Monday, March 31, 2008

Late Eggs

©Kathleen Rietz (worth clicking for a larger view)
Between getting over the flu, de-skunking my house, and just trying to catch up on ever-changing work deadlines, I was late transferring my Easter Egg photos from my camera. It was hard to choose which photo to post, actually, because I love how they turned out. I tried so many fun techniques this year (building layer upon layer of color, rubbing, buffing, scraping, oil resists, etc...) and was really surprised with the outcome.....many of them were "happy mistakes"! So if you want to dye eggs with me next year, be prepared for something fun and original. I feel like each little egg is a labored masterpiece.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Homage"

©Kathleen Rietz
Paying homage to childhood...
It is said that, as artists, every piece of art we create is a self portrait. I can definitely say this illustration is "me". Regardless of my age on the outside, I am still this girl dancing on my bed with my dog and making lots of noise.
I am still working out some of the details in the bed and overall proportions, but I hope to take this to color in the future.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


©Kathleen Rietz
Reminds me of my sister when she was a little kid. So today's image is for Anne.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Pet Peeves" & an Easter I will never forget!

© Kathleen Rietz
One of my biggest pet peeves is gossip. We all know what it feels like to be the target. Makes you not want to go to school.
© Kathleen Rietz (the elusive Easter Skunk)
Just after 10pm on Saturday night, my dog Sunshine had a run-in with - among all things - the Easter Skunk. I let her out into the yard to do her business, but she never even made her way off the patio before she was sprayed in the face by a skunk. For those of you who do not have skunks in your part of the world in which you live and have never smelled the aroma emitted by these creatures of darkness, I cannot even begin to describe the smell to you because nothing compares to it. But it is oily, deep, intense and nauseating. My friend Joan who lives in Hawaii found my story rather amusing because she "thought these things only happened in cartoons" Pe Pe Le Pew. Needless to say, I nearly cleared out the drug store as I waited in line to pay for my remedy.....NO ONE would stand next to me. I also did not make it to church today to celebrate Easter. Nor brunch at the country club where my sister works. No one wants to eat an omelet in a room that smells of skunk funk.

Anyhoo - if any of you are interested, here is how you get rid of skunk funk:

On your pet, shampoo the pet with a mixture of:
1 pint hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 tsp Dawn liquid dish soap
Leave on pet for 10 minutes, rinse.

In your house:
In a large pot, boil water, Clorox bleach and salt on your stove on high heat for several hours. I was so pleasantly surprised to find how well this one works! We boiled the pot all day and the smell is actually gone!

I hope you all had a much more relaxing and enjoyable Easter weekend than I did. I am looking forward to hitting a post-Easter candy sale to soothe my psyche with a chocolate marshmallow bunny if I can still find one!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hoppy Easter!

©Kathleen Rietz (today's image is for Leon)
Any of you who know me well know that Easter has a much deeper meaning to me than bunnies and coloring eggs. But I do enjoy the images of spring this time of year. Here in Chicago there is a winter storm warning today. I could use a little springtime festivities right now! Happy Easter everyone!
By the way, if you have some time this weekend, check out an interview with me An Interview with Kate! and see what else us Picture Bookies have been up to!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Baby brother (color)

©Kathleen Rietz (today's illustration is for Anne)
I thought of my little sister the whole time I was painting this in my sketchbook. You always love your baby sibling.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fat Cat

©Kathleen Rietz
My entry for last week's Illustration Friday in color...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Check it out!

Read my first attempt at writing for The Prairie Wind, the e-newsletter for the SCBWI-Illinois chapter. I love to draw and paint, but writing was a whole new venture for me! It was actually kind of fun, and I would definitely do it again if asked. The topic and article length were totally up to me. I chose to write about the history of my career as an artist, and why I now blog.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Heavy"

©Kathleen Rietz
This week's illustration is dedicated to my friend Joan, who has a sick kitty. Please send your prayers, happy thoughts, well wishes and positive vibes Joan's way.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Garden"

©Kathleen Rietz
I did this one a while ago, but it fits the theme so well and that ladybug was always such a jokester! I thought I might revisit this garden today..

Character Sketches - "Millie"

©Kathleen Rietz
It's been great working in my sketchbook this week and posting what I am doing. Sometimes I think I get caught up in making finished art for my portfolio in between paying jobs, and do not focus enough on the importance of developing my characters and making mistakes in order to learn from them. I struggle with finding my style and sticking with it. But I notice that when I sketch in my sketchbook, my characters are a lot looser and more fun, and actually pretty consistent. So I suppose I learned something this week. So this here is Millie and her Chihuahua, Bo-Bo. Happy Friday.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Preliminary Sketch (work in progress)

©Kathleen Rietz
As you can see from my blog, I have been focusing on my sketchbook a lot lately. I am really trying to develop my style of people and children and animals, and try to convey more emotion in my work. I think really good children's book illustrations are the ones which find a way to adhere you to the characters on an emotional level....maybe it is a scene which jogs a memory from your own childhood, or reminds you of the kids you have now. Or maybe it evokes a memory of a carefree day, a day at the park with your grandparents, your nerves on your first day of school, a childhood crush, winning a spelling bee, or maybe floating on a vacation lake on an innertube on a warm day and looking at shapes in the clouds overhead. This is a sketch I began last night. There is a lot missing, and I want to add more, but wanted to post it before I do. My hope is to fill my sketchbook with lots of these sketches and then work on some finished color illustrations based on some of my sketches.

Sometimes I find that toddlers and infants in my illustrations end up looking like dolls instead of children. Does this look like a person to you, or too much like a doll? I know it is hard to see in this drawing, but the baby is grasping the mother's thumb, as babies like to do. I just don't thnk it reads very well.

I plan on adding an older child to the right side of the composition, and maybe a kitten curled up next to the mother. There is still a lot I want to do and right now I am just doodling and planning.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

In Color?

©Kathleen Rietz
Some of you who commented on my earlier post of this sketch (below) suggested I try adding some color. So I did, digitally. I sort of like the soft sepia tones of the original, though. But then again, the color perks it up and brings your eye right to the puppy, I think... What do you think? Do you like it better in color? Or sepia? Why?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Leap"

©Kathleen Rietz
I am sort of on this little sketching kick lately...sketching boys and their dogs. If you have ever had a new puppy, you know how ready they are to leap up and nip your nose at any moment.
See the color version HERE and let me know which you like better..