Hi, it's nice to meet you! Growing up in rural northern Alaska, I spent lots of days snowed in, decorating the living room walls with Pollock-esque compositions in purple crayons.
I loved art but studied English teaching first, and taught middle school language arts for several years before I moved to Rhode Island. I rediscovered paintbrushes as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design.
One day, I want to ride in a hot air balloon and have two cats named Bodoni and Didot, but I'd also settle for a red panda. I live in Connecticut with my lively little daughter and my marvelous husband. Occasionally she sleeps and he does laundry so I can draw and write.
What am I working on now?
I've begun sketches for THE MAGIC HOUR (Sky Pony Press 2017) and have several picture book manuscripts ready to send to agents.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My illustration style is charming, whimsical, and totally cute! But so is almost everyone else's… So I try to distinguish my pictures by doing what feels “right” for me. At RISD, I figured out that I was better at creating stylized characters rather than realistic renderings and that I liked transferring my sketches to Arches cold press paper and blocking in areas of color with watercolor, doing detail work in colored pencil, then scanning the painting and adding digital textures.
Why do I write what I do?
My stories are kind of based loosely or entirely on childhood events because I find it easier to write a story based on something that happened to me or to someone I know. Generally, I like the challenge of taking a personal childhood experience and turning it into something that other kids can totally relate to.
How does your writing/illustrating process work?
If I’m writing and illustrating my own text, I have to be satisfied with the words before I start sketching characters and scenes. When I have a story idea, I will never get anything done if I try to write the specific details in the first draft. Instead, I think about the overall plot arc FOREVER, and then I force myself to get a complete draft down from start to finish, as quickly as possible. And the first draft is always too terrible to show anybody. But once I get through the first draft, I fine tune the details and add interesting words and descriptions in the next few drafts.
The illustrations evolve similarly—first with rough sketches of characters and thumbnails of each spread. Putting both text and images together in a book dummy shows where all the weaknesses in design and pacing are, both with the words and the sketches. I make adjustments to both text and sketches at the same time. I’ll choose one of my favorite spreads and do a color finish, beginning with color studies, and working through all the steps to complete a finished color illustration.
I draw on tracing paper and transfer the sketch by hand onto watercolor paper. For the illustration below, I scanned the tracing paper sketch onto the computer, darkened the lines in PhotoShop, and printed the drawing on watercolor paper using a laser printer. Then I started adding layers of watercolor pencil, then watercolor wash, and final details in colored pencil and pastels.