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! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Back in the Saddle....

It seems like a only a moment ago I did my latest post, but it's been more like six months! I must apologize for my absence but these babies sure do take up a lot of time. During my hiatus I've been keeping busy in my sketchbook and trying to catch a few art shows, but mostly I've been enjoying being a mom.  However my status as stay at home mom will be changing to work at home mom now that I am doing another title in the Explore Your World Series with Nomad Press about Natural Resources.

I have started work on the cover this past week and when people say everything changes once a baby enters your life - they aren't kidding! Working from home and taking care of my wee one has presented its own set of challenges (which include her being mobile!) I have attempted to adapt the studio in order to accommodate little miss social and so far I think we've come up with a balance.

Not so sure if Emmy agrees.

A full sized play yard is on its way from Amazon - thank goodness! I don't know how much longer I can keep her from teething on her play mat - or anything else she happens to find....

It does feels good to "officially" be back at the drafting table.  I also love the fact that I have a little girl at the other end of it.  Love the curve balls life throws at you. They make it that much more thrilling. Can't wait to share this new adventure with everyone!