Jan 3, 2018

Twenty Eighteen

Christmas was splendid and New Year's was lovely. I ate an inappropriate amount of cookies and wore pajamas until noon, so basically the holidays were a home run in my book. But it's back to work this week, although I did sneak in this sketch of Alice White as a warmup today. I burned through Granite Flats over the holidays and basically now all I want to draw are cold war spies and technicolor dresses.

I went back this week to look at previous year's posts, resolutions from the past. Some I managed, others I gave up on. But hope springs eternal (or something along those lines), so here's what's up in the months ahead for me:

* I'm working on a couple new projects that are a change of pace for me and that I'm over the moon about. One, I can share about this month (stay tuned) and the other sometime this spring.

* Mama's Belly by Kate Hosford comes out in April.

* And Anne Arrives by Kallie George (an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables) will be here in the autumn!

Aside from that, I'm planning to finish the Queens of England project I started last year (I'm up to the Stuarts), work on some new embroidery pieces, start a book dummy I've been thinking about forever and restock my shop. Nothing earth shattering, just plenty of staying the course.

Other than illustration?

* Last year's resolution to read less (but longer) books was worthwhile and I found I wasn't just burning through things for the sake of an arbitrary number. So I'm planning to read twelve books this year and anything beyond that is gravy.

* I'm going to keep going with previous years' resolutions to sew more of my own clothes. My wardrobe has a lot of staples that I've sewn over time, and I'd like to continue to keep that trend going.

* And I'm headed to Ireland! The motherland! Finally! Any recommendations for the Galway area? Pubs? Fabric shops? What have you? Please and thank you.

Dec 22, 2017

All Wrapped Up

Happy holidays! Below is a link to some gift tags I made, inspired by the Snow Maiden folktale.

You'll need a PDF reader to open these. Before printing, I recommend adjusting your printer settings so that it's at its highest output quality (especially if you choose to run these on card stock). Feel free to print as many as you like for personal or educational use. Enjoy!

And a belated Happy Hanukkah, a very Merry Christmas and a season of peace and joy to you and yours! It's snowing like mad outside and I've got some gingerbread to bake, so I'm off to go revel in the season.

Nov 27, 2017


Something I picked back up this month, to work on during Open Studios. Speaking of which, the weekend turned out splendidly and it was wonderful to connect with so many delightful visitors. If you came out, many thanks!

An assortment of things:

* I finally have Sketches and Sundries available for purchase! It's been reformatted for paperback and can be found over here.

* I'm slowly adding prints, original artwork and what have you to my Etsy shop. I've just received a new batch of tea towel fabric, to replace what I sold at Open Studios. I'm working on sewing those up, and will put them in the shop as they're available. If you're looking for a print quickly, my Society6 shop is probably the speediest (and most economical) way to go.

That's that I think? November is fading away, but it's been a good month. Thanksgiving was lovely and quiet and I redeemed myself in the pie making department (after a slew of disastrous crusts). I'm just about done with Spies in the Family and the last episode of George Gently was a solid, well-written series send-off (warning: spoilers in the link). I've given up convincing myself I can get by with sweaters and stubbornness, resigned to the fact that it's winter coat season. And I'm chugging away at two exciting new projects, that I'm looking forward to sharing in the new year.

So that pretty much sums up the eleventh month. Now on to December!

Nov 9, 2017

Housekeeping (of the literal and metaphorical sort)

So here's what's what about prints, tea towels, books and what have you:

* If you're local, I'll be participating in the Artists of Salmon Falls Fall Open Studios next weekend, November 18-19. I'll have prints, original artwork, tea towels (the above design), embroideries, books and an assortment of other goods. The mills open studios are a terrific event and if that's not enough of a come on, Rollinsford is also home to the splendid Black Bean Cafe and North Country Hard Cider, or you can drive over the river to Thistle Pig in South Berwick. In short, you can make a day of it in these here parts.

* I'm sewing tea towels and will have those available online within the next couple of weeks. Want to make your own? I've made the fabric available in my Spoonflower shop. One fat quarter is all you'll need for a tea towel (or you can fit four per yard).

* I'm working on getting prints ready for my Etsy shop. I also sell prints, greeting cards, phone cases and other things over on Society6. Speaking of phone cases, I ordered this one from my shop and really, really love it. I feel like humming the Poirot theme every time I whisk it out (full disclosure: my ringtone is actually Doctor Who).

* I have Sketches and Sundries available for sale in hardcover over here. I'm also working on reformatting the book for softcover, for a more economical option. I'm just about finished with that and hoping to have the softcover version available next week (I'll post when that's ready). I've had a couple people ask about offering the book on Amazon, but there's an associated markup with that, so I decided to stick with Blurb.

And I think that's that (for now).

UPDATE: I'm waiting for a shipment of paper and ink that's due to arrive Monday, November 23, after which I'll be able to resume print sales in my Easy shop. Apologies for the inconvenience! 

Oct 31, 2017

Fort Building Time

I'm excited to share Fort Building Time is out!

Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and published by the nice folks at Knopf Books for Young Readers, the story was a delight to illustrate. And many thanks to editor Julia Maguire and Nicole Gastonguay, for top notch art direction!

And to celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of Fort Building Time. Here's the details:

1. Leave on a comment on this post any time between now and 11:59 PM EST November 7 to be entered.

2. Open to residents of the United States and Canada, age 18 and over.

3. I'll choose the winning entry randomly, using this tool.

4. The winner will be announced on this post, November 8 and will be contacted via email as well.

8/11/17 *Congratulations Rebekah Plum! Email me at abigail@theodesign.com with your address and I'll send your copy of Fort Building Time right along.* Giveaway closed

Sep 13, 2017

Sketches and Sundries

Thank you Blurb Books for sponsoring this post!

It's no secret that I love sketchbooks. A lot. And as someone who's been keeping a regular sketchbook since high school, I have stacks of the things around. A few months back, I decided to put together a book of my sketchbooks, to have handy in one volume a smattering of all those drawings. So when Blurb recently offered me a chance to create my own book through them, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to make the sketchbook idea a reality. If you're not familiar with Blurb, they're a terrific company that allows you to create and print your own books, magazines and eBooks (as well as sell the end result in the Blurb Marketplace, Ingram, or on Amazon).

Sketches and Sundries is the book I made with Blurb, a hardcover volume full of sketchbook images from the past few years. I'm over the moon with the way the book turned out — Blurb's quality is top notch. The Premium photo paper I used for the interior pages is the stuff of dreams (speaking of which, the paper swatch kit is a big help in figuring out paper stock). And the colors! I'm blown away by the vibrancy of the images and my artwork reproduced beautifully.

To design the book, I used the Adobe InDesign plug-in available from Blurb. I've never worked with a plug-in before, but it turned out to be straightforward and well worth the time. The plug-in integrated with InDesign to set up my document to spec, so there was no guesswork on my settings or about output for print. If you've got a basic, working knowledge of InDesign, you should be good to go using the Blurb InDesign plug-in (and if you need some extra help, I'd recommend the help page and video tutorial). But if InDesign isn't your cup of tea, Blurb does offer BookWright, its own layout tool that's free and easy. 

And I'll have Sketchbooks and Sundries available for sale soon! So stay tuned on that...

I had a terrific time making this book with Blurb. Having the opportunity to go through my old sketchbooks gave me the chance to think about the illustrations I've made and the things I'd still like to draw. Invariably, there have been plenty of ideas I'd forgotten about in those sketchbook pages that I'm ready to bring to fruition. And among those ideas would definitely be more books like this. I've been mulling over the idea of making a book of portraits or even a one-off magazine. I’m excited by all the possibilities and plan on diving back into those sketchbook pages, to see what future projects are waiting inside.

Sep 6, 2017

Summer Summary

Apologies for the lull in updates over the summer -- it's been a full few months. I'm in the home stretch on final book art right now and between that and other assorted work, there's been lots of drawing happening. Aside from work, I've tried to take some time over the past weeks to step back and recharge. I saw the fantastic Marguerite Zorach exhibit at the Farnsworth, scraped paint off the porch, ate fish and chips and spent the night on the Isles of Shoals. In short, it was a good summer.


* The above is a test stitch of some embroidery motifs I designed that'll be available in my Etsy shop this fall. I'm hoping come October to have some time to finish this one up.

* An inteview I did over on My Giant Strawberry about sketchbooks. Speaking of which, be sure to check out Anne's work while you're over there, as well as the treasure trove of artist profiles she includes on the site.

* In less than a month, Fort Building Time comes out! And I'm thrilled that it's made the Autumn 2017 Kids' Indie Next List.

Jul 6, 2017


It's been too long since I've done any Doctor Who fan art, so here's some Clara Oswald to fix the situation.

May 31, 2017

May is just about done and I can't quite fathom that Summer is on its way. I'm wrapping up the last bits of a 2018 picture book and just finished sketches for another book. In between that?

* If you're within driving distance, the current Andrew Wyeth drawing exhibit at the Farnsworth Museum is wonderful. It's a terrific assortment of Wyeth's studies and sketchbooks, and well-worth the visit.

* I'm thrilled that Finding Wild is included in The Best Children's Books of the Year, selected by the Children's Book Council.

* I finished reading Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley-Smith last week and it's wonderful. I really enjoyed the portions about the need to pull back from society's relentless pace.

* I'm doing a shop update this coming Friday, June 2 with some new original pieces. I'm hoping to get back to print sales later in the summer. In the meantime, though, I do have prints available over here.

Apr 18, 2017

On Going Goings On

It's been a busy Spring so far. I wrapped up final interior art for a spring 2018 picture book (more on that later) and began working on character sketches for a new project. I've been trying to finish up a few watercolor pieces and some embroidery projects in between. And I'm very slowly working my way through a 2017 personal challenge, illustrating each of the Queens of England.

What else?

* I just finished A Long Way From Chicago (courtesy of my sister, who leant me her copy) and it was wonderful. And I'm just about done with Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which is also a terrific read.

* I've been binge listening to the Creative Pep Talk Podcast. It's swell!

* Speaking of bingeing, Father Brown is top of my Netflix queue at the moment.

* And I'm sewing the Moneta dress from Colette Patterns, using one of my Spoonflower designs. Photos forthcoming! I was a bit nervous tackling this one, as I've never sewn jersey before (and don't own an overlock machine). But the pattern is so well-written and the online tutorials so good that it hasn't been the painful experience anticipated. I can't recommend the pattern enough!

Now back to drawing. And (in the interest of full disclosure) bingeing on jelly beans.