by robin gayle howard

Tag Archives: Illustration

Here’s another version of the “Big Red” character for my portfolio. Big Red

Check out my ILLUSTRATIONS page for the first view. I really need to finish writing this fun little twist on a fairy tale classic story.  Hmm.  Where to fit that on my schedule?

One more sketch to go and a full spread (two pages) to paint to finish my portfolio by April 5th.  The next sketch is going to be a bit more tricky.  I guess it would be a good idea to come up with a PLAN B just in case I don’t like the results.  Stay tuned to see how things turn out!


I can’t believe that February is past half over already.  Time flies!  With crazy busy work days, a two year old grand-daughter and another on the way,my other son’s wedding plans for next year and working to improve my art skills with various classes (a big thank you to Tam Laporte and LIFEBOOK 2014 and Jane Davenport’s Express Yourself), I haven’t been very faithful in updating my blog.  So here goes.


This week is a stay-cation week for me with a focus on updating my portfolio for another review at our local SCBWI event in early April.  I’ve been experimenting with new supplies and having way too much fun . . . but, sad to say, new art supplies are very addictive 😉 and one can never ever have enough shades of every color in all type of supplies to make endless rainbows, she says!

Yet, I really have accomplished a lot this week, even with all of my play.  And it is only Wednesday – YAHOO!!  I have one more sketch to finish, then two to paint.  I reworked some of my previous boring pieces and added a few new ones that are much more fun.  I have learned a great deal over the past year, but still have so much more to learn.  Check out my ILLUSTRATION page that includes my newest work.  Hope you all have a blessed week!

P.S.  If you’d like to know which art supplies are absolutely the most addictive and can’t wait to have way too much fun playing with them, check out the above mentioned on-line classes.  Art is the only addiction I know where you end up feeling better than before you started.

Occasionally I write morning pages (Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) as part of my quiet time.  I usually write them when I wake up at oh-dark-thirty because I have MUCH more time to write.  The other day I just started to jot down a series of words . . . direction-guidance-focus-path-steps-choices-mistakes-misreads-errors-bloopers and blunders.  Then I started to write using these words in the appointed order.  Here is the result:

I’m not sure the direction my brain is taking this morning.  Here’s another adventure that I need guidance on so that I can focus on what needs to be accomplished and keep my eye on the path.  As I walk down my path day-in and day-out, I find that each step has hundreds of choices to evaluate.  3 birdsTurn right, turn left, go lighter, go darker, make it smaller, make it bigger–the wrong choice will lead to an obvious mistake.  A mistake can lead the observer’s eyes in the wrong direction, causing a misread and a misinterpretation of the entire point.  What may originally appear as a small error in choice of placement, or lighting, or color can lead to an extreme blooper that affects the entire composition.  I feel like I don’t have a clue to what I am doing in composition and that I am just blundering through to put something together.  I desire to be much more thoughtful in the process. 

I would like to work from a plan or a distinct vision to be able to create something that is much more aesthetically pleasing.  I am learning.  I know that I will make mistakes, but like Thomas Edison said, the 999 mistakes are ways you’ve learned how to not achieve your goal – or something like that (talk about creative license ;op – the actual quote is “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”)  Every practice piece is leading me to something better, something more dynamic, something that I will be pleased with and will make me smile.  My hope is to bring a smile to the face of another.  That’s when I know I have accomplished my goal.  That seems like a very minute goal, but that’s a good place to start.  The lofty goals will come when each smile is achieved along the way.  And it all begins and ends with direction.  Guidance from my Creator.  I seek to retain the proper focus so that my eyes are ever on the correct path, that each step is carefully placed, and that my choices are made looking for the result of advancement of His kingdom.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a fabulous weekend!

The long awaited day finally arrived. Yesterday I spent several hours with the fabulous and talented Mira Reisberg, “The Picture Book Whisperer,” in a review of  my portfolio in preparation for the Northern/Central California Spring Spirit Conference on April 6 (check out the link which just happens to have my logo as the masthead-grin).

Bee oh honeyMira went through each piece, showed me where improvements could be made, helped me learn more photoshop tools to make the revision task much easier, and checked through my sketchbook for pieces with possibility to add.  She also gave me advice on the order of my work and how to enhance the look of the portfolio.  Then she designed two business cards for me.  She really achieved a tremendous amount of work in three hours.  Thank you thank you thank you, Mira!  I will be ready for April 6.

So you’d like amp up your portfolio, but you don’t live in the Sacramento area?  No problemo!  Mira will work with you over Skype. Check the link on her name above.  Yay! 

I have been in many different classes and an on-line course with Mira and would highly recommend her courses to anyone who is willing to be challenged to grow.

I’m so glad I took the week off of work.  Revisions, here I come!

I have been a drawing maniac this weekend!  And I love it.  I have never felt more productive.  I have my sight set on the goal to have a portfolio ready by April.  I know I can do it, but I also want to finish well.  I want all of my artwork to be the best that it can be.  I am so thankful for my Wiggio group members from my online illustration course, Make Your Splashes  – Make Your Marks, who always give great critiques.  We are all on task for helping each artist improve their craft.  Thank you, Mark Mitchell, for bringing us all together.   Have a blessed week.

Whoa!!! It is high time that I get back on the stick.  I have been busy making rainbows of all kinds, but have not been documenting it at all.  Bad Robin!

So let’s see if I can recap. 

  • I have written three picture book drafts in 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge.  Two have good potential.  We shall see.
  • I have found a color palette that I absolutely love and have been experimenting with that.  See how yummy it is.
  • I have been in a monthly art therapy group that has been exploring new media. 
  • I purchased a Wacom Bamboo Create digital tablet to use for my illustrations. 
  • I’ve been watching scads of tutorials in order to learn how to use the new paperweight. 
  • I was part of a team that wrote a grant for a parenting program (first I have ever written . . . we will see if the desired outcome arrives.)

I think I am tired from just remembering everything that I’ve worked on. 

  • Oh yes, I made some melted crayon art and some monster feeling faces from what I found on Pinterest and am ready to make some kitty, dog, and bunny feeling faces too!

Yes, the biz-eee is here as always.  I guess biz-eee is as biz-eee does ;o)

I love challenges!  I have sometimes been compared to a pitbull when it comes to something I can’t  that takes me a while to figure out.  So the challenge for 2012 . . . dundunDAH . . . 12 new drafts of picture books in 12 months.  Thank you to Julie Foster Hedlund and the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge.  You can see a link to this in the sidebar.  If you’d like to join, you have until January 29th.  Along with committing to the challenge come prizes.  Who doe not like a chance to win prizes?  Click on the 12 x 12 badge and come join the fun!

With this challenge comes the need for clarity.  Right now I am working with the lovely ambient tones of football crowds and announcers in the background.  (Love ya honey!  An episode of Bones is waiting in the wings ;o)  hehehe.  So, a few nights ago the constant bantering in the background while I was working on consistency in my illustrations saturated me to overload.  My mommy ears just were not working.  I couldn’t see clearly.  I couldn’t think clearly.  On came the wool sweater and I joined the lovely East Sacramento quiet of the evening.  Don’t get me wrong because I really enjoy a good football game, but that night it was not working for me.  Taking a walk in the chill of the night was refreshing and energizing.  I could think about what I was working on and roll things around in my mind and change the perspectives and size and tone as I enjoyed the remaining Christmas lights and the occasional passerby.


I can see clearly now . . . for all of us boomers . . . the rain is gone.  Knowing when you need to change things up for yourself is invaluable. You are the only one that truly knows what you need and what will work for you.  If your first attempt does not work, don’t give up, just move on to the next one.   You are worth it!


Consistency is something I strive for . . . I work hard to be even tempered no matter how I feel or what I am dealing with.  I know I don’t have a perfect batting average, but I do desire to be consistent.  Maybe threats of being sent to a deserted island if menopausal rantings begin have steered me in the right direction.

Before venturing into the land of kidlit, I had no idea how important consistency is in writing and illustrating.  Thankfully that lesson has been emphasized to me several times over the past year and I am working on applying that.  I spent part of my day today looking at this rough sketch of Maddy (my main character in the book I am working on) in order to make sure that all of my renderings of her are true to her original form.  That is not easy, especially when she is not always in this same pose.  I am not a trained artist but I am learning.  I really love the learning process and I really should buy stock in erasers!
Happy New Year to you all!  May you walk in the path of health and freedom!

Intention wanted to start a blog back in April, after the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Spring Spirit conference here in Northern California.  The speakers were so inspirational and I was soaking in every word in an attempt to shorten this steep learning curve of breaking into the children’s picture book biz.  I needed to start a blog.  I intended to start a blog.  So much for good ol’ Intention.   It is now December and Procrastination has kept many words and themes rolling around and around and around in this brain for much too long.  Mr. P is a very strong foe but he did finally meet his match today.  I am not entirely sure why today was any different, but Determination won out!  Finally!  Yeah!!!  So, here we go . . . and I hope you do follow along with me.   

Making rainbows is what I love to do most.  In my daily work I deal with an enormous amount of black and white and many grey areas too, but the grey areas do not even edge over to blue grey, or any other shade of grey.  Just grey, and black, and white.  I must have color!  Color is a requirement for me . . . in words, in action, and in form.  I try to bring color into my day in whatever way I can.  That happens most in my play time which is much too much abbreviated by all other life happenings . . . dust, dishes, errands, exhaustion, family, friends, fatigue, work, must do’s, must see’s, and on and on.  I value my islands of time that are my sanctuary to enter into the zone of rainbows. 

My primary goal is to create rainbows of images and words that will be of value to at least one other person in this world.   Secondary to that is the desire to have my rainbows published in order to reach more than one.  But just one heart touched will make me smile and say to myself, “Well done!”  I do know how to focus on the joy in the journey.  But one must take steps to be on that journey of making rainbows.  Step one, check.  Thank you, Determination!  I will definitely work to keep your volume turned up.