Friday, December 26, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop 2014

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone is having a nice little break from work to enjoy good food & good company. I was recently asked by my friend Alice Ratterree to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop which is an ongoing list of creative artists & writers around the world who share their stories of what they are working on and a little peek into their creative world. I have always been inspired by Alice’s work and had the pleasure of meeting her at the Advanced Illustrator Workshop at Highlights in 2013.

You can learn more about Alice and enjoy her gorgeous illustrations by visiting (Alice was invited by the talented Susan Sorrell Hill:

Everyone who participates answers these 4 questions:

1. What are you working on?
For the past 4 months or so I have been developing characters for a story that I wrote about a couple of years ago. It is still a seed that continues to develop every time I re-tell the story to our children.

The story is about a curious grandfather who decides to secretly take his grandson’s scooter for a ride while he is inside having lunch one day. The adventures are comical and their relationship is very dear. I had taken quite some time off to “step away” from the project, like I would do with a painting, to see it through fresh eyes. I have been spending a lot of my free time sketching for personal enjoyment (without sharing on social media like I used to), catching up on homework assignments from The Oatley Academy ( and reading a lot of helpful books on Children’s Books and Illustration.

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?
I don’t know if my work necessarily differs from others because there are so many different personalities and mediums used by different artists. I continue to create art that I enjoy & feels most natural to me. I love exaggerated line work, textures and more muted colors. A lot of children’s illustrations are saturated with bright colors, but I have personally always been drawn to earth tones and organic materials like wood and stone.

3. Why do you write / create what you do?
We have younger children and every night before bed we tell stories and as they have aged they now tell us stories too. I have always enjoyed drawing since I was a child and developed a love for storytelling when our children were born. I am inspired by their expressions and interpretations of our stories. Words can be played out with Illustrations a thousand different ways. When I’m working on a new piece I try to look at it from different angles and find the best angle to tell the story with images.

4. How does your writing / creating process work?
This sort of plays off the last question. I start off with a lot of doodles and sometimes they turn into something and sometimes they just stay in my sketchbook. I get to know the characters and watch them grow over the coming months or years.
Once in a while there is a character that has a story that needs to be told like the first book that I wrote called Gilbert’s Grocery Run. It was another bedtime story that took on a life of his own.
It still needs work, but I have read it to the children’s classes a couple of times and made adjustments over the past two years. When I first joined SCBWI I was so eager to grow my portfolio and grow as an artist. Now I find such enjoyment in the small things and let them develop at their own pace.

I now pass along the torch to a very talented artist that I met at the SCBWI New York Conference in 2012. Rob is an illustrator and author whose imagination is fueled by a healthy dose of Saturday morning cartoons and Sunday funnies. Rob’s first children’s book “Aw, Nuts!” was released in late Aug 2014 To see more of Rob’s work, visit and follow him on Twitter (@rmcclurkan). Make sure to check out Rob's blog next week!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Illustration Friday 8/1/14 - Peace

That magic moment after you are done reading stories before bed and a child falls asleep. That is "peace". (The hardest part is trying to figure out how to leave the room without waking them up!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Character Development Inspiration

I'm still ironing out the manuscript for my most recent picture book, but sometimes creating the character and seeing them in action helps the words flow a little easier. I like to get to know my characters first anyway so I know who I'm writing about.

Character references can come from ANYWHERE... you just have to look up! I was in the Car Dealer Service area this morning with my children, and our daughter kindly pointed out that the gentleman across the room would be a great reference for the elderly character in the story. I love how children have an eye for things, but I'm not sure that the man in the corner would be as flattered if he heard her.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tomie dePaola Entry 2014

This year's challenge came a lot earlier and was SO fun! I love projects that really push you just a little bit further. This year's challenge is a 2-part. The first part was to create a 4-6 panel series (while fitting within the limits of an 8.5 x 14 page) It could be BW or full color & vertical or horizontal... most importantly the panel of illustrations were not allowed to have any words! They had to portray a visual sequence that conveyed a feeling, action, storyline, an interest and character.

I have been working on these characters Blueberry & Carrot for a while now. It's a story that has been unfolding for the past 4 years. I actually worked on three different stories and simplified them down to 6 panels, but at the Illustrator Day in Philadelphia this weekend someone mentioned again that Tomie wanted to be surprised...

The ending of the other two stories were great compositions, but kind of a boring ending. Blueberry & Carrot have so many adventures, & this was one of them. It's not perfect, but hopefully you get the idea of the story & the adorable dynamic between these two!

So grateful for Tomie's generosity with so many illustrators and mostly for believing in everyone and pushing the bar a little higher every year!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sketching from just about any place at any time...

I've been trying to sketch a lot more & from just about any place possible lately...

The other day it was on our daughter's field trip during the 2 hour bus ride. I've sketched in the pre-school parking lot before pick up, in between projects for work, in the line at the grocery store in my mini moleskine, or at 1am in the morning when the world stands still... but my most favorite spot to spread out & sketch or paint, is on our deck while the kids play on the swings & yard.

It's so hard to find time for everything we want to get done in a day, but I've been using those tiny left over moments where I would usually check Facebook for a second, or read the last chapter of a book to sketch in the sketchbook instead... even if it is for only 5 minutes at a time.

Renee had a great post on her group blog recently and I tried her circle trick with very light pencil lines. It helped a lot!!

If you are looking for an ongoing challenge to get you moving try the always faithful Illustration Friday, or Sketch Dailies: or Daily Doodle @daily__doodle (

Happy Sketching ;)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Postcard Chat tonight on Twitter

Looking forward to the #kidlitart chat on Twitter regarding postcard promotions. Here are my postcards to be reviewed. I look forward to seeing everyone's cards and hearing valuable feedback. Love this group!!! See you at 9!

More detailed information can be found of on Kidlitart Blog:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year, New Traditions, Plans & Work

Happy (Belated) New Year! The beginning of the year is always so crazy with new client budgets more work and a lot of planning ahead. I have been learning a lot lately with books and online classes. The most recent lesson that I watched was Tom Bancroft's class through Taught by a Pro. The Class is called Intro to Character Design. It was wonderful!

I am also getting ready to purchase a couple of great classes on The School of Visual Story Telling. I really appreciate all of the resources out there, and have a few channels marked on youtube. Sycra, Will Terry, Open College of the Arts and Lynn Chapman. With the wonderful technology of apple TV and apps like Vimeo and Youtube already built in, I can now draw in the sketchbook or computer and watch or listen to lesson on the big screen. Sure beats the little 2x2 square in the top corner while you are trying to draw :)

In addition to learning I have been trying to grow more as an artist and incorporate more family time as well. We purchased a couple of the Art Lab books and with 52 labs in each book we have activities to play with every week of the year! The kids love it and even my husband can get involved as well!

Hope everyone has a wonderful 2014!
Dream Big & Follow Through... Kelli

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tomie dePaola Entry 2013: Sneeze

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - © Kelli Thrasher-Brooks - - - - - - - - - - - -

I finally put down the pen & watercolors & sent in my entry last week... I thought long and hard for a month or two about this composition, and in the past month the image really came to fruition. She had 3 different style pony tails until they made sense... the animals sitting at the table transformed from several different characters until they seemed to balance out and made me smile... and I went through several canvas boards and paint until I found the perfect hue and grain/texture to use as a foundation for this digital painting.

I originally created the Illustration for the 2013-2014 Tomie dePaola Award Competion, but it was more of a personal challenge for me, because I have been trying to add more narrative into my Illustrations since I got back from the Highlights Advanced Illustrator Workshop in August. It's a win for me no matter what the outcome is. I really appreciate and look forward to Tomie's challenges each year because they really get you to think outside the box a little and push you even further from your comfort level! Can't wait to see all of the creative submissions and interpretations of this poem!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

SkADaMo & PiBoIdMo Day #28

I feel like a kid at Christmas with anticipation of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, coffee by the fire and waiting to see how much snow has fallen. (Hoping for at least 6" but it's probably around 3-4" right now).

It's 1am now and since I can't sleep, this character came to mind when I started sketching and thinking about the 20 lb. bird that will feed all 12 of us tomorrow. A story began to evolve, even before the beginning lines of this character.

Hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, November 2, 2013

SkADaMo and PiBoIdMo Day 2

Spent the afternoon sketching more new characters and a Picture Book idea that my kids have been helping me develop. Decided to play around with watercolors and salt for cool effects. This is part of what I came up with...

- sent from iPhone

Friday, November 1, 2013

#SkADaMo and #PiBoIdMo: Day 1

I am excited that November is finally here! Without giving too much away, here is a sneak peek of a new character development that was created during my Sketch a Day and Picture Book idea. He is full of personality and suspense...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Kicking off November with a big ole' LINK-FEST

November 1st is finally here with SO many great personal challenges and ways to spark your creativity. I feel like a little kid at Christmas! It is also National Picture Book Month! This is my first year participating in PiBoIdMo & 2nd year for SkADaMo. (A lot of portfolio pieces were born during SkADaMo last year...)

There are several other personal challenges to look for throughout the year as well. Some have even continued for several months in a row like Doodle Day May & Illustration Friday.

Here is the breakdown & links for anyone interested:
• PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month, by Tara Lazar)
• SkADaMo (Sketch a Day Month by Linda Silvestri)
• Sweet Squares (Experimenting in a square, by Diandra Mae)
• Doodle Day May (Daily Doodle Prompts, by Alison Hertz)
• #Inktober (sketch a day in INK during October, by Jake Parker)
• Illustration Friday (word prompt each friday & links to many great Illustration Blogs!)

* * If you are participating in PiBoIdMo & SkADaMo at the same time Jenn Bower whipped up this fabulous WORKSHEET to help keep everything organized! * *

There are wonderful online classes out there all year long:
Chris Oatley Academy:
Chris Oatley generously offers a ton of great tips, and for $18 for 18 months, you can learn about great ways to paint digitally!

School of Visual Story Telling:
Many classes offered throughout the year by Jake Parker & Will Terry

How to become a Children's Book Illustrator: Mark Mitchell offers a wonderful class to help you get started in the industry

And another fun class I stumbled upon recently...
Koosje Koene: There are 2 classes offered- Just Draw it & Character Design

You can find more online classes at Folio Academy, Schoolism, Skillshare, & Nicole Classes.

There are SO many helpful resources out there, but here are just a few:
SCBWI has been such a blessing with workshops and conferences all over the US. They just updated their website too!

The Highlights Foundation has played a large role in my journey. There are workshops for Writers & Illustrators and also plenty of educational workshops for teachers as well! Worth the cost & a beautiful trip out to the Poconos.

Harold Underdown is a man of all resources! I refer to his website often to keep up with the kidlit world and changes in the industry.

Joanna Marple offers a wealth of knowledge each week & Debbie Ohi always keeps things cheerful while sharing her experiences! I also frequent the blogs of Kathy Temean, Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things, & Elizabeth Bird at Fuse 8.

My all-time favorite blog was created by the fabulous ladies over at Simply Messing About! I often refer to this page every time I need a refresher or to learn something new. They are all so talented and VERY generous in sharing their Illustration techniques and finds!

Monica Lee over at Smart Creative women is so cheerful & resourceful too. I love to listen to her inspiring interviews while I work sometimes...

Sorry this was so long winded, just wanted to share as many links as possible since there are so many resources out there. You may have already heard of all of these, but if not, I hope this helps.

* * If you know of any other great resources please comment below! * *

I leave you with this fun video created by the folks over at Book People Unite... their message is that One book can make a difference... So during November & all year long for that matter, never give up on reading books with your children, sketching a character that comes to your mind in the middle of the grocery store or typing up that manuscript even when you second guess yourself. These Monthly challenges are a great way to help plant seeds. These seeds may take years to grow, but with love, nurturing and a little wine... I mean water, they can become great things and hopefully impact the lives of many children for years to come!

Dream Big & Follow Through,

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Illustrator Interview by Joanna Marple

I forgot to post this a few weeks ago, but as I was cleaning up my studio I thought that my blog would be a good place to share the interview. I'm very honored that Joanna asked to interview me & I LOVE stopping by her site each week to learn more about great books, Authors & Illustrators.


Make sure you visit Joanna's Blog often to see more great interviews and helpful articles!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#INKtober Day 1

I heard about a couple of sketch challenges this month and I have been needing a little extra push lately. INKtober was one of the challenges, and it sounded perfect! I love working with ink and lines. Jake Parker started INKtober as his own personal challenge and I decided to join along with many other Illustrators. Working in pen, sharpie or anything permanent forces you to give up the crutch of pencil sketches and commit to a drawing.

I used to always use ink in my drawings and loved the rush you get not being able to erase and go back when something sucks. You make different choices, your hand moves faster... with more confidence. I have personally grown fond of the pencil & digital pen over the years. I use them as my crutch because they are more forgiving and help me work out ideas (possibly even ruin good ideas, who knows). In order to grow though, you sometimes need to shake things up & push a little further... So on day #1 I grabbed my Moleskine sketchbook, a ballpoint pen & created this Octopus.

Looking forward to 30 more days of pushing in preparation for PiMoIdMo with Tara Lazar. And hopefully Diandra Mae will host another 30 day challenge as well.

Friday, August 23, 2013

New Dribbble Account

After a wonderful & resourceful #kidlitart chat last night on Twitter, I was re-introduced to Dribbble. I thought that I had signed up for an account back in January, but found out that you have to be invited from another member to start posting your artwork (or shots). Long story short recent pieces can now be viewed on my Dribble page. If you are a member as well please let me know.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search Entry:

I had the honor of participating in the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search this past month. We were given a detailed creative brief to create a Journal using the theme of "playground". It was such a fun experience, but I had a hard time shutting the brain down with just one product...

My mind (and sketchbook) quickly filled up with textile designs, clothing designs, stationery and giftware too. So many possibilities when you are given creative freedom to run with and some constructive guidelines.

I took my love of the Sea, Children's Book Illustration, Tropical Climates, Sailing & Apparel Design and put a little spin on the subject that was given to us. I came up with a bright & fun Journal that I personally would LOVE to have a copy of! (I'm a little bit of a journal collector, you can never have enough Journals!!) :) Can't wait to see how everyone interpreted the assignment and created Journals that reflected their own personalities & styles!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer Updates...

Well, I tried to switch the blog over to my website and it was much more involved than just clicking on my blogspot app & entering data, soooooo we're switching back over to this site again :)

It has been a busy couple of months... Consulting with the lovely Holli Conger for 8 weeks, Doodling the entire month of May with the wonderful group in Doodle Day May started by Alison Kipnis Hertz, and spending as much time as possible outside with the kids.

I have been working away for the past couple of months on projects like this one for Highlights: Which Way USA (Check & Double Check) and also building on old portfolio pieces, working with new mediums, drawing in the sketchbook daily & reading, reading, reading.

Still have a lot going on the rest of the summer and into fall. I'll be attending the Advanced Illustrator Workshop again this year at Highlights and hope to take Will Terry's class (if he offers it again in October) over at School of Visual Storytelling.

Hope everyone is having an amazing summer so far! And if you are looking for a little creative inspiration visit these 4 talented & generous ladies over on their blog Simply Messing About.

Cheers, Kelli

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Doodle Day May (Day 16-28)

Catching up on Doodle Day May...

Used 4 different iPad apps & limited each doodle to under a half hour ( some took only about 5 minutes) this has been a fun month of doodles!!! Thank again Alison for getting this exercise started!