I was thrilled to be asked to illustrate Four Fur Feet by Margaret Wise Brown, a sweet rhyming story, to launch The Early Literacy Project at Hollins, where I co-direct the MFA in Writing and illustrating for children. Two professors came up with the concept to create a series of books that incorporated hints to parents and caregivers when reading with a very young child. This has never been done to my knowledge. Future books in the series will be written and illustrated by our MFA students, who will compete to win a significant tuition stipend equivalent to an industry book advance.
It was a challenge to figure out the look and placement of the little logo I designed of a ladybug adult reading to a child. The logo and hints are placed on the bottom right of each page for continuity, much smaller than the story text so not to be confusing. Another challenge in fitting everything and making it readable was the fact that the final board books were to be less than six inches square.
Here is an example of a page with caretaker notes:
I am offering signed copies of the book here in my SHOP and it comes with a frame-able 8.5x11 signed print of the image below from the book.
TURN THE PAGE and THE EARLY LITERACY PROJECT
Turn the Page is a non-profit organization in Roanoke VA whose mission is “to provide every child in the Roanoke Valley with his or her own library of books during the crucial early years of life.” Turn the Page’s goal in part is to give books to every mom who delivers a baby at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. This fall, in partnership with Hollins, the nonprofit organization gave the hospital 5,000 free copies of Four Fur Feet! The Early Literacy Project at Hollins plans to do a study on a number of the children and families who receive these books, and whether/how the caregiver hints positively affect the children/families involved.
2017 EventsJUNE 19-July 27 FACULTY, Certificate in Children's Book Illustration and MFA in Writing and Illustrating for Children, at Hollins University, in Roanoke, VA The goal of this program is to help artists develop a personal vision and style for today's picture book market. The courses provide an opportunity for intensive exploration and improvement of students' art skills and knowledge of picture book fundamentals, while being informed by an in-depth study of both past and contemporary picture book illustrators.
OCTOBER 19-23 ILLUXCON 2017 Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA IX is the first, ground-breaking art show, symposium, and celebration dedicated solely to imaginative realism—bringing artists, students, collectors, and art fans together for an annual gathering intended to inspire and create further awareness and zeal for imaginative realism and all that’s encompassed in the realm of the fantastic. I will be there!
DECEMBER, 2016At last, the GOLDEN KEY has been published, by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. A life-long dream come true, to illustrate my favorite fairy tale of all.
NEW ADDITION TO HORSE DIARIES SERIESCALVINO is a lovely new story written by my talented daughter, Whitney, which I illustrated witharound 20 interior drawings. THis is an exciting story set in 15th century Spain, and she did a huge amount of research to get the details correct on the Andalusian breed of horses. Historic fiction for 8-12 year-olds. Look under BOOKS tab to find more details and purchase link.
HORSE RESCUE BOOKHORSE RESCUE: TREASURE was written by my daughter, Whitney, who is the author of two books in the Random House HORSE DIARIES series–GOLDEN SUN and DARCY, which I illustrated. A few summers ago Whitney volunteered at Little Brook Farm in Old Chatham NY, the oldest horse rescue facility in the US. She was greatly impressed by their work, especially the theraputic riding, and the field-trip programs for urban schools. Whitney decided to write a book inspired by the horses there. Like the HORSE DIARIES, this story is told from the horse's point of view. I was pleased to create the cover illustration for the project, based on a photo of the horse that inspired the story. Whitney generously plans to donate half her proceeds to Little Brook Farm. I encouraged her to publish using Create Space, the Amazon self-publishing arm, so she can control the price and also print books inexpensively for the farm to sell. If you'd like a poignant read for yourself or a young horse lover, and would like to help support horses in need, here is the link to ORDER THE BOOK. NOTE: If you purchase TREASURE on Amazon along with either of her other books, DARCY and GOLDEN SUN, which I illustrated, people who buy those on Amazon in the future will see TREASURE listed and more people will find out about it. Since this is self-published, that and social media/word of mouth will be the best ways for people to find out the book exists. If you are interested in a digital copy --- Here is a link to a Kindle version.
April 2016: NEW SCRATCHBOARD SERIESI am working on a new scratchboard series (which I am calling INDIA INKED at the present.) Like words, art tells a story, and the fact that people display their stories on their bodies for all the world to see has always intrigued me. They are walking works of art. Many of the pieces will have surreal/evocative elements inspired by the imagery in the tattoos.
2016 EventsJanuary 23- August 3 A MAGICAL JOURNEY THROUGH FAIRYTALES An exhibition at the Wenham Museum of over 50 original paintings from many of my fairytales, as well as my latest book A CASTLE FULL OF CATS, and THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT, a Golden Book I illustrated in the 1980's. www.wenhammuseum.org 132 Main Street Wenham, MA 01984 SEPTEMBER 23-25 IX Preview at DELAWARE MUSEUM OF ART I will be there! DESCRIPTION FROM MUSEUM WEBSITE: Imaginative Realism combines classical painting techniques with narrative subjects, focusing on the unreal, the unseen, and the impossible. In partnership with IX Arts organizers, the Delaware Art Museum will host the first IX Preview Weekend, celebrating Imaginative Realism and to kick off IX9–the annual groundbreaking art show, symposium, and celebration dedicated solely to the genre. Imaginative Realism is the cutting edge of contemporary painting and illustration and often includes themes related to science fiction and fantasy movies, games, and books. A pop-up exhibition and the weekend of events will feature over 16 contemporary artists internationally recognized for their contributions to Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Marvel, DC Comics, Blizzard Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast, among others.The weekend will also include after-hours events, performances, exclusive workshops with artists, talks, film screenings, artist signings, live demos, and games. CLICK HERE to go to MUSEUM WEBSITE FOR HOURS October 3 2016- April 1 2017 CATS IN HATS Exhibition I helped to curate an exhibition at the D’Amour Museum of Art in Springfield, MA called CATS IN HATS, with over 35 New England Illustrators creating artwork on the theme to anticipate the 2017 opening of the new Dr. Seuss Museum. OCTOBER 19-23 ILLUXCON 2015 Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA IX is the first, ground-breaking art show, symposium, and celebration dedicated solely to imaginative realism—bringing artists, students, collectors, and art fans together for an annual gathering intended to inspire and create further awareness and zeal for imaginative realism and all that’s encompassed in the realm of the fantastic. Oct 27-30 Alamo City Comicon I'll be a special guest of GALLERY ROAD at the San Antonio Comicon. November 26-27 Monson Craft Fair I'll be in the Town Hall on Main Street The Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. 9-4 on Saturday and noon -4 on Sunday. DECEMBER 2-4 and DEC 12th COTTAGE STREET OPEN STUDIOS This is my annual studio sale at One Cottage Street, Easthampton, MA. DECEMBER 4th 10am-noon Opening reception at the MANHAN CAFE. Come and see seventeen of my original scratchboard illustrations and enjoy great coffee at the Manhan Cafe. They also make great breakfast and lunch sandwiches. 88 Cottage Street Easthampton, MA. I'll have an Open Studio from noon-5 that day at Cottage Street Open Studios with around 50 other vendors.
2015 EventsAPRIL 2-28 PICTURING WORDS at MAP (Mill Arts Project) gallery at Eastworks, Easthampton, MA An exhibition and sale of original illustration, poetry broadsides, books, and prints by the Western Mass Illustrators' Guild. Free drop-in workshops on creating picture book illustration for children of all ages during Easthampton Book Fest on April 11 from 1-4:30 pm. Exhibitors include Jane Yolen, Jeff Mack, Ruth Sanderson, Diane DeGroat, Bob Marstall. Lauren Mills, Michael Nelson, Dick Walz, Linda Graves, Nancy Haver, Sean Wang, and Jon Sideriadis. APRIL 24-26 NE SCBWI REGIONAL CONFERENCE (The New England members of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel, Springfield, MA This conference is great for both beginning and experienced children's book writers and illustrators. This year's theme is "Think Outside the Crayon Box". Last year sold out, so early registration is encouraged!
MAY 22-25 Artist Guest of Honor at BALTICON 49 The Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention is over 400 Hours of Multi-Track Programming featuring authors, publishers, editors, artists, scientists, musicians and other creative SF luminaries. Join over a thousand SF fans for the area's largest and longest running convention of its kind! Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy in one huge package.
JUNE 21-AUGUST 1 FACULTY, Certificate in Children's Book Illustration Graduate Program Hollins University, Roanoke, VA Hollins University offers a graduate level certificate in children's book illustration. The goal of this program is to help artists develop a personal vision and style for tomorrow's picture book market. The courses provide an opportunity for intensive exploration and improvement of students' art skills and knowledge of picture book fundamentals, while being informed by an in-depth study of both past and contemporary picture book illustrators.
AUGUST 15 2pm Guest Speaker at BOOK ILLUSTRATION: NANCY DREW AND HARDY BOYS The Brush Gallery, Lowell, MA
AUGUST 28-30 Guest Artist at BUBONICON Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention Albuquerque, New Mexico The theme this year is "Women of Wonder"
OCTOBER 21-25 Artist Guest at ILLUXCON 2015 Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA IX is the first, ground-breaking art show, symposium, and celebration dedicated solely to imaginative realism—bringing artists, students, collectors, and art fans together for an annual gathering intended to inspire and create further awareness and zeal for imaginative realism and all that’s encompassed in the realm of the fantastic.
NOVEMBER 5-8 WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION Sarasota Springs, NY The World Fantasy Convention is an annual gathering (almost a reunion) of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of Light and Dark Fantasy art and literature. The number of Attending memberships are limited (to 850), and usually sell out in advance of the start of the convention.
DECEMBER 4-6 and DEC 12th COTTAGE STREET OPEN STUDIOS
This is my annual studio sale at One Cottage Street, Easthampton, MA.
March 17, 2014
CASTLE FULL OF CATS COVER CREATIONI am happy to share the process for creating the cover illustration of my upcoming book A CASTLE FULL OF CATS, due to be released in early 2015. Yes, it takes almost a year for a publisher to produce a book after the artwork is delivered. I'll be doing lots of sneak previews during the year. As you can see from my initial storyboard sketch, I envisioned the cover as a view looking out a window with cats watching the outdoor activities from the inside of the castle. At the next stage, I created a more detailed cover sketch to focus on the queen's "favorite" cat. I also depicted the cats and kittens in a much more active and playful role, indicating the queen and the king outside in the garden. And, I played with how the title of the book might fit on the cover illustration. In the final cover sketch, I brought the queen's cat closer to the center and looking directly at the reader while still allowing the queen and king to be seen through the window. In creating the finished illustration for the cover, I wanted the window to really stand out, so I created a maroon wall in the background, actually painting it in acrylic over the watercolor painting to get a really solid effect, and because a dark, even color is so hard to create in watercolor! When I submitted the illustration, the editor and art director felt that it was too dark... and suggested I make the wall pink...On the left is the revised cover, with the pink wall painted in acrylic on top of the maroon color. Yes, it was very time-consuming to paint around all those details. But we are not done yet! After giving the art to the designer, problems arose.. A note—The marketing folks asked that the title be changed. I coined the word "Castleful," to indicate there were a ton of cats in the castle, and am very proud of it, but apparently anyone searching for a book with "castle" in the title would not find my book, so we had to split my word to "Castle Full." Inside the book it is still "castleful," read as one word, like "spoonful." The designer was having a very hard time making the type stand out against the background. The art directer even photoshopped the curtains to make it simpler, but is just looked too busy. When she and the editor approached me about making yet more changes, and major ones, to the artwork, I agreed that they were right. The cover was simply too busy, as you can see. I had to fix it! I started with the full size digital image of the cover, because changing to a blue wall would not be easy. I really did not want to put a third coat of acrylic paint on that wall! SO, I started in Photoshop with my pink cover image. I duplicated the image as another layer and changed the whole picture to blue, and then painstakingly worked to combine the two layers into one. I painted a new window with a single sheer curtain in watercolor, below, no king and queen, and Photoshopped it in, so the type will hopefully read nicely on top of it. Above is the final image with the blue wall. This final (I hope!) cover image is back with the designer. I am a bit sad that the king and queen can't be seen outside, but feel the title reading well was the most important concern. And the cats are the stars of the book. A week later....here is the (almost) final cover design. I love the new typeface the art director chose. Note the kitten kicking the word "of" in the title! The type color is still under discussion, but this is VERY close! Below is a color option the art director and editor prefer: Golden dreams, Ruth
FROM 2013:Here are some photos of the opening of my Exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum. A great night, a great turn-out. Thanks to everyone for coming! The exhibition will be up until March 9th. I'll be teaching an oil painting workshop all day Feb. 1st. Here is the museum website for more info.
FROM 2012:I am pleased to announce that I just signed a contract with Eerdmans publishing for my proposed book project, THE GOLDEN KEY by George MacDonald. I will spend the next year (at least) working on 40-45 more scratchboard illustrations, and the book will hopefully be published in 2016. Here are a few examples of the scratchboard technique I am using to illustrate the story. This is a method I am thoroughly enjoying as this project advances. Below is another scratchboard illustration for the book entitled Descent, which was also featured in the latest issue of SPECTRUM, a published book featuring the latest in fantasy art juried by professionals. It also recently won a SILVER AWARD from Infected By Art online art competition.
My art book, GOLDEN DREAMS, is off to the printer!
After over two months of work by myself, Michael Nelson the cover designer, and production by Judy Gonyeau, my 224-page art book is finally at the printer in Texas. I am more nervous about this than about any other project, as I am solely responsible for the end product. I am so grateful for finding about about Kickstarter, which I used to fund the printing costs.
Below are some sample spreads from the book, and the cover design. I was thrilled to get blurbs for the back cover from noted illustrators Paul Zelinsky and Charles Vess, and a lovely quote from the chief curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum, where I have an upcoming solo show from Dec 7, 2013-Mar 9, 2014.