Archive for the ‘children’s illustration’ category

Heading somewhere certainly

June 24, 2018

Acrylic on canvas panel, 2018, all rights reserved.

Happy Mother’s Day

May 13, 2018

May all your chickies be well!

Acrylic on canvas board, Karin Gustafson, 2018, all rights reserved.

Picking Me Up At the Train Station at the end of a Long Week

September 17, 2017

Frederic Chopin Thinking About Sand

Picking Me Up at the Station at the End of a Long Week

He promises as we walk to the car
that the CD is “coming up
on Chopin.”

He says this because he knows I like
the familiar–

And I do like Chopin,
yes, because I’ve heard him many times before,
but more because
the music flows,

and when you are in a dry place–no,
when you are in a place that may be dry or wet
but you yourself are a desert,

and there comes this music that sounds
like walking on water,
waltzing on water,
weeping while walking or waltzing on water,
wanting while walking or waltzing
on water,
music which wells,
the wanting (sometimes)
you (if you are me)
simply wade into
the swim.

Yes, please, let in
the Chopin.



A belated poem for Sanaa’s prompt on Real Toads to write something just taking in the atmosphere.  The pic is an old watercolor of mine of Chopin thinking of Sand (as in Georges).  



Sally & Seemore Samples? (Woes of Non-Illustrator)

May 23, 2015


Hi All!

On my break from poetry, I’ve been thinking about poems all the time!  (Also, doing a bunch of long-overdue cleaning projects.)

I have not yet had the courage to look at the children’s book project–a manuscript for a child’s novel–that I hope to finally finalize.  But I did get myself to do a couple more pics with the book in mind.

When you try to draw pictures for a book, you become immediately conscious of how wonderfully skilled trained illustrators are.  They draw in single defined strokes instead of ten or twenty pale scratchings!  Their characters look the same on every page!  And yet not the same!  Meaning that the characters are recognizable, but the postures and facial expressions change.  The difficulty in drawing consistent human beings is why I usually stick to elephants.

Anyway, here’s a couple of new ones.   I don’t know if I can use them as the little girl is just too young here.    And really the dog should probably not be smiling quite so much.  And these pictures are supposed to take place in an attic; I completely forgot about any kind of sloping roof.

But thought you might enjoy.  (Or hope so.)

PS – girl’s name is Sally; dog is Seemore.

Jane (From Primer Days) Thinking about Events in Staten Island, December 2014

December 6, 2014


Jane (From Primer Days) Thinking about Events in Staten Island, December 2014

Hi. I’m Jane as in Dick-and.
And I’m a wreck.

Even though the curbs of my world are perfectly
squared off and all my streets have just the right
amount of shade.

This is because the trees here manage always
to maintain
the optimal height for a nice new subdivision–not too tall but also not
too small–sort of like
Goldilock’s porridge, only
with leaves.


Sometimes, a cat scrambles up one–such fun–
and Mother, who wears high heels
with her apron, calls
the fire department or, if the firemen can’t come,
the police.


The police, who wear blue jackets with yellow
buttons, always have time
for cats, and if you ever somehow stray
in your play, hopscotch
a square too far,
they walk you back
below those just-right trees,
sometimes touching your hand
but never more than–

Unless you are lost with your baby sister,
in which case, the policeman carries her and showing,
just over the crook
of his dark blue arm, are ruffles.

Even with the ruffles, it’s a world
that’s flat–
pretend pressed onto
a pre-Columbus
page–we, its only

Yes, I know, some people leaf through
my old world and think it was not
because our pages showed stuff like
red balls that are real enough–
the red balls that only Dick tossed, caught, lost–
(Me, I never got to toss
a Dick-lost ball.)

There was also our hard cover,
yellow and blue, just like
our hair/eyes, the policeman’s

But oh, you’ve got to know–
we were pressed
so flat in here–I’ve made myself
as flat as they come
and believe me–that is not a kind of flatness
that comes just from holding
my breath.

Speaking of which–breath, I mean.
You know, breathing–

I mean, here I am speaking–speaking
of which–
and yet I can’t, you know,

Because when you are pressed flat, see,
that’s what happens.


Here’s a drafty poem of sorts for Shay/Fireblossom’s prompt on With Real Toads so write a “mash-up” poem putting some character/ historic figure in an unusual context. I had a hard time thinking of what to write; my mind has been very taken up with the recent events in New York City concerning the death of Eric Garner, and I could not really think of anything else to write about.  That said, I really do not want to seem flippant about these very serious events.  I sincerely hope this doesn’t come across that way. The illustrations are mine, in pencil–so sorry that the erasures show!   

Process Note–Primer here is pronounced “primmer” and is a word for a primary level text-book.  For those who don’t know or remember, the Dick and Jane books were primer reading books, popular in the 50’s and 60’s.  

For those of you who are outside the U.S., or haven’t been following the Garner case within the U.S., here’s a timeline of events around the case, with links to articles–timeline

A Room In A Cliff

April 12, 2014



A Room In a Cliff

There was a young boy with a room in a cliff–
so much better than having a moat.
He could climb a ladder right down to a skiff–
a submarine was his favorite boat.

In his sub, he explored the deep ocean floor,
where octopi (at least two octopus)
once banged their suction cups on his door,
and howled, “won’t you come play with us.”

But that boy, who had a room in a cliff–
he knew quite a bit of the sea,
and though the octis’ howls scared him stiff,
he smiled so they would not see–

But the octupi were giant—in fact, squid–
out the porthole the boy took peeks,
and he counted ten, ten, tentacles amid
rubbery ravenous beaks.

He motioned with hands though he had but two
that some other time he would play,
but just that minute he had else to do
like underwater dragons to slay.

There was also his best pet whale to feed–
He signed the word “balleen” with his tongue–
T’was a signal the squids somehow could read
with the sea-creaking song he sung.

Of a sudden the sub began to spin–
for one squid really loved to play cricket–
It was not a game the boy could win–
he felt stuck in a seaweedy wicket.

But when the sub spun, it also flew
high above the ocean’s dark floor,
for that squid was a batsquid through and though,
now no tentacles knocked at the door.

The boy kept to the surface heading home,
opening the hatch to catch sun;
A whale swam close by so he wasn’t alone.
(A nice whale, though not his pet one.)

At the cliff, he climbed back to his laddered room,
after battening with care the hatch lid,
climbed right through the window where nightly the moon
brightened seas inked with games of the squid.

Here’s a draft children’s poem for the 12th day of National Poetry Month and also for Margaret Bednar’s prompt on With Real Toads to write something in a child’s voice (or for children).   Margaret gave a selection of children’s drawings, but I was thinking of some of the drawings of my nephews, which seemed often to feature submarines and cliff houses.  I’ve tried to recreate one, but it turned out to have an elephant.

Squid actually have eight legs and two tentacles–ten extensions in all–but I didn’t realize their biology until right before posting, so I fudged it a bit.

Dog Advice–Bear head

January 16, 2014



Don’t have full Internet tonight and still in conference so just posting a couple of today’s output. So happy to be going home tomorrow night! Thanks for your indulgence.

More more output (sketch pad)

January 15, 2014











Still at conference. Tired. Learning much. Sort of. Wrote poem but think maybe I better stick to elephants! Two more days!!!

New Output (pics)

January 14, 2014








Feeling a bit more comfortable (and well-fed) at legal conference I am attending.  I still mainly stand against a back wall sketching as I listen and hoping people think that I am taking voluminous notes.  (It is not, in fact, a bad way to listen as while sketching you are not, for example, checking you iPhone.)

Your encouragement from yesterday was most kind, and made me feel much less lonely here. Thanks.

PS – pictures posted not very well from phone – if you suspect you are not seeing the whole image, such as it is, please just click on it.

Just Getting By (With Pics)

January 13, 2014

I generally try not to write too much about my work life in this blog.  But desperate circumstances call for desperate measures, so today is an exception.

Okay, I am not truly desperate.  What I AM is at a law conference in Orlando, Florida, studying up about law. (I am a practicing attorney for those who do not know.)  The law part is interesting, except that the lectures go on for seven hours each day, and they are held in a huge very self-contained hotel in Orlando, Florida where they charge substantial amounts for internet in the rooms.

It is what many would consider a very nice hotel, and honestly, on one level, I am terrifically grateful that I can be here.   But on another level, I also feel very–out of place.

I will not give the example regarding the lecture mentioning a famous painter whose estate generated a famous law suit.  (I felt out of place there because I seemed to be one of the very few people who actually just love that painter’s paintings, regardless of monetary value or law suit.)

But here’s something–at the opening reception, everything they served was either meaty or a dessert!  Okay, I sound whiny.  Just because I don’t eat meat or (very often) dessert–  It all looked pretty good.  From afar.  Not touching anything.   Kind of hungry.  All by myself.

I am just not a blender-inner, not a networker, not a hale-fellow-well-metter.  What I tend to do in these conference situations is stand in a back corner and draw in a little notebook all the time listening intently.  (I really do listen.)  (I promise, say I, to any clients out there.)

As a result, I am posting today’s output because it really is rather lonely here (in the lobby), (listening to other people congregate), (and still, at 9:42, not certain what to do about dinner.)

Encouragement is encouraged.

P.S – a few of these drawings are for a specific book project–the one with the little girl and her mom and little girl and dog, though these are very preliminary sketches. (If your browser does not show whole pic and you want to see it, please just click on it.)