it’s a book launch


So, in my other life, I illustrated and designed a picture book which will be launching in a couple of weeks. For those who know me personally, they would probably agree that this has been a very long time in the making (4-odd years), and that this project is launching is a very happy thing indeed (and also, personally, a pretty great birthday present).

So far, reviewers have said nice things about the book, which is always nice! Releasing a book into the world can be pretty scary.

Dream Boats

about the launch

The event takes place on June 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm at Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art, 3696 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C

Author Dan Bar-el and I will be in attendance, refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase (GST-free!).

The launch is open to all, so come by and celebrate with us, and bring along any young people you may know who might get a kick out of a book about boats, and dreams, myth, and folktales, family, and ancestry; containing images of giant floating Ganeshes, star-drinking llamas, outer space-travelling flotillas, cloud-breaching whales, and airborne fish.

Dream Boats

about Dream Boats

Age group: 4-8
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Price: $19.95 cloth
ISBN: 978-1-89747-687-1
Page count: 40 pp.
Size: 11¼ x 9
Released: May

Dream Boats


DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_varI’ve published a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats on my picture book website. The whole series is archived here.

There is also a gallery of work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art, here. Or the images can be viewed much larger, as a slideshow here.




Sketchbook – Fox

Fox - ink sketch

Fox | ink + digital

I’m starting to experiment a little with approaches to colour for the book I’m working on. I’m neck deep in working the drawings out still so I haven’t allowed myself to fully delve into playing with ink and paint yet. But this was a quick little 15 minute thing I whipped up this morning. After labouring over getting drawings right, it’s nice to just ignore that aspect completely and just play with an idea.


Things are a bit quiet here right now because I’ve been working on a picture book. I’ve sequestered myself on an island just outside the city where I am fortunate to share a large studio space. When I need to get away from distractions of my city studio, I come here where everything is very quiet, the nights are very dark and the most lively thing going on outside the studio window is bird drama, caused mainly by a large band of Steller’s Jays and sometimes by the occasional, optimistic attempts at bird life made by the neighbour’s cat.

I have settled into a routine of sleep, eat, work, evening walks to the beach and sometimes some yoga to fix drawing-induced aches and pains – and repeat.

Currently, I’m blogging my picture book process drawings on my children’s book website. I was a little nervous to do it at first – I wasn’t sure I’d have much to put up there – but I’ve had a bout of productivity while working here so the posts have been somewhat regular. I’m also nervous about announcing projects before they’re printed, published and shipped. Things being as they are these days with the economy and the Canadian children’s book business being its good old precarious self, I’m not too willing to tempt fate or count chickens. (I like to reserve what superstition I have for this very purpose.)

Sketchbook ~ Go Away You Owls

Go Away You Owls | pen & ink


Go Away You Owls | pen & ink with digital colour

The drawing is from the archives (10 years ago – 22 and fresh out of school); the digital colouring is fresh (in the last week – pushing 32..).

This post is for Fiona who I know checks in on my blog for the sketches despite her dial-up. Which is such a lovely compliment. And I’m sorry my sketch blogging has been so spotty recently, Fiona. So here are two images. (Sorry! It’ll be a little dial-up intensive but I hope it’s worth it).

Fiona wrote a lovely review of her book bag haul from the CWILL BC Spring Book Hatching this past weekend. Looking for Loons was one of the books. Thanks Fiona!

And more great Looking for Loons news – my friend and former agent now literary consultant, Leona Trainer, wrote to tell me that LfL is listed as one of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books of 2008! I need to track down a physical copy of the journal as the list doesn’t seem to exist on line – or at least it has eluded my google-assisted snooping and my rock-turning on the ccbc site.

Hatching Loons

SBH display

I’m all set for the CWILL BC 2008 Spring Book Hatching tomorrow.

In Vancouver tomorrow and looking for somewhere to take the kids? Stop by the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch between 1 and 3pm. There will be a whole lot of kids book authors and illustrators set up in the lower level, just itching to talk about their books and sign coveted Spring Book Hatching passports. Age groups from picture books up to young adult/teen novels are covered.

Happiness is…

Happiness is...

…new books for Christmas.

It was a booky Christmas. I gave some books, I got some books, and I just couldn’t help myself… I bought more than a few for myself in the process. We are now officially experiencing bookcase overflow.

Gift books from the top:

The Last Wild Wolves – Ghosts of the Rainforest, Ian McAllister, Greystone Books – I first saw the documentary and then some weeks later came across the book while Christmas shopping. I immediately bought it for a family member’s Christmas present. As it turned out, my mum had also bought me a copy. This is a beautiful book full of gorgeous photographs documenting the unique behaviour of a population of genetically distinct wolves. But, as it seems with any fabulously untouched ecosystem in this world, this place, along with its unique wildlife, is being threatened by human industry. The author Ian McAllister was interviewed on the Quarks and Quarks holiday book show on December 15th and he touched on this issue at the end of the interview. I am always amazed at how biologists can maintain their composure when discussing the possible demise of the corner of the earth where they have spent so much time studying, and in this author’s case, living. It must be incredibly heart breaking. It is from where I am sitting, hundreds of kilometers away in the city where the largest predatory mammals around a with unique hunting behaviour are cat-eating coyotes.

Play Pen – New Children’s Book Illustration, Martin Salisbury, Laurence King Publishing (there’s a review here with some images from the book). There are lots of inspiring illustrations and biographies in this book. It’s also nice that the illustrations are shown in page format with the typography. This book does make me a bit sad that we don’t have access to the more ‘brave’ European-style books here in Canada.

Jenny Saville, Simon Schama. Sensual paint. Brave, beautiful, loose, form-building, spontaneous-yet-intended brush strokes. Enough said.

Process Recess vol 2, James Jean. Some lovely draughtsmanship in this one.

I’m looking forward to putting aside some time to really get into these.