What I’ve Been Up to Lately

I haven’t blogged since February but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. My tag-line for the year 2018 has been Get It Done or Make It Happen. Which means I’ve been very, very, busy.

Besides working away on my writing & illustration projects, I’ve been hard at work upping my art game as well. In the spring I was commissioned to paint a mural to promote kindness at Gesner Street School. I hear the kids were thrilled to see their “Gesner Rock” in the mural.

P1020271

I  participated in my first Plein Air Festival – Paint the Past at Kingslanding. It was really refreshing to get outside and spend an entire weekend painting. Meeting & chatting with the other painters was the icing on the cake. I plan to add the paintings to my Art Page soon. Here’s a look at my look from the first day. Stay Tuned for the final works!

Paint the Past 2018 day 1

I spent some time teaching art. Several classes to young kids and two sketching workshops for adults. Here’s a sample for one of the kids classes.

collage fruit sample

All this in addition to attending the SCBWI Canada East conference, a trip to visit the inlaws, summer camp (I love camp nursing!), & a family vacation/road trip. It’s no surprise that I’ve been feeling a little too busy!

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Making the Most of a Lousy Situation

Lesage image 1

He didn’t mind me sketching but asked me to sit at his feet mid-sketch instead of on the chair.

Over the holidays my son had an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. Thankfully, it was a slow reaction that responded quickly to treatment. He spent almost 6 hours in the Emerg’s trauma/recovery room hooked up to a monitor. Luckily, I keep my sketching supplies in my purse & my son grabbed his tablet on the way out the door so I was able to turn our visit into an extended sketching session.

Lesage image 2

It was interesting to revisit the same subject but with a series of close-up views. 

Six hours is a lot of sketching time in a small room with no view! Perfect for re-visiting my subject with different approaches and media. He was a great model & such a trooper! No tears and an extremely positive outlook despite the scary situation.

Lesage image 3

He changed positions so I tried again with a brush pen but he decided to get more comfortable .

I’d never choose the Emergency room as a sketching location but I am glad that I had my sketching supplies. Sketching helped relieve my anxiety and pass the time. And the sketches are a nice memento and reminder of a lesson learned: Read the Label EVERY TIME!

 

 

 

Drawing From Life

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I spent a few hours last night making these ornaments at an Art Sale. Drawing faces is my default, no thought mode & I’ve also taken a liking to drawing pets. Plus, I prefer to draw tiny so this really is the perfect product for me. Sketching people live (in front of the recipients or gift-giver) is very rewarding. The kids always light up as they watch your scrawls and scratches turn into them. Adults are impressed too. I’m brave & dive right in with a permanent marker – no pencil planning – and the sketches are done in less than 3 min. All those years of doodling faces in the margins of my school notes are finally paying off!

Getting into the Holiday Spirit with GIFs.

Lesage-London-Fog

I’ve been toying with the idea of animating one of my illustrations for a while. So when the prompt for the Make Art That Sells holiday contest arrived in my inbox, I couldn’t resist. The prompt is to illustrate your favourite beverage with a festive touch & I’ve been on a London Fog kick lately (Earl Grey tea with steamed milk & vanilla syrup). The contest winner will have their illustration animated by someone on the MATS team but since it was on my mind anyway I decided to use the opportunity to learn! It was so much fun to create! I hope you enjoy my gif to you. 😀

Happy Valentine’s Day!

bunny-valentine-carried-away

It’s Valentiny time again! I almost didn’t enter Susanna Hill’s contest because I’m tired, I’m busy, & I have a lot of projects on the go. The usual! But then I got a little carried away making Valentines for my family – I made 5 & there’s only 4 of us! So here’s a quick little 87 word Valentiny & Valentine just for you.

(The rules: Valentine’s story for kids where someone is confused – max of 214 words. You have until Feb 14th to enter. Lots of great prizes too!)

Brains

“Brains… Brains…” The zombie smiled at Zack. Then it moaned again. “Brains… Brains…”

“Eeek!” Zack hid behind a tree.

The zombie shuffled closer. “Brains… Brains…”

Zack darted under the slide. The zombie stumbled after him. “Brains… Brains…”

Zack dashed under the picnic table. The zombie followed. “Brains… Brains…” It stretched one arm down towards Zack, a heart-shaped box in its hand.

“Brains… Brains… I love you for your brains,” it said. “I mean, will you be my valentine?”

“Oh!” Zack laughed. “That’d be nice Zonya.”

brains-zombie-valentine

12 Days of Christmas in New Brunswick

My entry for Susanna Hill’s 6th Annual Holiday Contest (259 words) along with some very quick sketches. I found  the  format to be a bit challenging & some of the days might need explanation if you’re not from NB! I hope you’ll take the time to read some of the other entries over on Susanna’s Blog.

The rules: Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) using the basic format/concept of The Twelve Days Of Christmas!  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 300 words.  ENTRIES TO BE POSTED BY MON, DEC 12TH.

12-days-xmas-nb-chicken-bones

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN NEW BRUNSWICK

Last year my parents said to me, “We’re going to spend Christmas ‘down home’ with your grandparents in New Brunswick.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“You don’t mess with tradition,” I spouted, “unless it’s a trip to Disney!”

Dad frowned.

“Watch your tone young man.” Alas, I had no choice. 13 days before Christmas I boarded a plane.

Twelve days before Christmas my grandma fed me 12 Mrs. Dunster’s Donuts.

Eleven days before Christmas my sister gave to me 11 potato chips.

Ten days before Christmas my mom took me to see 10 works of art.

Nine days before Christmas my brother shared 9 chocolates from Ganong.

Eight days before Christmas I helped my uncle haul 8 loads of logs.

Seven days before Christmas grandpa drove me over 7 covered bridges.

Six days before Christmas my aunt took me to see 6 great whales at the NB museum. So cool!

12-days-xmas-nb-hall-of-whales

Five days before Christmas great-aunt gave to me 5 fresh lobsters. Yuck.

Four days before Christmas my father took me on 4 freezing ferries. Brrr.

Three days before Christmas my cousin taught me 3 french words. (Bonjour, merci, and salut.)

Two days before christmas I got to feed 2 chickadees.

On Christmas Eve I left Santa a bowl of Chicken Bones and a cup of tea because I thought it might be a nice change from milk and cookies.

12-days-xmas-nb-santa-note

On Christmas morning I found Santa’s note:

Dear Jim,

I hope you enjoyed getting to know your roots. I certainly enjoyed the Chicken Bones. Merry Christmas!

Your Pal,

Santa

 

Hope you Enjoyed! Have a Very Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!!!

 

Halloweensie Time Again!

 

It seems that no matter how busy I get I can’t resist a good contest. Especially one with a good prompt. And Susanna Leonard Hill knows how to throw a contest. Her Halloweensie Contest is one of my favourites. The rules: write a Halloween story for kids using the words ghost, spider, and moon; must have plot and main character; max 100 words.   She’s tough isn’t she?

halloweensie-2016-1

 

I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to participate but once I read the rules… I hammered out a story in 24 hours! Done, thank you very much. But then I realized it was more concept piece than a story with a plot. So I rewrote to fit the rules. Then I decided to rewrite both versions en français which was just as hard as writing from scratch! And then I had to illustrate both versions. And don’t forget the fine-tuning… (Scroll all the way down for a craft!)

Without further ado, I give you my 83 word entry for Susanna’s 6th Annual Halloweensie Contest:

halloweensie-2016-4

Where the Candy Went

Something snuck in my room.

Something creaked cross the floor.
Something ate all my candy and moaned out for more.

But as quick as a spider descends on it’s thread,
I flicked on the light and jumped out of my bed.

Then I growled at the ghost: “You should KNOCK and say PLEASE!”
so the ghost shimmered off on the frigid fall breeze.

I swear it’s the truth and I won’t change my tune
though there wasn’t a witness except for the moon.

halloweensie-2016-5

I hope you enjoy! Don’t forget to hop on over to Susanna’s Blog to read some of the other entries. If you like writing with a deadline, you have until 11:59 PM EDT on Monday October 31st to submit your entry.

Here’s the translated version which doesn’t quite fit the rules and probably has meter issues because let’s face it – writing in your second language is hard.

halloweensie-2016-3-copy

Qui a Mangé les Bonbons?

Quelques chose a venu dans ma chambre hier soir.

Quelques chose a mangé mes bonbons dans le noir.

Je l’ai écouté dans le sombre de la nuit

et j’étais réveillé par le bruit.

Mais il est sorti quand j’ai quitté mon lit.

Je jure – c’est vrai toute ce que j’ai dit.

I really did have way too much fun with this didn’t I? I was invited to do story time at my son’s school and decided to read my poems and do a craft. I looked for ideas online but wanted something super fun that was also simple, cheap, and sugar-free and came up with this:

mypetghostcraft

It was a huge hit with the kids and a few even asked if it was real when I showed them my sample. It sways inside its jar which is probably the coolest part.

Want To Make Your Own Pet Ghost?

halloweensie-2016-craft-copy

Attach thread to a cotton ball (I used a needle to thread them in advance but a few kids pulled a small piece of cotton from the top to attach.)

Gently pull the cotton into the shape of a ghost.

Add eyes and mouth with markers.

Use the thread to hang the ghost inside a cup with a piece of tape.

Tape the two cups together & decorate. We used stickers, stamps, etc. If you make a small hole in the cup with a diaper pin or other sharp object you can attach the flag that way. Or you can just tape the label to the side.

Happy Halloween!

Pirate gets a Valentine

I’m a huge fan of Susanna Hill’s contests because they are a fun way to practice writing skills, see how your work compares to others, and get involved in the kidlit community. So of course I HAD to enter when she announced THE FIRST ANNUAL PRETTY MUCH WORLD FAMOUS VALENTINY WRITING CONTEST!!! (You have until Friday Feb 12th to enter!) 

I decided to recycle the character from my Halloweensie entry. 

HappValentineDay!

 

Pirate Love day frozen harbour

 

Pirate Gets a Valentine

Winter comes by northern breeze.
Nights grow longer. Harbours freeze.
Pirate gets the winter blues,
red-hot temper, shortened fuse.

So Pirate hides from winter’s wail.
‘Til she reads her Love Day mail.
Boats are brown. The sea is blue.
All your friends are missing you!

Pirate shivers, peeks outside,
sees her friends all smiling wide.
“Come out Pirate,” call her mates.
“Bundle up and bring your skates!”

But Pirate’s skate is way too tight.
and nothing fits her peg leg right.
Pirate grumbles. Pirate gripes.
Friends all stop and Viking pipes,

“Come on Pirate, try these skis,
glide across the snow with ease!”
But Pirate cannot bend both knees,
manage hills, or dodge the trees.

Pirate whimpers. Pirate whines.
But can’t deter her Valentines.
Nanuk offers. “If you like,
“we could take a snowshoe hike.”

But Pirate’s snowshoes are too small.
They don’t help her out at all.
Pirate kicks and Pirate cries.
But Jack has brought a sweet surprise.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

He digs right down into his pack,
“Pirate, would you like a snack?”
Steaming cocoa, heart-shaped treats.
Friends all wait while Pirate eats.

Pirate snickers. Pirate smirks.
Sharing cookies always works.
Pirate rumbles, “Snowball fight!”
Heaves the snow with all her might.
Pirate sparkles. Pirate shines.
and she delights her Valentines.

Pirate Love Day web

 

Happy Holidays (Contest)

The Holidays are upon us. And that means another contest! I’m a huge fan of Susanna Hill’s contests – they’re free, the prizes are excellent, and it’s a fun and supportive place to practice your writing technique. Rules in a nutshell: Write a story for children using any version of this first line: “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop,” in 350 words or less. For more details and to read the entries go to Susanna’s site.

Here’s my entry (343 words), enjoy!


Holiday Heist

Sneaking past the iron gate at City Central Zoo was not that hard. Sheila checked her watch, then bee lined to the camels pen. She shook the smallest camel awake. Her pockets were full of treats so the camel happily followed her.

But over at the petting zoo, the sheep wanted all of the treats for themselves. Their baa baa BAAAA set the donkey off. His loud bray startled the cows.  They mooed even louder. Only the camel was quiet. It was busy nipping at Sheila’s pockets. Sheila passed out treats as fast as she could, swatted at the camel, and shushed the sheep.

Somehow Sheila made it back to the gate with the animals. Climbing over would be impossible this time. So Sheila unlatched the gate and carefully nudged it open. C-R-E-E-E-A-K. Sheila jumped but the guard was fast asleep and snoring loudly. When the gate slammed shut behind the last sheep, the guard yawned. But he didn’t wake up. He just cozied further down into his chair and snored louder.

The strange procession made its way along the frozen sidewalks. Sheila checked her watch again. She didn’t have much time. She tried going faster but the littlest sheep couldn’t keep up. He was too big to carry. Sheila took her scarf off and used it to tie the sheep onto the donkey’s back. The donkey wasn’t thrilled, but Sheila bribed him with a double helping of snacks. Now the procession was noisier, but faster.

Finally they arrived at Sheila’s front yard. She divided the last of the treats and gave each animal a small pile to keep them busy. Then she snuck inside. A few minutes later she came back with a toy cradle, fleece blankets, and her baby brother, Ted. Sheila tucked Ted into the cradle. Then she knelt down beside him. A thief had stolen their last nativity scene but this one was way better and she just knew her parents would love it. And they would be up any minute now. Sheila couldn’t wait to see their reaction.


 

 

The holidays are a busy, bustling time, so I didn’t have time to illustrate my story. Which is driving me crazy. So instead I’m posting this painting: Freddy at Night. Perhaps the little procession passed right by? 

15 ML 2015Freddy at Night  copy

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is less than a week away & that means it’s Halloweensie time again!  I love this contest from Susanna Hill – write a story for kids using the words: Haunt, Dark, Costume in any form, without going over 100 words.

 

Pirate Prepares for Halloween

 

Pirate wonders what to wear.Pirate spot

Knitted cap with dreadlocked hair?

Striped pajamas? Bandoleer?

Same old shorts she’s worn all year?

Black bandana? New tattoo?

She can’t dress like pirates do!

 

But a costume would delight

on this dark and haunted night.

Zombie? Werewolf? Ninja? Cat?

Too cliché, she can’t wear that.

Pirate wants to go disguised,

but her friends should be surprised.

Pirate sewing spot

 

Pirate gathers what she needs:

old bandana, borrowed beads,

Jolly Roger, tattered lace.

Then she snips and sews with grace.

When her tutu is all set.

Sauté, plié, pirouette.

Pirate plans a dance routine

to perform on Halloween.

 

Pirate ballerina final for blog