My last illustration project is still in progress, but these two little cats were asking me to start working on the art for their story, too, so I've decided to tackle two books simultaneously. Shooting Star and Lemonade is about facing your fears, and learning that what frightens you the most might not really be as scary as you think it is. I still have so much to learn from the characters in my own stories!
I have been trying to stretch my artistic boundaries for my second book and current illustration project, Annie Kat's Absolutely Completely Really Real Magic Wand. This story is different from my usual work, as it actually takes place on our very own Planet Earth, and even stars--gasp!--a human being. It wasn't easy for me to figure out how to incorporate a human character into my style, and I have had to force myself to break some of my self-imposed art rules, but it feels good to expand and grow. And pushing myself a little bit has shown me just how much further I could, and hopefully will, grow as an artist.
Meanwhile, I have realized that growing as a writer means learning to cut back. I have put my first book, A Sheep and a Dream, through a brutal (and hopefully final) revision, throwing out about fifty superfluous words, and changing the name of my "home planet" for a second time. (Goodbye Eep, goodbye Emm... It's "Planet If" now.)
Last year didn't afford me as much dream-chasing time as I had hoped, but I am looking forward to this year being the year that I can finally feel like I have completed something important. And I have learned to accept and appreciate that my work--and I--will always be in progress.
If you are familiar with my work already, you may have noticed that my portfolio page shows very little new material from the last couple of years or so. That doesn't mean that I've stopped working, though; I've just shifted my focus, choosing to prioritize my children's picture books as the primary outlet for my creative energy. I am sharing here a few illustrations from my first book, A Sheep and a Dream. I wrote the story ten years ago, but didn't start illustrating it until six years later, and even then only intermittently. Sometime last year, I finally decided that my dream had been far too long deferred, and I began to devote every free moment, few as there were, to painting sheep. Now the illustrations are finished, the manuscript has been revised and re-revised, and I am looking for an agent to help me get it all in print.
Meanwhile, I've got some catching up to do--six other manuscripts waiting to be illustrated, three rough drafts waiting to be finished, and a couple dozen nebulous ideas, plot-less characters, and floating titles waiting to be turned into stories. I'm about a quarter of the way into the illustrations for my second book, so check back soon to see some new images!