Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Letter to the Fans of Esther Rayde

Dear Fans of Esther Rayde:
Esther Rayde was the nom de plume of Tyra D. Sheere. It is my sad task to inform you that on May 6, 2011 Tyra died of a head injury on the island of Borneo. She was on her way to Australia where shooting of her Peregrine Jones Mystery series was set to begin filming. (She wrote that series and other mysteries under the name Hydra Seetre.)

Her final moments were without pain. She was sketching only seconds before her death. As her readers you know there is nothing she would rather have been doing.

Tyra leaves a large and popular body of work which we at the Mind Factory know will continue to delight and entertain readers of all ages for decades to come.

Tyra completed the final volume in her Pierce trilogy before she left on her trip. It will be released shortly. It is bittersweet to recall now that when she finished it, her note to me was short and to the point, "It's done. I'm so glad Pierce didn't die." We can't choose the moment of our death, but Tyra was able to spare Pierce for all of us.

Thank you for seeing the delight, humor, and insight in her work. She loved corresponding with you.

A memorial service was held for Tyra on May 18. Friends and family celebrated her work and life. (If you wish to celebrate it you may send memorials to support your favorite nature preserve. I know she would also appreciate it if you would teach a child to draw.)

We will miss her irritating laugh and her too observant eye.

Carol Sprog, editor, Mind Factory Books

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Clearing off the Work Table

Left: "Oscar," 12 x 16 inches, mixed media on Fredrix Watercolor Canvas Board. (The photo is a little too violet. I have to get it shot professionally.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.

As my trip approaches it's a flurry of activity here. I'm trying to clear my work table of all jobs pending and needing completion. On Friday, April 29, it was a joy to wrap up this commission portrait of Oscar! He came over for a play date and more sketching (well I was sketching). When he left, it was back to work for me.

I love writing and I love creating the illustrations for my books, but I have to say that the best part of my job and life happens on days like Friday, with dogs like Oscar.

The painting has been sitting on the easel since then. I've been casting a fresh eye at it every so often. I've resisted the urge to get fussy. Today I know I've successfully resisted and it's finished. All I have to do is sign it. Which I'll do right now.

What do you think? I think Oscar needs a book of his own.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What Bertie Saw—Coming Soon

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Fantastic news, the cover for What Bertie Saw is finished and I can show it to you! I'm excited about it (though I think my name on the spine is a bit hard to read, but my editor assures me that the proof on her desk is clear). It won't be too long now, I'll keep you posted.

This has been such a great year for projects ending and being released. Several years of work all coming to a head. I'm looking forward to new projects…but first, more good news—I'm going to take a trip back to Australia. I hope to post on my travels. I'll be working on a current project as I travel, giving a couple talks (readings/signings) and I'm going to be stopping along the way for a little vacation time, and of course, sketching!

Thank you all for the wonderful reception of my children's books.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New Sketching Friends

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A couple of weeks ago I met Roz Stendahl, who is a local graphic designer and illustrator. She keeps a blog about journaling and too many other topics to list: Roz Wound Up. Well when I met her I asked if I could paint her portrait and she said yes. We got together Friday. To warm up we both sketched her rubber chicken puppet named Gert. (I have known her only a short time and already I know that she names everything!) I had so much fun sketching Gert that Roz graciously allowed me to take Gert home for a few weeks—until we get together for more sketching.

We spent so much time sketching Gert that we ran out of time for me to sketch Roz. But I did get this one sketch in, so the mind and hand are thinking about it. Also Roz was overjoyed that I'd sketched her in my journal because of her Project Journal Infiltration which you can read about here.

You can see some of the many sketches that Roz has made of Gert on her website and blog.

Gert over text.

Gert black and white.

Gert face on.

Gert with a fortune.

Two views of Gert.

You get the idea. And those are just from her website. Gert is all over her blog. Obsessive isn't it? Yeah, I like it too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cover Proof for "That's No Excuse…" Has Arrived

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We are one step closer. The cover proof for That's No Excuse… arrived in yesterday's mail. I'm thrilled with the endorsements the editor was able to gather! If it turns out to be a popular book will there be plush toys in my future? A girl has gotta hope.

(A huge thank you to Janice whose lovely cat modeled for Bill in looks, not attitude.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

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The other day, perhaps because the temperatures were warming, I decided it would be a good idea to take fluid acrylics into the park and sketch the geese. Big laugh. Other painters may have great success traveling out and about with fluid acrylics, but I found that it was a lot more equipment to lug around. (I needed to carry a water bottle and two former yogurt containers to hold my rinse water; several brushes; paper towels; a flat plastic tray for a mixing palette; plastic jars to hold some paint; and my collapsible chair.)

The good news is that I knew I'd be sketching geese so I only took three small jars of paint (blue, orange, and white). (The small plastic jars have lids and they fit into a palette—which I didn't have at this time, but now do. Art Alternatives makes them. They are pretty spiffy.) So essentially it was as if I were painting with inks, holding little bottles.

You can see the original sketching brush strokes in the unfinished portions of the goose on the right. Frankly, it wasn't that warm after all. And the wind was causing a skin to form on my paints when the jar lids were off.

Definitely not a well-thought out plan. Thank heavens for gouache! But it was great fun to see the geese back in the park. Eight pairs so far.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Peek at a New Project

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Above is character sketch I was working on the other day. I don't know that this project is going to come to anything yet, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a little bit of it.