Thursday, November 15, 2018

DEAR BALLERINA - coming in March 2019!



I'm very excited to announce my newest book, Dear Ballerina, coming in March 2019, from Holiday House.

In this book a dream comes true for a little girl who loves tutus, pointe shoes, and dancing on tiptoe. This little dancer loves to swirl and twirl and leap. She practices new steps every day. All her efforts are rewarded when one special day, she gets to dance in a performance with her favorite ballerina. 

I have been bringing "little dancer" with me on some museum trips and to ballet performances. Very soon she is going to go to the Nutcracker with New York City Ballet! We can't wait!



"Little dancer" was amazed to meet Marie, The Little Dancer, by Edgar Degas

She was thrilled to see the Balanchine Celebration at City Center in NYC!
We went to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen to see New York City Ballet perform on tour: Magical!
My daughter practicing her ballet positions with Degas's The Little Dancer.

Here we are together for a moment backstage: she is ready to perform a Balanchine ballet in her tutu and pointe shoes. 

I have wanted to do a book about ballet for a very long time.  I have loved going to the ballet since my mother first brought me as a little girl. I brought my daughter, Lydia, when she was also very young. Then she wanted to start taking ballet classes when she was seven. Now she is quite grown up and dances with The New York City Ballet. Her journey from little dancer to professional ballerina inspired this book!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Suzette in Paris

This summer I have brought Suzette to Paris with me. We are visiting favorite places from Crepes by Suzette book&app (and discovering new favorites, bien sûr!) 
Market
Notre Dame Cathedral
Lions in Luxembourg Gardens
Carousel in Tuileries Gardens
Montmartre
Invalides
Assemblee Nationale
Tour Eiffel

For more about CREPES BY SUZETTE book&app click HERE

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Interview with author/illustrator SHANDA McCLOSKEY

Shanda McCloskey’s first book DOLL-E 1.0 has just been published - Congratulations! I remember when she showed up at SVA in illustration class - she had big talent from the start! But then it takes commitment and persistence to successfully get a book from dream to reality. I’m so happy to share with you this Q&A with Shanda. Enjoy and be inspired to work hard for your dreams!


It is exciting to hear about a book's journey to publication, especially a first book! How did Doll-E 1.0 get started?
The idea for Doll-E 1.0 came from watching my two-year-old daughter pretend that her doll was a robot doll! I knew in my gut that this idea might be a good one with the empowered girls movement and girls in STEM being hot topics. I also knew from experience (because I looked pretty hard) that there were no robot books with real girl appeal! The robot books I found may have had girls in them, but they still seemed to be created with boy readers in mind.

My daughter just turned 8, so Doll-E 1.0 took 6 years from idea to real book!


What was your favorite part of working on this book?  
My favorite part of making this book was working with others (much more experienced than me) to make it its best! My agent (Erica Rand Silverman), editor (Andrea Spooner), art director (Jen Keenan), publicist (Siena Koncsol), etc. all added exquisite parts and solutions to the book and promotional efforts that I would’ve never thought of or could do alone! I truly enjoyed the Little, Brown team and it seemed as if they enjoyed working on this book too, which was extremely cool :)


Also, school visits are really special! I didn't realize I would treasure them so much until I tried one!


And the most difficult part?  
Life has a way of really getting messy sometimes, and at the time I created this book, I had some serious eye health issues arise that affected my sight. The day to day frustration of working with impaired vision was definitely the hardest part to overcome.


Where do you live and what is your studio like? What are your art materials?  
I live in Ball Ground, GA, which is about an hour north of Atlanta. I live with my husband, two daughters, and our dog in a very small house. My studio is a wall in my living room parallel/behind the couch. It has a long white desk with a computer and drawing space with a “clothesline” of sketches and inspiration above it. Beside the desk is a large Ikea armoire where I store my two printers, large scanner, and art supplies (which are mostly 6B drawing pencils and watercolors).

What were you like as a child?  Did you always draw and paint since you were very young?  
I was known as the best artist in all my classes and grades. That was a huge part of my identity. I loved it. 

How did you decide you wanted to be an author and illustrator of children's books? 
Picture books have constantly lured me through my lifetime. I bought them at the book fair when I was a kid when I was “supposed” to be into chapter books, and then I found myself just having to own various books through the years before I even had kids. But when I found myself unfulfilled in a teaching job, things became clearer. I really wanted to figure out how to become a children’s book illustrator! (I had no idea I would ever be an author too at the time :)

Did you have some rejections along the way? What have been some of the ups and downs?
Of course I did! I’ve been pursuing this path for about 10 years now. I would attend a conference excited to show my new work, feeling accomplished only to end the conference with a dose of reality that there’s still so much work ahead of me. But it always felt productive, and eventually my work was “ready” to be published. 

I also was rejected by several agents and publishing houses along the way. And when my work was really “ready” I got several bites!

What are some of your other projects that you are currently working on?  
I’m currently working on a companion to Doll-E 1.0 called T-Bone the Drone! It features a boy character this time and his drone. So. Much. Fun!

Is there anything you learned back in class that has particularly stayed with you?
Monica really opened my eyes to the possibility of being an author-illustrator instead of just an illustrator. I remember her saying that she makes her own illustrating jobs by writing her own stories. That resonated with me, and I must say that doors started opening up for me when I had a dummy proving I could do both!

Do you have any special words of advice or encouragement for illustrators/writers starting out now?
If you can write and illustrate, put them together in a dummy! THAT combination is what got things rolling for me. I started setting it beside my portfolio at SCBWI conferences and bringing it to paid manuscript critiques. I updated my dummy for each new conference with what I had learned from the last.

I was thrilled to see Shanda up from Georgia at her NYC book signing:


and follow her on Instagram: @shandamccloskeydraws and Twitter: @ShandaMcCloskey

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Visiting School with Zinnia's Flower Garden

I love visiting schools and sharing my books with children.
I had a wonderful welcome at PS 347: a bilingual American Sign Language and English lower school here in Manhattan. Some children in the classes are deaf but many have deaf parents, and I had an interpreter, Rick Rubin, by my side.

It was snowing as I traveled across town, and so it was especially fun to share Zinnia’s Flower Garden: there is nothing like flowers to help put everyone get in the mood for spring!
I read the book as Rick translated it into ASL.

And then I showed some stages of working on the book. I did research by learning more about flowers:  I grew flowers, I went to the library for books about flowers, I went to gardens...


I got started on my book by making tiny sketches like these:


And then the children did some of their own “research” with flowers.
I brought a beautiful bouquet and they all picked flowers to observe and draw.




 They did fantastic work. I think there are a lot of future scientists and artists amongst them!





Thank you so much to Gary Wellbrock, teacher extraordinaire, for these photos! Read more about all that goes on in his classroom at http://followingyourbliss.blogspot.com/



Friday, August 04, 2017

Paris on bicycle

My favorite way to explore Paris is with my velib bicycle pass:


I love finding interesting stores:


and trying patisseries from every bakery in my neighborhood:



I love beautiful cheeses in the market:


I'm constantly stopping to admire lettering and details on buildings:




 I love visiting small museums:


Paris is endlessly beautiful and I'm so happy to be here!


Take a little trip to Paris too? Come visit HERE with Crepes by Suzette!





Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Interview with author/illustrator PATRICIA KEELER

I'm thrilled to introduce author/illustrator Patricia Keeler and to celebrate the publication of her new book with a Q&A. When Patricia was in class at SVA some years ago, she had already successfully published several award winning books but she wanted to change direction and explore new ideas.  She plunged in with her book project about a little girl and her flip-flops and many versions later, LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL has come to life. Joyful, full of action and energy, Lizzie is immediately an endearing character. Get ready, set, go: Summer is coming!


It is exciting to hear about a book's journey to publication—can you tell us about LIZZE AND LOU SEAL?

I breathed in the delicious smells of turpentine and oil paint. I touched the cold cinder block walls and looked out the giant dirty windows and smiled. It had taken me practically a lifetime to get to attend a real art school class. It was 2014, my first class at the School of Visual Arts. 

After college, I became a teacher with a familyLater, I got an art rep and started doing realistic illustrations where the Art Director often told me what to draw. No, no, no.

So this day, I was starting over with no rep, no prospects. I was walking into Monica Wellington's class on Writing and Illustrating Children's Books with my own picture book dummy called Flip, Flop, Stomp


It was the first time I had been in a large group of author/illustrators where the spreads of a book dummy could be seen at a glance. In the class, we critiqued manuscripts and discussed elements that support the visual success of a picture book. We talked about first page illustrations and text placement.We talked about the directional movements of the characters between the pages, and how to visually strengthen the climax of a book.
In later classes, we sometimes worked in smaller groups. By this time, several of us knew each other and our book dummies, so what remained was adjusting and tweaking.

How did LIZZIE get started? What are some of the stages?

The idea came from news articles about problems caused from wearing flip-flops. I imagined a little girl, Lizzie, who loved her flip-flops, but they caused her all kinds of agitation. They got caught on loose stair boards, stuck to boardwalk chewing gum, and didn't keep the hot sand from her feet


The first version was called Flip, Flop, Stomp! because Lizzie stomped her foot in frustration.

In my original idea, Lou Seal was a blow-up beach toy that didn’t show up in the story until a third of the way throughBut as I sketched the dummy, Lizzie got younger and Lou Seal got bigger. The change in sizes was unexpected—but I could see it was more dynamic.




Now Lou Seal was so big, that he needed a bigger part to play in the story. So I thought while Lizzie is busy fussing with her flip-flops, what is happening to Lou Seal? 

Perhaps Lou Seal was also having difficulties. And what fun, if the reader discovered what was happening to Lou Seal before Lizzie did!

Figuring out the story plot seems conceivable now—logical. But it took years and three classes with Monica Wellington.

What was your favorite part of working on this book?

My favorite part was discovering the encaustic wax process. I used it to show Lou Seal as plastic, and for the ocean waves. Here I am creating a wave for LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL.



Where do you live and what is your studio like?

I live in Hoboken, New Jersey. My studio is on the top floor of my building. It is a converted large bedroom. I look down on a retro drug store, bagel shop, and the bus stop. 


When I take a lunch break I walk along the Hudson River. I'll sit for a while, then look over at Lower Manhattan and think, "My editor is over there waiting for the finished art." Then I get a large iced coffee and a butterfly cookie, and go back to illustrating. 

What are your art materials?

I love my box that contains tubes of Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache. I had it made in a plastics shop on Canal Street so each hue could fit neatly in it's own space. 


I made color swatches with the mixing instructions on the back. It's always those final bits of color that add vibrancy to an illustration. These color samples allow me to see what colors would work best. 

The mechanical yellow pencil laying on my paint box is PaperMate Sharpwriter #2. I found these pencils in the grocery store. These pencils are amazing! The lead is cushioned and won't break when you press down. It gives my hand a little bounce!

What are some of the other projects you are currently working on?


I have a second book for Sky Pony Press to follow LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL. I'm so excited about this book, SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK! It will be out in Spring 2018. I'm in the thick of finishing the artwork now!

Do you have any special words of advice or encouragement for illustrator/writers starting out now?

Don't try to completely understand an inspiration or art process before you try it! If you come across an interesting plot twist or illustration technique, go for it! It's the mistakes you make that make it yours!


Patricia will be at Book Expo America! Meet her at Booth AM34, June 1 and 2, for illustration demonstrations and giveaways!

A few tips: a wonderful place to discover new techniques is UPPERCASE Magazine. http://uppercasemagazine.com

Kelly Rae Roberts Unscripted  (great while working) http://www.kellyraeroberts.com/unscripted/

Social mediaFacebook for friends and family, Twitter for marketing, and Instagram for artists from around the world whose work I want to learn from.
Facebook:  PatriciaKeelerBooks
Twitter: @patriciakeeler
Instagram@patriciakeeler

Patricia is represented by Liza Royce Agency www.lizaroyce.com and her website is patriciakeeler-author-illustrator.com