1 January 2017

Going into 2017 with...

 Scene from Star Wars: Rogue One (RIP, Carrie Fisher)

Postings have been sparse for 2016.  There were a lot of creative projects on the go.  For one, I took on the volunteer role of Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI Canada West.  Working with fellow illustrators has definitely been a highlight, as has working with Groundwood Books on a first picture book.  Then, I could not say "no" to a project to revise a program that I had a part in drafting back in 2003 for the Native Youth Centre.  So, it was a much fuller plate than I had expected at the beginning of 2016.

And now we're on the cusp of another new year.  This will be the first new post of 2017.  Let's start with something from the sketchbook, drawn at the airport.

thumbprint Jyn, pencil Jyn

Strong female characters like Jyn Erso are great fun to draw.  See last year's Rey here.  Happy new year, everyone.  Stay creative.

31 October 2016


Sorry, no illustrations today.  But I learned how to sew leather.  It involves special needles,  punches, grommets, and patience.  This year, my eldest wanted to be a plague doctor for Halloween.  My reference was an engraving from 17th century Rome.  The beak was filled with herbs that supposedly protected the doctor from "putrid" air.  It usually didn't work out for the doctors.

Here they are, ready to go -- plague doctor and death.  Not such a cheery looking pair are they?

And here is what happened to the leftover bits of leather.  A bit cheerier:

25 September 2016

I'm Back...

"Maurice" cut out from Stonehenge paper

... and apparently cutting out letters backwards.  This is not even an illustration, but it is the one creative thing that I have on my desk at the moment.

Yes, it has been a long stretch since the last post from August.  I have been busy, but in a good way.  The exciting news that I haven't shared a whole lot on-line is that Groundwood Books will be publishing, The Outlaw, the first picture book that I wrote and illustrated .  Over the past months, I have been working with Sheila Barry and her team at Groundwood.  It's been great!  The book is scheduled for release in Fall 2018.

The Outlaw began way back in 2013, as a drawing.  At my first SCBWI conference in Western Washington, Mac Barnett had given an inspirational talk involving Venn diagrams and Sophie Blackall had asked illustrators to draw shadows.  I had also finished reading Patrick DeWitt's, Sisters Brothers, and watched the Coen Brother's, True Grit.  So you can see the percolating influences that resulted in the drawing below:

pen, watercolour, newsprint transfer

I worked on the story to go with the image shortly afterward, and had the manuscript critiqued with Ken Kilback's writing group.  Then, I rented a studio for the summer to work on the images.  By the end of 2015, the dummy was ready for submission.  It seems a long time ago.  Yet not really.

7 August 2016

Emote This!

pencil sketches

At the SCBWI conference in LA, we had a stellar team leading the illustrators intensive.  We explored characters through emotions, body language, and Muppets.  We were asked to really look at what we were drawing and to translate authentically, whether it be through an animal or a pair of boots.

The workshop took place in the Biltmore Hotel's Crystal Ballroom.  So if we were stuck, we could always draw the architecture.

27 July 2016

Meet Maurice

version 1 - pen & watercolour

version 2 - collage & china marker

A number of us took the plunge and signed up for Lisa Cinar's excellent and intense Picture Book II course.  In the first couple classes, we spent most of our time on writing exercises.  First, we were shown images and asked to write for 20 minutes on each.  A lot of what I wrote went straight into the trash can, but there was a rough gem in a piece called, Maurice.

In the most recent class, we were asked to explore two styles of drawing the same spread.  I had a lot of fun with the collage, but classmates favoured the first version.

18 June 2016

More 'edgehogs

gesso over ink, ink washes, pen, collage

black ballpoint pen

My kids were showing me their MineCraft "skins", which are basically surfaces that you can add to differentiate your player from other players.  I feel like I've applied skins in drawing three different version of 'edgehogs.  It's been an interesting exercise.  The first version is in the previous post.

... and a new favourite ballpoint pen, MUJI, discovered while chatting with comic artist at VanCAF:

28 May 2016


watercolour, ink, acetone transfer

Found a pencil sketch in my sketchbook and decided to turn it into a finished drawing.  Used the usual palette of phthalo turquoise, quinacridone gold, and burnt umber.