medium /// books




2014…

Ok, this was hard. I love absolutely everything that I’ve got stocked in my online gallery, but I can’t put everything in the gift guide… it might break the internet! There are no warm woolen mittens or whiskers on kittens, but these are a few of my favorite things {cue Julie Andrews}. Huge abstract prints, delicate watercolors, and vintage cars for your walls… books, planters, and trays for your studio! Happy holiday shopping – I hope you find something you love:

{Walls: 1. Lola Donoghue, 30″x40″, $200 // 2. Lisa Golightly, both 11″x11″, $35 // 3. Nathalie Cusson, 22″x18″, $105  // 4. Kelly Ventura, both 11″x14″, $42  // 5. Kiana Mosley, 11″x14″, $65  or  18″x24″, $125}

{Studio: 1. Traci Yau, 2″ concrete diamonds, $9 // 2. Alicia Zwicewicz, cat planter, $50  // 3. Sea & Asters, 2.5″ wood planter, $25 // 4. Stacy Altiery, 6″x6″ gold foil tray, $40  // 5. Creative Block, $25 & Collage, $25 }





#givebooks (a pledge & a giveaway!)

Congratulations to … Rachele (of studiorah)!!!! You won all of these books!? I’ll email you to get your address. Thank you so much to everyone that entered! I hope your holidays are full of beautiful books for all of you, and thank you for making the pledge to #givebooks. ps. There are lots of other giveaways coming up in the next few weeks, so don’t be sad if you didn’t win today… lots of other chances on their way!

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So, who wants to win ten books? YES, I SAID TEN BOOKS! This incredibly generous give-away is all thanks to Chronicle Books and their amazing #GiveBooks campaign… all they ask in return is this:

Share the love of reading, support your local bookseller, and help promote literacy! For every person who pledges to #GiveBooks this holiday season, by sharing this intention through social media, Chronicle Books will donate a book to a child in need through First Book. Help us donate 10,000 books by TAKING THE PLEDGE HERE.

How wonderful is that?! I’ve already taken the pledge, and I hope you will too! Speaking of wonderful, Chronicle let me to choose ten of my favorite books to give to one of my readers {that’s you!}. I decided to pick an assortment of art books, and beautiful children’s books because a. I’m an artist and a mama, b. I’m quite sure a lot of you are too, and c. people of all ages should have access to inspiring, art-filled books, right? Right! Here are my picks:

1. I like to Draw/I like to Write – Love this! Half the book is filled with art prompts, flip it over and be a writer!

2. For Just One Day – Such a sweet book about a little boy imagining that he’s different animals.

3. All my friends are dead – Ha! So smart & funny … my son loves this book.

4. Press Here – I love this book soooo much… Absolute magic for toddlers {and grown-ups too!}

5. Watercolor – I own this one and it’s gorgeous! A collection of work by watercolor artists. Love.

6. Hello NY – A beautifully illustrated love letter to New York by Julia Rothman. So good!

7. Collage – Ok, yes. I put my own books on the list.

8. Duck! Rabbit! – So fun/clever… a sweet little trick for your mind. It’s a duck. No, rabbit. No, duck!

9. Creative Block – I haven’t read it, but I hear this one is FANTASTIC {wink wink nudge nudge}

10. Art, Inc. – A very smart/helpful book by artist Lisa Congdon on turning your art practice into a business.

Whoa. What a line up! So, just leave a comment below telling me who you’ll give books to this year, and I’ll draw one very lucky winner on Monday November 24th at 9am PST. Good luck!

ps. An extra little note from the lovely folks at Chronicle… “We would like to offer your readers 30% + free ground shipping (excluding personalized products) at chroniclebooks.com through the end of the year with offer code GIVEBOOKS”. Um, who loves Chronicle? Yep, me too!





mirim seo



Philadelphia based artist/designer Mirim Seo sent her Special Sashimi project to me last week. For the first two or three pages, I thought “Oh, cute. A book about Sushi” … and then a few pages later, I gasped.

“Special Sashimi is about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. The story topicted in this book is true. Each year Japan fishermen kill around 2,300 dolphins as a form of pest control, which has been accepted as tradition. And the killed dolphins end up in freezers and served sashimi in Japan. Illustrated with hand-sewing and watercolor on fabric. With this book, I hope to spread the true and help stop the senseless killing of the Taiji dolphins.”

Such a sad story, so beautifully told. If you’re interested to learn more, please visit this project on Mirim’s site.





COLLAGE: a peek & a project

It’s here! After two years of work, COLLAGE finally hit shelves on Wednesday! I love, love, love collage which is probably why Chronicle Books asked me to do this! I chose 30 very talented collage/mixed media artists from around the world, but I didn’t want to just show their amazing work… this book needed a little twist!

I absolutely love found image collage, and could spend hours looking through old books in thrift shops. When I find an image that I love, it only takes me a second to make a cut n’ paste plan in my head – but what would other collage artists do with that same image? People like Jesse Draxler and Xochi Solis? Enter the twist! Not only did I feature 8 to 10 plates of each artists’ work, I also gave all of them the same starting image – a mustache-clad accordion player and his little bearded cowboy brother – and asked them to create a completely new, totally unique, original collage using all or some of that photo. And they did…

Gah! So good, right?! In some of them you have to work pretty hard to find the original image, and in other pieces it’s the star. I love that every artist took this image and completely made it their own. And so, I want you to be able to do it too! Here’s the photograph {which, by the way, is my dad and my uncle in 1958!}… Right click on it / Save it / Print it / Make a collage!

ps. Thank you to Chronicle for inviting me to do this, and for designing such a beautiful book! Thank you to the 30 amazing artists who made this book into a gorgeous collection of contemporary art.  To my dad and Uncle Bill for letting us use this hilarious picture, and for not making us pay any royalties! And, I absolutely have to send some love to UK based collage artist Anthony Zinonos. Not only was he one of the featured artists, but he also wrote the funny, touching, inspiring foreword… xoxo!

{work above by 1. Me  2. Hollie Chastain 3. Jesse Draxler 4. Bill Zindel 5. Xochi Solis 6. Anthony Zinonos}





anna kövecses




Isn’t this the sweetest alphabet book!? And it’s even sweeter when you find out that Hungarian-born, Cyprus based artist/illustrator, Anna Kövecses, made this for her four year old daughter, Rebeka. Here is Anna’s description:

“This book is the result of a very personal project aiming to introduce a little girl to the 44 letters of the Hungarian alphabet. Illustrations were carefully designed so that every subject that appears in this book is something she’s currently very much interested in. So in one way this book is not just a tool but also a diary documenting a four-year-old little girl’s world in the summer of 2013 on an island in the Mediterranean Sea…”

What a wonderful mom… and an insanely talented artist! These were just a few of my favorite pages, and I have to say, the Canadian in me thought it was pretty awesome that ‘Yukon’ made an appearance! Anna self-published this lovely project through Blurb, so if you want to learn the Hungarian alphabet, or like me, you just really really want a copy of that campfire illustration, you can buy the book here.





art inc. (one for me, one for you!)

And the winner is…. KIRSTEN MORAN! Congratulations Kirsten! I’ll be in touch later today to get your mailing address.

Thanks to everyone that entered. It’s a really interesting/helpful read so if you’re looking for an new addition to your art library, I’d suggest buying a copy (it’s only $16.95)

Amen! Very smart words, from a very smart book, written by a very smart lady. Yes, as of today, Art Inc., by San Francisco based artist/illustrator Lisa Congdon hits shelves! You guys… it’s so good! Basically it’s all about how to turn your art practice into a business. Lisa did it. Lots of other artists have done it. You can too. It’s a really easy read, with very helpful advice – and what I love so much is that it makes you realize that this “dream” is not ridiculous. At all. Lisa, and the full time studio artists interviewed in the book, break it down in chapters like “Promoting Your Work”, “Selling Your Art”, and “Illustration & Licensing”. They give real world advice/examples of how you can turn your “dream” into reality. And then of course, once you’re a raging success, you’ll need this chapter:

YES! So good, right? Oh, and speaking of good, this book even has it’s own trailer {you gotta love that!} featuring illustrations from the book, by Karolin Schnoor… have a look right here.

{Art, Inc is now available anywhere that books are sold, but if you’d like to buy it online, please visit Chronicle Books or Powell’s Books… you can also enter MY GIVE AWAY! [another one so soon? yep!] I’ve got one copy for me to read cover to cover, and one copy to give away, so leave a comment below and I’ll draw one name on Thursday August 14th at 8am PST… good luck!}





‘o’ is for oprah

A few weeks ago I put up a very vague ‘O’ post on my Facebook page. I had exciting news but couldn’t say much… until now:

Yep! My book, CREATIVE BLOCK, is mentioned in the current issue of O, The Oprah Magazine! It’s the “Breakthrough” issue, so I am ridiculously honored to have the book be included. Down the left hand side of page 100 you’ll find three of the unblocking projects – one by painter Martha Rich, another by multi-disciplinary artist Kelly Lynn Jones, and a road trip idea from photographer Jennifer Altman – they’re all such smart, creative women! Have a peek:

Amazing! But wait, that’s not all!!! They also asked me to come to LA and shoot a few segments for #OWNSHOW. Um … I SAID YES. I was so nervous. Excited, but yes, nervous. Luckily I didn’t have too much time to overthink it, because about a week later, I packed my suitcase and was on my way. It turns out, there was nothing to be worried about. I have never met a nicer group of people. So fun, so encouraging, and so professional… what else would you expect though, right?! I ended up shooting five segments with their lovely #OWNSHOW host, Danisha Danielle Hoston. Thanks goodness for Danisha – she instantly made me feel comfortable. Anyway, we talked about shame, inner-critics, blocks, and finding a way out of all of that. I think everything went pretty well … wanna see them? (they’re all less than five minutes each, I promise):

No.1  How Artists Handle Self-Doubt:


No.2  What Artists Know About Creative Blocks:


No.3  How Shame Stifles Creativity:


No.4  Three Ways to Find Inspiration:


No.5  A Simple Way to Free Your Mind:

Ahhh!!! Craziness. Thank you so much #OWNSHOW – I loved every minute of my time with you guys, especially drawing those flowers!

So, next stop? Super Soul Sunday with Oprah herself. Ok, that’s not actually happening (yet!) but I’m going to put it into the universe anyway, because, hey, you never know!





maira kalman & daniel handler

CONGRATULATIONS to Erika Rier… a copy of this lovely book is coming your way! {thanks to everyone that entered… and I hope that some of you made it to MoMA yesterday for the event on the lawn!}






I love this, probably because I love New York based artist/illustrator Maira Kalman so much, not to mention my love for vintage photographs of girls standing on lawns… oh, and would you look at that, that’s the name of the beautiful book that Maira Kalman and writer Daniel Handler {a.k.a. Lemony Snicket} created together! The first, very poetic, page reads:

One morning
we found some photographs.
One morning
these girls stood on lawns.
We looked at the pictures,
and we got to work.
There’s no use standing around.
You should do something.
This is the whole thing.

That really is the whole thing, isn’t it… LOVE! On Sunday, June 1 at MoMA {who actually published this little gem}, Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler will celebrate their new book, Girls Standing on Lawns, with a garden party featuring 1930s-style Parisian jazz from the Hot Club of Flatbush. From 3-5 p.m. in The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. {Free with Museum admission}

ps. I have a copy of this book for myself, and… I have one to give away! Leave a comment below and I’ll draw one name on Monday morning at 8am PST. Good luck!

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a lovely letter

When Kate Woodrow, an editor at Chronicle Books, approached me about writing a book, one of the first questions she asked me was “Why do you want to do this? What do you want to get out of it?” My answer was pretty simple. I told her that I wanted to write about blocks, and inner-critics, insecurities… and of course a way to break through all of those things. I said, “If I can make just one person feel better, less alone, not so creatively broken, I would consider this project a huge success.” And yesterday, I got this letter {that made me cry – twice} from a woman named Claire. I asked her if I could share this letter with you, and she said yes:

“I am writing to thank you for the most amazing book I have ever read… next to the Velveteen Rabbit and the Secret Garden.

About 14 years ago when I was at college studying art, I had just passed my driving test and went to a job interview at a newspaper for some work experience. All my work was in the car, portfolios, sketch books and exam certificates – I wanted to get it right. My work was deeply personal and I was very proud of it, it was who I was. Anyway I went for the interview and then went on a date, the first in two years. I went back to the car park to get my car… no car… it had been stolen with all my work in it… NOOOOOOOOOO! The car was eventually recovered a week later, but no work in the car. Everything I had produced in ten years was just gone. After that I could not make anything. I couldn’t paint, think, draw nothing would come. Then eventually I had my son, and needed to work for myself. My art qualifications were my main qualifications, so I started doing commercial work, and slowly my soul felt like it was being hoovered of all creativity. I just produced work that thought would sell and could not produce anything personal or anything I felt proud of… or that I felt was valid.

So, that has been me for the last 14 years… sad but true… anyhow,  just after Christmas I got really sick and have been in bed pretty much since then. I had an enormous amount of time to think about stuff, and my artistic practice, and what that means… and slowly my brain started to remember that girl who produced work with passion and vigour with no thought for what anyone would think of it. I made because I had to. I had to get it out… and then I saw your book. I have followed your blog for ages, moved by all the work on there. Then your book arrived, and I cannot thank you enough, and all the artists in it, for their honesty and candour. It has moved me and shaken my stuck little world, and today for the first time in 14 years, I made some work… which i am proud of. It is just the start, but it is a start. I have quit all the commercial work and I feel like my block is over. I can make work that is personal, that matters, that I believe in… because I have to… otherwise it’s just half a life.

I just wanted to say that your book has given me a great gift and has really aided my journey back to my brushes. I was on that path and your book has given me some more courage and tools… thank you… seems small, but it has meant more than I can explain.” ~ Claire

Thank you so much, Claire. This means more than I can explain. I think what moves me so much about this is that I feel like this is my story too, which makes you start to realize that there are lots of stories like this out there. When you’re in it, you feel like you’re the only one who has ever felt like this… until you share your story and suddenly you realize that you’re not alone at all. Having blocks just means you’re part of a very elite, creative club! You can’t have a creative block if you’re not a creative person, right? I’m so glad to be in this club with Claire, and all of you.

*artwork by Rachel Castle





julia rothman… again

Gorgeous. This beautifully illustrated love letter to New York hits shelves TODAY! Hello NY is a gorgeous passion project by Julia Rothman… a talented designer, illustrator, and of course, New Yorker. She wrote a very honest, heart-felt post about the ups and downs of creating this book on her blog, Book By It’s Cover – give it a read, and then go pick up the book. I’m going to need a copy because I’m heading to New York {for the first time in my life… WHAT?!} in a few weeks for my NYC book event! Oh, and it just so happens that Julia is one of the artists interviewed in CREATIVE BLOCK! If she’s not too busy promoting this lovely piece of bounded art, she’ll be stopping by the CB party on April 2nd. I hope she has a pen ready to sign her lovely pages!

ps. there are still a handful of tickets available to the NY party, so if you want to come, grab your ticket here.