imAGYnations- my creative process

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Scaredy Cat takes a Horse of the Same Color.

I have not blogged. When I went to Chautauqua, there’d been a number of people who’d strongly suggested I blog. I resisted. I part because I was fearful and unsure of what I would say. I mostly wanted to whine, and complain, and grouse and curse, and who would want to listen to that, especially from a kid’s writer and illustrator? So I didn’t blog, until my friend Margo built a blog for me in anticipation to our collaboration. During the first of the three computer crashes of last year, I lost the blog, and couldn’t access it. Which was a shame, because the people at Chautauqua, Patty Gauch, Peter Jacobi, Pat McKissack among them had been absolutely right, I LOVED it and it helped so much. But then I was about making it mostly about the work and only slightly about the gripes.

I’ve had grand plans to make this, WordPress work, but have let my financial situation (I can’t maintain much of anything as I have no steady income at the moment) and my lack of focus and confidence get to me. So the best has been spotty offerings. Because the launch of my second book, one that I’m proud of was less than stellar, and yet again, there’s been a round of people dying close to me, I slipped from having set goals and working every day to achieve them to just descending into wandering the meander in my head. 

It’s spring. I DID accomplish getting my book written, illustrated, published in the time frame I needed. I may not have accomplished what I wanted to exactly, when exactly. But I DID, and that’s freakin’ life. Hey, I knew that, so pick it up and dust yourself off and get on with it. 

I need to get a trailer done this month (new technology) and a new website designed (new technology AGAIN), and uploaded, before the end of the month when my old website becomes DEFUNCT. I can whine or I can get on with it. Time to get on with it. In the end it’s about doing or not doing it. Sometimes you do it and really sucks. It smells de-functy. But most of the time, it’s more like what just happens, frustrating, not expected, surprising often, but ultimately worthy doing what needs to be done, and having something to show for it. Yep, that’s what I’m telling myself until I finish the next two goals.

For breaks I have a bunch of writings, and some drawings for colored books I want to intersperse with the no doubt frustrations. To show I’m serious, I posted the next whine, er blog post, I’d been avoiding, because it’s time to not avoid, and just get on with it. Once I get the website and trailer up, I will also take on the past challenge of a new blog header  that I’d done with the lost site– embrace what you fear, and embrace what you love.. And all this means jumping on the horse I’m avoiding, and riding it down the new paths, and perhaps grazing a little bit until I reach the new destinations. 


My earthly dearth…

I had been hard at work on my current book with a deadline for the 25th to have it formatted and up in Createspace and Kindle. I’m not sure if I’ll make that. 


I bought an external hard drive to ease my angst (ironically, I’d bought a flash drive to save my files, had done my blog talk reviews for Jd Holiday on her It’s Story Time show, written on my blog, saved to flash and my computer crashed. Utterly and completely. And the jpegs and gifs were rescued but my books and all Photoshop documents were lost. Literally nearly the same thing happened– okay I was THINKING of blogging, but other than that, I backed up all the files (didn’t do the programs, major duh) but don’t know at this point if they were saved).


So now I’m waiting on wiser people than I to pull my butt out of the sling it’s in over the slow roasting fire. There’s been quite a few emotional setbacks in the last week, which is ironic because in the previous two I’d been thinking seriously of writing more humor. Seriously. (Especially when some had noted that there was a bit of an absence of Maine humor. It’s there, but far and wide, kind of like hopping the Portland Bay islands). Seriously.

And weirdness. I get epiphanies walking and sleeping and had one after spending the night with my eyes glued to my lighted magnifying glass (the real reason I don’t read as much as I used to). So hopefully in the next two days I’ll get on line.There are some things on process I want to share, but I can’t access my files to illustrate, so I will wait, bide my time till this weekend. And other things I want to share about the journey of publishing, not sure I want to invest, especially without the breakup of images. So there it stands.

Next month, besides trying to consolidate this blog with a website and all the other ventures, I will create Facebook pages for my books, as well as develop classroom guides, at least for Annie. And try my durndest to not be heartbroken over this shtuff and get that happy back.

Good LUCK!

room with a view

I get so verbose and introspective, and then I find stuff that just tweaks, sings, resonates, resides with me. Poor Hello, Fig, had me at “room with a view”. It all makes me smile.

hello, fig

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Fun, fun fun, or a small moment for Beth…

I am having SUCH a good time working on my book Duke Day for Annie. My diabolical plan to trick myself, seems to be working and I’m falling back in love with what I do. Following your bliss can work, even if you misplaced it for a bit.

There’s something that I find sensuous about creating art, and I don’t mean that in a sexual sense so foggedaboutdat! I mean that it just involves all pieces of me, and when it’s going well or I’m involved, ALL of me is involved. I also loved teaching; I got way better at what I did because of practice and articulation.  I no longer have the time nor the energy to split between passions, so I though I could do a few tutorials on my blog, until I’m comfortable with my Youtube channel. 

I asked on my Facebook pages if people would be interested in knowing how I did this


in Photoshop, and got a couple of responses, so here it is.


Open you doc and set it to the specifications you’d like. I like working smaller and then making larger. It makes the work quicker and easier. Draw the forms you’d like (I have a real thing about form and reflected light, and that’s a lot of times what gives something form. Looking at actual objects, and their light sources and rendering them is something you should be doing if you’re interested in drawing. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make confident and capable!)


Think about what direction your light is coming from. I chose from the right (you can get all kinds of different effects if it’s in different directions or different kinds, Again. LOOK at things, observe them!) I chose the three basic forms. So you know you can draw anything if you know how to break it down into it’s basic form. You are not drawing a thing, you are drawing the relationships you see. The light, the contrast, the form, the color, I draw on top of the base copy by adding a layer. I work in just a few different painting/blending modes. If you want a guouche or oil feel with it go with normal mode. when you paint, you’re painting OVER the layers underneath. I choose multiply a lot because it’s watercolor, transparent. For a smooth lay down of color or value, use a larger brush– like butter! I blend. A lot. You can add texture through blending, painting or a combination. Play with it for the effect you’d like.

I add another layer (hint, if you like something ADD a new layer, LABEL your layers, so you don’t have to go through 35 layers to find the one adjustment you have to make because you missed it (don’t ask me how I know this one. A few times). I did this again in multiply:


and blend:


I added another layer in Normal to darken it; you can get rich, values and colors by adding layers upon layers. I will take a color I like and work in a percent of value (the opacity) and get a work up of values:


You can add color and pick out the highlights like I did (this technique is similar to the Grissaille):


You can play with the contrast and make it even deeper and “realistic” In this layer I added a little white and black overlay (at a lower opacity so it’s really just a tint and a value of the color. and of course blend. Take your time with figuring out where things go. Will Terry and Jake Parker said in one of their classes that the difference between artists who are there or mostly there is how they finish it (and oddly enough I included that observation in my book Duke Day for Annie, when Maude chides Eddie who wants to play hookie to “do the job, mind your finishes” the wording is specific. Anyone can do a job. It’s an artisan who minds the finishes and if you become good enough, people can look at what you do and they KNOW it’s your finish) Anyhow the finished, er done little project. I’m off to paint a bit more, I’m nearly halfway through my book, and I’m excited to have it done!  Let me know if this helped or if you’re interested in more “lessons” over the coming months, I will be expanding to interviews with my illustrator and writing friends (I’m very lucky I have some incredibly talented people I count as friends), as well as other stuff. I love being able to think about my process a bit further and share it. I just get worried, I’m counting my belly lint and it’s amounting to a bit of fluff, lol, so I hope you let me know I’m not alone in some of these things!

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