Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fresh Tracks

charcoal, paint, foam board print

Fresh Tracks                       click on the image to enlarge

A new year rolls out ahead, ready for us to make our mark on it. I’ve been making fresh tracks in my studio using charcoal to draw the chatty neighborhood crows, the reclusive rabbit in the hills nearby, and the acrobatic backyard squirrel who hangs artfully from our grapevine in August, his cheeks stuffed with grapes.  I made a print of each of the animals, and painted textured paper for an imaginary snowy landscape. Then I went on an adventure, mixing all these elements together. Voila! Fresh Tracks. Where are your mark making adventures taking you?


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