Smithereens, Post No. 5: Color Palette

Posted on by Rebecca Green

Smithereens: [smith -uh-reenz] Plural Noun. 1. Small pieces, bits.
Smithereens are tiny pieces, fragments of a larger thing. In this series of blog posts, I share small slivers of my process, thoughts on materials, and insights into the larger world of illustration. 

Blue will be the death of me. Green, green I can do. (Not just because it's my last name!) What about grays and ochres and peaches? Yes. But blue, it confounds me every time. I just double checked the portfolio page on my site and sure enough, you'll be hard pressed to find a sufficient amount of blues. It's my goal to conquer it - perhaps I should just do a painting of all blue fruit! What a lovely challenge that would be. 

There are a myriad of ways artists can choose color palettes. Because it'd take me hours to dig into the world of color theory, I'm going to stick to what I know and use on a daily basis when choosing colors. It all comes down to one word, which I learned from Vyanna Slattery, my Design Drawing teacher in college: Matrix

This Matrix was his way of explaining the hue that encapsulates a piece, or that's how I understood it anyway. It's the lighting, environment, and overall atmosphere of the world you're creating. It's what really ties the whole image together. This is the very first thing I consider when starting a piece and it simply reflects the time of day, location, and the intended mood.


While I like to experiment using a strict limited palette, what I'm sharing today is an overview of illustrations** with multiple colors - but how I narrowed them down to specifically capture a mood. Generally, the color scheme is the first thing I plan - and by plan, I mean I just concoct a dreamy image in my head. I then dig through all my art supplies to find the colors that feel right for the project. This narrows my choices but still gives me range to explore the palette without having a strict limited number of colors. For instance, in the above illustrations - I would pull out all my purples, grays, peaches, etc. and intuitively use those as I move around the piece. As you can see in all of them, they have a secondary warm or bright color that shows up in 2-3 places. I use these spots of color to balance out the illustrations and create movement. 


Same for the the lighter, more golden toned pieces. These older paintings would sometimes get a golden/umber glaze in oil over the entire piece to pull them together into the same lighting and atmosphere. Now that I'm working with water based mediums and can't rely on a coating to filter everything through the same lens, it's more imperative than ever to think about the atmosphere from the beginning. Because I don't entirely pre-plan or map the colors, I have to sometimes redo paintings, or change and layer different colors a couple of times until everything is balanced out. This is just part of the learning process and the more I paint, the more I find what colors work earlier in the process. If you are nervous about color, placing your drawing in a digital format might help you map out colors. This does not work for me because I'm terrible at digital coloring! 

Once I became a little more comfortable with color, I could start to add interest to projects, like the illustrations in A Little Princess. I created 19 interiors for the book and each illustration had a main thematic color, either to accentuate the environment, or create variation among the pieces. 


So what do you do once you have your colors all picked out and ready to go? I like to fill in larger areas first - just get the big colors down. Then you can start to add in patterns and texture, and decide where your accent colors will go. Balance out your shadows/dark areas and take advantage of your highlights - those can really make an illustration sing. And don't be afraid to mess up - you might have to do a painting 3 times before you've really found your groove with the color. 

What sort of process have you implemented when choosing color palettes? What is a color you just can't seem to wrap your brain around? Whatever it is, I think the most important aspect of creating a palette is choosing the colors that really speak to you - when you use those, your intention is sure to come out in the final. 

Cheers and Happy Coloring!

**A lot of these illustrations are very old, so please excuse the fact that they were all basically self portraits, thus the lack of diversity. I'm happily working on newer illustrations that incorporate humans of all kinds, and I strive to be more inclusive with every piece of art I make. xo. 












Smithereens, Post No. 4: Stylized Non-Fiction

Posted on by Rebecca Green

Smithereens: [smith -uh-reenz] Plural Noun. 1. Small pieces, bits.
Smithereens are tiny pieces, fragments of a larger thing. In this series of blog posts, I share small slivers of my process, thoughts on materials, and insights into the larger world of illustration. 

Drawing people was 'easy' when I created realistic work in college. Yes, there were formulas and there were rules....but there were formulas and rules! When you're trying to draw real people in your style, that's where things get tricky. Because the equations and guidelines just sort of fly out the window, don't they? How can you look at a photo (or ten photos) of a person and draw them in your own visual style without getting too caught up in the realistic details? 

I've spent the last ten years doing just this and have created some little formulas of my own - take that realism!! Would you like to know this super complicated, very tricky, and almost impossible wizardry? 

Four Words: Put the photo away. 

Not at first of course, you'll need to look at something! And I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start from the beginning, shall we? 

*Today I'll be drawing Anne Frank, who is someone I've always been inspired by, though just thinking about her and seeing these images busts my heart open. I realized I didn't have a clear example to show you with my previous work so I did a quick sample of the this process for this post. 

1. Gather references - dig online, go to the library, request photos - and if you can take the photos of the human yourself, do that! Also great to gather references of clothing, backgrounds, any small details that might add personality and story to the illustration of your subject. What time period, culture or location are they from? Can you add pieces of these realms into the illustration? 

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2. Draw, draw, draw. This is my least favorite part (and the sketches I'm least likely to share!) but it's necessary. Don't try to make anything too perfect, just pay attention to the features and characteristics of the subject. The shape of the face, eyes, eyebrows, the shapes of the nose, or the hairstyle - these are all monumental features in a person. Draw objects, clothing, etc if you think those will be helpful in the final illustration. 

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3. Here we go: put the photos away!! You don't need them anymore - you're now working solely off of your first studies. Do a second round of sketches, just by looking at your initial drawings for reference. Try to mix up posture, perspective, layout, etc. to make the drawing your own. Remember - it's the goal to break away from the photos. 

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4. Ready for it? Again! Put the first set of drawings away! For the third round, you'll only be drawing from your second round of sketches. Is it starting to feel more like you? More in your style? Usually at this point, I start to see the character evolving in my style and I feel more comfortable capturing their essence in my own visual vocabulary. 

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5. Start your final! Once you settle on a sketch and you've got your line work done and ready to fill in, start painting (or screen printing or drawing or inking, or whatever you do!) I usually don't go back to the initial references, but if you need to peek at details like eye color or clothing, do so, just put the photo away again. Remember, this is a creation from you, not a photograph. 
** Since this is a quick example, I left out a lot of details in my drawing - like the pattern on her diary, flourishes that would have allowed the viewer to know where and what time period she's from. I really recommend building those details into your final illustration. 

Untitled_Artwork 3 (1).jpg

And what's more - this wizardry works not only on people, but animals, plants, buildings, and anything you want to stylize. This process has helped me tremendously as I've had to research for illustrations, while keeping the drawings in my style. Do you guys have any tips that you've found helpful for translating real life into your personal art approach? 

Cheers and Happy Stylizing! 





Smithereens, Post No. 3: Process

Posted on by Rebecca Green

Smithereens: [smith -uh-reenz] Plural Noun. 1. Small pieces, bits.
Smithereens are tiny pieces, fragments of a larger thing. In this series of blog posts, I share small slivers of my process, thoughts on materials, and insights into the larger world of illustration. 

Art is a process - making anything is a process. Living is a process! We often see what comes at the end of this process: the shiny beautifully wrapped effortless painting, the gorgeous illustrations in a book, the magazine cover we can't stop staring at. It's a wonderful thing to be propelled by these pieces of art, but it can definitely hinder us too. Like many of you, I love seeing behind the scenes. What decisions were made, and how they affect the outcome are more fascinating than the end product.
I've been making art long enough that I've recognized my process pattern (though I'm still learning!). I know it takes me dozens of attempts to finally land on the one. And that sometimes that one isn't the one at all, and I end up ruining it, and seeking a new contender for the final piece. 
Lately, I've been doing preliminary work on the IPad, and it saves SO much time. I have thoughts about my digital vs traditional work and that'll come in another Smithereen post, but for now, it's a super easy way for me to visually explain process. Today I'll be sharing the process for Storytime Dreaming, a mural I painted at Parnassus Books last year. Though I started sketching ideas loosely on paper, I did the bulk of the planning in Procreate (with the default pencil brushes). Below you can see the evolution of the animals, and how I placed them in the final design. 

As you can see, I tried many different animals, views and options before settling on those that made their way to the final. 

Once the design was approved, I created the illustration in colored pencils (with digital edits) for a poster that the bookstore could print and sell. This made the color planning for the mural easy! 


Then came the actual painting! I projected the mural onto the wall via a projector and did the lines in white paint (that I knew would be covered up). I used a high quality wall paint and mixed in acrylics where I needed some differences in color. 

What I want to highlight here, is not necessarily the project per se, but the process it took to get to the final. There are always so many drawings and attempts that don't get shared, and often when I go back to share my process, I'm even surprised at how many times I had to circle around the piece before I ended up settling on the final. It's never a straight line, but a zig-zaggy mess of exploration. If you'd like to see more posts about process, check out The Great Cape Breton Escape  or The Unicorn In The Barn .
Also, this post has made me realize how little of the process I actually share with you. My goal is to be better at sharing the whole process and not just the sketches I like!

What do you notice about your own process? Do you usually go with your first attempt? Do you have to draw something a hundred times before it's good enough?

Cheers and Happy Processing! 

PS! I was under the weather on Friday, so I'm getting this post out to you a little late! Hope everyone's weekend was great!


Smithereens, Post No. 2: Visual Journaling

Posted on by Rebecca Green

Smithereens: [smith -uh-reenz] Plural Noun. 1. Small pieces, bits.
Smithereens are tiny pieces, fragments of a larger thing. In this series of blog posts, I share small slivers of my process, thoughts on materials, and insights into the larger world of illustration. 

These last couple of months found me at an all time low. You might remember me sharing what was quite possibly the worst burnout I'd ever faced. I still can't say with certainty that it's over, but what I can say is that despite feeling a complete aversion to drawing, I did not give up visual journaling. I started consistently journaling last year, partly due to personal situations, but also, it was the only act of creating that I felt was mine. I didn't have to share it, in fact I planned on never sharing it. Don't get me wrong, sharing my work with anyone who wants to see it is one of the most rewarding and uplifting things about making art. But with it, also comes sort of an unspoken constraint. We feel we must constantly share for fear of falling behind, or worse, being forgotten. And when everything is on display, that tiny sacred spark can feel vulnerable and out in the open. That spark can even go out.


It didn't even occur to me that while I was stifled by art, I loved sitting alone for sometimes hours, doing just that: writing and drawing. It hadn't presented itself as art because I saw it as a way to be present, record my life, and celebrate moments instead of overthinking and overcomplicating the process. My lines were unburdened by my usual thoughts: "Is this your style? Doesn't it look too much like this person, or that? Who's going to buy this? Is this what the client wants? How do I draw this, and why do I feel like I don't know what I'm doing? Who am I? What will people think? I'll just erase this and start over 8000 times.". 


I use ink so I can't erase. I use black so I don't have to think about color. I draw what I see, what I remember, and often how I feel - which keeps things simple. Truly, these pages feel indulgent and personal, and I find myself. My source and creative spark comes out when I just let my hand record my days. 


One of my favorite times to journal is on trips - I can record my days in a detailed way that isn't possible with photos. I also hate flying, so recording the trip on my way home on the airplane is immensely relaxing. While I usually don't work from photographs in my journal, sometimes it's just impossible to sit and draw something, no matter how badly you'd like to record it. A couple of weeks ago I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, for instance, and there was NO way I could draw all of the details I saw. I took like 10 million pictures and have been slowly recording my visit...


It's a totally different experience drawing from photos vs memory, and while I have more experience with the latter, I do think it comes in handy to snap pics and record your life from the photos. It allows me to really capture details that not only inspire me, but will probably find their way into my future illustrations...


I have found this practice to be incredibly rewarding. Here's what I've gained/learned:

+ My visual journal is a space that is all my own.
No comments, no interference, no expectations. It allows me to be really intuitive about my line work and my thoughts. 

+ I have a long standing record of my everyday.
I love the idea that later in life (please let me live long) that I'll have a recording of the ordinary things. Like the Thai food I ate in a small town with my husband on a Sunday or the thunderstorm that kept me up all night, or the time I wore a long sleeve shirt on a humid August morning and my neighbor said, 'Waitin' for cool weather?' or the man who runs to the bus stop past my house every morning at 7. All of this I record. 

+ It really helps my drawing skills.
Imagine drawing just about everyday, but it doesn't feel like work. I know now how to draw a lot of food, places, people in airports, my dog, red salamanders, flower vases at restaurants - anything is fair game! 

Do you guys keep visual journals? Travel journals? A way to record your days? Is it a goal you have, but aren't sure how to get started? I think the simplest thing to do is pick up a journal you love - some of mine have dotted pages, some are just blank - and grab a pen! It doesn't have to be fancy, a regular old pen will do, although my favorite to use is the 01 Micron. And remember, nothing is too ordinary to draw. Start simple by writing about your day - what did you see, what do you want to remember? Is there something in your home you can draw? Don't over think it - just start laying down lines. And don't get frustrated if the drawing skills aren't where you want them to be, because every day you'll see your drawings improve, and journaling will be the fulfilling experience it's meant to be. 

Cheers and Happy Journaling! 


Smithereens, Post No. 1: Daily Drawing Exercise

Posted on by Rebecca Green

Smithereens: [smith -uh-reenz] Plural Noun. 1. Small pieces, bits.
Smithereens are tiny pieces, fragments of a larger thing. In this series of blog posts, I share small slivers of my process, thoughts on materials, and insights into the larger world of illustration. 


How important is a personal daily drawing practice? 

Somehow in the midst of becoming an illustrator, my willingness to indulge in drawing for fun just sort of left me. Why waste powerful creative energy on something that might not be of use when I could be spending that energy on my current client project, or planning for something that I know would benefit me later? Drawing for the sake of drawing can fill us with guilt, this is too fun, we think to ourselves, work cannot be this fun. And while I do think illustrators, though essential, are lucky in that we get to do what we love for a living, our work should feel indulgent. That intuitive making, that flow, that creative playfulness is the source of all the good stuff and it builds the foundation for what I hope is a long life of curiosity and artistic fulfillment. 


Now comes the actual 'doing' part: taking the time to practice outside of a client or expected project. One of my favorite practices has been to draw in the book, Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way by Jennifer Orkin Lewis (you may know her as August Wren!). It shares 365 prompts for daily drawings and I love the way the book is divided into months - each containing its own theme, and suggested materials. Themes range from flowers to food, home to world travel, and the materials suggested include cut paper, markers, watercolor, and white gel pens (to go on the black paper!) I recommend this book all the time and am happy sharing it here - not because this is a sponsored post, I just honestly love it. I'm a stickler for order so I don't skip, but instead I do the book one prompt at a time. In a perfect world, I would commit to doing these drawings everyday without question. In reality, I go through phases. Some weeks, I make it a point to commit 30 minutes of drawing time to myself. Some weeks, I sweep it aside, and disregard its importance entirely. In fact, when I planned to write this post, I found that I hadn't even completed two month's worth in almost three years! WHO AM I? 


The great thing about jumping in and out of this practice is that I'm essentially my own control group! I can see a clear difference when I'm practicing and when I'm not. (Scientists out there - does that count as an experiment?) While I might conceive that these daily drawings drain my creative energy, the fact is that they significantly boost creative thinking and reconnect me to that ever elusive source, that artistic well. When I fall out of the habit, my work can feel stuck or plateaued. The lessons I have learned from daily drawing practices should be a good reminder to myself that the time spent playing is the best investment. Here's what I've discovered: 

+ Daily practices are where the happy accidents happen.
Since I'm not drawing for a specific project or client, I am free to experiment, and often use colors, shapes or marks that stretch my comfort level.  

+ I'm challenged to make the best of each prompt.
I'll admit it: I hate drawing flowers (which is the first month's theme!). I had to dig deep to find inspiration in a prompt like 'petunias'. The word even now makes me shutter, so I had to come up with a way to turn that into art. Another example was the 'daisy' prompt. I don't like daisies really (sorry daisy lovers!) and I had to dig into the scientific realm, learning that daisies are named Bellis Perennis. Now, if you've read How To Make Friends With A Ghost, you might recall that the girl's name is Bellis - this is where it came from! It's for this reason that I made her a florist in the book. All from a simple drawing that I otherwise would have never sought out.  

+ Daily drawings reveal what I love most about creating.
In seeking playfulness in these drawings, I've come to understand myself better. I don't care to just draw objects, rather, I like to build a context, story or character around that object. This often includes researching the history or the science behind the prompt and playing off of that research. Or I'll add a face to the object, write a poem, or a short story! 

+ Putting a limit on the exercise increases spontaneity.
When you've only 30 minutes to create a drawing, it frees you from overthinking and overcomplicating the process. What results is sometimes a hurried mess, but other times, it's a fresh and simple result. 


So there we have it: I daresay daily drawing practices are vital. I look forward to carving out time every day, to draw every way, and to keep the creative flow a'churning. How about you, do you have a daily drawing practice? Is there a book or prompt or system you have to make art a part of everyday? 

*** This is the first of many weekly blog posts, where I share my thoughts on materials, process, the illustration world and more. Look for a new post each Friday, and if you'd like to stay in the loop, you can sign up for my newsletter by filling out the form on my site! 

Cheers guys, and happy drawing! 

Intuition, burnout, and weeping at your drawing desk.

Posted on by Rebecca Green

[in-too-ish-uh n] noun: Direct perception of truth. Pure, untaught, non inferential knowledge.

The best work comes from intuition, for me personally (and I'm sure for many others). I don't know why the concept of following your artistic instinct and intuition wasn't revered in my schooling, but it's something I've come to appreciate in my own process and in the work of others that I admire. In fact, I've been looking for common threads in the work that I love, which spans artists, eras, techniques and style. One of the consistent attributes is the feeling of intuition: the sense that the artist felt compelled, without reason, to shift their work in certain ways. For me, the lack of intuition in my own process leads to a lack of spontaneity, and quite frankly a lack of enjoyment. 

You hope that if art becomes your job and you're constantly creating, that intuitive making would be the rule, not the exception. Sadly, I have found that the more I make art, the less intuition I have, the less likely I am to trust myself, and the more likely I am to become critical of every decision I make. Trust, to me, is a precursor and pre-requisite for intuition. If I do not trust my inner compass, I can only look for that direction externally, which of course leads to disaster, lack of motivation, and a questioning of my own identity. Being a commercial illustrator can also certainly decrease the amount of trust you have in your own work. You have to balance your voice with the needs of the art director, the editor and authors too. I do love this challenge and am fortunate to work with some of the kindest and most brilliant art directors, but at times I overcomplicate the process instead of just creating from the heart. My heart. 

All of this overthinking about not over-thinking came to light this year and I struggled to maintain my enthusiasm, ambition, and to be honest, my friendliness. It was personally a rough year for me and was also one of the greatest years of my career. I felt more than ever the need to be outwardly grateful -- because I truly was, and am. But I also felt the incredible need to disappear -- to crawl into a cave and never make art again. I've been freelancing for 8 years and have always experienced an ebb and flow. I've had loads of creative blocks and dug my way under, over or around them. Usually, I take a couple of days off, feel like garbage, mope around, weave in and out of the ever-looming existential crisis and boom! I'm able to get back to it! 

If a creative block is a rainstorm, a burnout is a hurricane (and you're out at sea, alone.)

I'd heard the term 'burnout' before, and always just interchanged the term for creative block. Everyone's burned out at one point or another, whether you're in the creative field of not. We all need breaks and rejuvenation. So when I began feeling a bit overworked and overwhelmed last Summer, I shrugged it off. "After (insert current project), I'll take a break," I told myself. Only the projects and responsibilities continued to pile up. 
The rest of the year was a blur for me - a blur of painful loss in our family, a readjusting of reality, an immense joy career wise, with loads of projects that needed attention and care. I do love my job - I show up again and again despite fatigue, as we all do, because I value the content in which I am illustrating. I value those I am lucky enough to work with. Near December, it became quite clear that the stress I felt was manifesting itself physically. I would show up to my drawing table and just weep. Or I'd show up and feel the need to run, and fast. I would yell on my way to work just to relieve a deep pressure I was harboring in my neck, in my chest and in my back. (This last one is not easy to admit but it's true, and it actually helped!)

Once my projects were finished and had the stamp of approval, I dug my cave and in I went.

I spent most of December doing what I loved outside of art. I made my own pie crusts, and two beautiful galettes. Did yoga. Started reading Oliver Twist. Saw friends. Found out my wax fortune for this year (I will have love for everybody). Visited a museum. Felt guilty for not working. Rearranged my studio. Took hours wrapping Christmas gifts, daydreaming of being a professional gift wrapper. And so on and so on. In retrospect, it sounds like a great and rejuvenating break! In reality, I felt wayward and guilty for my resentment, wondering constantly if I would ever love making art again. I kept waiting for my profound 'AHA!' moment to happen where I just fell back into the arms of the art I love. I teeter as I write this, on the edge of rest and motion. The more I rest and dig into my cave, the more hopeless and despondent I feel. So, I have to embrace motion. Intuitive motion. 

 Taking a break with Mori and June. 

Taking a break with Mori and June. 

Moving forward, I'm actually happy to be back at work. Do I feel totally renewed and restored? Not quite. But I think slowly moving with trust and intuition will help guide me back, and keep me leveled in my life and in my work. I've decided to find more time for practice and play. Every Wednesday, in fact, will be devoted to practice, play, and personal work. I will view personal creating and practicing an integral part of my career instead of a luxury. I will seek and find new inspiration and trust my curiosities. I will watch Kiki's Delivery Service. (Thanks for the recommendations IG people!) I will keep studying Japanese. I will keep perfecting my pie crust. 

As I close, I want to thank each and every person, some of you I've known for years, and some of you I've never met, for your unending amount of support and encouragement this past year. Though I can't respond to each and every comment, email and message, know that I read every word, teared up, felt very grateful, and want to give a big hug to you all. The discussions have made clear that everyone goes through these obstacles, no matter where we are in our creative journey. I do hope sharing my own experience will help you if you ever find yourself weeping at your drawing table or running full speed to escape. 

Ok. Back to work - slowly but surely. 

XO, Becca

*Special thank you to my girl, Meera Lee Patel for editing my post!




Comments 9

New York Times Live Art!

Posted on by Rebecca Green

Last week, I soaked up some lovely Fall weather in New York and chatted with Maria Russo from the New York Times! Each week, they do a Facebook Live Art Video, sharing the work of kitlit author/illustrators, and I'm so happy I got to jump in and share my process with you guys. The video is based around How To Make Friends With A Ghost and I shared a bit about the book while working on an illustration (which, thank goodness, I finished in a half hour!) 

 Creepy nervous smile before the event began! Totally had butterflies. 

Creepy nervous smile before the event began! Totally had butterflies. 

 I carried all my supplies in my Peg & Awl Sendak Artist Roll which I loooove.

I carried all my supplies in my Peg & Awl Sendak Artist Roll which I loooove.

 Chatting with Maria! She's so lovely!

Chatting with Maria! She's so lovely!

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Thank you to everyone who joined in, asked wonderful questions and gave praise for the book. I'm truly humbled. And what fun, to talk about making art, when so often it is such a solitary process! A half hour went by fast, and I was unusually calm, despite my nerves!

Also HUGE thank you to my girl Meera Lee Patel who took me under her wing in NY (having lived there before). She navigated us through the Subways, showed me the best pizza place in Brooklyn and took photos during the event. (I would have been lost and starving without her.) We also had two other ladies from the Warren in NY (totally lucky coincidence!) Jenny Robinson and Lauren Lowen were there for Watkins business and we got to hang with them! Lauren found a new friend in our Airbnb and we all wanted to steal him. 

 ALSO Books of Wonder was out of Ghost Books so I didn't get to sign them BUT I did see this awesome display for The Glass Town Game, which I illustrated for Simon & Schuster! 

ALSO Books of Wonder was out of Ghost Books so I didn't get to sign them BUT I did see this awesome display for The Glass Town Game, which I illustrated for Simon & Schuster! 

The calendar gods were on our side big time. My editor, Tara, from Tundra was in NY on business and we got to have the nicest dinner to discuss books and life and food. I love her and could talk to her for days. DAYS. (we love talking so much that I forgot to take a photo!)

On the last day, we met up with Mari Andrew, who has a book coming out in April, and who was a serious breath of fresh air. She's funny and real and felt like an immediate friend. We also got to visit with Matthew Forsythe who's work I've long admired. It was a dream to meet him and while it was hard to keep my composure and not let my fangirl come out, it was so great talking about his past and future projects. What a gem! 


Above, we're pictured in Central Park BECAUSE Meera did a painting video for her upcoming book, My Friend Fear, which I cannot wait to read. Getting to know her these last couple of months has been life giving and I'm so proud of her and her work.    

 I'm afraid I am. 

I'm afraid I am. 

Thank you again to Tundra, The New York Times, and everyone who made the trip a dream. 

Yesterday, not so very far from NY, the book also made its way onto The Morning Show in Toronto for Janet Joy Wilson’s spooky October book picks! Isn't her costume amazing?! She pulled out the best from the book, highlighting the details and the overarching storyline in such a caring way. 

Thanks again to everyone who watched the NYT video. As you can see, there are loads of artist videos on there that educate and inspire, so dig into them! I know I've got a couple in my queue that I can't wait to watch. 

Have a spooky Thursday little goblins! 

PS - Tonight if you're in Nashville, we're having a Halloween drawing night at The Warren - stop by from 6-8! 

Comments 1

Ghost News!

Posted on by Rebecca Green

Ghost news is the best news, or that's what my grandpa used to tell me. (I made that up!) 

Most paranormal news involves hauntings, sightings, and cemeteries but my ghost news involves cookies, coloring pages, and bookstores, so gather 'round and read all about it. 


Nothing made me happier than celebrating the launch of How To Make Friends With A Ghost at Parnassus Books. They've been so enthusiastic and supportive of my work, (I just put up a mural in their children's section!) and they were equally avid about my little ghost book and the celebration surrounding it. 

 Karen, Steph and I on the day of the launch - I couldn't have done my event without them! 

Karen, Steph and I on the day of the launch - I couldn't have done my event without them! 

My pal, Emily Arrow, who is a serious talent in the children's publishing and music world hosted the event and sang her beautiful ghost song, and I couldn't have done the launch party without her. (I'll be sharing her ghost song and video sooooon so keep your eyes peeled!) 

 I love these women! Emily on the left and Steph on the right. I'm in good company! 

I love these women! Emily on the left and Steph on the right. I'm in good company! 

 Friends and Books!! 

Friends and Books!! 

 Talking about the book!

Talking about the book!

 Ghost friends, mud tarts, and earwax truffles!

Ghost friends, mud tarts, and earwax truffles!

 Emily sang and the ghost danced!

Emily sang and the ghost danced!



Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate the Book Launch - you all made the day so wonderful. Special thank you to the folks at Parnassus, to Emily, and to my husband Matt and my cousin Alex who helped set up! 


If you came to the launch, then you know Tundra made incredible activity kits for everyone to have, and I also made coloring pages for the littlest ghost lovers. We're happy to share them today with everyone! Download and print Activity Kits HERE and your Coloring Pages HERE. Next week I'll be doing a giveaway, and to enter you'll have to share your finished coloring page, so keep on the lookout for that.

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GUYS. The second best part about making a book (the first being actually making it) is sharing it with you. I'm happy to announce upcoming bookstore and festival visits, as well as a very special live drawing session. 

   3019 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

+ NASHVILLE, TN: HER BOOKSHOP, Oct. 12 at 6 pm
   1043 W Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206

+ NASHVILLE, TN: SOUTHERN FESTIVAL OF BOOKS, Oct. 15 from 12 pm - 1 pm
   NPL Teen Studio: Manuals for Making Marvelous Kids: Two Picture Books
   With co-panelist Jean Reagan of How to Get Your Teacher Ready
1:00 pm to 1:30 pm –  Book Signing at the Colonnade

   Story time hosted by Emily Arrow, Miller Gallery at the Portland Art Museum
  4:00 pm to 4:30 pm – Book Signing with Green Bean Bookstore 

 Photo credit: Cocco Photo 

Photo credit: Cocco Photo 

As well as reading to you, I'll be drawing for you too! I'm super excited to share that I'll be doing a facebook live event at the New York Times on October 18 at 3:30 pm EST. Tune in to watch on the New York Times Books Facebook Page! These live events are so cool - I've never done one but I've watched other artists and it's so cool to see them working while folks jump on to ask questions in real time. I've also never been to NY in the Fall so dreams do come true.


That's it for today's Ghost News! Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at an upcoming event! Like I said, keep a lookout for a coloring giveaway coming soon. And if you and your little ones do the activities, coloring pages, or share the book on Instagram, use the hashtag #howtomakefriendswithaghost and I'll do my best to share! 

Stay spooky my friends!





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How To Make Friends With A Ghost - it's almost time!

Posted on by Rebecca Green

Guys! I have to apologize, if you get my newsletter, you're probably up to date on what I'm sharing today. (If not, sign up on my home page - I promise, my newsletters are few and far between.) Just in case though, I wanted to share all the exciting upcoming events for the release, as well as the official book trailer! 


As some of you know, I have my very first picture book coming out next month with Tundra Books, and I'm so happy I could fall over. Time to put on the cider, light a fire in the crisp Autumn air, and dive into the world of ghost care. Good thing you can learn everything you need from How To Make Friends With A Ghost! 

What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren't looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you'll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. 

Want to see more? Check out the book's officially official trailer!

Let's celebrate Fall and ghost friendships together, shall we? 
Mark your calendar for the Book Launch Party at Parnassus Books!

I'm also happy to announce two upcoming book festivals I'll be part of this Fall. Though the book comes out September 5, you can get a sneak peek at the AJC Decatur Book Festival! I'll be doing a presentation with Tad Hills called BOO! Saturday September 2 at 11:30 am! 

October 13-14, I'll also be at the Southern Festival of Books here in Nashville! Stayed tuned for more info on that and other school, library, and bookstore visits!

YAY! I can't wait for you guys to see this book! 

Themed Drawing Nights: Why they're awesome, and how you can do your own!

Posted on by Rebecca Green

At our studio, The Warren, we've had multiple drawing nights, mainly the classic ol' Drink 'N Draws where people bring sketchbooks, art materials, and a drink of their choice. Each one has been wonderful - obviously when you're hanging out with your tribe, pencils in hand, and you're sharing a few beers, there's nothing better. 

Or it there?

We started having 'Themed' Drawing Nights, something I'd wanted to do since we opened the studio last year. No longer is the 'drink' the most alluring part of gathering, but the gathering itself around one central idea. The first one was based on Food and Cooking, and the stipulation to attending was that you had to bring a food item to share to the drawing table. We had ginger knobs, old food tins, cookbooks, kitchen tools, fruits - everything culinary! The second themed night was based on Nature, so we brought in sticks, pinecones, mossy branches, and flowers. During both events, instead of drawing the same old 'comfortable' things we were used to (you know, that character, or that object you always draw out of habit - especially in the presence of other artists...) we drew within a perimeter of sorts and from life, which is rare for some of us. The best part to me was that we were all on the same wavelength, drawing 'together' instead of being in our own visual worlds. 

At the end of the second event, we opened up the room to suggestions for the next Drawing Night and Erin, who has come to all the events suggested we do costumed figures! So, this past Tuesday, we all dressed up to draw for our March Drawing Night and I think it was my favorite ever.  We had incredible costumes - the attendees blew us away! What we shared wasn't like the stuffy life-drawing classes we had back in school. Instead, we drew circus ringleaders, sleeping witches, and beautiful fairies. We gave the night a little more structure than usual, timing out poses at one minute gestures, five and ten minute poses.
We also had a very cool addition to the night: A Writer! We sometimes get folks who are interested in coming but they don't 'draw'. This didn't stop our wizard, Emily Arrow from coming and writing the best poems about the models. It added an inspiring new layer, and we're thrilled she's now part of the gang. Below are some of the models with my drawings of them. (Later in the post I'll share more pics along with some of the other artist's work!) 

 Lauren Lowen was the ringleader!

Lauren Lowen was the ringleader!

 Emily Arrow - the sleeping wizard!

Emily Arrow - the sleeping wizard!

 Olivia and Ivy MADE their costumes!!!

Olivia and Ivy MADE their costumes!!!

 Carla was the 'Emo Vegan!' 

Carla was the 'Emo Vegan!' 

 Green and red colored pencil 

Green and red colored pencil 

 Her face was hard to draw without eyes!

Her face was hard to draw without eyes!

 They were SO fun to draw!

They were SO fun to draw!

 Sad about a turkey. 

Sad about a turkey. 

 The whole gang! Although there were more artists that came just to draw and not to model. 

The whole gang! Although there were more artists that came just to draw and not to model. 

Here's where YOU come in! I've had inquiries about putting on events like this so I wanted to share some tips with those interested in starting their own drawing series. 

- Open up your home. You don't need tons of seating, generally artists are fine drawing on the floor.
- Host it at a bar, restaurant or coffee shop. This is harder to pull of a 'theme' as you won't want a bunch of stuff crowding their establishment. If you go this route, I'd highly recommend calling the business beforehand to make sure they can accommodate you, if you need to reserve tables, and if there'd be a fee. In my experience, groups are welcomed but should be encouraged to purchase food/drinks from the business. 
- Take the event outside! Meet up at a park, a cemetery, a crowded city center, anywhere. The theme can easily be based around the location. 
- Some libraries could be a great place to host a quiet drawing session. It'd even be fun to create an event surrounding books - either in physical form, or their content. 

- Themed Drawing Night can include literally anything! Shoes, food, musical instruments, coffee mugs, clothes, knick-knacks, teas, gardening tools, makeup, animals, science, sports, nature, colors, antiques, maps....and on and on. 
- Based the drawings on stories, and have people read snippets of writings. 
- Process based drawing. For example, you can all cook a dish together, drawing the ingredients, the process, and the final dish! 
- The social sketch idea is that each person works a bit on each piece, creating a large collaboration where everyone takes a piece home. 

Put out an invitation on Instagram, Facebook or Social of your choice. Name the time and location. I find it's good to put a start and end time, for those showing up a little later. 
- Check to find local artists in your area and email them personally to invite them. You should, of course, invite others too, that don't fall in the general 'artist' category. 
- It's fun to make an event of it. Bake some cookies, make a pot of coffee, put on some good drawing music. 

Thanks again for everyone who came to the event! And if you put on one of your own, I'd love to hear about it! 


How To Make Friends With A Ghost

Posted on by Rebecca Green

According to my friend Joe Kolean, via his friend John Hanson, you have to 'follow the tingle'. I'd never heard it put quite that way, but listening to your curiosities and following that spark can lead you into a state of that sweet magical 'flow'. There is a literal truth to it as well: my toes physically *zing* when I'm in that state of creating - so when I heard this sentiment, I knew! The tingle! Now the tingle is a precious thing because it's elusive. You have to stop forcing ideas to come and almost let them come to you - which is hard when you want to always be making genuine and wonderful things. (Let me interject but not get off track on the subject of constantly being bombarded with so much great content. The comparison can drive anyone mad, and you can never let your zinging toes feel ashamed that they've led you towards something that doesn't measure up to what other's are making.) But when you've watched yourself go through the cyclical pattern, you start to understand your rhythm and when the tingle finds you, MAKE.

One tingling curiosity found me on a walk with my dog, where my head was not particularly filled with creative thoughts. Just the opposite in fact: we had moved (again) and I had finished too many projects at once during our move. I was in a dull lull, if you will, feeling as though I'd like to swear off art, and never make a lick of it again. I had a small project due and was dragging my feet big time. The theme was October, and I waded through all the immediate visual possibilities, and not one of them sounded intriguing. I was tired of drawing girls and animals...and a little ghost wandered into my head. Obviously, little ghosts have been around for eons, but nonetheless, I followed the scenario. Suddenly, I was struck by a little spark...if one were to read to the ghost, what would one read? What kinds of stories do ghosts even like? What do they eat? What do they do for fun? There needs to be a guide, I thought, about how to take care of a ghost! 

Hours later, I was still frantically working and reworking my idea - it'd be a book, a little book, but a book. I'd do quick illustrations and lay it all out and tell a little story and have a good time doing it. Just the perfect fall project to get me back into the making of things. My husband Matt, who teaches English, is a wonderful ideas person - he pushed the story and helped me organize and flesh out the ending. At the end of the day, the framework for the book had been born.

I posted the final book on my site, printed 125 copies, you awesome people bought them, and I got a phone call from Penguin Random Houses, children's Imprint, Tundra. The book was going to be real. This last year, I've worked with my editors, Tara and Jessica, and the team at Tundra, to extend the content, recreate the illustrations, and bring you my first picturebook, How To Make Friends With A Ghost. I couldn't be more proud for this little book to come out into the world. The release date is September 5, 2017. Stay tuned for more info, regarding pre-orders, giveaways, and library/bookstore visits! And because I can keep it a secret no longer: here's the cover reveal! 

I could die I'm so happy! It's going to be hard waiting for Autumn (as usual) but it'll be well worth it. Thank you to those who have been so enthusiastic and supportive for this little ghost, I can't wait to share the final book with you. 


Comments 4

Little Book!

Posted on by Rebecca Green

I've got a little update to the Blurb post I did before the Holidays! While I was visiting with family, I was in the middle of nowhere in the land where a 4 second video can take 18 hours to load. Hence, I am just now sharing this little timelapse of the interior of the book! 

I've also had requests to sell the publication, and am working on putting that together to sell through Blurb. I'm hoping to have that available later this month, so I will keep you guys posted!

And without further adieu...

Comments 5