6 December 2013


This morning at breakfast I told Desmond that I would like to write a blog about brainstorming by yourself.  As soon as the words came out of me, we both bursted laughing.  It is a little bit absurd since it takes more than one person to brainstorm. But what I am hearing is that it is lonely out there for alot of artists and illustrators and writers.  The path of an artist or writer is in fact a lone venture. I sometimes can feel that loneliness as many other artists do.  A few years ago I would brainstorm with a couple of other creatives in my graphic shop where we would design products, write marketing texts, etc... During our lunch time we would talk about our personal projects and brainstorm.

The energy that happens when you share your ideas and then others build on that idea, which in turn brings you other ideas is very stimulating.  However when you are by yourself, in your home or studio and you are trying to brainstorm an idea and there is but an echo in your house from no feedback... it is in the least not very stimulating.

I find that when I am in writing mode, I get stimulated by anything I hear.  It could be on TV, a conversation, I hear more new things in a day than  I see.  (Unless I do research for visuals).

When I write it is all in my head, the inspiration is within and unless I actually talk about and explain in legnth, another person can't see or feel where I am going because I also have a huge amount of information stored inside which no one else sees or knows about...

However brainstorming for illustration purposes is quite different.  The drawing will stimulate emotion or a feeling to whoever sees it, be it finished or not.  People will give their opinion more openly and sometimes without even knowing what the project is about.  Constructive criticism or not, that is not brainstorming.  However someone might say something about your work which you hadn't seen and sometimes that can get you going.

With lack of other creatives around me, I brainstorm by doing research on the net.  It is my way of being up to date on what is happening artistically out there.  However the enormous pool of talent out there is incredible and you shouldn't let that de-motivate you.

A critique group could be a good place.  If you do not have a group you can make one up.  Post on facebook and ask others with the same interests as you if they would like to join.

Apart from that, I find that brainstorming is best when you are just waking up and nothing is disturbing you.  Of course if you have children or you have to hurry up for work, that certainly puts a damper on the brainstorming. Which in that case, when everything quites down... I just close my eyes and start thinking specifically about a project and then ideas just come.  You have to let all the crap step out of the picture and that sometimes takes some time to achieve.

Tip #1 : Give yourself some time.
Tip #2 :Carry a notebook at all times

Listen to everyone around you, what they are talking about.  Always keep in the back of your mind how you can have an idea for an illustation or a book.

For artists or illustrators, I found a get together they were giving on nude models.  Everyone brought paper, and the mediums they wanted to draw with.  It cost 25$ for a 4 hour session, with 5, 10 20 minutes poses.  You get to meet other artists and see how others work and improve your drawing skills.
Make new friends and be inspired!

What ways do you go about helping yourself to be more creative?
I am sure there are alot of artists out there that would really like to know.
Have a great week!

27 November 2013

Where the heck is that sketch?

Do you often find yourself searching for that sketch you did a while back?
Do you get frustrated looking through piles of paper for that exact sketch you know would be perfect?
Do you have a system?
If you don't, read on and hoepfully I can give you a great tip I am using to organize my drawings.

If you are like me, you sketch on paper, in pads, or whatever flat material that lies around.  And in my opinion nothing replaces the sketching on paper. I can sketch in bed, in a waiting room, looking at tv, talking on the phone... etc. 
I often sketch on the backs of paper too, because I can go through a lot of paper and isn't it often the case where that drawing that you were scribbling about comes out spectacular and it is, of course behind another drawing.  That also hinders my search of drawings and sketches. 

Do you also stuff your drawings in filing cabinets, drawers, piles on top of your drawing table, on shelves, in between books and pads... I hope I am not the only one ;-).

Anyhow in between working as a graphic designer and illustrating and trying to write, I search for my stuff alot!  I've tried different systems of organization... does organization and artist go in the same sentence?  Not for me, I'm a little disorganized.  But that really frustrated me and so I had to find my things quickly and I was really fed up at not being able to find them when I need them.  I mean I do not want to look everywhere, through the piles of paper to find what I need and it only gets worse when I am working on more than one project.  Needless to say, the more I would search for that " special " drawing the more disorganized my papers would get.  Filing was tedious and I did not like going through file folders.  So I just wanted to share with you what I do now to find that sketch, thumbnail or comp etc... and now when I am coming up with story ideas.  It's not that long and it hardly costs anything!

What you will need is binders, different colored ones. 
Indexes (you can also use your file folders cut in half and three hole punch them.
Then write on the tab of the file folder.
I separate them by theme such as :
manuscript, thumbnails, comps, character sketches, environment, stories etc...
When I work on a specific story, I put the manuscript I am working on in the front section, 
I keep a double spaced print.   I also make dummies and what I do is I use the plastic transparent sheets and stuff them in there.  There are binders that have pockets and you can put your dummies in there.
I gather all my papers and try to work as much as possible in a 8.5 x 11 format for sketching and that way it is easy to just three hole punch.  If you don't want to three hole punch your drawings, you can buy those plastic protective sleeves that you can insert in binders with a space that is already allocated for the three holes.  That way you see both sides of the paper and keep your drawing intact.
If your working on more than one project, use a couple of binders.  So the red is one thing and the blue another.  If you have more projects and you need more binders just write on the spine of the binder what the project is.
This way, I find you can quickly spot the binder, open the section 
and quickly flip through the pages and find what you need.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other way to find that little thumbnail, comp or drawing!

Keep drawing or writing... just keep being creative!

19 November 2013


Do you work out of your home?  Is your studio in your house? I've moved my office back home and I have the distinct feeling, some people don't think I actually work.

I have a print shop and a graphic studio.  When I am at the print shop people think I work because I am at an "official" work place.  A couple of months ago, I developed an allergy to the fumes that were emanating from the machines when they were being washed.  I found out that you can develop allergies at any age.  But now I had a dilemma, I had to continue to work but how would I manage it.  I decided to move my office the graphic part at home.  By the same token, I would have more time to devote to my illustrating, since everything for illustrating was already at home.  Research books, light table, drawing table, paints, pencil crayons etc... So I merged both together.

So since I've been "home" in my studio working.  I find that certain people around me don't really think that I am working.  At one point over supper a family member was jokingly saying that I had an easy job, I just played all day and drew.  Hmmmm. It's funny how people perceive things.  In my reality, I am not playing... drawing takes alot of time and technique and planning.  To have a good drawing, I need to think it through, doodle, thumbnail then make a comp... then add a bit of color, try out different colors schemes and then get down to finalizing the actual drawing.   But the drawing is a product.  A finished item.  An item that I can sell and make money with.  That's what I think people that are not in a creative job don't see.  They don't see how much work is involved.  When they do have a chance to see a glimpse of the process it looks easy.  They didn't spend the whole time it took for us to come to this point.  If we make it look easy it's probably because we are good at it.

I too, love looking at illustrators draw on youtube.  The speed painting videos are amazing and inspiring.  The talent pool out there is stunning.  Yeah, they make it look easy and it looks like fun, doesn't it.  When you see someone draw, it's rather rare that you see someone painstakingly frown and cry and be in an frustrated state... they usually are happy or content when they draw.  That's probably because it brings us in that "creative" space and to me, any kind of creating is good.

So if people around you think you play all day and you "just" draw.  Take it as a compliment, and maybe, just maybe you are inspiring them by having the audacity to follow your path, your dreams.
Maybe, just maybe a part of them wishes they had that type of courage.

Keep drawing!

1 November 2013


Are you one of "those" people that wake up at a specific hour each night?  Or around the same time each night, or every so often?  Are you one of "those" people that have an incredible idea in the dark, in the middle of the night, when everything is silent around you?  But in your head is a whirlwind of ideas just boiling with excitement and just crying to come out?  What do you do about it?
If you let it go and try to shut your mind off, you are shutting your inspiration.  If you are trying to ignore it and are just mad at yourself for waking up at such hours, for no good reason, you are shutting your creativity down.  If you are rolling around in your bed, tired, aggravated over the fact that you are not sleeping and trying to force yourself to get back to sleep after all you only have a few hours left and you have a big day tomorrow...you are blessed and don't even know it.  

Yes, I am one of "those" people.  At first, I would talk to myself, yes in my head... don't you?  "Come on Annie, go back to sleep.  Why am I not sleeping, too much caffeine, to many worries, financial problems, family problems, what is keeping me awake?  Or is it the list of things to do that is so long and that you might have forgotten something that had to be done and you blew it?  

However, one night I decided to just sit up and just write everything that was in my mind.  My company was the thing that was waking me up, I had to do this or that the next day.  Or I had to give marching orders for such and such a project.  But I soon found out, that my mind was bombarded with all sorts of things... not only work.  Then I started listening to ideas and then it gets interesting.

As I was preparing for bed, sitting at the edge of my bed, I would give myself my marching orders.  I wanted to get ideas.  It can be for anything.  At first it was for fashion designing outfits.  What I would do is lay down in bed and just close my eyes and try to see different things.  If I wanted to be inspired by nature, I would imagine nature elements and eventually fall to sleep on it.  It didn't take long that I would wake up with an incredible idea.  At this point.... VERY IMPORTANT... do not think you will remember the next day.  Chances are you probably won't.  Or worse, you will remember you had this amazing idea and it will be sooo close to remembering, but again, the chances are you won't. 

So you MUST at this point open the light and take your notebook and draw it out or write it out.
If you are not alone, at that moment and you want to have peace and not be disturbed and this becomes a habit... I would invest into a small light, flashlight any kind of little light that won't wake up the person next to you.

I find these nightly episodes a treasure trove.  This is the best time, where the best ideas come out.  What do I attribute this to?  Probably the silence of the night, the lessen activity around us and meaning all around us even outside our home.  A time where our brain sorts things out and finds the answers to our questions.  A higher self in tune with what we need and what we are open to hear, listen or receive.
I believe it is a place where we can tap into ideas, creative sources and is a higher state than what we deal with on a daily basis.  

You will be on a natural high even if you might feel somewhat tired.  The exhilaration of the great idea, invention, poem, story, illustration or whatever idea you had, will well be worth it.

Notes:  Look at the time you wake up and see if you always wake up around the same time... I wake up around 3 or 3h30...
Always have a pen, pencil and notebook, sketch pad
Write, draw just grab that idea!

Are you one of "those" people?  Let me know.  If you are on FB, just like if you are... i want to know how many of "those" people are out there.

31 October 2013


In the past few months I have been exploring many different venues for my illustrating career.  I've been following lessons for up-ing my game with the DIGITAL WORLD...and I have been dabbling and doodling around different ways of painting.  I once heard that it was better to have one style and stick to it.  Really?  

I mean I can understand that if your doing a series of books, the style has to stay completely consistent throughout. That's a given.  But in my opinion, depending on the level you are illustrating for, you need a certain type of illustrator.  For example for a young children's book maybe Justin Gerard would not necessarily be your first pick.  But Will Terry or I may be a good pick.

When I illustrate a picture book, I want to know the age group I am illustrating for.  I want to put myself in their shoes and I want to know their level of comprehension, curiosity, interest, fascination.  I want those tiny awesome beings, be in awe and embark on the fascinating journey those illustrations can bring.

In my opinion, not all illustrations styles can create that magical place.  But all illustrations have to be drawn with the intent, to capture the imagination of the child and create a visually magical place that will stimulate their imagination and creativity.

So many books in my childhood have stimulated my creativity and imagination, as well as songs and rhymes that I will never forget.

I understand that the publisher, editor, artistic directors and all those who choose the illustrator already see or have a sense of what the book is suppose to look like, and most of them already work with a multitude of extremely talented artists.  

Of course when you think of a certain artist and their style there are those that stick out in my mind such as, Dolie Day, Will Terry, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Rob Scotton, Petra Brown, Mary Engelbreit, Jean-Baptiste Monge, lafianceeaubeurresale,
Arianne Delrieu, Elina Ellis and the list goes on 
and on...

But then there are those who are multi-disciplinary such as Kevin Keele, Jake Parker and others that can draw in different styles.

Now the question came, where do I want to be?  I want to have the freedom and capacity to draw in different styles too.  If someone asks me to draw something quickly or in extreme detail I want to be able to do exactly that and more than satisfy their expectations.  

So from my experience as a traditional artist I turned my methods of producting art around in order to better serve my 
clients.  Here are a few of the different styles I do...

(1)oil painting, (2)  to sketching (3) to digital painting (4) Colored ink and digital enhancement
(5) Vector only clipart (6)  Watercolor effect digital (7) Color comp digital.

What do you think?  Do you think it is better to have one style or many?

23 October 2013

MY ACORN ADVENTURE (The artist's point of view)

 Last weekend was just a wonderous feast for the senses... it was warm with a breeze of that incredible autumn smell.  I was in a great place.  I had just discovered an incredible artist, Jean-Baptiste Monge and I had planned a private workshop with him.  It didn't matter that he wasn't giving workshops.  
You see I had contacted him by email asking if he gave classes around the Montreal region or online for that matter.  He politely answered me back that it was not excluded in his possible things to do, but at the moment he was too busy with all sorts of contracts. Believe me, this guy must have not enough hours in a day, if you saw his stuff, you would understand.  But that is irrelevant (the fact that he is not giving classes) this is my goal now.  To see if I can achieve that level of drawing, painting. Yeah the bar is up there, way, way up there.  
So going back to my private courses with him,  I am a unknown LIKE in his facebook page.  But what that has brought me, is to his postings.  So a few days before, he posted a speed drawing video, which I quickly went to see on youtube.  It's almost like a silent film, which is a good thing because you are not distracted by noise and too much talking.   I would love to have classes with this guy, but how do I do it?  So I decided to auto-evaluate where I was in the scheme of things.  I would begin by  drawing a pencil sketch of a goblin type creature... which I have never done before a la Anne-Marie.  What did I need to do that apart from paper and pencils and my faithful electric sharpener.
Props!  Acorns would be a good one and I must have an incredible supply of them in the backyard since I have a magnificent oak tree.
I happily made my way to the center of the garden where the majestic oak tree stood half naked, but still, in all it's splendor.  I rummaged through the pile of beautiful rusty colored oak leaves, trying to find a couple of acorns.  i wanted to see the hat!  Feel the texture the smoothness, so that I can draw it exactly.  Alas, all I could find was pieces of acorns and no hats!  I hurried the squirrels above me communicating between each other.  It almost sounded like laughing.  As I looked up I noticed a little squirrel partially hidden behind the branch.  He was all dressed up in combat gear.  He suddenly bravely exposed himself in a bold manner and started the stare down.  As I stood there with my hands on my hips, I just wondered what he would do. He slowly scampered to his secret hiding place and
 brought out his brothers and sisters.  They were all ligned up on the branches above.  You must be wondering what they would do next?  Exactly what i was wondering.  I could feel the squirrel countdown... I knew something was going to happen.  I felt a ping on my head and then another, and another.  I was being bombarded by pieces of acorns aimed right at me.  They were attacking!  Of course, Desmond was on the other side of the yard behind the shed, hammering away.  I was there to fend for myself.  I hid behind our Martha Stewart garden living room set in our gazebo, which wasn't a great idea since we didn't have a roof yet.  I was hunched over behind the chair, I wished I had my dad's binoculars right now.  The attack had stopped.  Suddenly I hear a little squeaky sound.  I got up and slowly but surely, right above me, I see an acorn slowly being lowered an inch at a time and dangling in front of me.  It was hung by thread of some kind which was hooked to a little branch, which was held by the squirrel!  He was fishing, the acorn was the bait and I... well, I had to get the acorn. 

Needless to say, I tried to get the acorn and everytime I came to grab it, the evil squirrel would pull it away.  After about what seemed like an hour of fruitless grabbing, I stomped home terribly upset over the fact that I had no props and was totally acorn-less.

22 October 2013


This last weekend Anne-Marie was very upset! She wanted acorns, whole acorns. She wanted these acorns so she could draw them. 

Now, we have a lovely oak tree in the back yard, and this oak tree produces a lot of acorns, so finding a few whole ones should not be difficult at this time of the year, you would think.

So there she is, out the crisp morning air, rummaging around in the fall leaves (yup, we haven’t done our raking yet).  I was in another part of the garden. After a while, I began to hear her ever louder frustrated mutterings.  She was upset she could not find any whole acorns on the ground. The squirrels, who being nefarious furry little thieves, had been feasting on our so valuable acorns, leaving her only the empty acorn husks in amongst the carpet of fallen leaves. She demanded that I must do something about it! This was not acceptable, she stated, not acceptable at all. I asked her what I should do. “Climb into the tree and collect them”, before the squirrels could devour them,” she demanded. Uh, I did mentioned that, as winter was soon approaching, the squirrels needed all the nourishment they could get, and the acorns were an important food for them.  I also expressed my not inconsiderable concern, that to reach the outer branches for a few acorns might be a bit dangerous. Faced with this, grudgingly, she allowed that she would have to find another source for her acorns.

The squirrels have food for another day, and the passionate artist remains acorn-less.  

... and now about those nasty little garden snails who have been eating her grape vines and hostas.

21 October 2013


Being an freelance illustrator usually means you work by your lonesome, at home.  This isolation is not healthy on the long run.  On the short run if you need to concentrate and need to focus... well you are certainly not disturbed.  However on the long run it is a definite benefit to have colleagues that you can bounce your drawings and illustrations on.  They can keep you on your toes and tell you what's good and not so good about your drawings.  That my friend, is a really good thing.

Get a group that can not only like your stuff but help you evolve.  I found most of my groups by joining an online course.  If you want to learn to paint digitally very well and many other techniques... Will Terry is fantastic!  Anyhow... he had this class at -School of Visual Storytelling and that is where I started taking classes.  From there came a group of illustrators that I was studying with from all over the world.
This group keeps us evolving and not afraid to constructively criticize each others work... and encourage us to persist and go on...
This cuts the isolation and keeps you going, as if you were in a working environment which is fantastic.  I suggest this for any illustrator that's at home.

18 October 2013


Can I be frank?  I am amazed.  I am simply amazed at how this drawing turned out in photoshop.  I mean realistically speaking... this is truly my third drawing on my cintiq tablet, my third drawing with photoshop, my third drawing ... digital.  I like where I am going with this.   I do see the mountain I still have to climb.  But i am happy with what I am achieving.  This does not mean I can slack off.  Heck no!  I still have a power class with Will Terry on October 26th and another one on one.  So my plan is to now draw my thumbnails for our book.  Anyhow... here are the results.  I changed Mattie's color scheme, I've softened her up, I kept brightness where I wanted there to be... and kept line art, just paler.... I like her!  Tell me what you think....

16 October 2013


I had a bunch of questions to ask Will.  You see it was our one on one with the teacher after we had finished our critique's class.  I needed some answers.  I want to get better quickly.  I have no time to lose.  I've made a life changing choice of going into illustration.  Like my husband says... I am not watching from the benches anymore... I've invested and am constantly investing into this... time and money.  So the questions I was asking were related to techniques and to finding my style.  I sort of know where I am heading.  The answers guided me into the direction I needed to go.  So here is another try out for Mattie... in a different way of drawing.  This is not finished yet.... Oh no...but this is the process I've been going through tonight.

The Arts and Crafts section

For all those who know me, my life has always been surrounded by the arts.  From my father Alberto Francesco Buscio (1939-1991) to my uncle who is still alive Umberto Bruni (all of 99 years old!).  I have been drawing, doing crafts, inventing things since I can remember.  I gave a course called "La Magie des Arts" translated it would pretty much say "The Magic of Art" at a friends basement.  I had a dozen children taking the course including my own.  It was a course that had different experiences or projects to do which included science, three dimensional art, fun with new things, thinking out of the box.  The kids attending were up to 12 years old!  I loved it!

So the arts and crafts part will be things I will find that are interesting, my twist on arts and crafts and activities.  I will eventually post youtube videos and pdf to download.
Hope you will enjoy it.  Feel free to comment on things you would like to see!

My girl Mattie!

Here are my drawings for Mattie, the main character for our book.  I've learnt to draw digitally and I am trying out different things.  I need to know which one you guys prefer.  The pencil effect one... where the initial pencil drawing comes through... or the purely digital one.
Please let me know it is deeply appreciated.

Perfecting the drawing...

I've sadly had my last critique's class and am awaiting impatiently for my one on one with Will Terry.  I really enjoyed this class.  I've learnt so much from all the critiques.  I have Will Terry's power day class with four illustrators coming up and a surprise illustrator too on October 26th.  So hyped up about all that.
So after the last critique class I had some modifying to do and so I did.  Subtilit√© in french.... can't find the word right now.  But it is small details... but it's funny that in the small and what you might sometimes think insignificant details is where the whole painting just harmonizes together.  Less moon, more detail in the inside treehouse.. more light in the shadows... I am happy with this first digital drawing...
Can i go further... of course... we can always go further but then the hardest part is to know when to stop.

8 October 2013


Anyone ever take an online class?  Wonder if it is worth it?  Well, I guess that would depend on many things such as the class, the teacher, the subject.  Just as in anything else, I think one should research the person that you would like to take a class from.  Before buying into my online classes, I went searching for information about illustrators.  There I found a couple of interesting people sharing information about their art, their lessons and basic information plus of course a couple of speed drawing videos.  It's hard for me to pay for something if I don't feel it is going to be worthwhile.  When I found my teacher, I had found a place where he sold his books.  I bought one of his online videos, listened to it and was impressed but most importantly learned something.  When an online course was offered, I bought a light version and saw how it was conducted and learned.  The next online class was offered and there I took it instantly.  I was like a groupie waiting for tickets for my favorite concert.  I think i was the first to sign up for that class.  I have just finished the class and I have a one on one still to be done in a week.  Can I say any louder how much I have learnt from listening to all the other critiques from all the other participants / collegues in this class as well as my own critiques !!!! I have learnt sooo much and am so hyped up about learning more and perfecting what I have learnt.  Online classes is a PLUS.  If you are an aspriting illustrator go find Will Terry, go see on youtube first, then do the same route as I did, or just jump into it!
Here is the last drawing I presented.  Now I still have some work to do on it... to fix the things that need fixing and yes there are alot of little things that need fixing.
But here is the work in progress.

4 October 2013

Squeezeed into the in-between periods of my day, I am endeavouring to prepare our query letter and materials to submit our book.

Every editor and publisher has very specific criteria they want in any submission, assuming they will actually accept them in the first place.

Trying to find just the right “voice” to convey the synopsis and the tone of the book, without being pretentious or boring, hmmm ... not a simple task.

It’s quite amusing to realise that writing a letter of introduction for a book takes almost as much effort as the writing of it.

All sage advice is welcome.

28 September 2013

You would think I like a challenge or something....

So here we are, I handed it my homework to Will for the Critique's class.  Now can I be frank... This whole thing is a big challenge and I will tell you why.  First of all, I am a traditional artist, you know oil paint, watercolor, acrylics.  So a while back I wanted to illustrate children's books because you know I've been writing children's books for a while.  (no... didn't send any in to get published yet).  So at this time in my life, I decide..."hey let's go for it."  My supportive significant other, Desmond is extremely supportive and we decided to be a team and go for it together.  By the way, the fun we have coming up and writing the stories is AMAZING!
So then we decided I would illustrate... so I started sending stuff off to agents and publishing houses and did not get to much of a great feedback apart from we really like your stuff, but no commitment. So I wondered why. Did my research and discovered Will Terry.  Which throughout the web, I found his classes were reasonably priced and that I would learn most from him at this point and time.  So I started taking his classes this summer.  In one of his classes he discusses your portfolio.  Well, well, well, that is why I wasn't so successful.  There is a way to present, the material that needs to be shown, the quality, the environment, your skills need to be displayed properly, etc.  So the question was then was I ready to invest.
Yes invest in time, classes and time and time and time, because to get better it takes time and practice and time to give to your passion, to your dream to your goal.
So we've invested in classes, equipement and software and time. Every spare moment or just about is spent on drawing and learning.  Which means after my full day at work... yup I get to work.  That time is split in two between the other job and learning.  So needless to say I am literally and physically glued to my chair.  My body has trouble getting out of the chair!!!! I feel I am morphine into becoming a new species.

So, here is the next step in the process.  I am not satisfied... did I say... I am not happy with the result.  But time is up.. I have to hand it in.....
So here it is.
Oh yah, I forgot to mention we had a second assignment for those that were interested.  So I started drawing my scenario for the second one and wanted to work on that today... but Autumn is here and we have to close down this place for the winter.... and finally spend a couple of hours cleaning the house.... where's the maid?  Oh yah, we don't have one....Shoot!

25 September 2013

Raccoon workout

Yesterdays Carrots todays Raccoon!  Doesn't make too much sense, but in the world of illustrating, well in my world this is where I am at.  So yesterday, I had worked on the famous carrots for my Critique's class.  First time I did anything on a Cintiq tablet and a color drawing at that.  So I continued the drawing and it went a little further.  It is not to my satisfaction, I lack crispness to the whole thing, I am just not sure how to attain it, but with trial and error I will master this!  So here is the next step of the famous insane homework illustratin we had to do... It is a small sample of the whole drawing in a previous post.  Oh did I mention I am at ten hours of work in this... learning new stuff, who would have thought it would take sooo long to achieve something... and I say something because as I stated it is a work in progress. As you can see Mr. Squirrel has not been dealt with yet!
 Will keep you posted.

24 September 2013

The Benefits are starting to show

Benefits not profits!  The benefits of taking a class, the benefits of having a Cintiq tablet.  Those benefits.  You see this was the process before.
Find a piece of paper, preferably a 8.5 x 11
Sketch an idea
Refine the idea by making a tighter sketch
Erase, pencil, erase, pencil
Wipe with you hand,
Clean your hands from all the lead that is on the side of your hand and sort of smudging your brand new pencil drawing.
Take your pencil drawing and put it on the scanner window.
Open you computer
Open your scanning software
Scan the document
Make sure it is the right size
Save the document
Transfer it to you other computer
Open your photoshop software
Find your scan
Rename your scan for better finding purpose and hopefully you will remember what you called it.
Then, can you commence and start really working on your drawing.

I can either do the same thing or
Open the computer
Open photoshop or illustrator
Pick up my cintiq brush
Bend my screen to be more like a book
and start drawing
no more dirty hands
no more smudgy drawings
no more scanning

But the really neat thing is that I am learning a new way to do things.  It will be much better when I submit the work to my editors.  It will make life easier, changes easier, everything easier and the key word here is faster.

It is a big learning curve, but I have a really awesome teacher, Will Terry... if you are looking for a great place to learn all this, he is the guy.  I will develop my technique at a later date.  So do you want to see the results of my first real experience on a wacom tablet and learning how to paint on screen instead of on a canvas.... here it is!  This is part of my homework.  This type of drawing is aimed for children's books. As you see around the carrots is the original sketch.  It is long at this point... but I am learning.  I am pretty happy with the results.  Ciao for now, Anne-Marie

22 September 2013

Oh this ain't working with MS Paint and a mouse!!

A few days ago, Anne-Marie took possession of a new tool for her Illustration and design work. For myself the non-visual artist, this is mind blowing. To understand what it is, you must check out their website.


Seeing her work with this piece of technology really makes you realize how fundamentally it is possible to create and manipulate visual images. yeah yeah to the graphic artists out there this is part of your world, but for the rest of us.... this is unbelievable .... until you see it.

Paint Draw Create as if it was on canvas or paper Never having to throw out a piece of work bacause of some mistake. Create in layers, without using a mouse. To have that creative freedom. Magic.

She is just scratching the surface of her possibilites.

17 September 2013

You draw with a mouse... no more....

Yup, so second class of my critique class with Will Terry.  I am becoming obsessed.  I redrew the whole thing and handed it in.  Then in the middle of the night I had feelings of remorse.  Yup, you see I showed my daughter and son in law and they are really good soundboards.  I mean no holds barred.  They tell it as they see it.  Well that's the way I raised her up to be and he must like that way of being because he does it too.  Anyhow, all to say that they noticed some things that were just a bit off and from another person's point of view that was a good thing.  I couldn't say no to what they were saying but what was I to do... it was Thursday night, I had handed in my homework... but the night wouldn't let me sleep this one through.  The next morning, I erased the balloons, redrew the fox's face, detached the squirrel from the raccoon, changed the shadows and moved things around... then handed it in again.
So critique night class :  Will saw how enthusiastic I was about the whole process... and was almost shocked to know that once the drawing was in, I was putting in my values with a mouse in photoshop!
Yes I was.  That was Saturday night.  Today we are Tuesday and I have received my Wacom tablet!!!!!!
Wooooo hooooooooo!!!! I made the investment... it is for my career as an illustrator and I would like to win some awards here so I need to work hard and extremely well.  Is that too ostentatious... that I would like to win some awards... The Caldecott is what I am aiming for.... hey you have to aim high if you want something worthwhile.
So know I have to learn how to draw on a wacom. Next step in this huge learning process.... but boy do I love this!
Ciao for now

oh yah, this is the last drawing I did that was my second presentation in my critique's class.  The first one is somewhere down below in another blog. Just look at the difference!  It took over five hours with research and drawing to do it.  Thumbnail, placement, values.... this is not the last one...however... after this I made extra changes.... here the squirrel is to close to the raccoon eating cakes, Mrs. Pepper is looking up instead of down... the balloons in the window... well it's confusing... yes, yes the owl is gone.... I will post later the modified version which will be number 3... and I have to confess... I still have some changes to do.  Will said the cake was a little too close to the leaves and the rabbit and the tree too straight on the left... so will modify.... then we get into photoshop.....I will keep you posted...
Signing off,

5 September 2013

Muliple Streams of Income...

I disinctly remember a time, (high school) where my art teacher told me not to go into art that there was no way to make a living... I remember being not accepted in the nineth grade art class because I wasn't good enough...

What my teacher didn't know was that the day before I presented my portfolio, I was going into administration.  But last minute I opted for... my dream to go into the arts like the rest of my family had done.
Yes my father, Alberto Buscio had worked in art related jobs all his life.  He would always be learning new things and really was very good at everything he did.  He was truly an amazing artist.  From stain glass windows, to hand drawn signs, to paintings, to model making, to sculpting, drawing airplane pieces for Canadair to becoming a full time artist... anything he did as a living in the arts was truly fantastic!
Then my great uncle Umberto Bruni who is still alive today at 99... and still painting!

As I was saying I had decided to go into the arts... that afternoon I had seen a girl's portfolio which simply blew me away!  Then I learnt that to get into the arts program I needed to present a portfolio...and I had exactly 18 hours to build one up.  Well the odds were against me...and as I presented my portfolio the next day, knowing full well, that there was no way I could get in and I didn't, my teacher told me that it was better that way, there was no money to be made in the arts.

That only 2% of artists really make it...while they are living.

As an illustrator, author or author and illustrator and graphic designer... you depend on contracts unless you are employed.  I once was employed by an import-export company where I was creating products that they would get manufactured in Taiwan and other places.  Full time job, drawing and sketching and conceptualizing products and packaging.  Through them I've had the opportunity of working with licenses such as Disney Babies, Disney, Muppet Babies, Children's Television Workshop and so on, designing children's tabletop products that were sold internationally.  I've also learnt later on that we had won awards for our products.  Their products.  

So then I was employed, nothing belonged to me.  No art! Everything I did was theirs and that's fine.  But I was not happy doing that!  I wanted to be my own boss.  So I opened up a graphic studio.  A few years later I added on a print shop.  A few years after that my daughter and I started another company and then I noticed that I still was not doing what I wanted to do... I was now running a company with employees and all the joys and aggravation an incorporation hands you on a daily basis.  Working early and working late and it seemed working all the time. Waking up in the middle of the night, not for incredibly stimulating projects, but for things I would forget to get done during the day.

I yearned for creating, drawing and writing my own books.  I had been wanting to write for sooo long. Just jotting down ideas here and there, starting spurts of books, I had managed to produce alot of products with my designs as well as Sarah's... but we weren't really doing what we really wanted to do.

So after two years of trying to get my author illustrator career in gear, I managed to have the print shop run itself by rightsizing it!  I've also moved my studio in a beautiful tuscan inspired place adjacent to my home.  Now I can say I spend at least half my week on things I prefer to do than have to do.

Here is a glimpse of the studio...yes that's a fireplace in the left corner and yes an awesome ceiling piece holding the chandelier and those old doors... yup I love it!

Now comes the multiple streams of income...so as an artist, I naturally want to live off my art.  So with the web now you can... You see I am on etsy... a marketplace where I sell cliparts.  I am a designer on Mygrafico - a few selected designers of cliparts, where I sell cliparts there too.  Desmond and I are now on Teachers Pay Teachers... he is a teacher and we are developping educational material and selling on there as well.  I will be adding a few more marketplaces for my art... that's were multiple streams of income come in.  I still have contracts in graphic design and still have my clients and that I cannot give up yet.  I would love to write and illustrate all day but, till the day comes where we get a call from a publisher, I will not give up my day job.  

But multiple streams of income need multiple streams of marketing... 
That will be next...
Have a great evening

3 September 2013

I am a social media Luddite!!

Before I write anything further, let me state for the record, I am very computer literate. Unfortunately, where I have been bowled over, is with the concept of putting us and our projects 'out there" on social media and what that entails.

I am a classically trained musician (read no mikes or digital instrumentation here). I have embraced technology in a big way in my teaching career. But, this is a whole new level internet existence.  Till now, I have used the big I, to communicate and do research to enrich my teaching. Now I, with Anne-Marie, am also on the other side of that experience as well, making, monetizing and marketing content.

Presently, building our web presence requires that we "Jiggle the Jello" to coin a phrase my late father used to describe how neurotic traders are on reacting, and acting on the stock market.

This means....

We are on now 3 sites as vendors. (Uh as a check out in the side bar here on our blog.) Yup, I say that almost like I am sneezing, can't help myself. Part of the biz!

Anyways the purpose of all of this, is to let people know what A-M has produced and in the case of educational materials we are co-developing. To get all that content, on our proverbial lemon-aid stand in the desert and our product, into peoples online consciousness, takes an enormous amount of time and tweaking through, what are now about and additional half dozen sites like Pinterest, Tumlr, Wanelo, FaceBook, ...... etc...

By necessity, this digital multi-headed hydra, requires that we, sadly, build a requisite blizzard of usernames, passwords and settings for; email accounts, PayPal accounts, this blog of course,web sites, web hosting services, along all with all of these and the ever growing list of web presence sites, and so on and so on and so on ...  Keeping all these virtual plates on sticks spinning, wow!

Can almost see my Dad slapping his forehead in amazement!

I have this almost overriding need to scribble on paper notes to the universe and fold them into airplanes, chucking them out the window, instead of all this tagging and tweaking, blogging, liking, pinning, hearting, favoriting, and ... and what ever.

... yet ...

Building something; like our children's books projects; sharing our creative journey; developing new graphical materials for schools that are truly useful and engaging; all that without the drudgery and frustration of banging on doors old school, to be seen and marketed, is simply amazing.

But keeping it all in play and attended to ... and also pursue in my case teaching full-time, again I say, wow.

Oh and by the way, I will one day soon, write of the steps A-M and I go through to produce and place stuff on-line. That is an epic story in itself.

Stay tuned, and of course, check out the new stuff we have posted on our sites. :-)



1 September 2013

Investing in my career!

So a little while back I decided I wanted to illustrate my children's books... and illustrate other people's children's books.  I then proceeded in sending out my online portfolio with a nice introduction to what I was presenting.  I did get responses... saying my work was good but nothing in the form of contracts... then I went online and discovered a whole other world of illustrators out there!  They all wanted the same thing I did... to illustrate for themselves and for others.
In need of advice, I then travelled around youtube to find out about professional illustrators.  A couple caught my eye and I went and learnt about them and their style.  I then invested in some online courses or books they were selling.  The ones I got were Will Terry's photoshop 1 and 2... after that I contacted Will on Facebook which he accepted.  That's when I found out that he was giving online classes for twenty five people... a small investment to make... $300.00... for a full class with critiques...
I decided to think about it... bad move.  It was filled up before you know it... I wasn't fast enough and I couldn,t get in.  Big disappointment.
There was however the lite version which was exactly the same except you got the taped version the next day and could not participate.  That one I jumped on without thinking.  Wouldn't make the same mistake twice. This class was $150.00.  What a gold mine.
I know what I did wrong by sending out my stuff the way I did.
my website was hmmm not my best stuff and I still have to do alot before putting up things.
I quickly saw what I had to do.
I had no real online presence.
My drawings were good technically... but for me I needed much more
I learnt a lot about how to illustrate children's books.
By doing the exercises, even though I didn't hand them in and watching the other's drawings but most importantly the positive critiques they got from Will and Jake made me re-evaluate all my stuff...
and did I ever have many a -aha moments.

Needless to say alot of lite students were disappointed in not being in the full on course, so Will decided due to demand to give  a Critiques class - for $150.00!  Needless to say, I was waiting for the exact date and I think I was the first to sign up.  So excited...
I am expecting to be another gold mine.  I can't wait for him to critique my drawing.

The assignment :

When I first got the assignment (and I must tell you having never illustrated a children's book, well not considering the Bud and Ally's Christmas and Halloween coloring activity book) I threw my head back with loud boistrous laughter... I thought this guy is nuts!  OMG! How in the heck will I draw that...
My better half's response :  Well if you want to be in the big leagues...

Here was what the assignement was :

Assignment #1

Setting: Exterior of tree-home, woods, evening

Characters: Woodland creatures - squirrels, birds, mice, chipmunks, raccoons, badger, hedgehog, owl, lizard, skunk, etc. You may choose to clothe them or leave them partially or unclothed.

Theme: Complex human emotions

Please illustrate the following:

Mrs. Pepper was so excited to see all of her friends arriving to her dinner party! They brought garden delights and roasted entrees, cider and milk and sweet smelling treats by the dozen. Everyone was happy and excited to enjoy a hearty meal except for Simon, who never received his invitation.

Notes: This piece can seem overwhelming at first. Lots of potential characters, objects, emotions, etc. Don’t get too caught up in trying to illustrate every aspect of this scene - a sure way to fail. Start with the most important part and work your way out. Make lists of things you think are important to show and then narrow down to three main elements. For instance: I would probably illustrate Simon, the tree-home, and a few people walking towards the home. Indications of more animals inside can be done in a subtle way. you may also want to show Mrs. Pepper greeting her guests. Think of the best possible perspective to highlight the important things. You may want to start with a few environment studies to get ideas. Character sketches are also a good idea before diving into the thumbnails but remember - no drawing in the thumbnail stage!

You know it's one thing to draw a nice little picture - static of a nice litte girl like Mattie.  Yup.... then you get something like this assignment and I asked myself..what have I gotten myself into.  So after looking at reference material and sketching and drawing... I never took so long to do a drawing in my life! I came up with this... This is what I think Will calls a black and white comp.  I did a couple of thumbnails before hand which landed in a basket behind me.  But this one stood the test of well acceptable comp, in my view.

I am assuming he will trample this baby and tell me all the things to make this a better image... Already I see the tangents...that he talked about in his class... Ah well.  Will resend without tangents.  Then will post the corrections that will need to be done so you can see the before and after.

So here is my first assignment : 

28 August 2013

What someone can do with an illustration

Betty's original embroidery has bought an illustration I had posted on Etsy.  It was saved as a pdf file.  She had contacted me to know if she could do embroideries with my designs...
I accepted not imagining what she could do with my drawing.  So she sent me what she did.
Here is the wonderful work she did!  You can see her stuff on her website :  www.bettysoriginalembroideries.com.

27 August 2013

Our first freebie on Teachers pay teachers!

Yes, we are officially online at teacherspayteachers.com.  Thanks to my beautiful daughter and son-in-law.  They told us to go on that site, that our graphics would only be welcomed.  So we did.  Also we will be working on projects together with prettygrafik and ourselves for teacherspayteachers.  For now
here is the picture of our freebie.  If you want it, go to this link :

Please don't hesitate to comment if you like.
Please enjoy!

25 August 2013

Best Teacher Tools logo

So here we are, Desmond and I on a Sunday night, and guess what we've been doing?  We just finished our Best Teacher Tools logo.  We wanted something that would best represent what our store on Teachers pay Teachers would sell.  Tools for teachers that teach from the heart!  Living with a teacher has taught me how much unpaid time a teacher gives out of class for the kids he or she teaches.
So our logo had to have a heart in it.  So here it is... you will be able to visually identify us by this symbol.

 In the next week we will be posting up cliparts to start.
High quality cliparts to decorate your class, to create crafts and activities.  We will be posting a couple of free coloring pages for the young ones as well!

So? Do you like it?
Anne-Marie and Desmond

24 August 2013

Yum Yuck - evaluation received.

I was on the phone with my son-in-law, Gabriel when my email notified me that Susan Hughes had sent her evaluation!
I felt like I was waiting for the results of an exam... instant nerves...brought me back a few years.
So I hung up on Gabriel and screamed excitedly to Desmond, who was working in our shed.
"It's here!  Susan answered us... quick come and see!"
"Hurry up, I didn't peek... I am waiting for you!"

I was waiting impatiently on the porch, I knew better.  I knew if I went inside the chances are I would probably wouldn't be able to resist reading it.
So we both walked into the house and I opened her email... after reading the preliminaries I downloaded her evaluation and comments and suggestions she had done on the manuscript.

We sent her just the manuscript - no illustrations because in our research we read that a book has to stand alone.  So isn't that the ultimate test?

So in a nutshell her comments were...

Content has Clear beginning, middle and end.
She likes how Mattie's story begins -takes her out and returns back home.
Mattie is convincing as a character! Dialogue is convincing and moves into a sing-song, repetitive style which works well.  The setting is in modern day mixed with fantasy. We get a good sense of the setting through the minimal description and, of course, visuals will add to this.
Our point of view is used consistently, our technical ability of writing is strong.  She suggested
rethinking a few word choices. Our style is consistent throughout and appropriate for a picture book manuscript.

General Comments :  She liked the circular effect of the story, the sequence the learning aspect.

That in itself is great...
HOWEVER...we had things to reconsider.  She made us re-think some aspects which we corrected.

She found that Mattie had a little hard side to her... so we softened her up by the way she would ask questions.  We did and what a difference it made.

In her opinion, Mattie was saying yuck too often and she questioned if that made her seem a little negative.  We loved the rhythmic aspect to it and we were afraid we would lose it.  When we read the story over and over... kids would always know what to say when the next page was turned, and we didn't want to lose that.  We pondered and questioned and tried different things to see if the sing-song aspect was still there... In order to keep the sing song rhythmic storytelling the change we made for Mattie to come up more positive required that we add a sentence with every animal she visitied.  I am glad we did.

Susan also found it hard to understand the relationship with her bear and the bear at the end... which gave us the perception of an editor.  So we fixed that and made the relationship clear.

When you have your nose in your own manuscript, you understand it... and when you know how your going to illustrate it... it is very CLEAR to you... because you see the different elements that make up another side of the story which is the visuals which usually add on to the written work.

Also we added all sorts of different things in the thumbnails that we feel children will absolutely love!
I get so excited about this part.... It's sooo cute... and if I feel like that about it... then it's a good thing.

What this process has done for us is made us see through the eyes of an independent editor.  So now after we do modifications, we put ourselves in an editors position... anyhow we try... I am sure it is much more complicated than that.

Her questions also made me see the book in another way and from that I was able to turn some aspects of it around and make it into a big positive plus... let me explain... Mattie goes from animal to animal  and when Susan asked us about the different animals, I made a list and then I made a visual map who Mattie goes and sees first.  Well, we decided it would be a good thing to have that as an end paper...like a treasure map that you can follow.  I thought it was a good idea... however I know that if a publishing house picks it up, they might just scrap it.   Hey it's part of the deal... we are totally open!

You have to be open for things like that because it is the nature of the game.
Desmond corrects some of my words because I'm completely bilingual, but here in Quebec... completely bilingual can also means mixing languages...
On the other hand... Desmond is sooo English... and I correct him in the French...
But then he's so much better on the italian than I am and he's not even Italian!
Open-minded... that's the answer.  Hey I am even open enough, that if a publisher wants someone else to illustrate the book, okay... Doesn't mean I wouldn't be disappointed...

So next step... the dummies....
Anne -Marie

Do you need "stuff" for your classroom?

Hi to all my teaching colleagues,

Ok, as if writing a children’s book is not enough of an intense time consuming endeavour. Now we are adding something more to the whole business ... I (we) will be putting up, in the very near future, graphics and printable manipulatives for teachers. The goal is to produce original, useful and inexpensive materials. 

We all know that schools don't exactly open the vault when it comes to purchasing for a teachers classroom needs; graphics, PowerPoint’s, graphic material / content for Notebook, printable activities, things to decorate your classroom, etc ... So A-M and I decided to launch a boutique on Teachers pay Teachers. 

Now, with a view to producing really useful fun stuff, let us know what you want, what do you need, what would be a valuable addition. We'll see what we can come up with for you. 

Bookmark the site below. Best Teacher Tools is the name of this new part to what we are about. You can also connect via our shop boutique list. We will be putting up stuff for all grades levels and subject matter as the inspiration and the suggestions arise. 

Stay tuned!


TeachersPayTeachers  - Lesson Plans,Teaching Materials and Other Teacher-Created Resources