Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring has Sprung!

Well it looks like the last of winter has left us and we are in for warmer and greener days ahead (fingers crossed!) Though its lucky for me that I got to spend the last few weeks of the Minnesota bitter cold back at my old stomping grounds in the Bay Area.  Soaking up sunshine, seeing friends, and cherishing special family time.

For one of my recent projects I was lucky enough to be commissioned for a Save-the-Date and Invitation combo for a dear friend of the family who was having a 70th Birthday Party during our visit to Northern California.  This woman is an inspiration to everyone she meets - a breast cancer survivor and currently kicking more cancer butt and consistently beating the odds.  Her philosophy? "I'm too damn busy to die!" I love it.

Now this amazing lady had some very special requests.  She wanted three birds to represent herself, her husband and her son on the Save-the-Date.  She wanted something simple with a little bit of punch.  So we opted for a classic pencil drawing with a bit of digital color to make it pop.

The invitations needed to be special and personal.  Our birds were necessary to continue the story, as well as three of the birthday girl's biggest loves - her dog, her horses, and skiing.

I was very happy that she was pleased with the design.  I felt that it spoke of who she is so much that I framed it and gave it to her for her birthday.  Nobody else should own this original.

Getting to do intimate pieces like this are very special.  I love being a part of a monumental event for someone and representing something so personal is very precious.  There is no price tag on that. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

Wow! I can't believe it's been so long since my last post. Apologies to all of my adoring fans out there (hi mom and dad!)  I have been on a bit of a hiatus for the past six months or so. Taking some time out to figure out my next creative step and also that whole "being a mom" thing really takes up a lot of time!

In the meantime, my last two books with Nomad Press have been published! Both Explore Natural Resources! and The Roaring Twenties have come out and they look great. It was a whirlwind doing both of these books back to back on top of trying to be a mom, but thank goodness I had family and an amazing babysitter who helped me out as much as they could.

Since then we've gone through a bit of a life change. In August of last year my husband got a job that moved us from Sunny California to Snowy Minnesota! Though it wasn't snowy in August... more Mosquitoey (if that's even a word).  It's been quite an adjustment trying to get back into the swing of things.

At first I looked for a studio space outside of my home, but after searching I finally decided that my own backyard was the perfect setting. Our new place doesn't have a separate room I can use for work, but our main area is huge and I can't beat the light or the view!

Not only that, it's nice to have my little protege's work station right next to me. Though at the age of two she doesn't sit very long...for anything! However when she does get into her coloring or stickers she really gets into it.

Follow my twitter feed @jenkellerart with #artynewmom or #mylittleprotege for details of the toddler genius at work and a few tips on how to achieve the holy grail of being a work from home mom (#wfhm or #wfhmsurvival.)

I'll let you know if I ever figure it out. 

So here we are in the land of 10,000 lakes and weather so cold your face might freeze off... but we are making it work. I have a few projects under my belt and a few more I'm just beginning work on.  It's exciting to be back in the creative saddle and start sharing with everybody again! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Roaring Twenties

Wow! Again I can't believe so much time has gone by since my last post! I just finished working on my latest book for Nomad Press, The Roaring Twenties. Just like the decade - it was a whirlwind!

This book was really interesting.  The Inquire and Investigate series is for older kids, so the subject matter can be a little more sophisticated in content. Not only does this book cover the surface information about the twenties including music, art and fashion, but it goes into women's issues, race issues, prohibition, etc.  It ends with the lead up to the depression and World War Two. I love that the author didn't sugar coat the era, but really covered the good and the bad, as any period of history has.

As far as the work goes, since this book was more of a graphic novel/comic format my work was only done in black and white line. This was a challenge since I could only rely upon the line work and not value patterns for my compositions.

The work - life balance is always a challenge for me these days, especially now that my wee baby is a walking, talking, (sometimes running) toddler! Now at 17 months Emily is pretty much running the show around here.  It's an adventure every day....

As always, I need to give a special shout out to all the support I receive from family (especially Gram & Pop pop), friends, and sitters. I especially need to give credit to my extremely supportive husband, who was not only my primary sitter, but my go to model for almost all of the male characters in this book.  I couldn't have done any of it without him.

So here's a little preview of The Roaring Twenties.... Enjoy!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Time Flies!

Wow! I can't believe it's been so long since my last post! I guess that's what happens when your cuddly baby turns into a walking, babbling, adventurous toddler!

The Three R's
 I am just turning in the last few illustrations for Explore Natural Resources! This book was a lot of fun. I love illustrating animals and this was a great opportunity to really develop a few characters that I enjoyed. Here are a few samples from the last chapters of the book.

Conserving Natural Resources

Exciting Energy

Child labor using candlelight in mines

Solar Farm

I am also very happy to announce that I have been asked to illustrate another title in a different series with Nomad Press meant for young teens (ages 12-15) called Inquire and Investigate. This series is done in a graphic novel/comic book style and is about The Roaring Twenties.  This is one of my favorite periods dating back to my costume design days and I'm excited to be working on it!

Emmy's One Year Birthday Party

As far as my life as a WAHM - Work at Home Mom - it has been quite a challenge since my little angel turned ONE!  She is now walking and even with a limited vocabulary, she has many opinions.  Gone are the days of hanging out in her play yard due to her higher activity level and more intense curiosity, but this is what Grandparents are for! (Special shout out to Gram and Pop pop for all their help these days... and Daddy, too!)

Hold all my calls! I have a very important conference call with Elmo.
But on the flip side I am enjoying seeing her blossom into a little person...

Enjoying Children's Books as much as Mommy! 

Here we are at 15 months and we may have a mini artist on our hands!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Natural Resources: Water & Soil

The last few months have literally flown by! It's hard to believe I'm almost halfway finished with this book. Balancing work with baby sure does make every day zip by faster than I had ever imagined!
Chapter 2: Wonderful Water

Tiddaluk the Frog

Here are a few samples from Chapter 2 (Wonderful Water) and Chapter 3 (Super Soil). The biggest challenge for me was trying to draw that tarantula in the corner of the Super Soil Chapter Header. I'm pretty proud that I was able to do it, seeing as I have such a bad spider phobia I can barely smash a tiny house spider without having heart palpitations! Enjoy...

Chapter Three: Super Soil

Dangers of Water Pollution

Cycle of Pollution in the Soil

In other news, I am only a few weeks away from celebrating my little girl's first birthday!! I can hardly believe it. I am so lucky to have such support from family and friends who help out with my little monkey so I can work.  And when it's just the two of us... it's always a good time!


There has yet to be a "jail-break"... I feel it may be just a matter of time!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Natural Resources: Intro & Chapter One

Explore Natural Resources! 
Title Page

This new book is turning out to be a lot of fun. My main character, a little holstein calf, has really blossomed while working on the first few chapters. 

Chapter One: Amazing Air

His friends have also come out of the woodwork and everything is really coming together. 

Introduction to Natural Resources

I do have to put out a special shout-out to Grandma and Grandpa Lovercheck (my husband's parents) for coming through with lots of babysitting time. Emmy also has a new babysitter who has been coming over once a week so mommy can have a few hours of uninterrupted work time. Without this extra help I'm not sure how I would ever make a deadline... or keep my sanity!

So enjoy this little sneak peak of The Introduction and Chapter One of Explore Natural Resources! There will be much more to follow...!

Life with and without an atmosphere! 

Comparing the amount of Natural Resources used millions of years ago to a more recent time. 


Learning the importance of recycling! 

Non-renewable vs. renewable resources

Though I do have help with little Emmy there is plenty of time when it's just us girls in the studio. She loves being in her fancy play yard working on her own "personal project."

Not sure if I'll be able to contain this girl for much longer... 

Wish me luck...! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Explore Natural Resources Cover Art

It was certainly a tight squeeze getting the artwork done for the cover this time around with my new little helper, but I did it! (A special thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Keller who happen to be in town and had no issues doing a little babysitting.) I think this is going to be a fun book. It is very different from the Native American Book since it's not as cultural but more scientific.  Though "going green" is certainly a part of our current culture today - at least let's hope so!

I'm really starting to enjoy creating this type of digital illustration. I'm hoping to incorporate it into future projects at some point.  Enjoy this little sneak peak of the Explore Natural Resources cover artwork!

And for those of you work from home moms (aka WFHM) trying to figure it out like I am, I highly recommend the full size play yard! I'm pretty sure Emmy is enjoying it.

Well, see for yourself!