Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dem some BIG BOOTS yer steppin into....

I am trying to remember the approximate date that I met Christine Tripp online. I had illustrated a big corporate job, and one or two books for Scholastic LPFEY... and I had just joined the SCBWI forums.
I watched, and learned for a bit - and noticed one person, in particular, was responding to people's questions in a very thoughtful and professional manner. As time went by I realized she was CANADIAN!!

I was still pretty quiet online, until one day I was offered a trade book contract.

The contract was not ideal. But in my rookie state I was just excited to GET a contract at all - to write and illustrate MY own books. I posted a few vague questions about rights, royalties etc. and Christine was amazing in her thoughtful, and eloquent responses. I also thought it was cool that she said she knew my work (which may or may not have been true, but it felt awesome to have someone say that)

What she did for me over those few weeks of negotiations was far more helpful than even helping me to negotiate a better contract - she helped me to understand how the system works. She explained it to me from a Canadian context - which IS different than anywhere else, and she helped me develop something else - a backbone for negotiations.

It was not until I finally went to a SCBWI conference at Kempenfelt, in Barrie, that I met her in person. She is one of those people that as soon as you meet them - you feel like you have KNOWN them your whole life. She is funny and passionate and SUPER, SUPER talented. She has a humble demeanour and did I mention funny? Actually, ALL the organizers were awesome. I also met Lizann Flatt and Alma Fullerton that weekend too.

I am an involved person. I have a hard time saying no... which is why I end up on boards and committees and parent councils - that's me. Not because I have endless amounts of time, but because I care, and I can't go to an event without trying to help.

SO, it is with excitement and trepidation I announce officially that Chris has stepped down as Illustrator Co-ordinator for SCBWI Canada East, and I am stepping up to take the reins. I look forward to working with Chris still, Lizann, Alma, Rachel and Michelle. I am thrilled they have taken me into the fold...

So, THANK you Christine - you rock.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Zombie Fish

Having lots of ideas surrounding this guy lately. He lives at our house. He is a zombie fish, but the other fish in the tank are not afraid of him because he really wants to eat their brains, but he has no teeth. It's pretty hopeless. He'll likely be undead forever.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Well, I am finished the costumes for this year - this is an abnormality for me, as I am usually putting the final touches on the night before. Z is easy this year - she wants to be a princess/mermaid/spiderman, we have some evidence of all of these in the dress up trunk. Mo decided on Saturday morning that a Bald Eagle was a good idea. I was pretty excited about that choice actually. So I drew up a little diagram to explain what I was going to do. He is seven, and keen on details...

I also do not work from patterns, ever, really. I like to work balls to the wind and see what happens - just my style. So, with sewing maching revved up, kidlets crafting beside me and piles of fleece we went at it.

This year (unlike last) my sewing machine stayed the course, and the results (in about 4 hours of work) were very fun. He is very excited about his costume... and then his sister decided she wanted one too. I told her next year for sure - hope she grows fast.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Illustration Friday - BOOK TWO!

Not sure if I am allowed to enter this twice, but what the heck. It is too much fun trying out the new tool... I really think I am in love with digital art... the possibilities are ENDLESS!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Illustration Friday - BOOK!

Illustration Friday is a chance for me to try different things - just for fun. Sometimes, when you get to draw for a living, you forget that you started out to have FUN... here is my very first try at Painter. I think I will like it a lot once I get in there a lot more...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My new Job

Well, it's official.
I am a professor.

I love it.

That, is also an understatement. I love the students, watching their work develop, and being along for the ride. I love the schedule, while though it's been a LOT of night time prep work, has allowed me to be home most days both before and after school, AND two days a week all-together. I underestimated how much time I would have for other things - but that is ok, cause it all works out.

Turns out, the leap was worth the trip - at least so far. I am learning so much... and it is liberating. I always said I would love to go to school forever, and as a prof - I totally get to. There is so much more give and take in the college classroom, so many ideas and so much inspiration.

Can't wait to see what the next few weeks hold...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Character Design - Grandpa

I am working on an iPad interactive ebook. I am also teaching in animation. I am having my students create their own character designs for their 3rd year projects. I figure it is only fair that I create one too - so here is the beginning of my sketches for GRANDPA!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

some sketches

My seven-year-old suffers from writers block. It is becoming a problem.

cutest cousins ever

Favourite part of the day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My books featured in video!

This is so cool - Neil, the author of several of the books I have illustrated - live and showing them off to a packed house.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Vacation

I had big plans for my two-week vacation. I mean BIG plans.

I was going to clean my house, sort out the clothes that don't fit, paint my kitchen, weed my gardens, go to the beach – and maybe take a little trip.

What I ended up doing instead...
Visited with friends - Lots of them; Had a late-night BBQ with our neighbours and kids; Went to a museum; Played in the river; Helped the kids have a lemonade stand; Played in the river; Did not rush; Watched a chipmunk eat an apple core; Went camping; Watched the fireflies in our yard with Mo; Dug up clay at the beach; Built a castle; Climbed a cliff; Went paddling; Looked for crayfish; Roasted marshmallows; Did some sewing; Enjoyed some girl time around the fire; Read a book; Helped some friends; Swam in a pool; Drank lemonade; Had a few nights where I did not work... and so much more...

Is my house clean?

Am I happy?
You bet.

I can't wait until next summer when I have the whole time off - and maybe then that to-do list might get done. Till then, I am going to enjoy my moments with my kids, make memories and be present in that time that I have.

New sketches

©2012 Peggy Collins
©2012 Peggy Collins
©2012 Peggy Collins

Friday, July 27, 2012

Illustration Friday - Lonely

It has been a long, long time since I have posted/done anything for IF. I have missed it. With deadlines, work and kids I had put it on the back burner. I just so happen to have a new piece that fits this Friday's topic perfectly, from a new book idea I am working on, IF it is a go, I'll be doing some photography - but for the idea I needed a brick wall texture at 12am so I found it here:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Steven James Petruccio on buildings, tonka and bananas

I love the fact that we are interviewing one of my son's favourite artists - Steven James Petruccio. We've been in love with Steven's work since we found our first Tonka book, and, I think he's inspired Mo with his love of buildings and vehicles. Steven has take some time to share some info on what he loved doing when he was a kid, some of his drawings, and the best parts of being an illustrator. I have also discovered, looking at the photos he sent along - that he also likes cowboy hats.
A young Steven - with an
affinity for cowboy hats already.

Steven has illustrated tonnes of books, ranging from historical, to vehicles to marine life and more - so without further ado, here we go!

MO: Wow, your art is so realistic. I love to draw buildings too. Have you always liked to draw architecture?

SJP: Yes, I’ve always loved looking at different architectural styles from classic Greek buildings to Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehrybuildings, so I enjoy getting the chance to paint buildings in my work.  In fact, I’m working on a series of paintings which are only the top portions of local buildings.

MO: Do you research your buildings online or at the library - or do you go and see them in real life before you draw them?

SJP: I research everything and I use whatever resources are available.  I’ve used all of the ways you mention, online, library and actual visiting and drawing buildings on site.  The internet is usually my first resource now, since it’s so easy to get many images  quickly.

MO: The Tonka trucks in your books look just like the ones in our sandbox! Did you have a set of trucks you use to look at when you draw or do you use pictures?

SJP: The TONKA books were really fun to work on.  Scholastic Publishing sent me all of the trucks I needed for each book, at my request, since I wanted the paintings to look like the real thing.  I photographed them and also drew and painted them as they sat on my drawing board.  My son would play with them in the sandbox and I took many pictures of him doing so.  He is the main character in the backhoe book!

MO: Were you excited when you got the job to do the Tonka books? What was your favourite part? I love to draw a lot of things like that too - but sometimes there are really hard parts that are a bit frustrating. Does that ever happen to you?

SJP: I was very excited to illustrate the TONKA books because I had many of them when I was a young boy, the dump truck was my favorite.  My favorite part of illustrating the books was that I actually got to show people how these trucks really worked and that’s what I always imagined when I played with them.  I went to a local construction equipment company and the owner let me climb into the real trucks and also go to construction sites where the trucks were at work.  Everything I show in the books is the way things  really look and work. Oh, talk about frustrating, I’m glad someone invented the eraser because there re times when I just can’t get parts of a drawing right.  I keep trying until I get it the way I want it and that doesn’t mean it’s perfect but it looks good to me and other people who see it will understand what I’ve drawn or painted.  Don’t give up!

BEN (grade 1): What types of stories do you prefer to illustrate?

SJP: I really don’t have a particular type of story that I prefer.  For me, as long as it’s a good story and I can “see” the characters and places in my mind as I read the manuscript, then I know I’ll be able to do a good job making the pictures.  If I’m not interested or excited about a story then I don’t expect my readers to be either so I always try to illustrate good stories.

Peggy: If you could suddenly change careers... would you try something else? Is there a career path you've always wondered 'what if?'about?

SJP: I always wanted to be an artist.  I didn’t know what kind of artist but I knew I wanted to draw pictures.  I always loved comic books and the exciting, dynamic way they were illustrated so I really wanted to be a comic book artist.  Once I was in college I discovered and learned about other illustrators, N.C. Wyeth is my favorite, and then I decided not to limit what I drew to only super heroes.  The other thing that I’m good at and enjoy doing is playing the guitar and singing…If I were younger I would definitely try out for American Idol!

Peggy: I still get amped by a brand new package of crayons (so much so I don't want my kids to open them!)... with the even tips and shiny finish... is there any supply you LOVED when you were little that you still have great affection for?

SJP: I really loved getting the big box of Crayola crayons with the sharpener in the back and I tried to keep all of my crayons sharp.  My favorite artist tool though is a #2 pencil.  When I visited my grandparents I was always  handed a pencil and a small pad of light-green paper  to keep busy.   A good drawing is more important to me than anything…and that doesn’t mean a drawing that looks “real”, I love good abstract drawings too.  Pencils give you thin lines and thick lines as well as light and dark areas.  You can make textures with them and even get messy with them.  So a #2 is #1 for me!

Peggy: Did you have a special place where you did your art when you were a kid - or were you a dining room table artist?

SJP: I shared a small bedroom with my two brothers.  We had a bunk bed (I had the top bunk) and a pullout bed underneath.  There was just enough room for a long bureau and a narrow desk that my dad built, at the end of it.  I used that desk to draw at.  There was enough  room for my pad, pencils and inks.  I spent many days  sitting on the stoop in front of my home in Brooklyn, with a drawing pad on my lap just drawing pictures of anything.

MO: What is your favourite knock-knock joke?

SJP: I’ll have to go with the popular…

Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

Thank you Steven!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lucky Me

Things have been rolling along for quite some time now. I have not been able to say much because I wanted to be sure there was actually something to say - that things are really and truly happening. Now I can... I have news.

I've been working as a Designer at Loyalist College for 10 years now. In that time I have met and worked with (too many to count) amazing and funny people. I have been able to buy my house, have my kids (with incredible benefits) and extra time off, and go to work every day knowing generally what my day would entail. It has been a safe, reliable and enjoyable journey. A great job.

Though all of this is wonderful and relatively easy, there has always been this voice, nagging at me - saying - MORE! you want MORE! As far as my family goes - my heart has been screaming LESS! LESS! It is an interesting juxtaposition to be in. I used to think I'd love to be a work-at-home mom. I know now that I need a healthy balance of in and out work. However, since I went back to work full-time last September things have been nuts. My health has not been good, my sanity even worse and my family overly stressed. Too much time away and too many days of driving.

A few years ago I got to try my hand at teaching. Turns out I love it, and though I have a lot to learn, it is a really natural fit for me, it makes me happy and fulfilled. It was actually my alternate desire when I went to Sheridan - to be a teacher as well... and now - thanks to an amazing Dean and other colleagues - I will be leaving my current (35 hours/week) job to teach (12 hours/week).

What will I be teaching? Drawing, storyboarding and conceptualizing, to name a few things, in Animation and Digital Media in Public Relations. I can't wait. I know it is going to be a lot of work, and it is scary as hell to make this leap, but when your planets align, and suddenly all you have been working for is there for YOU - not taking the chance would be foolhardy - Don't you think?

This also means I will be developing a wide range of elementary and secondary programming for literacy and art visits to schools - particularly through May and June. I will also be able to start running some summer programming I have always dreamed of. I've been observing people lately - and I have realized that so many people take chances, and are much happier for it... I am glad to be joining the ranks.

I will also have a lot more time for my illustration work - which has been suffering in the wee hours of the morning... but I am working with a few publishers on some new and exciting things - and I am so glad I'll have the time to do them how I want to.

SO, at the end of August, I say good-bye to predictable and safe, and say hello to fresh faces looking to be inspired, more personal time with my family and hopefully much less stress, or at least a different kind... Lucky me. (and wish me luck).

baby bumblebee

I have to admit I was a little horrified to hear my two-year old singing this old song at first... and even more alarmed when I found her in the garden trying to PET/PICK up a giant furry bumblebee. I am not sure now who was luckier. Here is a little sketch inspired by that moment.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

SCBWI - Rough Monday

Here are some VERY preliminary sketches for a couple of stories I am working on... but they're rough - so they'll do. Happy Monday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saturday - Art among the Ruins...

Please come.
(was an amazing day of visitors, kids and all-round loveliness -  can't wait to participate next year!).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Niagara Here we come!

Tomorrow - the SCBWI Conference - been looking forward to this for MONTHS... here is my illustrator assignment...

Will keep you posted on the goings on at Mount Carmel!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sesame Street - Bumble Ardy's birthday 9

So many things about Maurice Sendak influenced me as a child - and this, I LOVED.

This terrible yellow eyes blog is a beautiful tribute to Where the Wild Things Are...

And we love the book so much my son was Max for halloween when he was 2...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sharon Lane-Holm, Kittens and Glitter and the SMELL of new crayons

kindergarten Sharon
I have had the great pleasure of working with Sharon as a colleague in our Picture Book Artists critique group. Sharon is a talented writer, a fabulous illustrator AND a Tae Kwon Do Blue Belt. She is also a kind and thoughtful friend. This week my little friend Charlotte, who is in Senior Kindergarten, has a few questions for Sharon. I paired these guys up since they both LOVE cats and are particularly sweet people.

some early high school art

Charlotte: What kind of stuff do you use to make your drawings? They all look so different. What is your favorite thing to draw with?
high school art - already out of the box
Sharon: PENCILS!!! I love the initial pencil sketches on tracing paper. Old school for me. For final art- I mix it all together-pencils, color pencils, fluid acrylics, pens, acrylics, gouache. Everything. I am working on using photoshop/illustrator more-its a slow go for me. I have issues with anything that plugs into the wall.

C: Did you draw when you were little?  When did you become an expert at drawing?

S: I am still working on being an "expert' at drawing! It is an ongoing process. I am trying really hard to remember who my art really is for and go back to being me. I want to relax more and enjoy the process of creating – to please me first. I have been drawing forever. One year my sister got the drawing pad and "how to book" – I coveted them. I still have the book. In 2nd grade it became official – my little Jackie Paper from Puff the Magic dragon made the bulletin board. My high school art teacher told me I would never be an artist. Never ever give up.
C: Sometimes I get frustrated because I can't draw what I want to draw. I am good at drawing butterflies but not so good at some other stuff. Is there anything that is hard for you to draw?
S: I can't draw horses or cars or bikes.

C: I really wanted to draw some monkeys but I had to draw numbers instead (because it was math time). Do you ever want to draw when you're not supposed to (like when you're sleeping or in the bath tub)?
S: I get my best ideas in the shower, walking the dog, right before I fall asleep. Even  lines of writing for my own books. I always doodle while on the phone. 

C: I imagine that if I was an illustrator I could draw in a lot of books about anything I wanted. What's it like being an illustrator? Do you get to draw what you want?
S: I get to draw what I want most of the time. Some Art Director's will micro manage, takes the fun out of the project. After all these years I have been mostly right one with their expectations. I'd love to actually finish up my own stories and books and art- they are my elephants in the closet. One person dislikes them, and I put them away-for years. My other passion is working with dogs and animals.

C: If I was an illustrator my studio would have one of my favorite things to draw with - markers. I would also have chalk, paint, crayons, paintbrushes and A LOT of all different colors of glitter! What's it like in your studio? Do you have glitter? My mom and I think Casper the Cat would like to play with glitter.

S: My office is organized chaos. (I love your glitter idea for Casper!) On my walls are my son's artwork from 1st grade, my Taekwodo certificates, my medals from TKD tournament, old toys, too many books and lots of post it notes of ideas.
C: My mom is good at drawing and my friend Mo's mom is good at drawing. They let us draw too. Do you have kids? Do you ever show kids how to draw?

Art by little Michael

S: I have a son, Michael. He is an excellent illustrator-but his passion  is writing. One day we will see his name out there. I teach a 3rd-5th grade literacy course. They write and create their own picture books. Very inspiring. I try to help them maintain their confidence and self esteem for writing and drawing. 

Sharon and a new box of crayons (they do smell SO good)
Peggy: Do you remember the smell of a new workbook, and the thrill of making the marks on the first page? I always used to be SO careful on that first page...

S: I still love the smell of new crayons. I always get the notebooks with perforated pages-then proceed to rip out the art I don't like. Silly. I use tracing paper to refine my work projects. I have just started a visual journal and leave the pages in.

Peggy: What was your favourite picture book when you were a kid? 
S: My 1st book-Pinocchio- I loved the art of the bad boy island. (is that what it was called?) I still have it. I have always loved books, forever and still. I love what I do.

Thank you so much Sharon for stopping by to answer our questions - and thank you to Charlotte and her mom for asking them.

If you would like to see more of Sharon's fabulous NEW work, please visit these links:


Sharon also belongs to the Picture Book Artists Association

Monday, April 30, 2012


This is Grey. He is going to appear in a book one day...

author • illustrator • momma

Tooter's Stinky Wish – 2012 Shining Willow Nominee
Fatou Fetch the Water – Shortlisted for the Dundee Book Awards 2011
In the Garden and In the Snow were named in the CCBC Best Books for Kids 2010

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bryan Ballinger on Termites and Teachers

Mowat and I have been wondering what OTHER illustrators did in Elementary school... did they like art? Did they get in trouble for doodling? Do they have messy rooms - and other important questions.

We also wanted to see what kinds of things THEY drew before they got paid to draw.

Today we have a very special featured guest.... Bryan Ballinger!

a young Bryan in his classroom

Bryan is an illustrator, animator, professor and author of all sorts of cool and kooky things... He's worked with NINTENDO, MICROSOFT and veggietales to name a few. He is also the co-author of The Great Cheese Squeeze, a children’s book he did with his buddy Keith Lango. to read Bryan's full bio - click here. Bryan has shared some of his doodles from grade 3 and 4 - and has graciously answered our questions...


MO: Your illustrations are really, I mean REALLY funny. I like the pigs a lot. The termites are very funny too. Have you always written stories?

BRYAN: I’ve been coming up with funny stories since, hmmm, probably 3rd or 4th grade I’d say. That’s about when I started making comics and drawing cartoon characters anyway. The termites were my first real cartoon/comic series. I used to do them with my best friend Heath, in elementary school.

MO: When you were in school did you ever take too long doing your work or did you get into trouble for drawing while your teacher was talking? 

BRYAN: YES! Here’s the thing though. When I am doodling and drawing, most of the time it actually helps me to concentrate on what the teacher or speaker is saying. It helps me focus. Otherwise my mind can wander. Here’s the funny thing. I am almost 44 years old, and I still sometimes get in trouble for drawing during meetings, etc. But it really does help me pay attention more, and many of my best drawings have been done while I’m in class or in a meeting.

MO: Did you LIKE art class?

BRYAN: Mostly yes. When I had a good art teacher, I LOVED art class. By the time I was in high school, I spent most of the day in the art room. I have an inner drive to always be making stuff. When I’m not making stuff, I get antsy and sometimes sad. And in art class, you get to make stuff!

MO & PEGGY: What grade did you figure out you were pretty good at this stuff?

BRYAN: That’s actually a very good, and very hard question. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve started to begin to think maybe sometimes I’m good at this stuff. I know it was in 4th grade that I really figured out how much I love doing this stuff though. And when I figured out that I could draw things that made people laugh, or made me feel like I was going on an adventure, or creating a new world, I knew I wanted to always be an artist.

MO: Is your studio messy? What kind of things do you use to make your illustrations (cause it looks like you use all sorts of things)?

BRYAN: My studio is very very messy. But I think that is partly because I am a very messy person. I have some artist friends who are really good and are really really neat. But for me, my art creating area looks like a creative bomb exploded and cartoon characters on scraps of paper are blown all over the room. I do almost all of my drawing with Sharpie pens. But then I usually color all my illustrations on the computer. However I like to create lots of textures to use when I’m coloring. I will scan almost anything into the computer for my illustrations.

For instance, if you look here, you can see what I mean!

MO: DO you like jokes? What is your favourite?

BRYAN: I do like jokes. And I love funny cartoons, like Peanuts, B.C., and Tumbleweeds.  Hmmmm, my favorite joke, let’s see. Here’s two of my favorites that kind of go together:

What happens when you run in front of a car? You get tired.
What happens when you run behind a car? You get exhausted.

PEGGY: Did you have one special teacher that nurtured your talent (in elementary school) - and what would you tell them today? 

BRYAN: To be honest, the teacher in elementary school who influenced me the most and inspired me the most was my advanced reading teacher Mr. Morton. He had us reading some amazing books, like Watership Down. Actually that book is still my favorite to this day. He challenged us with the best of the best stories. The coolest thing about him though was that he loved the stories he was having us read, and that came out in his teaching every day. His enthusiasm and respect for the stories was infectious and I feel indebted to him still.

PEGGY: If you had a parallel life and could be anything else - what would your OTHER dream job be?

BRYAN: Oooooooo, this is a great question! I wish I was a guitar player like Michael Hedges, who invented new ways to play the guitar for many of the songs he wrote.

Thank you so much Bryan!
If you would like to see more of Bryan's awesome work - please visit the links below. I would also HIGHLY recommend checking out this absurd food site KOOKY COOKERY.

art blog which is updated more regularly: 
Bryan also has a beautiful photography website (this guy is MULTI-TALENTED) :

Saturday, March 31, 2012

digital love and a zippered mouth...

Part of the reason my posts have been so few and far between is, well, I have been working on a new direction. A new way of living - for me, my kids and my work. It's been remarkably busy as I cross off all the to-do's and should do's, as well as being back at school (online) and working full time AND freelancing... and I still can say nothing just yet.

BUT, wheels are turning. Items are getting checked off all over the place, and life as we currently know it in our household will be changing for the better very soon (hopefully). That's all I'm going to say - cause I can keep secrets when I need to.

I've also been exploring the tablet and working digitally - and I am STILL loving it.  Pictured first is a rough of my son for a dummy I am working on - the rest - explained below - all digital.

IN that spirit, I present some characters that will appear in the Loyalist College Serious Summer FUn Camps brochure - the BEST part of my job, and the one I look forward to every year... I get pretty much free reign and to have fun within the corporate/educational context... so I introduce Platypus and Penguin... and the RAT. A SLIGHTLY graphic listing of courses for the kids this summer (seen above).