If you buy a lot of books as gifts because you know kids & adults who love to read, you might want to have a pack of my ‘For Someone Who Devours Books’ so you can tuck a funny notecard into their gift package. My notecards are available in my Etsy shop HERE.
While you’re at it, take time to sit down and start reading a book yourself today! The last one I read was the children’s book The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, a charming read for kids and grown-ups, and I’m in the middle of a book about Ernest Shepard, who illustrated A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books, also a delightful journey.
A children’s book that I had a part in has been selected by Doylestown Bookshop to be part of their “Local Author Partnership Program”. It will be featured in the bookstore during the month of March, and I’d like to explain its unusual journey to publication.
I helped with this unique type of book project this past summer and fall. Professional storyteller Ray Gray asked me if I could help coordinate a children’s book idea that he had – to take one story out of his storytelling repertoire, have a group of children from his neighborhood illustrate the story, and put it all together into published book form.
It was delightful getting to know Ray, whose career in storytelling at schools, festivals, and performance venues reaches back to pre-digital technology days, when he had to haul props and his own audio and visual equipment that was rather ahead of its time. To prepare, he transcribed his children’s story “Ice Cream Mud” into a manuscript and I laid it out in book dummy form. His local neighborhood has many families with schoolchildren, and their parents were supportive of involving their kids in this project.
The parents and 8 or 10 children, ages approximately 7 to 13, were invited to Ray & his wife Nancy’s lovely home one evening to kick off the project. Ray told his story Ice Cream Mud, which was based on experiences with his son when he was young, with great emotion and humor to the children. Then I led them through questions about the main characters and how we might all draw the horse, donkey, goose and cow. The kids had fun choosing one identifying item of clothing for each animal – a top hat, an apron, etc. to make the characters unique and appealing. We gave each child drawing supplies and pages of the story, so each one had several scenes to illustrate. Since summer had just begun, we instructed the children to draw their pages through their summer vacation and we would gather together again in the fall to put everything together.
When all the artwork was completed I scanned the pieces and put the book together for printing through an online publisher. The final book is colorful and a delightful read, and is truly a community effort! I hope it inspires more stories and more drawings from these neighborhood kids as they grow, and from other children as they read this and imagine what they can create in story and pictures.
Again I’ll mention that Ice Cream Mud has been selected by Doylestown Bookshop to be part of their “Local Author Partnership Program”. It will be featured in the bookstore during the month of March. Make sure you stop in to see this positive one-of-a-kind creation!
I have added to my line of Boy Scout congratulations cards – the two I have drawn for Eagle Scouts are quite popular sellers on my Etsy page – by drawing a whimsical illustration for young boys who are making their ‘Crossing Over Ceremony’ from Cub Scouts into full Boy Scouts. I’ll add, the card is inspired by my oldest grandson, who has just completed his Crossing Over in Scouts. I’m very proud of him and his friends, who have completed their work as a Cub and want to further their knowledge and experience in BSA.
In my whimsical drawing style, I drew a friendly adult Eagle, in scout troop leader uniform, waving 3 happy little eagles across a footbridge in the great outdoors. This mirrors the Crossing Over Ceremony that young scouts go through when they ‘cross over the bridge’ from Cubs to Boy Scouts.
I first pencilled in a sketch of the scene –
I tightened up the drawing , scanned it & colored a printout roughly to work out the colors –
– and then transferred the drawing to illustration board, outlined in ink and painted it in with acrylic washes.
To see the finished card, inside message, and all other info and for purchasing, please see my Etsy shop HERE.
A fan of my cards who is a troop leader reviewed them this way: “These cards are exceptionally unique and well drawn. The messages are well thought out and brief, a good thing. I always add a personal message to the card as well, and there is room to do that. These are beautiful cards and an inspiration to the scouts receiving them.”
The first card is based on the memory my mother had of the small farmhouse they lived in, where she as a very young child would play teacher, lining up pebbles as pupils on the stone wall in front of their house. My card, shown below, has a traditional Irish blessing inside, which starts “May God give you/ For every storm, a rainbow/ For every tear, a smile”. . . You can read the entire blessing in the description of the card on my Etsy page.
Here are the two funny cards, with the inside punchlines below.
For full descriptions and ordering info, do check out my Etsy shop!
My friend Lynne Anne Donchez, who is a master hair and makeup stylist, also has a terrific sense of fashion. She was dressed up for a special occasion last week and I had to capture her with this fashion drawing.
This is a combination of digital drawing and traditional methods – I drew her in pencil, transferred that to my computer, colorized the large shapes in the computer, printed it out and then drew texture & finishing touches on the print.
The Doylestown Historical Society helps to preserve many aspects of my hometown’s past, with speakers, tours and printed publications, and a very important part of that mission involves researching the historically significant buildings in this town and nearby communities.
I was asked to develop a sketch of one building in the borough, which today houses a law firm and is a lovely two-and-a-half story Second Empire structure, pictured below.
However, this is not what it looked like in 1834 when it was first constructed. The original house, built for Dr. Hugh Meredith, was described as “a large two-story brick house on Court Street fronting the public square. A wood frame office was attached to the west side of the house” which was used for his medical office. The house had a stone foundation.
After the Civil War, the house was enlarged along with stucco over the brick and a new Mansard roof was installed by workmen for attorney George Lear. At the time it was described as the handsomest residence in the borough.
Kurt Spence, a contractor with a love of old buildings, gave me instructions on what the house probably looked like in its first iteration. He suggested three windows on the second floor instead of the current five; two windows on the ground floor, the doorway on the right, and brick walls. I started with this rough pencil sketch.
Once Kurt saw this he could recommend changes based on his knowledge of construction. He said the two dormers in the roof would have been located in the spaces between the three windows; a double doorway for the main entrance would have been more likely, and a stone foundation would have shown below the bricks, about level with the door stoop. The windows would have had working shutters, and the panes would have been six over six at that time, because large panes of glass were not readily available. He recommended a chimney at the gable end between the two structures, so fireplaces could have heated those central rooms. And he suggested a wrought iron fence enclosing the yard.
My finished sketch, says Kurt, is a pretty good representation of what the house would have looked like for Dr. Meredith in the early 19th century. And I’m pleased to know more about the history of my town!
Once a year I remind my friends that I have created two illustrations that are quite popular as greeting cards for new Eagle Scouts. My son is an Eagle and he had such a great experience with the Boy Scouts, learning great practical skills and making good friends, while reinforcing the responsibility and morals that we tried to instill as he grew up, that I am happy to share in celebrating these young men.
I drew the whimsical Eagle Salute Congratulations card first, for a friend of my son’s who achieved the rank a few years before him. When my son made Eagle and had his Court of Honor alongside his best friend, I painted the Eagle Scout on a hilltop scene. To see the inside message and ordering info for them, see my Etsy shop here.
The journey to Eagle is guided by Scoutmasters, parents, friends and others who inspire and encourage the Scout to accomplish the challenges needed to achieve Eagle rank. When a Scout makes his Eagle rank and is celebrated with a Court of Honor, there are always some exceptional people to be thanked. For these special mentors in a Scout’s journey, several customers have asked me to produce smaller thank-you notecards for Eagles themselves to send, and I now list them in my Etsy shop too. My Eagle thank-you notecards come 20 to a pack and have my “Eagle Scout on a Hilltop” illustration on the front. To see my Etsy shop for further ordering details, click HERE.
All of my cards are printed in full color on sturdy glossy card stock – the Congratulations cards are greeting-card-size, and the thank you notecards are smaller, invitation-size. Envelopes are included with each order, and the cards take standard first-class postage. The cardstock is made from partially recycled paper and my cards are printed in the USA – in fact, they are printed in my hometown! My thank-you notecards are blank inside so a message can be written by the sender.
I receive many kind comments from purchasers of my cards, who especially like the artwork, sincere message and quick delivery, all recorded on my Etsy page. I’ll mention, if you are in my area of central Bucks County, PA, if you email me on my Contact page you can pick up your cards, saving you some postage.
For special orders of quantity, size or message on these cards please send your questions by clicking HERE to go to my Contact page.