Saturday, April 29, 2006

Just a reminder about the photos...

if you click on them they will enlarge so you can see more details. :) Enjoy!

Here are some pics from TLA in Houston. That's our booth, a nice corner spot. Our flyers and books/bunnies. The convention center looked a little like the titanic. Madeline flashes the LBKF gang sign, and Miriam's smiling because day one was over! Whew! Posted by Picasa

I took this of myself without looking and I got a cool building and lighting effect with the reflection. Sorta art-y and urban looking... me likey much, much Posted by Picasa

Here are some springtime/easter/friends visit photos. Paul with the goatee lives in Georgia and Ty lives up in Dallas. Our other friends Jeff, Sara, Laurie, Tabitha and Phil are featured in the other pics. Posted by Picasa

backing up a bit in time, this was from the Gods & Goddess party, which turned out to be a wedding of our friends. Yes, we artists tend to stray from normalcy... and we like it that way :) Posted by Picasa


Well, on to better things...

The TLA, short for Texas Library Association, had their yearly conferrence in Houston this year, and as both an author/illustrator and Art Director I got to go and be part of all the fun and mayhem.

It was amazing! I think my fellow BloomingTree-ers will see past all the hard work and preparation and remember it fondly... in a few weeks! They claimed I lost it toward the end, but then I was sitting alone at my table talking to my new panda puppet, so they may have had a point.

It was a huge expo type convention that had ailses of booths for different vendors. Most of the vendors were publishers like Blooming Tree, showing their stock and giving out catalogs and ARCs, short for Advance Reader Copies. Our ARC was neat, it had the first two chapters of all the books coming out this year (minus the picture books). Little bunny Kung Fu was on the cover of both catalog and ARC, and I think could be declared this years unofficial mascot.

We had the toy bunnies all over the table, and the little guy literally stopped traffic. "Who is this cute little bunny? Um, and why is he in a karate outfit?" then followed by, "Little Bunny Kung Fu?! Like little bunny foo foo, oh bless my heart, and this is the book here?! I'll take 2 books, and 2 bunnies, why not? Ethel? Ethel, get over here and look at this rabbit!"

So, we sold out of all the books and bunnies that we had hauled down there. We would've brought more, but someone cautioned Miriam that it wasn't really a "selling" convention.... erm, WRONG! heehehe...

And Houston: What the heck are they calling Dallas the Big D for? Houston was much bigger than I remembered or ever knew. We stayed at the Hyatt downtown (I roomed with Madeline my editor... will she ever be the same?), and we hit fabulous weather... probably the freak 3 days of mild weather for the year. I had all you can eat sushi which passes for heaven on earth for me, and I even got to pay homage to Ikea... sniff... soon it will be in Austin, soon... must hold on...

The other vendors included library furniture companies and puppet manufacturers (see panda puppet mentioned above). There were also vendors for library computer cataloging systems, which was neat, and professional storytime people like magicians and ethnic/cultural storytellers. And everyone was giving out stuff: free yard sticks, free posters, free books, free greeting cards, free bags, free candy, free hats. All the little librarians were carting around rolling luggage to haul their loot in like it was the airport.

I also got to meet an author I'll be doing illustrations for Stacy Nyikos. We bought each other's books and signed them. I read her book Shelby to my storytime kids and they loved it! It's about a lemon shark, and it was a hit. I read Gilbert the Great and Five Little Sharks to make a shark theme. Hopefully we'll have her down from Oklahoma and she can do a storytime/signing at our stores in Austin.

And out of the blue, I was walking along not terribly observant when someone went, "Regan? Regan! Oh my word, I'm Suzi, Virginia's cousin!"

Now, I did know I had family in the Houston area, but I had no clue Suzi was a librarian or would be at the convention. I have to give her credit, because she put 2 and 2 together in about a nanosecond. She saw my nametag "Regan" and remembered that I had written a book, and with that she hailed me down. We had lunch and a real nice visit, and it was an unexpected treat on top of everything.

So that's my TLA blog entry. I'll post some photos, too. No one else at Blooming Tree may be ready for next year at San Antonio, but I got my puppets and bunnies and can't wait to wear my "author" hat for a few days!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Oh, I know it's sad, but he was such a pretty puppy, I wanted others to see him, and the nice people who loved him. Posted by Picasa

"Life's hard on the little creatures..."

That's a quote from Raising Arizona. I thought of that when my parents told me that their little puppy died from a whatsit I can't spell, but more or less a birth defect.

I mean, really. What kind of a world lets cute Cavalier King Charlse Spaniel puppies die, I can't help but wonder. Yes, we just went nuclear on the ants in our kitchen, and the chicken I had for lunch was once a yellow fuzzy cutie... but puppies? No freakin' way. They should be indestructable, cars should bounce off them because of their universal force field of protection. Yes, when they grow to be good or bad adult dogs it's back to doggie-beware, but puppies should get a pass on the whole death thing.

Oh well, I guess there's gotta be puppies in heaven, but I'm sorry my folks had to see him go. I think someone should suggest the whole indestructable puppy thing to someone upstairs... just a trial balloon... send it up see what happens...


Monday, April 17, 2006

Oooooh, I'm gonna get in trouble! Jill and Zack, friends from college days, have moved back to town and I had to dig up embarassing photos to herald their return. Disclaimer to family: No, I don't smoke, it was a prop for the photo, honest! See, it's unlit! And ABFAB, short for Absolutely Fabulous, remains one of my favorite British shows featuring ill behaved posh women. Welcome back you two! (oh, she's gonna kill me!) Posted by Picasa

How cool is my little brother?! I love this photo, Ryan :) It's wicked awesome (yes, I said wicked awesome, I don't care if that dates me). I can see the True Hollywood story footnoting, "And Spencer Ryan also had a sister that writes and illustrates children's books. How Spencer and Virginia Johnson raised such creative and ambitious children remains a mystery." Love ya, bro! Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 14, 2006

This is a digital piece I did of the Japanese goddess Ko No Hana, who is the goddess of the cherry blossom (which is a big deal in Japan). I chose to go to the themed costume party as her, and at some point I'll post some pictures of me. Posted by Picasa

The "Meh" Stage

When doing a full blown acrylic painting, I've come to term a stage the "Meh" stage (you have to do the noncommittal shrug when you say it). It's the stage in my painting where it sort of goes from a really dynamic drawing to a mediocre, blah kind of painting.

I know part of it is that I try to pull all the colors together by glazing over the entire piece in the same color. This keeps me from getting that 50 state map looks with my colors. But in doing that I usually loose all my highlights, so it looks muddy and dull. I'll add the highlights back in to make it pop and dazzle and whatnot, but it's like going through a tunnel. It's also harder to judge if I'm making a huge mistake in the "meh" stage, too.

But to get the slightly antique or soft effect, it's a road I gotta take. I just have to tell myself not to jump to any conclusions when in in that stage. Part of me just wants to "like" the painting all the way through the act of painting it, but I've come to realize that somewhere in the middle of the process I have to let it go and then hope I can bring it back.

Now at this point I could make the allegorical connection that this is a lot like life, sometime you hit the doldrums, and you gotta just get through it.... but that's a little "Chicken Soup" for me :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I'm a freakin' Manga Artist!!! This is from the opening scene of Light of Nor (copyright Blooming Tree Press), and it's the first drawing where I went... "Ya, I got it." May be a psychological thing, but I'm lovin' it now! Kinda like when I got to the point where I could draw bunnies in my sleep. Woohoo! And this one frame just kicks ass, I'm sorry... I get goosebumps! Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 07, 2006

What's your sign? This is a very rough sketch of little sign pictures for the LBKF website that I'll someday finish. Each animal is a year in the chinese calendar, and they're all ready for kung fu action... Mom and Ryan, I think you're both the year of the boar (go hogs!), and dad you're my favorite: The Kung Fu OX!! heehee Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 06, 2006

here's the invitation design I did for SCBWI's show next month. There will be a couple of posters made for it. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's work... including my own, note to self FINISH my May tree piece! :) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Me and my favorite caveman *uhga* Posted by Picasa

Here we all are (minus poor Kristi) in the cave. Lauren was so cute, telling us all to watch our heads. She didn't even get scared when they turned out all the lights! Posted by Picasa

that's a very tiny bat that we saw in the cave during Mike's family's visit Posted by Picasa

Aunt Regan reads Green Eggs and Ham to niece Lauren :) Such a cutie!! Posted by Picasa

isn't she adorable?!?! This is our Topsy on top of her cage. Posted by Picasa