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Monday, December 17, 2012

Video on How I Made When Blue Met Egg

Want to know more about When Blue Met Egg and how a picture book is made?  Check out the video of my presentation at the Cuyahoga County Library last week in Independence, Ohio:

Cuyahoga Library Video Presentation

Thursday, December 13, 2012

BookPage Includes When Blue Met Egg on Their Best Picture Books of 2012 List!!!

Not only was BookPage kind enough to write a wonderful review of When Blue Met Egg earlier in the year when it first came out, but they also recently included it on their list of top ten picture books of 2012!  I am so honored and thrilled to be among such good company!



http://bookpage.com/content/bookpage-best-children's-books-of-2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One More Event Announcement Today


Book Signing at the Sunbeam Shop in Cleveland Heights!

Happy Wednesday!  Just a quick announcement this morning:

For those of you in the Ohio area, I will be signing books at the Sunbeam Shop in Cleveland Heights this Saturday!  Details below...

Saturday, December 1st, 2012
11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Sunbeam Shop Cleveland
3469 Fairmount Boulevard
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

www.sunbeamcleveland.com/shop/

I hope to see you there!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cuyahoga County's Best Books of 2012!

I am very honored this year to be chosen as one of Cuyahoga County's Best Books of 2012!!!  Not only did they choose to include When Blue Met Egg on their list, but featured artwork from the book for the brochure and website!  Along with Blue there are a bunch of other fabulous books for all ages that everyone should check out ASAP!  I'm already adding them to my Christmas list this year!



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 SCBWI Central & Southern Ohio Writers Workshop

Good morning!  Just a quick announcement about the writers workshop I will be speaking at this weekend.  I hope to see you there!  Check out all the details below:

2012 SCBWI Central & Southern Ohio Writers Workshop
Saturday, October 27th, 2012
8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn at Worthington
Columbus, Ohio

**Please note: you must register for this event.  For more information or to register please click on the link below:

http://coscbwiworkshop.wildapricot.org

Here's what I will be talking about...

The Perfect Marriage: Illustration and Text in Picture Books

This presentation will discuss successful elements used in creating a picture book relating to both the illustration and text, whether you are an author, illustrator, or author/illustrator.  Picture books consist of two parts, the text and the illustrations, both are equally important and dependent on each other.  What makes a successful marriage between the two?  As and author, what should you keep in mind when writing your manuscript for a picture book? As an illustrator, how do you read in between the lines to find the secondary story beyond the text itself?  As an author/illustrator, how do you keep a constant balance between the text and pictures to create a successful book?  All of these questions are key in writing and/or illustrating your picture book.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Finding the Right Style



I recently signed a new book deal with my publisher for a book tentatively titled Henry Finds His Word.  Through the process of working on my dummy for Henry I thought a lot about style.  What defines my style as an illustrator?  And how does it affect how art directors look at my work when searching for an illustrator for their manuscript?

Generally, everyone who knows my work knows me as the 'cut paper girl.'  All of my published work has been in cut paper and mixed media, with the exception of the four spot illustrations I did for the first STAR Academy cover in watercolor.  (You try doing black and white spots in cut paper and see how well they come out...)  I have mixed feelings about this.  Although I love cut paper and it is the medium I prefer to work in, sometimes I wonder if it limits me.  I realize that cut paper creates a very distinct look that is not suitable for all manuscripts.  But does it shy art directors away from asking me to work on projects in general?

It's funny because I think as an illustrator, once you begin working on your own books, art directors tend to think that you don't want to work on anybody else's.  Which from a financial standpoint makes perfect sense.  Why would you share royalties if you don't have to?  But from a creative standpoint, it seems limiting.  Sometimes I find that although I love writing and creating my own characters, it's nice to step out of my head once and while and take a peek in someone else's.  I love reading a manuscript with a scene or situation that I have no idea how I'm going to tackle.  At times it can be frustrating of course, I would be lying if I didn't say so, yet completely rewarding when I finish the illustration successfully.  I don't ever want to stand still and become stagnant is this business, I want to push myself to become a better illustrator with every book I do.

So this brings me back to Henry.  Henry is for much younger readers.  Henry is, after all, a baby.  When I sat down to come up with the look for this book I kept forcing myself to work in cut paper and mixed media, because that is what I have done with every other book so far.  But I kept getting stuck.  The artwork just didn't look right and it didn't seem to match the story.  This is something I have realized is okay.  I used to think that if I couldn't visualize how I would illustrate the story, then it wasn't something I wanted to write.  But really what I was doing was picturing the illustrations in cut paper only.  I wasn't taking into account what the right medium for the story should be.

You wouldn't know it now, but in college I worked predominately in water color, pastel, and woodblock prints.  That was what I was comfortable with.  Back then it was really easy to get caught up in what my "style" was.  I was so obsessed with defining my "style" for my portfolio, which to me meant my medium.  Just because you use the same medium for two different pieces doesn't mean they are the same style, it just means they are the same medium.  Big difference.  Once I graduated I realized that "style" is more about who you are as an artist and less about what you use to create your art with.  I find that my style or the soul of my work, as I like to think of it, exists in my lines.  Lines of an artist are like finger prints, no two are alike.  Your line defines you as an artist.  Only your hand creates your lines.  Sure, you can mimic someone else's, but when you are sketching or doodling while on the phone those are yours.  No matter what medium, it's still you.

So when I hit the wall with Henry I had to walk away.  I was trying way too hard to force something that just wasn't working.  And then it hit me!  The next morning I got up and realized that I don't have to illustrate Henry in cut paper.  Now this may not seem like an epiphany to you, but it certainly was to me.  When you are known for doing one thing, it can be really scary to step out.  I sat down with my sketches of Henry and I just began to paint...in acrylic, no less, which by the way is my least favorite type of paint.  But it was the right type for Henry.  Because Henry is for a younger reader, intricate cut paper illustrations would be too much.  I needed to simplify.  Bolder color, more space, and larger shapes.  Which led me to this:



I think Henry is a lot happier too.

So don't be afraid to step out and try new mediums, let the manuscript speak to you.  Experiment and exhaust all your options because you never know what you will end up with on the page.

Monday, September 10, 2012

SCBWI Northern Ohio Annual Conference!

Just a quick post today!  Things have been super busy lately, so I apologize for my lack of weekly posts!

I'm very excited to be on the faculty of the SCBWI Northern Ohio Chapter's Annual Conference coming up September 21st and 22nd.  I will be teaching an illustration intensive on Friday, a breakout session on Saturday, and offering critiques.  If you are in the Ohio area, please make sure to register:

http://www.nohscbwi.org/conference.html

I hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back From My West Coast Adventure!

After two weeks of traveling, including stops in Los Angeles, Pasedena, San Jose, San Francisco, Petaluma, Oakland (basically all of the Bay Area!), and Portland, Oregon, Blue and I are finally home.  Our trip was filled with amazing adventures, visiting family and friends, a wedding, five book store visits, and lots and lots of food.  I'm pretty sure I will be full until the rest of the year...but it was so worth the overeating that went on on this trip!  Check out the pictures from my trip below:


View of the Hollywood hills from Griffith Park in Los Angeles.


Griffith Park Observatory...by the way getting up to this was incredibly difficult,
I thought my calves were on fire.  But totally worth the view :)


Micky Mouse topiary at Disney Studios in Burbank, CA


Seven Dwarfs on the side of a building at Disney Studios.


Plaque at Disney Studios in honor of the legendary Mary Blair,
one of my favorite illustrators of all time!


Statue of Disney and Minnie at Disney Studios.


Bookstore visit at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, CA.


Reading aloud at Vroman's Bookstore.


Signing at Vroman's Bookstore.


Bookstore visit at A Great Good Place For Books in Oakland, CA.


Reading aloud at A Great Good Place For Books.


Bookstore visit at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma, CA.


Reading aloud at Copperfield's Books.


Talking about cut paper at Copperfield's Books :)


Bookstore visit at Hicklebee's Bookstore in San Jose, CA.  
I love this bookstore, one of my absolute favorites!
They also gave me my first job when I was 15 :)


Reading When Blue Met Egg aloud at Hicklebee's Bookstore.






Drawing Blue at Hicklebee's Bookstore!


Signing the wall at Hicklebee's, just below where
I drew Pelly the year before!!


Remember what I said about eating a lot??  Voodoo Doughnuts
was my downfall in Portland, Oregon.


Taking pictures with Blue in front of Ellsworth Kelly prints
at the Portland Art Museum.


Bookstore visit at Powell's Bookstore in Portland, Oregon!!


Reading Blue and some of my favorite picture books aloud at Powell's.





Signing books at Powell's Bookstore!


My favorite picture book the trip :)


On our last day in Portland...I needed one more doughnut.
A Maple-Bacon one of course!



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

L.A., Bay Area, and Portland Here I Come!


I am very excited to be going on vacation next week for two whole weeks!!  A much needed trip after working solidly for two months on Please Bring Balloons.  Our trip will be a little bit of work and play.  First I will be down in L.A. visiting some friends and family, then up to the Bay Area for a wedding reception and to see more friends and family, and then finally to Portland, for some much needed R&R!  I am so excited to be visiting bookstores in each city!  Check out my list of events for my "Mini-West Coast Tour":

WEST COAST VISITS AUGUST 2012!

Saturday, August 4th, 2012
Bookstore Visit and Signing
10:30 a.m.
Vroman's Bookstore
695 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, California
www.vromansbookstore.com

Sunday, August 5th, 2012
Bookstore Visit and Signing
Noon
A Great Good Place For Books
6120 LaSalle Avenue, Oakland, California
www.ggpbooks.com

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Bookstore Visit and Signing
11:00 a.m.
Copperfield's Books
140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma, California
copperfieldsbooks.com


Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
Bookstore Visit and Signing
2:00 p.m.
Hicklebee's Bookstore
1378 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, California

Saturday, August 11th, 2012
Bookstore Visit and Signing
11:00 a.m.
Powell's City of Books
1005 West Burnside, Portland, Oregon
www.powells.com

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Northern Ohio SCBWI Event This Saturday!!

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Just a quick announcement this week:

I am very excited to be moderating a Critique Meet through the Northern Ohio SCBWI this Saturday!

Saturday, July 21st, 2012
SCBWI Critique Meet Event
www.nohscbwi.org

10:00 a.m.
Barnes & Noble - Fairlawn
4015 Medina Road, Akron, Ohio

***Please note this event is free and is open to the public but RSVP is required, please contact the Northern Ohio SCBWI Regional Advisor, Victoria Selvaggio at vselvaggio@windstream.net

For anyone attending who have a picture book manuscript or set of illustrations they would like to be reviewed by me I am still taking submissions until noon on Thursday, July 19th.  All submissions may be sent to lindsaymward@gmail.com.  Please send submissions only AFTER you have emailed Victoria Selvaggio to RSVP to the event.  Thank you!

I hope to see you there!!



Friday, July 6, 2012

2012 Northern Ohio SCBWI Annual Conference

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July!  Here in the Cleveland area we got not only a firework show but a heat lightening one as well, and I have to say the heat lightening was a bit more impressive!

Now back to children's lit announcements.  I'm very excited to be participating in the 2012 Northern Ohio SCBWI Annual Conference here in Cleveland in September.  I will be presenting an illustration intensive discussing the illustrator's responsibilities and role in putting together a successful picture book as well as teaching a breakout session on making a picture book, from start to finish.  Registration starts today for SCBWI members and July 20th for nonmembers.  Make sure to register soon for the breakouts and critiques you want because slots fill up fast!

Check out all the awesome faculty this year:

Michelle Poploff, Vice President & Executive Editor, Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books
Tina Wexler, Agent, International Creative Management
Quinlan Lee, Agent, Adams Literary Agency
Whitney Leader-Picone, Designer & Digital Publishing, Charlesbridge
Dandi Daley Mackall, Author
Cinda Williams Chima, Author
Mara Purnhagen, Author
Michael Ferrari, Author
Christopher Canyon, Author/Illustrator (Presenting Saturday Only)
Liz Coley, Author
Jeannine Garsee, Author
Lindsay Ward, Author/Illustrator
Shelley Pearsall, Author (Presenting Saturday Only)

2012 Northern Ohio SCBWI Annual Conference
"A Springboard to Publishing Success"
September 21-22
Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel
5300 Riverside Drive
Cleveland, Ohio 44135
sheraton.com/airportcleveland

For more information or to register for the conference, click on the link below:

http://www.nohscbwi.org/conference.html

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blue & Egg Paper Doll Fun!

This past Saturday I visited Barnes & Noble in Woodmere, Ohio for storytime and some paper doll fun.  I had such a great time reading aloud to the kids and watching them color and cut out Blue & Egg.  They did such a great job!  Check out some of the photos below:


In their normal attire.


Two Blues just having a chat.


Look at that fabulous umbrella!



Thank you to everyone at the Barnes & Noble event!  Blue, Egg, and I had lots of fun!

To download your own Blue & Egg paper dolls click on the link below:


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Storytime This Saturday!

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Just a quick announcement this morning for those of you in the Ohio area.  Blue, Egg, & I will be at Barnes & Noble in Woodmere, Ohio for storytime this Saturday!  Here's all the details:

Storytime with Blue & Egg!
Saturday, June 23rd at 11am

Barnes & Noble Woodmere
28801 Chagrin Boulevard
Woodmere, Ohio

We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I'm still reeling from the fact that it is already June!  And the 13th no less!  This month is a bit crazy for me because the finished artwork for my new book, Please Bring Balloons, is due in July!!  Which is like tomorrow as far as I'm concerned.  There is seriously not enough hours in the day.  I actually didn't realize until this morning that I missed posting last week!  So although I have been living like a hermit in my studio...I'm hoping to be sharing some very exciting news with you soon...so stay tuned, I promise it will be way better than this sorry excuse for a blog post.  Until next week...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Store Event Saturday, June 2nd!

This week has been a bit crazy, so unfortunately I missed posting anything yesterday, but I did want to mention that if you are going to be in Columbus, Ohio this Saturday Blue, Egg, and I will be at Cover to Cover Books.  We will be there at 11am for story time!  We hope to see you there!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 11 a.m.
Cover to Cover Books
3560 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214

http://www.covertocoverchildrensbooks.com/

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why Pinterest is Great For Illustrators

So I realize I'm a bit late on the whole Pinterest train, but now that I'm completely obsessed with it, I though I would share why I think it is so amazing, especially for illustrators.

For those of you who don't know, Pinterest is this fabulous website (www.pinterest.com) where you can group collections of photos, either your own or ones you find online.  Each collection is created on what is called a 'board'.  You give each of your boards a title and short description.  They can be about anything you want and Pinterest will ask you to designate them to a category, like Home Decor, Art, Books, etc.  You can follow other people and see what they are pinning as well.  Photos can be 'repined' or 'liked' (as on Twitter and Facebook).  If you are familiar with the Etsy treasury lists, this the same idea but on a much broader scale because you aren't limited to items listed only on Etsy.

I started realizing how clever Pinterest was when I began having brides (I have a side business doing wedding invitations) who would send me their wedding idea boards so that I could get a feel for the look they wanted for their wedding.  Which is completely brilliant!  As a designer this made my job a million times easier.  There are so many people who can't verbalize what they want visually.  Pinterest makes it so they don't have too.  They can just show me.  I decided it was time to create my own account.

At first I thought it was cool that my clients could send me their ideas, but I wasn't really putting together the benefits of Pinterest for me directly.  Sure it was fun to have an account, pinning a few pictures here and there, but it wasn't something I needed by any means.  And then it hit me!  Pinterest is a way to collect all of my visual reference for a book and keep it in one place.  Which is awesome because now I don't have to print out reference or track it down on the internet if I lose it.  Everything is on one page I can scroll down.  Now this may not seem life changing to you, but for me anything that organizes my tiny studio, even in the smallest way is big for me.  Check out the board I made for the current book I'm working on:

Please Bring Balloons

Since Pinterest is becoming so popular, lots of online websites have figured out that it is in their best interest to include a Pinterest button for every item they list.  For example, say you find some paper you love on the Paper-Source.com, but you don't necessarily need to buy it right now or you just want it for visual inspiration, you can pin it just by pressing a button.  It's so easy!

The other really wonderful thing I've discovered is the idea of a book list.  Normally I keep all of the books I want in a wish list on Amazon so they are all together in one place.  Then I go and order them from my local bookstore.  Sure, I'm sort of cheating Amazon.  But is anyone really cheating Amazon.  No.  They are are certainly not hurting for cash.  I like the idea of the Amazon wish list but the images of the book covers are small and I can't make notations about the books.  On Pinterest I can.  And overall it is much more aesthetically pleasing experience.  Here is a board of my favorite children's books of 2012 so far:

Favorite Children's Books of 2012...So Far

Publishers such as Chronicle Books, Penguin, Candlewick, and Scholastic have begun using Pinterest to their advantage too.  Check out this article in Publisher's Weekly all about it:

The Pinterest Experiment

For those of you who already know how great Pinterest is, sorry for the redundancy of this post.  But if you were like me and didn't know...I hope to see some of your fabulous boards soon.

Happy Pinning!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why Do Picture Books Matter?


With the death of Maurice Sendak last week, this question has been floating around in my mind a lot lately.  I feel like there is a hole in the world now that he is gone.  Originally, I had ordered a copy of Show Me A Story: Why Picture Books Matter by Leonard Marcus, from my local bookstore before the announcement of Sendak's death, because it featured conversations with so many illustrators that I admire.  Burningham, Oxenbury, Blake, Marshall, Sis, Zwerger, and of course Sendak just to name a few.  There are 21 total included in the book.  But then I started reading because I needed answers.  I needed to hear in their words why what we do is so important to young children.  Why is it necessary?

In an age of digital takeover, the idea of the loss of a picture book in the traditional format as we know it, is almost unbearable to think of.  It breaks my heart to be honest.  The picture book itself is an art form unlike any other type of illustration.  Creating a narrative that marries text and images together harmoniously is incredibly difficult to do successfully.  Show Me a Story includes so many writers and illustrators who had paved the way for picture books as a true art form.  I think most of us as illustrators in this field hope that we can one day accomplish something close to what they did.  I know I do.

When I found out Sendak died, I cried.  He meant so much to so many of us, as readers, illustrators, and human beings.  I remember the first time I read the Little Bear books, they were so magical.  I wanted a bear of my own to be friends with.  Which is funny because I'm currently working on a book with a bear as one of the characters.  So in a way I have found my bear.  I feel like everyone has the Sendak story that they loved and read over and over again and the one that scared the pants off them.  For me, In The Night Kitchen is my absolute favorite.  I remember that was the first time I became obsessed with typography.  I loved the all the design elements in the book.  It was and still is one of the most beautiful books in my opinion.

Now as much as I loved Sendak, Outside Over There, scared the crap out of me as a kid.  I thought the babies and goblins were so creepy looking, staring out at the reader with these big eyes.  Totally freaked me out.  Which I found interesting, when I came to read Show Me A Story and Sendak revealed in his interview to Marcus that Outside Over There was inspired by the Lindbergh kidnapping that happened when Sendak was a child.  Sendak said that his book was a way to deal with the outcome of the kidnapping, which as we know did not end well.  And for a child that was incredibly frightening.  This way he could stage a kidnapping with a happy ending.  The way he wished history would have gone.  It is also said to be Sendak's favorite book.

As illustrators, his stories taught us that it is okay to show naughty children, because let's face it, children can be impossible sometimes.  They don't always smile.  In fact they are rather selfish, still learning how to interact with others.  I think this is one of the many reasons that Where the Wild Things Are resonated with so many of us as children.  It felt like he was on our side.  I always admired Sendak for that.  Which is something Helen Oxenbury, another favorite of mine, wanted to show in her board books as mentioned in the chapter about her in Show Me A Story:

"When babies are eating or on the pot, they don't smile, because they're concentrating on something else.  In making books, what I try to show is how things really are."

This is what kids need.  They need us to be real with them.  To treat them like people.  To show them that the possibilities are endless.  Things may get difficult, but everyday is a new opportunity.  That they can shoot for the moon, and maybe even hit it.

While reading all of these wonderful interviews, I began to realize that each illustrator brought something different to the table.  I found it fascinating that most of them didn't set out to be picture book illustrators, but rather fell in to it by chance.  Some started out in set design, advertising, editorial illustration, teachers, and other various jobs that incorporated art in some way or another.  I was completely the opposite of this, going to school specifically for illustration, which for most of these illustrators wasn't even an option available in art schools at the time.  Now a days a lot of illustrators I meet that are around my age, have specifically studied picture book illustration.  As more art schools began to develop their illustration programs, the graduating body became larger.  Now picture book illustration is something people go and study.  It's amazing how times have changed.  But without Sendak, Marshall, Steig, and many many others, we wouldn't have anything to study in those programs.  They paved the way for picture book illustration programs.  And for that I will always be grateful to them.

I hope after reading this you will pick up a copy of Show Me A Story: Why Picture Books Matter, because right now it is so necessary.  I reminds us all of why we, as writers and illustrators, do what we do.  And why, even after a loss as great as Sendak in our community, it is up to us to keep going, changing, inventing, and discovering new ways to create wonderful picture books for children.  I want to leave you with this quote from Quentin Blake, which I think is the best way to look at what we need to do:

"If someone is asleep in bed dreaming, you don't necessarily want to see [the] bed, but you might want to look at their dreams."

It's up to us to show the dreams.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Little Bit More About How I Made Blue

Recently my editor asked me to answer a few questions about the process of writing and illustrating When Blue Met Egg for the Penguin website.  She also requested a few shots of my studio, which you will notice is unique for one obvious reason.  I don't think the questions are up on the website yet, so I thought I would share my answers with you for this week's post to finish up on the making of When Blue Met Egg.  A couple of them may seem familiar from my last two posts on Blue, so I apologize in advance for any repeats:

What inspired you to write When Blue Met Egg?
Between my junior and senior year of college I moved to New York City for the summer working as an intern at an art gallery.  Although I grew up in the Bay Area, I had never been to a city that felt as big as New York. I was so small compared to all the skyscrapers that surrounded me.  I lived on the Upper Westside so I spent a lot of time near Central Park.  I think the combination of the setting and the way I felt that summer led me to write When Blue Met Egg.  I loved the idea of a small character navigating a large city confidentlyBy the time I left New York I was so proud of the fact that I knew my way around and wasn’t afraid to explore new places. That is how I wanted Blue to be – brave, confident, and always willing to make new friends.
Since you work primarily in collage, can you tell us a little bit about your process?  Do you sketch first, and when do you glue down your paper?
I work in cut paper and mixed media.  Every shape is cut out of a different piece of paper and then glued down to a two-dimensional surface.  I begin by doing a lot of sketching.  After I have an idea of what I want the composition to look like I transfer the sketches onto tracing paper. This is what I draw the final sketches on before going to the finished artwork.  Once the sketches have been approved, I begin the process of transferring the drawings to illustration board.  I individually transfer each shape in the drawing to the corresponding paper I have chosen to be used in the final artwork.  Then begins the cutting…lots and lots of cutting.  Thankfully I have my trusty blue scissors, which have been with me for every book I have worked on (I’m just a wee bit superstitious about them).  I arrange each shape until I’m happy with its position, taping them down to the board, so I can move them around if need be.  After approval, I glue everything down.  Then…TA DA!  It’s a book!  Well almost.  But you get the idea.
You must have a pretty amazing paper collection!  What kinds of paper did you use in the book, and where did you find it?   
I spend a lot of my time collecting paper, looking for just the right scraps.  I have a bunch of color-coded bins in my studio that I use to organize all my paper. Most of the paper I use is vintage or antique, some of which is as old as the 1800s.  I go to garage and estate sales, paper boutiques, library sales, and used bookstores to find materials.  All the paper I use relates to the story or theme in the book in some way or another.  In When Blue Met Egg, I used old school test sheets from the 1950s, crossword puzzles, maps of New York from the 1930s, and vintage graph paper. I gradually add what I find as I see fit while I’m working on each illustration.  I love that at first glance readers see just my illustrations.  But upon closer inspection they find treasures, hidden in the papers I use.  Beneath the paint and pencil marks exists links from the past, brought back to life and recycled in a new way.  For me, that’s what the paper is when I find it, tiny hidden treasures left behind looking to be found.
You have some incredibly detailed pieces in your book, especially the spread of the carousel in Central Park and the gatefold of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Which spread was the most challenging for you to complete, and how long did it take you to make? 
Both the carousel and the Brooklyn Bride were equally challenging, but for very different reasons.  Originally the carousel in Central Park wasn’t in the book.  During sketch revisions, my editor suggested using a location in Central Park instead of the Natural History Museum (the original setting for that spread) for pacing reasonsNow let me preface this by saying that every artist has their thing that is just impossible to draw so they avoid it at all costs.  Mine was horses.  So you can imagine my reaction when my editor asked me to draw a whole carousel full of them.  But after lots of sketching, I realized she was right and it made the book better.  I couldn’t be happier with the way that spread turned out.  Also, after drawing horses repeatedly for this spread, I’m proud to say I’m no longer intimidated by drawing the anatomy of a horse.
As for the Brooklyn Bridge, I have no one to blame for the difficulty of that spread, except for myself.  I was the one who though it would be brilliant to cut out a bridge with lots of cables.  I fell in love with the idea of this spread before I thought about it logistically.  It is to date the most masochistic piece I have ever taken on.  Lets just say I had some very sore fingers covered in band-aids after the spread was completed.  It is also by far my favorite spread in the book. 
Each spread took me about three to four days to complete.
Have you been to all of the places Blue and Egg visit? 
Yes, with the exception of the boathouse, which I would love to have lunch at one day.  However, there are things Blue does that I haven’t.  Here are few I’d like to try: make a snow bird in Central Park, watch snow fall on the Brooklyn Bridge, and make a wish in the Bethesda Fountain.
Since Egg is really a snowball, were you worried about how you’d end the story?  How did you come up with such a great solution? 
The ending of When Blue Met Egg came after writing many, many bad endings.  When I was revising the manuscript I realized I had created this huge problem for myself by using a snowball as one of my characters.  Obviously the snowball has to melt, which the reader knows from the start, anticipating a sad ending.  I needed to think of a way that wasn’t sad, but uplifting and promising.  One thing I remember when I was working on Blue, was sitting on my couch one night thinking about how friends change, grow up, sometimes apart, and that’s life.  Accepting change is one of the hardest things we do as human beings.  I was drawn to the idea of a character that automatically looked past that, accepting her friend no matter what.  I love that about Blue.  After the story ends, I picture Blue and Flower experiencing all the best things about springtime in New York.
Did you always want to be a children’s book author/illustrator? 
Yes and no.  Both my parents are artists so art was always around me growing up.  But it wasn’t until I got my first job at Hicklebee’s Children’s Bookstore, that I figured out what type of art I wanted to do.  I fell madly in love with children’s book illustration.  The idea of visual storytelling captivated me.  I decided to apply to illustration programs for college, later graduating from Syracuse University.  Illustrating children’s books has been my dream since I was fifteen.  But writing, no way!  I never thought I would write.  Honestly, I never considered it.  Even when I first came up with the idea of Blue, I never really thought about the story in terms of text. I just knew what I wanted it to look like visually.  My agent was the first person to tell me she thought I was a writer too.  I thought she was crazy.  But she was right.  I’m now working on my third book as an author/illustrator.
Can you tell us a little bit about your next book?

This is a bit funny after what I said about the carousel spread, but it’s about a carousel that comes to life.  No horses though.  Its title is still up in the air at the moment.  One day Emma finds a note attached to the saddle of her favorite animal on the Grand Carousel, the polar bear.  Soon Emma finds that some things are not as they appear.  And sometimes magic can happen when you least expect it.  There will be lots of high flying adventure, magic, and maybe even a dancing polar bear or two.  I’m very excited for the release of this book, which will be in 2013 by Dial Books for Young Readers.

I love seeing different artist's studios, so I thought I would share a few photos of mine...


My design desk.  I only do computer work here, usually designing illustration mailers or wedding invitations.


My picture book collection, which I love dearly and is constantly growing.


Some of the paper hanging in my studio.


Sometimes I get really fabulous surprises in the mail, like this one, which end up on my walls.


The view out my window.  This is my backyard which drops off into a creek.  It's quite lovely.


I'm a bit large for my studio.  But I CAN stand up in it!  As long as I only stand where the roof peaks.  See:


Told you I could.  I'm not sure you believed me.


My drawing table.


Lots of paper bins.  All color coded.

Well, that's it folks.  I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek :)

Want to know more about Blue??  Or have any illustration questions in general, type them as a comment below and I will make sure to post answers in next weeks blog post.