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The post I meant to post Monday, before everything changed! It’s a cat painting!

30 Jan

Before I got some startling good news, I was finishing up a little piece of artwork, and I was getting ready to share it with you. But I got sidetracked…so I’m sharing it with you now!

I’m participating in this cool fundraiser for the Roanoke Valley SPCA. It’s called “Best in Show,” and here’s what it is, according to RVSPCA website:

Artists and pet lovers are invited to create artwork in any medium for the 8th Annual Best in Show.  Images can be of pets or any animal friends.  Artwork need not be only a painting, photograph, or collage.  Sculpture as well as designer dog and cat houses, pet beds or prototypes of your designs are also welcome!  All artwork must be for sale with at least 50% of the sale priced being donated by the artist to the RVSPCA.

The RVSPCA Calendar Committee members select the “Best in Show,” which will be featured as the cover of the 2014 RVSPCA Pet Calendar.  Winners in other categories will be selected by guest judge, Karen-Sam Norgard.

“Best in Show” opening reception is sponsored by HomeTown Bank.
Artwork will be exhibited at the Taubman Museum of Art on Friday, February 22, 2013.  Unsold artwork will be featured in a virtual art show/sale on the RVSPCA website and Facebook page.  Unsold artwork will remain for sale online until the end of March.

Fun city, in other words, and for a good cause. Here’s a sneak peek at my entry:

It's called "Snacktime." And guess who's allergic to cats? But I sure love to paint them.

It’s called “Snacktime.” And guess who’s allergic to cats? But I sure love to paint them.

Also worth noting is the faux wood on all four sides of the canvas…

I love fake wood. How's about you?

I love fake wood. How’s about you?

Come on by to the Taubman Museum of Art in my favorite city, Roanoke, VA, on Friday, February 22, 2013. You can buy it! Plus, you’ll see lots and lots of cool entries! And definitely check out the RVSPCA website if you’re interested in submitting your own artwork.

A history lesson: 12 Sock Monkey holiday cards on 12/12/12!

12 Dec

For your viewing pleasure, I have compiled twelve Sock Monkey holiday cards that I’ve created over the years. This year’s card just went out today…and I’ll post it here on December 25th! We’ll go from most recent all the way to 2001. Remember 2001? That seems like ages ago.

2010: A homage to Peter Max. This card was originally gonna say “Merry Christmax” in that classic Peter Max signature font. BUT I woke up at 2 a.m. AFTER the cards had been printed out, realizing that maybe Peter Max is Jewish. Guess what? He is! Christmax? OMG. Luckily, Tom figured out that we could just cut that portion off the bottom, and that is what I did. So today, you’ll see what got cut off on the back after these cards got trimmed. Anyway, here it is, front and back both:

Psychadelic, dude!

Psychadelic, dude!


It was the copy next to the picture of Max and Monkey that got chopped.

Here’s 2010’s card, a little nod to Andy Williams and his song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I really, really love those Andy Williams Christmas specials, and was very sad when Andy died this year. Anyway, the inside of this card said, sure enough, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” And if you’re like my mama, who is sick and tired of yard work in the summer, it is indeed a good time.

20102009’s card imagines what might have happened if Sock Monkey (famous actor) showed up to audition for the greatest Christmas special of all — the Peanuts one. Check it out! Here’s the front when the card is folded up:


…and here’s the inside:

20092008 saw a Hawaiian theme, and came with a paper ornament of a very Hawaiian Sock Monkey! These were printed on bright, neon-colored card stock.


Here’s the inside, with space to write a note:


And here’s that ornament. Extra credit for those of you who might still have one of these on your tree!



2007’s card was a near disaster. Each card came with a squished penny featuring Sock Monkey. I had found a site on-line that could make customized squished pennies. The pennies were awesome, except they almost didn’t come in time. My sweet mama and I stayed up late putting the cards together, and then she raced me to a post office that was open late for the holidays, and most people got them in time. I vowed that night to never rely on another person for part of the card ever again!


Here’s the front…


…and here’s the inside of the card. There’s a gray line on S.M.’s paw, and I used an x-acto knife to cut that line on each card, so that I could insert the flat penny there.


This was the design for the penny. I don’t have any actual pennies — I gave them all away!

2006’s card had a German theme. And even better, these cards came with Sock Monkey gift tags that you could cut out and put on your gifts. I just found a few of these the other day, and I can’t wait to use ’em!


I wrote the recipient’s name on the gift tag that S.M. is holding.

Here's the back of the card.

Here’s the back of the card.

Sock Monkey gift tags!

Sock Monkey gift tags!

2005’s card is a personal favorite. My parents have a bunch of those old Firestone-sponsored Christmas albums, and my siblings and I listened to a lot of them when we were kids. (Best one of the lot wasn’t Firestone-sponsored, but man, was it good — the Bert Kaempfert one. Just so danged right-on.) Anyway, this one was square, like an album cover, and inside there was a little record (we wrote notes on the other side of this). Cutting circles takes forever. Note to self: do not do that again!

Sock Monkey looks so handsome here!

Sock Monkey looks so handsome here!

Here’s the back of the “album”:

You might be able to read all the wacky albums on the bottom of this...

You might be able to read all the wacky albums on the bottom of this…

And here’s the “record” that was inside the album. I think I taped or glued together the front and back of the card and then slipped the record between them.


2004’s card was all about Shrinky-Dinks! I found actual Shrinky-Dink paper on-line and absolutely went to town.I was able to send this paper through the xerox machine, and so each person got one of four Sock Monkey designs to color and bake.

Here's the cover.

Here’s the cover.


Here’s the inside…

Here's the back...

Here’s the back…

and here are the Shrinky-Dink designs!

and here are the Shrinky-Dink designs!

2003’s card is another personal favorite. We found a 70’s era Sears catalog in an antique store and bought it. (Tom and I are kids of the seventies, so we couldn’t resist. It was like a time capsule to our childhoods.) I soon realized that it had a lot of potential for a Christmas card — remember the Sears wish books? Hilarity ensued.


Lookin’ good, S.M.! And who knew that S.M.’s dad was such an absolute hunk?

The long underwear section still makes me laugh after all these years.

The long underwear section still makes me laugh after all these years.

S.M. even looks great in women's wear!

S.M. even looks great in women’s wear!

2002’s card is inspired by old sheet music. Who knew that Johnny Marks teamed up with Sock Monkey to create another holiday opus, S.M., the Red-Reared Monkey? These were printed on off-white (ivory?) card stock to make them look even more like the old weathered sheet music that has been sitting in your piano bench for decades.

One of the few times folks get to see what the real Sock Monkey looks like...

One of the few times folks get to see what the real Sock Monkey looks like…

The words to this (superior) song are:

You know King Kong and J. Fred and Grape Ape and Cheetah / Bubbles and Koko and Magilla Gorilla / But do you recall / the most famous monkey of all? / S.M., the red-reared monkey / had a very crimson rear / and if you ever saw it / you would even say “That’s weird!” / All of the other monkeys / used to laugh and make him blush / they never let poor S.M. / feel O.K. about his tush! / Then one foggy Christmas eve / Santa came to say / “S.M. with your rear so rouge / won’t you guide my sleigh so huge?” / Then how the monkeys loved him / and they shouted from the trees / “S.M., the red-reared monkey / you’ll go down in history!”

Sheer poetry!

Sheer poetry!

2002’s card was a hand-made hodgepodge. First, I stenciled on the light blue trees with acrylic paint. Then I ran the paper through the xerox machine to get the words (from that other great Christmas song, I’m Dreaming of a White Christtmas) and Sock Monkey’s outlines on there. Next, I made a little stamp for S.M.’s mouth, and 2 more little stamps for the boots, and stamped those on each card. Next, I painted a swath of white snow on the ground. Then I used a toothbrush to splatter some snow on top of the whole thing. And finally, I trimmed ’em. Time-consuming but purty.


And finally, 2001’s card: simple but heartfelt. This one was made with a linoleum print. It’s another of my favorites. You can’t go wrong with Dickens!


I hope you enjoyed all these cards! One thing I’ve realized is that the more elaborate cards were made during the years that I was not so busy either with work or parenting. So this year’s card is not so elaborate, but that means I had plenty to do, which is usually a great thing! Check back on the 25th to see it! Happy holidays!

Super Tiny Lil’ Bit at the National Book Festival!

25 Sep

Some of you might know about my compulsion to chew my fingers and fingernails to death on long car rides. This has nothing to do with Tom Angleberger’s driving, as he is quite good at it. It’s just something that happens, because I tend to get anxious about Things That Matter as well as about Things That Don’t Matter. To prevent this, I come prepared with stuff so that I can make something during our trip.

This time, we were headed to the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, to which Tom had been invited to do a presentation. I decided this time to make something for the Amazing Dav Pilkey (totally worth clicking on his link, by the way). What did I make? It’s Super Tiny Lil’ Bit, and here he is!

Introducing Super Tiny Lil’ Bit, looking pretty spiffy!

and here’s his cape!

But first, why Dav Pilkey? How could I possibly know the inspirational genius behind such masterpieces as the Captain Underpants series, the Ook and Gluk series, the Big Dog and Little Dog series, etc., etc.? I actually don’t really know him all that well. Just 5 minutes worth of knowing him, is all. But here’s what happened in those 5 minutes. During the Decatur Book Festival, we gave Dave this Dav this origami Captain Underpants that Tom had made:

Tom’s Origami C.U.!

And Dav loved it!

A thumbs-up from Dav Pilkey!

He liked it so much that he and his wife sent us the Most Amazing Care Package Ever Sent to Anyone on This Planet Earth. Seriously. And so I felt like the only way to thank him would be to make something else to send to him. Thus, Super Tiny Lil’ Bit.

STLB was done by the time we got to DC. So I decided to have a little bit of fun with him. He got to do a little sightseeing… and a little hobnobbing, too. He was a great ice-breaker and helped me talk to some of my favorite writers and illustrators, and also enjoyed spending some time with my pals from Northern VA. Check it out:

STLB for President! If he won, he’d live in this beautiful house.

Michael Buckley of N.E.R.D.S. and Sisters Grimm fame! He wore an Evel Knievel suit to promote his new book, Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show. Hilarious.

Matt Luckhurst, writer and illustrator of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure (be sure to check out his amazing videos on his website. OMG, as the kids like to say.)

Peter Brown, author and illustrator of Children Make Terrible Pets, plus plenty, plenty more!

Superfriend Madelyn Rosenberg, author of The Schmutzy Family and Happy Birthday, Tree!

Superfriend Butch Lazorchak, Library of Congress Mastermind/Digital Archivist!

New Superfriend Laura Mihalick, Trip-Planning and Scheduling Mastermind at Abrams/Amulet!

Wunderkind Adam Rex, of whom I am extremely jealous. That dude can outdraw anybody! Check out his book with Mac Barnett, Chloe and the Lion. Actually, check out ANY book with his name on it as author and/or illustrator. Amazing!

Mac Barnett! Heavens, those of you following this blog will know of my obsession with his book, Extra Yarn (illustrated by Jon Klassen). I was so happy to finally meet him.

And of course, STLB spent a lot of time with this fella:

I saw a bunch more folks, like graphic novelist and all-around lovely Raina Telgemeier of Smile and Drama fame, Wimpy Kid mastermind Jeff Kinney, author/illustrator Bob Shea of Dinosaur vs. The Potty fame (so fun to talk to!), hard-working Amulet publicist Jason Wells, and Super Library Guy Rocco Staino… and somehow did not manage to get their pictures with STLB like I should have. But it was so cool seeing all of them, too.

And then, we stopped in England to show STLB this:

Oh, wait! It’s really Foamhenge in Natural Bridge, VA, a creation of the supremely talented Mark Cline!

Anyway, a great trip. I’m sending Super Tiny Lil’ Bit in the mail to Dav this week. I’ll miss him, but based on the care package we got from Dav, it’s safe to say STLB will be VERY well fed, indeed. And Sock Monkey? He won’t miss STLB at all. He’s still not talking to us about this trip and all the people and places he didn’t get to see. Uh-oh.

Big Announcement!

29 Mar

Goodness gracious, Tom Angleberger’s new book in the Origami Yoda series has been announced! It’s called The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, and here’s the cover:

Yahoo, Tom Angleberger!

I am extra excited about this book because… guess who made the fortune wookiee that is featured on the cover! That’s right: YOURS TRULY. And honestly, I can’t remember when I’ve been so excited about any book, including my own. Let’s face it. Tom’s books are amazing, and that’s because I’m pretty sure that Tom was put on this earth to write books. He is a natural at it in a way that I am not. So his books resonate with lots and lots of people… and I think more people will see this small bit of my “work” on the cover of this book, than will ever see of my other stuff. And that’s cool. Because who wants to look at average designs featuring Justin Timberlake and the other members of NSync? Not me! Anyway, the book comes out in August. And it’s gooder than good!


I sold my soul to Justin Timberlake

21 Mar

A long, long time ago, I did freelance work for a paper company in Virginia. They got the rights to put all sorts of imagery on their products. Designers and illustrators then took this imagery and created covers for notebooks, folders, pads of paper, you name it. I got to do a lot of illustrations for Crayola products (yay)! But I also sold my soul to the corporate machinations that kept the careers of the five members of NSync humming along. I was given oodles of photos of the members, and then told to create notebook covers that combined these photos with backgrounds and design elements of my very own making.

So… I am pleased to report that I had some small part in helping Justin Timberlake get something back (as his solo song claims); since there might be kids reading this from time to time, I will neglect to say what that something is. I am also happy to report that Justin and I both are closer to what we are meant to be doing: I am making kids’ books, and he is dancing and singing as the Cup O’ Soup mascot (and various others) on SNL. Cheers, Justin. I hope I did you justice with this layout (one of the zillions that I ended up making). And you, unlike me, have not aged a bit.

Wowza wow wow!

Sock Monkey for President!

14 Mar

Just in time for election season, I bring you these presidential buttons!

S.M. is totally non-partisan! Also, non-parmesan!

Today’s Shout-Out!

14 Mar

Today’s Shout-Out goes to the incredible Madelyn Rosenberg, who has TWO BOOKS coming out this fall: Happy Birthday, Tree, a Tu B’Shevat Story and The Schmutzy Family. And there’s gonna be so much more a-comin’, too, so keep your eyes peeled. I, for one, am very excited about what’s a-comin’. She has been toiling and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for so long. Seeing her books on the shelves for the first time will be like a national holiday in our house.

Who is Madelyn Rosenberg? I first met her when she worked with Tom at our local paper, the Roanoke Times; she was an ace reporter and features writer (and sometimes an editor, too) who could make you laugh and cry with just one story. And soon I found out that she had a zillion ideas, all of them good. A lot of them were hilarious get-rich-quick schemes. But what was and is great about Madelyn, is that she gets really, really excited about your ideas, maybe even more excited than she does about her own, and then she lights a fire under your be-hind so that you are helpless to do anything in her presence but to pursue that idea. She has been a huge support to both of us over the years, and I am particularly thrilled that Madelyn herself is soon gonna be OUT THERE.

I once did these little paintings for another friend (who will be getting her own shout-out soon). The paintings showed human organs anthropomorphized (if that makes any sense at all). Madelyn went wild about the idea of goofy organs. I mean, wild. I made her a little painting of a variety of organ friends, and she went wild again. So then, I made her newborn baby a quilt (which was probably intended more for Madelyn), and it had 26 organs on it, for each letter of the alphabet. Here are a couple of the quilt “squares”:

K is for Kidneys!

F is for Femur!

Madelyn, you are so #1!

Jackie’s Menagerie

13 Mar

Here’s what happens when the animals get to model Jackie Kennedy’s fabulous outfits from her White House days! (I covet these clothes and if I had an ounce of femininity, I’d try to find something close to them to wear on a daily basis. Really.) I made these into packs of 12 note cards and gave ’em to pals for Christmas presents. In any case, these pics show that even a slug can look good, as long as she wears Jackie’s stylish clothes. I’m also experimenting with WordPress’s slideshow feature. TOTALLY EXCELLENT! Thanks, WordPress!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(The clothes photos were by Karin L. Willis, from the book JAQUELINE KENNEDY: THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS: Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, by Hamish Bowles, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Rachel Lambert Mellon, ©2001 Metropolitan Museum of Art. The pics are purely for fun — not profit — because I didn’t actually get permission to use the photos!)

Oldie but Goodie: Over in the Meadow

12 Mar

I made this little book for my older kid a lifetime ago. It’s based on the old Over in the Meadow song, which he loved, and I altered it only slightly. It was sorta experimental for me — I scanned in little animal paintings and combined them with photos that I messed with to make them monochromatic.

Here it is, in its entirety:

R2 Kit2

7 Mar

I have cats on the mind this week!

Sent from my iPad