Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Paint Monster

So it turns out that the magazine contest runs until the end of 2010 so I'm not going to wait that long to show the public this image. I'm also using it for my own portfolio that I should be sending to the printer next week. It's an eight page portfolio that shows all my work for 2009. I will have them for sale on my website store too for a very cheap price and the cost of shipping if any one wants to purchase one.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Year

"Hatchlings of Loving Thoughts"
{wip for February promotional postcard}

Heya folks! Silence is annoying, especially in a critique blog, I'm happy to see some still posting. I have been crazy busy the last two months trying to finish my Christmas gifts (quilted stockings) and working with my great friend Candace Camling on 2010 business stuff. I'm way excited about it, hoping this will be the year I actually make some routines that stick. That'd be a miracle in itself.

So I apologize for not being around to comment or critique. I'm so excited for Isaac's new promo card, Steve's book deal, and all of the other great news out there (I haven't read enough so I apologize for not specifically pointing out the major successes I know have happened).

Brian and I are moving starting next week so I will still be MIA for another few weeks until the new studio is up and running. The crit group is part of my 2010 routine and I will let you in on some of the things Candace and I are up to, and hopefully it will give you some ideas if you haven't already thought of them.

I hope everyone had a GREAT Christmas and have a fantastic New Years! :D

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just to wrap up things a bit...

So this is what my promotional cards are going to look like.  Thanks for your help peoples!

Anyhow - these ended up being some of my most detailed and complicated illustrations so far.  We'll see if anyone in the industry notices...

Of course I expect that it'll take a year of promoting myself (at least) before I hear it's a good thing it's a lot of fun creating these things.

Merry Christmas folks!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good News!

Hey everyone! Sorry for being a bit absent from the boards lately. Things have been rather busy for me.

I DID contract and receive advance from the publisher mentioned in my most recent post, which is great news! I get to officially do what I've been setting out to do - illustrate a book! Lately, I've been working on final character sketches for the client and am getting ready to make the dummy! Between this and full-time teaching, my plate is getting pretty full but I wouldn't trade if for a thing.

Signing the contract was an awesome moment...then I realized I had lots to do, so I freaked a tad! Now I'm in full-blown creative mode.

Hope to get some images posted soon!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Need a critique

I have an image posted on the SHhhh side of the blog that I would love to get feedback on. It's for a contest so I didn't want to post it for all to see.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

the landing is done

Hey there...this took forever to complete...I was half way through coloring and still ended up changing the background A LOT (thanks to Steve's suggestions...I don't think I did exactly what he said, but it was enough to make me want to clear things up and the line that the panda was on turned into a tree branch...but because the other trees didn't have branches, I had to redesign the other tree which meant that more of the background showed)...

Anyway - I'd like your thoughts, because I want to use this as the front side of my postcard. Also anyone have any ideas as to when one should send a postcard this time of the year? The only reason I ask is that I remember reading somewhere that art directors and publishers and editors are bombarded at Christmas and through January because everyone has that time off and everyone suddenly has time to finish up that book or postcard and sends it off. I'm thinking of at least waiting until January 10th or so before sending something. I definitely don't want to send it now because of all the holidays and it's going to just sit at their office under a pile of other slush.

So, with all that said, does anyone else have any other ideas about sending postcard?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some sketches

Everything I post here was done on the computer so I decided to take some sketchbook pics for the heck of it. I've been watching the baby a lot lately and while doing the daddy thing I make sure to have a sketchbook with me. This is a brown color erase pencil and a white charcoal pencil and lots of spray fixative on this recycled brown paper sketchbook that I bought at Utrecht art supplies. I know the holidays are crazy busy and it's easy to forget to get busy in those sketchbooks.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How many finishes

I am putting this dummy together, and I have the cover and one finished piece done for the inside. I still have some sketches to finish. I am wondering if I should do another finish or if 2 seems okay. I have done finishes more in the past with other dummies. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

panda landing...

This was supposed to be the back of the postcard, but the more I work on it, the more I think it might want to go on the front...what do you think? And, more importantly, what do you think of the drawing? Is it solid?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Season's Greetings

Hi all,
I still don't feel comfy posting my little alien character for the in-progess book. We are working out the style and such still, but once that is complete, then I can't wait to show him off. :) I have a new respect for the process of creating a book. I thought that it would be a simple process of back and forth with minimal changes, but like all things in life, you live and learn. LOL

This is a request for a Christmas card by my daughter. She wanted a blue Christmas fairy, so I stuck her face in this little scene with a made up fairy for what will be a mostly blue and white Christmas card. I am considering making parts of it red and white like a candy cane, so we will see. :)
UPDATE: I added the mostly final file that I created in Photoshop and removed the sketch.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Character WIP

Here is a character I am working on for a picture book I wrote. The story calls for him to have a simple body and be a cute bully. When kids see him on the cover I want them to immediately pick up the book and say, “He’s a very silly winged creature who looks like alot of trouble.”

He needs to be good at snatching and sneaking around ; maybe tiptoeing to be unnoticed, jumping out and scaring people, and then quickly vanishing with their belongings. He needs to be a skilled flyer and builder.

What do you think? I feel like he is missing some kind of sparkle, but it may just be me. Also what color should I make his finger and toe nails? They need to be very long. Thanks everyone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Walt Disney Tribute

This is my tribute piece to Walt Disney and man that I really admired when I was a kid growing up. I'm sure every artist has had some influence by Mr. Disney. He was a shrewd business man and a real dreamer. The hardest thing to paint was Mickey, he's always been the hardest cartoon character for me to draw.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coach Woody Hayes Final

I worked on this for a short while last week and then made changes and finished it Wednesday night. Just wanted to post something for the Holiday Weekend.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Very excited

Hi all! :) I have some happy news to share. I have been contacted to begin work on my first children's book to be published late next year. I am still waiting on a contract, but they have offered me the job as we work out the details. I am super excited. I don't want to share the specifics until it is totally official, but here's hoping I can do so soon. :) Here is one of the little characters that I submitted for consideration. The character will not be this little guy unfortunately. LOL My work would have halfway done, but they want an older character...which I will be happy to create. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finally published in SCBWI Bulletin

Just wanted to share the good news that my illustration was published in the Nov/Dec Issue. I went with a Hawaiian theme. Please check it out when you get a chance. ~ Nicole Brekelbaum

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

PB artist interview

This moth's interview is with picture book artist Bonnie Adamson. Next month will feature Cyd Moore.

Visit my blog to read the interview and see samples of Bonnie's beautiful work.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


So whatcha think of this one, eh?

I don't know what I should be working on, so i did this...I think I might use it as a postcard, but maybe not...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dummy Book Character

I decided to go more realistic on the character for the dummy book. My previous character was more quirky looking with a large head. What do you think of these two sketches? Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Head coach Jim Tressel

I have been working in this one off and on for a while now. I am finally happy with the end product. Jim Tressel is The Ohio State University's head football coach for those of you not into college football. Here in Columbus Ohio, he's a really big deal.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Went to Illustrator's Day in Los Angeles last Saturday...

I was at Illustrator day this last Saturday in the Los Angeles area. It made me realize that one really should be attending the local when you go to a bigger event like this, you're standing in a sea of people you don't know. I still did quite well, I talked to a bunch of talented local artists, as well as the two big speakers (the art rep for Shannon Associates and Chad Beckerman who's an art director at Abrams).

One thing I found out is that Chad doesn't like big mailers and considers them a waste of time, and that a postcard is just fine. I liked hearing that from an actual art director - that postcards actually work...I guess you just have to have the right thing on the postcard that they're looking for...

Oh - and during some of the talks that I wasn't as interested in I was sketching for a freelance project. Above is the original sketch which I showed to my client and he wanted an older, leather clad rocker...and not so much on stage as in a loft practicing.

He just wanted a color rough drawing to show with a pitch, so we'll see where it goes. He wanted it on spec at first, but i was able to negotiate a small fee. But what was nice is that I really enjoyed working on this drawing (I did another one where the guy drove into a swimming pool)...but it was nice to do something different and to push myself to draw humans...I've been focusing on square little animals for quite some time...

Anyway - Chad (the art director for Abrams) also said that you should be sending postcards to everyone on the list - I had asked who to target (the editor, assistant editor, publisher, etc)...and he said everyone. It seems like a no brainer, I guess - but when I was putting together my postcard lists I always wondered if it was necessary...Anyway - he said that it could be any of those people that hire you...

Also - we got a list - these people accept e-mail submissions (either dummies or illustration samples):

Albert Whitman
Stone Arch Books
jewish publisher - Kar-Ben Publishing
Handprint Books
August House
Barefoot Books

So there you go. Good hunting!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Light (wip)

Okie, so I've done it, I made a small storyboard and came up with a non-concrete story, but enough to make images. This is currently what I'm working on. It's ready for the watercolor paper and to start painting. I'm very excited! I took all the comments, feedback, and words from the last piece and applied them to this one...but challenging my perspective and composition a bit more. Also another huge plus to this piece is my husband, Brian, helped me big time with the details. He's a graphic designer, so for him to look at it with fresh eyes...looking at shapes, eye movement, and really made some great changes.

I feel so blessed to have so much support around my work!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hello Everyone

Hey everyone, I updated my Valentine's Day illustration. It is in the Shhhh...The Illustration Board blog. Thank you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wanna Play Ball?

This is another image I have been working on for a long time. Thanks to everyone who had input in this to make it a better illustration. I don't know if I was able to get the dog's body right, but I can't figure out what I can do to make it better. I also extended the grass as Patti suggested. Please let me know if there is anything else I can improve on.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October was unseasonably cool. The newsmen claimed it had been the wettest one on record, too.

One day, late in the month, the sun battled its way through the ever present clouds and shined briefly on the world.

Juan and Levont took advantage of the break to burn off energy at the neighborhood playground in the watery sunlight.

I needed some more boys and more ethnic flavor in my portfolio. Comments?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Scepter in the Lake

Yay!!! Finished! I'm totally going to do an illo to go along with this one to help build story. :) I'm very pleased with the outcome and am proud to have it finally in my portfolio. One piece meeting portfolio requirements, many more to go. ;) Bring it!

I also kicked out the dark sepia line and white acrylic that is usually in my work. I like seeing the pencil instead. Sometimes I think the sepia enhances, but the softness of this I can't get over. Wonder why I never thought of using the lightbox for this...beyond me. Gonna have to get a bigger lightbox, I like skipping the retrace. :D I think it also pushed me on color choices too. Tho I try to make my choices without relying on the lines, but not having them there just pushed me harder. I dunno, what do you see? I've been staring at it too long. :P

Finished Lion art

Geez, I think this illo is done. Thanks for everyone's help in fixing this image and giving suggestions on how to make it better. I'm pretty happy with. That's not to say it's perfect, so if you see anything that need help let me know. Been working on it so long that I might be overlooking something.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Check it!

Hey everyone, go on over to the secret part of our group and see if you're interested in one of our member's proposition! I encourage it if you can! :D

Not Giving Up

Okay, I re-approached the piece today after taking a wee break from it yesterday. Went for an entirely different perspective. I've lost the skaters, yes, and all of that detail, but I am liking the movement in this one better. I bought the book "Ignis" today illustrated by P.J. Lynch (a new fave!). The book is filled with spreads! So hopefully over time I'll get the hang of it. :P

I want more detail, but thinking maybe this piece just isn't meant to have a lot of detail. I dunno, if you can see a place for it or if this spread just doesn't cut it, let me know.

Again thank you for all of your support and feedback. It has helped A LOT!!

Just a quick doodle

"The fields lay fallow. The pumpkin harvest had been exceptional this year. People had come and gotten the best pumpkins to take home to carve into Jack O Lanterns. Only the small and lopsided fruits remained. A lone crow landed on an orange gourd and cawed loudly into the still, moonlit night. Nothing answered."

In the 'better late then never' mode, I attempt to catch up with the rest of you. LOL. I finished the last of my traveling unpacking and putting away yesterday. I have a vague idea on my NaNoWriMo novel. I signed up for PiBoIdMo. (Picture Book Idea Month) Plus, I have a book to illustrate that final art is due to the publisher on February 21, 2010. So I have enough projects to keep me more than busy for the next month. Hee. One of these years I'll learn to simplify.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I'm quickly loosing interest now. I tried sketching out a scene looking down from above...but it's frustrating when I don't know where to start with perspective. I wasn't taught perspective much and it holds EVERYTHING back for me. :( I'm very frustrated.

So what you see is where I've ended up. I have a feeling I'm screwed if I can't get perspective around my head. Any suggestions on books or sites that make it easy to understand? I have one of those small dover books about perspective...and even that I'm having a hard time understanding. Don't have any classes available to get into either. I also need books that talk about the figure in perspective. Out of all of mine, there's like one page on the topic and it's assuming you know perspective.

I'm so lost. I feel like this piece just got WAY boring.

Friday, October 23, 2009


These are some really rough ideas to explain what I was talking about. The circle with the has marks isn't my favorite, but just thought it might stir some ideas on how to show this. Hope it helps.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Play Ball?

This is another portfolio illustration. I've been working on a bunch of portfolio illustration. I forgot to add the doggie drool dripping from his tongue. You can see the steps to how I created this piece on my blog at link

Interview with illustrator Matt Phelan

Visit my blog to read about Matt Phelan, award winning illustrator of "The Higher Power of Lucky," as he answers questions about his new graphic novel and his other work.

Please spread the word to any others who you think might be interested.


I've been on book tour for most of the last month or so. I am slowly digging out from under all the accumulated "have-to"s and hope to be able to jump into new illustrations this afternoon. Yeah! Miss you guys!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IF - Frozen (sketch)

Taking your crit and applying it, the story grew. :D Dunno if this makes any more sense visually, but am I on to something? Surprisingly I'm still interested in this piece after all of the perspective work and reworking. Normally it grows stiff and I never finish it. :P

Hey everyone! Sorry (I say that a lot don't I), on another track of mind and got lost. :/ All of the work just looks so freakin' fantastic. What's awesome is you can see progress in your works and technique. I truly hope that somewhere in there the critiques have helped improve your skills as well.

I can finally say that I am now devoting 100% of my work time to childrens' books and building my portfolio. It's awesome and kinda scary all at the same time. I have realized how much isn't in my portfolio. Technique, check, color, check, detail, check. But I lack in interaction, interesting perspectives, and play. Most of my work is posed or better suited for licensing.

With that I took this week's word from IF and made it a challenge. I started with half of the size above. I knew full well the perspective was off and it wasn't interesting enough. I posted it on the scbwi forum but after two days no response for critique. After that I reworked it today and this is what I came up with (above). The only thing I see now to change is where the two skaters' legs meet making a "v". It's driving me nuts! But do you see anything else? Do I need to jazz it up more? Something missing?

Thanks everyone for being so productive!

IF: Fall...late again

So here's my Illustration Friday entry for 2 weeks ago! :) The word was "fall." I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts.

I've been finishing it as I recover from a bout with some sort of illness that has knocked me out of commission for about 4 days now. Just want to be well again...c'mon immune system!

Just a quickie sketch...

I did this for Illustration Friday - It's been forever since I've done any art for myself...
I'm currently working on character turnarounds with my square creatures because a producer saw my art show back in July and wants to see if we can't turn it into a cartoon.  It's slim (and very speculative)...but it's a chance...
Anyway - While I've been working on that, I haven't done any art I remember someone saying that we should be posting our illustration friday stuff - so this one is mine for the week of "Frozen."

Dad's in charge 2nd

Here's the changes to my illustration after getting some feedback. I think there was a huge improvement here. Let me know if you see anything else that I can improve on.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dad's in charge

Been working on this one for a while now for my portfolio. Not finished, but just wanted to post it so I can see what changes I need to make. Any and all suggestions very much appreciated.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Migration (Illustration Friday: Flying)

My entry this week for IF. I've been doing a new technique lately that combines watercolors and oils with an acrylic sealant in between.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Story image

I have been really busy doing things that are for licensing and haven't been doing as much book work lately. I have been talking to an agent that likes a story that I wrote and wants me to do a dummy for it. This is one of the images. I started this a while ago and am just getting back to doing some sketches for it. The bottom area is for copy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Flying....Literally and Figuratively

I am sorry I have been absent from the blog. I am getting back in my head after a miscarriage about 6 weeks ago (ongoing before that for 2 or 3 weeks), so I have been dealing with unfortunate personal things without doing much drawing or anything else. I am well now and back into my doodling and this is one of my latest.

I submitted my first sample in a bid to illustrate a book and I have decided to focus on doing more digital full-color spreads to build up and make my portfolio. Up until now, I have just created characters and simple scenes, but I think it is time to go whole hog and create like I was doing a book. Now geez, why didn't I think of this sooner. LOL I know takes soooooo much longer, but I am liking the results. I am getting used to painting in Photoshop and I borrowed some tips from thanks Steve for posting those tutorials and step-by-steps. I hope I get better as I go. :)

October, the month it could happen!

Despite my lack of posting on this and my personal blog, this has been a very exciting month! I was contacted by a start-up publisher to begin talks for actual paid book illustration. The publishing author has been a great person to deal with. I've been paid for spec work and will receive advance plus royalties in the contract! Yeah, I said contract and advance! Everything is very legit! No contract has been signed yet, but I'm confidant that those negotiations will be taking place soon!

He found my art via the scbwi illustration portfolio section, so if you haven't uploaded yet I would soon. Apparently people are checking it out.

Sorry for being a bit absent.

Here's my most recent illustration. It was completed on Friday (too late to post) for the IF word, "welcome." My interpretation was for "welcome to dreamland."

I've decided to bail on the canvas paper (which I used on this one) ... too many holes and I don't like the idea of building up the paper before painting...I'll stick to illustration board or watercolor paper.

Spider and the fly

Just something for fun. Any one a deviant art member? You can see my life drawings here for deviant art

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


well...this is the big idea. I think I'm going to try it without the Steve said it's iffy to have the grass bleeding (to the edges) we'll see if I can't do something where they're standing on something (like a shadow, at least)...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monster, creature and pug sketches

These are also from the same sketchbook as the people below

People sketches

Here's some sketches of people that i work on in my mole skin drawing journal. I just quickly capture the pose and then work on them more when I get home. Good exercise to get different body types drawn.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Hi there,

There's a small illustrator's convention (sponsored by the SCBWI) in los angeles at the beginning of November. They're having a postcard contest and I thought I'd throw something out there...

The due date is very very soon (Wednesday, I think) - so I have to finish this, and quick! I was wondering what you thought of this idea of having the characters busting through the front and then on the back of the postcards are the back of the characters...

I only included two copies because i want this to be full color on both sides, but wanted to show that there's space on the back for where the postage and addresses go...