Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Children's Book Week Bookmark

As I mentioned a couple of time earlier, I am the creator the 2013 Children's Book Week Bookmark. I can't tell even begin to tell you how excited I was when I was offered this opportunity. One of my life long pipe dreams is to be the illustrator of a Children's Book Week poster--this is pretty close!

So, I really wanted to do a good job on this. The Children's Book Week people asked that the bookmark include an activity of some kind-- other artists had made their bookmarks into door hangers, even paper dolls!

I racked my brain for a long time trying to think of something as creative. Paper fortune cookie instructions inspired by Fortune Cookie Fortunes? I didn't think it would work out of context (so many people don't realize that fortune cookies are not Chinese and the subtlety of Chinese-American pride might be lost in the misunderstanding).  Origami inspired by Lissy's Friends? I thought that might be hard to follow. How to write the Chinese character for "Book" or "Read?" Maybe... but then at the dentist's office (had to get an old filling replaced!) I saw a Highlight's Magazine:

and remembered how I always loved their "hidden picture" features:

....and the light went on!

From there, I decided to create the bookmark hiding the letters R, E, A, D, I, N, G in the image. It was a lot of fun! Here's the sketch:

can you see the letters?
Here'e the work in progress:

adding the color in! Trying to make the letters not too obvious, but still not too hard to find. 
And the final painting:

I decided to add a bonus activity to the bookmark (like I said,  I really wanted to do a good job!), so I included instructions on how to draw a Chinese dragon using letters (I thought that kind of went with finding the letters on the dragon bookmark--letters, dragons, reading--it kind of works, right?):

And then the bookmark was done! See what the finished thing looks like and download it FREE at the Children's Book Week website! Hope it makes you excited for Children's Book Week--I know I am!

Monday, February 25, 2013

on my desk monday

It's the finished portrait of one of my contest's winners!

That's one! Now only three more to do. I have to admit these are taking longer than I thought. I might not be able to do commissions after all. Or maybe I will limit the commissions I agree to. I'm not sure. Any suggestions?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the necessity of a new studio

One of the reasons we are moving is that we've outgrown the condo. What used to be the studio is now overrun with baby things--now I work in the living room.

This has become problematic because at night, when the baby is sleeping, I like to keep/start working and the Sasquatch wants to unwind by watching a movie. He likes to watch in the dark. I like to work in the light. After many nights of a well-exercised light switch, the Sasquatch came up with this solution:

Yes, it's a light for me to attach to my head!

I did try it:

But in the end, the head lamp was a bust (I do use it to sneak in to the room to cut the baby's fingernails, though).  And the light negotiations continue. Can't wait until I get into the new studio!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

on my desk monday

It's a star-patterned onesie--something I searched high and low for so that I could have Rain Dragon model for me. That Star Baby book idea is bursting to be born...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

living on in stories

I've made an annual visit to a local Wellesley school and it's always lovely (I hope I can continue to visit even after the move!). The students never fail to impress me with their beautiful storyboards of their favorite "small story" from Year of the Dog. This year, I was particularly touched by how many of them chose "Uncle Shin and the Special Cake."

That's because my Uncle Shuin, who is the Uncle Shin in the book (I thought that was the way to spell it when I was  a child which is why I kept it that way in the book) passed away in August. Despite his greediness as a boy, he grew up to be a highly respected surgeon, a loving father and truly compassionate human being. Some might think that his naughty deeds as a child are the best way to remember him, but he also had a pretty good sense of humor. I think he'd be pretty amused to see his childhood mischief in cartoon form.  I know I was.

Thanks so much, Wellesley students!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year!

It's Chinese New Year! I hope everyone drew a dragon yesterday to welcome in the New Year!

I had every intention of getting greeting cards made this time. In a bag of hand-me-downs from Luke and Ranida, there was this beautiful Chinese silk snowsuit--perfect for Rain Dragon's first Chinese New Year.  So even though it was a little large, on our first snow day we bundled her in it and let her see the snow:

These were the photos I meant to use for our cards! But didn't get around to actually designing, printing or sending them. Sigh.  But, we wish you a Happy Chinese New Year, anyway!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Goodbye, Year of the Dragon!

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year, the start of the Year of the Snake and the end of the Year of the Dragon!

It's been a lovely year, I can't complain. Sure, there were some disappointments, but they were pretty minor compared to the wonderful gift I've received.  So I wanted to say a fond farewell to the Dragon by sharing this little activity. This is actually a bit of a sneak peak to the Children's Book Week Bookmark I am creating, but it's also just a fun, simple way to celebrate the New Year!

Draw your dragon on a red sheet of paper and hang it for good luck!

Friday, February 8, 2013

fortune cookie friday

"Love for a person must extend to the crows on his roof."
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

dual day

On my first school visit of the year, I was especially nervous leaving Rain Dragon. Would she be okay without me? To calm my nerves, the Sasquatch sent me occasional photos throughout the day.

As I began with my first presentation:

 Sasquatch took a grumpy Rain Dragon out for a drive:

 she was particularly mad that he wouldn't let her drive

And while I shared my book "The Ugly Vegetables"

Rain Dragon had a bagel and cheered up:

And while I showed the students how to draw a dog:

The Sasquatch took Rain Dragon for a walk:

And when I finished,

Rain Dragon was asleep!

A good day for all! Here's hoping all my school visit days go like this!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

the upcoming Year of the Snake

The Year of the Snake is coming! Last Saturday, the Anita Silvey's incredible Children's Book-A-Day Almanac featured Where the Mountain Meets the Moon as a book to read to prepare for the Chinese New Year (Starry River of the Sky was featured for National Folklore Month!) and I, of course, think it was an excellent suggestion.

Rain Dragon and I, however, are planning to share Bringing in the New Year and maybe one of the simple Chinese New Year crafts  I have.  I'm going to try to do as many of the traditions as I can that bring in a lot of luck. Unfortunately, this upcoming year is supposed to be a challenging one for me (Tiger). But maybe if I prepare enough, I'll be ready for the Year of the Snake!

Monday, February 4, 2013

on my desk monday

Finally starting work on one of the portraits of a winner of my Starry River of the Sky contest/giveaway!

I've had a lot of interest on portrait commissions which I hope to offer in the spring. My biggest hurdle is trying to figure out the cost. So while I'm working on this,  I've been trying to clock the hours to help figure it out. Hope that works...and that the portrait comes out well!

Friday, February 1, 2013