Spring Inspiration

Illustrated hand-lettered Shelley quote

One great advantage to living in England is that spring arrives so much earlier than it did in Chicago. As early as the first week of February, snowdrops were popping up everywhere! They were followed by profusions of crocuses a couple of weeks later, and then a few weeks ago masses of daffodils took their place. The trees have buds and flowers, the grass is thicker and greener than it was in winter, and the musical sound of blackbirds fills the air in the late afternoon. It’s quite a treat to have such a long, beautiful spring.

In tribute to this lovely time of year, I just finished illustrating this quote from a Shelley poem, The Sensitive Plant. I love how this quote captures the idea of nature waking up from a long winter’s sleep and filling the world with beauty in spring. I’m planning to send this out as a little self-promo emailer soon, and will make it available as a print in my Etsy shop.

I hope wherever you are spring has come already or will soon!

Greeting Card Roundup

Happy New Year! To kick off 2014, I’m excited to share the entire collection of greeting cards that I created for A Smyth Co., all of which are now printed and ready to be sold in a card boutique near you! I received my samples of the cards and I am just thrilled with them. The colors are bright, the printing is great, and I even love the design of the card backs and how they come with color-coordinated envelopes. My cards are part of a whole line of fun, colorful cards from A Smyth Co., many of which have hilarious messages and adorable graphics. I’m so happy to be part of such a great ensemble!

Images of all of the cards are included below. Many hours were logged on these cards, and I had a blast working on them. Big thanks again to Amy and John Smyth for giving me the opportunity to draw countless bears, dogs, mice, hippos, tigers, badgers, elephants, many more familiar animals and a few made-up ones, not to mention several hats, musical instruments, wheeled conveyances, and lots of hand-drawn type. I hope lots of awesome card shops, boutiques and other cool retailers snatch these up soon (if you are interested in ordering, please visit the A Smyth Co website)!

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Winds of Change

I recently finished working on a couple of very fun illustrations for the University of Minnesota’s latest campaign, which centered on a theme of light. For my part of the campaign, I illustrated two scenes that tied in with research done at the University. The scenes were then printed onto window clings and installed in glass walkways, giving the general effect of stained glass. It was a fun challenge to create something that had a little more of a “stained-glass-y” look than my usual work, which meant some heavier, more angular lines and more intense colors.

The first of these pieces has been installed at the Minneapolis airport concourse, and tells the story of how researches at the University developed a way to create fertilizer using wind turbines. The illustration features a farm scene with rolling hills (which is now familiar scenery to me here in England!), with a windmill showering the fields with its sciency goodness and making them lush and green. That’s not how the technology works in real life, but we get to be metaphoric in the illustrated world! Below are images of the art on its own, and how it looks installed at the airport (click on the images to see them larger). Huge thanks to Doreen Hoff and Janay Blazejewski at Olson in Minneapolis who were a true delight to work with! Someday soon I’ll share the other illustration and how it looks installed in downtown Minneapolis!

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All Sunshine Makes a Desert

Elephant_Preview

I’ve just completed this new print for sale on Etsy, featuring a frolicking elephant and one of my husband’s favorite sayings, “All Sunshine Makes a Desert.” It’s a traditional Arabic aphorism handed down to my husband by his mom, who has a wealth of interesting phrases and sayings from Lebanon, where she is from. It basically means that if things were perfect all of the time, it might not be such a good thing, or, put another way, that we need all different experiences, including adversity, to make us well-rounded people. My husband tends to bring out this phrase when I’m complaining about something!

The elephant in a rainstorm was inspired by an episode of BBC One’s show Africa. It’s the same as their show Life, but focusing just on Africa, and I highly recommend it if you love nature shows! In this particular episode a family of elephants is looking for water during the dry season in Africa, and spoiler alert, it ends fairly sadly for one elephant. But it really illustrates the point that things like rain and grey skies are definitely necessary, even if they ruin our picnics and keep us inside on a Saturday, and in the case of an elephant rain is what allows him to thrive. So my elephant is rejoicing in the rain, and is full of colorful patterns and flowers that are being nurtured by the rain.

The print is for sale here, and I hope you remember “All Sunshine Makes a Desert” the next time your pool party is rained out!

Dead Between the Lines

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It’s time to share with you the third installment of Denise Swanson’s Devereaux’s Dime Store mystery novel covers: Dead Between the Lines! As always it was a pleasure to work on this book cover with AD Mimi Bark at Penguin Group. This time around the mystery involves gardening, so it was fun working all of the gardening supplies into the background of this image. I will look forward to reading the book when it comes out in March 2014!

Our Town

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I just finished this illustration inspired by our new town. It’s an interpretation of the view of higgledy-piggledy medieval buildings that you get as you cross the Old Elvet bridge, one of four bridges spanning the River Wear in the city center here in Durham. I love that one of the results of a long history is how buildings get built on to other buildings, and added to and changed, and nothing follows the north-south-east-west grid that I grew up with on the flat plains of Illinois. Of course, the buildings in my drawing are a bit more colorful than the reality here, but what would be the fun of drawing things exactly as they are?

Greeting Cards for A Smyth Co.

First, I apologize for my long absence from the blogosphere! For the last several months I’ve been working on two big projects which have kept me from doing much else. One was a big move — to England! My husband landed a two-year post-doc at Durham University in the North East of England, so we sold our condo in Chicago, packed up our belongings, ourselves and our dog Logan, and flew across the Atlantic to start a new chapter of our lives in the UK. It was a big project, but now I’m working from a lovely new studio space on the second floor of our house with a view out the window of rolling hills and sheep.

The other big project I’ve been working on is a line of greeting cards! It’s long been a goal of mine to illustrate greeting cards, stationery, gift wrap and the like, and I’ve finally gotten the chance to work on greeting cards for A Smyth Co., a card wholesaler owned by Amy and John Smyth. I’m so excited to be given the chance to create tons of illustrations of whimsical animals and hand-drawn typography in bright, fun colors. The full line is still being worked on, and the cards won’t be in stores until 2014, but I wanted to give you a taste of them here — I hope you enjoy!

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