Does this scene look familiar?¬† It should ūüėȬ† This landscape art is based on the famous painting by Georges Seurat entitled A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.¬† James T. Mason is the sculptor and creator of this garden.¬† I recently visited The Topiary Park in Columbus, OH.¬† Talk about walking into a painting!

While here, I could have just enjoyed the scenery and posed for photos.¬† But I also decided to begin my practice of¬†microMOVEments.¬† What exactly are those?¬† Think of them as baby steps towards your ultimate goal.¬† A way of building your dream brick by brick.¬† The concept was coined by SARK, author of Make Your Creative Dreams Real, which¬†I mentioned in a previous post.¬† She describes such movements as small bursts of energy or tiny actions that can be completed in as little as 5 minutes.¬† If you’re one of the millions of busy people¬†in the world or if you¬†have problems with procrastination, you should try this out.

Here I am completing a microMOVEment by sketching at the park while on vacation.

And here is the result of my efforts ūüôā

pen and ink

pen and ink

pen and ink

Just remember, Seurat’s painting wasn’t created in a day.¬† But step by step, your dream will manifest.¬† Starting now!¬† What microMOVEment will you complete today?

Tour the Denise Fleming Story Park!

Awhile back I interviewed author/illustrator Denise Fleming and shared that interview here.¬†¬†I mentioned that her work is on display at the Sanger Branch Library in Toledo, OH.¬† That library was gracious enough to share photos from the Denise Fleming Story Park.¬† And¬†now I’m sharing¬†them with you ūüôā

Welcome! You are in for a treat. Follow me on an e-tour of the famous Denise Fleming Story Park, which¬†celebrates the artwork of this renowned picture book author and illustrator. You’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into one of Fleming’s books. Guaranteed!

Pond 1


Pond 1

Pond 2

Pond 3

Pond 4



Park View 2





Firefly Bush

It’s a dream of mine to have my work displayed in a library.¬† What are some of your dreams?¬† Please share!¬† In the meantime, enjoy the warm glow of these fiery fireflies.¬†¬†According to Ted Andrew’s book, Animal-Wise,¬†fireflies symbolize inspiration and the promise of accomplishment through hope and efforts.¬† May¬†fireflies¬†light the path to your own dreams so that you can make them¬†come true.

SCBWI: WWMW Conference 2013

Mixed Media

Howdy partners!¬† I’m back from the Wild, Wild Midwest conference in Fort Wayne, IN.¬† One word: inspiring!

Above is the piece that I submitted for the art show.¬† I consider it an exploration of style, one of my goals for this year.¬† It’s a combination of my favorite mediums right now:¬†collage, watercolor, and ink.¬† I really enjoyed the hands-on aspect of it, even as I hoped the glue would hold¬†ūüėȬ†¬†And I¬†also got the salt trick to work!

“The Queen of Spades”¬†was inspired by my very own Philodendron.¬† I promise that no plants were harmed in the making of this piece ūüėȬ† My¬†plant did have a few adventures away from its usual tabletop spot in the living room…¬† I’m just glad it survived!¬† It’s my only¬†plant.¬† I credit it to my best friend who gave it to me.¬† She’s like mother nature when it comes to plants.¬† I, on the other hand, am¬†known for having a “black thumb.”

In Japanese culture, everything has a spirit, including trees.¬† Here is my representation of this concept.¬† In this case, I wanted to capture the spirit of my own plant.¬† If I were to pitch this piece as a story idea, it would sound something like this:¬† What would you do if¬†you¬†found out your plant was truly alive?¬† One illustration concept that art director Laurent Linn mentioned¬†at the conference was the idea that everything in a scene is a character.¬†¬†I really took his idea literally ūüėȬ†¬†He also said that the difference between¬†children’s illustration and other types of art is storytelling and emotion.¬† You should shape your portfolio around this concept.¬† Good advice!

Check out other great entries from the Michigan chapter here.

Event photos!

Dinner with illustrators at sushi restaurant: Who could ask for anything more?

One of the best parts about conferences like these are the opportunities to¬†network and socialize with friends¬†ūüôā

Jane Yolen and the Naked Mole Rat, unlikely friends: One wild Midwest party brought them together

I’m sure you all know Jane Yolen.¬† She’s considered ‘The Hans Christian Andersen of America.’¬† BUT, did you know she teamed up with the Naked Mole Rat, star character of Mo Willems infamous book: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed?¬† It just goes to show, friendship¬†develops in unlikely places, including the Wild, Wild Midwest!

All good things must come to an end.¬† Kathi Appelt, author of Keeper and The Underneath, left us with some great parting thoughts.¬† She¬†said that all the best¬†words, all the ingredients needed for a great story,¬†start with the letter¬†P.¬†¬†Brilliant!¬† Think about it…¬†¬†Can you guess the final word she mentioned?¬† POSSIBILITIES!

My friend Katherine Carver challenged me to come up¬†with one word as my theme for the year.¬† Can you guess what word I¬†came¬†up with?¬†¬†I mentioned it in a previous post.¬† Hint: it’s not serendipity, although that is also a great word.

To see how this challenge works, go to her blog.  What will your word for the year be?  Please share!

“Trust the Path”

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

One of my writing critique partners recommended this book to me, which I received as a Christmas present.¬† Somehow I decided to read the last chapter first, and boy am I glad I did.¬† The author relates a personal story about getting lost at Big Sur while on a journey to find himself.¬† The story suggests that we need to stop looking for the “right path” and¬†instead trust the path that we are on.¬† I was just¬†discussing this in¬†my guest post on my friend’s photography blog.

Taking a look at the cover image, a labyrinth, makes me see the idea of the path in a whole new way.¬† We’re always worried about ending up on the wrong path.¬† But perhaps there is only one.¬† If all paths are connected and intertwine, then we don’t have to be concerned with being stuck somewhere we don’t¬†want to be.¬† We can simply go in a new direction.¬† Or better yet, we can trust that by moving forward, taking action, and staying in the present moment, that we’ll end up where we need to be regardless of the path we take.

I’m reminded of the fantasy movie “The Labyrinth” with David Bowie.¬†¬†The main character feels like the path she is on continues forever without leading her anywhere.¬†¬†She gets a little help from a tiny¬†worm who suggests that things aren’t always what they seem.¬† Why not walk through walls?¬† Maybe there’s an opening.¬†¬†But even when she does, she still has a choice to make: left or right.¬† The tiny¬†worm sends¬†her in the opposite direction, which, unbeknownst to her,¬†actually¬†leads her away from the castle.¬† Is she on the wrong path?¬† OR does she¬†need to make this journey.¬† The best part for viewers is watching her overcome obstacles¬†while discovering herself.¬† Making it to the castle is just a reflection of all her hard work and how far she’s come.

So I encourage each of you to TRUST YOUR OWN PATH.  And who knows, perhaps we will see each other along the way.

Walking the labyrinth in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

Highlighting the Journey

I’m reporting live from the trenches!¬† Today we focus on action. Today we take a step towards our destiny. We choose a path and our journey begins. Where will your journey take you? I’m not talking about the destination. I’m talking about the places you fell down¬†and first learned about yourself along the way.¬† Here are some¬†highlights from my journey.¬† Keep digging!

calligraphy ink on rice paper

calligraphy ink on rice paper

This is the Japanese kanji character for zen.¬† I took my first Japanese language class last year, and we practiced calligraphy for the¬†final session.¬† Everyone had to choose a subject.¬† Most people started out with something simple like “tree.”¬† My sensei said I chose a complicated one.¬† Of course!¬† What better way to¬†learn than by¬†failing from the start.¬† This is a zen practice, although I’m not sure I was feeling zen¬†at the time.¬† We only got 3 attempts.¬† No pressure ūüėȬ† I chose to share this one with you because of its overall feeling.¬† I actually see it¬†as two entities reaching out to each other, trying to grasp something intangible.¬† The best part of the class was when¬†our sensei told us¬†that¬†the school was donating the calligraphy kits to us.¬† I got a stone and a stick of ink.¬† Now all I needed were brushes!

The biggest calligraphy brush ever!

The biggest calligraphy brush ever!

You can see where I’m going with this ūüėȬ† The next stop on my journey was to a brush shop at a temple in Japan.¬† I actually didn’t buy my brushes here, but I did find a brush stand and another unexpected treasure.¬† Colored inksticks!

Painting of Horses at Senjokaku Shrine

Painting of Horses at Senjokaku Shrine

Painting of Horse at Senjokaku Shrine

Painting of Horse at Senjokaku Shrine

These are photos I took of paintings I saw while visiting The Hall of a Thousand Tatami Mats, which I mentioned in a previous post.¬†¬†I became really inspired by these horses in particular.¬† I couldn’t wait to get home and start painting some of my own!¬†¬†Just remember, you only get this kind of inspiration off the beaten path.¬† So get going!¬† See where your journey takes you….

Ringing in 2013!

I just returned from a trip to Japan to visit my in-laws. I feel like this country is my second home, mostly because of the kindness of my husband’s family. One of the new year traditions in Japan is to go to the shrine and ring a very large bell. I don’t usually post photos of myself, but I thought this one would be an appropriate way to highlight my enthusiasm for 2013.


Ringing in year 2013 at a Japanese shrine!

I had the usual end of year feelings of an artist. Had I accomplished enough? Was it good? Was I truly meant to be an artist? Confirmation came in unexpected places. One of which was having the pleasure of drawing with my 5-year-old nephew. I was the only one he allowed to draw on his cardboard house with him. What an honor! Of course I drew my signature frog for him ūüėČ

I had also brought a small sketch book with me to Japan, promising myself I would draw while there.¬† Then on one of the final nights we all went to dinner together to surprise my husband’s mother for her birthday.¬† I ended up sketching a picture of a borzoi, my mother-in-law’s favorite dog, for her as a gift. She was moved to tears by it, which warmed my heart like nothing else.

I realized what my focus must always be: #1 inspiring children #2 sharing my art with others

Thus far my goals for 2013 are this: to find my voice in my writing and to find my style in my art

How do I plan to get inspired? My husband gave me some inktense pencils as a Christmas gift. I also brought home some great new art tools from Japan including calligraphy pens, brush pens, and colored calligraphy ink. I can’t wait to start experimenting with them!

What are your goals for the new year?  What inspires you about 2013?  Please share!

SCBWI: LA Conference 2012

Award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier gave a heartfelt keynote speech.

An empty ballroom after the conference just ended…

Bryan Collier inspired me when he talked about approaching editors every week for 7 years to drop off his portfolio.  He said he felt inspired just sitting in the office where exciting things happened.  He knew he wanted to be part of this world.  Seeing this empty ballroom where so many exciting things took place, I know that I too want to be part of this world.

Bryan Collier also mentioned that the door to this world is open just a crack.¬† I’ve been joking ever since that I just might be small enough to fit through there ūüėČ