Monday, February 20, 2017

The Birds and the Bees Series

I have a show coming up in March and the theme is fás - which is a Gaelic word for green, or grow.  So everything in the show is either supposed to be green in color or have a nature/plant aspect to it.
I created this series of small painting for this show.

Birds and Bees: Bee        2017    j.c. phillipps

Birds and Bees: Blue Bird           2017            j. c. phillipps

Birds and Bees: Flying Bee       2017    j. c. phillipps

Birds and Bees: Red Bird              2017              j. c. phillipps

They are smaller pieces.  I've found that when we do shows at restaurants, pieces under $100 will sell.  The closer to $50 you get, the more likely you are to have a sale.   So I do my big paintings for myself and for galleries and other shows, but smaller shows like this get a different type of piece.

I'm very pleased with how they turned out.  They're very open.  Very Spring.  I hope someone sitting down and enjoying a sandwich will look up and say, "Yes.  I will buy some art today."

I'll let you know.

In other news: Magoo and I got all gussied up to see The Book of Mormon on Friday night.  Loved it!
I'm so glad my son enjoys the theater as much as I do.

Thanks for stopping in.  Have a great week!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017


It snowed.
The new normal seems to be a brown December and January and then we get slammed in February.
The photo above is from Thursday.  I think we got about 15 inches.  It snowed pretty much all day, so we all stayed in and did our thing and enjoyed watching the snow fall outside.

Then, around 3:30, it let up. Between two neighbors with snow blowers and a fourteen-year-old boy, the shoveling was not too bad.

Friday was a regular school day - although it probably should have been a delay.  Around 10 am I drove to Whole Foods, which is about a mile away from my house on a well traveled street, and it was white.  No pavement to be seen.  And slushy.

There was little traffic and everyone was driving slow, but I couldn't believe how bad the roads were.  And I'm not driving around in a truck with snow tires, either.  It was slick.  But I needed hummus, so I soldiered on.

On Sunday, we had another day of snow.  The accumulation was not as much - I think we got 8 inches, but it meant Magoo's swim championship was postponed.  Still, he found time to get a little exercise.  He and his father went outside to make a snow man.  The branches made it look like it's dabbing.

It was supposed to be a very busy weekend.  I had planned to attend the Defend Planned Parenthood Rally on Saturday as well as go to an art show, then Sunday we had the swim meet.  But the weather screwed with most of it, so the husband and I only made it to the art show.

So it turned out to be a rather restful weekend.  And now it's very pretty and wintery.

Thanks for stopping in!

Friday, February 10, 2017

PBJ: Dummy Books

Hello.  I hope everyone is well this bright snowy morning.  We got creamed yesterday with about a foot of snow, so I have bright, white windows next to me as I type.

This week I put together a dummy book for the project I'm working on with my critique group.   We'll call it Project: Fun! I've been working on it for a little while now.  It has a very simple text and a majority of the story is told through illustrations, so a solid dummy book is a must.

If you don't know, a dummy book is basically an outline of the book as I see it.  The book is broken up into the correct number of pages, the manuscript is layed out as I imagine it, and there are sketches.  When I started with Wink, the dummy book was an actual physical book that I had made a Staples.  Now, it's a pdf.  (I like that, because it saves time and money.)

 I draw all the pictures by hand, with a pencil, and then scan them into my computer.  Then I add the text and assemble the pages.  Usually I do a 2-page spread for each pfd page, but here you can see 4 book pages lumped together.

See, just pencil sketches.  Nothing fancy.  But they still have to be neat.  Editors need to be able to tell what is going on.

An illustrator will usually do 3 - 4 pieces of finished art, so editors can really see what their intentions are.  You don't want to do more than that, because A.) It work that you're not being paid for yet, and B.) Editors might want to change things - like the trim size or the colors or cut a character.

Here I've inserted a couple of pieces of full-color finished art into the dummy.

I would love to say I have the story and the words all worked out before I get to the sketching process, but more often than not, the pictures and the words grow together and change together.  As a result, I could fill a small museum with all the of sketches, prep-work, and test art I have done for my published books and my unpublished projects.  Oh my word!

It's great being an author-illustrator because I think it really helps an editor to see the whole story, but having to add the visuals also adds a very timely layer to the work.  Fun.  But timely.

So that's what I was doing this week.

Thanks so much for stopping in!
Have a great weekend.

Friday, February 3, 2017

PBJ: Setting up a Skype Visit

I'm going to be honest with you.  I hate setting up Skype visits.

I don't hate the visits.  I like talking with the kids over my computer.  It's very Jetsons.  But I hate the amount of time that goes into the back-and-forth emails of setting one up.

A quick correspondence is about six emails.  But sometimes there are hassles, or dates need to be moved around, or confusion, and then you can get up to fourteen emails.  Each email takes a few minutes to compose.  I have to make sure to check two calendars, that takes a minute or two.  I proof read my response for accuracy and for errors (I'm writing to teachers, after all.) All the little minutes adds up.  It's tedious.  And not fun.

Normally, throughout the year, I get a request here and request there.  No big whoop.  But with World Read Aloud Day coming up (which I have long since been booked for) I've been getting about 8-12 requests a week!  It's nice to feel the love, but this is what interns are for.

This is how I keep track of everything.  It's my super sophisticated system.  (Har, har.)  I write the visit up on a post-it with the date, time, and teacher info.  Then I mark the Skype on my wall calendar and highlight the day.  Then I write it on two other flat calendars.  A lot of coordination goes into making sure I am where I need to be - even if it's on my computer in my studio.

That's what I've been doing today.  I'm tired.  I'm going to have an afternoon pick-me-up cocoa.

Thanks for stopping in and enduring my whiny author post.
Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Little Felt Animals

"An unexamined life is not worth living." - Plato

"An unproductive life is not worth living."  - Me 

I like to make things ... even when I'm winding down, hanging with a friend, or watching TV.
Knitting was a good activity for awhile, because I could make scarves, hats, and cowls while chilling on the couch and chatting with a friend.  But I have a lot of hats and cowls now.  So my new thing is little felt animals.

 It's perfect.  Everything is hand stitched and it's portable.  I can take it to a swim meet or a work on one at friend's house. 

I started with the book Stitched Safari learning how to put the pieces together, but now I'm into making my own patterns.  The unicorn and the fox aren't in the book.

I'm sure I'll get to the point where I've had enough, but for now, I'm really enjoying my cute little friends.

These are just some of what I've made.  If you'd like to see more, you can follow me on Instagram @jcphillipps.

Thanks so much for stopping in.  I hope you are finding the cute things in your life too.

Friday, January 27, 2017

PBJ: Submissions & Rejections

My current story - let's call it Project: Dog - is currently in submissions.  That means my agent has made a list of editors and has sent the project to them.  It's been out a week and a half.  He sent the project to eight editors, four rejections are in.

Two rejections were in within two days!  (I like a good, quick rejection.  The longer the project is under consideration, the higher my hopes get.  So if a couple people write back immediately with, "Nope.  Not for me."  I think that's great.)

The tough rejections are the ones where the editor really likes the project.  Once an editor held onto two of my projects for months.  The editor really liked them but had some other things going on that the editor had to deal with first, but wanted to hang onto the projects exclusively.  Long story short, after holding them, and giving notes on them, and receiving revisions, it all came to nothing.  That was a crushing blow.  But that which does not kill you ...

Most of the time, when you get a rejection, there will be a small note.  The editor usually lists something they like: the art, the expressions, the humor.  And then they'll say why they're not picking it up: the art, story too slight, it didn't grab them.  It's never fun to get a rejection, but any feedback from a professional is helpful. 

I've started keeping two sets of files.  One file is for the editor.  I collect all the feedback I get from that editor and then I can get a sense of what he/she likes, or if they like me at all.  Obviously, if someone just doesn't get me, it makes no sense to submit to them in the future.

The other file is on the project: where it was sent, when, and the feedback.  So far, out of the four rejections I've received for Project: Dog, there hasn't been one main criticism.  If there is - and sometimes there is - then I can do revisions and correct it before the story goes out for Round 2 of submissions. 

So that's where I'm at.  Getting a load of rejections is always arduous, but it only takes one "Yes."

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Women's March 2017

It was a thrilling Saturday.

Photo by Phyllis Meredith.  I'm the tall one.
I had signed up for the Hartford Women's March (which was really a rally at the capitol) a few weeks earlier, when the count as 1k.  I knew people going down to Washington, but I'm not a traveler. But I still wanted to support this very important cause.  So when I saw they were having a demonstration in Hartford, I jumped at it.  (BTW - I think there were more than five thousand people there.  Some counts have us at 10k strong.)

Then, on Saturday morning, I saw all the posts on Facebook about Women's Marches around the planet.  It was global!  I can't even tell you how touched I was.  For one thing, I felt the support of the world.  We were all standing together.  For another, it made me feel very good that the rest of the world knew what we were doing -- they knew that so many of us were not OK with this president or his administration.  They knew that not all Americans stood for erecting walls, or tearing away people's rights, or revoking health care.  They knew that were we rejecting hate, xenophobia, homophobia, and misogyny.

My friends Stefanie and Phyllis stood beside me.  Stefanie made the awesome cat signs.

The atmosphere was wonderful.  So much support.  So many smiles.  We may have come to roar, but we were all filled with enthusiasm and encouragement, it was more like a really loud purr.

To me, this march said very clearly, "We have a voice.  We can organize.  And we're watching you."

Here's some of the art I made for it:

I entered a poster contest.  I didn't win, but I had fun making the art.  I'll be making prints of it.

This is the sign I carried.  The motto is not my own.  I saw it online and loved it.  But as fas as I've seen, I'm the only one who added Cyndi Lauper's face in a pussy hat.  I'm all about the visuals.

After seeing the global marches, I made this design to put on the t-shirt I wore.  Fortunately, it was a glorious day and I could show it off a bit.  (Unfortunately, it was way too warm in January and our current administration doesn't seem to have a problem with that.)

It was a wonderful day and I'm proud to have been a part of it.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!
Thank you so much for stopping by.