going to Madison Square Garden, sitting second row, to witness a long-awaited comeback tour. I was always a fan, but my husband is the biggest fan I know. I actually knew a girl in junior high school who I thought was their biggest fan, until I met my husband. He paid a pretty penny to be up close and personal. And though I am still trying to recover from sticker shock, I must admit, I've never been this close in any concert and I'm really looking forward to seeing the sweat on Sting's face while we dance in the air-conditioned stadium.

It's one of those really hot days, just don't stand so close to me. Sticky.

Jul 24, 2007

Vacation for the Whole Family

I'm buckling down on my work, tying up loose ends, and getting ready for my trip to beautiful San Diego. I'm joining my husband, comic artist Dennis Calero, to the biggest Comic Convention in the industry. I know what you're thinking, geek-fest extravaganza--guys in tights, girls in scantily clad outfits, and a few fans that worship the ground they walk on, mix in a few toy companies, Manga and video game fans and you've got...geek-fest extravaganza. But apart from all that, I find it to be a place to find some pretty serious editors, incredibly talented artists, and a few big name actors promoting their latest action flick usually adapted from a comic book. It's a great place to meet old friends, gossip and hang out in one of the nicest cities in the U.S. Then again, anything is better than sitting in my studio another day. I need sun dammit! So I'll be vacationing and hocking my wares...well actually, carrying a few book ideas of my own.

While we're away, the five-year-old pup will be off to dog camp. Yes, that's what I said, camp, a vacation away from home and his owners telling him "No!" There's great place to leave your dog in Orange County New York, about an hour north of my home, that allows dogs to play five times a day, swim and do all the things dogs do with no leashes or fences. It's called The Pet Camp. If you're in the New York area, I highly recommend it. The only downside is that my dog returns completely exhausted and a bit depressed, for about three days.

So anyway, I'll be off to a long-needed work/vacation break that will last four glorious days. Maybe I'll geek-out while I'm there, too.

Jul 18, 2007

SORRASTYLE.COM


It's official! I finally started greasing the wheels of my alter illustration ego at www.sorrastyle.com where I will present my fashion illustration and surface design in a big way. I've done a lot of illustrating in the children's market and will continue to do so with great aplomb, but I think that the former fashion maven is ready to spread her wings again. Wish her, I mean me, luck!

My Mac is Back!


Exciting news, folks...I've been reinducted into the world of Mac after being a year long PC user. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the capabilities of Vista on a sweet, souped up duo core laptop, but it does have its limitations. The newer generation of desktop Macs, the Mac Pro, with even sweeter quad core processors, make Photoshop and every other desktop publishing program a dream to run. How did I become a PC user at all you ask? Well, my husband and I are two working illustrators with an addiction to speedy computers who found a need to save (let's face it, PC's are cheaper) and simplify by limiting our platform to one. So once my slow, old mac became more obsolete, we became strictly PC. But, soon enough, I suffered from a bit of separation anxiety and needed a dose of Mac. Plus, my husband needed yet another computer (a 3rd), so he suggested he take over the very nice laptop while I get the Mac of my dreams (and after a few grunts and sighs and 'I want a Mac' tantrums). Isn't that sweet? Mac Pro Quad Core (just 6 little gigs of Ram)... iPhone schmiefone!

Jul 12, 2007

IF Theme: Geeky


Everything about her screams geeky, despite her cute leggings.

Secret Art

Just finished a bookcover for Harcourt Publishing that no one will see. Well, not exactly no one--the book will be distributed in schools only, but as of this moment, it remains under wraps. The educational market is very hush hush about their projects. But I think it came out pretty well. Shhh...here's a snippet of the piece, a preview, if you will. Once it gets published, probably sometime in 2008, then the whole world can see it, well, at least your little sister, brother, nephew, or niece, who will be about 6-8 years in age. As a whole it measures 19.5" wide by 12.25" tall.

Jul 5, 2007

It's July already




















It's the day after the 4th and 3 days after the second most important day, my birthday (for those of you who are bad at math and need to make a note for next year, that's July 2). Anyway, just checking in to say hi because it's been a month already since my last entry. I bought myself a couple Bernina sewing machines from good 'ol Ebay--the regular kind and a serger. They make sewing fun, and they better because they are quite expensive. I got a Macy's gift certificate, some delicious Asian candies and dried mangos, cool art prints and stationery, a mix tape (well, cd, always a fun gift), a pendant and necklace and my husband took a few of us out to see Avenue Q. Very funny show! A good birthday so far and the week's not over yet.

I'm now 7 months into freelancing and it's been good. I'm in the midst of 4 deadlines, all for very different projects. Basically I'm working on ballerinas, beach creatures, jungle animals and Santa Claus. I was most excited to get my first ballerina figurine back from the scupt vendor in Asia. I hope it's ok to post it, but here it is anyway. I can't resist. Until they tell me to take it down it is here for me to be proud of and show it off. I'm sure, once I do more of these, it'll start to become old hat. But for now, I jump up and down and say, hey look, cool huh!?

Jun 2, 2007

I was watching a movie called "Mrs. Henderson Presents," starring Judy Dench from our almost like seeing it in the theater projector. I just decided I would do some drawing to warm up my drawing skills and as usual, my dog was a subject because he was sleeping so peacefully on his own movie chair across from me. I also drew directly from the movie, mostly using it as a jumping off point. Clearly this woman looks nothing like Ms. Dench.

May 23, 2007

The Ballet

(View of the orchestra pit, Lincoln Center)
I love the internet.

I spent most of Friday doing research for one of my projects designing ballet themed gift products. I was searching Google images and Getty Images for ballerinas in plies, en pointe, arabesques and in tutus. I got them all.

Then, my husband and I decided we wanted to spend an evening in the city to see a show. So we searched the internet for the usual: a couple comedy clubs and Broadway shows, weighing our options. I suggested the ballet. I had a hankering to see a ballet. Lincoln Center had a performance of La Bayadere at 8pm that same evening. We sprang for front row seats, the only way to go.

We bought our tickets, had a delicious meal at the Brooklyn Diner (where I discovered some pretty terrific guacamole) and headed to Lincoln Center. What a fantastic treat! The ballet was beautiful, the dancers, exquisite. I could do an all out review of the show, but I’m not an expert. I just had a hankering.

Apr 27, 2007

Remember: Old Becomes New, Again

Two weekends ago, I was in Baltimore visiting my family. Before I got there, my parents took on the daunting task of cleaning out their basement after more than 20 years! So they handed me a very large, very heavy Rubbermaid bin filled with my old stuff dating back to when I was about 10 years old. I spent a whole afternoon sorting through treasure and trash. A good third of it went to the latter, but the rest was great for sentimental reasons. Among the loot I found a Hello Kitty journal, travel receipts and brochures from my first trip to New York, scrapbooks, and ten years of sketchpads. It was fascinating to decipher where I was in my life through pictures. One little treasure I was inspired by were a few quickly sketched fashion figures (from my 3rd semester in fashion design) inspired by Gustav Klimt. Who isn't inspired by the great Klimt? It's almost cliche to admit it.


So here it is. Thought I'd share it. Coincidentally, Illustration Friday's new theme is Remember. I know it's not a new piece, but I couldn't resist posting it.

Apr 24, 2007

Post Show


The SCBWI holds a conference for children's illustrators every spring, organized by Frieda Gates, president of the New York Chapter and wonderful lady. Too bad these conferences don't happen more often. Anyone who knows about freelancing can attest to the need to get out, talk to peers, and fill up on some creative juice before heading back to the board. It goes something like this: we drop off our portfolios for review by about 30 editors, art directors and agents. While the reviews are going on, we sit through a few panel discussions about the children's publishing business.

This year, the speakers were writer/illustrator Emily Arnold McCully, a literary agent (Andrea Cascardi), an art agent (Lori Nowicki), and a couple panels about the graphic novel. My other half, Dennis, was one of those experts:-) I might be partial, but it was clear from everyone else's reaction that he was largely entertaining and informative (as indicated by the many laughs and rigorous note taking). The two people sitting next to me were trying to figure out who he looked like--I heard Keanu Reeves and the guy from 30 Something...hee hee...old reference!



Writer/illustrator Emily McCully was very inspiring. She talked about intelligent writing for children and her disciplined approach to illustration. She said she draws her ideas largely from history, creating fictional characters around specific historical events or people. The result is timeless and fresh. Her characters are usually strong, female personalities that grow and learn through certain conflict. Her pictures are lovely and tell alot about the characters in their visual cues. I really enjoyed her lecture.



A couple of my old friends attended which made the conference that much more enjoyable. Could've done without my nasty headache. Nevertheless, it was a good time. Afterwards, Dennis and I had dinner with my friend Tatyana and two illustrators who were new to New York. Got home around 9:30pm to a mess of a house after a hectic weekend. And today, my desk is left completely cluttered. In the pic, you'll see a clear, acrylic pen holder half-filled with promotional buttons--totally useless objects that look like candy, so they're completely irresistable! Got a lot of nice comments about them.



Now it's back to the board -- refreshed and inspired.

Up and Running

It's about 1:50 am Tues. morning. Don't know why I'm still up, but got back from the conference pretty late after a nice dinner with old and new friends. Just want to report that despite my splitting headache throughout, it went well. I'll check in again at a normal a.m. hour but I'm happy to report my new site is up and running and I collected a small batch of business cards. More about speaker highlights later this morning. G'night for now.

Apr 22, 2007

A new day, a new site


A cleaner, more simplified version of my site should be posted tomorrow. My old college friend, who is a master site builder, worked on it. His name's Ryan Anderson (see his site at ryanworksathome.com). I'm already thinking about all the stuff I'd like to add to it. More variations of the kind of work I want to show and the variety of media I've played with.


Tomorrow is also the Illustrator's Conference hosted by the SCBWI at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan. It's always a nice intimate event. I hope to garner lots of interest from art directors, buyers and editors from my updated portfolio and site. In the meantime, because of all the time I'm taking to prepare, my dog's not really happy. He's all stinky and feeling neglected and desperately wants to play. Poor thing. Because of my working late nights, my mornings are pretty slow going and so is the dog. He sits in his favorite chair which I purchased from a 2nd hand store for $25. It's located in my studio right next to the window. Very comfy.

Anyway, I'm putting in some extra hours to finish my book proposal. Maybe my delirious state will enhance the whimsy and wacky in my story. It's about 10:30pm now, which means dinner. Until tomorrow...