Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Tales & Legends"

© Kathleen Rietz
I am working on this preliminary sketch this week for a new piece that I hope will make it into my portfolio. I am open to suggestions about what you think it "needs". It is in the very preliminary stages. I really want my illustrations to tell a story. Not just be pretty pictures.
Last Friday I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down at a local Starbuck's with children's book illustrator Kristi Valiant, who stopped through town on her way to see family. I had such a nice time with her, and I also learned so much from talking "shop" with her and leafing through our portfolios together. I am hoping that we will catch up with each other again in the not-too-distant future. It was so great to see such an established illustrator with over 20 books to her name! Bonus: she is a very nice person! Thanks Kristi!
Then on Sunday Kathy Weller and I talked on the phone until our ears pretty much turned into soft cauliflower. : ) I have always been such a BIG fan of Kathy's. Funny to find out she is also a big fan of my work. We seem to have similar personalities and I get the feeling we would be a dangerous pair if we lived anywhere within 50 miles of each other! You know you are a dangerous combo when you have talked so long that your phone's battery dies and you have to switch to your cell phone. heehee... Thanks Kathy! You crack me up.
I also want to thank Alicia Padron for our valuable email exchanges about illustration, promotion, and just plain "life".
I am realizing how blessed I am to have "met" so many terrific artists while blogging (some virtually and some in real life!). Rubbing elbows with you all is what makes my day, every day. I have learned so much from your comments about my work. I do not take for granted anyone who stops by to have a look. I always hope you like what you see and will that you return again and again.
O-O-O-Oh!!! By the way, I am going to try to put together a new blog showcasing my art students' work. I hope to work on it this weekend. Stay tuned. I will announce the blog once I have it up and running.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I just completed several batches of textbook illustrations that I have been working on since the end of October. What began as 108 illustrations turned into 143. I had to let 2 picture book assignments pass through my hands during this project - one because the situation was not right, and the other because the deadline was impossible for me. But those are decisions that you have to make sometimes, you know? I hope there is a new offer right around the corner.
My second semester of teaching children's art classes at Wheaton began today. We had lots of fun. I had the younger kids stretch their creativity by blindly reaching into paper bags to choose 5 words or phrases that would complete a sentence that they then had to illustrate. For example: The blue horse juggled omelets while wearing boots on a train in a rainstorm. They loved this assignment! For my older class of kids, we created grey scale models and then I set up 3 eggs on black paper under a spotlight and we rendered studies of the eggs, taking note of shadows and values and reflective light. I was so impressed with these kids. They are only 11 and their drawings were beautiful! I also started my 3rd teaching job today, teaching art to a group of home schooled kids in my community. Next week we will be working on self-portraits in graphite.
It feels good to have completed this huge 3 1/2 month long illustration assignment, and now to invest my time into teaching budding artists! This is what makes me happy about being an artist. Every day is a gift.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Plain"

©Kathleen Rietz
Billy's mom always told him he was plain, but today at recess little freckle-faced Becky Beauregard told him he was handsome.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Stitch"

This is a portion of a painting I did for a giftware company when I was freelancing on a weekly basis for them back in 1992. That was back when P.O.P. was designed and painted by hand, and work was hand delivered to the client. I miss that "human" touch from time to time. Now everything is done electonically.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Illustration Friday - "100%"

©Kathleen Rietz
Mmm-mmm-mm...for me, tea is one of the pleasures of life. 100% enjoyment.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Tough Decision Rings In The New Year

©Kathleen Rietz
I had to make a decision that was really hard for me as a freelance illustrator: I had to decide to pull out of an assignment. The deadline for the picture book assignment was just too tight. I have worked day and night for the past 2 1/2 months, barely stopping to enjoy the holidays, running myself raw. My "free time" has been filled with creating new sample pieces, adding to my website, creating "give-aways", promoting myself, trying to keep the fiery momentum going. Freelance business can be oh-so volatile. I had wished for projects like this to come in June, July and August. Instead, they all came at once - during the holidays no less! And business rarely ever goes according to the schedule sent to you, especially in November and December when everyone's schedule is up for grabs. So....I realized that taking the job would have meant compromising my other current assignments, and nothing would have received 100% of my effort. By "nothing" I mean my assignments. And my students. And meetings. And the patients at the chiopractic clinic. And more importantly really, my friends, family, and myself. It is so hard to strike a balance at times, isn't it? And it is really hard to say "no" to assignments. Especially good ones - like PUBLISHED BOOKS! But I felt a sense of relief at the thought of not having this deadline hovering over me: a week to research and complete rough sketches, and then a week and a half for FINISHED, full-color art!! So yesterday I did something I have not done in at least 3 months: lie on my sofa with the dog, a wool blanket, a cup of hot cocoa and the television remote.