Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They're here!

It feels so good when you see the fruits of your labors finally come to life. My ribbons are now available at j.caroline creative's online store ! Here is a little preview. For all of you cupcake "junkies", there are 3 colors available! (photo courtesy of j.caroline)

Nikki at DewDrop Craftz will also be carrying the ribbons, along with 2 of my illustrations that she has turned into rubber stamp designs, and downloadable "paper" designs and kits you can use for digital scrapbooking or tangible greeting cards. Here is a greeting card made by Adele, one of DewDrop Craftz's designers, using the stamp bearing my "So Pretty" illustration.DewDrop Craftz is a start-up company in the UK. Nikki has been a lot of fun to work with. You can check out this stamp and my other designs DewDrop Crafts carries at the shop right here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

YAAAAAYYYY!!!


I firmly believe that the way we choose to handle disappointments in life affects many outcomes. I had a very disappointing month, as many of you know now. The children's ABC yoga book that I had been awarded was pulled back from me, followed by an auto accident which left my car totaled. Instead of digging my heels in and trying to control the uncontrollable, I took the last couple of weeks off from my artwork to contemplate life, wait for a settlement from the insurance company, and negotiate a new children's book opportunity for the Smithsonian Institution which came my way from Soundprints while I was out of town for 5 days.

Today I have good news...

A few moments ago I received a call from the book shepherd handling the children's ABC yoga book in California....the book project is back on and they asked me if I would still accept the opportunity to work with them and illustrate the book! I cannot tell you how happy I am. It turns out the author felt rushed to make a decision in choosing an illustrator and in the end she still decided I was the ideal one for the job. Now I just have to figure out how I am going to juggle all of this work, but I am happy to have this sort of dilemma rather than the former!

Jim Flora and July Flowers

On Sunday I met Andi Butler and her son Owen for brunch and then a drive out to The Lake County Discovery Museum for a Jim Flora exhibit. So cool!

Here is Andi taking some photos of the artwork while something in another room has caught Owen's eye.


I loved Jim Flora's fun designs. Many of his works were inked by hand.


But for me, it was the beauty I saw in the fields outside of the gallery which drew me outward for some amazing photos.


I love Black-Eyed Susans...


This little guy appeared to be doing push-ups! : )


Nature has created the most incredible designs....



This busy bumblebee was hard at work


And I loved the beetle sunning herself on a snowy bed of Queen Ann's Lace.


A perfect ending to the weekend...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kudos!

First I want to thank Joan for awarding me back, and Tom Barrett for awarding me the Brillante Weblog Award! It means a lot to me!
I also want to say thanks to all of you who left me such nice messages and well wishes about my accident and rather rough July. You also deserve this award (created by Andi Butler):
I do have to say that I try to see the good and expect a good outcome in tough situations. I am now searching for a new car. I feel fortunate that I was not horribly hurt in the accident. And my CR-V was 10 yrs old......so now I am looking for something new and actually sort of excited about it. Hopefully I won't have to look for another one for another 10 years. : )

AND, I also found out that I can post a little about the book I am illustrating with Soundprints for the Smithsonian Institution. I will not be able to reveal much, but I am allowed to tell you that it is a book about little black ants. The illustrations will be more on the realistic side. Some of you may remember that I also do what I refer to as "soft realistic" illustrations, mostly for educational publications for middle grade children. In fact, I just recently added a section on my website for my realistic portfolio.

I will be able to post the final book cover layout once I have illustrated it, but will not be able to reveal anything else until the book is published. The book is scheduled for release in Spring 2009.

With all that has been going on in my life and with this new project underway, I have not really drawn anything new to post. I am still planning to open my online shop in the near future (I just bought the printer but have not tested it yet), and will also have some more interesting news in August. And for all of you who have been enjoying my articles for the SCBWI Prairie Wind online newsletter, I will be writing another one very soon!! I think I will write about how to survive a creative slump. We all have those, right?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Northern Girl Heads South

Before I tell you about my 1600+ mile adventure last week, let me first offer some background.

There was so much good news brewing that I could not wait to announce on my blog at the beginning of July. On July 1st, I was awarded a children's book project, illustrating an "ABC's of yoga" book. Less than 48 hours later, the book project was shelved (no pun intended). Then on July 4th, I was involved in an auto accident which flung me around my vehicle like a rag doll. The other motorist was not looking at all where he was going, all the while accelerating at a moderate speed through a parking lot and into the side of my vehicle. I was taken to the emergency room, and my red Honda CR-V was towed to a lot full of crumpled metal carcasses. I suffered no broken bones, but a broken spirit. My weekend was spent at home with ice packs and Advil. The only fireworks I saw were over the tree tops outside of my second story bedroom window. And my car was totaled.

The next 2 weeks were spent making trips to the chiropractor's office and on the phone with 2 insurance companies. It was 6 days before I could even get a rental car!

My friend Pam, whom I met in Sophmore year English class in high school and always manages to keep me laughing, invited me to ride along with her and her 2 kids to visit family in Alabama. She has invited me to tag along with them in the past, but since I average one vacation a decade (literally), a vacation with kids has never really appealed to me. Greece or the south of France sounded a bit more appealing, but Alabama was calling, and this time I answered. After lots of advice from my chiropractor, who agreed some time away would be good for my mind, I packed my suitcase and 24 hours later Pam was throwing it in the back of a rental car and we were heading south.


The landscape is vastly different from the cornfields and farmlands we drove through in Illinois. The roads are cut right into the mountain rock.



Fresh air and a fresh perspective.



Happiness = Pam and her son Matthew, and me in the middle. Matthew is 7 and into all venemous creatures. He will tell you all you ever wanted to know about scorpions and black widow spiders. Pam's daughter Jordan (not pictured) is 8, and into being "rich and famous" one day, and loves Miley Sirus.


I do wish I had captured more of this day in the country. I had forgotten my camera most of the day.


We drove up to Lookout Mountain for the view and to look at all of the beautiful homes built into the rock.


A dramatic sunset...

Now onto the "other" part of our vacation, one I find horribly sad.

Pam's sister Peggy found these puppies near a cardboard box, abandoned on the side of the road near the woods. I am not a member of PETA, nor do I think animals should receive the same rights as humans, but please people, be responsible and spay or neuter your pets! And if you do not want to shell out the money to do that, don't get a pet and then throw out the offspring when you don't want them. Animals are intelligent and do have feelings. These puppies were covered with ticks and fleas, were weak and hungry and dehydrated. The stray population is enormous in Alabama, where many people do not want to spend the nominal fee to have a simple procedure done to ensure their pets will not reproduce and overpopulate.


"Cookie" was the strongest, and 2 days after we rescued her, she acted like a normal little puppy.


"Shadow" looks sad in this picture. But she also is doing well now and is still recovering from the ticks and fleas...you can see the scars on her chest and face and tummy.


"Sweetie".....did not make it. You can see the bites all over her body. She suffered mange, and likely anemia due to blood loss from the parasites. Animal Control took her from us and euthanised her. I still wonder if we could have saved her after seeing how well her sisters bounced back. It makes me cry, really.

We spent much of trip caring for the puppies and emailing and phoning friends back in Illinois to see if anyone wanted a puppy. I am happy to say that Cookie and Shadow were both placed in happy homes with nice families.

One of the best parts of the whole trip was actually the driving. While flying seems so much more convenient, I loved seeing parts of the country I have never seen before, stopping off for ice cream and coffee and sodas in small towns I will probably never see again. It was a very good trip.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back...so soon?

Well, I returned late Thursday night from an impromptu vacation/adventure. I will tell you all about it in a future post. But for now I am sort of enjoying my break. I took a break from drawing and from blogging. I missed it at first, but now I have to admit it is sort of a nice little break. I am really trying to learn to take time for myself.

Meanwhile, more GOOD NEWS to share: I was awarded a new picture book to illustrate for Spring 2009. The publisher is Soundprints, and the book is for The Smithsonian Institution! I am very excited. This book will be a huge challenge for certain, but I am really looking forward to it. I need to begin researching the characters.....who are "creepy crawlies". Okay, that was a hint. I cannot say anything more!

Also, PLEASE NOTE: If you sent me an email between 7/13 and 7/17, there is a good chance I did NOT receive it. My web mail program is HIDEOUS and UNRELIABLE and DETESTABLE. A couple of people have told me they emailed me. I did not receive their emails. It is the best I can do when I am out of town. So...I am not ignoring you.

It's good to be back. I think I'll go read....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Need a Break!

I am taking a much needed break this week, but shall return on Friday. Have a great week. ~ Kate

Thursday, July 10, 2008

News Flash!!


Hi everyone! Okay, I finally have some great news to break to all of you. Check out this Sneak Peek of ribbons I designed for jcaroline creative earlier this year. Here is one design, as posted on the jcaroline blog...you will have to go and look at the others. There are even more to come, but this is just a peek at the first few releases. The ribbons will be sold through jcaroline's online shop! She has so many fantastic, "drool worthy" fabrics, papers and accessories in her shop....I love browsing.

And...

Remember this illustration I created a while back? It was spotted by Nikki at DewDrop Craftz in the UK last winter, and now she is carrying it as a rubber craft stamp in her online shop! This is my first design for her, but we have lots of other products in the works. I will announce them here on my blog as they come to fruition.

Picnic in the Woods

©Kathleen Rietz
I believe a picnic is in order on this lovely day in July.
I am honored to have been awarded The Brilliante Weblog Award by 4 wonderful creative bloggers whose work I so admire:
Fannie Narte
Messy Jessie
Ryan Loghry
Edrian Thomidis
In turn, I am renominating these 4 talented bloggers (you do not have to repost), and adding 3 others. It is really hard to choose because there are so many talented people out there deserving of this award, but here goes:
Joan Yoshioka
Teresa Sheeley
Sparkyfirepants

If you decide to participate, the rules of accepting are as follows:-
1) Put the logo on your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on yours.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Have a great day everyone. The truth is, I am grateful for everyone who pops by my blog, especially those who comment. You all deserve an award. And a picinc. : )

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Harmony (color)

©Kathleen Rietz
I hate having to plaster my name across all of my images lately. But some people out there just do not get it. Last month I received an email from a grandmother who set up a blog for her grandchildren and was lifting images from my blog and others'. She said she read my copyright disclaimer, and decided maybe she should ask permission. I found this really irritating because she should have known better at her age. I always have a copyright disclaimer on my blog, plus the © symbol and my name under my images in every post. I explained to her (nicely) that freelance artists such as myself do not create work for the heck of it for everyone out there to use, but that it is our livelyhood, and that lifting images for her own personal use is the same as stealing. I told her she could continue to use my images if she asked permission each time, gave me named credit and a link on her blog and was not using my images to make money in any way....but of course she took it personally and said she would remove my images from her blog. Why is it that standing up for our rights as artists is offensive to some people? Do they think that just because I create sweet images of children and animals that I am a softie when it comes to my rights as an artist and business woman, not to mention the integrity of my work? I suggest that everyone else plaster your artwork with your name if you plan to post images on your blog. I wish my website software had the option of image "rollovers" like some others do...but not yet. Whatever you can do to make it harder for theives (and grandmas!) to steal your work, do it!

What about you? Have you had to deal with a situation like this? How do you protect your work?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Carnation Girl

©Kathleen Rietz
As requested by Shannon, The Carnation Girl is the 6th and final girl in my Flower Girls collection, which will be featured in color and available later this month as note cards in my upcoming online shop.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Fierce"

©Kathleen Rietz
I thought I'd roll out an oldie but a goody. This was one of the very first illustrations I drew for Illustration Friday when the theme was "hide". But, you know, this little girl is mighty fierce. At least her monsters think so!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008