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