Self portrait

September 18, 2012

I'm going through boxes of old work in preparation for redoing my website.  I definitely don't remember doing this one, it must have been a while ago...


Some Great Teachers

September 3, 2012

Both my parents taught high school science and were very successful at it. Growing up with them, I had a lot of time to observe what teaching is, and what makes a teacher good.

Devil's Garden, Roger WinterRoger Winter, Devil's Garden, 1990

Roger Winter, who taught my drawing class at the National Academy School, is a great teacher. Smart and dedicated, with a wicked sense of humor, he mentored a generation of artists during his three decades as a professor at Southern Methodist University. In our class, Roger was truthful about what I did well and insightful about what I could work on. He cared about my progress but didn't take weird responsibility for it, because teachers aren't trainers and students aren't performing seals. I always felt Roger gave me the best advice he could offer, but whatever I made in the room with him, I owned. From September 15 to October 20, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas will host a retrospective dedicated to Roger's body of work: Lost Highway – A Painter’s Journey. A second gallery at The MAC will exhibit work by prominent artists who studied with him. Kirk Hopper Fine Art is hosting a simultaneous show of Roger's paintings called Between Heaven and Earth. I wish I could get to Dallas this month; if you're in the area, go, and say hi to Roger for me.

Going up the the country

August 15, 2012

Ella Bernice on the Doerr family farm

My 93-year old grandmother is failing, and I’m flying to Illinois this weekend to see her, probably for the last time. I hate to lose her because I love her, and because she’s my one living connection to a generation of country badasses who knew how to make, build, grow, hunt, cook and preserve what they needed.  My grandparents taught my parents to do some of these things, and my parents taught me. Some of these skills will trickle down to Holly so she, too, will know how to clean fish and can peaches. She may not know what it's like to do these things to survive, but she’ll have the feeling of self-reliance that comes with knowing how. That feeling will get you through a lot of experiences that have nothing to do with fish and peaches.

How to Paint a Penguin

July 23, 2012

Big thanks to all who came out to 440 Gallery this weekend.  It was great to read my book in public for the first time (with my trusty studio assistant by my side)!

I also led a workshop to show how I made the book. First we looked at source material.

(Someone asked how penguins sound, so we listened to them, too.)

I shared a handful of the hundreds of sketches I made while inventing the look of the penguins and their world. Even grown illustrators use trial and error!

Next I painted a penguin to show how easy it is if you're like me and don't worry about staying in the lines. (As you can see, I was passion in motion, never still long enough for a clear photo):

Finally we turned the kids loose on the art supplies!

At this age, process is more important than product. That said, the results were nothing short of spectacular!

What a great day.  Kids, go make your own books!

Free Kids' Art Workshop

July 17, 2012

This Sunday is the last day of the "Mice to Monsters" show, and I'll be teaching how I draw and paint penguins. The child who masters my technique gets to illustrate the sequel to BABY PENGUINS EVERYWHERE!!

Snacks will be served.  The air-conditioning will be on.  And the magic hat will be in attendance...

Sunday, July 22 4:40 pm 440 Gallery 440 Sixth Avenue, Brooklyn

(Stick around for workshops with Bill Zeman and Mariko Suzuki-Bertocci! Or cross the street to Patisserie Colson for ice cream!)

Gallery Show

June 18, 2012

Three of my paintings will be included in "From Mice to Monsters: Illustrations for Children," a group show at Brooklyn's 440 Gallery.

The opening is 6-9pm on Thursday, June 28.  I will also be giving a talk on Sunday, July 22.  Refreshments will be served at both events. My work has been exhibited before but this is my first gallery show.  Very exciting!  Please come!



Bulbasaur 1, Furry Brown Thing 0

June 12, 2012

In 2002, conservationist Andrew Balmford published a study showing that 8-year-olds could identify more than 120 Pokémon characters.

Those same 8-year olds recognized less than half the native plant and animal species they were shown.

The real world is full of interesting creatures, so to help kids learn about them, scientists are developing a card game called Phylo. There's a coral reef deck, to which I contributed, and other decks are available or in the works. They're free, and kids can submit card art for consideration. So if you and junior want to know more about that brown thing that's eating a peanut in that green stuff, get some!  Download a starter deck here, or build your own set card by card. (PS:  A FREE DECK to the first person who comments and correctly identifies the brown thing.  Kids only!!)


Street Seats

June 7, 2012

Writing and illustrating books can turn you into a lonely desk potato.  Since I like other people and leaving the house, I enjoy collaborations like the Street Seats tumblr created by my friend Rebecca Pellman.  It's exactly what it sounds like.  Anyone can contribute, so if you see a Street Seat, snap a pic and share.  It's good for you!

Sneak peek

May 11, 2012

A look inside the front cover.  Exciting!


It's finally here...

March 10, 2012


Do you like books? Penguins? Happiness? This is for you! Also appropriate for any kid, grandkid, preschool classmate, distant cousin, bird, or total stranger in your life. Publication date is December 6, 2012, but it's available for pre-order at Amazon!