Cover Reveal for THE BREAKING NEWS

My debut picture book, THE BREAKING NEWS (Roaring Brook/Macmillan) comes out in April 2018, but you can see the cover for the first time today!  Tara Lazar, author of lots of great books and the leader of the Storystorm challenge, graciously offered to reveal the cover on her blog.

Here are some early sketches below – to see the final cover and to learn more about the process and inspiration, check out the cover reveal post here!


The Art of Taking a Break

I’ve reached day 70 of my second run at #the100dayproject … and I’m taking a breather!

Over at Writers’ Rumpus I wrote a post about the balance of creating everyday and then periodically taking a break. If you’re on break from whatever you were just doing,  check out the article here!


#100daysofdrawingonphotos is back!

It’s been a year since I began the #100daysofdrawingonphotos project… and I’m doing it again!

Inspired by #the100dayproject coordinated by @elleluna on Instagram, I’ll be taking a photo each day and drawing on it (mostly in Photoshop, but sometimes using the Procreate app).

I’ll be posting daily through the end of July on Facebook & Instagram (follow along @thereul, #100daysofdrawingonphotos).

As of the writing of this post, I’m up to day 7 – here are a few favorites so far.

All of last year’s 100days are gathered here. Hope you enjoy!

The Breaking News

Quick post for today – very excited to share that my debut picture book, THE BREAKING NEWS, will be published next year by Roaring Brook. Many thanks to my fantastic literary agent Emily Mitchell, as well as to my wonderful editor Claire Dorsett!  Here’s the clip from Publishers Weekly:

Breaking News Announcement

The Making-Of the NESCBWI17 logo

I recently had the honor of creating an illustration to represent the theme of the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 2017 conference (also known as NESCBWI17).

I just posted about the making-of process on the Writer’s Rumpus blog – check it out here!




Finally had the chance today to compile some of the  #tinydragonpaintings I did last fall! Check out the updated page here.

Hoping to get a post up soon about the Museum of Science Forest Animals mural – was super fun to see it in person last month!


Update on my 100days project, #100daysofdrawingonphotos! I’ve compiled them (all 102, due to counting errors:) to a new page on the website.  Hoping to have some prints available soon, so definitely contact me if you have any favorites.

It’s been busy over here with under-wraps book projects and some other fun stuff I hope to be able to share at some point.  New posts coming soon on my other recent personal projects, #tinydragonpaintings and my in-progress attempt at #inktober (see sporadic updates on Instagram under my account @thereul!).


Been working on some handlettering projects! I’ve found to be a super useful way of learning more about new topics. There’s more about my process for these pieces up on the project page for Martina Flor’s “Golden Secrets of Handlettering” course.

The Extraordinary Adventure of NESCBWI16



“Rue Des Voyages Extraordinaires” or “The Avenue of Extraordinary Voyages” 

I just got back from the fantastic whirlwind of NESCBWI16 (the New England conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and I’m still pleasantly reeling. There were tons of inspiring workshops (led by fabulous authors, illustrators, editors and booksellers, including Nancy Castaldo, Deborah Freedman, Dan Moynihan, Brian Lies, Anne Sibley O’Brien, Calef Brown, Celia Lee, Elizabeth Bluemle and so many more), as well as great keynote speakers and the gorgeous Portfolio Showcase. Overall it was awesome to reunite with other authors and illustrators for a whole weekend of nerding out about making pictures and stories.

One element of the conference that I really enjoyed was the Illustration Challenge. This year, the prompt was “reinvent Jules Verne for the 21st century.”  I dove into a bit of research and was immediately impressed by the number of well-known books he’d written that are still vibrantly alive in popular culture (20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYs, of course, but also FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, which was hugely inspirational for the George Melies silent film “A Trip to the Moon“, as well as JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON). His stories have been reinvented so many times that I was initially a bit overwhelmed about what to pick, until I realized that I didn’t actually have to choose just one story – I could try to address his overall “Extraordinary Voyages” collection.

I flipped through my sketchbooks for inspiration and found pages of neon sign sketches – I love the vintage appeal and saturated color of neon.

In fact, my desktop image for the past 10 years (across 3 computers) has been a photo I took at the Neon Art Museum in L.A., where I first got a close-up look at the artistry required to bend thin tubes of glass into intricate letterforms.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 12.13.33 PM.png

looks just like my computer!

I decided that my reinvention would be a Vegas strip of Jules Verne titles, to convey the awe of a person discovering his many works for the first time.

Since Jules Verne was from France, I chose to stick with his native French and to create signs that hinted at the books through design. Here are some early variations I tried for AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (aka TOUR DU MONDE EN 80 JOURS):


I ended up creating each sign as a separate PSD file and then placing them as smart objects in the overall image (really loving that aspect of CC15).


After they were all placed and transformed to fit into the perspective of the scene, I rasterized the separate layers and locked transparent pixels to repaint the separate elements into colors that worked for the overall composition. Once the base colors were set, I played with a ton of layer effects and some filters to get the neon to glow.

Here’s the image from thumbnail sketch to final:


At some point in the future, I think I’ll try making some of the individual signs into gifs themselves, complete with bright flashing lights as well as the subtle flicker and hum of real neon signs.

I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes – I know I was inspired by seeing the different processes of illustrators I admire at NESCBWI this past weekend!




As you might already know, I’ve jumped into The 100 Day Project inspired by Elle Luna, attempting to tackle #100daysofdrawingonphotos. At the time of writing I’ve made it to day 10 and have been posting drawings each day on my Instagram account @thereul (and cross-posting on Facebook) – here are a few favorites so far:


More info on the project in my recent Writer’s Rumpus Post: Instagram & #the100dayproject.

If you’re doing 100 days of something, let me know! I’d love to check out your work.