Monday, September 19, 2016

Mole on a Scooter

All he needs is a pair of glasses! I’ve been challenging myself to paint animals other than my usual list of jungle and woodland creatures. Mr. Mole popped up in one of my sketches, so he found his way onto a canvas via little red scooter.  And he doesn’t seem to mind that I dressed him in clashing patterns.

nessa dee

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Better late than never.

My baby boy turned four at the end of July. FOUR! I missed doing his birthday post because we were traveling on the big day, one of four trips we took last month. It's been a busy July, and things haven't slowed down for August, but I'll tell you more about it in my next post. For now, a very late birthday post, just in case August ever looks back at these and wonders why Mom forgot to wish him a happy fourth birthday.

Little boy...what can I say about you. You have enriched our lives so much. Your independence and confidence amazes me. You "know" things even if you don't know things. You have a hunger to learn, and when you set your mind to achieving something, you will see it through until you're satisfied. You have already taught yourself how to write and are a confident speller. Your most recent letter reads DEOL AUGUST HABTPY (Dear August, Happy Birthday).

You seem to be following in your sister's footsteps when it comes to music. Thanks to her, you've learned how to play several songs including Silent Night, House of Gold, and Chopsticks, and you took it upon yourself to learn March from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. (Thank you Little Einstein's)
You are quite the ham, and are learning the art of making jokes, though, like your spelling, your jokes don't always make sense. Lock-lock jokes are among your favorites, and the punch line is always "Yes."
We laugh every time.
 Sweet boy, what a blessing you are. Though you are four, going on 24, you are and always will be my baby.
I love you so much.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Reluctant Swimmer

It started with a sketch...

She's one of many swimmers I've sketched lately, but I just loved her 'attitude,' so to speak.
So, out came the paper, Mod Podge, and paint, and I set to work bringing this little sketch to life.

 I spend a lot of time picking the right papers to use in my art. The paper combinations might look random and haphazard, which in some cases it is, but in most cases, there's a lot of thought as to which patterns and colors I'll use. For example, in a travel themed piece of art, I might layer my canvas with maps and old travel adds, or I might add recipe pages for a food themed painting. In all of my paintings and illustrations I try to use general, but bold patterns that have stark, contrasting colors to base my canvases because I know that once the paint is layered on, only hints of these patterns will sneak through, so the bolder the pattern, the more likely it won't be completely obscured.  Once the background is finished, I sketch out my subject and get to painting.

Then comes the fun part... dressing the subject.
 I generally have an idea for a color, or a particular look I'm going for, and I pick out a bunch of papers that I think might work. If I'm painting a bird it would be the feathers, or a robot, his metal casing, but in this case, it was this girl's swimwear. I thought I wanted a navy blue swimsuit, so I picked several papers that fit the bill, along with a few other colors with classic patterns. I held each paper up to the painting and tried to imagine the finished piece. Once I narrowed the papers down to a shortlist, I cut out the suit in each color, laid them out, and photographed them. The cutting was through trial and error. I started big, and trimmed it down to fit. If I'm illustrating a piece that requires more intricate scissor work, I'll have a detailed sketch and trace the images on my paper before making the cut, but I thought I could eyeball this one.

I had to call in the jury to help me decide the winning suit...

Then it was glued down, sealed and given some extra details before the I called this reluctant swimmer finished.


nessa dee

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Austin SCBWI Header

As part of the prize package for winning the Austin Writer's and Illustrators Working Conference portfolio showcase, I was given the opportunity to redesign the Austin SCBWI website header! It was a wonderful opportunity, and I'm beyond excited to see the header up. This was the final design:

To see the design on the Austin SCBWI website, click here.

A big thank you to Austin SCBWI for giving me this opportunity, and to Sam Clark and Amy Farrier for all of your help! And thanks again to Candlewick Art Director Kristen Nobles, and illustrator Molly Idle for awarding me with the grand prize. I'm still giddy from the conference!

nessa dee

Saturday, June 18, 2016


I love quilts. There's something so comforting and inviting about these hand-stitched blankets. It's not just their utilitarian purpose, to provide warmth, it's all of the love and care that goes into their creation. I have fond memories of watching my grandmother and great-grandmother putting hours and hours of labor into their quilts. My favorites were always the ones that were pieced out of the leftovers from previous quilts, or old shirts that found new life within the patched blanket. Those quilts often times had crazy color schemes which fantastically clashed, but that's what I loved about them. They were energetic and funky, and bright.  
Gangy (my grandmother) always kept a box full of scraps in her quilting studio for her grandkids. She taught her grandchildren how to thread a needle, piece the scraps, and hand stitch them together to create a quilt that I'm sure any tiny creature would have marveled at. I think about the patience she showed when teaching us each and every little step. I often think about those moments when I'm frustrated in teaching my own children tedious tasks. It takes a lot of patience to make a quilt. It takes a lot of patience to teach your children. And I'm not always the most patient person. Sometimes, like having to rip a seam and start over, I have to take pause, and start again with my children. But hopefully, with each little stitch sewn, each little patched seam, each little lesson taught, some crazy, beautiful, fantastically bright thing will emerge.

nessa dee