Friday, May 06, 2016

About The Children's Book Academy Picture Book Course

This is going to be a fabulous course for anyone interested in writing a picture book. I recommend Children's Book Academy courses for their thoroughness and quality of information, relevant learning materials, lectures and webinar opportunities. This course starts May 16. Click below for information.

MAY 15

I've just finished the Children's Picture Book Academy's Mastering Middle Grade Novels course and I now have in my hands the best thing I have ever done. Not kidding!
I've been working on this book idea for sixteen years and finally, with the help of the course I found my way through the process, turned the voice into a twelve year old and my muse appeared and I found an ending that actually made me feel like dancing again.
So no matter what happens, the process was a good thing to do for me. A selfish me.Woooo hooo. I want to dance now.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Butt in Chair

I have been taking a fabulous course from the Children's Picture Book Academy.
Middle Grade Mastery. That's where I've been. Writing a Middle Grade novel.
Organizing and rewriting a book I have been working on for sixteen years.

Butt in the chair and my nose to the keyboard since the beginning of March.
Now I am coming out of this place and I am still feeling and thinking like a twelve year old.
I have almost 30,000 words and a story that works.
At least I think it does. I have no idea if it is any good, but it is done. Wooohoooo!
I need to celebrate at least for getting this far. To an ending.
At least for today.
Tomorrow or next week I will probably go back another ten times to edit and adjust and add to it.

Now I am going out to the library to get some exercise and clear my head.
I highly recommend the Children's Picture Book Academy courses.
Mira Reisberg and Hillary Homzie have put together an incredible amount of information with an endless amount of generosity and sharing of great learning materials and resources.

Outside the streets are in bloom. Spring in Vancouver.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Painting and Loving it

I am writing and reading and learning in an excellent writing course for middle grade children. It is helping me to go back to a novel I have been working on for sixteen years. I never sent it anywhere because I didn't feel ready and I think this course is really going to be helpful to me in so many ways.
And I have been taking an online oil painting course with  Dreama Perry. I thought I'd post some of the painting exercises. These are from two exercises. A cupcake and a sunflower in the style of Dreama Perry. I do hope I can adapt this new way of working into my own work one day soon.
Dreama is the most inspiring and beautiful person who shares her gifts and her love with her students and it is a beautiful thing to be a part of it. Here is her website.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Anti Bully Thoughts and Actions

I am suddenly going through a blip in my life with a family tragedy and a world turned upside down. I came across a wonderful website dedicated to stopping bullying and I feel like this is a perfect week to post it. The website is and here is a link to a song about standing up against bullying.
I came across this while doing some exercises related to a writing course I have signed up with this week.
The Children's Book Academy course on writing  middle grade novels. This is day two and I am totally into the process again of writing.  I am so happy to be taking time for this! I LOVE writing. I had forgotten. And what a great way to focus on more positive things. Now off I go, and back to work.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

K's & Grade One Watercolours

We finally finished our project with watercolors, salt and collage with painted papers.
I took photos of the art with my iPad camera. I emailed them all to my computer and edited this little display in Corel Draw for the blog to remind me of what we did. A couple are missing. But for now...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Print Making Fun

This week I had another opportunity to make art with a lovely class of K's and grade ones with their wise and creative teacher. I stumbled onto a great idea from Cassie Stephens, an American art teacher with a fabulous blog. I have followed her blog for a while now. Yesterday I discovered her videos of a print making project with grade threes and I was so impressed I thought we might give it a try. The teacher was open to the idea and so we made prints! It turned out to be great fun. The children seemed to love the experience of making these bright and vibrant prints. And I loved the fact we could use non toxic markers and pencils. I managed to find a package of Scratch Foam sheets at Opus Art Supplies in Vancouver.
I took photos of some results.

Friday, February 05, 2016

February Blue Grey Days

February days. Grey and rainy. Snow drops are peeking out along the sidewalks from muddy gardens. Crocuses peeking out on a lawn of soggy grass. Maggie and I walk around each morning searching for just a few more signs of spring please. January was my dizzy month. Vertigo. Not fun. But I think I am getting over it.
I am working with a lovely class of bright and energetic kindergartens and grade ones. We have been using pastels which was great fun for them. But very messy. They didn't seem to mind. And we have tried watercolours with salt and I wish I had taken in some real watercolour paper because it could have been better for them. And also, in hindsight, I wished we could also have used inks and dyes instead but I decided they would be possibly toxic to small hands. So we have less brilliant effects. But they were so happy about the process. And maybe process is what the sessions are about.

I took a set of watercolours in to the second class because I thought we might  get stronger colours with the salt. We used bigger brushes instead of those skinny useless little brushes that come with school watercolour pan sets. At least we could get more paint onto the paper this way and they worked better than I expected.  I took paper plates and showed the children how to mix colour. Once they started painting they threw themselves into it with what seemed like a little bit of joy. They loved the salt part.

 Idea for blue valentines using salted watercolours against a nice blue sheet of construction paper.
Pastel artists at work.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

A New Year Begins

Happy New Year to everyone out there in blog land! I guess most of us are getting back on track and into a new year of new goals. Julie Hedlund has been conducting  Twelve Days of writing with the purpose of helping writers of kids books to start the New Year with a sense of accomplishment from last year and inspirational exercises to get us moving into 2016.

 I have posted my exercises here so I will not forget that last year was filled with good projects and many experiences.

I will be working with a kindergarten class this year beginning very soon. I will be soon talking to the teacher and then I will build a lesson plan and create a project for the kids. I think we may be making masks among other things. Not sure yet.

I have signed up for a painting course with an amazing painter Dreama who has developed an online oil painting course of six weeks duration beginning on January 23. Sign up was opened up yesterday and numbers are limited. For me this is so exciting.
I have always wanted to study with a great painter. In art school my teachers had styles that never appealed to me and I sort of fumbled around trying to find my way with dull paints and bad brushes.

BUT when one has great artists as teachers a student can grow and learn and almost be transformed. In 1971 I had the great fortune of taking two workshops at the Haliburton Summer School of Fine Arts in Ontario. One teacher was a man named Sam Black and one man named Viktor Tinkl  These men taught me about how art can flow with colour and movement and pattern and line. What I learned from those two day long workshops had a great influence on my life's work through the years. What I learned from these two men came in handy for animation studies when I studied at Sheridan College. It came in handy for paintings in watercolour through the years. Those courses came in handy for the illustration work I did when I worked as the Vancouver School Board illustrator in the Media Services Department. And when I studied at Emily Carr the skills and knowledge learned from those two Haliburton teachers were so helpful. And now I have found someone who is also just as amazing to learn from.

Dreama's style is full of colour with beautiful subject matter and my heart can barely wait to start up with her class. I need to buy oil paints and supplies and I need to organize my space for painting. I have always wanted to give oil painting a good try. I will probably post progress on my blog as I learn new ways. There is still space and I highly recommend her course to anyone out there who may be interested in learning from a great painter.
I feel so blessed and I am so grateful to be able to continue to learn and hopefully to grow in the work. (Not in my size though! Too many Christmas shortcake cookies!) LOL.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Two Skaters on A White Winter Background

I have been making Christmas designs and cards for friends and family. I love this time of the year. Instead of my usual angel designs, I've been thinking more of my grandson who loves to skate. So along with the Winter Piggies I now have some skaters.
 I will print them out with my Canon Pixma printer on Canon Matte finish photo paper and then I will paste them onto Strathmore greeting cards and then I will give them to my friends and family at Christmas this year. It is pouring rain in Vancouver and it is nice to think about how beautiful and cheering a scene of white snow can be.
And I am feeling optimistic because I have five manuscripts for Picture Book Ideas ready to send out. Almost. I just need to write cover letters and then figure out who to send them to.
If you click the image it should come up larger on the screen so you can see the detail.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Winter Piggies Diorama

I have made a WINTER PIGGIES Diorama for kids and grown ups who haven't quite grown up.
I think they also make fun finger puppets for kids with imaginations for stories.

I have made a pdf file which I would be happy to send to anyone out there who might want to print and download their own set.

It is fun to do and I know because I just finished cutting them out to test them. This is really cute even if I do say so myself.

If you want a set in pdf format just comment here and we can figure out how to send it along to your email address.
Happy Holidays have begun! Woohoo!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Back To Piggies

I have been so busy writing and taking courses but I thought I would post my little piggies choir. It has appeared in the midst of Lynne Chapman's course on CRAFTSY in creating interesting characters. I love playing with this and I am always glad to be able to learn new techniques.

And then I took them into Corel Painter for color. And a little digital nudge of the legless guy to pull him up on the page and add some shoes.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Racoon Character

I couldn't help myself. Had to post this little guy. I think he needs a story and a name. I am really enjoying Lynne Chapman's course in drawing characters.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trying New Ways

Back to blogging. I hope. Where does the time go? As usual I have been doing too many things all at the same time. Just for fun I thought I'd try taking a course from one of my favourite British Illustrators since she recently blogged about taking a trip to the US to film a session of videos with a company called CRAFTSY. I had never heard of them but I looked them up and signed up for their newsletter. Two days ago they launched Lynne Chapman's new series about drawing. So I decided to give it a try. Now I am learning about her style and approach to drawing. I must say I am so happy to be trying this out. I am kind of bogged down in my own old ways of drawing and having some new ideas from a master's approach to illustrating for children is absolutely inspiring. She is a great teacher and the course is quite thorough and reasonable price of around $40 for a very extensive set of videos and one can do it all on one's own time.
Here are some of my sketches. I have taken them further into my own software, CorelDRAW for vectors and then Painter for details, which is my own way of finishing things up. It's the drawing part that is so much fun really. I highly recommend her course to anyone interested in drawing animals and children for picture books. All you need to start is paper and some nice soft pencils.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Creative Process Again

OK. So I got carried away with ideas for Halloween. Wrote a silly song when I was bored and playing with my iPad. Added verses. Realize I have a picture book manuscript here. Some of the characters are slugs.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Halloween on the Drawing Board

This is what I have been working on this week. Off on a Halloween tangent.
All the years when I had my day job, I missed not being able to just play around with this kind of silly kid stuff which is what I love to do.
These characters seem to be waiting for me to find them, and I have!
It's a good thing there is nobody around here to tell me to get serious.
In truth I really am serious even if it may look frivolous.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Halloween Song with Loopy APP

Woohoo! Who knew what fun one can have with an iPad.
I created a Halloween Song for kids with LOOPY on my iPad.

I sent it to SoundCloud and if anyone is interested in listening to my song here it is.
Rotten Apples by M.J. Muir.

I am sure teachers could have creative times with their classes if they are lucky enough to have iPads with apps like this one.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Two doodles with Procreate


I thought I'd post a couple of little doodles. Procreate is a neat little drawing APP for iPad that plays back the process of drawing.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Two Percolated Sketches

Since I do have some time to play, I thought I'd post some past experiments from my iPad in case there is anyone out there who might be interested in making art with an iPad.

To make the first sketches, I used Art Rage App. If you give it a try, remember to save your design to your photos files and then open them in  Percolater App. You might be surprised at how interesting your image becomes.
Click on the image here to see a larger view on your screen.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Playing with Waterlogue

To my iPad friends out there who like to play with art making apps...
I took my iPad to the park and snapped some photos of a couple of kids playing with a Jack Russel named Eddy. I changed the images to watercolour effect in Waterlogue App just for fun and to conceal identities.
For a closer look, if you click the image it will come up larger on your screen I think.  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Percolated Card Designs

I made some cards today   which I will be giving away over the next months to friends and family for birthdays and special occasions. I thought I'd share them with my friendly readers here.
The flower images are like little treasures found on my walks around the neighbourhood with my dog over the spring months this year.
I discovered that Percolator app creates some amazing effects with a flower photo as I have said in previous posts.
I have also tried Superimpose APP to play around with the flowers to pull them up out of the Percolator abstract circles.
I print out these images from my Canon Pixma printer onto matte photo paper. I can get three-up when I lay them out in CorelDraw on my PC.
I am sure most people have a photo editor on their PC and I think you can usually print in two or four on a sheet.
I buy Strathmore blank photo mount cards and envelopes and I use the little stickers that come with the cards or a glue stick to mount the photos on the cards.