On Location: Lawrence City Band

My summer sketch club has been seeing the sights this summer! While we typically frequent iconic locations in Kansas City, this past week we hit the road and traveled west to Lawrence, Kansas ( aka Larryville, L-Town, LFK and the Home of the Jayhawks). If you know very little about me, you probably know that Lawrence holds a very special place in my heart.

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If you know a little more about me, you know that I used to play the clarinet. I played throughout college on a scholarship and even a little while after with various groups including the Lawrence City Band.

The band plays every Summer Wednesday in South Park located in downtown Lawrence. Having been a former musician with the band I knew that they also rehearse two hours before every concert at KU's Murphy Hall. I shot off a quick email to the director and got the ok to come draw the musicians during their rehearsal. 

 

It wasn't until I was in that room drawing and listening to the music that I realized how much I missed playing myself. I did the math and figured that I spent approximately 1080 hours playing in that rehearsal room in Murphy Hall during my college days! That doesn't include the time spent in my professor's office or the creepy old practice rooms on the top floor (that I'm now kicking myself that I didn't draw as well!). It's no wonder old memories surfaced.

This post goes out to my old band buds, especially those who are still making music. In whatever capacity! It takes effort and you rock (or toot or blow :)

 

An Obsession.

It's officially summer in these parts. And you know what, it hasn't been terrible! I've been keeping very busy these days teaching drawing at KCAI, working for Petite Alma, Storybird, and a very new exciting book project! I've also started up a drawing on location group here in Kansas City (just like the one in NYC last summer). It's been a lot of fun exploring my hometown, meeting new people and seeing everything through new eyes. 

Last week we met at the Plaza (and outdoor shopping area in midtown KC). I live near by, so I actually come down to draw at the Plaza quite a bit. I've been enamored with the J.C. Nichols fountain and the sculptures of the horses that represent four major rivers of the world (The Mississippi, Volga, Seine and Rhine). After Sketch Club was over, I passed by the fountain on my way home and was just stunned by how pretty it looked all lit up. It was a have-to-draw moment. 

Night Fountain, Kansas City

Night Fountain, Kansas City

Of course, this isn't what I sat down and painted on location! I've been wanting to experiment with taking my sketchbook drawings and paintings and turning them into more refined larger paintings and practice my watercolor skills in the process. This piece is 12x16" and done completely in watercolor with a bit of white gouache (look ma, no photoshop!). 

Keep in mind, this was not my first shot at the fountain. I've been drawing it regularly all spring and have finally captured all four horses. Here are a few of my other Fountain pieces:

this one is the on-location sketch of the above, larger piece

this one is the on-location sketch of the above, larger piece


Obsessions are fun, aren't they? While I sometimes post my location drawings on this blog, I always post them on my tumblr, so make sure to follow me there as well! 

First Fridays Show

Hey everyone! I have some work up with some of the uber talented folks of Hufft Projects this First Friday (June 6) at MWE Inc. (1720 Wyandotte St.). No, I haven’t completely switched gears and become an architect. My husband works there and they were kind enough to let me join in on the fun. Since summer is upon us, I thought it would be fun to show some of my Swimmer Girls! I will have prints of illustrations from the book as well as some original paintings. Some never before shown! Click here for more info about the show AND the other talented artists that will be there. It's going to be a great show of very diverse work. Hope to see you there! 

Many thanks to MWE Inc. and Hufft Projects, especially Gavin Snider for organizing this and letting some extended family (me) join in!


 

If I see you in the next couple of weeks and I don’t remember my name or only have one shoe on, it’s because things are a little cray cray over here. This is a personal piece (and part of something larger) I did back when I had free time. Sigh…free time.

 

Recent Storybird Spots

As each chapter of Alone in a Crowded Place is revealed over on Storybird, a new spot illustration is revealed as well. Here are some recents. Stay tuned for more of these. With nearly 40 spots, we are only at the beginning! 

Our main character, Sam, hearing some surprising news! 

Our main character, Sam, hearing some surprising news! 

The setting of this spooky story, a library in an old Victorian mansion. 

The setting of this spooky story, a library in an old Victorian mansion. 

A most unusual book.

A most unusual book.

Something strange is happening in that old bell tower!

Something strange is happening in that old bell tower!

Storybird Longform Books

Early this year I began working with Storybird to help launch their new longform books. If you are unfamiliar with Storybird, you should head on over to their web site and snoop around. People use the self publishing site for a variety of reasons, so it's a little difficult for me to summarize.  Basically, one can log onto story bird to write and publish their own stories and poems. They can then receive comments and feedback so it becomes kind of a collaborative process. In addition, there is a library of art for them to choose from to enhance their stories.  According to the editor, Molly O'Neil (AKA Wonder Editor), the creators weren't exactly sure who was going to get the most out of the site when it was first launched, but one pleasant surprise is that it has become really popular with tween-aged girls. I personally think that's awesome. Kids are gonna spend a ton of time on the internet. There's no way around it. But with a site like Storybird they are actively creating and putting their work out there for others to see. Sharing your writing is something that can take decades to feel comfortable about and here are these young girls putting themselves out there like it's no big deal. Pretty sweet if you ask me. 

Storybird is still new and evolving. The creators began to notice that writers were trying to "hack" the picture book format set up on the site. They wanted to write longer, more complex stories. And so the new longform book template was set up. They asked several writers and illustrators to help create examples of this new format. Molly and writer, Bruce Wishart, came to me to see if I would like to help bring Bruce's story to life over the next several months. The first chapter of "Alone in a Crowded Place" is officially up and ready to read! 

Cover Illustration

Cover Illustration

Over the next several months, Bruce will release the story chapter by chapter. I will also be creating a spot illustration for each chapter. Here is the first, a shot of where our story takes place, in a haunted library. Now you know why I've been drawing so many books this year!

New chapters (and illustrations) will be added weekly, so check back often!

Also, do check out their recent blogpost that goes into more detail about the new longform template. And check out all the other stories as well!


Fun News

A Woman in the House (And Senate) is a Spring 2014 Junior Library Guild selection! 

and in related news, my web site is finally updated with all sorts of congresswomen goodness

Sketchbook Selfies

This is a little game I like to play with myself. I'm always snapping pics of the scenes I go out and draw, so from time to time, I'll take a sketchbook "selfie" (to use the buzz word). Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. Here are some of my favorites. 

Peak's Island, Maine

Peak's Island, Maine

Central Park (the one that started it all)

Central Park (the one that started it all)

our apartment in Astoria, Queens

our apartment in Astoria, Queens

Mets Game

Mets Game

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

A Woman in the House

(and senate)....

What's that? Oh, Only the title of the book I illustrated last spring. Yeah, somewhere amongst the craziness of getting married, working on other projects, traveling and drawing all over New York City, I illustrated a book! "A Woman in the House (and Senate)" is a nonfiction book about all the amazing and inspiring women who have held a place in the US Congress. It is written by Ilene Cooper, published by Abrams and is available now! I can't wait to give one to my mom, my niece, my friends, my teachers and all the other inspiring women who have shaped MY life. 

front and back covers

front and back covers

An inside spread with a few of the 50 spots I illustrated!

An inside spread with a few of the 50 spots I illustrated!

One of eight double pages chapter intro with hand lettering over photos delightfully put together by designer, Sara Corbett

One of eight double pages chapter intro with hand lettering over photos delightfully put together by designer, Sara Corbett

Another chapter intro...

Another chapter intro...

Aaaand another (there were 8 total). Each chapter intro was done in the style of the era it was about. 

Aaaand another (there were 8 total). Each chapter intro was done in the style of the era it was about. 

Another interior spot, of Nacy Kassebaum, senator from Kansas and a much studied figure in my elementary school years! 

Another interior spot, of Nacy Kassebaum, senator from Kansas and a much studied figure in my elementary school years! 

Many of the spots integrated type and illustration which is great because it's just about my most favorite thing to do!

Many of the spots integrated type and illustration which is great because it's just about my most favorite thing to do!

On the left is Jeanette Rankin casting her first vote as the first woman in congress (a emphatic NAY to go to war). 

On the left is Jeanette Rankin casting her first vote as the first woman in congress (a emphatic NAY to go to war). 

Needless to say, this was a total blast to work on and am so very grateful to know everyone involved. Special thanks to editors, Howard Reeves and Melissa Faulner, Sara Corbett for her stellar design skills, Ilene Cooper for writing this important book, and of course, all the smart, talented and influential ladies of congress. Keep on keepin' on!

Fruits of the Season

I don't exactly hate winter. I like all seasons. I just wish that this particular season was about a month shorter. With a good coating of ice on the ground, and some fluffier stuff on the way, let's think about some of the sweeter things that winter brings: citrus fruit. Orange, ruby, lemon, lime, these little gems are at their best when the season is at its worst.

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As I sliced up my orange at lunch today, and placed in my favorite bowl, I was blown away by just how gorgeous this simple pleasure it. And so, I painted it. Isn't that what you would do?

Lately

January has been a wee bit insane, and yet, I have almost nothing to show for it...or so it seems. With a few works in progress, I thought I'd share with you some sketches I did as research for a fun project I am working on that takes place in an old library!  I made a trip to our local Kansas City library and also my dear old Watson Library at the University of Kansas to draw in the beloved/creepy/deserted stacks (which I was thrilled to find have not changed a bit in the past 10 years!)

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Book Tornado!

I've been wrapped up in so many projects lately my mind has been spinning a bit. I took a much needed “personal” day today to whip up this little pattern that had been running around in my head. 

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I have big plans to put this on fabric, mugs, totes, etc, but in the mean time, if you're digging this little pattern as much as I am, download a free desktop, ipad, or iphone wallpaper! Free stuff rocks

Painting...supersized!

Well, my year started off with a bang. Last week I had the extreme pleasure of painting a mural for our good friends' who are expecting a baby boy next month!

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These are friends of ours who live in Kansas City, but they used to be friends of ours in New York CIty. In fact, when we first moved to Manhattan, they lived just down the street from us. Having an element of New York City in the mural was their only requirement (making them dream clients).

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We decided to go with one of the famous Gothic Bridge in Central Park. Below it runs what could be interpreted as a yellow brick road, of course, celebrating their current home in Kansas City. When the baby is born, his name will be added to the road.

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This was the first mural I've ever completed (or begun for that matter!). So I jumped in the only way I knew how, with gridding off my design. From there I just began to fill in with pre-determined, and pre-mixed colors I purchased at Home Depot. I used primarily Behr paint (the best in my opinion, worth the extra price). I bought 8 different colors in all, and mixed an addition 5 or 6. 

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In all honesty, I had a blast working on this project! It was so refreshing to paint this large and I enjoyed the physical element of it just as much as the artistic...even though I discovered pretty quickly just how out of shape I am! But seriously, real paint, a ladder, lots of messes, what could be better?

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I sure hope this little guy enjoys his wall as much as I do. If not, I might just have to move in!

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to share my new year's resolution with you. Feel free to borrow it, the world could always use more awesome. 

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See ya in 2014!

I know it's snowing, but...

Summer's always just around the corning, right?!? Let's hope so at least. So, remember when I was celebrating the final days of summer with these fun little kiddos? Well, now they're available on STUFF. What kind of stuff, you ask? Well...

There are cell phone cases in my etsy and society6 shop (which also has a couple of other cool items like tote bags!)

There are cell phone cases in my etsy and society6 shop (which also has a couple of other cool items like tote bags!)

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And there is wrapping paper, fabric and wallpaper available from Spoonflower. I hope with all my heart that someone purchases the wallpaper...and wallpapers an entire bathroom with the stuff...and sends me photos. 

And there is wrapping paper, fabric and wallpaper available from Spoonflower. I hope with all my heart that someone purchases the wallpaper...and wallpapers an entire bathroom with the stuff...and sends me photos. 

Emily Warren Roebling

Recently, I was contacted by Julia Rothman to contribute to her most recent amazing conglomeration of writers and illustrators, titled The Who, the What and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Accomplices of History.  (It's sort of a follow up to her previous creation, The Where, the Why and the How).  This book focuses on the person behind (or sometimes beside) the famous person we all know about. My gal, Emily Warren Roebling was the wife of Brooklyn Bridge architect Washington Roebling (who was in fact the son of the bridge designer, John Roebling...it was a family affair). When Washington Roebling fell ill during the construction, it was up to Emily to get the job done. As a reward, she was the first person to cross the bridge on May 24, 1883 carrying a rooster to symbolize victory. I'm thrilled any time I get the opportunity to portray strong, intelligent women and Emily Warren Roebling certainly fit the bill. Check out my tumblr blog for a special animated version! 

Thanks to Julia for including me in this project. The book will be available fall, 2014 and published by Chronical Books. Don't worry, I will be sure to spam your facebooks, twitters and tumblrs when the book is available for purchase. 

 

I made an animated version for your web viewing pleasure, but be sure to check out the actual illustration on my tumblr blog!

I made an animated version for your web viewing pleasure, but be sure to check out the actual illustration on my tumblr blog!