Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wishfull Visual Art Retreat Online

I saw this Wish full virtual art classes and find this idea of a virtual visual art retreat as a fun way to focus on art with pros with out having to go any where. I don't shy away from online learning experiences. If they have good contact and keep regular contact it goes quite well. I've taken online classes and to me they take motivation then your traditional classroom setting. If you have a busy schedule and want to get some art in and creative time this is one way to do it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#2 Pencils

When I was in college they used to make us buy those fancy sets of drawing pencils with all the different hard and soft leads. After I got out of school I realized there's nothing more trusty then your #2 Pencil. I buy 20 in a box from the Dollar Store and they last forever.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Roz Box

I realized I've filled my first Deluxe Roz Box with pastels. As a pastel artists you gotta have something to carry and protect all of your pastels. I highly recommend this box.

Sketches 12 Things

Slowly but surely working on sketches for "Twelve Things". My office space is starting to get to me. I tend to work on my old fashioned plexi animator's board in front of my computer. Once I get my sketches finished and approved I'll move over to my equally messy drafting table to add color using pastels. This book I think I'll need to do color comps in the computer. We'll see.

FREE Coloring Page & Wordsearch

Here is a Free Coloring Sheet and Word search for fans of Yes, Jesus Loves You. I used these sheets for kids to to take home with them from my recent book signing. Most of the young kids can do the coloring sheets and I opted to add a word search for the older kids that want something more challenging to do. A solution page is also included on the 2nd page of the word search.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reworked My Site

Did some rework on my site for the 2nd book that will be out hopefully Spring 2010. I did some searching online for how to tile/pattern in photoshop. This was a easy tutorial. I used photoshop CS4. I need to try it out in Illustrator as well.

Also been looking at Intuos 4. Price is right at $199 for the small on There are pros and cons reviews listed and a cool video demo on the site. When I start grad school I'll probably consider making that switch to digital illustration.

Illustration Blogs

I really have to say that I'm so glad that illustrators have been kind enough to share so much of their experiences online. It's such a wealth of information that is out there. Back when I was getting my BFA in illustration the web was a new things for illustrators. At the time none of my professors where really utilizing it. Marketing was taught strictly as mailers and carrying your portfolio to ADs. The marketing for illustrators has changed so greatly. My first picture book contract I got was from the AD at Ambassador Bks/Paulist Press seeing my work online at the SCBWI. Then my 2nd book that is out in 2010 was from a targeted postcard mailer. I think it's worth trying various types of marketing approaches because you just don't know what will work. I'm always reading others blogs about what they did try it but make different to fit my needs.

Illustration Friday: Pioneer

I did this illustration a while ago, but I thought it applied to the theme. I imagined a young boy being a pioneer aviator. Imagine what it would be like to take flight. I wouldn't recommend doing this at home, but it's fun to imagine what Wright Bros. Might have been like as kids. I'm sure they gave their mom some frights.

First Book Signing

After several months of contacting I finally had my first book signing. I've learned some things for this experience. Even after you get a first book published there is so much effort that one has to put into promoting it. It takes repeated contacts with a bookstore to get a signing. I'm sure if you have awards attached to the book or backed by a major publisher the experience is probably very different.

Most of the kids that were at the signing were there to be read to and do an art project. They seemed to enjoy it. Working at a book signing is way more easier then trying to coral students in an art room. It was a nice laid back experience. I could probably have thrown in a drawing demo. Overall without a drawing demo it took about 45 min. Then there was a signing at the front of the store. I think I would have liked it if it was possible to have the signing in the children's book section. But with that said I got a customer that came up and bought 2 without having had a child attend the session.

I realized due to the kind and thoughtful patronage of family and friends I was able to sell about 12 books in a hour. I could hope for more, but for a first time signing I think it wasn't too bad. I had fun.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm Thankful

I'm enjoying my time off while illustrating book #3. I must say if you ever done any teaching especially with children it can be exciting, enjoyable, and exhausting all at the same time. Being an art educator has taught me how you can explore all kinds of avenues of art. I get to see every day how much the students love art. Especially the kinders. Can you remember that time when you valued your art so much that you wouldn't give it up, and you just purely enjoyed making any type of mark? I find that it's been a long journey back to that frame of mind. When you work so hard to succeed as an illustrator you forget at times the value of your own work and find time to just make art for oneself. I'd gotten so critical about everything I did or made. I've finally gotten to the point where I value the work that I make like my kinders and feel that i deserve to keep the rights and payment. I expect that now. I remember when I used to sell myself short.

I get the incorporate pictures books the most with kinders. They LOVE being read to and being asked to be illustrators. It's great that my kinders know what an illustrator is and what the pictures in the books are called. You can find a picture book that ties into any of the grade levels state standards. They value the work of these artist because for them it communicates so much more. Here's a list of some of the books I've read to my K-5:

Where The Wild Things Are
Mother Goose
Dr. Ted
The Little Engine That Could
Turkey Ball
One Tiny Turtle
Mouse Paint
Calabash Cat
Art Dog
Mama Don't Allow

There are more but I can't remember their titles. I can't wait to read so many of the other books I have in store for the rest of the year.

Now that I've had some time away from teaching it's hard to get back into the mind set of illustrating. It's taken a week for me to get back into the swing of things. I'm looking forward to when I have more time off to work. I've been fortunate to work with an amazing publisher, Ambassador Books, and they've really worked with me on getting to a place where I could manage everything I've been doing lately. You often hear that everything is so commercial these days and publishers are all about numbers, etc. I find that with a publisher like Ambassador Books/Paulist Books that isn't the case. I would one day love to meet personally with these editors.

I'm going be having my first book signing next month. It took me 3 months of contacting stores to get it worked out. Even with having illustrated a quality picture book it still takes leg work to get things happening. I'm sure it's much different if you have a Caldecott next to the title. :)

With all that said I'm thankful for so much in my career. Also I've had the support of my family and friends to make all of this happen. Many of my friends and family have appeared as models for the characters in the books. My mother-in-law has been a tireless cheerleader in everything I've done. I get to share the end product with my own son. He's at that age that he wants to be read to every night. I'm more than happy to comply. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book #3

Trying to get the time and energy to start book dummy #3.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Illustration Friday: Drifting

Here's an illustration I did a while ago but fits so well for the theme. The three cats in the sub are an homage to cats I've owned: Snowball, Teddy Bear Head, and Stinky.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I've been really terrible about having a backup for my own work. I decided to try a service that archives your files behind the scene while you work. free 15 day trial. I admit it takes time for it to backup on their servers. I have 16 gigs I'm trying to backup. The nice thing is that even in the event of theft, natural disasters your backup will still be there.

Painter II

Tried Painter 11 and it works great. I downloaded the free 30 day demo from their site. Here's an example using a sketch I scanned and painted in Painter. I've realized I don't know that I'll get the exact same look as my traditional work. I think it has potential to become a new style of work that I can add.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Google Doodle

There are so many talented young students who created ideas for their version of the Google logo. Vote for your favorite!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sweet Dreams Collection of Bedtime Poems

I've been working hard on this latest book. It's from my previous blog post. I've enjoyed reading the beautiful poems that were selected. Thank you to all the writers that were selected. Miriam Hees the publisher of BTP mentions it on her blog A Publisher's Life.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fast and Furious Illustration

I'm working as fast as I can complete 10 illustrations in the next 3 weeks. This is a very fast pace for me. Normally I'd complete that in 2-3 months comfortably. Hope I can do it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Adobe CS4

Finally upgraded to Adobe CS4. Loving it!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Art is...

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.
Twyla Tharp.

Twyla Tharp was Dancer and choreographer (one who develops and directs dances) Twyla Tharp is known for developing a unique style that merged ballet and modern dance

Class Act

I watched an amazing movie about why arts in education is important and relevant. Also one man's, Jay Jensen's commitment, to the fine arts.It's on for free to watch.Click to watch Class Act.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SCBWI Redesign

I'm so excited to learn that the SCBWI is updating their site. Can't wait to see it!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This is a great site,, of wonderful picture books being read by various actors. I especially enjoyed the books by Nina Laden. Great illustrator and writer.

Free Coloring Page

With the upcoming release of "Yes, Jesus Loves You" by Heather Tietz art by Nancy Miller I've made a coloring page from one of the interior illustrations. Check it out.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Illustrating a 2nd book

I'm working on illustrating a 2nd book. A book of bedtime poems by various authors for ages 0-9. The more I work on it the more excited I get. It's so hard to imagine that in the end it will become a finished book. I start working on a book and it usually takes a year or longer before I see the finished product. I wish I could share some of the photos of it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Yes, Jesus Loves You Picture Book

I'm so excited that after many years of trying I have illustrated a picture book. Yes, Jesus Loves You by Heather Tietz. I had to read the catalog entry on by Paulist Press several times to believe it's true. It's on pg. 15 of the PDF for the Spring 09 Catolog. YEAH, Here's the catalog description:

Written by Heather Tietz, Illustrated by Nancy Miller
Yes, Jesus Loves You Ages 5-9
Yes, Jesus Loves You is a soothing stroll through God’s creation, in lullaby form. His love for us can be seen throughout all he’s made. The very shape and function of our physical bodies were designed by Him. Animals, great and small, the elements, tame and unreserved, plants, frail and strong, are often quiet lessons about God’s character and His love for humankind. Even the night itself is from God-the stars, a night light, the call of insects, a song, the darkness a reminder to pray. This charming story may be sung or simply read and lends itself easily to accompanying hand movements. It is perfect for church, for school, or for putting little ones to bed with a sense of peace and joy.

Heather Tietz lives in Chino Hills, CA.

16 pages / 9 x 8 / Hardcover / World rights
978-0-8091-6743-2 / $14.95

Available for preorder on

...Paulist Press began to expand rapidly in the 1950s. By 1966 it was the largest Catholic distributor and publisher in the world, employing 235 lay employees and the services of six Paulist priests, and distributing nearly 20 million books, pamphlets, and magazines each year. To channel books into Catholic parishes around the country, the Press established the National Catholic Reading Distributors (NCRD) in 1958. In 1962 Paulist Press enlarged greatly when it acquired Newman Press, with two book stores in Baltimore and Washington, D.C...Through children's books, works on spirituality and prayer, and studies of the latest developments in theology and scripture, the Press continues its mission to bring the riches of the Catholic heritage to Catholics and persons of other religious traditions.

I'm so glad I never gave up. I can only tell you when I first got out of college I was pretty idealistic and thought if you are talented enough they will find you. I also didn't realize how common place rejection was in the picture book industry. I'd hung up my illustrator's cap for 4 years before I tried to revisit send out work to publishers. I was green and naive.

It was later on when I was working as a graphic designer at a magazine that I met a co-worker that had similar interest in picture books. It sparked something in me and made say I'm really going to try this time and not give up. I joined the SCBWI in 2002 and then I attended a regional conference. That was an eye opener. Just in the region I'm in there was a large attendance. Attendance of some of the most talented published authors and illustrators in the country. Yikes! You know I met some really nice illustrators and writers. This is just a bias but I think children's book writers and illustrators are some of the nicest people you will ever met. They are passionate and they will share what they know without a bat of an eye.

It was after I attended the conference I had a completely different perception on some of the old rejections I'd received. Back then I'd submitted a joint submission with a writer friend. We actually got a letter from a major publisher saying they were taking it to an editorial meeting to consider it for publication. A month later we go a rejection notice with comments. Prior to the conference I thought if you don't get accepted what's the point of it. The conference folks that I sat with said you have to realize the number of submissions major publisher receive and the fact that they wrote back is a positive sign. Also the fact the editorial assistant provided comments from the meeting is an additional plus. I'm glad I decided to listen to those nice folks. Sad, to say I don't remember all their names. But two illustrators I met at the conference Liz Conard and Elizabeth Dulemba were always so great to stay in touch and email words of encouragement.

Also a thanks to Belgin whom I met via email serendipitously through another illustrator.

Now when I look at that particular rejection letter I see the positive side of it. If you read between the lines sometimes rejection letters are telling that you should keep going.

Btw, sorry for any typos this is an uber long post.

Blog Cleaning

I decided to get rid of my old blog since I decided to streamline things. I've been really trying to keep things tidy, so there is no longer a link to my old blog archives on this site. Sorry if anyone had links to it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chris Van Allsburg

I'm a big fan of Chris Van Allsburg, but then who isn't. I recently went to his site and noticed that things had changed. It's highly interactive and too much fun.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I've been working on a new path. It's taken some time but I'm working on become an art teacher for K-12. This change has taken sometime to go through but I'm so glad I did. I recently found out that my previous job that I worked at ended up closing their offices. It's one of those things I knew I didn't want to be a inhouse graphic designer anymore. It's one of those things I've learned with time that isn't varied enough for me to be happy with. I'm almost finished with my getting my K-12 certification. Since I getting my certification I've taken so many wonderful studio classes that wasn't required with my bachelors. Ceramics, Sculpture, Printmaking, & Crafts. All of which I enjoyed. Especially Sculpture and Printmaking. The pictures above are from the Sculpture course I recently took. The professor was fantastic.

Sculpture is just too much fun. I recommend working 3D. I was really intimidated. I only took a 3D design in college. That was working in wood, plaster, and wire. Clay sculpture like trying to learn to draw all over again. Really challenging and pushes you to think about your work in so many other ways. There's also just structural and engineering aspect of it that I liked.

New Year's Resolutions

I think these glasses are too funny, but wonder what will happen when it's 2010? That year might not work so well. On to resolutions. I'm going to only make a few resolutions for this coming year.

1. Really try and attempt to create some digital illustrations. The operative words are "Really try". I find that I'm so fond of my pastels. I've used pastels for the past 17 years and they are my best friends. Watercolors and pen/ink make the list for 2nd and 3rd. I've seen digital illustrations that I've found to be not overly digital that I like. I wonder if I can make my digital illustrations look just like my pastel work. Then I wonder why even bother and just use the pastels? It does cut down on the need for packing and shipping. Saving money is a plus. No dirty fingers. Of course when you go down that road there is always upgrading your computer and software. I used to work at a magazine and it was tricky when the photographers switched from slides to digital. There really wasn't a basis for comparison for proofs. It added additional steps of proofing and changing the color in the production phase. I don't really know if I made the best judgment compared to what the photographer intended. Likewise I'm sure that can happen for digital illustration unless you have some kinda of hardcopy for the designer or production to match.

2. Send out more targeted promos. This Christmas I sent out only 13 postcards using the Premium Postcards service. I'm hoping to get some more illustration samples printed and send out some packets. I've been thinking about a handmade type book. I love artists books. Probably only 10 max. I'm going to do a better job of researching publishers.

3. Hopefully with 2 that will lead to more book contracts. I've gotten a couple of things in the works, but not solid. We'll see.

An illustrator friend of mine posted on her blog some previous articles she's written about the biz of children's book illustration. Here's a link to

I hope 2009 is a fruitful and happy one for all.