Tuesday, September 15, 2015

There's no place like "Sweet Home Chicago"

Well, it's been little over a year since our move to Minnesota, and we have found ourselves on the road again. The journey has come full circle and we have landed in the Chicagoland area!  After growing up in the southwest suburbs and living in the Windy City of Chicago for almost 10 years, I am very excited to move back.

It has taken a little while, but my studio is finally set up and this time around -- I'm sharing it with my little protege! What better way to get inspired to do children's art by sharing my creative space with my own kiddo's crafty corner.

I am also happy to report I've been busily working on that Nursery/Children's Art line, finding inspiration everywhere.  I'm hoping to have a new shop on ETSY featuring my work and perhaps a few other venues - plus a NAME! It seems to be one of the most challenging parts of the process.

One of my favorite pieces I've been able to do is for another new little baby who entered our world this May... Miss Amelia.  I had done a commission years ago for little Amelia's daddy of his wonderful Yellow Lab.  So for her nursury I wanted to also represent the "dog-love" of her mommy's life - a beautiful Ridgeback named Zeke.  It seems both Mama, Daddy, and Baby are happy with their new art!

It's been quite a journey for the past year and a half, but we are all feeling very grounded here.  I am excited about this new chapter in the place I grew up and looking forward to watching my little girl grow and prosper in a place I am proud to call home.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Inspiration Everywhere

Hello friends! For the past few months I've been finding inspiration everywhere... including new babies! I have some special people in my life that have new little ones joining their families and I felt inspired to create artwork for them.

Beautiful Mama Linda with Baby Finn, 3 months old. 
I also decided to use this opportunity to expand my digital artwork.  I first used this style while working on cover art for the EXPLORE! series at Nomad Press. I really liked the modern graphic look of these pieces and I felt it would be perfect to start exploring a Children's/Nursery Art Line. Compared to the watercolor style I had been using in the past, this style is a little more commercial and also versatile.  Every piece starts with drawing and inking by hand, so it still has my personal touch and doesn't feel so generic. Next I convert the inked piece to a digital line and color the piece with a little more of a flat graphic color style.

My first piece started traditional for my little niece, Sabina Rue.  After I finished the original and gave it to my glowing sister-in-law I proceeded to work on the digital version.

After finishing my first one, I couldn't wait to start work on the next two newborns on my list. First a bunny for my good friend's little boy, Finn, in Chicago.

Great friends of ours also had their first baby girl in New York City.  I used their own kitties as inspiration for wee Hanna's artwork.

After finishing this work it was time to give my website a little facelift. Check it out at JenKellerArt.com

Well, it's been a busy couple of months and I hope to stay just as busy. How do I get all of this done (you may be wondering) while living in toddlerland? Nap time has been my best productivity friend these days. I also try to make lists and keep to a schedule. It's quite a balancing act but so far - so good! 

The most important part is to get outside, have fun, and get inspired...

because inspiration is everywhere...

Emmy's portrait done by neighbor friend, Samantha, Age 7. 

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!