From England to USA to England - with kisses

This sweet note arrived after I spoke at a local elementary school in Glenwood, IA, where I met this LOVELY lady. She shared the following: 

"In 1997, our little family (husband Brad, son Ian, and I) moved to Portsmouth, England, where Brad would be doing an exchange tour with the Royal Navy. Ian had turned 4 in April and would be headed off to reception in August 1998. My mom sent us a copy of the book The Kissing Hand. She thought Ian and I could read it before school started and he could take the concept of the Kissing Hand along with him to help ease the transition. We read the book several times and he did just fine.

Our little neighbor boy, Matthew, however, was very, very sad. He cried at school drop off every morning for several months. I lent the book to his mom, Rebecca, in hopes that it would help him understand a way to carry his mom's love with him during the day while he was at school. Sure enough, they kept it for several weeks. I told my Mom about it and she sent another copy over from the States so Matthew could have his own. I remember seeing him at school drop off time in the morning holding his hand out so Rebecca could place a kiss there. On the playground once or twice I saw him holding his hand to his cheek.

Isn't it funny how you came from England then your book made it's way back to that country? Such a small world.

Thanks so much, Marietta"

My heart is warmed and so delighted at this!!

IT’S OFFICIAL!! A new book!

IT’S OFFICIAL!! Announcing a new book! Kane Miller Books, a division of EDC (who also sell Usborne Books UK), has asked me to illustrate Eric Ode’s next book! He’s a brilliant playful writer - I am honored & overjoyed!  It will be titled ‘Otters, Snails, and Tadpole Tales’, Poems of the Marshlands. It will be available late next year. BLESSED!

Eric Ode has published TWELVE books, is an award-winning song-writer/musician (6 albums), and has poetry in 20 publications (including One Minute to Bedtime, by Kenn Nesbitt & Jane Yolen - which I have on order myself)!!

See all his books here -;

and his website here -

Finished Wine Label!

DONE! (Sorry I didn't post earlier) The final label, completed in March, for Flora Springs, who commissioned me to do their 'DASHAWAY' holiday wine label - a special limited run chardonnay wine (200 cases). It will be bottled in September, so you can order soon! They are an amazing family-run vineyard (own 1/3 Napa Valley grape-producing land) and they bottle only a small amount of special wine themselves each year from the best grapes. I can't wait to try it!

Flora Springs' 'DASHAWAY' holiday wine label


Feb 23, 2017:

Oooh! Isn't it exciting? I'm currently illustrating a wine bottle label for Flora Springs - a special limited release holiday wine to be released at the end of the year! I am thrilled to be asked!

Flora Springs is the third largest vineyard in Napa Valley, CA, sells up to 80% of their grapes to surrounding producers, but saves a select harvest hand-picked by their winemaker to produce a limited batch every year. How VERY special! I have the honor of making one of those labels! I'll post the art once it's all approved. Here's a teaser sketch...


Illustration from The Kissing Hand chosen for Bruce Museum 3/26/16

An illustration from the Kissing Hand was selected for an exhibit at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT.

The exhibit is titled Wild Reading: Animals in Children’s Book Art and will be open from March 26, 2016 through July 3, 2016. The Bruce is an art and natural history museum with an extensive collection of taxidermy animal specimens. This exhibit will pair taxidermy mounts with examples of the animals as they are depicted in original children’s book art. Each label will compare taxidermy specimens with the original art work to discuss each animal’s specific features. See:

The Kissing Hand illustrations captured the attention of curators for "their realistic, yet sweet, depictions of raccoons."

What an exciting Honor! I hope many little kiddos get to enjoy all the art! And I hope someone sends me PICTURES of all that :)

Crossing the Threshold!

Carried across the threshold….into a land of dreams. And – what do I do? I stare at the landscape in fear. Knees buckle and I go to mush. Oh my gosh. It’s here. Can I do this?? The taste and smell are intoxicating. I’ve worked and learned and studied for the last few years or this. But am I good enough? No.

Wait. Let me rephrase that. This is my purpose, my design, my dream – and God made me for this – and carried me into it to begin with. So what if I have to keep working a full-time job as well? Is it any different than coping with a new 4 month old baby – like I did for both past books? Can’t be. So, if He brought me this far, He’s going give me the strength and creative inspiration to take it into the end zone. A touch-down! Let’s go with that.


I have the honor of giving Kathleen Pelley’s sweet book a face. From her rich Irish heritage and storytelling father, Kathleen writes with gorgeous poetic rhythm and language:

“Happy Mamas’ is a picture book for babies and toddlers with rich poetic text depicting a range of animals and humans with their babies, and asks the question at different times of day, “What makes Mama happy? It ends with every Mama’s favorite – snuggles at bedtime!”


She’s also the published author of: The Giant King, Inventor McGregor, Magnus Maximus, Raj the Bookstore Tiger, and her recent, The Sandal Artist. Visit her site:

No finished sketches yet, just this preliminary page idea. But I will post as I go along. Will you come along for the journey?



Here’s Kathleen, me, and my SCBWI mentor Elizabeth Rawls this week – toasting with a celebratory drink!

2015: Past, Present, Future

Joyful Christmas Robin

Joyful Christmas Robin

Last year I had four goals - the ones I felt were most important to my art-related focus and future.  I geared up, grit my teeth, dug my heels in - and worked my tail off. All my time outside of my full-time day-job was devoted to learning and preparing. Plus lunch hours. It was exhausting. I took advantage of husband’s weekend and evening work hours (though I hardly saw him; we still grew closer).

This was 2014:

1.     Finish 1st draft of autobiography (am 2/3 through, at 23 chapters)                                     2.     Enter SCBWI illustration events/contests  3.     Go to SCBWI conference; be READY        4.     Read, learn, draw, paint constantly  

I accomplished three. Not bad. Good actually. I dropped the one that took away from the rest (#1). And accomplished MORE than planned! Unexpectedly, the biggest highlight was winning the SCBWI conference illustrator contest– with my image on next year’s materials, the website, and a free pass to next year’s conference! On my birthday. Cool, huh?

I had a great year with my health, too - worked crazy hard on an extreme diet w/supplements for half a year (for bad food allergies, which fixed them!), and worked on strength and endurance with regular Jazzercise workouts, plus biked about 600 miles. Yes. On the road. Climbing the foothills. And most gratifying -  developing friendships with many excellently talented folks, especially our SCBWI artist’s group! Learning to be an illustrator took on new meaning.

Enter 2015, satisfied with 2014

My husband’s a Dan Miller fan. From ‘48 Days to the Work you Love,’ he shared Dan’s chapter on goals. I was inspired. Break goals into 7 areas -

            (1) Financial, (2) physical (“Did you know that physical exercise is a cleansing process that can dramatically increase your creativity?” and a 10 minute walk refreshes a blocked mind to get it back to work and creating), (3) personal development, (4) family, (5) spiritual, (6) social, (7) career. Dan says they’re connected, and if you let one crumble then all of them begin to spiral down.

Gotta plan BIG. Make no little plans.

2015 Larger ‘career/artist’ goals:

1.     Publish two books, or pub one, with contract & illustrations for 2nd (I have one contract already, but not started it yet)              2.     Select & sign with an agent                        3.     Illustrate/write full time by year-end           4.     Learn my brains out, prepare; buy more top picture books (reference library) 

Now, will you share YOURS?? I promise I’ll listen. And encourage you.

BEST birthday ever - at the SCBWI Conference!

Oliver Doesn't Notice

Oh my gosh - the most MAGNIFICENT birthday ever! This weekend I not only attended my first SCBWI conference (Rocky Mountain Chapter), but it happened to be my BIG birthday (yikes!), AND I won the illustrator contest!!!

My character painting of Oliver will go on their website, next year's conference T-shirts, tote bags, and folders - and will be the cover image for calenders being sent out to agents and publishers at the end of this year!!!! You can buy them, too. Agggh - freakin awesome!!

ALSO, my own book dummy of 'Oliver Doesn't Notice' survived its first critique very favorably by a big-time publisher's editor (Candlewick Press)!! Alright, a few minor things need to be tweaked, but he said, "You made this? Very nice. You're very strong in page layout and action." (thanks to Will Terry's course on Creative Composition!). Phew.

I got to chat with AVI (yes!), and Selina Yoon (who rocked my artist's world!), and attended many amazing sessions filled with expertise - and it was all amazing! After 20 years of change/growth/development, folks, it looks like 'I'M BAAAACK" in the book business.

Pssst! Look for something else to hit the shelves around August....

Oliver and.....?!

'Oliver Doesn't Notice' by Ruth E. Harper

'Oliver Doesn't Notice' by Ruth E. Harper

Ooh, I'm excited (which often doesn't take much). Here's my cute lil' Oliver birdie - the cover of the book - - -

....and news that something else is coming! Not official yet, but getting close, is the illustration of a new book to be on shelves early autumn next year! One written so poetically and beautifully, and follows in the gentle and sweet nature of The Kissing Hand. Yay for a comeback! God is good :)

Making lots of little ways

Well! In my little moments I have taken a new turn - and I plan to stick with it.

1) I created a page on Etsy

2)I created a shop on Pinterest! Whoo!

They're almost up and ready to go.

3) I signed up for my first very real ART class - Will Terry's ( 'Creative Compostion Class for book illustrators. Saturday is my first class. Yesssss! I've never taken a class...and it's about time!

Here's a sketch from my book dummy....which I'm about to revamp :)

As the story begins, Oliver is hiding...

And I THOUGHT I was an illustrator

...until Will Terry showed me how far I have yet to go. Today I attended his workshop "Illustrator Intensive" with other SCBWI friends/members and was B L O W N away. You could have scraped my jaw off the floor. A few times. Head spinning, thoughts crashing into each other...

He is that good. And, unfortunately, I discovered I was that bad. Sheesh. This means another revamp of my book dummy - only I'm going further back to the drawing board. My weaknesses clearly are: poor composition and too much detail all over (not just focal point). 

So, a few of us - who felt equally blasted by Will's truth - are taking his 6 week online class on Creative Composition. He's a master. I'm totally humbled.


To begin with...

To begin with, I DID begin - a few times. I've written some blubbering thoughts, not worth much I'm sure, and my silly website needed fixing again. So I lost them. No loss.

So, my new SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) illustrator/writer group - the 'Squiby Bookcrafters' - is ever so encouraging and motivating! I had completed a few rounds of writing, tossed them, and started over each time. This time I got it. A lovely pencil draft storyboard is done, and I'm very comfortable with the text finally.

Whoohoo! I'm headed off to another workshop on 'Revision' in Grand Junction next week. Lord willing, the plan is to share a character study painting this weekend here, and work on the rest of the book this year. Gosh, I'd LOVE to finish it by next spring...

Wish me luck!