Mornings in May--My Illustration Challenge


It’s been a while since I’ve devised an artistic challenge, and so beginning tomorrow and for the full month of May, I’ll be creating one illustration a day.  Even though I have a big job/deadline on my drawing table, it seems those are the times I feel a great need to refresh and inform myself while frolicking with the muse. The parameters will be a concentration on design and tonal value, to be completed in the morning within an hour.

Wherever one is in their career, there is always something new to learn and explore.  The first seed that inspired this challenge is a critique (above) I received from illustrator Matt Faulkner, who pointed out things I can concentrate on to improve my craft. The other seed is I’ve been privileged to take a picture book making class with illustrator Laura Montenegro here who stirred the pot of my creative process.


To make things more interesting, I’ll be picking 3 subject suggestions from this list I’ve compiled to create the illustration.  Hopefully it will feed into my sense of the absurd.

Starting May 1st ..  Let the wild rumpus begin!

Update:  Here are some of my favorites of the month:


ART DEMO at Sheboygan Children's Book Festival


When you go to an illustrator’s event at a school, a festival or a conference…there is more to it than meets the eye.  Just as in the making of a picture book, the readers don’t get to see all the steps, the character studies, the sketches, the evolution of the final product.  And so, here is a sneak peek at something I'll be doing this weekend.

On Sunday, October 12, I’ll be giving 2 presentations at the Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival.  One is a sketch-scavenger hunt at Bookworm Gardens where kids and adults will hear about "rambling," how to use their imaginations outdoors. They'll receive a sketchbook…and out we’ll go, exploring!  A book signing of “One Day I Went Rambling” will follow.

The next is an Open Studio at Kohler Art Museum where I will demonstrate my illustration style.  There is a lot of  behind-the-scenes prep work that comes before I begin this magical inking process.  I sketch quite a bit before I settle on something. In the illustration up above, I added a little color to the fox, and began the underpainting with  white gouache.  When it dries, I’ll cover the whole thing with black ink.


On Sunday during the Open Studio demo…this piece will be rinsed and the illustration revealed…the unique line work, texture, color, and white space.  My heart will be thumping, that moment of unknowing and anticipation, to see if it was a success.  Then it’ll be the audience’s turn to try it.  Yes, an interactive demo!  Are you game??

If so, come.  Bring the family!  Here is a link to the Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival, which lasts all weekend.  Check out the other luminaries in world of children’s books, and Sunday for the times and locations of my programs!


One way I get to travel is when I follow my artwork.  So far it’s lead me to New York and Texas.  Now I’ve just shipped off 5 themed illustrations for consideration to Bolognafiere 2012, held in Bologna, Italy.  It’s the “Sundance” for children’s illustrators.  Last year, no one from the United States was chosen.  But if these make the cut, I’ll go to Italy.  I’ll go! Terri Murphy

Those with generous overflowing imaginations and heart, can you picture them there?