Wings Warm-Up.

Good morning! (Sidenote: I've just broken my own freelance-rule: walked into the studio in my jammies. Oops.) Oh well, such is January. Everything I've been working on in here is top secret, but since that's no fun, I'll share some warm-up sketches. Here goes:

In the fairy realm I am working in, the author has decided to treat wings as detachable accessories, which is very kind of her considering there is a lot of dressing up and going to balls (wings and gowns-eek). Swimming might be another perfect situation to take advantage...

After drawing her, I realized she might be my own version of Thumbelina (above).

Sneaky sprites. 

Hope you have a lovely week! If you spot a fairy under your nearest toadstool, be sure to report.

Freshest Edge

It's crunchy out. The sun is in your eyes, ice is underfoot. City people hurry by, faces wound in scarves. We are on the freshest edge together, newly whet by winter.

Isn't it exciting? There is hope on this edge, that things can change, that we can shape our own little worlds. It's fresh and clean and everything is've got new ideas, (new socks, maybe), new plans, new hopes. It's a time for travel, opening the eyes (I've been keeping my eyes on this important movement), learning a language, reading deeply, and dreaming long dreams, interior adventures, interior decorating, prayer, nesting, gathering friends and family to light up the corners.  It flavors your back-to-work tasks with possibility, re-enlivens your livelihood.

My sister, Christa, aptly dubbed it, "home keeping/possible magical worlds season"...YES. (She always says it best.) I like the in-between-seasons, maybe even more than the main events. I think it's because of their quiet power. It's when all the secret work is being done before something is ready to bloom....

As far as seasonal nesting, my eyes always return from break fixed on pattern and color. I've been aiming to surround us in delft blue and Scandinavian pattern. I love how pattern can turn a corner into a "place" with a story of its own. Another domestic-cozy goal has been to create a homemade "hearth" for folks to sit around. We started to bring it to life this week (and escaped a fire emergency!) At least I can pretend it's the real thing. Isn't it neat what a little dancing flame can to a dark room (and cat)?

(Woah, fire hazard, we are working on this!)

Right now is also a time of visual starkness. Color and imagination are VERY powerful because of that. The palette here in Quincy is gull-gray, white, and sharp sea blue. Stories are clearer and louder against those colors. Dream-life seems to mix with real-life too...a winter alchemy. I always dream vividly when the new year begins, too. Do you? The past few nights mine have been full of symbols, adventures, tunnels and good advice from strangers (is it weird to dream of strangers?) Every dream has been focusing around the prospect of "being ready"...(I hope this is a good thing!)  I think it's all part of the humming work that has begun. Here's a doodled symbol from a dream: full of roses.

So Happy New Year, friends! And vivid dreaming too! I hope you are refreshed and ready for it. Can't wait to watch it bloom together, I think it's gonna be a good one.

New England Blood

Ah! December? Where is the time going? How have you all been?

I've been writing my novel (thanks for the encouragement!), revising fairies, heading south for research interviews, and getting lost in journals of people that lived hundreds of years ago. Before the holidays totally consume us, I wanted to quick get this old post up. Because it's all about Almost-Winter in New England, which is one of my favorite times, and it's nearly done already.

During this particular time of year, the land here is enchanted:

(I tried to paint it last week, out the studio window.)

The palette across our land here in New England becomes rich and complex during this season. Out on an echoing walk through the hollow woods you can see mulberries, purples-bruised-to-blacks, plums, poisonous reds on neutrals, rumbling umbers, steely evergreen and that perfect hard-to-mix slate blue sky. It is soggy under your feet, the light is long and a little bit sad, the air is dense and sweet with the smell of leaves turning to earth. You think about the people who have felt home here too, over thousands of years, and everyone, for a moment feels connected and alive. The deciduous trees become ringed kings topped in copper crowns. They are as many ghosts as there are trees...and Christmas will settle into the land if you cue a Coventry Carol or two!

At the very edge of night and day, was when we'd love to go out and play in it, wrapped up in old table cloths for "old-fashioned dresses", "stewing" our rotten Halloween pumpkin in the burgundy dark over a flashlight, pretending we were putting up onion grass for the long winter under the deck, being chilled to the bone so when our mom would call us in for soup, it would be an unimaginable luxury...

My sister in Connecticut copper.

I think the season sounds exactly like Goldmund. Here's a song.

I actually wrote and re-wrote this post about a dozen times, because it's nearly impossible for me to talk about my landscape. So, I usually don't. My relationship to the land here is personal and bone-deep. I have entries saved about New England in the summer, the spirit in the land, the seagulls and the green. But I'm always stopped from posting by two things: (1) the belief that no one would want to read about things like seagulls and ocean! and (2) I am always at a loss for words, re: the land. Sometimes something is too beloved to explain.

(If you have read this far already, you should have a copper crown yourself!)

When I view hazy New England hills on a car drive, my reaction is always immediate. It's from the center of my chest. Peace settles through me while I scan the stacked golds and fire-tinged sphere against sphere. Is it having been born here? Having been lulled to sleep in the backseat watching them roll since I was born?  Maybe. I will probably always always live here, I don't think I'd ever be able to part with them (the hills-or the ghosts).

Sometimes just doing a little painting unlocks the language of the land for me, keeping my imagination planted firmly in the cold wet dirt while I write.

Is there a place that bewitches you, where you live?

The fairies have descended...

and Fairy Bell Sisters final art has begun! 

Can you imagine the mess that a flock of fairy sisters (and each with her own pair of wings) might make in your house? Well, imagine it, and you've got my studio for the next few weeks! The music is loud, inky bristol board is everywhere, and if you come to the door, I will greet you in all my sans-make-up-scary-haired-brow-furrowed glory, while whisking my collection of old tea mugs away to the sink, Kathleen Kelly style.

I also become slightly non-verbal in final art mode, it's strange. For days, my eyes and hands converse via line, shape, and value. In my head it sounds a little like this: "WIDE GREY THING, CHALKY EDGE THERE, SPLATTER!, BRING THE DARKS OUT, MUTE WITH OPAQUE, DEFINE LINE." Like a render machine. Am I making sense? No? Have some toast...

 (Fairy fuel)

This coming Saturday, I'll have an excuse to put pants on and remember how to talk: I'll be speaking at Foundation For Children's Books "What's New In Children's Books" with authors I admire, Grace Lin and David Yoo. Details HERE. Would love to see you, come say hello!


Thanks for the encouragement, Jennifer in Wisconsin! It is surely appreciated right now (to be frank and honest). This author/illustrator thing is sometimes a tough business. We don't talk much in the social media sphere about the doubt and bad days and dry spells and all the other delicious mental quandaries we get ourselves into. Presently, my art and writing are like two squabbling (growing) kids over here, after years of being told to "shush" while I worked, they are very fussy and jealous and would both like all of my time, which sometimes lends to making nothing at all. Then I get stuck. 

I got stuck today and called my mom. Besides being the most creative person I know, she is the best listener, someone who will walk into the thick of it with you and make you laugh at yourself. I told her writing my novel and making my picture books just can't happen at once. I told her switching my brain from one to the other is like singing Christmas carols in the springtime and it just won't work. She understood, and suggested something neat. She said that "maybe you just need to properly introduce them to each other." 

I'm also not used to not producing final products at a rapid-fire rate, so this year of stepping back (yes, it has been a year without picture books) has been so vital for me. To remember WHY I make, and what I REALLY REALLY WANT to make. To make like I did when I was a kid, for the fun of it. A year of learning to be patient with myself, and learning that creation comes when you throw expectation out the window and remember JOY. 

In these months I've "raised" (because they really do feel like your kids) a dozen picture book concepts, and a novel that came out of nowhere and needed telling. But this time around, there is no deadline, art director, editor, no agent, yet. It's just me right now. It's a frightening prospect. Are the stories worth it? Good enough? Can I do it? Should I go get a job in the city instead? These are questions as creators we will always ask ourselves, I bet.  So there's some honest-to-goodness truth. Thanks for being along for the ride, friends. I'll be at the drawing board (and keyboard), working at the blank white 

Class Picture Day

Good morning class! 

It's class picture day today in Room 23. Everyone is dressed in their best pose, plaid, and pencils.  I have good back to school memories, do you? The morning air has a cool edge while you wait for the bus, the smell of new erasers overpowers your jitters over gym class. A shout-out to my sister, Anna, for whom the blonde was named! More children's fashion HERE.



Tila and her crazy pencils.


Seri Speak

Last week my studio was turned into an all-hours kitty hospital of sorts. My steadfast and whiskered coworker got himself a life-threatening case of FLUTD. He came into the studio as I finished a book cover, hung his head and cried. Off to the hospital we went. A week of invasive cat hell ensued. But he is home now and recovering! Thank you, Hancock Animal!

The hardest part of Seri's ordeal was encountering my human frustration with the animals I love: not being able to speak to them, especially in times of need. It would be my SUPERHERO POWER of choice. Interspecies communication is mind-bending and heart-melting when you think about it: To converse, we slowly construct a common language together with eye contact, voice, and patterns of touch. But there are moments of fear and heartbreak, when you would give anything to SPEAK CAT or RABBIT or DOG, just so you might explain. Luckily, after all he went through, Seri was still wagging his taped-up little tail when I sung to him from across the room. He was still speaking our "language" and that's the most humbling thing.

Do you and your pet have a "language" together?

Editor in chief:
 Ay! Get to work!

Hopefully he'll be back to his usual "wild foal" energy levels next week (thanks Boggy!) :

Yes. That IS a cat on a leash. 

Go Seri!

Space & Time.

The second president of the United States once lived down the street from our house:

View of the Adams' Peace Field, Quincy MA

This morning, one of his letters came to me by Twitterfeed (not messenger, horse, or carriage) thanks to the MHS. The letter is an antiquated thing dotted with agelessness. From his spot in the 18th century, from our spot in the 21st, especially this week, we are sharing something pretty fantastic: WONDER. He asks the same grand questions about our universe, ones we are still shouting out into space today. Considering his level of excitement over the view of the Milky Way via Sir William Hershell's new-fangled "glass" (telescope), let's imagine what he would have thought of the view from the Curiosity! (I'm taking historical liberties to imagine he'd probably yell "Great Animalcules!", drop his pen, have a merry fit and then sit down to feverishly write some new correspondence...) 

View of Mars

In his letter to Cotton Tufts:
London June 2. 1786

"...Herschell indeed with his new Glass, has discovered the most magnificent Spectacle that ever was seen or imagined, and I suppose it is chiefly as a Spectacle that his Discovery is admired. If all those Single double, tripple quadruple Worlds are peopled as fully as every leaf and drop is in this, what a merry Company there is of Us, in the Universe? All fellow Creatures Insects Animalcules and all. Why are We keept so unacquainted with each other? I fancy We shall know each other better, and shall see that even Cards and Routs, dancing Dogs, learned Piggs, scientific Birds are not so despicable Things as We in our wonderful Wisdom sometimes think them.

The Bishop of Landaff, has made the Trees, not walk, but feel and think, and why should We not at once settle it that every Attom, thinks and feels? An universe tremblingly alive all over. The more We pursue these Speculations the higher Sense We shall have of the Father, and Master of all, and the firmer Expectation that all which now Appears irregular will be found to be Design. 

But where have I rambled? 

Your Fnd
John Adams"

I am glued to the Curiosity feed HERE. I hope that through all times, in all centuries, that we will always wonder. 

Summer Visits

Happy August! How have you been? I've missed you so, blogger buds! 

Work has really ramped up. The blog and house have grown quiet except for the sounds of tweeting and talking to my cat to keep sane (do you Tweet? let's Tweet...@JuliaDraw). 
Matt is also art lead on his company's latest video game project so our little family is running an art marathon together! WOOSH. There are dreams of vacation in September (Virginia or Nantucket–any hotel recs. welcome!) but for now, summer exists in savored little visits: blueberry farms, escape-for-lunch dates, late night walks on Wollaston beach ("around town" Quincy pics to come). My work-away-from-home spot : Crema Cafe in Harvard, where the food is artful, the tables have a charming wobble, and the people are tip top...

Speaking of little visits, I just had two virtual ones. One was at The Girls of Summer blog by two award-winning authors and women whom I greatly admire, Gigi Amateau and Meg Medina. The other was an interview with the very gracious Rosa St. Claire for Monday, I real-life visited a beloved spot with my talented lady-friend Amanda Atkins, The Curious George store in Harvard Square. We met the lovely manager and buyer, Broche Fabian, and friendly staff and I signed some stock. As you know, this was my first place of employment in Boston, under the original owners. I'm so glad the space has reopened as a bright spot again in the heart of Harvard Square. It's beautiful!

And for a dose of beautiful, skip over to Anita Silvey's Book-A-Day Almanac where she is featuring Natalie Babbitt's unforgettable description of "August" today...Till next time!

Oh, Alice...

Have you spotted Alice McKinley in the wild yet? I was invited into her zany world by the good folks at Simon & Schuster to repackage  Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's classic series. They're out in bookstores now just in time for summer reading. Alice's voice is so blushingly honest and true through the entire ordeal of growing up, so I tried my best to zoom in on her open heart. She is the queen of quirk and awkwardness, the best mixture of courage, freckles, and innocence. She cracked me up. I loved meeting her. I hope you will too!

Big thank yous to the talented Jessica Handelman for her introduction to Alice and her fresh take on the design (don't you just love her san serif punchiness?) It was fun going bold, graphic, and candy-colored for this series. I painted these in watercolor, with a background in one layer of acrylic paint. These Alice covers made third place in the 2012 New York Book Show, for Trade Paperback Series! 

"The kiss went on so long, I wondered when I was allowed to swallow. What we the rules about this? Should the boy let you up for air every ten seconds or were you supposed to sort of keep your nostrils to one side?" –Alice's second kiss, Alice In Rapture, Sort Of

Click on the image to see them up close on my website...

Till next time!

Making the Cover: Summer of the Gypsy Moths

 "The earth spins at a thousand miles an hour. Sometimes when I remember this, it's all I can do to stay upright – the urge to flatten myself to the ground and clutch hold is that strong."

I'd like to describe Summer of the Gypsy Moths as haunting and moth's-wing delicate...Sarah Pennypacker deftly weaves an impossible balance between the macabre, innocence, and balmy summer vacation. Stella and Angel are two abandoned girls who summon incredible courage during one fateful summer, and learn how to survive together.  I am so afraid to give anything more away! I read it in one one cast its spell and I didn't look up again until it was time to make dinner:

Many thanks to Amy Ryan and Donna Bray for their keen eyes, design and careful direction. And congratulations on a stunning piece, Sarah Pennypacker! Published by Balzer+ Bray.

Why I Love Making Book Covers!

I presented to Lesley University this weekend (mother university of my alma mater, The Art Institute of Boston) and spoke on the creation of a book cover. I admitted to the audience that book covers were possibly my favorite format because of the challenge they pose: the challenge of funneling the entire written work, and characters you've become attached to yourself, into that one gripping moment at 5x7. This cover was the stage for Stella's moment.

There are many elements that need to be working together for that goal I'm working toward... I think first about choosing style: it needs to aid the moment while also translating the author's voice appropriately. Then, working closely with the art director, we work on design of the limited space, trying to make every millimeter counter and mean something. Color palette needs to be activated as a second voice and used with intent. I save character rendering for last, because that's where the spirit of the work lies. It's my most favorite and personal part, and once all the mechanics are worked out, the expression of that person is free to "be". 

During all of these steps though, I'm always watching "the moment" in the back of my mind...the personal moment, the first impression that the viewer, bookstore customer, library peruser of any age might have when they see it on the shelf. Hopefully, they pick it up and it makes a bridge from that person straight into the pages. I'm always wondering: did I do it? It's a thrilling challenge to make a book cover, one that I hope to tackle again and again!

First pass:

I dove into airy pan pastels for this cover. I wanted the sea and sand to feel dry and textural, and they provided the atmosphere I was hoping for. I ended up lightening the entire piece under Amy and Donna's direction to achieve a little more "hopefulness" and wonder...though it is a dark story, there is undeniable youth and life surging through.

Final approved sketch:
We talked a lot about Stella's character and her fashion choices, Angel's resistant spirit too.
Some prelim sketches :

Introducing a New Blog!

Good morning busy bees! Hope you had a restful little holiday. I've been secretly assembling a new home for my fashion work and I can't wait to share it with you!

Today, I'm happy to introduce :

It's my new fashion blog. You can click here to go and visit if you'd like. With the launch of several recent style projects, my fashion work requested an exclusive place to sprawl and stretch and spread its wings. "The Cinnamon Rabbit" continues on as a blog for all things narrative and children's publishing. "Palette" is a fresh new place for all things visual, a place for color and line to live and breathe! ENJOY

Rainy Day Spell

If you are living near the East Coast, chances are you've been living in a cloud for the better part of this month. I don't mind cloud-life too much. Rain wakes me up on the skylight in the morning, birds still go on building their nests in the rafters near our windows. The storms haven't been meddling or mean, but mild enough to just add a little curl to your hair or an umbrella to your bag. Rainy days make me FINALLY sit still and that's good for work! And I can't get over the GREEN that they bring.

The best studio days are rainy. There is a productive energy to them, the Earth is busy with photosynthesis and you are busy at your desk. I'm usually (selfishly) wishing for a week full of them. They have always soothed me, been able to put me under a spell. It's that constant chanting, hushing "shhhhhhhh" outside the window. Nature's entranced too, I think...the birds sound like they are singing in the shower. And my cat is seriously cozy-ing himself out in here:

Do you love rainy days?

Digging For Stories: Plymouth, MA

When the Plymouth Antiquarian Society put out a call last week for help at an archeological dig they've begun in Plymouth Center, I said: Yes, please! Digging for history is probably the EXACT way I'd like to spend any Sunday afternoon, so we jumped in the car and headed south once again to grab some shovels. (Thank you to husband! His sifting skills were much appreciated <3.) They are still working and needing volunteers to anyone who might be local.

We met Donna Curtin, curator at P.A.S, when we arrived and she set us out on a hunt for 2 types of evidence to prove this storage shed was a Slave Dwelling. We worked under the direction of local archeologist Craig Chartier (director of the Plymouth Archeological Discovery Project). Having met the rest of our digging team: Joyce and Noelle Poremski and Robin Tozzi (all lovely and welcoming and connected to PAS as well), we set out to find chopped bone and shell bead let's let Donna explain more (by Rich Harbert via Wicked Local):


Matching soil colors... with a soil palette. Be still my heart!!

Scratching my history-itch!

Once all necessary evidence is found, they'll receive funding to protect the site and hopefully turn it into something educational too. No bone or beads for us, but we DID find what Mr. Cartier believed was a stem piece of a 17th century clay pipe, as seen below here in the Pilgrim Hall exhibit we found later on.

That's the 1600's, folks, right in the palm of your hand...

A Boston Globe reporter, Constance Lindner, who had done some archeology herself, was there and we discussed the visceral feeling...the feeling of direct connection to people and lives long ago.

I'm always thinking of the stories buried right underneath our feet, how history activates legend in the present. History will always provoke art because it is the ultimate story. It is not in a dusty book that has a beginning, middle, and end. It is very much alive, everywhere we walk. Nothing is “lost” to history, history is now, in us, in physicality and in spirit. I think you feel that especially when you're digging it invoke the big story arc when you dig.

It's something that will probably always keep me fascinated, keep me drawing, writing, searching, learning, sifting through, and wondering...

Matt's Blue Blinds Bakery reward...

Book Cover Series: The Cassons Have Arrived!

Meet Indigo, Saffron and Cadmium and Permanent Rose Casson, children of two artists, living outside of London, and all named after colors on the color wheel that hangs in their kitchen.

The whole family arrived at my door last week, care of McElderry/Simon & Schuster (merci, Michael!) It was thrilling to see all of the covers together. The Casson siblings, who enchanted me from the start, weave in and out of a 6–book family epic by Hilary McKay, the acclaimed award-winning author from the UK. The repackages were done in time for McKay to release the prequel Casson fans have been waiting for: Caddy's World. With a starred review from SLJ, I think Caddy and the Cassons are set to fly. It was an honor to be involved in this process.

I worked with a splendid team: prolific art director and designer, Michael McCartney, and editors Karen Wojtyla and Emily Fabre, to bring a fresh look to McKay's series for what we all hope will be a new batch of readers in America.

After signing on, I received a bit of some of the most memorable art direction to date. It made me both wonder if I could and fill with determination that I must, the best kind of art direction an artist could get. Michael wrote:

".....Hilary McKay’s work is charming and endearing beyond compare. Her readers are as completely smitten with the Cassons as the loves of our youth....We must have artwork that possesses the same ability as the characters within the text to induce a captivation like first love."

Gulp! Yikes! And we began with no time to waste or worry. His high-in-the-sky challenge floated ahead of me while I created each cover. There is nothing like a good hope was that existing fans and their creator would approve.

          The list in order:

The books have generated pockets of fiercely loyal Casson-ites across the pond, who have begged McKay to continue (so she blogged as Rose HERE, and hungry fans gossip HERE and even write fan-fiction HERE). Most recently, Rose has stopped blogging and begun officially Tweeting, where she drops her witty one-liners into international Twitterfeeds under the handle @RoseCasson.

Yep, Rose Casson and I tweeted.  I think my life is now complete:

Meeting the Cassons

"Indigo was a thin, dark-haired little boy with anxious indigo-colored eyes. He had a list in his head of things that did not matter (such as school), and another list of things that did. High on Indigo's list of things that mattered was his pack. That was how he thought of his sisters. His pack."
–Saffy's Angel

If you open a Casson book, even start a chapter, be warned that you are committing to all six. One adventure roles into the next, and beautiful sentences string themselves in such a way that I had a severe headache trying to dissect pretty quotes without pulling a whole page! McKay is adept at relating childhood in an astonishingly true way, with pages full of witty and hilarious dialogue, and endearing people you feel you already know: Bill and Eve, the children, their friends, driving-instructor Michael "Don't call me darling. I'm a driving instructor!”, boyfriends, neighbors, stray hamsters that tumble about. Casson life is messy, wild, honest and lovely as they grow up together and seem to be just barely hanging on at times. I came out of the series misty-eyed and laughing, as I let the series settle into my bones before I began on the covers. (And it took a year before I stopped adding "Darling" to everyone's first names, poor Darlings!)

(Cover-making must be done in neon flats!)

These books resonated with me as a creator, but maybe most personally as a big sister. The deep history, love, humor and unspoken understanding between siblings is sometimes unrelatable in words, but McKay can do it perfectly (who I hear is also a big sister). Our Denos childhood household was comprised of 4 wild sisters (Julia, Christa, Anna, Shauna) and 1 enigmatic guitar-playing brother (John!), who rambled in and out of our loved and worn-out house in Connecticut. As the oldest and eldest, I was quite at home in the Casson's fingerprinted doorway, watching their stories unfold in Rose's wall murals. In this excerpt from Caddy's World, we witness Caddy, oldest, locking eyes with her little sister for the first time. It's stunning:

..She turned to scan the corridor and the doorways and the long glass windows of the hospital wards.
As she looked she became aware that somebody was watching her.
Somebody quiet.
Caddy turned and turned, searching and then through the window that had been behind her she found what she was looking for.
Smoky, dark unblinking eyes.
A solemn, friendly gaze.
A mouth curved into the start of a smile.
It was a baby.
The baby and Caddy looked at one another. Deep, deep, deep, each into the other's thoughts. And Caddy did not need to see Eve's sketchbook on the stand close by, or the cards that Saffy and Indigo had made, or the photographs from home to know that this was the fledgling. The firework baby. The last and best touch of the genie's finger on Caddy's spinning world.
A name card was fixed to the side of her cot.
"Rose," read Caddy.

–Caddy's World

I'm blowing bubbles on the RV step with Christa, Anna, Shauna, John and Mom.
(When summer vacation lasted for ages,)

Shauna Denos on lawn-chair, John on guitar
(Youngest Denos sibs all grown up.)

Making the Cassons

Permanent Rose

 'Eve, darling!' said Bill (Eve was Rose's mother).  'Darling!' repeated Bill (very indignant and far from amused). 'What were you thinking of?' Eve, who was also an artist, had been thinking of the colour that painters use: Permanent Rose. A clear, warm colour that glows with its own lively brightness, no matter how thinly spread. A colour that does not fade.
  There had been a Permanent Rose-coloured sky on the morning that Rose was born.  Rose had arrived into the world a lot earlier than anyone had expected her to, and from the absolute beginning she had seemed very un-thrilled about the prospect of having to stay...That was why one afternoon she had slipped out of the hospital and gone all by herself across the town to 
register the latest Casson's defiant name. Permanent Rose."

–Permanent Rose

While I painted, I listened to the retired Anglo-Icelandic pop band, Fields, who I happened to bump into on Pandora when I was just beginning "Forever Rose" and they became my mainstay through the series, along with Andrew Bird (this incredible song, particularlyand Stars' entire new album "Five Ghosts". The energy and sweetness in the male and female harmonies and upbeat tempos just seemed to serve as the right Casson backdrop. (Crossing fingers Indigo would approve of playlist.)

I saw the Cassons clearly right away. They let me know exactly who they wanted to be. I have to be careful to pay attention when I am setting out to design a person, their face, their way of being. I always start by sitting still at a blank page of paper with the music turned up loud. It's a personal, quiet thing and my favorite part of being an illustrator. You have to kind of muddle around with your pencil until he or she finally"shows up"on their own and something sparks between the dialogue and the drawing. I tend to save the final render of the "spirit" for the end, but I'd like to show you some early sketches. Michael and I bandied these back and forth to settle on a composition that synthesized the characters, props, aura, and his lyrical type:

(Rose and friends in the zoo–after hours!)

(Rose's Dreams)

(Indy's conquered fear of heights,  Rose & Tom, Tom on guitar)

(Rose scribbling and dreaming of New York and Tom)

(Caddy in the English jungle and her wayfaring Darling Michael on motorcycle)

I am passionate about the element of family and intrigued by physical inheritance, so I relished the challenge of creating sibling resemblance. Since we worked on "Forever Rose" first, she was the first to be put onto paper. The rest of the siblings followed suit, revealing that they were a moon-faced-dreamer sort of breed...Rose and Indigo looked like each other, moody, dark and a little stoic. Fierce Saffron and kind-hearted Caddy were both "gorgeous" and golden-hued by name and description in the book, so their challenge was to differentiate them visually. I set out to try to project that via eye contact: Saffy looks ahead with her probing and perceptive mind, Caddy looks at you with her hopeful heart...


Cadmium (with engagement-lemur)

I can't urge you enough to begin reading this series, straightaway!
You'll fall in love too, I'm betting, and miss them when it's done.

Many, many thanks to Michael M. for introducing me to the Cassons, trusting me with such a lovely series, for his careful art direction, time, typography, patience and for composing the covers. Admiration and thanks also go to Hilary M. for her genius, her words, and their unending inspiration! And. For any Casson fans out there, I wanted to let you know there are many of you wondering the same BIG Casson question, and you aren't alone in Googling it. I know this because Blogger tells me this is the sentence that most often leads folks to my blog from the UK:

 Google search: "Does Rose Casson love Tom?"

"I have read quite a lot of books lately, and I intend to read many more. And in books I have discovered that there are sometimes lonely patches
And scary times
And long paragraphs of no use at all except possibly (says Saffron) to build up your stamina.
But also there are jokes
And homes.
And these things
Will help you through the long paragraphs
Lonely patches
And even problems with as many heads as dragons.
To live Happily Ever After.
Which is exactly
What I
To do

–Forever Rose