Saturday, August 26, 2017

Friends Forever

I just finished this digital painting for a promotional postcard mailer. It was inspired by my trip to Florence after visiting the creepy-cool San Miniatio cemetery. It's titled "Friends Forever". Enjoy!

Grit and Grace

I'm so excited to announce that Grit and Grace: Heroic Women of the Bible is published and available! I just got my gratis copies in the mail yesterday and it turned out beautifully :)
This book is so inspiring for girls and women alike! Hope you pick up a copy and enjoy.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cosmic Canvas Studio

I am excited to announce that I have joined the Cosmic Canvas Studio team as their Director of Illustration!

CCS is a entertainment company started by Andrew Pourciaux, a brilliant storyteller who can't stop writing hilarious content such as the audioplay We're So Bad at Adventuring, and books with ridiculously long titles such as Lady Almington Burns Down an Orphanage (and adopts 30 children). It's an honor and a joy to work with the entire CCS crew - they're brilliant, passionate, and totally amazing people!

I have had the privilege of illustrating the covers for such books, the most recent being The 20 (almost) Executions of Lady Almington. And since I'm allowed to do a cover it is! This title will be for sale soon, but in the meantime be sure to visit and take a look around. Lot's a fun stuff to explore.

Drawing in Italy!

I just got back from teaching a 5-week drawing course in Florence, Italy for Studio Art College International's (SACI) Late Spring Term. It was amazing!!

Several students from Ringling College attended the program and were able to earn 6 credits for their elective classes, as well as gain invaluable life-changing/personal growth experiences - one of the main advantages to studying abroad.

Having studied in Florence twice as a student, I was thrilled to return and have the opportunity to be the one doing the teaching. Class met three times a week for 6 hours each. This gave plenty of time to draw from the live model, have a lecture and/or demo, then head outside to explore and observe the city's many sites and museums. We drew on location from famous sculptures and paintings, and sketched historically significant buildings.

It was a fabulous, overstimulating, inspirational time! We saw so much that I can't even begin to recount it all here.  Let's just say I have a giant pile of museum ticket stubs saved in the back pocket of my sketchbook! Since there's so much to cover, I'd like to share just a few highlights and pages from my sketchbook.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Acceptance Package

Last semester I was commissioned to illustrate the Acceptance Package for Ringling College of Art & Design. I had the opportunity to work with graphic designer, Olivia Strohm, a recent 2017 Ringling graduate. She envisioned the package concept and theme, which was to have each item in the package - the box, envelope, lanyard, cloisonné pin, poster, sketchbook and pencil case - illustrated with just black lines so that students can color them in.

While coming up with a concept for what to illustrate, I decided to take inspiration from Florida's unique landscape and animals. I remember when I first moved to Florida, I was awestruck by the beautiful clouds. There may not be any mountains in Florida, but there are mountains made of clouds! And they are epic and beautiful (yes I am a proud member of the Cloud Appreciation Society ;)

Florida is also unique because of the alligators, manatees, iguanas, wading birds, etc. These creatures are so fascinating to see in the wild, and make great subject matter.

Below are a few sketches and the final line drawings:



I also went through several versions of the poster and really love the way it turned out:

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 9, 2017


2017 is off to a great start with SCBWI conferences! I just returned from the regional conference in Miami, and will be attending the NYC conference for the first time in February!

I'm posting a few of my sketchbook pages which contain the inspirational tidbits that keep me going. I was so inspired by Jane Yolen. Not only is she creatively prolific, she's also a wonderful speaker. She shared a lot of wisdom on writing and life.  

I also enjoyed listening to illustrator, Mark Teague, talk about where he finds inspiration, and how he approaches an assignment. It was exciting to get a sneak peak at his new book, which is a creative spin on Jack and the Beanstalk. 

Lastly, Jacquelyn Mitchard gave a fascinating keynote on book titles. I think out of ALL the SCBWI conferences I've been to, this was the first talk given on the subject. Considering how important titles are, one would think it would be talked about a lot. She noted that many many books drew inspiration from the Bible. She shared how many titles also underwent last-minute title changes before being published. 

Somehow I had a lucky streak at this conference. I won the early bird registration draw and got a free portfolio critique. Then, for the Saturday night ball (themed "Kid-Lit Rockstar") I dressed up as Joan Jett because I love rock and roll. There were two other conference attendees also dressed as Joan Jett, so together we strutted our stuff for the judges and ended up winning the costume contest! So that was another free portfolio critique ;) Then lastly, I won second place for the Rising Kite Illustration contest (image below). The contest consisted of illustration the prompt, "Finally, Ping kept up with the other". My idea was inspired by a recent trip to Montana, where I spotted a few mountain goats who unknowingly became my muses. 

Thanks for visiting my blog and reading! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

SCBWI Los Angeles 2016

The SCBWI LA conference this year was held at the beautiful Biltmore hotel, and I was able to attend this summer. It's ALWAYS such an inspiring and overwhelming experience. Totally worth the time and effort, especially considering that my creative soul is overflowing yet again with ideas and excitement. 

I'd like to touch on just a few things that stood out to me this year, and then offer links to two other great blogs about the conference. 

My favorite keynote speakers were Drew Daywalt, Jon Klassen, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Sophie Blackall. WOW. They were raw, funny, and so very encouraging in their words and ways of approaching this creative pursuit of making children's books. I think these might be the most inspiring line up of speakers that I connected with personally out of all the conferences I've been to.

Drew Daywalt noted that one has to be vulnerable (the title of his speech was "Does this Keynote Make My Butt Look Big?") He encouraged us to "capture our own essence" by exploring what shaped us as kids. A great place to start looking for material! 

Jon Klassen, speaking about Finding One's Voice, said to not think about yourself and what you want when making work. Rather, engage in a process of elimination of all the things you don't want in your work (things that don't resonate or inspire you). Chop off these things you don't want, and what's left is you. It's a task of intuition. And as you grow and continue to learn, ask yourself what you can create really well with your current skill level. For example, Maurice Sendak didn't like drawing horses because he wasn't very good at it, but this didn't stop him even though his book dummy was titled, "Where the Wild Horses Are". Instead, he chopped them out and the book became "Where the Wild Things Are."

Pam Munoz Ryan divulged some dark secrets, confessions rather, that we could all relate to (I think...if we're all human that is). Confessions such as the fact that she doesn't write every day, she still takes criticism personal, that the work never gets easier, and that she has no muse. What a relief! And I thought I was the only one...

Sophie Blackall nearly made me cry. She was great! I think it partially was due to the charm of her Australian accent, and the fact she's a great storyteller, and had excellent quotes, and sometimes ponders strange things like I often do. Who knows, except that I really connected with her keynote and feel incredibly inspired to look at life in a whole new way, as well as to continue looking at life the way I do now. The main takeaway was this: creativity is like a sourdough starter - it must be fed and used and given away in order to keep it going. Also, my favorite quote from her is this: "when an object inspires awe, buy it!" She shared with us her very odd curiosity cabinet of items that she had purchased. I am definitely going to pay more attention to what captures my wonder! Hopefully I won't be spending too much money while at it. 

Here are two other blogs I recommend checking out. My fellow illustrator friend and conference buddy, Lauren Gallegos, and her overview of the conference:

Thanks for reading!