Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An Ah-ha moment

I just had an epiphany, or what Oprah coined an Ah-ha moment. I've spent the past 20 years or so creating art for children's publishers, and most of it is wasting away in my garage. I've spent the last couple of years creating child-appealing art for product licensing purposes. My agents — at this very moment — are negotiating a deal with DT and WM to use some of that art of fabric (an update later this week). But I started thinking, with easy access to the internet, and the ease of on-demand printing, why couldn't I offer my own products for sale through some type of online store? I mean, an online store might be as simple as a partnering with a company like, or Ebay. The idea has been fuzzy in my mind, however I just came across another artist who is doing exactly what I have envisioned, and KaBluey!— an Ah-ha moment.

Chet Phillips whose website, and online store played a huge role in my epiphany, puts his art on everything from greeting cards to T-shirts, lunch boxes to beer steins, journals to boxer shorts. I CAN DO THAT TOO!

Now the first thing I did was shoot off an email to Chet. He may be too busy to answer my questions, but at least I now have a clear picture of what I want to do. It may not be big money but, shoot, I don’t exactly spit at an opportunity to make extra money.

The second conversation I need to have is with my licensing agent. I am signed on exclusively with her for the next year at least. She gets 40% of any licensing deal that I get. However, I'm thinking, in this case, I would not be licensing my work, I'd be selling it directly myself!

Oh, I gotta go now. I got phone calls to make, online research to do, and even more questions to ask. **trying to catch my breath**


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Me on national radio, and a Berenstain dies

Today I received an invitation to be interviewed on a radio show. As a featured guest, I'd be allowed to promote my books at a national level, as well as discuss my path to publishing. Cool?, maybe not. See, they charge a fee for their interviews. Now, I'm not knocking the credibility of the radio show or it's host. It's business, and that's what they do. And as far as I know, although this may be a stretch, Stu Taylor may be on par with the likes of Larry King, or Rush Limbaugh. Probably not? The thing is, I've gone from multiple paid appearances over the past couple of years to one paid and three pro-bono appearances this year alone. My ego just won't allow me to walk down that pay-to-appear path kind of success.

Stan Berenstain Died

It's ironic that I am even in the book business. As a child, I wasn't into books. Other than my dad's illustrated medical dictionary (he worked for a printer), and our children's encyclopedias, I didn't read much. I do, however, remember the Berenstain Bears series of books by Jan and Stan Berenstain. The illustrations were charming, simple, lacking the laboriously rendered quality of many of today's children's book illustrations (including my own). The books were also among my daughter's favorites when she was a child.

Stan Berenstain — co-author/illustrator of more than 200 books with wife Jan Berenstain — died this past Saturday. Their books have been loved by two generations of beginning readers, and I'm sure, although Stan will be missed, children will continue to enjoy this series for years to come.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Timeline of a signed contract:

Consideration of an artist before an offer is made:
Approximate time: 6 months to a year

Consideration of the manuscript before I accept the offer:
Approximate time: 3 minutes

First draft of contract sent to agent:
Approximate time: 30 days

Agent request changes (more money, book samples, higher royalty):
Approximate time: two weeks

Publisher rejects and makes new offer:
Approximate time: 30 days

Agent rejects…I pull her hair…she accepts:
Approximate time: one week

Publisher sends new contract:
Approximate time: 30 days

Agent doesn’t like the indemnity clause…returns contract:
Approximate time: two weeks

Publisher signs contract!:
Approximate time: 30 days

Agent signs contract…mails to me:
Approximate time: 5 days

I sign and return contract to publisher:
Approximate time: 45 days (I tend to procrastinate with ominous paperwork even when it means making money)

Publisher mails first half of advance and signed copies of contract:
Approximate time: 30 to 60 days

What’s this mean? Means I usually start my books with no money to buy new supplies which is partly why I end up working in acrylic on paper, although, after my last advance, I got smart and bought myself a new set of oils.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Here's a reason to actually read your contracts

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, is Black Friday. It's the busiest shopping day of the year. On this day the whole country heads to the malls to begin their Christmas Shopping. We don't participate in this holiday tradition. Battling folks at a crowded mall, and fighting over the last Tickle-me Elmo is like a scene out of my worst night mare. However, I was a bit irritated that once again, I didn't have any extra cash to allow the wife to go participate — just because.

So, I'm sitting here going through one of my licensing agreements trying to find the definition to a word that I plan on using in a future blog post. On page 2 of the agreement, my eyes hit the word compensation. I discovered that this particular licensee was due to pay me $1,000.00 immediately upon signing that contract last February. This is November. I ain't received no $1,000.00.

So, maybe the wife can go Black Friday shopping afterall. The thing is, being it's the day after Thanksgiving, I can't get ahold of my agent, or the licensee.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

They warmed my heart

Yes, this is a cross post if it looks familiar. It took me way too long to write it, and in that same time I probably could have written an entire picture book. Anyway, I'm posting here, too.

My day began as many others — very busy. School is out for the holiday, so my son was home with me. I met my deadlines, so I decided to sleep in, however, things never quite work as planned. While pulling out of the driveway, my wife discovered she had a flat tire, the third flat tire in the last 5 days. I’ll blog about that next week.

A few hours later, K and I are sitting on a cement stoop outside the window of Lambs Tire and Battery Company. Once again, stress was sitting heavy on my shoulders, and the enormity of her weight caused my back to buckle under her pressure. I had just been told that my wife's mini-van needed four new tires. In addition, one of the rims was bent making it unrepairable. Lack of money hasn't been such a big issue in our marriage since we've reorganized our financial matters. And with many new business endeavors knocking at my door, financial stress hasn't had an opportunity to visit our home the way she used to. The thing is, the holiday season is on us, we’ve adopted a cash-only policy, and the only expected extra money wouldn’t be in the mail for at least another three weeks. As we sat there, K started doing those things four-year-old boys like to do: asking a lot of meaningless questions, and sticking his nose up my butt as I stood almost knocking me over. I swatted at him, cutting my eyes and making a face as evil as I could muster. It wasn’t his fault, but I had too many things on my mind at that moment. That's when an elderly white couple began to approach us, and my morning took a turn for the better.

The old man was a tall, at least 6-foot, 8-inches. He walked with his head leaning forward as though it were pointing the direction to where ever they were going. He growled loudly to his wife to hurry her pace, although she was at least 5-paces ahead of him. As he slowly walked, he swung his arms back and forth as though he were running a 60-yard dash, seemingly unaware that he wasn't running at all. His wife held the door open for him until he walked through, then she let it swing close behind them. This scene reminded me of a Carol Burnett skit with Carole playing the part of old lady and Tim Conway as this tall old man. I took K by the hand and we went into the store to check on the progress of our tire repair.

As I made my way toward the counter, someone was yelling.

"Sunglasses! Did someone lose their sunglasses?" It was the old lady from the parking lot. She and her husband had sat down in a small waiting area, and she was waving these glasses back and forth as though she were on a deserted island, and she was trying to send an S.O.S signal to an oncoming rescue helicopter.

"Take them to the counter, someone will claim them," her husband said, barking at her in a tone that at first I found disrespectful.

"She'll search out the city until she finds the owner of those glasses," he said to me as I walked toward the waiting area. His face softened.

There were three other people sitting in this small waiting area — a young woman and two other guys. They giggled to themselves, bringing their hands up to their mouths to hide their smiles.

This was an odd old couple, to say the least, but they didn't realize their oddness, they were just being themselves. I reached in my bag and pulled out some paper. I rested myself against a gumball machine, quickly found a pen and started taking notes of what was about to unravel before me.

Ruby is in her mid-90s. She is a short frail old lady, her skeleton seemed barely able to hold up her obviously ailing body. Her oily, grayish-green hair was pulled back on both sides behind her ears, and held together by two bobby pins. On her head she wore a tattered wine-colored and black hat. It was visibly dusty like an antique what-not that’s sat too long on a shelf without any attention. Ruby breathed very loud, inhaling and exhaling with the same effort that I would give to lifting a barbell. She didn't seem healthy at all, and I felt sorry for her.

Ruby's husband — I didn't catch his name — was a large man, although, with his towering height, he carried his weight well. He sat on the hard cushion next to Ruby confident in himself, legs spread wide open, his thick ankles having that tell-tell sign of his probably having diabetes. While Ruby's voice was weak and raspy, his voice bellowed throughout the waiting area and out onto the sales floor. They smiled at K and I.

Suddenly Ruby belched. It wasn't a loud noxious type of belch, it was subdued, accidental, and probably would have otherwise went unnoticed except that her husband decided to call her out on it.

"Oh great," he said out loud. "Classy, you're such a classy woman."

"That wasn't a belch, it was a little gas." She said back to him.

For the next hour, they took turns hurling verbal jabs and insults at each other, and each one loving every minute of it.

The couple had two adult boys. I know this because Ruby told me four times in that hour, each time as if it were the first. One of her son's is a tenured UT professor, the other in some type of finance career. She spoke of her older son as being her "sweet child" just like my son. "Sweet boys grow up to be bossy old men," she told me, smiling proud as she recollected her long since grown child. Her grey-blue eyes were glassy with age, but sparkled as she spoke of her children. If I hadn't known better, I 'd have assumed her children were young, but of course they are probably retirement age old men, too.

"How old are you?" Ruby asked K. I could see the purple veins weaving their way through her face, down her neck and past the coral-looking cross she wore around it. K is normally talkative, but he didn’t say a word, he just stared at her.

"Oh, he's probably been trained not to talk to strangers." Ruby said when K didn't respond. "I'm not strange, you're strange." Ruby's husband sniped at her.

"I wish I could rub him on the head," Ruby said, looking over at K who was busy flying a metal airplane in circles and making engine noises with his mouth. Again, several people couldn't help but laugh at the couple, but no one took their eyes off what they were pretending to read. Ruby's statement might have made some African Amerian's angry. The idea of petting a little black child on the head like he was somebody's pet was probably on par for white people of their generation, but I could see in Ruby's heart that she didn't mean any harm. Many black people are suspicious of old southern white people, and rightly so.

I felt very comfortable with this old couple. They were charming, quaint, even cute as they sat there conducting themselves like two little children. They warmed my heart, and I finally stopped taking notes long enough to engage them further in conversation. Everyone else was still trying to pretend this odd couple really wasn't there. I'm still not sure what it was about them that struck a chord with me. Possibly it was their lack of pretense, and their seemingly innocent nature. They weren't concerned with the latest fashion trends. They couldn’t have cared less about those snickering people who sat around them. And they didn't appear to be wary of the black man in their presence.

The cashier called them out by their last name when their car was finally ready. Ruby, although weak, stood right up, but her husband needed help. He asked her to take him by the hand and give him a boost up. She was reluctant, but gave him her hand. His grasp was too heavy for her dainty wrist, I could see it in the expression on her face. I got up, gave him my hand and helped him out of his seat. They both thanked me, and proceeded over to the cashier while still play arguing with each other over the check. She wanted him to record the transaction, however, he said, he never recorded a financial transaction in their many years of marriage. "We have plenty of money, and I don't need to keep track," he said as he laggard close behind his wife.

Finally, the cashiers called my name. The mini-van had new tires, and since I had previously paid, K and I quickly scooted out to the van. As I sat there in my seat, I watched the old couple as they walked through the parking lot towards their car. They were still fussing endearingly at each other. I said a little prayer for them. The hour I spent listening to them, somehow lifted my entire day.

Turkey day!

Well, it's kind of a dreary Thanksgiving day. It’s chilly outside with grey clouds hanging low in the sky, so we probably won't do much outside like I had thought.

I woke up first thing this morning with a plan to put a dent in my reading. Currently, I’m reading Red Polka Dot, and making all sorts of little notes with questions to myself in which to later ask the author. But I didn't get far in my reading. Two minutes into the third chapter, I hear the pitty-patter of feet above my head. The noise went from Ks room into my bedroom, and then to my studio. He's awake and looking for me. Once he finds me, however it's where's my breakfast, put in my video and go away so I can concentrate on Dora. I did all this only in time for the wife to also get up, however saved by the bell. The phone rang, and it was one of her old friends from high school. That’ll be a two hour phone call.

So, I'm blogging, then back to reading. Ironic, here we are home to spend the holiday together, and we've each found an excuse to do something independently. Cool!

Now, back to my novel.

Happy Turkey Day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jovita ugly book cover

I remember one particular girl back in grade school. Jovita — she was ugly. For that reason, no one liked her, and everybody picked on her. Nobody wanted to be seen sitting next to Jovita in the lunchroom. She was beautiful on the inside, I know because I befriended her. I'll spare you a physical description of her as not to offend you even more than you probably are now. But here’s my similie: some books, regardless of how beautifully written they might be on the inside, are ugly on the outside (cover), and may get overlooked for that reason.

When we think of children's books, we usually think about the writing and illustration aspects of it. But there's another facet of the business that, I think, is underrated, and that is good book design. Book design includes the choice of a cover font; inside text font and size; end paper colors; spot varnishing; matte or glossy jacket; even the books physical size, although that may be driven by the budget. The use of type on a book’s cover should compliment the illustration, not compete with it.

Today, I accidentally stumbled onto a book that I illustrated that will publish later next year. The cover is Jovita ugly. I'm sorry, there's no other way to describe it.

I won't give away which book it is, I'm sure my publisher wouldn't appreciate that. Besides, it's my job to sell, promote, and speak highly of my book, so I’ll do that. It is a fun book! Children will love reading it. It will make for exciting school visits. I'm happy with how the illustrations turned out and reproduced. However, to be honest, the art department went a bit overboard with the type treatment. Maybe the artists were trying to make their own artistic statements. I used to design books and book covers when I worked at an educational publishing house. I know how the designer can feel as the invisible creative behind a book, the person who contributes much to how a book will inevitably look but, in most cases, will not get a byline. In other cases, the publisher sort of takes a do-it-yourself approach to designing the cover. Desktop graphic publishing programs make it easy for a non-designer to step into the role of graphic artist.

My concern is that my book may get overlooked, kicked aside, and misjudged because, at first glance, like Jovita, it’s ugly.

I'm trying to decide if I should contact the publisher and — as tactfully as possible — ask them if I could make some design recommendations. I just can't stand the thought of this book publishing with Jovita ugly written all over it's cover.

Anyway, I’ll sleep on it.

Here’s a link from the folks at Midwest Book Review which offers tips on the Do's and Don'ts of Books Cover Design.

And Jovita, should you find yourself Googling that one nice guy who used to actually talk to you...I'm sorry, I'm sure you've aged gracefully, now with a full head of hair.


On an unrelated note: I got a new computer, and monitor at work. I know I should'nt be looking at my blog from work, but I do. What concerns a brotha is how blue my face looks on this new monitor. Is my face blue?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Now I am busy...

...and I'm feeling it. Help!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Busy, but not feeling too busy

This business is all about stepping on the creative gas pedal, speeding full throttle head in order to get sketches to an art director, thumbnails to an editor, and answers to questions so an art buyer can get your contract sent out. After all that is finished you wait. And wait. And wait some more. And deadlines aren't pushed ahead although you are waiting. So what am I doing while I am waiting? Nothing much. Blogging, and spending way too much time reading about other's peoples business on their non-publishing related blogs. Although, I did finish reading When Kambia Elaine Flew From Neptune. Observations to come.

I received a rather thick licensing agreement from S. Upon signing, this will cement the deal with the textile company who’d like to reproduce my designs onto fabric. I already have several series, or collections of designs for them to choose from (click here to see one example), however, I spent some time last week creating a few more motifs. I experimented with vintage rocket ships (think: boys room), pastel teddy bears (think: baby's nursery), flowers and ladybugs (think:pre-tween girl). I may also do some arrangements of dinosaurs, robots, and maybe, I don't know, more girl stuff. I did come up with two names for my collections. Some items will be sold under my name, Don Tate, of course. Other items will be sold tentatively under, Devas T! Why two names? Because apparently, it's not nice to sell the same design through a specialty shop at one price, when Walmart is selling the same product at two-bucks cheaper.

After reading Susan Taylor Brown's story behind the story interview on Cynsations, I decided to pick up a first draft PB manuscript that I had written and intended to submit to Lee & Low's New Voices contest. I did submit one manuscript, but never got around to revising this other. I wasn't sure about the direction to take it, so I sat it aside and almost forgot about it. The story is inspired by weekend camping trips I used to take with my grandparents. I get stuck because I end up trying to stay true to my experiences, which are priceless to me, but may not be so interesting to other readers. After reading Susan's story, I considered replacing the people characters, myself and my grandparents with animals and Whala!— the story is spilling over! I think by separating myself from the story, I'm now able to use more creative license in telling it. However, I will have to set it aside again as to finish painting (electronically painting) Fuzz, due in two weeks.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A book signing with Varian Johnson

Last evening I attended a book event for author Varian Johnson. He presented, and then signed his debut novel Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid. I say "book event" because it was so much more than a typical book signing. I showed up at Barnes and Noble expecting that I’d have to search him out only to find him tucked away in the back corner of the store. I figured, his guest would include the number of people countable on one hand. I’ve had that happen several times. It’s awkward, so I like to support others when I can. But this wasn’t just a typical book signing. They cleared a large space in the center of the store, arranged the chairs into a mini auditorium, and he drew in a packed house!

After his introduction, he gave us some background about how the novel originated. He talked about writing from the point of view of his teenaged protagonist. He introduced us to his main character, Maxine, and spoke of how he discovered her while sitting in an airport waiting on an overdue flight. His, as well as many other author’s characters talk to him. I wish my characters talked to me, it sure would make writing easier. Lastly, he read an excerpt from the novel. We walked away knowing a bit more about the author as well as his book.

He was a bit nervous, however it was a good kind of nervous. Not the kind I had a few years ago where I almost hyperventilated after having a brain freeze front and center of a room full of people. This was the kind of nervous that spoke to how much he cared about making this a nice experience for the many people who turned out.

Should I do another book signing, I'm going to use this one as an example to follow.

See his interview here on Rants and Raves!

Now, the wife has taken the day off from work. I think she’s forgotten this is my normal work/blog/illustration time, and she kinda likes to talk. And she's talking right now. And she won't stop even though I’m doing my best not to look up. I can't talk and write. So, I'll end my observations here, and go back to my illustrations. 'Cause I'm good at drawing and talking at the same time.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Not feeling well

I'm feeling sick to my stomach. I just turned down a picture book manuscript, and folklore is one of my favorite genres to illustrate. There's no way I could illustrate three books at the same time. I did this with both The Legend of the Valentine and Summer Sun Risin'. It just about killed me. Besides that, I did those books before my son was born.

The editor did offer another manuscript that she is in the process of acquiring. That manuscript wouldn't be ready for illustration until after I finish Fuzz, Zoom and Ron. I had seriously considered quitting my full time job and illustrating these three books simultaneously (Fuzz will be finished in two weeks), however yesterday I looked at my weekly pay stub. I'd have to do a whole lot of illustrating to come even close to matching the salary on that little stub. Someday.

On another sick note
Yesterday I participated in a Celebrity Reading at Brentwood Christian School. Ha!— they think I’m famous. This is a yearly project they do during Children's Book Week. My presentation went very well. The kids were enthusiastic, and had many questions to ask about illustration, publishing and working for a newspaper. While answering the last couple of questions, I had something very bizarre happen to me. My lower jaw went into spasms, and locked up. I still don't know what happened, but it was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. My jaw would not move and when I tried to finish answering questions my words all slurred together. I tried answering the questions as best as I could, but I cut the questions short. I don't think anyone noticed. I was not having a bout with nervousness, school visits don't scare me like they used to. But I'm quickly taking myself to the doctor ‘cause I hear lockjaw ain’t nothin’ to play with.

Thanks for the congratz and well wishes I received here in my comments box as well as the many emails. Like an editor told me yesterday, "Everything's better with Bluebonnet on it!"

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bruh Rabbit is honored

I just received the good news that Sure As Sunrise: Stories of Bruh Rabbit and his Walkin' Talkin' Friends by Alice McGill made the 2006-2007 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List! Very cool. Why? 'Cause I illustrated this book and it's just plain nice when these things happen.

I learned the news through Cyn at Cynsations. Where else does one get the best trade industry news?

Monday, November 07, 2005


Compared to the feedback a brotha gets on his super duper somewhere secret blog, he had assumed that maybe three four people tops, other than his mom, actually visited this blog. Appears not, which means I need to check my facts before I report industry news. I just learned that I made a mistake on the list of illustrators highlighted on yesterday's post. Teri Weidner, who's name is on the list of winners is not the same Terry Widener that I know.

Good for Terry, I won't have to throw rocks of jealously at him next time we cross paths.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Celebrating children’s book illustration

The vote is in! One of my favorite children’s book illustrators came out on top in this years Society of Illustrators 25th Annual Exhibition, The Original Art (click here for a complete list of winners). Artist Kadir Nelson’s illustrations from the book Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life (pictured above) won a gold medal. I especially liked the way Kadir used a cooler color pallet to paint the images of Hewitt's parents in the background. The combination of a cool pallet in the background, vs. a warm pallet in the foreground makes little Hewitt pop right off the cover. I'm not a fan of the word "breathtaking", but it is the only way to describe Kadir’s artwork. The Original Art Exhibition celebrates the fine art of children’s book illustration. The exhibition, held at the Museum of American Illustration, New York, NY, was founded in 1979 by Dilys Evans. She is one of the top illustration agents in the country, and represents some of the heaviest of heavy-hitters among children’s book illustrators including a few Caldecott winners.

It sometimes seems to me that African American children's books get left out when it comes to recognition in children’s book awards and competitions. That can’t be said about the Original Art Show, as least as of late. Below are a few names that I recognized as African American illustrators from this years list of winners:

Colin Bootman
Grandmama’s pride
Albert Whitman & Company

R.Gregory Christie
The champ the story of Muhammad Ali

Bryan Collier
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Jerome Lagarrigue
Freedom on the Menu
Dial Books for Young Readers

E.B. Lewis
Happy Feet
Harcourt, Inc.

Christopher Myers
Lies and Other Tales
HarperCollins Publishers

Kadir Nelson
He’s got the Whole World in his Hands
Dial Books for Young Readers

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The write solution

Since I started writing earlier this year, I often find myself driving with words flowing through my head. I start trying to mix and match combinations of words into just the right rhythm. As soon as I find the right mix, another thought comes to mind, so before my thoughts are completely lost, I start fumbling through my bag for a pen. Of course, I never find one. With one eye on the road, and the other on the floor, I reach down feeling for a pen, but always to no avail. Then I trash-out the glove compartment as well as the mail bin on the driver's side door. It’s usually filled with banana peels or empty potato chip wrappers, but nothing to write with.

I learned to use the record feature on my cell phone, but once I traded my old phone in for a new model, the record feature was too complicated. I thought new models meant easier handling. Not. After loosing my words too many times, I finally decided I needed some kind of permanent writing instrument handy. That’s when I came across this Sharpie on a key ring, and I bought three of them bad boys. Thing is, I found this answer to my dilemma about the same time I finished up my picture book manuscript. With my busy illustrating schedule, I haven't had time to write,other than blogging. With no manuscript in the works, I haven’t had any words flowing through my head. Isn’t that how things usually work?

Cartoon series
I started a cartoon series and, for now, I’ve been blogging it. I don’t know what will happen with the series, and should the ideas stop coming, I may give it up altogether. The art isn’t all that great, however, the quality of the art isn’t my focus right now. My focus is to experiment with humor and timing while learning from audience feedback what people can relate to. So far what gets the most feedback tends to be mature themes. The series is loosely based upon my family, but will focus upon the relationship between husband and wife. I won’t give away the URL here, although, I’m almost sure that not many kids read this blog.

I spoke with a licensing agent about how to further develop the series. We kicked around the idea of creating a website specifically for publishing the cartoon. The thing is, my name isn’t Aaron McGruder, and without a recognizable name, the series would probably sit there without any traffic. For now, I need an audience, and Blogger is providing that. Once the series becomes more popular, and I can prove it through traffic flow, and comments received, my hope it that I could then license, syndicate, or maybe even rewrite it as a graphic novel.

Comments are turned off only on this post to avoid a trail to the series.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Experimenting with electric paint

I spent some time today experimenting with a computer program called Corel Painter IX. I’ve actually dabbled with Painter off and on before, but have never completely caught on. Some artist are doing beautiful things with the program (See Barry in my links menu to the right). Painter is a bitmap program similar to Adobe Photoshop — only on steroids.
Painter has all those cool natural media effects almost impossible to attain in Photoshop, but Painter is much more difficult to use. Mostly, I use Painter to create interesting painterly effects which I then import into Photoshop.

I created the above image in Painter using a Wacom tablet as opposed to a mouse. The pressure sensitive tablet allows for variations in paint strokes that is impossible to attain with a mouse.

Actually, I like this updated version of Painter. It now looks and acts more Photoshop-ish. However, I won’t throw away my paints and brushes just yet. I like cleaning my brushes with the aroma of turpentine. I like stretching canvas until my fingers ache from the staple gun. I like squeezing the paint out of the tube, and mixing colors by hand. Painter, although cool, still uses a bit too much left brain-style analytical, rational, logical sequential thinking to suit my taste. I will continue to develop my Corel Painter skills only because there’s no room for canvas, turpentine, and easels smack dab in the center of a busy newsroom.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I just received a call from yet another editor with an offer to illustrate another book. Can I handle 4 books at a time? How about 5 at a time? I also received an email today from an acclaimed adult author who is interested in obtaining an illustrator for a picture book manuscript she has written. I could probably handle 4 if I quit my full-time job. No if I don't. Hmmm, my mind is spinning. More info to come...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I appreciate getting feedback like this. Not only did this person purchase my products, but they went through the trouble of Googling my name, finding my website, and sending me this nice email note:

It was during a recent visit to Lowe’s that I discovered your artwork. My husband and I were looking to decorate a playroom for our grandchildren – you have no idea how pleased I was to find a line of wallpaper with beautiful African-American children at play!

My grandchildren absolutely love their space! They were easily able to identify themselves on the wallpaper border J Jade is our 5 year old ballerina and Krista is our 3 year old tumbler. Jade and Krista are sisters and anytime they see two girls at play know that it’s for them. The girls were also able to identify their cousin, Jurel -- the young man pulling the wagon, riding the bike, and playing basketball has been identified as Jurel! I guess when you’re the only boy, as Jurel is, you get all things boy!

Your talent is incredible. Thank you for helping us to create a space for our grands!


(Name ommitted)