“Poppy’s Best Day Ever” – The Post



June normally means Summer camps, 100+ degree weather and the beginning of personal pieces in preparation to SCBWI’s Los Angeles Conference. This year it meant: “Poppy’s Best Day Ever” – A Picture-book in 30 Days Challenge. From signed contract to delivered artwork in 1 month (DVD coming soon).

And I know what you are thinking: Why did you do THAT? Two reasons: 1) story was about birds and 2) it was for El Mejor Nido ®. What a great opportunity! Still, why did you do that? Well, at the beginning the project was for 6 illustrations so it sounded doable. OK, then. Did you make the deadline? Yep. Was it difficult? Yep. Would you do it again? NO. And I warn you, don’t even try to convince me to take a deadline like that again. I will hurt you!

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Jorge and Iguana Magazine



During the Spring I received a short story to illustrate for the July/August issue of “Iguana Magazine”. I immediately said yes knowing that “Iguana Magazine” is published in Spanish, it’s a children’s magazine and it aims to instill Latino pride to the children that read it. What else did I need to know? That the story was about a little boy that dreamed of Mermaids. There was no going back. Tight deadline and all, I took the project.

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Lellie, Lellie!



Lellie at the Studio

You can now order “Lellie The Different Elephant” a book written by Lois Ann Garza. I illustrated the book with colored pencils. These pieces were the last done with this medium. For the brighter pieces, I used inks to create an under-painting.

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What I learned from Dan Santat’s Workshop



Things take time for me to sink in so it makes sense that after a month of attending Dan Santat’s workshop here in Phoenix I finally can sort out what I’ve learned from it. So here is my recap of what I got out of the experience.
Warning: Results may vary depending on locations and illustrators.

1 Know Who You Admire In Order to Understand What You Need To Do As An Artist
Dan asked us to find a piece that we love. So as diligent as I am, I immediately created a Dropbox folder and dragged and dropped pieces that I felt were gorgeous for one reason or another. It didn’t take long until I realized I had over 30 jpeg files. So I had to narrow it down over and over again. Until I was left with 1 piece. The process confirmed my love for Rebecca Dautremer‘s work. In the process I clearly outlined what I love about her work and I know what I need to achieve on my work: her use of light, her portray of different cultures, and her incredible compositions. Now I have a clear direction.

2 Learn From The “Masters”
Part of the assignment was to copy the 1 piece that you loved. So I did my copy. What did I learn? My eyes see colors a lot brighter than they need to be. Rebecca’s work has all these colors yet when I was copying her piece I had to force myself to mute my palette – a lot. I also learned how to use gouache by looking at her illustration. So next time that you love a piece even if you are too busy, I dare you to copy it. You have no idea all that you can learn.

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Draw Me An Elephant or How to Hire An Illustrator



Draw me an Elephant

I often receive emails from writers who are interested in hiring me as an illustrator for their picture books. I tend to reply with the same questions and answers. I decided to create this post so it’s easily accessible for future interested people.

DO I NEED ILLUSTRATIONS TO SUBMIT MY MANUSCRIPT TO A PUBLISHER?
No, you do not need illustrations to submit your manuscript. Manuscripts are submitted to the publishing houses. Once your manuscript is acquired, the publisher will pick a professional children’s illustrator for the book.

HOW DO I SUBMIT MY MANUSCRIPT?
Submit your work to well-known and respected publishers. Do your homework by researching the publishing houses and their previous publications.

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New Books, Blogs and Giveaway



It’s been a hectic busy couple of months so here’s a post to update you on everything that’s going on:


NEW BOOK “THE NIGHT BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY BOOK”


I’m currently working on a multicultural picture book written by Joni Rubinstein. Dummy is all done and I’m painting the spreads at the moment. Release will be Spring 2011. I’ll post more about the book soon. Here’s a sneak peek.

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New Directions – AKA Transportation



These last couple of months I’ve found a new direction to my work. I have looked back to my culture and ethnicity. With this I hope to bring a more meaningful body of work. There will be exploration, successes and failures. It’s how it should be and I’ll share as I explore.

Now, this week’s Illustration Friday coincides with a piece I just finished – Llama Ride. I painted this personal piece for the Call to Hispanic/Latinos Multicultural PB Artists I posted yesterday.

Hope you enjoy the piece :D

Llama Ride

> Stay updated via: email | rss | facebook

Of How Juana Celebrated Fans



Many personal traits may question my mental sanity. If numbers are involved, then the answer becomes clear to people: Juana is nuts! I can say to my defense: I’m not crazy, I’m precise. And the hubs can attest to that.

So 2 weeks ago I jumped on the bandwagon, followed the trends and opened a FB Fan Page. I know what you are thinking and I can assure you that these two paragraphs will connect. Bear with me. Opening the FB Page was not an egotistical move. It was all about networking. I can confess the sole thought of creating the page sent cold chills down my spine. 14 hours of chills later I clicked on “Make Page Public” and I had Juana Martinez-Neal – Illustrator Facebook Fan Page.

I stepped up to the plate and sent my invitations, emailed my suggestions, twitted my tweets, and status updated my LinkedIn to let people know that I had a FB Page. It was official and I preferred facing the embarrassment of self-promotion through all my networking avenues than to have my FB Page with 3 fans – one of which was the hubs.

Seeing the number go up was exciting. It really was. Again, we are talking numbers here. Did you see the pattern? In my excitement, I set a goal… 150. Why 150? I dunno but it did sound precise enough to my standards. 150 it was. When we (me and my work) hit 150 FB Fans we were going to celebrate. So here I am to officially announce you that it happened yesterday!

— This illustration is to celebrate YOU, all of YOU who support and cheer me on and my work. To all of my 150 and all of YOU reading me now: Thank you, Danke, Gracias, Obrigado, Toda raba, Terima Kasih, Xie_Xie, Nandri, Gràcies and in all of the other languages that you can imagine. It means the world. —

A little inside on how this piece happened below and the commercial break at the very end with a FB “Become a Fan” link. If I’ve got this far, I may just bluntly ask for more fans.

Let me know what you think of this article, of the new site, of me actually *writing* a post. Your comments feed my blog! And don’t forget to click on the images so you can see them closer.

We are *CELEBRATING* 150 FB Fans!

THE PROCESS

I thought this piece may help me show my working and thought process. Hope you enjoy it! Remember to click on the images so you can see them bigger.

I normally start with a very general idea of what I want. In this case, I wanted a “150” so I started with the numbers and continued by adding characters. The more the merrier.

the initial 150

As I was working, I knew I wanted to have me in there so I drew myself in a different paper. More often than I’d like I run out of room.
*Hint: look 4 and 5 photos down and you’ll see how I had to masking tape my legs to the rest of my body*

that's me :D

Do you think everything is really planned ahead of time? Wrong! In the middle of my sketching my 4.5 year-old stomped in the room with a Lucha Libre hat on and his knight, silver fabric boots. He was in!

My sweet boy

Well, it looked good in my head and placing paper after paper on top of each other but I really wanted a fox.

the fox and some add-ons

Here are all of the illustrations together. I kept adding pages as I felt I needed something else. I ended up with 7 sketched pieces of paper. And now what?

Lots of illustrations for one big Celebration
How should I do this?

I scanned everything in Photoshop and saved all at 300dpi as psd files. You can see them here.

All in my HD.

Once everything was scanned, I created a larger canvas for my file where I added a layer for each illustration or element as I saw fit. I rely a lot on masks and use the multiply type layer quite often when I work.

All files in one big psd file

In Photoshop I played with sizes and moved elements around. But something was missing and I was feeling a disconnection in between the elements. So I did a print out in an 8.5″x11″ and sketched what I felt was needed.

Almost done but there's corrections...

Then sketched, scanned, saved as different files and added to my main psd file. And I was done!

We are *Ta da!

And here a couple of girlies that didn’t make it in the illustration but still say thank YOU. They were actually the first 2 sketches that I got done.

Thank You!

No, really... thank YOU

COMMERCIAL BREAK

And if you are still with me, if you are not an official fan yet and if you don’t mind my bluntness, here’s the link to *My* FB Page.

Become a Fan

> Stay updated via: email | rss | facebook

Sedona’s Workshop with Claudine



So I’m taking some time away from design work and posting about Claudine’s workshop last weekend. I should have been working, though.

It was at The Barn at the Sedona Arts Center – a very old building that I thought would collapse. It didn’t. In fact, it was a very sound building!

First day was a crashed course in color theory and composition. Next 3 days was all about tricks and techniques. We even played with wax which I had never used in my pieces.

Some pics:

The sign.

The Barn at Sedona Arts Center

Is this going to work?
Is this going to work?

Debbi hard at work.
Debbi hard at work

Lori Garver – now also painting. She is a writer.
Lori Garver

Table One – Tina rubbing paper. We rubbed a lot of paper last weekend.
Table One

Lots of Rubbing that Weekend

Table One – Tina from Monterey and Kirsten from Tucson. People from lots of places attended the workshop. We even had a gal from Switzerland – although she lived in Mill Valley when she signed up.
Table One

Golden promo shot.
Golden promo shot

Table One – Tina, Kirsten, Claudine, Debbi and I.
Tina, Kirsten, Claudine, Debbi and I.

Table One got Claudine a present – “Table One Rocks!” All very much Claudine’s style.
Barn Closed

Barn Open

Feliz Cumpleanhos, Baby – From Illo to Fondant



Check out what this girl does for us. I send the sketches and illustrations and she makes them in fondant. She’s an artist!

– Color illustration below

monster sketch

monster sketch

monster sketch

monster pic

monster pic

monster pic

monster pic

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