Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Yikes!" featured on Storypockets

Check out the blog for the Children's Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh:

http://storypockets.blogspot.com/2008/09/
local-illustarator-nora-thompson.html


They've given a little "heads up" to our "Yikes! Wow! Yuck!" book.

Thanks, guys.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Em dashes and hyphens and editors—Oh my!

(Sorry in advance if I can't get the punctuation working properly on this blog!)

See, the thing I'm liking about editors—and this is coming from a Typography/Graphic Design instructor—is how they keep using em dashes properly.

I've received two emails from editors over the past two days, and both included the correct use of em dashes. The one I got today used two em-dashes and a hyphen properly in the same sentence! And on top of that, both editors used only one space after every period.

Oh, yeah. They get it.

Call me anal, but I'm thinking those are the people I want working on my books.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Giraffe polo


Here's the latest.

Just finished the polo illustration getting ready for the conference next month. I'm hoping to get at least one more finished by then. It kind of looks like I'm obsessed with giraffes right now.

Not sure and too busy to weigh the consequences.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

February 2008


My "Doodle a Day" pocket calendar has slowed a bit. I'll catch up eventually. Here's February:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shop around


Well, I finally got a CafePress storefront put together with lots of stuff to show off all these kid's illos. Here it is:

www.cafepress.com/nora_thompson

Lots of clothes, of course, for big and traditionally-sized kids, a tote bag, teddy bear, pet accessories, journal, mouse pad, mugs, cards, stickers, magnets--whew! I culled the images from both my traditional and twisted styles, and tried especially hard to match up the images with the product I placed them on. Not an easy task!

My favorite? Hmmm. That would probably have to be the Jeeraffe journal (pictured above). I think he fits perfectly in the space.

Take a peek or a long look around, and don't forget, holidays are just around the corner...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Wall Arch

I was pretty startled to hear the news about the falling of Wall Arch at Arches National Park in Utah. Here's the National Park Service article. We made a trip out there two years ago, and that particular arch was one I remember well because of its proximity to the hiking trail. A stone wall blocked one side and the Wall Arch spanned along the opposite wall with the trail sandwiched between. The structure seemed very delicate at the time, but I got that same impression with most of the arches we saw there. It was a humbling feeling knowing those stones could topple on our heads at any moment.

I'm glad we took so many pictures.
(Arches National Park: Wall Arch 14 June 2006)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Total redesign!

Just wanted everyone to know I've totally redesigned both my graphic design/editorial illustration site: www.graphx.us and my fine art site: www.norathompson.us. I was hoping to make both of them a little more classy than they had been, so I created the pages in Flash and dropped them in a main page I created in Dreamweaver.

And, although it's been up for a little while already, I guess this would be the official announcement of my fine artwork online. I use many mediums including oil, acrylic, graphite (powdered and in pencil form), charcoal (powdered, vine and compressed), conte crayon and many natural materials, to name a few. I have also included several of my silver gelatin photographic prints on the site as well as previous show listings, my artist's statement and bio.

I'm hoping for feedback, especially if anyone encounters problems in the technical area.

And thanks to everyone who has already fed back!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Giraffe polo


Here's a sketch I did between teaching classes yesterday. I had the thumbnail for this drawn over a year ago, but was afraid it wouldn't work and never pursued the idea. Looking for more portfolio pieces for the fall SCBWI conference made me revisit some old sketchbook ideas, and after I came across this one again I decided to give it a shot.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Images 2008


Over at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts at State College, I had a painting accepted into their annual exhibit, this year called, "Images 2008." The painting is titled, "Scream Without Raising Your Voice," an acrylic and mixed media on canvas.

The show ran June 11-July 13.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New York at Night

When we arrived in NY in April, it was late on a Sunday evening.
We took a cab straight from Penn Station to our hotel,
and these were my first impressions of the city.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

2008 Westmoreland Art Nationals

I had a Polaroid emulsion transfer accepted into this year's Westmoreland Art Nationals. It's actually four transfers together on one piece of watercolor paper. I didn't do many of these; at the time I was just experimenting with the process and had access to a Daylab Copy System. I had done direct Polaroid image transfers a few years back using film and photos straight out of my dad's old Polaroid that he had brought back from Korea when he was stationed there in the army (1959-ish). But this time I wanted to use copies of 35mm photos that I had already taken.

This is the piece that was accepted. It's called "Stephie's Hands." The show ran May 31 through June 13.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Golden Penn

The nice people who write and edit the Western Pennsylvania Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators quarterly newsletter (called The Golden Penn) have chosen my artwork to fill the current issue. Sorry, no link directly to the newsletter, so I guess you'll just have to take my word for it (you kind of have to pay for it, so they're not going to put it online). But I do have a link to their/our Web site: http://www.wpascbwi.com. And from there, here's the link to my page: http://www.wpascbwi.com/thompson_nora/thompsonn.htm. They used some of the ones with the "crazy" eyeballs (The Rots) that were mostly spring-related.

Thanks to ChrisAnn Goossen for helping me out on this one.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ohiopyle Weddings

I've finished my first entirely Flash Web site for Ohiopyle Weddings. I still have way too many things I want to do, but don't know the ActionScript to do them, and don't know the correct terminology to be able to search for the scripting on the Internet. Still, it's functional and basically attractive, and best of all, approved by the clients!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ben


This is Ben.

He's a quick pastel I did while visiting friends yesterday afternoon.

Westmoreland Biennial

This image was accepted into the Westmoreland Biennial which ran from May 11 through June 8. The exhibit included 83 works of art from 80 different artists who lived within a 125-mile radius of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

The image is called "Murder of Crows," it's a 16"x20" acrylic on canvas. The handwritten text in the background is partially painted over, but only because my husband stopped me before I painted over all of it. He walked in at the point you see here, and made me promise to stop where I was (even though I said I wasn't finished) and look at it with fresh eyes the next day.

Thankfully, I took his advice.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jeeraffe

So we did a SketchCrawl at the Pittsburgh Zoo a couple weeks back. I didn't get a lot of drawing done, but I did learn some things, mostly about myself.

Things I learned from the SketchCrawl at the zoo:
  1. The animals at the zoo tend to turn their butts toward you when they realize you're trying to draw them.
  2. It's hard to draw when the humidity is, like, 120%.
  3. I can't draw so much when there are people everywhere. Screaming. And running.
  4. By the time we got to the bears, all I could see were animals being forced to exist in confined spaces so humans could gawk.
  5. If I owned the zoo, I would let all the animals go.
Anyway, I was inspired by the animals in spite of their situation (and mine), so I painted "Jeeraffe," the first of (hopefully) an extended series of "Rotty" animal paintings.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Up on eBay!


I've listed my first item on eBay. It's a small chalkboard, hand-built from stoneware clay with a fabric eraser and using hemp as hanging material. It's one of my fine art pieces, and is inspired by indigenous creations and natural materials.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Raw Shark Texts

So. I know I'm late. I finally got around to reading The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, and if I'm writing about it on my blog, you should understand that means something. The book takes bites from The Matrix, Memento and Jaws. The DaVinci Code should probably be thrown in there as well, except that Hall doesn't telegraph his passes (as my high school basketball coach used to tell me I did with mine), and he certainly doesn't hold your hand throughout the plot.

Where to start?

First off, the reason I bought it was because I like novels that have visual thought somehow. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon come to mind. I'm a graphic artist; what can I say? These novels, however, didn't affect me like TRST.

Secondly, the novel is written in such a way that different readers can come to different conclusions. I know, I know. How is that possible? My best possible answer is that it just is. Hall, who is British, meant it to be that way, and he basically says so in the title. With a British accent, "The Raw Shark Texts" sounds an awful lot like "The Rorschach Tests."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The official Web site, www.rawsharktexts.com, has many discussions on what readers believe is going on. Look under the "Unspace Exploration Committee" link, and see for yourself. I would suggest not allowing yourself any spoilers (the "Crypto-Forensics" link) before you have a chance to read the book, but after you've finished, you'll probably be heading there for answers.

But guess what? There aren't any. And Mr. Hall is tight-lipped, as well he should be.

I also love how this book is still developing. New things are coming out in new editions, games have been played online about it and Hall has even developed Raw Shark Texts "negatives" (From the site: "For each chapter in The Raw Shark Texts there is, or will be, an un-chapter, a negative. If you look carefully at the novel you might be able to figure out why these un-chapters [are] called negatives.").

Please read the book. Then get back here and tell me what's going on.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Yikes! Gets Ink

The nice people at the Greensburg Tribune-Review (writer Mary Pickels and photographer Scott Spangler) gave the Yikes! book a nice little write up. Mary took the time to talk to a few other people besides me, including Celia Naranjo, the Creative Director at Lark Books. Spanky took a great photo, but it looks like it didn't make it to the online version. He spent a long time that afternoon setting up the shot where he projected an illustration I did (for a possible upcoming project--more about that when it happens) and stood me in front of it. Take my word for it--I usually don't like how I look in photos, but I can deal with this one!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Forwarded emails create SPAM

I know the people who think I would be interested in some email they've received aren't trying to cause problems when they forward it to me, but it turns out they are.

It's not so much in that they are forwarding, it's in the WAY they forward.
This also includes any time an email is sent to everyone in an address book, even if it's not forwarded.

When you forward an email to a group of people and put the list of email addresses in the "To" section of the email, every one of the people on the list now has an entire listing of "live" email addresses. If one of the people on the list who received the email from you then forwards it to a group of people in their address book, suddenly a whole group of people--who you probably don't know--now has not only my email address and everyone else's on the list, but also YOURS.

With the speed of the Internet, my email address is now in countless boxes around the globe, and the odds of one of those boxes belonging to a spammer or someone who sells email addresses to spammers for cash are surprisingly good.

SO...

I don't want to stop you from forwarding me something you think I might find helpful. I'm not interested, however, in jokes, inspirations or petitions, and please don't put me on your list when you get an email saying, "Send this to 10 people...".

If you REALLY think there is something I should see, here's what I ask you to do:
  • If it's a Web site, please copy and paste the Web site address in an email. Please don't forward the address once it has come from somebody else.
  • If it's an email you've received, please copy and paste what it is you want me to see in a NEW email. Please don't forward the email as-is.
  • Please don't put me in your address book and use my address in a forward to the group of people in there with me. I don't mind being in your address book itself; of course it's easier when you have an email address handy rather than having to type it in or even remember it. I would just rather not have my email address included in a group of email addresses that is going to get forwarded, and forwarded, and forwarded...
  • Please don't include me in a bulk mailing to all your friends with everyone's address in the "TO:" section of the email, even if it's a brand new email that you started and isn't a forward.

Unfortunately, I don't have any kind of filter for my email that totally rejects anything that has been forwarded to me. I've blocked the word "Fwd" in both the body and subject of a message, but that hasn't worked. It only takes one person to get your address out there, and suddenly your BUSINESS email is inundated. That's what happened to mine.

I don't mind if you copy and paste this in an email, but please follow some Internet etiquette and don't send it to a group of people in your address book with everyone's email address in the "TO:" section.

And, please, stop forwarding me stuff.

Forwarded emails create SPAM

I know the people who think I would be interested in some email they've received aren't trying to cause problems when they forward it to me, but it turns out they are.

It's not so much in that they are forwarding, it's in the WAY they forward. This also includes any time an email is sent to everyone in an address book, even if it's not forwarded.

When you forward an email to a group of people and put the list of email addresses in the "To" section of the email, every one of the people on the list now has an entire listing of "live" email addresses. If one of the people on the list who received the email from you then forwards it to a group of people in their address book, suddenly a whole group of people--who you probably don't know--now has not only my email address and everyone else's on the list, but also YOURS.

With the speed of the Internet, my email address is now in countless boxes around the globe, and the odds of one of those boxes belonging to a spammer or someone who sells email addresses to spammers for cash are surprisingly good.

SO...

I don't want to stop you from forwarding me something you think I might find helpful. I'm not interested, however, in jokes, inspirations or petitions, and please don't put me on your list when you get an email saying, "Send this to 10 people...".

If you REALLY think there is something I should see, here's what I ask you to do:
  • If it's a Web site, please copy and paste the Web site address in an email. Please don't forward the address once it has come from somebody else.
  • If it's an email you've received, please copy and paste what it is you want me to see in a NEW email. Please don't forward the email as-is.
  • Please don't put me in your address book and use my address in a forward to the group of people in there with me. I don't mind being in your address book itself; of course it's easier when you have an email address handy rather than having to type it in or even remember it. I would just rather not have my email address included in a group of email addresses that is going to get forwarded, and forwarded, and forwarded...
  • Please don't include me in a bulk mailing to all your friends with everyone's address in the "TO:" section of the email, even if it's a brand new email that you started and isn't a forward.

Unfortunately, I don't have any kind of filter for my email that totally rejects anything that has been forwarded to me. I've blocked the word "Fwd" in both the body and subject of a message, but that hasn't worked. It only takes one person to get your address out there, and suddenly your BUSINESS email is inundated. That's what happened to mine.

I don't mind if you copy and paste this in an email, but please follow some Internet etiquette and don't send it to a group of people in your address book with everyone's email address in the "TO:" section.

And, please, stop forwarding me stuff.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fontstruct

I'm signed up for the newsletter that FontShop puts out, and they've apparently been working pretty hard over there. It looks like they have a new font-building application on their site that lets you build fonts (albeit on a grid) that work on both Windows and Macs. It's called FontStruct, and here's the link: http://fontstruct.fontshop.com. Once you've created your font, you can share it with the rest of the world to look at or to download. Or not, if you're shy.

Great for fontaholics.

And it looks perfect for the typography classes I'll be teaching this fall. I'll have to do a little FontStructing of my own before I unleash it in class.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New York

Well, we made it to New York and, although we were terribly rushed, we had a great time. We took the Amtrak in (about an eight-hour trip), went to our appointment at Scholastic the next morning and then off to our one-day conference and portfolio review in the afternoon. We had breakfast at Sarabeth's the next morning, then back on the train for home. We didn't have time to go to the Scholastic store, which was a bummer since we were already there, but we were trying to get where we needed to be in plenty of time. And another bummer on top of that, it rained the whole time we were there.

I ended up showing just the "twisted" style in my portfolio. I wasn't able to show the book I had finished for Lark because of that, but I think it was a good idea. Thirteen of the promotional packets I put together for the conference were taken, which also tells me it was a good idea.

Unfortunately for me, my sleeplessness took over for this trip: I had four hours the night before we left, one hour the first night we were there, and an intermittent four hours the second night we were there. Somehow I think I was still coherent through all of it. At least, I hope I was.

The editors at Scholastic were very helpful. We had a productive talk, and I had a lot to think about by the time we left. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to come up with ideas based on the things they were looking for, but thankfully after a full night's sleep it all came together. But I guess that's just my opinion; hopefully they'll agree.

Filed under things you don't see every day: On the train ride home, a guy who sat behind us was transporting a rooster he had rescued in New York to Altoona as a present for his daughter. The bird wasn't all that happy at first, but eventually he calmed down and had a peaceful ride.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Flash

Been learning Flash and loving it. I'm still taking baby steps, but I've got so many animations and Web sites in my head, I have to keep pushing myself to get there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Violins on T.V.


I don't want to come across as promoting fighting, I just want to acknowledge that it happens so I need to document that part of life.

Please don't fight. It's really not going to solve anything.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

One week more...

Well, for me, the semester is almost over. I've been teaching a Digital Imaging class for seven Saturdays now, and next week will be the last one for this class. After that, it's nose to the grindstone to crank out some graphic design I've been putting off until I had more time. I've got two Web sites to put together, a logo, some odds and ends that it's been so long I can't even remember what they are! And a tattoo design!

I hope everybody will forgive me for just one week more...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strype


Here's a girl I actually drew, I don't know, maybe a month ago? I finally got around to scanning her in and posting her to my site. Her name is Strype, for somewhat obvious reasons.

Friday, February 01, 2008

January 2008


I won a pocket calendar for 2008 last November at a conference, but thought of a better use for it. A "Doodle a Day" maybe? "Calendar Doodles?" Either way, here's January:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Firefly Chocolates

I just finished putting together a simple Web site for some nice people I know from Ohiopyle. They have a couple restaurants down there (The Firefly Grill and Highwaters Grill) that are open through the summer, and then they make chocolate goodies through the winter season. They just opened a shop at Seven Springs Mountain Resort a few weeks ago, and I've been working on their graphics for it.

The image above is what I designed for the sign that hangs outside the shop in the hallway of the ski lodge at Seven Springs.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Getting my act together

I'm trying to get my act together for the SCBWI Children's Book Illustrator's Conference in New York coming up in April. The set-up sounds interesting: Illustrators bring their portfolios and set them up and then leave them there to listen to speakers all day. The magic part happens after we leave the room; art buyers spend the day perusing the portfolios, taking the promotional leave-behind material and leaving comments and advice for the illustrators. What a great opportunity.

I'm kinda torn between what I think I should show there though. I've got two very distinct styles, and I definitely want to expose the style that is very much me, and which also has gotten a lot of positive feedback. With the other style, though, I have a book out that I can show along with my portfolio. We're allowed 15 pieces, so I have to edit down to what I think is my very, very best. I think what I'll do is edit to 15, no matter what the style, and then see how many of each I have left, and that can be Option 1. Options 2 and 3 could be all of one style or the other. Then, I can run all three past some people I trust to see if they see the same things I'm seeing.

Thankfully, there's still time...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Punxsutawney Phil


In honor of the most famous groundhog in the world, and the people who like to celebrate his Feb. 2 predictions.

If you don't know who he is, look him up. He's quite a holiday for some of us in the area.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Birthday!


Stu's birthday today. He didn't want anything special, just to stay at home and enjoy the evening.

The cake was marble.

Taxes

Started working on my 2007 taxes today...This is the first time I'm not using software, so pulling out all the receipts and separating what's what is taking a little time. But once I get a system down, I think things will go a little quicker.

The good news is, last year was the first year I've netted in the black! I've been spending so much money on promotional stuff--two Web sites (soon to be three), postcards, postage, conferences, membership dues, directories--and this year I cleared two year's worth of redness! Here's to black!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hand Lettering

Here's a preview of a new area I'll be uploading to my site: Hand lettering. I copied the "Kids Pix" to my other site (www.nora-jayne.com), and as soon as I'm comfortable that the word has gotten around that it has moved, I'll post samples of some hand lettering that I've done on my graphx site.

I won't be making fonts from these, at least not anytime soon. I just like the way hand lettering allows letters to hug each other. It feels more live, and more personal than an un-manipulated font. Not that fonts are bad -- no way, I love them. These ones are just...different. But I'm not a calligrapher. They're way better than I could ever be. I'm just a hand-letterer.


Moved!

What a long day! But productive!

I moved all my kids illustrations over to just one site: www.nora-jayne.com. I had to re-save all the images and thumbnails, and create new rollover links for two portfolios. (Not to mention changing all the templates for every page on the site to include the new portfolio.) The preliminary work always takes so long, but once it gets done, putting the pages together is so rewarding.

I had originally thought I should keep my "traditional" kinds of kids illustrations on a separate site from my "twisted" kids illustrations. Somehow, all this time it has never felt quite "right." So I've copied over the twisted kids. The only things I'm going to keep on my graphx.us site will be my editorial illustrations, graphic design and hand lettering work. I haven't taken down the twisted kids from the graphx site yet--and I won't for a while--but only until I can get the word out. I need the space for my new hand lettering images.

Now I have to work on re-branding my twisted kids to conform to the branding I already have started with my traditional kids. More work, but definitely worth it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Career

Met with my friend, Rose, this afternoon to talk about the direction of our illustration careers and what our next step(s) would be. Of course, we met at Panera. What a productive afternoon! My friend Alice even popped in unexpectedly, neither of us knowing the other would be there. Anyway, Rose and I talked about studying, drawing, blogging, taking museum and gallery field trips, and our April Illustrator's Conference field trip to New York.

I guess you could say I got a little over-stimulated.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cold cold cold


Pretty cold here tonight. Only 16 degrees and snowy. I'm sure you folks in Anchorage would probably think that would be a heat wave, but for those of us in southwestern PA, that's a wee bit chilly.

We built a fire.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's


Here's my idea of a new year with the potential for lots and lots of drawing and painting and illustrating.

Yikes! Wow! Yuck!

Our new book is out!

The Yikes! book became official today (even though it's been available on the Internet for a few weeks now). It's written by Elizabeth Snoke Harris, and illustrated by Yours Truly. It was great fun to work on. The Art and Creative Directors over at Lark (Robin and Celia) are so easy to work with, it didn't feel like work at all.