Saturday, October 9, 2010

SCBWI Los Angeles Illustrator's Day Contest Entry - Zombunnies!

SCBWI Illustrator's Day is coming up, and I entered the contest. The challenge was to create an illustration to complete the sentence:


My entry may not be entirely "kid-friendly," but I think it works for a middle grade (e.g. 8 to 12 years old) boy, especially around Halloween.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pet Painting Commission - Pug in a Crib

I realize that I forgot to post a pic of the commission I finished awhile back. Actually, I'm not sure I ever mentioned it in a post here, but it is one of the factors that instigated my creation of the Alphapugs, anyway.

The pug needed to be in a crib with a mobile hanging over it. I was given details about the nursery and a photo reference for the costume, (and of course, the pug herself), but the rest was up to me!

It took a lot more work than I had anticipated, (composing it to include all the details was a challenge), but everyone was happy with the end result. In fact, I'm even considering including it in my illustration portfolio!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Whoa, it’s been over a month since I last posted. The good news is I’ve been MAKING ART fairly continuously in the interim. Here's a little something about a mini-project I did for fun and love.

While I was on the plane to Ireland, I did a series of sketches of “Alphapugs” – Bug Pug (Love Pug) was only the beginning, people! You can see all 21 of my alphapugs at my Facebook fanpage, or by clicking here.

The initial idea was to include a little booklet in the wedding gift bags that I made the label for, but this ended up being a little too weird for the bride and groom. So
I ended up using this sketch series as an excuse to teach myself a new coloring technique in Photoshop and get really fast.

I didn’t get REALLY fast, but I definitely got better. To give you an idea, Fug(ly) Pug was the first one I colored, and one of the last ones I did was Thug Pug.

I posted some of the pug designs on various products up at my Zazzle Store - if you're in the market for pug-related merchandise, please have a look!

Friday, August 6, 2010


This has been a short week, having been bookended by post-conference zombiefication at the beginning, and now, packing for a trip to Ireland with my family. I'm still digesting the conference, riding the wave of post-RealLifeInteraction social network activity, and wanting to apply my notes to my art in the studio. But I've got a couple projects that have a DEFINITE deadline. This was my week to work on it all, since before the conference I was getting all my promo material, web presence, and portfolio together, and for the next two weeks, I'll be chasing leprechauns and rainbows.

The most pressing deadline is my friends' wedding next month. They are a supercool couple who don't mind a little levity in their lives, so I'm designing a few things to add some 'zazz' to their wedding, among them, gift bag labels and napkin rings. I swore to myself that by the end of this week, I'd get at least one image to the ready-to-print stage, and here it is:

It'll be a sticker on the gift bag. And there's even room for a handwritten note, if one were inclined, though not so obvious if it's left blank. So it's a starting-off point for the happy couple.

Sooo...while Ireland is a lovely place, and I'm definitely going to be doing lots of life drawing while I'm there, I'm a little nervous about the timing. I wanted to be able to send out all my mailers right after the conference, but then again, I don't want to be out of reach if anyone tried to contact me. It's not that I'm a total luddite, it's just: who wants to pay for international data charges or be chained to a sticky keyboard in an internet cafe? (Anyone reading this right now who's an art director - hi! I'm out honing my craft! I'll be back soon and delighted to look at all the contracts flooding in - ha ha) So I'll be sending out the mailers after the trip, even if it seems to them like I just sat on my hands a while.

So, are you wondering why I'm going to Ireland NOW? The Ireland trip was postponed back in April, when the volcano in Iceland exploded - we actually woke up the morning we were all packed, set to leave, to talk radio informing us that airspace was closed. This time in August was when everyone else could go, and I do have a very flexible schedule, after all, so who am I to complain?

I'm me, that's who, and I wouldn't be me if I didn't do a little complaining once in a while! *Stomp, stomp, stomp!*

Ok, I feel better.

We now returned to our regularly scheduled programming of all happiness and light, all the time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pre-Conference Jitters...

SCBWI's big summer conference starts in less than 9 hours, and I'm having trouble getting myself into bed. It reminds me of getting ready for the first day of school when I was a kid - bag perfectly packed, outfits picked out, room clean...yet, sleep eludes me. That's ok, though, since it gives me a chance to post a few more images before the post-conference uptick in views (hello, new friends!)

Tank Ewe (take 2, a redux of last year's)

When Pigs Fly (image from my WIP, used for my promo postcard)

The portfolio showcase is the evening of Saturday, July 31st. Here's to smoooooth sailing....


Friday, June 25, 2010

Ripples in the Water...

Have you heard of Ripple Sketches?

Check out if you want to make a donation to help the animal victims of the Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill, and pick up some cool art in the process.

I actually made a few quick'n'dirty ones myself. They've already been purchased (by total strangers, which is exciting!), but you can see them here, if you want.

As noted, until the end of September, I'll be donating to IMMS the proceeds of all greeting card sales from my seascape series as well as 75% of all other net sales until the end of September!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Mandrill Illustration - in Kite Tales!

I was chosen to illustrate a poem about a mandrill in this summer’s Kite Tales newsletter. Kite Tales is published by the LA chapter of SCBWI.


by Thalia Chaltas

Mandrill manhandled the mangroves

and bit them till they cried,

He ate their leaves, stomped their roots,

and then lay down and died.

I started with a ton of preliminary sketches, since this assignment was officially A Big Deal, since Kite Tales is read by a lot of kidlit industry professionals. Mandrills and mangroves are not everyday images in my life, so I decided to really research what they were all about before committing to any of my sketches. I think it paid off.

Here's a link to the issue, my illo is on page 13!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Venice Art Walk - Year Three

The Venice Art Walk took place this year on Sunday May 23rd. My paintings were on display at my uncle Sudad (Steve) Shahin's studio. As a sculptor, my uncle has a lot of blank white walls in his space that needed a little something, and as a painter, I have a lot of art to loan out, so it's a symbiotic relationship...

Out of the three years I've done it, this time the artwalkers offered the most praise, and even a few e-nibbles. None of which resulted in an actual sale, yet, but...still, it was certainly nice to hear.

FYI, the turtle painting was the most popular, based on the number of inquiries. The seascape series in general garnered the most attention.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Illustration of the Week: Swim Fan

Fun sketch - riff on Manet's Olympia

So, if I'm going to be painting pictures of peoples' pets as a source of revenue, I might as well spice things up. How about putting your pet in a old-school painting, such as Manet's Olympia? (link NSFW.) And maybe the pet owner too?

This prelim sketch was done on spec, (and without reference photos of the actual subjects) so we'll see how it goes. I'm tempted to start the real painting anyway, and just fill it in when I get a bite!

Pet Painting Commission - delivered!

Hudson the fluffy white dog has finally found his home, resting on the mantle.

Please keep me in mind if you are thinking about getting a pet portrait done!

Experiments in art!

Here are some experiments using acrylic ink. They aren't done, but I thought that I'd post them as is, since it's been a while since my last post.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Owl and the Pussycat

I've been told that it would be a good idea for my portfolio to include an image based on a well-known fairytale or nursery rhyme. So I decided to give it a go.

This image is based on the Edward Lear nonsense poem, "The Owl and the Pussycat."

Here's part of it:

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

4 new paintings!

It may seem like I do things in spurts, and maybe I do, but really, it just takes me a while to upload it all to the blog. Here are some paintings that I've finished since the last painting I posted. That isn't to say they were started since then, too. These all stretch back for some time, since I spent the last year focused almost exclusively of children's book writing and illustrating. But now I realize I can do both. My paintings don't have to be heart-wrenching, soul-searching, or deep, just as long as they communicate. If you think that equates to having sold out, well then, boo on you. Anyhoo, having the art studio to work in is a real help also in getting these paintings done. I don't have to put everything neatly away at the end of each and every day, or worry about getting paint on the carpet. And - extra bonus - no embedded cat hair! All this to say, I'm grateful for my situation. I feel like I'm really making some good progress.

You can see these in higher quality (and order cards and prints, heh) at my Fine Art America page:

P.S. I just have to say for my own sanity that the paintings really do look better in person - the colors are more vibrant in real life (especially the sea turtle painting!) Also, since I use a lot of acrylic medium to add depth, there's quite a bit lost in 2D. If you ever want to see them in person or see a side-view photo, let me know. Ok, I feel better now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

sketches of kids

well, I've really been trying to determine a more illustration-y style for my drawings of kids. humans are a lot harder to draw than animals, because if the locations of features are even the tiniest bit off, the whole thing looks wrong. in other words, it's easier to get away with stuff when one is drawing animals. anyway, here are some kid drawings.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Illustrations of the Week: Echidna

Just for fun, just for practice, just what I can show without giving away my precious ideas....

And by the way, I do realize that I'm not posting an illustration every single week. I'll think about rectifying that, really I will. It's just that I didn't make any New Year's Resolutions this time around, so my level of blog upkeep has not increased proportionately with the time of year.

Prints Now Available!

I signed up on Fine Art America so that interested parties may purchase my original paintings and/or prints of my paintings and illustrations. So, now's your chance to prove that you weren't just saying it - that you meant it when you said, "I want that on my wall!"


Monday, January 11, 2010

Painting: I Can Has Banana Phone?

I finally delivered this commissioned piece, so I can now post an image on my blog: ta da!

This is HappyCat, the mascot of sorts of , enjoying the use of his many banana phones. (Don't know what a banana phone is? Search for it in YouTube, and you're welcome in advance for the earworm.)

The piece measures 18" x 24" and is painted using all acrylic paints and mediums. (yes, mediums, not media; it's a personal preference)

Over-worrying: I hope I won't get sued by the now-defunct Russian cat food company that initially used HappyCat in one of their ad campaigns. I definitely managed to add my own twist to it, and it's not like I'm rolling in dough Shepard-Fairey-style.