Friday, December 30, 2005

A couple of years ago I did Mike and I as Simpson characters. (Mike looked a little more "Homer" back in Savannah, you can tell he's lost weight even in cartoon pictures!) Posted by Picasa

For those that don't watch the show, these are the family guy characters. I tried to use the same color scheme and characteristics... Mike didn't get the guy's chin because they look like... well, anyway he's got the goatee thing, whew... Posted by Picasa

Here I did Mike and I as "Family Guy" characters. I did the drawing in pencil and scanned it and used the "Pen" tool in Adobe Illustrator (which doesn't work at all like a pen, more like a really boring atari game of connect the dots). I like how it came out, especially the bearded dragon. I hope the throw blanket I'm having made looks as good as the picture! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Renamed the Gliders

Just a note that we've renamed Thunder to Topsy and Flash to Turvy. They seem much happier now. They just didn't feel they could live up to their former names since they sounded like comic book heros.

Topsy and Turvy are now cuddled under my sweatshirt snoozing away as I work on various art assignments. When they're up they're nuts and when they're down they are totally out! Kind of bipolar like that :) They're getting more comfortable with us and their surroundings. It'll take a while before they're tame enough to walk around with them when they're awake. Kind of like finger training a bird not to take off. They aren't afraid of our hands, and usually come check them out to see if they're covered in something yummy. It's the rest of the room and our body they're still learning to trust. I was playing with them last night and went to stand up to check on one that had scampered to investigate something and that sort of freaked Topsy out. She calmed down and resumed playing, but for a minute or two I blew her little mind it would seem.

We're still amused at how the chinchilla totally ignored Bilbo the degu, but is very aware of the gliders. He hopped up on the bed for a closer look and barked at them, a sound we'd never heard from him before. He's healthy and not stressed out, but I think part of him is thinking, "Marsupials. Well, there goes the neighborhood..."

Sorry to prattle on about the gliders, but being that I love animals I can't help it.

this was drawn from memory and is pretty true to life. Their hands are pretty large in proportion to their body and look very... manish (Our gliders have "Man-hands!") Their isn't much about that is rodent like. Their teeth are like cat's, their fur is like fleece, their tails curl up like a monkey's, and they sound like dogs when they bark to each other and mini chainsaws when they're crabbing. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 26, 2005

here's a drawing of how Thunder our sugar glider looks inside her sleeping pouch. Her tail corkscrews around and she'll turn her head back under it somehow. The black strip on the left is her black stripe that goes down the middle of her back. They're soooo beautiful. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Thunder and Flash

We've settled on "Thunder" and "Flash" as names for our two sugar gliders. They partly come from "Donder" and "Blitzen" which mean thunder and lightning and will commemorate getting them on Christmas Eve.

Thunder is the noisy one. She's cautious and protective of Flash. She sleeps closest to the exit of the sleeping pouch and investigates noises.

Flash is the curious one that does loops around the cage checking everything out. She's so fast, too. She found and ate the food first last night.

I carried them around in their pouch. They were so snuggly and slept the day away as I carried them around. A couple of times I stuck my finger inside with some honey and yogurt. I got nipped a time or two, but they licked my fingers clean.

We had a great Christmas and had lots of great presents from families and friends. And even better, next Christmas is a whole year away!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Santa's little helpers

Well, Santa must have stopped off at Australia before coming to our house...

But to back up a bit first, we had another pet loss that took us really by surprise. Our degu Bilbo was discovered Thursday morning gasping for air whereas the day before he seemed fine. We rushed him to the animal hospital, but the pneumonia, if that's what it was, was too far along so they put him to sleep. He had stopped chirping for his morning feeding (a habit I was relying on as backup to my snooze button) but we had attributed to the change of food brands and/or change of season. There was nothing concrete we could have gone to a vet with or we would have. It was a blow for us, and, like Twosers, Bilbo kinda set the bar high for degus worldwide...

We had talked about a pet to stand in for our husky and came to the conclusion that at this time neither of us has the time and energy to really devote to a puppy to ensure it doesn't wind up with a basket case dog. When I had Two Sox, I was seventeen and still living at home and going to high school and had time to take her to obedience school, ect... I'm sure later down the road our situation will change, but given that I'm working around the clock and Mike's got extra stuff going on, too... a dog isn't an option.

We had been scoping out alternate pets over the last couple of months, and well, with Bilbo checking out, we were both like, "Ok. Done with the grieving of the pets, already!" Bilbo and Twosers were loved, but enough with the empty feeling!

So Santa's delivered two female Sugar Gliders.

Yes, if I can't go to Australia, I will bring the marsupials to me! Sugar Gliders are a popular pet and they are marsupials, not rodents. They are most like flying squirrels and are very social which makes them very fun to have as pets. Starting tomorrow I get to "bond" with them, meaning I wear the fleece pouch they sleep in during the day for a couple of hours inside my shirt so they get my scent and know my voice. I also made some purees of foods they eat (baby food and yogurt along with a dry pet food).

They're pretty freaked out, understandably, and are "crabbing" at us. It's a sound no mammal could make, it sounds like a very small lawn mower not quite turning over. We got two because one alone can die of loneliness. One's an extrovert, the other a shy introvert but both have nice dispositions and are healthy. We're still knocking around names: I like Topsy and Turvy. The extrovert was out tonight checking things out and moved SO FAST! I mean, like an alien or something. She also liked my cooking.

We thought about a bird, but the surround sound Mike and I love so much could've come between us and the bird.

Sugar Gliders take an investment of time to tame and care for, but Mike and I are looking forward to it. We'll get some pictures soon... oh my gosh they're cute! (yes, I know I think my pink corn snake is cute, but this is CONVENTIONAL cute).

I like the fact that, as I pointed out to Mike, with the bearded dragon and the gliders, the Aussies now outnumber us :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

this was in the Austin American Stateman newspaper last week... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I've just finished a five page list of events for the SCBWI (society I'm in) for 2006. Man, time flies. Scheduling things for next winter when I can hardly believe this fall is over is a little mind boggeling.

I'm excited about being the illustration chair and trying to start up some new workshops and activities though. I'm planning some website workshops, and dummy book storytimes where unpublished books can get read to kids. I don't know what kind of turnout we'll get, but at least there are some things out there that are available.

I've also gotta get going on planning our group art show. That's where I want to show my Tree of Life that has been on the back burner for a couple of months.

So much to do... so little time...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Yesterday was a blur...

Well... The blog is to write about the goings-on inside an artist's head and yesterday I threw my mental hands in the air.

Retail is a dog-eat-dog business and during the holiday season it's dog-eat-dog-and-then-same-dog-eats-friends-of-first-dog business. Tempers are short and I have eye strain from NOT rolling my eyes. I try to be cheerful and positive, and having my book on the shelf is encouraging, but it boils down to the fact that, to quote Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, "I'm too old for this sh*t."

I'm pretty sure I'll be doing something else this time next year. I don't know what, but things are progressing in a way that I can see me starting something new. Santa, if you're listening... hint, hint.

Well, it was a combination of me having to run around all day, then I got to go have a root canal. The other root canals I don't recall being so... um... intrusive. I felt like they were drilling for Texas gold. I gagged on the bitter tasting astringent they were flushing my canals with, then I choked on my spit they didn't suck up in time, and when my nerves finally shorted out, I just cried there in the dentists chair. I didn't boo hoo, my eyes just leaked for a while. I didn't even realize it at first because half my face was numb and I was closing my eyes.

I like the dentist, only she won't prescribe anything stronger than an advil. Mike suggested such helpful ideas as handcuffing myself to the chair and holding out for the good stuff or even generic knock off good stuff. But I knew there was no getting blood from a turnip, so when I got home I gave myself a home remedy: tequila.

When Mike came home he saw the salt shaker, a sliced lemon, and a nearly empty bottle next to my ADPi shot glass. He found me in the shower where the alcohol had sped through my hot blood. I didn't have that much, but it was enough. Mike told me today I came up to him after the shower worried about how much after shower spray I used because I "zoned out" while I was spraying. When I came back around I took some advil for the inflammation and went to bed.

I woke up today and felt GREAT! I was expecting a hangover or dehydrated achiness, but it was like I hibernated. All my settings were recalibrated and I had energy. I have to say I may have had the perfect circumstances required for a medicinal Deeeeeerunk.

So, yes, Christmas can drive you to drink. But family and friends need not worry about this becoming a habit. I'm not one of those artists who can work while plastered. I guess I just needed a night off my rocker to get me through the rest of this week. If anything it has added another level of mystery and mystique for my husband to puzzle over.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bunny News

Well, LBKF is going to be found under several Christmas trees this season. The book signing at the Arboretum BN went great, though the size of that store made me feel pretty dinky. It's like a train station layout, two stories. We had a great crowd for storytime, too.

And now LBKF does show up as a picture book and the cover is available to look at in the store and online, which is a big plus since the cover looks so neato.

It helps that the book is so Cocacola red and the autograph BN stickers are green, very festive!

It's still my #1 bestseller in kids, and in the top 50 for the store. My goal is to beat out the O'Reilly Factor for Kids book (I read the sex advice chapter and how to go exfoliate... sorry, Fox News fans). I'm still surprised how many kids who can read it themselves want to buy it, too. It must be the same element that people my age like the book for. Some of my favorite picture books are ageless: Old Turtle, Giving Tree, Quiltmakers Gift...

Now this week I need to shove some books out the door and off to the Caldecott people just to have said I did it, but it would be awesome to win!

Here's the black and white version of a character sketch for a new picture book by Blooming Tree. It's still in the planning stage, but they really liked the ferret I came up with. He's from Scotland and yes, he's ringing a doorbell :) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 08, 2005

One of my favorite scenes where Mr. Tumnus finds Lucy... Posted by Picasa

Detail of Narnian painting... Posted by Picasa

here's a big watercolor I did in celebration of the Narnia movie coming out this weekend. I've always loved the books and I haven't attempted to illustrate up till now because I wanted to do it a certain way. I like how it came out. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Book Signing on the 3rd

My first Austin book signing went great considering it was the same time as the big UT game. We sold around a dozen (approx 52% of customers in the store at the time!). The kids really liked the storytime reading. I read in my comentary-type way ("oooh... do you think he's going to listen to monkey? hmmm?" that kinda thing). Afterwards I did something fun, I had 4 big sheets of white paper taped up on the wall and I told the kids to shout out who I'm drawing from the story. They won a lifesaver for guess. Then we colored and I handed out fortune cookies which I also had at my signing table up at the front of the store.

Several of my regulars came and got one, as well as the walk by's (they walk by and take 3 steps and stop with that "What was that?!" expression and come back and pick it up). A really nice Chinese lady and I had a chat about the book and she bought one for herself. That was a neat opportunity to talk to someone from China about it. She was a Budhist and is now a Christian and she really liked how the message of "do unto others" is present in the book. She at first thought the rabbit and the dragon were going to do a David and Goliath, and I had to explain how little bunny foo foo was an American nursery tale that I placed in China. Rabbits and dragons are big over there, too, she told me. Her English was a little choppy, but I loved when she said, "I keep this at my house and show to people who need lesson on respect." That makes me smile even typing it! Maybe that can be a quote for the website ;)

There was a twelve year old girl who was in cheerleading practice clothes that I got to talking to, also. I told her how I played basketball but wished I could go in at halftime and come out and cheer the other half. She asked about how I drew it and I showed her the shapes that make up LBKF and then signed and let her keep the sketch. That made her smile.

I've sold several at the store, though I haven't smoothed out how I'll present myself. It's hard when they ask me, "What do you recommend" or "What book do you really like?" I mean, have I lost all objectivity now or what?! Sometimes I introduce myself as the author, and sometimes I just say the author's local and had a booksigning her this past weekend. I cringe at the thought of me doing the later way and they go up to the cashier and they say, "Oh, yeah, Regan's the one who helped you..." Of course this is the kind of "problem" I've dreamed of having!

Looking forward to the siging next Wed at the biggest store in town. Their storytime crowd will be bigger, more like the Savannah crowd. That should be fun. It's kinda like being a commedian, I work better with a lively room.

Off to work on more stuff... huff, huff... sigh :D

Saturday, December 03, 2005

This is what a pyrenees looks like, though not the one in the story :) Posted by Picasa

An AMAZING dog story

Kathleen is a super bubbly fun lady I work with and she has the most amazing dog story that I've been lucky enough to been present for as the story unfolded over the last few weeks...

Kathleen is a size -2 if that's possible, a very petite lady yet she has a grand pyrenees dog which weighs in somewhere in the 170 lbs range. I mean they are like polar bears, huge dogs! She's always talked about how gentle and sweet her dog is and how it will try to crawl up on your lap because he thinks he's the size of a toaster.

A while back Kathleen came to work with a grizzly story. She had been staying with her elderly parents who live on a fenced in ranch outside of town. She called in her dogs who had spent the night outside and was horrified to see her pyrenees and her other big dog both covered in blood. She couldn't imagine at first how they could be so bloody and still be able to walk, but after inspecting them thoroughly she discovered it wasn't their blood. *insert creepy music*

She also found a scrap of some denim on the pyrenees and a scrap of maybe a shirt on the other dog which led to the chilling possibility that they may have attacked a human. Showing more civic responsibility than say I would, she called the police and told them what she knew. She also called the hospitals and nearby clinics to see if anyone had been checked in for a dog bite or mauling.

All the while it seemed off to her because her dogs were so used to people and had never bit anyone. The police showed up and began interviewing Kathleen and then her parents. After finding where the attack happened and what her mother later remembered, here's what we think happened...

Earlier in the week one day two men rang Kathleen's mom's doorbell. First that's odd because their property is all gated and the gate was closed so they somehow got through it and walked about a quarter mile all the way to where the house is tucked away. They told her that there was a dead tree near the property line that they saw and offered to cut it down and haul it off for them.

Well Kathleen's mom is the traditional little old lady who seemed to be living alone (her father was bed ridden), and these two fellas appeared to have tried to pull an "In Cold Blood" on her. According to police, the two then returned in the dead of night probably thinking she had a mattress full of cash and no one would witness a robbery. The police found where they had parked a truck in the back of their property by the gate and scaled over the fence. They also found where Kathleen's two dogs went to town on them, too. Spread out over an area was more blood, more bits of clothes and 2 pairs of abandoned shoes (can you imagine a dog fight that knocked you out of your shoes?!). A trail of blood led back over the gate and to the car, so they were well enough to drive but they didn't check themselves in anywhere.

Thankfully the police were of the opinion that if they still handed out medals to dogs, Kathleen's two dogs would be decorated for valor. She still can't believe her dogs knew to attack them. Could they smell crime? Did they try to hurt the dogs when they came upon them? Did two angels posses the dogs and do some righteous ass kicking?!

I just thought the story was worth sharing. Hopefully the police will be able to track down two dead tree volunteers with massive scars!