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Sunday, December 08, 2013

New York

I just returned from New York.  What a beautiful time of year to be in the city.
Decorations are everywhere.

Though I couldn't figure out the good camera I brought, my phone managed to catch the mood and some cool window displays.
These Yetis were interesting:

and there were some very beautiful dresses:




The New York Public Library Lions dressed up for the occasion:
There is a wonderful exhibit of children's books inside: The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter.  If you can check it out, do. You will find lots about the history and significance of children's books.  There is some original art, like these pieces by Ashley Bryan:


This background of the working relationship between Tenniel and Carroll on Alice in Wonderland was interesting.:
I got to see my wonderful editor for Ten on the Sled and If It's Snowy and You Know It Clap Your Paws.  Polar Bear joined her friend Puffin in her new home in the city:


I left Emerson at his new home at Henry Holt with Christy Ottaviano. I know she will take great care of him.
New York is a great town for walking and people watching.  We had some delicious food, and enjoyed a great meal with my writing mentor, editor Elizabeth Law. The next night, we had a delicious Italian meal in Chelsea, and I am sure we saw Blondie (Debbie Harry) leaving the restaurant when we were going in. Unfortunately, I didn't catch that on film.

Now I am back home in my studio, where it a lot quieter and colder, but I love it here for very different reasons.





Friday, November 15, 2013

Top Five Reasons I Love the Library



I love our library in Charlotte, Vermont. It's a beautiful space with a diverse collection that works to meet the needs of the town's population. Beyond books our library has a lot to offer.

Here are my top five reasons why I love the library. 

  5. Our library isn't just a library, but it also acts as a community center.  It's a place where kids can come to make fairy houses, learn about reptiles, and run around outside. Adults can learn about gardening, cooking, and travel.  High Schoolers can do their homework there too.  A person could also just sit quietly and rest or enjoy the interesting artwork that's displayed.  I know that other libraries have similarly diverse offerings too. 

4. The library is the right place to come if you want to learn.  You can learn about making stone walls, mathematics, the universe, or pretty much anything.  Usually the library has something on the subject you are interested in, but if they don't, there's inter-library loan, and sometimes they'll even order a book.

3. Librarians are smart.  The librarians in our library have read A LOT.  Our children's librarian hasn't missed yet with a recommendation for my son.  I am not sure how she finds the time, but she does, and I am sure she doesn't just read books that appeal to boys because she recommends books to girls, too (of all ages). Books are what librarians love, and our librarians are interested in what a reader has liked and why. 

2. Library patrons take books back into their homes, the words within them move outside of the paper covers and into the minds and imaginations of their readers and then out into the world through discussion and action.  That's pretty cool when you think about it. 

1. Libraries are free and open to ANYONE.  You don't have to have cash in your wallet to enjoy a library. Books are for everyone!

One more thing that I love that probably fits into one of these categories somewhere is the availability of state park and museum passes.  I am not sure how many people know that you can check these passes out for free admission to many museums and parks in the area. We have used our library's passes to Shelburne Museum, The Maritime Museum, and my favorite state park, Kingsland Bay.

Go explore! 
Every library has a lot to offer.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PiBoIdMo

For the month of November, I will be joining this group focusing on one picture book idea a day.  If you're interested, join me.  It's a great way to get your brain looking at the world in terms of picture book ideas. http://taralazar.com/2013/10/24/piboidmo-2013-registration/

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Before vs. After

I think I overworked this one. . .
So I tried to hold myself back this time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing tip of the day

If I cringe from embarrassment when reading a passage I have written out loud, it is probably bad.  Sentimentality and sappy flourishes are my specialty. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New work

I am really enjoying playing with a new medium.  The wonderful thing about using the computer is that you can create a multi media look with one tool.  It's fantastic.  My next question is how do you get the pencil line a little smoother.  I haven't tried playing with the brush settings yet.  Could that work?  I'll let you know when I find out.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Digital art

I am trying to paint digitally to improve color consistency between painting and printed work.  So far it has been fun to play around with new materials.  The best part about it is working with layers in photoshop. If I make a mistake, that layer can be discarded and I can start over.  I have found that I take many more risks, and the looseness of my drawings is preserved.  It gives each illustration an energy that I lose sometimes in painting in watercolor.  I hope you can see what I mean comparing the two proposed covers.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

a little more sparkle

And now for a little more bling:

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

New work

I am working on a painting for a book that includes many nature scenes. Light plays an important role.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Red Efts

After an extended break from everything, I am back.  The kids are off to school and I am back to work.  I started the day with a long walk through the woods and saw nineteen red efts!  I wasn't even looking that hard.  I wonder if they were headed off to school too.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

sometimes I feel like I am being followed

maybe I'm just paranoid. . . 

video
or maybe not

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Miss Cross

I am playing with ideas for a character who is very grouchy.
Number 1:
 Number 2:

 Number 3 is a bit scary.  I feel like she was inspired by someone I saw in the sheep and wool area at a fair.  Probably best not to include her in a children's book.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Self portrait

Here I am when I was about six:
 and then a little older, around age 9. 
Growing up, I was the kid with papers flying out of my backpack.  I loved animals and poking around our local pond. After a visit to the pond, I would return home with a coffee can filled with pond water and fat tadpoles that I would keep for a few days.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

During Book Expo, there will be an auction to benefit ABFFE.  Here's a little blurb from their website:

The Annual Children’s Book Art Silent Auction and Reception has been a highlight of children’s programming at BookExpo America for the last 19 years. This event offers a unique opportunity to buy beautiful, original art in children’s literature from leading, award-winning artists and illustrators of children’s books and a chance to socialize with friends from around the country, while supporting the all-important efforts opposing the censorship of children’s books and authors nationwide. This is a highly anticipated and fun event on the industry’s social calendar, and the only annual event where the entire children’s book industry is in the same room, including booksellers, publishers, authors, artists, illustrators, other industry professionals, and fans of illustrated children’s books and supporters of the free speech rights of young readers.

This year there is a special tribute to Maurice Sendak.  His book In the Night Kitchen was challenged and banned by many libraries.  As many of you know, Sandak died this past year.  It was a great loss for the children's book community.  The auction will have a section of tribute art in his honor.  I hoped to convey his peaceful departure with my piece.  A line from his book Where the Wild Things Are stuck in my mind at the time of his death.  "Oh please don't go -  we'll eat you up - we love you so!"

This is my tribute.  I worry that it is more like a copy than my own interpretation, but  I have looked at this book so many times throughout my life that when I picked up my pencils and paintbrush to begin, this is just what came out.  I hope my contribution will help with the fight against book censorship.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Which cover?

I am working on the final piece for my latest project: the cover.  I have provided the publisher with two options. 
The first is perfectly nice, and the sketch itself is a little more polished:
However, the second has a little more going on.  I love the idea of including a piece of torn notebook paper under the title of the book:
What do YOU think?


Monday, April 01, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Gift for Mom

This little girl is shopping for a Mother's Day gift.  This was for an educational job I just completed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's the worst smell of all?

The smell of your teacher's perfume, of course! 
Look for my illustrations in David Greenberg's new book of poetry, title TBA, coming fall 2013.  He is the author of many fun books, but Skunks! (2003, Little, Brown & Co, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger) is one of my personal favorites.  His poetry is hilarious.  It was as much fun to illustrate this book as it was to read the poems over and over.  



Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Next Big Thing: A Global Blog Tour




I am participating in a global blog tour to bring awareness to authors and illustrators and the books that they are working on.  A big thanks to my friend Michelle Edwards, who tagged me for participation.  I will answer some questions that focus on my new book and then tag two other friends, author/illustrators Maggie Smith and Anik McGrory.  Definitely check out the work of all three of these talented women.


1) What is the working title of your next book?
If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws, written by Kim Norman, illustrated by me
published 10/1/2013

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Kim and I did another book together called Ten on a Sled, which featured these same characters on a wild sled ride. The words for that book were inspired by the children's song, "Ten on the Bed".  The book was fun and Kim and I both wanted another adventure for this group of characters.  Kim worked her magic on another old favorite "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands", and voila. (I make it sound simple, but I know it's not)

3) What genre does your book fall under?
If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws is a picture book

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Well this is kind of complicated, so I will stick to the major players.
The polar bear: motherly and besotted by caribou = Meryl Streep
caribou: all business, sometimes enjoys the attention of the polar bear =Daniel Day Lewis
moose: zany and fun = John Cleese
squirrel: goofy adventurer = Owen Wilson
I'm sure there must be a role in there for Ryan Gosling.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a twist on the old favorite song, "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands", ten arctic animals' romp in the snow leads them to an icy adventure they'll need some extra help solving.

6) Who is publishing your book?
Sterling Publishers

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Well, I really don't know, since I was not responsible for that part of the book.  Any amount of time was too long for me, because I couldn't wait to get started on the pictures.

 8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Caralyn Beuhner's SNOWMEN AT NIGHT

 9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I am adapting this question to suit an illustrator (and aspiring author).  My answer is my own children, and children that I observe every day.  They are always doing hilarious things that inspire what I draw.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
In addition to the original cast of ten from our first book, I have added a funny little little character that sneaks his way into the pack.  You'll have to check him out and see what adventure he has planned for himself.

Thanks for visiting.  Next week, head on over to learn about Anik and Maggie's latest books.








Wednesday, January 30, 2013

book cover

I am working on a cover to pull together my latest personal project, Emerson Barks.
And here it is in color:

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Educational job

Here's the cover sketch for a cute story I am working on:
and another interior:


Friday, January 11, 2013

Still life

I thought I would take a stab at a loose watercolor still life painting.  I'm going to keep practicing

Thursday, January 10, 2013

POSTPONED: February Art show in Bristol, Rhode Island

THIS SHOW HAS BEEN POSTPONED.  NEW DATE TBA.

I will be showing some of my illustrations at the Alta Luna gallery in Bristol, RI.  This is fairly new for me, and I will be in the company of two fantastic children's book illustators:







Thursday, January 03, 2013

Publisher's Weekly Blog

Elizabeth Bluemle, author of the Shelftalker Publisher's Weekly Blog, visited my studio before Thanksgiving and wrote about it.  Her entry gives a little sneak peek of the "sequel" to Ten on the Sled, called If It's Snowy and You Know It Clap Your Paws.  Thank you Elizabeth for such a great write up.  http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=9805