Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Free Fall All

hopping twirling 150 dpi with borderclick on images to enlarge

all fall down red size 150 with borderDancing and twirling to the music of a choral octet, and then falling down with glee, the children in my illustrations got into the spirit of UC Berkeley’s Free Fall All –  musical venues around the campus free to the public. I was waiting in line to see the free concert by The Alexander Quartet.  Cal students suddenly showed up and entertained the waiting crowd by singing a cappella. These kids showed up too, and were wildly enthusiastic, getting into the music with abandon. Their “in the moment” shenanigans inspired the illustrations, which started as chunky charcoal drawings in ocher, and evolved with color and collage.

The Storybook Makers Illustration Exhibition

A wonderful exhibit of children’s book illustration is coming to the Village Theatre Art Gallery in Danville, CA. I am pleased to be part of the exhibit. The opening reception is May 1, from 5-8PM. 9x6_FRONT_storybook_makers2Other events include:

9x6_BACK_storybook_makers2Hope to see you there!

Such Fun at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore

Recently, I gave a presentation of my picture book, Smelling Sunshine, at the wonderful Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Berkeley. It’s hard not to fall under the store’s spell with quotes like this on the walls,

A peak inside Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore

and when the staff make you feel so much at home.

Anne Whaling introducing me at Mrs. Dalloway's

Anne Whaling introducing me at Mrs. Dalloway’s

Like magicians, they rearranged space, set up more chairs, and helped find just the right page to share during a reading, all while attending to customers. mes dalloways show and tell 2

The night before my presentation, I read this reflection on public speaking by Terry Tempest Williams from her book, When Women Were Birds:

“…and in those few minutes before a group of people, my instinct says, Bolt now, there is still time to escape. But then I pause, look around the room, find whose eyes are present, and orient myself like a compass, remembering that words are much stronger than I am. I take a deep breadth and sidestep my fear, and begin speaking from the place where beauty and bravery meet…within the chambers of a quivering heart.”

That insight, some preparation, support from friends, and a wonderful community audience made the talk so much fun.

mrs dalloways with kids and parents

DSC06874 copy

signing books and a craft activity

signing books and a craft activity


Smelling Sunshine: book release!

Smelling Sunshine: book release!


Smelling Sunshine, the picture book that I wrote and illustrated, published by Star Bright Books, has just been released! Smelling Sunshine is a story that creates a path through various cultures by describing one world doing an ordinary chore of hanging laundry that becomes extraordinary in its personal nighttime comfort. Kirkus Review said,…when it comes to domestic chores, hanging laundry is about as universal as it gets, and the activity is presented here as an intimate, positive experience for parent and child to share.

So check it out!  And think about supporting your independent bookstore; indie bookstores build community in your community You can also order from the publisher from amazon

Find out more about how Smelling Sunshine was made by clicking on The Next Thing Blog Tour, here on this blog page.

If you live in the Bay Area, join me:

·         Saturday, November 9th, 12:00 PM at Depot Bookstore in Mill Valley, 415-383-2665 for a booksigning


Saturday, February 1st, 11:00 AM at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Berkeley, 510- 740-8222 a presentation and book signing.
Discover the difference between a rough sketch and a finished illustration, and find out more about how a picture book is made. Listen to a reading of
Smelling Sunshine and pick up a free bookmark!

Hope to see you soon. Happy reading.







The Cats Are Here!

 I recently asked subscribers to my newsletter to draw a cat, suggested the line and shape method of drawing for those who mistakenly think they can’t draw, and promised to post the cats on my blog. 3 big catsSo here are those fantastic cats. Some people used the line and shape approach shown on my Fun Stuff page, and others made up their own. Herding cats has never been so much fun!

anderson fam with frame Family Cat portrait; Robin, Bryan, and Erik Anderson.

                                                                            Manar Hassan drew her “Grumpy Cat” on her IPad.

Grumpy Cat with frame

tristan's cat x2 framed 150dpi


Tristan Volpe’s cool cats.




Kieren Dutcher’s cat by moonlight.kieren cat frameJudy Wall’s friendly cats.judy's cat with frame
kathys cat framed                        What is Kathy Wills’ cat thinking?






My cat running amuck.

Connies cat framed

Thanks to everyone for tangling with your inner cat(s) and showing us your wonderful drawing skill!

You can find information on the following cat owners who are artists/writers: Kieren Dutcher, cat in moonlight, Kathy Wills, the thinker and Judy Clement Wall, friendly cats

Drawing Performance

Drawing is a performance –
It is one time then and there
Of the moment
As an act of creation is.

Beatrice Darwin*

anton lewis drums framed

     charcoal gesture drawing

Charcoal is a medium I’ve used for years, but never with such abandon until recently. I draw with willow and vine as well as compressed charcoals in stick and pencil form. Last year I picked up compressed chunky charcoal measuring 3” by 5/8”.  That’s when the fun started.

from left, 4 chunky charcoals, willow charcoal, vine charcoal

      from left, 4 chunky charcoals, willow charcoal, vine charcoal

All of the charcoals have varied tonal ranges, allow for a variety of line, and feel like an extension of my arm. This is especially true of the chunky charcoal which, because of its size, insists on grand sweeping gesture. I find myself drawing with my whole body. It feels like a dance when I draw this way.

Using various sides of the chunky charcoal, I make marks that express the movement or gesture of the subject I am drawing. Gesture drawings are done quickly without attention to detail. Precision is not the nature of gesture drawing. Capturing movement is.

Many finished drawings start as gesture drawings. The two charcoal drawings in my last blog ( Aimless Love, The Wideness and Wonder of The World) each began as a gesture drawing.

gesture drawing using ochre and black chunky charcoal

 gesture drawings with restatements



gesture drawing with chunky charcoal

Leaving a track of the act of drawing is a story in itself; the stops, starts, and restatements (draw overs) add energy to a drawing. Whether musical or otherwise, performance is one time, then and there, of the moment*. So begin your performance: find a subject, some chunky charcoal, and make your mark.

gesture drawing

Check out the performances of the musicians that I drew here at:

The epiphany of the everyday: chunky charcoal.

All drawings: © Constance Anderson


Aimless Love, The Wideness and Wonder of the World

The title of my blog, Epiphany of the Everyday, refers to some wonder I see and fall in love with daily. The poet Billy Collins talks about this in his poem Aimless Love, which starts:

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

Collins writes about his loves. I draw mine. These charcoal drawings show the  tulip I fell for,



the last one left in the vase that over a series of days stretched and moved until its petals fell away,


and for the small pine cone that our resident squirrel had eaten down to its core.

Billy Collins continues:

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

Today, “my heart propped up in a field on its tripod”, I fell for another pine cone, much larger, half eaten. It’s on the shelf in my studio. I have charcoal in hand waiting to draw it, to say something about “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it”.*

* Georgia O’Keefe, Viking Press

For the entire poem, Aimless Love, visit

For information on poet Billy Collins, visit

All drawings: © Constance Anderson


The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

I was asked by artist illustrator Sara Kahn to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, which highlights authors and/or illustrators and their latest  books. You can see Sara’s luminous watercolor illustrations and read her interesting blog tour post from May 16, here. My blog will answer questions asked of all the participants in the blog tour and tell you something about my book, Smelling Sunshine, which will be published in September, 2013. So here we go!

What is the title of your soon to be published book?

The title is Smelling Sunshine.SmellingSunshineCover The laundry lines on the book cover give a hint of the subject.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The book draws upon my experience as a child hanging laundry in my backyard with my mom and siblings. mommy me spread pg 12 & 13 copyWhat genre is your book?

Smelling Sunshine is a picture book for young children. However, I know adults who enjoy reading the book because it recalls a fond experience in their childhood.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Smelling Sunshine would have a cast of international actors since it is a multi-cultural story.

on washing day page 3 spread children revision 3 copy

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Smelling Sunshine is a story that creates a path through various cultures by describing one world doing an ordinary chore of hanging laundry that becomes extraordinary in its personal nighttime comfort.

Who is publishing your book?

Star Bright Books

How long did it take you to write your book? And how long did it take to complete the illustrations?

The idea was percolating for several years before I wrote the first draft which took a month. Then it went through many edits, all with the encouragement of my illustrator/ writer’s group. As the author and illustrator of Smelling Sunshine, I found it helpful to illustrate and write simultaneously, and as a result I made hundreds of charcoal drawings. The final paintings took about six months.

sm sun pg3-30 copy

sm sun floats like a sheet copy





laughing birds with laundry copy

page 1E bird talk 150

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Because Smelling Sunshine does not have a protagonist, I would compare its narrative style to The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

We tend to think of ourselves, our lives, as separate from others. I wanted to show a connection among people from diverse backgrounds. Hanging laundry with someone you love is a simple, shared task everywhere. Compassionate understanding can start with something this elemental.

page 1A courtyard laundry

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Finding out what the smell of sunshine is and how it is recalled at the end of the day is at the heart of the book. My illustration technique may also be of interest; I use paint and paper in the illustrations that I call collage paintings. I make my own papers and use found materials.

Who is participating next on The Next Big Thing Blog Tour?

yosemite songster book reduced A week from today, May 30, the blog tour features Daniel San Souci, illustrator of the beautifully illustrated picture book, Yosemite’s Songster, One Coyote’s Story, and the author, Ginger Wadsworth. Ginger wraps up the factual information about coyotes in a great story. It’s a wonderful book. You can find Daniel at and Ginger at



Thanks for stopping by The Next Big Thing Blog Tour.